20 June 2018
Transcript - #2018117, 2018

Doorstop interview, Canberra

Subjects: Tax relief for working Australians; Telstra

TREASURER:

Our personal tax plan is designed to support all working Australians who pay tax. Our personal tax plan is not about creating winners and losers, setting winners against losers. It is about ensuring that all Australians win. We are not putting up taxes to pay for other tax relief. We are providing tax relief for all working Australians. That is important because we have had a reminder today, again, of the very real risks that occur out there in our economy. I, like all Australians, am saddened to hear the news about Telstra's decision but it is a reminder of the tough global and changing environment that businesses large and small are dealing with, the structural changes, the adaptation that they find necessary to put in place. I said in the Budget that unless we can ensure that our businesses can have competitive tax arrangements and more broadly are able to go out there and compete with strong economic policies, whether it is trade or other matters, then other countries will cut our lunch. So, I like all Australians, am very disappointed to learn that news. There is only one thing that I can say in response and that is the Government has been working hard to ensure that the economy that they will go back into now to find another job, that there are more jobs in that economy today than there were before. We are a Government that have been delivering more jobs. In that sector in particular there are much brighter prospects but it still will be hard and it still will be an anxious time for those Australians. That is why we will only continue to redouble our efforts to ensure that we are doing everything we can to create the stronger economy that people who find themselves in that situation can be in which means that they can go forward with greater confidence.

QUESTION:

How confident are you of getting your income tax cuts passed before Parliament rises?

TREASURER:

The Senate will vote and then you will all know.

QUESTION:

But do you think it will happen this week? How close are you with One Nation and Centre Alliance?

TREASURER:

I happen to have a habit of not commentating on that, as does Mathias. It's a matter before the Senate. We have every confidence in our plan. We believe it is the right plan. It is a plan that delivers tax relief for all Australians. It is a pretty clear choice for Australians. It's tax off with the Coalition, tax on with the Labor Party. That is what it is – that is the choice.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, on one hand you are in there talking about jobs and growth and how well things are doing today, and on the other hand we are hearing about these job losses. How can the two go together?

TREASURER:

As I said in my speech today, we are not immune from the big changes that are happening in the global and domestic economy. There are changes that are going ahead. One of the other statistics I refer to is that transition we have been having in our economy particularly after $80 billion was taken out of the economy post the mining investment boom. One in five jobs that were being created in that year were going to males aged over 55 – a group that people would think would be most affected by the transition in our economy. Indeed, they were finding jobs in the economy. It only underscores, reinforces the need to ensure that we have tax policies that can keep our economy strong, make sure our businesses are competitive and that when people find themselves in these regrettable circumstances, which no country can be immune from, the economy they seek a job in will be stronger.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, if you don't get your income tax cuts, if you don't get it through this week will it be back to the drawing board and would you be open to splitting the Bill?

TREASURER:

I am not jumping at any hypothetical scenarios. The Senate will make its decision and we will go from there.

QUESTION:

If the Senate of its own volition ended up splitting the Bill, passing the first stage or the first two stages – would the Coalition in the Lower House pass that?

TREASURER:

The Government is pushing and will continue to push absolutely and totally for the full tax package. We are committed to pursuing the full tax package. Why? Because it's the right plan, because we're not going to set Australians against one another. This is a fair plan that seeks to benefit all working Australians. We are not going to buy into the class envy, anti-aspirational, anti-jobs policies of the Labor Party. We know what's right for Australia, we put it in the Budget, we put it to the Parliament. The Labor Party voted for it in the House of Representatives. Now they say they're not going to vote for it in the Senate. How can you trust a party that changes its mind on something as significant as that in the space of just a couple of weeks? They're all over the shop on tax. The one thing I do know about the Labor Party and tax is they'll always want to put them up because they can't control their spending.

QUESTION:

On the housing market in your speech, you spoke about necessary cooling a welcome pause, you did point out that prices are still about 40 per cent higher than they were [inaudible]. Would you like to see the pause go for longer and the cooling go even further?

TREASURER:

Well, I think the macroprudential settings that are currently in place are right, they're reviewed very regularly. I recently attended, as I do, a meeting with the Council of Financial Regulators where these matters were reviewed once again and I want to commend APRA and the Reserve Bank and ASIC and Treasury for the strong work they've done in ensuring we're keeping a very close eye on these things but what's happening in the housing market now is there's ample room in those macroprudential settings for credit growth to be available to the investors. What we're seeing is actually a bit more competition in the housing mortgage market – Phil Lowe's made that point since the end of last year – new mortgages are about 15 basis points down from where they were previously so despite an argument that there's been an increase in funding costs, that the actual rates have come down – and particularly for those in the owner-occupier segment of the market – and that's welcome. We're seeing first homebuyers re-enter the market now at a level we haven't seen for some time and that was the point. So this is the thing I can't understand from the Labor Party, they're going on about abolishing negative gearing and increasing capital gains tax, saying that we need to cool the housing market – well, our measures have achieved that. So, what's the point of taking the sledgehammer to the housing market now other than undermining confidence in people's housing values and creating a further challenge to consumer consumption in the economy? That's dangerous, it's reckless and it exposes from what has always been their motive, from the outset that they just want more tax, that's what Labor want, they just want more tax from you and they'll take it from you whether you're investing in a house, they'll take it from you if you're buying shares in an Australian company, they'll take it from you if you're running a small business, they'll take it from you if you're a retiree, they'll take it from you and they'll hit you any which way they can because they cannot control their spending.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, if you did split the bill, some of those 8,000 workers at Telstra might get their income tax cut from 1 July…

TREASURER:

We're not splitting the bill.

QUESTION:

What do you say to them? If the Senate…

TREASURER:

We're not splitting the bill.

QUESTION:

But the Senate could, Treasurer, if they did, would you vote against them in the Lower House?

TREASURER:

We're not splitting the bill. We're not doing it. Okay. Thanks a lot.