18 June 2018
Transcript - #2018115, 2018

Interview with Brian Carlton, LAFM Tasmania Talks

Subjects: ABC; Lucy Gichuhi; Braddon by-election; Tax relief for working Australians; Treasury costings of Labor's retiree tax revenue; Australian Embassy in Israel.

BRIAN CARLTON:

Good morning Treasurer. How are you going?

TREASURER:

G'day Brian, how are you going?

CARLTON:

I am very well. It truly is a conga line believe me.

TREASURER:

Do we get music to go along with that then?

CARLTON:

I tried that it was a little confusing over the phone line. When you are in the studio though I promise you we will have the appropriate conga line music don't worry about that.

TREASURER:

I'm sure your listeners will enjoy that.

CARLTON:

We will do a [inaudible] while you're here.

TREASURER:

Sure.

CARLTON:

Tell me Treasurer, are we going to privatise the ABC at some point?

TREASURER:

No.

CARLTON:

Well, the Party wants to – why not? It's a democracy isn't it, the Liberal Party?

TREASURER:

The Parliamentary Party decides policy for the Liberal Party when we are in government. That is why getting Brett Whiteley back into the team is really important because that is ultimately where policy is decided in the Liberal Party. We are not the Labor Party. The policy is decided by people who are elected by Australians to sit in the Parliament. That is how we run and that is why we really want to see Brett Whiteley in there representing obviously Northern Tasmania but Tasmania more broadly and to have him back in our team because when he was here last time he was great.

CARLTON:

On balance though would it have been better to cancel the conference over the weekend the same way that Labor did? Would it have been a better thing to do because you are going to be whipped on this.

TREASURER:

Why?

CARLTON:

Because you are going to get whacked about the head on this forever.

TREASURER:

I am not distracted.

CARLTON:

No, I know you're not.

TREASURER:

The Party members are entitled to have their say and that is what they do in the Liberal Party and I think it is all pretty clear that, no, we are not doing it. I understand that many people out there will think that the ABC doesn't always present an unbiased view and it is up to the ABC to prove them wrong.

CARLTON:

What do you consider a reasonable salary in Australia today? For the average Australian.

TREASURER:

The average full time ordinary wage is $84,600.

CARLTON:

Lucy Gichuhi, I would like to play you this comment if you don't mind. This is on Kenyan television. She is being asked – this is the Liberal Senator, recently acquired Liberal Senator – who was making the point that $200,000, wow gee isn't really a lot to be paid. Here we go, have a listen to this.

PRESENTER:

How much you get?

LUCY GICHUHI:

How much I get?

PRESENTER:

How much do you get a year?

LUCY GICHUHI:

Me, $200,000 Australian in a whole year. That is not a lot of money.

CARLTON:

No, it's not a lot of money according to Lucy Gichuhi. $200,000. How could she sustain that conversation with a Newstart recipient I am wondering, Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Well, first of all Lucy is employed and she is working like more than a million Australians who have got a job since we were first elected.

CARLTON:

And complaining on overseas television about it not being enough? Come on.

TREASURER:

I think $84,600 is the average full time wage earned by Australians and we want to see them earn more and we want to see them pay less tax. So, I obviously don't share Lucy's view that that is not a large amount of money. It is a large amount of money and I think people would have to work hard for that and go about the job that they are doing for the Australian taxpayers in an earnest way which I know Lucy does and I know Brett would. As he did last time.

CARLTON:

Ok, but that was dug up in the context of she being forced to repay a bunch of money to fly a couple of relatives to her 50th birthday.

TREASURER:

She said she got that wrong and she has…

CARLTON:

Do we not sit down and explain to new members of Parliament Treasurer, look here are some of the things you can do and some of things you can't do and flying in a couple of relos for your 50th birthday on the taxpayer is not one of them.

TREASURER:

Yes, it's wrong.

CARLTON:

Is there any sanction other than repaying the money?

TREASURER:

Under the new rules there are additional penalties that are provided when people get things wrong.

CARLTON:

Which are in this case what?

