11 December 2017
Transcript - #2017243, 2017

Press Conference, Sydney

SUBJECTS: Small business tax cuts, energy, Sam Dastyari

JOHN ALEXANDER:

Treasurers both, welcome to Bennelong, welcome to Ultra Tune – a small business we've helped with our instant asset write-off, lower taxes and helping them with the ability to be able to keep [inaudible].

TREASURER:

Well, thanks, John. It's great to be here with you and it's great to be here with Ray at Ultra Tune and it's also good to be here with my good friend Dominic Perrottet. I don't know what it's called when you have a gathering of Treasurers together, I'm sure there's an acronym for it but we're pleased to be here supporting John Alexander – and Ray for that matter – and all small and medium sized businesses throughout the Bennelong electorate. There's 18,000 of these businesses here at Bennelong and they are benefitting from a growing economy. A growing economy that has been driven both at Commonwealth – at federal – and a state level. It wasn't that long ago here in New South Wales – six years ago – that the New South Wales economy was at the bottom of the pack and that's when Kristina Keneally was the premier and now under Gladys Berejiklian, we're at the top of the pack. And last week's National Accounts figures showed that again, the quarterly growth figures for New South Wales topping the pack yet again and Dominic Perrottet has been part of the team at state level that has been rebuilding the nation's finances, regrowing the Australian economy in New South Wales and that has had big benefits here in the electorate of Bennelong. But together with JA and the team at a Commonwealth level, we've really been putting in the work to support small and medium sized businesses. They now have the instant asset write-off which we've just seen some of the great work that's been doing in this small business here but on top of that, that instant asset write-off has now been extended to businesses up to $10 million in turnover. That added another 100,000 businesses all around the country that employ 2.2 million Australians. Those small businesses were also getting access to doing their GST on a cash basis, pooled depreciation, all things that help small businesses grow. Now, what I know is the Labor party are going to reverse the tax cuts we've given to small and medium sized businesses. They have already locked in the $25 billion costed by Treasury in revenue of reversing that measure to pay for promises they have already made. So, you're voting for Labor at the by-election, you're voting for a tax cut to be reversed for small and medium sized businesses here in Bennelong. Those small and medium sized businesses need the tax cuts we've already legislated so they can have more of their own money that they've earnt in businesses that plough back into those businesses to employ more Australians and to see small and medium sized businesses thrive and grow just like they do here in Bennelong. They've been working with JA for a long time here in Bennelong and this part of Sydney is a real economic powerhouse. We've got large businesses, we've got smaller businesses, we've got innovation companies that are just paving the way for the Australian economy are all based here in Bennelong. And we want to see that continue, I'm going to hand over to Dom because the New South Wales government is doing great things for small businesses as well but most importantly, they've taken an economy that Kristina Keneally left at the bottom of the pack and they've put it at the top of the pack and they've got our finances back on track and we cannot allow Kristina Keneally to do to Bennelong what Labor and her did to New South Wales.

DOMINIC PERROTTET:

Thanks, Scott. It's great to be here with my good friend Scott Morrison, Federal Treasurer, but also JA, John Alexander who has been a great member for Bennelong and we're out here campaigning today because it's only a Liberal government at both a state and federal level that can provide the economic stability to have our state and our nation grow. As Scott has said, under Labor in New South Wales, we've had the worst performing economy in the country. It says a lot about Labor that their star candidate is somebody who presided over the worst government in the state's history. We had the lowest economic growth, the slowest jobs growth, the highest unemployment rate, the lowest retail growth, on every single economic indicator under the Labor party we came last. Kristina Keneally made Sydney look like the Northern Territory as an economic powerhouse and what we have done through strong financial management over the last six years is turn around those 16 years of Labor's woeful reign over the state of New South Wales. And the reality is, as Scott knows all too well, if you don't run your finances well there are real life consequences for the people of the state. Being here with Ray, being here at his business today where he's been for 27 years, he knows that by having lower taxes and a lot of the initiatives the Federal Government has run supports his business. The other states around the nation are increasing tax, but here in New South Wales, we've been able to reduce the tax burden and that is because whether it's a New South Wales government or a Liberal federal government were able to reduce the tax burden on businesses so they can employ more people and assist our economy growing so it's great to be here with John Alexander.

TREASURER:

Thanks a lot, Dom. So 1000 jobs a day – or thereabouts – has been what we've been achieving as a Coalition federal government. John Alexander is a key part of that and we need John to go back to work for Bennelong as the re-elected member here at this by-election so we can get on about the job of creating jobs. A thousand jobs a day is what has been happening under the Turnbull Government this year and John Alexander has been a key part of that and we need him back as the member for Bennelong so we can continue with that work for Bennelong and for Australia. Questions?

QUESTION:

Should Sam Dastyari stay in Parliament?

