18 June 2018
Transcript - #2018113, 2018

Doorstop interview, Canberra

Subjects: Tax relief for working Australians; Treasury costings of Labor's retiree tax revenue; Clive Palmer

TREASURER:

The Liberal Party and the National Party are for lower taxes. We want to ensure that Australians out there earning, paying tax, have tax relief – all Australians who do that – because all Australians work hard. Of course, we're starting with low to middle income earners and we move it right across all those who pay tax because all Australians work hard and this is an important principle, we are for lower taxes.

We're also for competitive taxes for Australian businesses. When all businesses do well then the economy does well, Australians do well, the services that Australians rely on do well, a stronger economy is what guarantees those essential services, what guarantees people's wages, their jobs, their economic futures, their choices. So, we believe in lower taxes, the Labor Party believes in higher taxes.

Now, one of their higher taxes amongst more than $200 billion in higher taxes over the next decade is their cruel retiree tax. This is the tax that will see the Labor Party strip away the legitimate tax refunds from Australians who have invested in Australian companies. They're just going to rip it away. It will raise around $5 billion a year, $5 billion a year, ripping that out of the pockets of Australian retirees, Australian small business owners, it's a cruel tax. When Labor first announced this, Chris Bowen completely stuttered. He hadn't thought through the consequences and, within a fortnight, he was forced into a humiliating back down on the policy he said didn't need change. Well, we see another chapter of that today. Treasury has done the work, the detailed costings of Labor's proposal and what they have found it there's a $10 billion black hole in what the Labor Party believed they were going to raise from this cruel tax. A $1 billion black hole over the Budget and forward estimates alone. What this shows is that, under Labor, their Budget would be a house of cards. We've seen their costings fall from $59 billion to $55.7 billion, now $10 billion less than that again. This is a party, the Labor Party, that cannot be trusted with the nation's finances. The reason they're putting more than $200 billion of additional taxes on the economy without any thought of how that will kill jobs, kill investment, weaken the economy, undermine the ability to deliver essential services. The reason they're doing that is because they can't control their spending and we've seen this from Labor before on the mining tax, making big promises about all the money that will come in, doesn't come in, but they always spend the money. That's how they stuffed the Budget last time and we cannot allow the Labor Party to do that again. That is the risk of Labor. Coalition, a completely different approach. Our projections are proved to be very conservative as we've handed down our Budgets and our updates we've stayed on track, returning the Budget to balance, exceeding the revenue forecasts we've put in place, that is a stark contrast. You cannot trust Labor with money.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, a busy fortnight ahead. What's the pass mark for the Government? Getting one of the tax cut bills through or getting both?

TREASURER:

The Australian people always decide the performance of their Governments and I'm very pleased to see today that the Prime Minister is continuing to get even stronger support from the Australian people for his leadership, not just for our national economy, but his leadership when it comes to national security, for his leadership when it comes to dealing with the very uncertain global environment which we're in. The way he has been able to secure the jobs of Australians working in the aluminium and steel industries by ensuring that the tariffs or other things that were being imposed in other countries, have not been imposed by the United States on Australia. It's been a win-win outcome for Australia and the United States and the Prime Minister has demonstrated that in these very difficult and uncertain and troubling times on all of those issues, he is a voice of reason and an effective voice and a practical voice that pursues the national interest and gets results.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, can you categorically rule out splitting the income tax bill…

TREASURER:

We are not splitting the bill, we are putting our entire personal tax plan to the Australian Parliament and there's a choice for the Labor Party to make. Are they for higher taxes or are they for lower taxes? Now, we already know they're putting $200 billion more of taxes on the Australian economy with no thought for the jobs it will cost or the way it will weaken the economy. We believe lower taxes are good for the economy and good for hard-working Australians, we believe they're good for businesses to remain competitive. That's why it's part of our plan for a stronger economy. Labor has no plan for a stronger economy. Their plans will weaken our economy, weaken investment, weaken jobs, weaken the essential services that are paid for by a strong economy. That's why we're putting the whole plan to the Parliament and we'll continue to pursue that enthusiastically and passionately because we know it's the right thing to do.

QUESTION:

If you don't get both bills through the Senate by the end of next week, has it been a failure?

TREASURER:

Let's see what happens over the next fortnight.

QUESTION:

You've only got this fortnight though, does that mean…

TREASURER:

Let me be clear. The tax returns upon which the tax rebates are based on are completed on 1 July 2019 and beyond. Okay? That's an important point to understand. We will continue to pursue tax relief for all working Australians. We believe that 95 per cent of Australians shouldn't face a marginal tax rate higher than 32.5 cents in the dollar. The Labor Party doesn't agree with that, that's a clear message to Australians. The Labor Party believes that Australians should pay more than 32.5 cents, 95 per cent shouldn't have the guarantee that we are seeking to deliver them and so that is a clear choice for the Australian Parliament to make. We were elected to govern to deliver jobs and growth and that's exactly what we're doing. These plans, these policies deliver jobs and growth and we are going to pursue them.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, we've confirmed that Brian Burston will now be joining Clive Palmer's new party. Will it be easier for you to now negotiate with him now that Pauline Hanson no longer has this voting bloc?

