16 July 2018
Transcript - #2018148, 2018

Doorstop Interview, Oakford WA

Subjects: Visit to Borrello Cheese; all States and Territories better off from a fairer way to share the GST; Enterprise Tax Plan; immigration.

ANDREW HASTIE – MEMBER FOR CANNING:

Well good morning everyone. It’s a real pleasure to be here at the business of Vince and Teresa Borrello – Borrello Cheese. They make a fantastic cheese. They supply it state-wide to Coles and IGAs. If you’re from Western Australia, please back Vince and his cheese. It’s really top quality, he was trained overseas, it’s a long standing family business. His dad came from Italy in 1950 and I’m proud to be supporting him and other small businesses like this.

It’s great to have the Treasurer here. The Treasurer’s been really supporting Canning and our state, particularly in this area. In the Budget this year, he announced $822 million worth of infrastructure investment. We’re going to extend the Tonkin Highway south to Mundijong Road, deep into the Peel region. And Treasurer that will really help businesses like Vince who rely on trucks to deliver and distribute his cheese. So, thank you for that investment. Also the Byford Railway, which the Federal Government has fully funded, unlike the state Labor government. It is fully funded, and we’re looking forward to that being built. So Treasurer, thanks for coming and I’ll hand over to you.

TREASURER:

Thanks Andrew. And Vince, thanks for having you here at your place today. It’s great to see another successful Australian business just going from strength to strength, some twenty employees here, a turnover of around $5 million. That investment goes back into the community. Local people having jobs here in Canning, and that makes Andrew as happy as the rest of us.

I’m very pleased to also be here in Western Australia today for a number of reasons. First of all, a couple of weeks ago, I announced changes to the way that the GST would be shared right across the country and in particular to deal with the raw deal that Western Australia had been getting for so long. Andrew Hastie has been one of a great team of Western Australian Liberals who have fought the good fight on this, made the case. I know you’ve had lots of forums in your own electorate here Andrew, which has raised this issue and brought an awareness to it. And as Treasurer, I’m pleased with the Prime Minister to be able to be brining a solution that is permanent, that addresses the real problem with how the formula was working, to ensure that Western Australia got its fair share.

But the other reason I’m pleased to be here with Vince is that we’re backing businesses, small businesses in particular, so they can grow and they can get stronger. So they can employ more Australians. Our tax plan is about making sure that Vince’s business here can be more successful, be more competitive. We’re bringing down tax rates for businesses like Vince’s. In fact, his tax cuts have already been legislated out over the next ten years. Under the Coalition Government, under a Liberal Government, Vince’s business will be paying lower rates of tax than they would under a Labor government federally.

If Labor is elected, they will take away the legislated tax cuts, which will bring the tax rate down to 25 per cent for this business. We think that’s the wrong way to go. We think we need to stick with lower competitive taxes for small and medium-sized businesses, and indeed for all businesses. And that includes the instant asset write-off, which we extended again in this year’s Budget. As you walked around the shop floor out the back there, you would have seen a range of equipment all of which would have qualified for the instant asset write-off for purchasing equipment of up to $20,000. So it can be immediately written-off. It’s all how we help businesses invest more in growing their business. Whether it’s local employed here or elsewhere around the country. Keeping taxes down, ensuring WA gets its fair share when it comes to the GST. It’s all part of what the Turnbull Government is doing to support business and locals here in the West and particularly here in Canning.

QUESTION:

On the GST, Labor’s calls for legislation to implement that 75 cent floor. Do you think there’s anywhere in the Act to ensure that a future federal government doesn’t take that away from [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

Well I’m happy to discuss that with the states and territories when they get together. Look, we’ve got a solution to this problem. The time to, no one’s interested in fighting about this anymore. I don’t see why Bill Shorten wants to pick another fight over this. He should just get in there and support the plan. We still don’t know whether he actually supports what the Government’s actually put forward. The first thing he’s tried to do, is just try and find another thing to fight about. Well I think Western Australians are sick of and tired of fighting about the GST. We just want to get the solution in place. The intergovernmental agreements are what are used to deliver everything from schools funding to hospitals funding. There’s nothing new about that. An intergovernmental agreement, I will take absolutely seriously, I wouldn’t be violating it. Happy to talk about that option with the states and territories. At the end of the day, that’s who we’re seeking agreement from to put this arrangement in place.

