1 August 2018
Transcript - #2018155, 2018

Interview with Kim Landers, ABC AM

Subjects: Enterprise Tax Plan

KIM LANDERS:

Treasurer, good morning.

TREASURER:

G’day, Kim.

LANDERS:

If the tax cuts for big business are rejected by the Senate would you still take that policy intact to the next election?

TREASURER:

Well, Kim, again people are getting way ahead of themselves. We took these to the last election. We’re still in the business of implementing the mandate we got at the last election…

LANDERS:

But we know that they’re going to be served up to the Senate again…

TREASURER:

…and we continue to work with the Senate to get the best possible outcome for the Australian economy which is why we’ve pursued this policy and we’ve never found it good practice to engage in that sort of speculation or hypotheticals…

LANDERS:

But if you don’t get…

TREASURER:

…when engaging with the crossbench in the Senate and I’m not about to do it now.

LANDERS:

If the Senate says no, does that clear the ground for the Government to dump the idea?

TREASURER:

I give you the same answer. It never helps the Government in engaging with the Senate to see the implementation of the policies that we got a mandate from the Australian people at the last election to implement by engaging in those hypotheticals.

LANDERS:

And if the Senate rejects it, would you, again, seek a mandate from the Australian people at the next election?

TREASURER:

But, Kim, I just answered your question. I’m not engaging in those hypotheticals because the Government is interested in implementing our policy. Let’s be clear about this, there’s no question that this is not the right economic policy for Australia. What’s been put about – and the Labor Party has been putting it out – they said it was good economic policy. They changed their view on this, not because it’s bad economics, but because of politics and the Government will do the right thing…

LANDERS:

But you can’t convince…

TREASURER:

…for the Australian economy. It is still the case that lowering and having more competitive taxes for Australian business is good for jobs and investment and people’s wages. That’s still true and…

LANDERS:

But if you can’t convince…

TREASURER:

…the OECD said that, the IMF said that, the Treasury has said that. That is the right economic policy for Australia…

LANDERS:

I understand…

TREASURER:

…and so we’re not in this business of political expediency to jettison policies that we think are good for the Australian economy and we have to be practical about that.

LANDERS:

I understand exactly where you’re coming from but if you cannot convince the Senate crossbench…

TREASURER:

Well, Kim, you can ask me…

LANDERS:

Are you working on a…

TREASURER:

You can ask me that question 20 times…

LANDERS:

Are you working on a back-up plan?

TREASURER:

And my answer is the same. We will always do the right thing for the Australian economy and the right thing for the Australian economy now is to get that legislation passed through the Senate…

LANDERS:

To get that legislation passed through the Senate, are you prepared to compromise, tweak the package?

TREASURER:

Well, we never negotiate on AM. We negotiate and talk…

LANDERS:

So it’s all or nothing?

TREASURER:

We are working closely with the crossbench to get the outcome which we think is best for the Australian economy. But there are two issues here. It’s the right economic policy. The politics is a separate issue. Governments always have to manage politics but this is the right economic policy and one by-election result – which frankly there was a very different result in Braddon, so I don’t know how people can draw, like there’s some sort of consistent theme here.  I mean, people were voting in Braddon and the Labor Party didn’t even get a swing to them really in their own seat in a by-election.

LANDERS:

So you’re saying the tax cuts haven’t become a political liability for the Government?

TREASURER:

What I’m saying is if you look at the published polls over a period of time, you see greater support for the Government’s position. The Government has a broad suite of economic policies. Yes, there’s the issues on company tax cuts but there’s our trade agenda, there’s our support for small business, there’s our support for start-up businesses, there’s our infrastructure plan, there’s our defence industry plan, our medical industry plan…

LANDERS:

You’re running out of fingers to count all of those up on.

TREASURER:

You do need a lot of fingers, Kim, that’s right, because we have a very big economic plan that we’re implementing that is creating a stronger economy – 95,000 young people got a job in the last 12 months…

LANDERS:

So, these tax cuts are not a political liability for your Government?

TREASURER:

..that’s the biggest year of fiscal jobs growth in 30 years so our economic plan…

LANDERS:

These tax cuts are not a liability for your Government?

TREASURER:

They’re important for growth and jobs and people’s wages and people’s living…

LANDERS:

Let me ask you…

TREASURER:

Yesterday, we had the HILDA survey…

LANDERS:

Let me ask you…

TREASURER:

Let me answer this, yesterday, we had the HILDA survey which showed that the people in relative poverty in Australia has fallen to below 10 per cent. Now, that’s the best result we’ve seen in ages. We’ve got more people getting jobs, less people in poverty, we’ve got the economy growing at over three per cent, we’ve got policies to ensure that keeps happening, the US has just pursued this policy and their growth rate…

LANDERS:

Well, let me ask you something else about your policy then…

TREASURER:

…has soared to four per cent per year. So it’s the right answer for the Australian economy…

LANDERS:

Let me ask you something else about your policy, Treasurer. You’ve got some Liberal colleagues who are saying that the timing is just wrong, by pursuing it at the same time as the Royal Commission, for example, you’re making a rod for your own back. What do you say to your colleagues?

TREASURER:

We are the only Government that is forcing the banks to pay higher taxes. We have a bank levy which is raising $2 billion a year from the five largest banks in the country. No one else brought in that policy. The banks will always be paying more tax than all companies in the country. That’s our policy. We introduced the bank levy. The Labor Party didn’t introduce a bank levy. In fact, that bank levy was actually critical to ensuring we could make the commitment to the strongest level for schools funding that any Government has ever made…

LANDERS:

So, how many of your Coalition colleagues…

TREASURER:

…so, this lie that Bill Shorten is telling that somehow that we’re giving to the banks and taking away from schools – the reverse is true. We have actually taken from the bank levy from the major banks and we’re investing that money in the strongest needs-based schools funding package that the country has ever seen.

LANDERS:

How many of your Coalition colleagues then are approaching you and saying; look, if the Senate knocks us back, we just don’t want to see the Government persist with this?

TREASURER:

People still support the policy because they…

LANDERS:

How many of your Coalition colleagues are expressing some doubts to you?

TREASURER:

People are expressing confidence in the policy. They believe it’s the right economic policy…

LANDERS:

But if they can’t get it through, are they telling you, “let’s just leave it”?

TREASURER:

Look, I’m telling you what they’re telling me. They’re telling me that this is the right economic policy to grow the Australian economy. You know, if you don’t grow the Australian economy, well, how are you going to pay for hospitals? Bill Shorten doesn’t have a plan for funding hospitals and funding schools because he has no plan to grow the Australian economy. That’s why he can’t be trusted. If you’re voting Labor, you’re voting to have less confidence in your own job, your own house price, your own wages – all of this is under threat because of Labor’s $200 billion tax plan.

LANDERS:

Treasurer, thank you very much for speaking with AM this morning.

TREASURER:

Thanks, Kim.