27 June 2018
Transcript - #2018133, 2018

Doorstop interview, Canberra

SUBJECTS: Tax, Enterprise Tax Plan, Huawei

TREASURER:

Today, the Labor Party have to come clean on their tax policy for all businesses, particularly small businesses. Yesterday, we know that Bill Shorten went out there and delivered a savage blow to businesses of between $10 million and $50 million in turnover. Now, we know, any Australian who knows anything about the economy or knows anything about business knows that you don't have to be a particularly large business to have a turnover of up to $50 million a year. On average, that's around 75 to 80 employees. Some businesses, it's as low as 30 employees. They're not big businesses. And yesterday, they got the big tax smack from Bill Shorten and the Labor Party.

What they need to come clean on today is what are they doing for businesses between $2 million and $10 million? They need to end that mystery. They've costed at the last election abolishing any tax cuts for businesses between $2 million and $10 million, including lifting the small business definition from $2 million to $10 million. So, if Bill Shorten can go out and make that decision yesterday and tell the world that he wants to hit businesses between $10 million and $50 million, he should come clean to the millions of businesses and the millions of employees who work for those businesses that are between $2 million and $10 million in turnover. Chris Bowen should also tell us what is the revenue he's expecting from all this. We already know there's a $10 billion black hole from his retirees' tax. He needs to tell people just how much revenue he's going to suck out of these small and medium-sized companies. That's what he should be doing today. How hard, how much further are they going to go? It's bad enough what they're already doing. It's bad enough that they want larger businesses to not be able to compete with those companies from overseas, which threatens the jobs of millions of Australians and their wage rises and the investment in those companies. What we need to know is, Bill, come clean with the rest of the companies that are in your tax sights.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]?

TREASURER:

Pardon?

QUESTION:

What do you think the fall back would be if they reveal…

TREASURER:

Of the revenue? Well, we haven’t done an estimate of that. It could be anywhere up to around about $20 billion, it could be $15 billion but it’s for the Labor Party to tell us that because it’s their policy. We’ve cut taxes for those businesses. We put that in the Budget back in 2016. So, our policies are very clear on this and what the impacts are on the Budget. What we need to know from the Labor Party is they’re putting taxes up on small businesses, medium sized businesses, they’re putting taxes up on personal income taxes, we know that is going to hit Australians with $70 billion more in higher taxes on their personal income. So Bill Shorten is making it pretty clear. You’ll pay more under Labor.

QUESTION:

Do you think Bill Shorten yesterday was caught out on his policy or just caught looking for a policy?

TREASURER:

I think it demonstrated how shifty he was. Since the last election, he’s been running around town saying, “I’m only hitting the big end of town.” But the estimates that he’s been referring to for how much money he thinks he’s going to be able to clawback includes clawing money back out of small and medium sized businesses. And so, yesterday, he blew the whistle on himself. He actually went out there and finally was caught out having to tell the truth for once. That Labor was going to pull away the tax relief for businesses between $10 million and $50 million. Now, he needs to come clean now and tell us what he’s going to do to businesses between $2 million and $10 million. I mean, they’ve been fudging this for ages. Journalists have been putting direct questions to Chris Bowen now for years and he has never given them a straight answer. He said there’d be this big, long, exhaustive process and him and Jim Chalmers – they’d all sit around and have an almond latte and work the whole thing out. No, that didn’t happen. They just went out one day and said, “Businesses $10 million to $50 million, gone, in terms of their tax relief.” So, if they can make that decision yesterday, they can come out today say – and end the mystery before these by-elections – what are you going to do with taxes and tax cuts that are already legislated for businesses between $2 million and $10 million?

QUESTION:

The Government has still [inaudible] finalise by the end of [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

We continue along the same timetable with the same commitment and the same determination. We believe that having more competitive taxes in Australia is good for Australian jobs, it’s good for investment, it’s good for the economy and we know that a stronger economy pays for Medicare, it pays for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, it pays for schools, it pays for hospitals, it pays for our defence forces and our national security keeping Australians safe. You can’t pay for these things if you do not have a stronger economy. Yesterday, Tanya Plibersek asked, “where does the money come from?” It comes from a stronger economy with businesses investing and growing. That’s where it comes from and if you tax them more, you will not get that result.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] vote in the Senate?

TREASURER:

That’s a matter for the Senate, ultimately. We don’t have a majority in the Senate on these things and I’m sure that matter is being worked through in the Senate. But there’s still two days of sittings to go and I’m sure Senators will be able to give you a better update on their scheduling…

QUESTION:

Have you been kept up to date with how the negotiations are going from Mathias Cormann?

TREASURER:

Of course.

QUESTION:

Are you able to give us some insight into how they’re going?

TREASURER:

Of course I wouldn’t be discussing that publically.

QUESTION:

Huawei’s going to be a big story today. They’re going to be at the National Press Club. Are you concerned with how much influence foreign companies are having on Australian politicians? Is this a line in the sand that we’re starting to see? Do we need to be doing more to stop the influence of foreign companies, foreign businesses and eventually, foreign governments?

TREASURER:

Apart from obviously economic management, I know that Australians can always have great confidence in the way that Coalition Governments – Liberal-National Governments – address issues of national security. Australians trust the Liberal and National Parties to keep our economy strong, manage our national security. As a Government, we will always act in accordance with the advice of our national security agencies in relation to any issues that may arise from time to time. That’s what we’ll continue to do, that’s why we fund those agencies correctly, that’s why we give them the support so they can give us the best possible advice. And that’s what they do and we act in accordance with that and Australians can trust that. Thanks very much.