12 September 2016
Transcript - #2016128, 2016

Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

SUBJECTS: Turnbull Government; NSW Government; Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill; plebiscite on same sex marriage; political donations; terrorism offences

RAY HADLEY:

Treasurer G'day.

TREASURER:

G'day Ray. How are you? I'm a happy shark today mate. A very happy shark.

HADLEY:

I bet you weren't happy when Paul Gallen was ruled out?

TREASURER:

No, I wasn't and then when Wade Graham went off that really meant the boys had to step up. Matt Prior, he's had a really good season all year I reckon. But gosh he stepped up. And James Maloney proved that was probably that was probably our best buy.

HADLEY:

Perhaps you can seek inspiration from the Sharks, Treasurer. Wednesday marks one year since Malcolm Turnbull took the job from Tony Abbott. He's had a narrow election win. The question has been put on Sky News I think, to Peter Credlin and to Jeff Kennett, what are the notable things that have happened in the last 12 months? What are the notable achievements in your view of the Turnbull Government?

TREASURER:

Well let me tell you what's happened over the past 12 months. 200,000 people extra have got a job. The rate of economic growth today is over a percentage point higher than it was a year ago. Our export performance today is the best, in the year we've just finished, since the Sydney Olympics. We've got business confidence and consumer confidence up 8-9 per cent higher than it was a year ago. That all comes from a Government that is totally focused on doing the things needed to drive our economy forward. We talk about jobs and growth all the time, and many times we're criticised for talking about it, but they are the two things that are most important to the living standards and livelihoods of Australians right around the country. Every single day I go to work, and the Prime Minister goes to work, that's at the top of our agenda, and of course for the Prime Minster along with the issues of National Security. On the economy we continue to perform extremely well compared to the rest of the world. That doesn't mean we can be complacent about it, and the changes we put in place, whether it's on the taxation side of things, cracking down on multi-nationals. That's the bill we passed in the last 12 months. The Financial System Inquiry, making our banking and financial system stronger, in my own portfolio has been a key focus. Just even small things like getting rid of the surcharge on credit card fees which came in just before the football finals. There has been a large level of activity. Section 46 - the changes we're making to strengthen the misuse of market power laws which will make it stronger and better for small businesses to compete…

HADLEY:

Well you haven't quite got there yet. You're working on that.

TREASURER:

We will get there. The Greens are supporting the legislation, they've told me that directly. So that will pass. We've spent since April going through the consultation phase with the states and territories which is a requirement of the law. It was our Government that decided to go ahead with that.

HADLEY:

Are you concerned as a conservative at what happened in the council elections, particularly Western Sydney, to your Liberal Party over the weekend?

TREASURER:

I don't draw a lot of connection between local and federal. I mean I was standing on…

HADLEY:

You know what I'm not talking about. I'm not talking about you. You're a Sydney based member of the Liberal Party. Whatever happens here will impact on you eventually as a Federal Member. However, Barnaby Joyce was brave enough yesterday to talk out against it. You have been in the past brave enough to talk about the bone-headed decision by your colleagues in New South Wales over, particularly the greyhound ban, not so much council amalgamations. But we now have the Premier telling us today in New South Wales, oh not that didn't play a role. We've got a bi-election for the National Party on November 12 in Orange. When is the message going to get through, to the Liberal National Party New South Wales, that this decision to ban greyhound racing is really impacting on them? 

TREASURER:

Well you've got to ask them that Ray. That's something for the New South Wales State Government, it's not my job to provide a running commentary on Mike Baird…

HADLEY:

But you could pick up the phone and ring him…

TREASURER:

I'm running a national economy as part of the Government's legislative programme and that takes my full focus so I really don't see it as part of my job description to give job tips to Mike Baird and neither does Mike Baird see it as his job to do the same for me. We'll deal constructively together to continue to drive the economy. Let's not forget it's the New South Wales economy that has been a key factor in driving a lot of the growth that we've seen, particularly over the last 12-18 months. So, I know people will be critical of Mike about the issue on the greyhounds, and I understand their great angst about that as you and I have discussed. But at the same time, give the guy some credit where credit is due, he has been the leading Premier on the economy in the country. People are better off in New South Wales today because of Mike Baird's economic leadership than any other state or territory.

