28 September 2017
Transcript - #2017190, 2017

Doorstop interview, Sydney

SUBJECTS: US corporate tax plan; Turnbull Government’s Enterprise Tax Plan to drive economic growth; Australia’s FinTech industry; Turnbull Government’s plan for affordable and reliable energy; NRL Grand Final.

TREASURER:

When the Parliament returns in a few weeks’ time there will be a very important challenge and that is Australia’s tax system has to be competitive with the rest of the world for investment. We saw overnight the United States has made it very clear, the President wants to see their corporate tax rate to be at 20 per cent. That will leave Australia stranded for investment internationally when it comes to competitiveness on tax. We outlined, before going to an election, the need to bring down Australia’s taxes for businesses so they can invest. So far we have had success for businesses up to $50 million a year in turnover. So far we have been able to have success to support small businesses up to $10 million, lifting that threshold. The instant asset write-off, making them more competitive, but we need to go further. Australia, the Australian economy and the Australian jobs that depend on that economy need more investment into the future. That investment is driven by a competitive tax system. So, the US has laid down the challenge, just like the French Government has, just like we have already seen in our own region in places like Singapore and the UK. The Labor Party is looking to strand Australian businesses on a tax island nowhere near anything we need to achieve the level of investment that will drive jobs into the future. So, this is a big challenge. Our commitment to having a competitive tax system for business investment in this country is clear. We took it to an election, we won an election. The Labor Party stands in defiant opposition to jobs and investment that is driven by a competitive tax system.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

TREASURER:

I have just spoken to a room of 300 people who are all passionate about the need for Australia to move forward with technology and innovation. The criticism that is being made of the Government is that we are moving too quickly. The Government is not going to make apologies for moving too quickly to get in place the right incentives, tax incentives, for start-up businesses and innovation to force and drive collaboration between the university sector and business. These are important sectors to drive jobs, to support the economy. We are not going to move too slowly to create jobs. We have created 500,000 jobs in just the last two years – 800,000 since we were elected. The Australian public didn’t elect us to move slowly on innovation, to move slowly on having the right tax system in place to support investment. They elected us to get on with the job, to fix problems whether it is addressing the critical issues in our energy sector and the gas sector or providing the right investment climate for people to invest in new technologies that create jobs.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

TREASURER:

The Australian Government is getting on with it - creating jobs, driving innovation, supporting start-up businesses, getting out there and securing new markets, increasing competition which is good for customers. We are getting on with the job and if the criticism is going to be made of us is that we are moving too quickly then I think that is something the Australian people will thank us for.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, what about keeping the lights on though? The ATO can’t keep its website up, the Census fell over – there is a whole plethora of technology [inaudible] last 12 months.

TREASURER:

Well, I have just talked about the FinTech sector to 300 people, where we are rocketing up the rankings for being one of the fastest take-up countries for FinTech innovation and our FinTech providers and developers are proving to be among the best in the world. So, we are creating an environment where our businesses are really getting ahead in this area and opening up new opportunities for themselves but more broadly boosting the productivity of the Australian economy. There are over 320,000 people in the last 12 months who have got a job in this economy. We have got job growth running in this economy at 2 per cent. Ten times what it was when we were first elected. So, jobs in Australia, and jobs growth in Australia, is a fact and that fact will continue to be borne out and supported into the future by continuing to drive the tax policies and other innovation policies which will boost investment in this critical area.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, you talk about FinTech as one sector what about [inaudible] and all the other areas that clearly need [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