TREASURER:

Before we get to the Sam Dastyari questions, questions on small business, the economy, these issues.

QUESTION:

ATO figures show 732 companies and $500 billion last year that paid no corporate tax, that's more than the 670 companies that were caught in the year earlier, why is the problem getting worse?

TREASURER:

Under this Government, we've got the toughest multi-national anti-avoidance tax laws in the world. We're cracking down particularly on multi-nationals, large multi-nationals are now completely restructuring how they go about their affairs. Those changes will particularly see revenues flow into next financial year which goes beyond the period in this financial year that that report was based on so the laws have been put in place to deal with the issues that are being raised. Let's not forget, it was the Labor party that voted against multi-national anti-avoidance laws in the Parliament. John Alexander voted for them, the Labor party voted against them and that's why whether it's ensuring the big companies pay their tax or small companies like this one get their tax cuts, only a Liberal-National Government at a federal level will continue to deliver that.

QUESTION:

Are you comfortable with a company like Excel and Mobil declaring an income of $8 million in Australia but not paying any corporate tax?

TREASURER:

I think every multi-national should pay the tax that they should be paying on the income that they earn here and that's what our laws are designed to achieve and it's not just that, for small businesses, what we've been able to achieve going forward on energy with the National Energy Guarantee is critical. Under Kristina Keneally, energy prices went up 60 per cent in New South Wales, 60 per cent. Our National Energy Guarantee is addressing that issue in particular and it's great to have the New South Wales government support for that policy and we look forward to getting further support around the country on the National Energy Guarantee which the modelling shows will mean $400 a year less in electricity bills for the average household.

QUESTION:

On the issue of energy, there's a KPMG report out today, [inaudible] for low-income households, families struggling to pay energy bills, what's the Federal Government doing to help those families?

TREASURER:

The National Energy Guarantee is designed to ensure that we get that downward pressure on electricity prices and I said $400 a year – that's off an average bill of $1500 – that's a significant saving already through what we've been able to achieve with the better deals coming out of the retail companies. And we're seeing major savings that people are being able to achieve because we've got the energy companies coming to the table and giving those families, particularly on hardship arrangements, better deals and making sure they're aware of those deals. So we've been taking action on energy all year and so we look forward to those big changes that we've announced being put in place and ensuring that Australian families and Australian small businesses in particular will face cheaper electricity bills in the future because of the work we've done.

QUESTION:

How can the Government float tax cuts for lower middle income earners when some of the biggest companies aren't paying tax here?

TREASURER:

It's important that we put as much money back in the pockets of Australians that they earn as possible. That's true for small businesses which we have already achieved. We have already achieved that by lowering the tax rate for small and medium sized businesses up to a turnover of $50 million a year. The Labor party wants to reverse those tax cuts. A vote for Labor at the Bennelong by-election is a vote to abolish the small business tax cuts. Kristina Keneally needs to be clear with the people of Bennelong that she supports the small business tax cuts being reversed.

QUESTION:

But what about lower middle income earners?

TREASURER:

As the Prime Minister and I have said, we're working to deliver those tax cuts for middle income earners. I've already delivered in my first Budget a tax cut for middle income earners. We lifted the threshold for the middle income rate from $80,000 to $87,000 so my record is there for everyone to see. Wherever I can, I will cut taxes whether it's for small businesses or middle income earners.

QUESTION:

Why aren't you making big companies pay taxes?

TREASURER:

I am.

QUESTION:

Do you have a date for the Mid-Year Budget review?

TREASURER:

Yes, I do.

[INAUDIBLE QUESTION]

TREASURER:

It will be before Christmas.

QUESTION:

Sorry, Mr Morrison, taking it back to energy. You mentioned there are some important [inaudible], one of the things in that KPMG report is that the take-up of the understanding isn't there. What can families do to make sure they're getting the best deal – perhaps [inaudible] – what can they do?

TREASURER:

The Energy Made Easy website is there to facilitate that very process. They can be aware of the deals but the best thing they can do is get on to their retailer. We've forced the retailers to make contact with their customers about these issues and to advise them of the offers that are available to them to talk that through with their customers. And that's what should happen and even through my own electorate office, I'm aware of my own constituents do and I know John will be aware before he had to stand down for the by-election, would be getting the same. Getting the cost of energy down is what we've been focusing on all year. That's been our focus. That and jobs and balancing the Budget – we're on track for our balanced Budget projected in 2020-21 – and we'll be giving the Mid-Year Update very soon and that will continue to show that we're on track.

QUESTION:

Should Sam Dastyari stay in Parliament?