HADLEY:

It's always good to be sound financially while destroying the souls of human beings in this nation. If you want to start talking about how wonderful he is, we're getting train carriages made for $2.3 billion in South Korea. He told us over the next 20 years we'd have a million more jobs, I didn't know he was referring to South Korea and other parts of Asia when he said that.

TREASURER:

Well Ray, I'm happy to talk about what we're doing at a federal level. You've asked me about Mike, and I've talked about in my portfolio which is economic, I see a Premier who is doing really good things on the economy in New South Wales. I'm very aware of the issues that you've raised around the greyhounds. I was on booths down in Sutherland Shire on the weekend where under the circumstances we did pretty well in the Sutherland Shire. That said, these issues are being raised and they're matters for Mike Baird to deal with and the National Party in New South Wales. I'll leave them to deal with their challenges, because we've certainly got ours in ensuring we continue to grow our economy strongly in what is a very tough global environment.

HADLEY:

Now back we go to Glenn Stevens, the Reserve Bank Governor, he spoke to the Financial Review. He said firstly we're likely to face a great tax burden, secondly he said there's, as a population, we've actually voted for higher taxes by the reinstatement of the current Government. But we don't just realise that yet. Are you aware that we don't realise that we should be paying more in tax?

TREASURER:

Last time we sat, two weeks ago, I introduced two pieces of legislation. One was to reduce income taxes for people who would find themselves on the second highest tax bracket, and only being on average ordinary time earnings. The other one I introduced was cutting taxes for small and medium sized businesses which would take effect from this year for businesses with a  turnover of up to $10 million each year. Which is, you know, they are companies with an average number of employees of around 22. This is a Government that is actually reducing taxes. The point Glenn is making is, we need to make further progress on getting the Budget back into balance. This is the same point I've been making. That's why we have bills in the parliament to get expenditure under control and where since I introduced that bill in the last week of sittings, we've been engaging with the opposition on that. We'll continue working that, because the public expect us to get results on these things. That's exactly what we're focused on. That's where all of my energy has been, as has Finance Minister Matthias Cormann, to get these savings passed. Because if the savings don't pass, then people will pay more taxes in the future. That's just a natural consequence of not being able to get those things done. We want to do it, we've been driving this now for some time. We need this Parliament to support us to do that. 

HADLEY:

How have you been going with the $6 billion savings bill? Have you got any ground off them or not?

TREASURER:

I think we're making progress. Let's not forget, all we're asking them to support, is things they actually committed to before the last election. To the extent to which they actually talk to each other about what they put in their costings before the last election, well that's for them to explain why it can't be readily just agreed to. It's not about making points over, it's about getting an outcome, and that's what the Prime Minister and I and Matthias Cormann are very focused on.

HADLEY:

Is Parliament going to be diverted away from very important issues about the economy by this plebiscite on same sex marriage and them wanting it, the Greens and the Labor Party, to be a vote of parliament?

TREASURER:

I hope not. We took a clear position to the election about this. We're simply seeking to implement that. So we should be able to just get on and deal with it. There is an overwhelming majority, and the published polls show this, an overwhelming majority of people who support having a plebiscite so, we should just get on with it and…

HADLEY:

The longer this drags on…

TREASURER:

I agree with you Ray. It shouldn't distract the Parliament, it should be just a matter of well, yeah, you put that to the Australian people. It has support. Let's just get on with it.

HADLEY:

And the longer it drags on, the more we get away from the plebiscite. I mean, if we can't get agreement on having a plebiscite, which is what you went to as a Government the electorate with, and the electorate has returned you by a reduced majority, but you're in majority Government. Surely to goodness we need to have the plebiscite sooner rather than later.

TREASURER:

Look, I agree and that has always been our view. Now, you have got to have it as soon as you practically can…

HADLEY:

Yeah sure.

TREASURER:

It is not a small thing to have a compulsory attendance plebiscite and that is absolutely what we are working to and I am optimistic that we will just be able to get on and do that. For those who are opposed to it and particularly those who are in favour of a change and opposed to it, I have never really quite understood that position, if there is a view that there is such strong support for it, well, I don't see what a plebiscite would be as a threat to that outcome.

