15 May 2015
Transcript - #2015124, 2015

Doorstop interview, Launceston

TREASURER:

Well, thank you Andrew and Carl, thank you for having us on your crayfish boat. It’s fantastic and it’s impeccably clean as well, which is just a real testament to your efficiency and it says a lot  about how hard you and your family work in this business. On Tuesday night we focused on small business and families and here’s the embodiment of both. A family that’s working hard to try and get ahead. As a result of the trade agreements we’ve been able to negotiate, we’re opening up new doors. That helps to get better prices for Australians that are selling their goods into the Asian market. But also on Tuesday night we gave small business a tax cut, to give them back more of their own money. The benefit of that is, it helps with their cash flow, but also, where necessary they can get the tools they need in order to grow their business. I think it’s really encouraging to hear stories of such as that of Carl. It is important that this be all part of a carefully considered plan by the government, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. A step by step approach to strengthen the Australian economy and vitally importantly, we continue with a considered plan. Now, Mr Shorten said that he suddenly loves small business last night, which is intriguing given he was part of a government that had five small business Ministers in six years. But, let that pass for the moment. The fact is, we welcome his renewed commitment to cut taxes on small business but he’s leaving two thirds of small businesses behind, because by cutting only company tax, the two thirds of small businesses in Australia that are not incorporated, that are partnerships or sole traders, they miss out under Bill Shorten’s plan. That’s exactly why, last Tuesday night we gave those businesses up to a $1,000 tax rebate, as well as giving those companies a 1.5 per cent tax cut that qualifies small businesses. So you can’t leave anyone behind when you change policy. Clearly Mr Shorten’s policy is not only going to create two tiers of small business, but it’s going to mean that one small business is going to be severely disadvantaged against another, simply because of the fact that they’ve got a different legal structure. So, it takes a government that understands small business to know that you’ve got to carry all small businesses and give all small businesses the chance to get ahead and that’s what we’re focused on.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, is there merit in Labor’s proposal to – for a 5 per cent cut to small business tax or should there be a timeline for that? Is that something you would like to achieve?

TREASURER:

Well, I would love to further reduce all taxes, not just company tax, but all taxes. The reason why Labor’s proposal isn’t working is because it leaves behind two thirds of the small businesses in Australia that are not companies. So, Mr Shorten didn’t quite understand that and obviously, we did on Tuesday night, because at the same time that we gave small business companies a tax cut, we gave those small businesses that are not companies a tax cut as well that is the equivalent of 1.5 per cent. So, as I said, you can’t have two different types of taxation systems for the same small business depending on its structure, it’s not going to work.

JOURNALIST:

How many jobs will your small business package create in Tasmania?

TREASURER:

Look, I’m very confident – there’s 7,500 small businesses right here in Andrew’s electorate, and also don’t forget a lot of farms are small businesses as well. Those farms are getting not just the instant asset write off, they can deduct 100 per cent of anything up to $20,000, any item. But also, we’re doing something about fencing and we’re also giving them the opportunity to immediately write off fencing, we’re giving them the opportunity to also immediately write off other infrastructure on the farm. So, there’s going to be an uplift. Now, I’m not into big bold predictions on what the second round effects will be. What I do know is if you give small business back the opportunity to invest in their business, they will grow, they will grow. As we just heard from Carl, he’s got better prices as a result of where we’ve gone in relation to trade with Asia, that’s terrific. He’s got a real incentive with our tax cuts to small business, that’s terrific, and he’s employing more people.

JOURNALIST:

Where and when can we expect an announcement about the Cadbury funding, the former Cadbury funding, how it will be spent?

TREASURER:

Well look, this is something that we’re carefully considering as well. I haven’t got any updated news on that. But we’ve put a lot of money into Tasmania because we’re backing not only the enterprise of our local members like Andrew and Eric and Brett, but significantly, we’re backing the State Government as well which has got an open for business attitude.

JOURNALIST:

Will the $16 billion definitely go towards tourism developments?

TREASURER:

We’ll just see, we’ll just see. I’m not making any commitments on the run but we’re putting a lot of new money into Tasmania at the moment.

JOURNALIST: Your take on the waiving of HECS for certain university courses?

TREASURER:

I’m just curious as to Mr Shorten’s numbers last night, because our early estimates are that they don’t stack up and that he might be billions of dollars out, but I’ll leave that to the Minister for Education at this point.