TREASURER:

Sam Dastyari should not only leave the Labor party, he should leave the Parliament. Sam Dastyari has betrayed the values he said he would uphold when he became a member of Parliament. I think he's let all Australians down, no matter what their history or origin is, Australia is a proud multicultural society and that's no more true than here in the electorate of Bennelong and I think Australians are disappointed and basically fed up with Sam Dastyari staying in Parliament. What they're more fed up with, I think, is a Leader of the Opposition who's just prepared to wave it away and dismiss it as a non-event. He's been caught. Sam Dastyari has been caught betraying his country and that means he's betraying every patriotic Australian in this country. And if he were to do the honourable thing, he would leave the Parliament, but he's been caught cheating on his country and he should pack his bags and leave the House and he should never come back and if he won't do it, Bill Shorten should make him do it. He should immediately sack him from the Labor party, the fact that Bill Shorten has tolerated him in the Labor party, the standard that you walk past is the standard that you uphold and Bill Shorten is accepting a standard of someone betraying their country and I think that is a slap in the face to every patriotic Australian. Every Australian of every ethnic background. It's a slap in their face, it's a slap in all Australians' face and that's why it's not something positive for the country.

QUESTION:

Are you concerned by challenging Chinese influence in Australia? You might be offending some Chinese-Australian voters in this electorate.

TREASURER:

No, I think Chinese-Australians would be offended with anyone who betrays their country in Australia. Chinese-Australians – one of the great things that has happened over almost two centuries is one of the biggest Australian celebrations a year is Chinese New Year, it has become an Australian celebration. A uniquely Australian celebration, something that Australians of all backgrounds look forward to and participate in – that is a demonstration of how melded the Chinese national culture has become as part of Australia. We're a country of so many different backgrounds and we celebrate it and Chinese New Year is just one of those opportunities where that is on display and one thing I know about Chinese-Australians is they are so strong on issues of family values, they are so strong on issues of education and the economy, small businesses here in Bennelong, John, the many Chinese-Australians [inaudible] who are here, who have been part of this economy for a long period of time. They would be disappointed in an Australian senator who has let down Australia as much as anyone else would be.

QUESTION:

On a related issue, do you think there should be a close look at Andrew Robb's move into a cosy Chinese job straight out of Parliament?

TREASURER:

I'm not aware of any reason why that would be necessary.

QUESTION:

I've just got a question for John Alexander, your Government's going very hard on its foreign interference policy, do you think that's going to backfire on Chinese voters here in Bennelong?

ALEXANDER:

No, I think there is a realisation of [inaudible] free trade agreement. We embrace our diplomatic relations with China, our commercial relations but probably the strongest relationship we have is that [inaudible] from China have chosen to make their home here in Bennelong around the eastern area [inaudible], I think we think it's an eastern celebration and our business community is vibrant…

QUESTION:

What about the conception of those policies to Chinese voters here – there's a negative perception that could turn them to Labor.

ALEXANDER:

It hasn't been raised at all. The Chinese community that's involved in business is delighted at the lower taxation rates right from small traders to just down the road at [inaudible] who are in the process of investing $100 million into plant equipment built in Australia that would increase a number of employees and drive foreign [inaudible].

QUESTION:

Would you prefer not to be campaigning with this shadow hanging over this campaign?

ALEXANDER:

I don't see the shadow at all.

QUESTION:

Mr Morrison, one more question if I could please, what change is there in the Australian economy if China [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

China and Australia have a very practical and strong relationship. Remember, we were the Government that negotiated in completing this China-Australia free trade agreement and that agreement has been a real boom in the Australian economy and we will continue to have very strong economic ties with China. They are a big customer of ours and we're a big customer of theirs. Earlier this year, I led the strategic economic dialogue between Australia and China and we discussed everything from tourism to education to resources and manufacturing and investment more broadly and what we have is a very strong economic relationship. One of the reasons Australia's economy continues its strong growth, its solid growth is because we live in a part of the world where we've been able to put in place very long-sighted economic relationships. Not just with China and the agreement that was negotiated by our Turnbull and the Abbott Governments – the Coalition Governments – but also the agreements and the arrangements we've got in place with countries like Singapore and throughout ASEAN, with Japan, with South Korea, we're a Government that's focused on creating economic opportunities for the country at large – whether it's pursuing those economic ties and economic relationships with our region or whether it's providing the small business tax cuts to Ray and his team here at Ultra Tune. We work the full spectrum when it comes to great economic opportunities for Australia and the risk to that is a Bill Shorten-led Labor government and a Bill Shorten-led Labor government is hoping to see Kristina Keneally elected here and we can't allow that to happen because we need John to be able to get back to work for the people of Bennelong and to continue the great work he's doing – whether it's on dealing with investments of $100 million that John's been able to secure with the Macquarie interchange, this is a guy who just gets about his work, he does his job everyday and he's been doing a fantastic job and we'd love to see him back there, back on the tools. Thanks.