HADLEY:

Well, if they are confident the polling says the plebiscite will be carried so that same sex marriage will be allowed I don't know myself what the problem is.

TREASURER:

The added advantage of doing the plebiscite is that once a decision is taken I think everyone, particularly if it is done as we are proposing a compulsory attendance plebiscite so everyone has their say, whatever the outcome of that is I think Australians can go, fair enough, that is the outcome whether it is a no or a yes but they have got to have their say on something like this which goes very deeply for many people both in the yes and the no camp.

HADLEY:

Say for instance that it goes against the way that you have indicated that you want things to happen?

TREASURER:

Pardon.

HADLEY:

Well, you are opposed to same sex marriage.

TREASURER:

Yes.

HADLEY:

Ok, you won't be spitting the dummy – will you? I mean you won't be saying this is a disgrace I can't believe people have done this?

TREASURER:

I proposed the plebiscite and that it be a compulsory attendance plebiscite and drove very hard for that. The reason I wanted that is because I don't want this to divide the country but I do want it to resolve this issue and for us to be able to move on and I will respect the outcome of the plebiscite and I think that is appropriate. You can't argue that people should have their say and then seek to frustrate what the people have then said. I think that would be anti-democratic and it would lack integrity in terms of the support for the plebiscite. So, I support the plebiscite. I proposed it. I am keen to get on with it and for it to be done in a very civil and a very sensitive way and people respect each other's views and we just have a say as Australians and I have great confidence in the Australian people to be able to make such a sensitive judgment.

HADLEY:

Since we last spoke, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has fallen on his sword. No financial penalty really because he wasn't getting any extra money…

TREASURER:

No, he was on the intern wages on their front bench. Andrew Leigh is on that as well.

HADLEY:

Well, he is getting more than he deserves anyway, Andrew Leigh, but that is another matter for another day. The subject of foreign donations to politicians, I mean the Courts have already determined that Unions can give as much as they wish to the Labor Party. That has been determined by the Court and that places the Coalition at a disadvantage because there is no Union giving you money. What about the prospect of foreign money remaining and that is being supported by someone like Christopher Pyne?

TREASURER:

I think if you are going to make a change in this area you have got to make a substantive change right across the board. You don't just go and fiddle at the edges. If the argument about foreign donations is as people suggest then what do people think that the big money that comes in from the unions in the Labor Party is expected to give them? Are people going to suggest to me that the unions haven't got a good deal out of the Labor Party for the millions they pump into the Labor Party every election and that that somehow hasn't influenced Labor Party thinking on issues? Let's take the Australian Building and Construction Commission. Let's take the issue for the owner driver truckies. Let's go to Victoria and have a look at the CFA…

HADLEY:

Or go to Queensland at the moment Annastacia Palaszczuk is very compliant with the unions there. You can't get a blue out of her about anything the union does, including unlawful gatherings in the middle of Brisbane's streets.

TREASURER:

So, if the argument is that has to go because there is perceived to be an influence on policy outcomes, well, I think the strongest evidence of that is union donations to the Labor Party.

HADLEY:

The one place that you will find accord is the anti-terror laws and the lowering of the age limit for those control orders being present but as I said in my introduction earlier we are not going to get anywhere through all of this until the judiciary reflect the will of Parliament.

TREASURER:

Well, I can't agree more on that. Obviously there is a separation between the two but I think where Australians sit on this and where Australians Parliaments – not just the federal Parliament but state Parliaments as well – their view is clear. These issues become more shocking and you think you have been shocked by the last one and then something else happens. Particularly when it is involving young people at very young ages and how quickly they can be radicalised. That is one of the really emerging trends here which the Government is moving to get on top of. But this thing moves fast and you have got to move with it and I think that is exactly what we are doing. We have been doing that [inaudible].

HADLEY:

But do you think the judiciary is dragging the chain on recent sentencing? We have seen two recently where people basically could have given them a lot longer and they got in some cases seven years and other cases…

TREASURER:

I have got great sympathy with those criticisms but it is for them to make those decisions and I have to be obviously respectful of the judiciary but I think you and many others are making these points and it is important that these points get made.

HADLEY:

Ok, thanks for your time we will talk next week.

TREASURER:

Thanks a lot Ray.