Doorstop interview, Sydney

  • Transcript, E&OE
Topics: Legislating tax cuts.
24 June 2019

Simon Birmingham: Well thanks very much for coming along today. I want to say a few words in particular about the very weak response of Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party when it comes to providing tax relief for hardworking Australians. What we see from Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party is a party that is weak, is divided and is failing to back hardworking, aspirational Australians in their ambitions for the future. And this is a party that is demonstrating just how out of touch it is and who appears to have forgotten the result of the election held only five weeks ago. That election was a clear referendum between Scott Morrison's vision of lower taxes and the Labor Party's views for higher taxes. And what we see is that Albo and the Labor Party are still being run by Bill Shorten and the same opinions that drove them to policies of higher taxes. And their decision today is one that continues to place higher taxes on hardworking Australian families.

Now this is something that we had hoped the Labor Party would come to their senses on. But instead, Anthony Albanese is imposing and planning to impose a higher tax burden on Australian families and more uncertainty on the Australian economy. The quickest way, the best way to give long-term certainty to the Australian economy is for the Coalition's full plan for tax relief that will benefit some 10 million Australians, to be legislated in its entirety when the Parliament returns.

Labor say they're going to oppose stage three of this plan but I invite people to look closely at just what it is they say they are opposing because there is only one element of our tax plan that remains unlegislated at that stage three stage. And that is the plan to reduce the 32.5 cent in the dollar tax rate, down to 30 cents in the dollar. It means that for those earning wages between $45,000 and $200,000 they'll see their tax cut from 32.5 cents in the dollar to 30 cents in the dollar. That's the only thing Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party say they're going to vote against. They're going to vote against tax relief for workers earning $45,000 or more. Now I think many Australians would wonder why it is that they would want to stand in the way of such tax relief. Tax relief that has been advocated by economists, tax relief that is demonstrated to ensure we keep our tax rates more competitive and don't blow out to have some of the highest income tax rates in the world. The Labor Party is looking pretty poor under the leadership of Anthony Albanese at present. He can't manage to get John Setka sick to resign, he can't manage to get the Labor Party to change their position on income tax. This is a party and a leadership that is showing real signs of weakness and division, because we've now had days even weeks, of Labor MPs quietly backgrounding and publicly calling for Labor to let the tax package through in its entirety. And yet today, it seems it was Bill Shorten still running the show not Anthony Albanese.

Ultimately Anthony Albanese is a leader who appears to have all of the authority of a field mouse because he can't manage to get the result that would give Australian families a better, fairer, tax system for the future.

Journalist: What is the rush in locking in tax cuts that arent going to kick in for another five years, why not take it one step at a time?

Simon Birmingham: Why is it that the Labor Party can only think just a few weeks ahead, a few months ahead, rather than actually support a plan that's about reform for the future? I think Australians want their government to look more than a few months or even a year or two into the future, but to be able to plan for the future just as they plan for their futures when they take out mortgages and make long-term commitments in their lives. We want to make sure that we deliver long-term infrastructure vision as we are, long term support for public services as we are with the NDIS, and indeed long-term improvements to all of our tax system. But particularly these changes in relation to income tax which over the next few years benefit 10 million Australians who are hardworking Australians who go out there take on an extra shift, get a promotion and shouldn't suffer the consequences of bracket creep, or should certainly be able to get into a position where they don't see more than a third of their wages taken away in taxes, but instead actually see that level of tax come down as I say 32.5 cents in the dollar to 30 cents. One change starting for those earning $45,000 or more, why on earth would the Labor Party stand in the way of that simple change in tax relief?

Journalist: What discussions have you had with (indistinct) Centre Alliance Senators about tax cuts and the coming Senate session?

Simon Birmingham: Well the decision today by the Labor shadow cabinet should not let Anthony Albanese or the Labor Party off the hook. The simplest, most effective way to deliver tax relief and tax reform for hardworking Australians is for Labor to let this package pass the Parliament unamended. That's what the Australian people voted for five weeks ago and I call upon the Labor Party and the Labor caucus to revisit this decision of the shadow cabinet, to think about the fact that they are now going to stand in the way of Australians earning $45,000, $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 or $80,000 from getting tax relief into the future. From seeing Australia have a more competitive tax regime 32.5 cents in the dollar reduced down to 30 cents in the dollar.

Journalist: So a proposal for a new commercial port in Darwin is being backed by Andrew Hastie, can you tell us what stage the discussions are at on that idea?

Simon Birmingham: Look I'll leave those questions to rightly the Infrastructure Minister. Of course these matters, if they are commercial, they need to stack up commercially and there are things that people will have to bring to fruition, proposals with that commercial backing and then of course work through all the relevant environmental approvals and other such things.

Journalist: Given the state of the economy is the government prepared to revisit company tax cuts to get investment and productivity moving?

Simon Birmingham: Well our plans for the economy were outlined comprehensively by the Prime Minister in his speech today to the West Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. They are plans where he outlined clearly the importance of seeing our full tax reform agenda legislated and implemented and giving that certainty that the Reserve Bank Governor, that the leaders of industry and business, and leading economists have all called for. He also outlined the importance of a productivity agenda driven by eliminating unnecessary red tape, by getting more effective and quicker approvals for Australian businesses in terms of their expansion opportunities, by ensuring that we have work where Australians are incentivised, to work harder and an industrial relations system that rewards those who work harder and is as efficient as possible for Australian businesses. It's a comprehensive plan for economic growth and it starts first and foremost with ensuring tax relief on income tax is legislated for Australians.

Journalist: So you mentioned that obviously the Infrastructure Minister would be the best person to talk to about the stage of the plans on that Port, but are you able to confirm whether there have been any informal talks with the US about improved access for Marines from the proposal?

Simon Birmingham: Well look we have of course agreements in place in relation to the United States and the operation of US marines in Darwin. That's been a successful and expansive activity over a period of time in terms of the detail of those arrangements, I would in that case refer you to the Defence Minister.

Journalist: Just back to the Centre Alliance senators, so have you spoken with any of them ahead of the upcoming Senate session about the tax cuts?

Simon Birmingham: Well we talk to all of the crossbench senators about all aspects of the government's legislative program and that's exactly what people would expect us to do. But just because we're having discussions with the crossbench about backing in all of our legislation and treating them with the courtesy and level of engagement that you would expect, doesn't mean the Labor Party should be able to just walk away from this. The Australian economy deserves certainty and Australian workers deserve the knowledge that they'll get the tax relief they voted for five weeks ago and Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party should stop standing in the way of that tax relief for hardworking Australians. Thanks guys.

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