19 May 2015
Transcript - #2015130, 2015

Doorstop interview, Adelaide

TREASURER:

Well thanks very much Matt. You know, there’s a real energy around the business community and real energy around small business and family businesses. There’s a long standing family business we’ve just met. George is now fourth, fifth generation, and his siblings are involved as well. I love these stories. They’re employing Australians, they’re paying tax in Australia, they’re innovating in Australia, they’re having a go. And the have a go Budget is at work on the ground. George is going to go out and invest in some new equipment that’s going to help to improve the returns on his business so he can employ more Australians. There is certainly a sense of energy around the Budget which we welcome. But we also want to make sure that that continues, and I’m encouraged by the consumer confidence figures that came out today. They bounce around from month to month and week to week, but it’s a good trend, it’s what we want. To get people out there to have a go and certainly that’s the case. Particularly here in South Australia – there’s a lot of great talent here in South Australia, there’s a lot of great capability and what we’ve got to do is encourage people to get out there and put some effort in and have a go and the reward will come.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, do you think that the South Australian Premier and our Treasurer are having a go at [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

Well, I think they’ve been having a go at the Federal Government. I think they’d be better to focus on doing what’s right for South Australia. I’d encourage them to be constructive really. There’s a lot of game-playing going on in the South Australian Government – they seem to play politics better than they actually deliver policy but whatever the case, we’re prepared to work with them and try and get the very best outcomes for the people of South Australia

JOURNALIST:

They make the point that there’s no new infrastructure funding for South Australia in this Budget. They say that they put a South Road plan to you in December and have put other proposals including [inaudible] to you last year…

TREASURER:

Okay, well let’s just go through the two of them. What happened with that new proposal, $9 billion on South Road, is that the South Australian Government wasn’t moving on it. We offered to pay for a feasibility study, the draft came out in December. It was run by the South Australian Government, we gave them the feedback on that draft in September, in December. They released it yesterday after our Budget and quite frankly, you can’t put new money into a Budget if you haven’t got any details provided by the South Australian Government. In relation to the Strzelecki, I understand that they’ve had preliminary discussions with Infrastructure Australia and nothing more. So I haven’t seen any proposal in relation to that. So, again, all the other states managed to get their act together. Come to us with detailed plans, detailed costings and then we respond to that positively. In the case of South Australia, they’ve been dragging their feet. But again, I want to say to the people of South Australia, we’re just going to work through all of these issues and we’re endeavouring to get the very best outcome for you, the people of South Australia.

JOURNALIST:

How difficult has the South Australian Government been to deal with over the last year or two?

TREASURER:

Very difficult. They tend to play politics instead of focusing on doing what is right. Every other state, even Labor states, you can sit down and have a discussion with them and get some real outcomes. And you work with them to get an outcome. Even when you might have disagreements, but I’m afraid the South Australian Government just plays politics and it’s very disappointing but having said all of that, we’re not going to let that distract us from doing what is right for the people of South Australia.

JOURNALIST:

What do you think the chances are that we will actually get a [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

Well, we’ll work it through. I don’t want to make any extensive or detailed commitment now. I’ve got to discuss with the Prime Minister, but Tony Abbott’s not only the Prime Minister for infrastructure he’s also the Prime Minister for small business and we’re working on many different fronts to try and lift the Australian economy, in particular South Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Can you point to any new infrastructure funding in this Budget in South Australia?

TREASURER:

Well, hang on. Again, we work with the South Australian Government. We work with the South Australian Government.

JOURNALIST:

Have they put forward anything?

TREASURER:

Last year, we announced $50 billion, which is the biggest commitment to infrastructure ever by a Federal Government. A number of states jumped on board, South Australia was slow to react. Now they’re giving us proposals after we’ve delivered our Budget. Okay, we’ll still work them through, but please, don’t get caught into the slipstream of Labor’s games.

JOURNALIST:

When the South Road was delivered to the Federal Government in December…

TREASURER:

No, it was a draft plan.

JOURNALIST:

What happened then though? Did you respond to it?

TREASURER:

We did, we did respond. We actually gave them a response as Jamie Briggs said. We gave them feedback, even though we were paying for the feasibility study, we gave them feedback because they were running it. Then we were waiting for them to release the final report, which we’ve been asking them for for a number of weeks. So, the final report has indicative costs, but even then, they’re not finalised numbers. You don’t go and write out a cheque for $9 billion without dotting the Is and crossing the Ts. That’s not the way the Federal Government will work, it’s only Labor that operates like that.

JOURNALIST:

Your Government has made a commitment to get this road upgraded within ten years, surely [inaudible] to urgently put funds forward so you can achieve that?

TREASURER:

We will work through the numbers. I know everyone’s after an answer immediately. We got the report yesterday, it’s been sent to Infrastructure Australia to be properly evaluated so please, when it comes to the use of taxpayer’s money, we are very careful. Very careful. But we are absolutely committed to delivering the sort of infrastructure that the people of South Australia want, even if their Government is playing games.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

TREASURER:

[inaudible]

JOURNALIST:

Can you do it if there’s no money – no additional funds in this Budget? Can you afford the $9 billion?

TREASURER:

We’ve got about nine more Budgets, okay, in the next ten years. How about that?

JOURNALIST:

How confident are you that you’ll be here for nine more Budgets?

TREASURER:

Well, we’re doing our best to deliver what is right for small business, for families. This is a great Budget for families and small businesses. But, you’ve obviously got to have savings, to pay for extra childcare, $3.5 billion. You’ve got to have some savings and that’s what we’re doing. In order to pay for the small business package we are focused on making prudent savings in the Budget. I challenge Bill Shorten to start identifying the savings to start paying for his $59 billion of promises. Mr Shorten’s in a mess. His own finance spokesman said within 48 hours of Bill Shorten’s Budget reply, that the five per cent commitment to small business wasn’t real. I mean how bizarre was that? Bill Shorten gave a Budget in reply speech on Thursday, trumpeted a five per cent cut for small business, then his Finance Spokesman said 48 hours later it wasn’t going to last. So I think they’re at sixes and sevens. If we can work with the Labor Party, if they can work with us to identify savings, even their own savings that they’re prepared to support in the Senate, then we can do more for all Australians. But, ultimately, you’ve got to pay for what you’re going to spend.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, would you say this trip is – to Adelaide post Budget, I remember you were here last year and I found you in the airport as you were trying to sneak out of Adelaide, not really speaking to the media. Is this more of a charm offensive this year after last year’s questionable reaction you got?

TREASURER:

Well that’s a bizarre comment, a bizarre comment. I don’t sneak out of anywhere. I am absolutely working hard and proud of what I’m doing.

JOURNALIST: Clearly it’s a frayed relationship between the Federal Government and the State Government here at the moment. What’s the Federal Government going to do to help rebuild that relationship? So projects like this…

TREASURER:

Our door is open. I say genuinely, our door is open to work with the South Australian Government if they want to be constructive. Look, the Coalition Government wants to put the people first – it is putting the people first. Cast aside the politics of the State Government or the Opposition or anyone else, we want to work with the broader community to get the results people want.

JOURNALIST:

[inaudible]

TREASURER:

Well of course we want to do something about bracket creep. It is simply unsustainable to continue with a position where people on average weekly earnings could go into the second highest tax bracket and from my perspective, the only way we can afford to give back some of that income tax to people is if we’ve got prudent savings on the other side. That’s what we’re working towards, but ultimately, we’re going to need the agreement of constructive people in the Senate. Hopefully there’s a few more now than there were last year. Okay, thanks very much.