3 November 2017
Transcript - #2017214, 2017

Doorstop interview, Melbourne

SUBJECTS: Turnbull Government’s Enterprise Tax Plan to drive economic growth; strongest full-time jobs growth in recorded labour market history; Address to the Australian British Chamber of Commerce; citizenship

TREASURER:

Last night we saw the Trump administration working with Republicans in the House through the Ways and Means Committee confirming their intention to move to a 20 per cent corporate tax rate in the United States as I have just said to the business address here this morning, it is important that Australia does not get stranded on a corporate tax island. Bill Shorten's plan is to see Australia stranded while major competitor countries, whether it's the United States, or indeed the United Kingdom or anyone else, any other country that is following this global consensus of reducing company taxes, he wants to move in the other direction. He wants to leave jobs and business and investments stranded and he wants to see those jobs, businesses and investments go offshore. This is not something the Australian economy can afford. This is not something that Paul Keating would have done, it's not something that Bob Hawke would have done and it's important that the Labor party now puts aside the politics and does what's right in Australia's economic interests and supports the Enterprise Tax Plan which is good for jobs. The Turnbull Government has presided over the strongest full-time jobs growth in recorded labour market history in Australia. We want to see more jobs, we want to see more and better paid jobs and our Enterprise Tax Plan is part of that. It is one part of a broad-based agenda, whether it's on trade, dealing with energy, defence procurement, expanding our defence supply chain, investment in public infrastructure here in Victoria and everywhere else around the country. This is driving investment but ensuring we have a competitive tax system is absolutely critical and the Americans, once again, have laid out that challenge, that challenge has already been laid down by the British, the French and others and it is time for Bill Shorten to put aside the politics and put Australia first rather than the Labor party first.

QUESTION:

Just on some other matters this morning...

TREASURER:

Are there any questions on that or anything I said in the speech this morning. I'm happy to go to other matters. I'm sure you listened very carefully.

QUESTION:

How do you resolve the question of Josh Frydenberg's citizenship that is not through an audit then?

TREASURER:

Well, there is nothing to be resolved. This hyperventilated accusation against Josh Frydenberg, I think, just demonstrates once again we've spent enough time, energy, cost on this issue. We're now getting to, I think, the rather disappointing level where stateless refugees to Australia actually coming here after the Second World War are being drawn into this. The Australian public, I think, have had a gutful of this. It's hard enough to understand how this situation arrived in the first place, it came out of absolute nowhere, the High Court has made its decision and we need to get back to what the Australian people expect everyone to focus on. The Government is certainly doing that. I would encourage others to do the same. The way that these allegations have been set against Minister Frydenberg, I think, just highlights the hysteria which has now gripped some of the ways that these matters have been dealt with, and I think it demonstrates that frankly enough is enough. It's time to move on. If individual members have issues, then they can raise them, but we're not getting into these Salem Witch Trials on citizenship through the media. We will be moving on as a government and focussing on things important to Australia.

QUESTION:

But this isn't about citizenship though, it's about complying with the laws. You require every Australian to comply with the law, why aren't we requiring our federal representatives?

TREASURER:

Well, we are.

QUESTION:

Clearly they are not, we've got five…

TREASURER:

No, I'm sorry. We had this discussion at yesterday's press conference. Members of the Australian Parliament have self-identified, put themselves before the High Court or since then have self-identified and resigned from the Parliament. So Australian parliamentarians have been ensuring and been very open and on their own initiative have been ensuring their compliance and where they haven't been compliant, have taken the necessary steps. Now, that's how it should happen, that's exactly how it should happen. But enough time, money and energy has been wasted on the endless discussion of these issues, and I think Australians are fed up with it. It's one of the reasons why Australians are turning down the sound on Canberra, and it's not just on politicians, it's on the media as well, because this issue is not something that Australians are concerned about. They are concerned about Bill Shorten's tax policies, not his genealogy. They are concerned about the fact that Bill Shorten would restart the people smuggling trade, not who his parents are. These are issues that are of concern to Australians. They are worried about their energy prices and the fact that Bill Shorten's 45 per cent emissions reduction target would mean that power prices would be astronomical under a Shorten government. They are not worried about who people's parents are. That is an internal discussion that has been happening in Canberra that the rest of the country just doesn't get and they want all of us to focus on the things that matter to them.

QUESTION:

What would Mitch Fifield have done when Stephen Parry approached him about his citizenship dilemma?

TREASURER:

I think Mitch explained those things yesterday.

QUESTION:

Do you think that Senator Fifield is appearing to be contributing to a cover-up in terms of a citizenship...

TREASURER:

No, I don't.

QUESTION:

I know you are saying these are allegations that have been raised but if other senators have come before the High Court, they have been found to have been dual citizens, this has now been raised with Josh Frydenberg. Doesn't it need to be resolved as the others have?

TREASURER:

No.

QUESTION:

Why not? Why is Josh Frydenberg different?

TREASURER:

Because I don't believe people are guilty until they're proved innocent in this country and that's frankly how some of these issues are now being raised. There are no issues with Josh, there are none, absolutely none, and, I think, frankly the suggestion has been pretty offensive with regard to Josh's family and his family history. I mean, how far are they going to go with this? Seriously, how much further are you going to go with this? Here is an Australian, whose family came here out of the horrors of the Second World War and apparently that's the reason why energy prices are too high. No, they're not. That's rubbish, and it's time for everybody to focus on what matters to Australians and it isn't who Josh Frydenberg's parents are. Josh Frydenberg's parents are great Australians. Josh is a great Australian. They are a family that has demonstrated, frankly, what the great joy of Australia is all about. Let's celebrate that. Let's celebrate that about Josh and let's get back to work.

Thanks very much for your time.