We’ve delivered this plan, we’ve put it in place, we’ll make sure it happens because we believe it’s the right answer and we’re not interested in having more fights about it. We’re just interested in getting it done. Western Australians have waited long enough to get this plan on the ground. We’ve put it on the ground, and we’re going to make sure it works.

QUESTION:

Would you like to see the McGowan Government get on board and keep pressure on their federal counterparts to support your plans?

TREASURER:

Well, I’d welcome the support of the McGowan Government. I’ll be meeting with the Premier later today. And we do welcome the fact that they’ve been so supportive of the arrangements we’ve put in place. And I know they’ll be a keen advocate around the table with other Treasurers, when Ben Wyatt meets with the rest of his colleagues around the country to get an agreement to go forward with this plan. And so we’ve worked very closely with the Western Australian government here. It’s not about politics, it’s about putting a fair, permanent and practical solution in place to end all the fighting and just get it done. I mean, people just expect governments to do the job, and that’s what we’re doing here. I’ve got no interest in getting into disagreements with the states or the Labor Party or anyone else for that matter. I just want to get this done because Western Australians deserve for it to get done and for politicians not to fight about it.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, you’ve previously warned that reducing immigration will damage the budget. Do you still believe it would be a mistake to cut that rate?

TREASURER:

Well the policy we have in place, which has a cap and which focuses on skilled migration and is demand-driven, I think is serving the country well. And any adjustments which need to be made to the estimates based on how that program is working is done in the usual process at MYEFO and at the Budget and that will continue. So, we have a strong policy in place we’re the Government that can stop the boats, we’re the Government that protects our borders, we’re the Government that has ensured that our migration program focuses on bringing people to the country who want to make a contribution and not take one.

And there’s no better example of that than the business we’re standing in today. A family business started by immigrants who’ve come from Sicily originally. And now their son has taken up that business and now his daughters, and I suspect there’s a pretty big expectation about kids, that the grandsons will get involved as well. That’s what, this is an Australian story. This is a classic Australian story. And that’s why our immigration program is focused on producing these sorts of results.

QUESTION:

A cut to the immigration program, would that have a significant effect on the budget?

TREASURER:

Well I’ve already been on record about what the impact of these things are on population growth on budgets, and those estimates variations are assessed at the time of MYEFO and the budget. But we have a clear policy. We have a clear cap on what the permanent intake is. And we’re well below what that cap was in the last year, and no surprises there and no problem with that. What we’re focusing on is making sure that we’re getting integrity in the system, where we’re the Government that’s put integrity back into the immigration program. Whether it’s integrity on the borders or integrity of the selection process, so the process can’t be rorted. Just like we are in the tax system. Just like we are in the welfare system. I mean, people want to respect and have confidence, whether it’s in our immigration program, welfare program or our tax system. And as a Government, the Turnbull Government, we’re focused on putting integrity into all of these things so people can have confidence in them.

QUESTION:

What about Senator Dean Smith’s call for an inquiry into Australia’s population, is that something you’d…

TREASURER:

I mean, it’s a matter for the Senate but it’s something we’ve had both the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Treasury undertake a fairly significant piece of work on that for the last 18 months. As has the Productivity Commission done a very serious piece of work on these issues as well. So there’s no shortage of information out there. But that’s a matter that I’m sure will be looked at in fullness.

QUESTION:

Our population forecasts [inaudible] 14 to 24 years out in some cases. ABS had data that said we wouldn’t have 25 million in 2042 or 2032. We’re going to hit it in August. Surely there’s a problem with the way they’re forecasting growth.