I use FinTech as an example but the same is true whether you are talking about the medical sector or advance manufacturing and the investments we have made in defence industry procurement is a massive boon for advanced manufacturing in this country, providing support right throughout an Australian supply chain and linking those firms up with the leading technology firms and defence procurement all around the world. So, whether it is in defence industry, whether it is opening up new markets, whether it is the investments we have made through our Innovation and Science Agenda or the tax changes for new start-ups or indeed lowering the tax rate for small businesses and enabling them to instantly write-off their asset purchases of up to $20,000. All of these things are equipping business. That is why we have seen a lift in non-mining investment for this year. It is up to 5 per cent expected on CAPEX this year. That is reversing what was a -2 per cent figure previously. So, these things are turning around. We are seeing the lift in the economy starting to come through but there are better days ahead and we are making the right choices to secure those better days.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, on gas, AGL, at their Annual General Meeting outlined plans to bring in more development and import [inaudible] gas. What is the national economic benefit in bringing in gas [inaudible] Australian gas reserves and would you plan to [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

Well, in Victoria, Geoscience Australia, I understand, has estimated there are some 30,000 petajoules under the feet of Victorians. That gas has to be unlocked. We have the gas out there in Narrabri – that needs to be unlocked. The reason you are paying more for gas in New South Wales and particularly in Victoria, is because the Victorian Government is locking up their gas. They are now moving to talk to companies about importing gas that we are selling overseas. Think through the logic of that. You can open up the gas that is under your very feet or you could go to the expense of the types of approaches that Premier Andrews is talking about. Now, whether they choose to do that themselves and invest in that themselves is a matter for them. AGL will always do what is in the best interests of their shareholders, I understand that. The Turnbull Government will always do what is in national interest of Australians.

QUESTION:

Tony Abbott has suggested using the constitutional [inaudible] to take control of [inaudible].

TREASURER:

Yeah, we are not interested in a khaki solution to the gas challenges, no.

QUESTION:

President Trump, Treasurer, outlined tax reform overnight. How does that affect Australians?

TREASURER:

Well, unless we can convince the Labor Party, and the parliament, to pass the tax cuts that we currently have in the Parliament, which we introduced back in 2016, then the Labor Party will leave Australian businesses stranded on a tax island – uncompetitive with the United States, with the United Kingdom, with Singapore. I was up in China the weekend before last and they are talking about cutting corporate taxes to drive investment. Having a lower tax environment for businesses to invest is good for jobs, it's good for investment. And the Labor Party, through their politics of envy, frankly, just don't get it. They are putting a very heavy tax on jobs by not supporting us to have a more competitive tax environment globally. I mean, Donald Trump has laid down the challenge. The world is moving to lower taxes on corporate investment all around the world. And if you get out of step with that, the money will go elsewhere and so will the jobs. So, my message to Bill Shorten is to wake up to himself and understand that what he is doing is he is standing between Australians and their jobs by not supporting our enterprise tax plan that will put more people in work and deliver more and better paid jobs.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

TREASURER:

I couldn't hear the question, sorry.

QUESTION:

Donald Trump has announced a cap on [Inaudible]. Does that make it less likely that the full 1200 [Inaudible].

TREASURER:

No.

QUESTION:

Can I just ask, the F6, it’s going straight through your electorate, how important is this piece of infrastructure to your community?

TREASURER:

Well, it's not just important to southern Sydney, it is important to southern New South Wales. The F6 has been an important priority for southern Sydney and southern New South Wales for a very long time. I am pleased that the New South Wales State Government is starting to move forward on this project. There has been a corridor reservation in place for the F6 since the '50s. So, it is not a new route, well, not the specifics, the specifics will be new, I am sure. But obviously, we have got to work through all the details of how that is consulted with the community. But the benefits of the F6, I think, have always been fairly obvious. When you have got major ports down there in Wollongong and we want to see those continue to grow and expand, you need that missing link between Sydney and the south coast developed in a way that we have never achieved before. So, it is a good thing for southern Sydney, it’s a good thing for southern New South Wales and I commend the state government and the Premier for moving forward. Thank you.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, are you a fan of Macklemore, do you think he should play his song Same Love?

TREASURER:

I am a fan of the Sharks, I’m a fan of footy and I think people want to go to the footy on Sunday and watch footy. Thanks.