TREASURER:

Well, I haven't had to test them myself, personally and we are all individually responsible for what we do with the work expenses that we have and I acquit them that way and if there are errors then you fix them – as you should – which Lucy has been pretty upfront about. Have you ever filled out an expense form incorrectly?

CARLTON:

I don't fill out expense forms if I can possibly avoid it.

TREASURER:

Sure, but if you filled one out and you got it wrong I am sure you would say I got that wrong and you'd fix it up. That would be the right thing to do, wouldn't it?

CARLTON:

Yes, the difference is though I am not on the taxpayer coin.

TREASURER:

Ok, but if you were working for the Government. Let's say one day you worked for the ABC.

CARLTON:

You talk about hypotheticals…

TREASURER:

What I am saying is if someone gets something wrong they should fix it and they should front up about it which is what Lucy did and I think that is the best way to deal with it and I think she has been pretty honest about it.

CARLTON:

The three parts of your personal income tax cut plan, are you in any mood today as we woke up this morning and find some Treasury analysis of the other sides retiree's plan, let's leave that aside for a second, are you in any mind to split this omnibus bill up into its component parts?

TREASURER:

No.

CARLTON:

At all? Under any circumstance? Because you have some form in that area. It's happened before.

TREASURER:

I want all Australians who will benefit from our tax plan to get that benefit. I am for lower taxes. That is what I am for, Brian, that is what the Government is for and I am not about to sell that out.

CARLTON:

But Treasurer, you would arc up pretty seriously if a Labor Party was introducing a policy that would lock you into a tax cut should you win the next election in your term of Government.

TREASURER:

Well, that's not going to happen. The Labor Party is never going to introduce a bill to cut taxes.

CARLTON:

Oh come on…

TREASURER:

They're only going to introduce a bill to increase them.

CARLTON:

You know what I am saying though, you understand what I am saying here, this is a reasonable thing for them to argue is it not?

TREASURER:

No, it's not.

CARLTON:

It pushes past the forward estimates.

TREASURER:

Australians when they go to work want to know what taxes they are paying both now and in the future. They want people to have long tem plans when it comes to this. How many times have you or others said, "governments need to think more long term about these things". So, here we are, we have got a plan that is longer term which actually says it out in three steps. It is a real plan that deals with bracket creep, which deals with the fact that unless we change the tax system then people are going to be paying higher taxes than they should be. We have a plan that will show that 95 per cent of Australians will not pay a higher marginal tax rate then 32.5 cents. We think that's worth doing and our plan immediately will support 39,300 people living in Braddon right now. That's where our priority is.

CARLTON:

That's being supported by the ALP though. They have agreed to back-in the first tranche…

TREASURER:

You always have to drag Labor kicking and screaming to support tax relief.

CARLTON:

It's on the record Treasurer. I am not backing them in. I am just saying that's on the record they are backing that.

TREASURER:

I understand that but what I am saying is the Labor Party's plan is to increase taxes and there is a reason for that. It is because they can't control their spending. In the Budget I handed down just over a month ago, I put in a ceiling on how much the Government could come and tax people. Now, the Labor Party won't support that and the reason they won't is because they need to spend more and more and more and more money. When they do that and the revenue doesn't come in, guess what happens? There is a fat, big debt and deficit that results. That is what happened last time they were in. So, the Labor Party have form lying about this stuff. You have got Justine Keay who lied to the electors in Braddon last time saying that the Government was going to sell Medicare. That was obviously a lie. Now, Bill Shorten is running around today saying now they want to sell the ABC. It's another lie. And the reason they tell these lies is because they don't want to front up in their electorates and say they are for higher taxes and therefor are for driving the Budget into the red.

CARLTON:

To be fair, Treasurer, they are only using opportunities presented to them in a political sense by your side of politics.

TREASURER:

So you are saying they should be rewarded for being political opportunists and lying to the people of Braddon?

CARLTON:

No but when you have a Federal Conference over the weekend where two-thirds of your Party members decide to vote to privatise the ABC they are going to use that against you, I would argue, which reflects my previous question.

TREASURER:

And I came out immediately and said we are not doing that, that is not happening. This is the form, Brian.

