5 March 2015
Transcript - #2015038, 2015

Interview with David Speers, Sky

DAVID SPEERS:

Joe Hockey, there’s some pretty scary numbers in here. I’m wondering when you had a look at them, what was your reaction? Are you on the right track with all you’re doing or does it make you want to change some of your directions?

TREASURER:

No, I don’t think there are scary numbers there provided we control our destiny – influence our destiny and that’s in the hands of the Australian people. It’s exciting that by the middle of this century life expectancy will be close to 100. It’s exciting that new technology is going to have a huge positive impact on our lives. It’s only scary if we do nothing and we’re not going to sit back and do nothing.

DAVID SPEERS:

But this is the point: if the measures that are stuck in the Senate remain stuck in the Senate, we’re going to have a debt of $2.6 trillion in 40 years?

TREASURER:

And that’s a message to the Labor Party, to the Greens and the independent Senators…

DAVID SPEERS:

And the Government…

TREASURER:

Everyone. It’s a message – we’ve got to make sure we live within our means and there’s no gilding the lily on numbers. They are what they are.

DAVID SPEERS:

So, you can’t afford to drop any of these measures – any more of these measures? You’ve already dropped one of them – the GP co-payment.

TREASURER:

We’re always prepared to look at alternatives provided that we know that the alternatives are going to pass through the Parliament. Now, it’s up to Mr Shorten and others to offer their suggestions and they can’t wait to the next election because quite clearly, as this document shows, if we take action now we can control our future. If we don’t, we won’t be able to control our future.

DAVID SPEERS:

It says in this report we’re not going to get tax relief until 2021. The bracket creep’s going to continue going until then. Is that realistic? We’re going to have to hold off another five years?

TREASURER:

As it stands, we want to give tax relief because it is unacceptable for Australians on average wages to move into the second-highest tax bracket, which will happen over the next two to three years. So, this is all part of the equation. You can’t give tax cuts if you’re not living within your means and the only way we can live within our means is if we work with our political opponents, which we’re prepared to do.

DAVID SPEERS:

It’s not going to encourage people into work is it if you can’t bring down the tax rate?

TREASURER:

This is the dilemma; we’ve got to give people an incentive to work. We need people to work – we want to give them the choice. So, look, I see this as a document that is positive because we are on the threshold of our greatest ever era. We’ve just got to control our destiny as a nation.

DAVID SPEERS:

And finally, how reliable are the numbers? You’ve said population growth is going to slow, for example. What makes you think that?

TREASURER:

I mean, there’s many different components but the assumptions are pretty similar to what was in previous intergenerational reports under Wayne Swan and Peter Costello. So, they’re the best assumptions – they’re Treasury assumptions and we deal with the numbers as they are.

DAVID SPEERS:

Treasurer, thank you.

TREASURER:

Thanks David.