14 April 2015
Transcript - #2015077, 2015

Doorstop interview, New York

REPORTER:

[inaudible] wants you to freeze last year’s GST distribution to ensure WA’s share doesn’t fall further. Do you support that?

TREASURER:

Well it’s one of a number of proposals that are being considered. We’re waiting to hear back from the States about their response to the specifics of the grants commission, but quite frankly I think all Australians would have some sympathy for Western Australia receiving only 30 cents in the dollar from the GST contributions made by their citizens.

REPORTER:

So it’s something you would seriously consider?

TREASURER:

We’ll leave it for the moment to the Premiers to discuss with the Prime Minster. But there’s a lot of water to flow under this bridge

REPORTER:

Scott Morrison says the States need to put politics aside, and come up with a solution to the GST carve up. Do you think there’s any chance that will actually happen?

TREASURER:

The States have been constructive. I’m sure they’ve all got a view about the carve up of the GST. What matters is that we continue to reform. We can’t stop, we’ve got to keep up with the rest of the world. And ensuring that States undertake reform, such as privatising assets, such as deregulating retail trading hours, such as getting rid of the old systems and introducing new systems that keep up with the rest of the world is the best way we can that we ensure we have continuing prosperity in Australia. If there’s anything you can learn in a place like this, it’s that you can easily be left behind by the rest of the world. Australia is at its best when it’s competing with the rest of the world. So we’ve got to unshackle our economy and Western Australia in particular needs to unshackle its own economy by getting rid of some of the old paradigms, restrictions on retail trading hours, owning poles and wires. We’ve got to keep up with the rest of the world to maintain our quality of living.

REPORTER:

In terms of [inaudible] the Federal Government, what kind of pressure and leadership can you show to the States?

TREASURER:

We’re working with the States, our asset recycling program is being embraced by most States. We want Western Australia to embrace our asset recycling program. Now’s the time for Premier Barnett to lay down a reform agenda that’s going to deliver Western Australia the sort of growth that Western Australians want, and the rest of Australia really needs from that state.

REPORTER:

I think you said yesterday that you weren’t going to chase the fall in iron ore revenue by raising taxes. But how are you going to make up the shortfall?

TREASURER:

Well we have to be prudent, we have to be careful with taxpayer’s money. Where we have new spending, we have to fully offset with appropriate savings. That ensures that we can have the right recalibration in the budget to focus on growth and jobs, and to pay for our families’ package. But at the same time, make the necessary savings to ensure that that is all affordable. Ultimately, iron ore might be down today, but it will come back, and Australia’s future is much, much brighter than has been our past, because the rest of the world needs what we have. Not just the quality of our people, but our natural resources, our agriculture, and importantly, our energy. These are the things that are going to drive prosperity for Australia into the future.

 REPORTER:

Things like your family package, they’re packages you’re really keen to get through. They’re expensive – can you see that you’re going to have to make some cuts there?

TREASURER:

We are going to make savings to pay for any new expenditure. The savings are going to be reasonable, they’re not going to hit the family budget.

REPORTER:

Have you spoken to any US officials about tax avoidance? If so, who have you spoken to?

TREASURER:

No, we’ll be continuing our discussions. I met with Standard and Poor’s this morning, we had a very detailed discussion about the global economy and the Australian economy. I think the optimism I have about the future of Australia is shared by many others over the medium and long term. We’ve got to get through the more immediate challenges. Once we come through those, I have no doubt that Australia’s future is good prosperity.

REPORTER:

One last question, will you be meeting News Corp’s boss, Rupert Murdoch, while you are over here?

TREASURER:

I don’t speculate on my meetings. Nor should you.