7 June 2018
Transcript - #2018108, 2018

Interview with Leon Byner, 5AA

Subjects: March Quarter National Accounts; ACCC investigations; tax relief for working Australians

LEON BYNER:

Treasurer, thanks for your time.

TREASURER:

Thanks Leon, great to be with you.

BYNER:

I want to talk about what is in it for those listening for this growth that we have got this 1 per cent that has gone up. Wages have been flat, they have gone up slightly but they are coming from a very low base. What can we hope for?

TREASURER:

A stronger economy guarantees everything else. It does guarantee into the future stronger wages. It does guarantee essential services like hospitals, schools, Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – none of this can be paid for without a stronger economy. The fact that our economy is growing, sure, the benefits of that need to extend further and wider and reach the whole country. But that won't occur unless we continue on with our plan to keep growing this economy and growing it more than 3 per cent now. That puts Australia ahead of every advanced nation in the world. We still have our challenges but far better to be dealing with them here in Australia with the strong growth we are experiencing than in other parts of the world.

BYNER:

Treasurer, yesterday it was revealed by CommSec that fuel has now overtaken private health insurance and power as the number one cost. The ACCC has been pretty scathing of this overseas cartel that is manipulating the price. What are your thoughts as Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Well, they're not new issues. The international price of oil has been a contentious issue for decades and decades if not longer. The ACCC's job and we have given them powers not just to look at what is happening at the pump but behind the pump up through the supply chain and how companies set their prices. Rod Simms over there at the ACCC has all the powers he has asked for to ensure that Australians aren't getting ripped off at the pump and so we expect him to do that job.

BYNER:

Are you surprised that there are criminal charges now with this banking inquiry? It is starting to get very, very serious.

TREASURER:

Well, the charges that the ACCC, with their investigation that has led to them bringing those before the courts. That is not related to the Royal Commission. That was a completely separate matter that was being pursued by the ACCC. So, I wouldn't be making the link between those two things. Secondly, it is a matter before the Courts, Leon. So, it is not something I can properly comment on.

BYNER:

Are we going to see proper compensation for people who were wronged?

TREASURER:

That is a matter for the Courts.

BYNER:

So, including the Inquiry, just clarifying, because remember that we never expected that the Royal Commission would deliver any favourite response for those people who should be compensated who were done over.

TREASURER:

Well, the taxpayer will not be forking out any payments because of any wrongdoings by the banks.

BYNER:

Nobody is saying the taxpayer should.

TREASURER:

No, they should not. And I think we have got to be very careful about this, Leon, because the Royal Commission. I am not going to prejudice it. I am not going to second guess it. It will hold its inquiry. It will go through all the things it needs to. It will make its recommendations. But one thing that the taxpayer shouldn't have to pony up for is to pay any sort of redress or compensation for things that are done in the banking and financial system. That would be a matter that I am sure the Commission would turn its attention to if they wish to with those institutions themselves.

BYNER:

Getting your Budget through the Senate, what is the update? What is your likelihood?

TREASURER:

Well, there are two weeks of sittings and we have seen other Senators come out in favour. Not surprisingly, well I wasn't expecting Senator Storer to vote for the package frankly. He often does this. He goes out and indicates maybe and then all of a sudden always says no. That is his right. He can say that. He can face the South Australian people over those issues as to why anyone wants to stand in the way of people getting tax relief. The important difference between what we are putting forward is, we're not pursuing our plan for tax relief by putting other people's taxes up, which is what the Labor Party is doing. They are going to put up taxes on everything from housing and investments that Mums and Dads make in property for their own future. They are going to put up capital gains tax. They are going to hit retirees. Not just self-funded retirees – pensioners too by the way, with their imputation tax. Their retirees tax. So they are clawing in higher and higher taxes and that is why they are saying what they are saying. Now, we are not doing that. We think higher taxes choke the economy and suffocate growth and cost people their jobs and their wages.

BYNER:

You are going to try and get this through. What happens if you can't?

TREASURER:

We will always just persist Leon. People are always saying that this can't be done and that can't be done but we passed $41 billion worth of Budget savings since the last election and no one said that could happen. They said we wouldn't be able to get the ABCC restored, the Australian Building and Construction Commission to bring the rule of law back to the lawless unions, thugerising around in our building and construction industry. They said we wouldn't be able to get the Registered Organisations bill to make sure that unions behave themselves more like a proper organisation and don't just run around spending their members' money on goodness knows what. We know with Craig Thomson some of the most horrific examples if that. So, people said all of that couldn't be done through the senate but it all happened.

BYNER:

Treasurer Scott Morrison on 5AA.