17 August 2015
Transcript - #2015168, 2015

Doorstop interview, Canberra

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, how disappointed are you with these polls that are out, the Ipsos poll, it showed that last week was a total disaster for the Government?

TREASURER:

Look, I think it’s hugely important that we focus on the things that matter to everyday Australians. There will always be issues that affect the lives of some Australians, but most Australians want us to focus on jobs, economic growth and community security, and that’s what we need to do [inaudible]…

JOURNALIST:

Obviously that messaging isn’t coming through if the polls are anything to go by? How can you turn it around and make sure that that messaging is actually cutting through to the public?

TREASURER:

Well, we continue to roll out our economic plan. It is delivering more jobs. Last month 38,000 jobs were created in Australia compared with 3,600 at the same time under Labor. So, last month we created more than ten times the number of jobs in one month than would have been the equivalent under Labor. Record retail sales, record motor vehicle sales - we’re seeing green shoots turn into spring shoots in the Australian economy and that’s encouraging, but there is more work to be done.

JOURNALIST:

Given the significance of some of those meetings you had last week, are you disappointed that infighting took the gloss and the focus off them?

TREASURER:

Well, I think it is important to have issues raised and discussed. But it’s also important not to lose any focus on my role as Treasurer, and the role of the Government, which is to help build prosperity and opportunity right across the Australian community and I think we need to continue to focus on rolling out our economic plan.

JOURNALIST:

Will same sex marriage be discussed in the Cabinet room today?

TREASURER:

I don’t speculate.

JOURNALIST:

Will you be expecting it to be raised though? Does it need to be raised?

TREASURER:

I’m not going to speculate.

JOURNALIST:

George Brandis said that the Government really needs to get a model that it’s going to take to the public about how its public vote will be set out on same sex marriage in order to get it’s messaging through on other issues, that it needs to be resolved as quickly as possible, do you agree with that?

TREASURER:

I just say again, it is hugely important we focus on jobs and economic growth. I think plenty’s being said on other issues. My focus hasn’t changed, and I would encourage everyone to focus on how we can build prosperity across the Australian economy.

JOURNALIST:

Do you support a Senate inquiry recommendation that companies involved in tax avoidance should be named and shamed?

TREASURER:

Look, I think Senator Dastyari has some questions to answer - he has now released to a number of media organisations a Senate committee report that the rest of the committee hasn’t seen. That’s an extraordinary… I mean, Senator Dastyari described himself as the showman of Australian politics. He undermines credibility by releasing a report that his own Senate committee hasn’t signed-off on. This is a very serious issue that goes to the heart of the integrity of the entire Senate and I think whilst issues relating to multinational companies not paying their fair share of tax are hugely important, this Government has taken more action than any other government. In fact, in the middle of my Budget speech I tabled draft legislation which leads the world in that regard. I don’t think it’s an area where political games should be played and I’m worried that Senator Dastyari is trivialising the issue by playing these sorts of games.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, just one more on same sex marriage. What’s your reaction from - my understanding that Warren Entsch is going to introduce his private members’ bill today?

TREASURER:

Well people are entitled to introduce their bills, that’s what happens. Members of Parliament introduce bills all the time.

JOURNALIST:

You spoke about reform today, why wouldn’t GST be [inaudible] for reform of the economy?

TREASURER:

Well, GST is one tax, all of which goes to the States. In order to prepare the Australian economy for the challenges of the 21st century we need to look at the entire taxation system which we are doing. And we also need to be mindful of the capacity to be able to undertake that change, in an environment where we’ve still got a lot of work to do in relation to the Budget. So it is a balancing act. What we do know is that the tax system does need to be changed if we want to create jobs into the future and that’s what we’re very much focused on. We’ve received 850 submissions from the community in this process, there’s still much work to be done.

JOURNALIST:

If multinational companies are paying their share, would we even have to consider increasing the GST?

TREASURER:

Well, look multinational companies do pay tax in Australia. In fact I saw a report last night that suggested that companies like BHP and Rio pay very little tax. I can tell you they are certainly in the top ten taxpayers in Australia. There’s a lot of misinformation around. In December when you start to see some detailed reporting of the amount of tax that companies pay, you’ll see that some of the stereotypes are wrong. For the 30 multinationals that are engaging in what is known as the Double Irish Dutch Sandwich, which is not something you have for breakfast, it is actually a taxation structure which runs money through the Netherlands and Ireland and back to the Bahamas. We have embedded people in those companies and I’ll be introducing legislation in the next sitting fortnight, and I urge Labor to help me to get that through Parliament as quickly as possible. So this will be a test to the Labor Party. If you’re fair dinkum about cracking down on multinational tax avoidance, when I introduce legislation in the Parliament in two weeks’ time you’ll be giving it a swift backing through Parliament.