JOURNALIST:

Why wasn’t there money in the Budget to continue funding for the John L Grove centre here in Launceston, you’ve obviously seen the…

TREASURER:

Yeah look I have and Andrew’s talked to me about it, I know he’s spoken to the Prime Minister about it. The previous Labor Government, state and federal, they just didn’t provide any money, they didn’t provide any money. But, we have been listening, I know Andrew’s been listening, he’s spoken to the Prime Minister and I’m sure we’ll have something to say in the not too distant future.

JOURNALIST:

Dr Ken Boston from the Gonski review panel says the full six years needs to be funded in Tasmania given our poor retention, literacy and numeracy levels. Is the Liberal Government abandoning Australian school children?

TREASURER:

Not at all. In fact, we’re putting more money into Tasmanian schools than any other government in Australian history. Significantly, so is the State Government as well. Quite obviously, we want to get more students in Tasmania going through to years 11 and 12. It’s quite clear that the Liberal Government in Tasmania is actually taking action. Others have had lots of words, but the retention rates are still too low, there’s no doubt about that. When the State Treasurer told the rest of Australia’s Treasurers at a recent meeting of all of the Treasurers that only 14 per cent of the boys in Tasmania in regional areas go on to year 11 and 12, I mean there was just a stunned silence in the meeting. Certainly, that was one of the reasons why we continue to throw all our resources and energy behind helping the Tasmanian Government to address those sorts of issues.

JOURNALIST:

There’s been some criticism about domestic violence funding in this week’s Budget, we’ve had a particular incident here in Tasmania yesterday. Is this a missing funding…

TREASURER:

We have said that we have additional funding in the Budget for addressing the issue of domestic violence. As I’ve said on numerous occasions now, it is in the Budget it just has not been announced, primarily because the Prime Minister wants to speak to the state leaders about it and it is a hugely important issue. Domestic violence is evil. It is evil. I think everyone’s got a responsibility to take action at a local, state, federal level and in communities and neighbourhoods as well, I think that’s really important. That’s one of the reasons why we’ll have a lot more to say about this issue in the not too distant future.

JOURNALIST:

So there is money on the way?

TREASURER:

There is money on the way.

JOURNALIST:

The Tasmanian food industry relies significantly on backpackers for their labour and Senator Abetz has wondered why that’s the case. Could this become a barnacle for you late on?

TREASURER:

I’m not sure to be honest about the question, but what we have done is said that young people travelling to Australia on working holiday visas have to pay tax from dollar one. That’s the same as New Zealand where they have to pay tax from dollar one. But in Australia because of compulsory superannuation they can actually collect their super when they leave the country. Unlike Australians that have it locked up until they’ve retired. So, there is some advantage for working holiday makers and you know, I don’t think any working holidaymaker is not going to want to work in Australia as a result of this.

JOURNALIST: How will Tasmania be able to manage a $2 billion cut to health and education over the next ten years?

TREASURER:

But it’s not. It’s getting a significant increase in funding in health and education, so I don’t know where those numbers are coming from, but the fact is we are massively increasing health and education funding in Tasmania over the next two years, the next four years too. So, it keeps going up and up every year. Tasmania does get – it gets plenty of money from the Commonwealth Government and also it gets a contribution from other states, but we want to see Tasmania grow, we want to see it grow and we want it to have better resources.

JOURNALIST:

Is there money set aside for the Mersey Hospital even though it wasn’t in the Budget papers?

TREASURER:

Look, this is something that is ongoing and obviously the Minister for Health Sussan Ley is dealing with this matter. I know she’s been in pretty intense discussions with the Tasmanian Government and that will continue. But, obviously, we’re very aware of the issue. I can’t give you an update on those negotiations.

JOURNALIST:

Can I just ask you how your meeting with the Victorian Treasurer went today?

TREASURER:

Well it went very well, it was a frank discussion as you would expect. I think what we both understand is that we want more infrastructure built in Victoria. I am incredibly disappointed about East West not proceeding. But we will make $3 billion available for the construction of it, and it’s in our Budget. But, we’re at a different point to each other in relation to the $1.5 billion that he’s holding on to, that’s our money. We’re going to continue to discuss the matter.

JOURNALIST: Are you pleased with the Budget response so far?

TREASURER:

Yes, yes, it’s a terrific public response. I mean, just walking along the street in Lonnie and in Melbourne today, fantastic response to the Budget. Because people want to hear a positive message about the future but they also want it backed with real policies and that’s what we’ve done. The tax cuts are real, the depreciation is real, investment in infrastructure is real, support for families is real. It’s funded. With Mr Shorten’s proposals they just don’t stack up, they’re just not funded. There might be good intent in some areas but it’s just not funded.

JOURNALIST:

So a noticeable improvement on last year?

TREASURER:

I mean, we had to build on last year. Okay, we’re heading off.