26 August 2015
Transcript - #2015184, 2015

Doorstop interview, Sydney

JOURNALIST:

Mr Hockey, what do you think, what do you hope, the reform summit might achieve?

TREASURER:

I think it’s hugely important that it delivers some outcomes. Show the path to jobs, growth and greater prosperity and importantly, if you can get everyone on the same page, where people agree on what the outcomes are for the nation, then it will be much easier to undergo a process that carries the community with us.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think it’s achievable that we can get a Budget surplus within ten years?

TREASURER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think with comprehensive tax reform - is everything on the table?

TREASURER:

Well, it is – we’re having very construction discussions with the states. We’ve received over 850 submissions from the community. I hope everyone keeps an open mind about the best way to shape a new tax system for a new economy. Unquestionably in my mind, the opportunities that come from well considered reform will be embraced by the Australian people, so long as they can identify how they are going to benefit. And they will ultimately benefit by having more jobs, better jobs, better paying jobs, and greater chances to have more prosperity.

JOURNALIST:

The pre-summit communique seems to have some support for tackling superannuation tax concessions for high income earners. Would you be swayed by an outcome from this summit that might recommend that?

TREASURER:

Well, we are always prepared to listen. Our argument about superannuation, as illustrated by the markets over the last few days, is that you’re seeing incredible volatility when it comes to the potential earnings of superannuants. Now is not the time to hit them with a new tax. Now is not the time to hit them with lesser returns because we want them to go out there and spend money and consume, because ultimately, one of the biggest drivers of growth in the economy is household consumption. So, if a whole cohort of Australians have less income coming in, not just because of a proposed income - higher tax from Labor, but also because of volatility in the markets, then certainly that potentially could detract from growth.

JOURNALIST:

What did you make of Mr Shorten’s comments about the economic performance and also climate change?

TREASURER:

Look, I think Mr Shorten’s entitled to have his view. He expressed a view. I was quite interested in his comment. It was a change in Budget rules from Labor. He said he wants to improve the Budget over the economic cycle. Previously, Labor’s always said that they want to get the Budget back to balance - to get to surplus over the economic cycle. I think it’s a pretty significant statement from Labor and we’ll see how that goes.

JOURNALIST:

The US was down again overnight. Are you worried about continuing market volatility and the impact on the economy?

TREASURER:

Look, there will be volatility in the markets. There are some extraordinary capital flows around the world at the moment, and partly to speculation about the US Federal Reserve increasing rates. I’ll get a better understanding of where the United States Federal Reserve is when I join other G20 Finance Ministers in Turkey next week. It’ll be a very important meeting. Frankly, you’ve got to see through the volatility and look at the fundamentals. The fundamentals are that Australian companies are profitable, they are well run, and Australia is in a very good position for the future. If we can increase the speed of the economy, get more growth, better jobs [inaudible]

JOURNALIST:

You mentioned that you want GST on healthcare do you…

TREASURER:

No, I actually never said that. I never said that. And what that does, it illustrates how hard it is to get a proper discussion about taxation reform underway. I never said the GST should be applied to health. And I’m disappointed that journalists are quoting journalists or citing other journalists as sources, for a story that never was.