TREASURER:

The Senate has been a bit of a moving feast over some time now but that doesn't distract the Government from just getting on with doing the job we need to do. My colleague Senator Cormann and all of our colleagues in the Senate work respectfully and carefully with all members of the Senate. They were all elected at the end of the day and it's important that we continue to take that respectful and inclusive and engaging approach. That has been the reason why we've been able to get more than $40 billion – $41 billion – of Budget savings and improvements through since the last election. Now, people said they stood in places like this, in press conferences like this, and said, "You'll never get that through, that will never happen, what are you going to do if it doesn't happen?" Well, it did happen, we did get it done. Our record in the Senate is of getting things done despite the challenges we face and we intend to go down that path once again over the next fortnight.

QUESTION:

Do you welcome his return to politics? Clive Palmer's return to politics?

TREASURER:

I've already made a comment on that. He's pretty good at doing his own publicity – all positive and negative – he doesn't need any help from me.

QUESTION:

On the income tax, we've seen in the past sometimes tax cuts have been delayed beyond their start date and the ATO has managed to retrospectively allow them to be paid…

TREASURER:

Correct.

QUESTION:

…in the certainty the Senate will pass them. Can that happen in the case of these tax cuts or is that complicated by the [inaudible].

TREASURER:

No, that can be done.

QUESTION:

So if they don't get it through by 1 July, you can still start them from 1 July?

TREASURER:

Yes, potentially. At the moment, the Parliament has to express the clear view that at any subsequent time in the future, if they express a different view then that can obviously be taken into account and given effect to immediately.

QUESTION:

On the company tax cuts, you tried to get it through once before, if you don't get it through by the end of next week…

TREASURER:

Again, these are hypotheticals. We are putting our plan to the Senate because we believe it's the right plan and I can draw on the Opposition members themselves. Bill Shorten was the one who said that lowering the corporate tax rate creates jobs, drives investment, is good for the economy. Now, the Australian people know what we believe in when it comes to the economy and when it comes to tax. We believe taxes should be more competitive. We believe personal taxes should be lower. We believe that we should be dealing with things like bracket creep because we already have. We've already done these things. We haven't changed our view about it. We've been consistent about it and the fact that the Government has such a consistent position when it comes to economic policy gives confidence to the Australian economy, in terms of our economic management, I have no idea what the Labor Party thinks about economic policy. They flip, they flop, they change their view week to week, they can't get their costings right, they have black holes in their Budget. It's a dog's breakfast, an absolute dog's breakfast, when it comes to the Labor Party and economic policy and tax policy. They can't be trusted with the Budget, they can't be trusted with your job because they will produce a weaker economy, they will produce a higher taxing Government that will rip money from your pocket – whether you're a retiree, a small business owner, a family business owner, someone just going through providing for their future – one in five police negatively gear properties, one in five, these aren't rich Australians. These are people just providing for their future. The Labor Party can't control taxes because they can't control their spending. We've seen this movie before, it all ends in tears, we saw that under the last Labor Government and Australians, I know, as we get closer to an election where opinions turn to decisions, will understand the consequences of what the Labor Party means for paying more, for their jobs, for their national security, for their safety because Labor doesn't have a plan for any of that and they certainly don't have the conviction and the ticker to be actually be able to see through the policies that are needed in those areas.

QUESTION:

On the retirees tax, wasn't the establishment of the PBO designed to stop Governments using Treasury to challenge Opposition numbers? We're seeing you doing this quite a lot lately with Labor figures, getting Treasury to run their ruler over numbers and disputing them. Do you see that as a precedent you may rue if you're back in opposition at some stage?

TREASURER:

Numbers have to be right, Phil, and it's ultimately Treasury that decides what goes into a Budget. Now, it's important because Labor refuse to release the PBO costings on retiree tax. They haven't released it. They haven't released any of it despite asking for higher levels of detail from the Government that they refuse to provide themselves and the reason the Australian people need to know there's a $10 billion hole in Labor's costings is because they spend it all. They go and spend it when the money doesn't come in. The mining tax was a classic example, they said it would raise all this money, the money didn't come in but they spent the money and we went into higher debt and higher deficit as result. Australians need that information to understand the consequences of a Labor Government and that Treasury costing provides that information. Now, if the Labor Party want to come out and release what they provided to the PBO and explain the differences, well, they can. It's very difficult to do that because the PBO costings are kept confidential and we can't see them, the Treasury can't see them but Treasury was asked to cost their policy because the Labor Party refused to release the details on the PBO costings and this is the answer, a $10 billion black hole in Labor's cruel retiree tax revenue, that means they'll be spending money which won't come in and we all know where that show ends. Thanks very much.