CARLTON:

Treasurer, I would be very happy if this was a by-election where there was one issue and one issue only, and I am on the record here, and that is of integrity for the reasons you just mentioned there, just sitting there on her hands waiting for the very, very, very final possible time to spit the dummy and leave the Parliament. If that is the punishment to be reindorsed by the Party. I am quite happy to run this as a referendum on the ethics of politics.

TREASURER:

Well, there you go.

CARLTON:

Which goes back to, I've got to say, goes back to my first couple of questions about your Senator Lucy Gichuhi. Ethics – where are they in politics?

TREASURER:

Well, she fronts up immediately when this is presented to her and she fixes it. That is completely different from what Justine Keay did. What Justine Keay did was this; she was hoping along with Bill Shorten that they would be able to ride this out and be able to continue to put this hoax on local people in Braddon who she lied to at the last election about selling Medicare which was a big, fat Labor lie which clearly some people believed. I think they would be feeling pretty duded by that. That they were misled in such a way and she was misleading about where her citizenship stood all the way through that process. When John Alexander, our member up in Sydney, found out that there was a question mark over this – he didn't even wait to go to the high court. He said, no, no I have to stand down right now. I resign, let's have a by-election. And we did. What did Justine Keay do? She hung around, drawing a taxpayer salary for months and months and months and what did the high court say to her at the end? What was it about the last decision we made that you didn't understand?

CARLTON:

Yeah, no I understand. Look I've had that argument with her directly on the radio. Look one local issue, one international if I may. The $3.4 million worth of federal funding that Bill Shorten has stumped up for some flood mitigation, in the seat of Braddon. No bad thing is it?

TREASURER:

Look, Bill Shorten makes all sorts of promises. He makes heaps of promises. But can you believe them? Because you know how you pay for promises? You run a stronger economy. That's what Will Hodgman is doing. For the first time, the National Accounts that came out a fortnight ago, they showed Tasmania at the top of the leader board for gross state product growth across the country. They also showed, I mean I know this is starting to cause some real stress in Tasmania, house prices in Tasmania are actually growing faster than anywhere else around the country. You've got Tasmania under good, strong economic management which is leading the country at the moment. That's how you pay for promises so look…

CARLTON:

It's also causing your Finance Minister Mathias Cormann who is from Western Australia to argue that Western Australia is being duded under the current GST calve up.

TREASURER:

They're getting less than 30 cents in the dollar.

CARLTON:

Is that an argument, you're pursuing him so when it comes to the I'm in the red corner and I'm in the blue corner, we've got Mathias on one side are you on the other, Mathias is for Western Australia are you going to be for Tassie?

TREASURER:

Well both Mathias and I are for Australia, for the national economy and what is right to do for the national economy…

CARLTON:

I might have that chat with Mathias then.

TREASURER:

… and there is clearly a problem that needs to be fixed there, but as the Prime Minister has said and I'm happy to say it on your program, Tasmania continues to be run well by the Hodgman Government who was returned recently at the election for that reason and that's why Tasmania will not have any of their services, at all, under threat, or under question, as a result of any decisions that are made in relation to the GST.

CARLTON:

When are we going to see the productivity commission report?

TREASURER:

Well I've said that we'll be releasing it this month?

CARLTON:

When is this month? Not long to go. 12 days to go.

TREASURER:

June is this month. For the news of your listeners, this is June.

CARLTON:

Ok, yeah I know, 12 days to go.

TREASURER:

That's our plan to release it this month. That's what I've said.

CARLTON:

So before the by-election, one other thing too to come out of the conference yesterday, is there any sense that the parliamentary party might actually support moving the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem in Israel?

TREASURER:

No.

CARLTON:

None at all?

TREASURER:

No.

CARLTON:

Why not?

TREASURER:

Because it's not the Government's policy. It's never been under review and we're not doing it.

CARLTON:

The Americans have just done it, didn't seem to have caused all the dramas everyone was suggesting it might.

TREASURER:

That's their policy, it's not ours.

CARLTON:

Ok, appreciate your time this morning Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much and I look forward to being down there soon.

CARLTON:

Hope so, bye.