TREASURER:

Well look, forecasting is always a difficult topic. But it’s important to understand the components of how the population is growing. I mean, think of it this way: ten people get on a bus, that’s your population growth. About four of them we’re born in Australia, about four of them are here on temporary visas and about two of them are on permanent visas. That’s basically the composition of what our population growth is every year. Now population growth for the most recent years has come back a bit, in terms of the growth rate. As you know, here in Western Australia, the population growth rate is well below where it has been before. And that has actually been feeding into the worse outcome for GST distribution here in Western Australia as well. So, these estimates are around population growth, temporary migration increases, permanent migration increases, and natural increase, which is a bit more stable. We’re growing at around 1.6 per cent. It’s been as high as 1.8, it’s been as low as about 1.4. But Australia, ensuring we grow, and have the infrastructure to support that growth is what our Government is focused on. You’ve got to build the growth, you’ve got to invest the growth, and that growth is what actually, at the end of the day, pays for hospitals and schools and all the important services that Australians rely on that we can guarantee because we’re a government that is focused on a stronger economy.

QUESTION:

A couple of questions from my Canberra colleagues, Chinese developers have promised their investors will be able to get permanent residency in six months if they buy into the Hunter Valley development in New South Wales. Is that something that you’d like to see investigated?

TREASURER:

Well I’m not familiar with that issue that you’re raising but if you refer that to us, we’ll take whatever action’s necessary.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, Bill Shorten’s said to accept smaller funds from a 2 per cent cap on private health insurance increases. Is this [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

Who knows what Bill Shorten’s doing? Least of all Bill Shorten because he just keeps changing his mind on everything. Whether it’s on the retirees tax, which was one thing one day and something the next day, all I know is that at the end of the day, retirees, whether they’re here in Canning or over in the eastern states are going to get hit with a $5 billion tax bill every year. He’s flipped and flopped on the GST in Western Australia. He’s flipped and flopped when it comes to private health insurance. Who knows what Bill Shorten’s doing? This guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. And there are plenty of reasons not to trust Bill Shorten, but one of them is he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

QUESTION:

The GST and the 75 cent floor, have you identified spending cuts to meet those payments to the states?

TREASURER:

We’ve made it very clear that the payments, which are around $3 billion over the transition period, starting about three years from now, will be money during the period when the government will actually have a budget in surplus. So they’ll be taken from that.

QUESTOIN:

Those are just forecast though, what happens if the world economy goes…

TREASURER:

Well, all budgets are forecast, all estimates are forecast, indeed the figures I mentioned of $3 billion is also a forecast. So they’re all based on the assumptions you make at the time. And this is what you can do when you’re focused on growing a stronger economy. I mean, this is how you’re able to provide the essential services that Australians rely on. Now, not only have we ensured that Western Australia is getting a permanent fair share of GST, no government has done that before. The Labor Government did nothing when GST share for WA fell from a dollar and fell south of 40 and they did absolutely nothing. We stopped the drop, we provided the support payments in the interim and we’re putting in place a permanent solution to ensure that Western Australia will never face what they have faced as a result of the weaknesses of the formula over the last 8 to 10 years. So that’s what we’ve turned around. And it also means that there are more resources here in WA going into schools, into hospitals, retiring debt, improving the fiscal situation of the Western Australian government. This is important, an important change for WA. This is a big opportunity for WA to get things back on track when it comes to their own fiscal situation and to ensure the essential services that Western Australians rely on, whether it’s here in Canning or anywhere else, get that support. And it’s done in a responsible and prudent way.

QUESTION:

Just to clarify, you’re meeting with the Premier today, is that mostly around the issue of GST or is that?

TREASURER:

Yes it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to be here and catch up with him since making that announcement. So we’ve had some engagement obviously with him and Ben prior to this on this issue. Ben and I’ve been talking about this issue and working together on this issue for at least since they came to government. And so it’s important that we just touch base and I hear from him first-hand about how he sees this playing out. And we’ve got strong support from the Western Australian Government to see that everyone just comes together on this issue. The time for arguments is over, the time for getting it done for WA is here. I appreciate the strong support of the Western Australian state government for achieving that and I would hope that the Labor Party at a federal level can follow the leadership example of Mark McGowan and ensure that we all get behind this plan and make it work for Western Australians.

ANDREW HASTIE:

And Treasurer, when you meet with the Premier, if could you get him to match the federal funding for the Tonkin Highway and the Byford Train Station that would be great.

TREASURER:

I’ll put that on the list.

ANDREW HASTIE:

Thanks mate.

TREAUSRER:

Well done.