12 July 2017
Transcript - #2017015, 2017

Doorstop interview, Melbourne

SUBJECTS: economic data; the Queen; Liberal Party

ACTING TREASURER:

It’s great to be with you this afternoon to give you the good news – that the Australian economy is in good shape with strengthening business conditions and confidence, the highest since the GFC and we have seen very solid retail sales figures in recent months.

Today, we have seen the consumer sentiment results come out and they are up. And the figures released yesterday in NAB’s monthly business survey, combined with recent strong employment and job advertisement news, clearly show a very positive direction for the economy and for Australian businesses, Australian businesses that are backing themselves to hire more Australians.

Australians are working hard every single day to back themselves and to make sure that they can make the most of every opportunity that comes their way and it’s the Government’s job to make sure that we back them in. And we’re doing that with things like company tax cuts to make sure that those businesses can make even more out of the business opportunities that are available to them. It’s a strong vote of confidence, these figures, in our economic direction as a country, and it’s strong confidence in investment, and also the fact that if we do not continue along this path, if it is put at risk by a Bill Shorten government, which would in fact not provide company tax cuts for small and medium sized enterprises, all of this will potentially be at risk. Over 230,000 jobs were created in the past year and around about 150,000 of those were full time positions. Unemployment is at a four year low and the very strong level of ANZ job ads that we have seen, the highest in six years, suggests that the employment growth will continue.

So, as I’ve said, the Government’s job is very squarely on how we can create the right framework to help business to create jobs. We’re doing that by cutting tax. We’re cutting tax for individuals, personal income tax cuts for those individuals, for more than two million individuals in Australia, by extending the threshold from $80,000 to $87,000 and company tax cuts for small and medium sized enterprises. A Shorten government will risk this because they, of course, have said that they don’t believe in company tax cuts for those people who are working hard to get ahead. That is the wrong way, the Government is heading in the right direction and the figures, the very strong economic figures, back this up.

QUESTION:

Just wondering how concerned you are about the leak of information from the Australian Tax Office [inaudible].

ACTING TREASURER:

Certainly, I was very concerned to read those reports today but I have been assured by the Australian Taxation Office that they, in all cases, abide very strictly by the law and that they get appropriate warrants where in fact they do retrieve information. I understand that they are going to be putting out a full statement later on this afternoon and I’ll refer you to that.

QUESTION:

Is it enough that that staffer has been cautioned? It looks like this was a PowerPoint presentation that was floating around the ATO. Should more be done more generally about keeping this sensitive information under a lid?

ACTING TREASURER:

Well as I’ve said, I understand a full statement will be put out by the Australian Taxation Office later on this afternoon and I think it’s appropriate to direct those questions to them.

QUESTION:

We had Malcolm Turnbull, one of Australia’s most famous republicans, meet the Queen with a private audience. Do you think Australians should give up on the idea of ever becoming a republic?

ACTING TREASURER:

Well it’s no secret that I’m also a republican like the Prime Minister, but I think he put it well when he said he’s an Elizabethan. And I certainly would agree with him that the reign of Queen Elizabeth has been one of great dedication and service and I think most Australians recognise her incredible commitment to her duties, even at her current age she continues to work incredibly hard for her people right across the Commonwealth, and I think everybody does respect that, whether they’re a republican or not. So, as to whether or not at some point in future we consider this question, well that will be at some time in future but I think we can all appreciate the wonderful work that the Queen has done and continues to do.

QUESTION:

What do you make of the discussion within the Liberal Party at the moment about how conservative it should be?

ACTING TREASURER:

Well I think the Prime Minister gave a marvellous address overseas when he talked about the vision that Sir Robert Menzies set out when he founded the Liberal Party. It’s a vision that is still current today and he is an inheritor of that great legacy. It’s a vision that speaks to Australians here and now because it makes incredible sense that if you are governing, you are governing for the sensible centre, for the majority of Australians. We, in the Liberal Party, are the great inheritors of a wonderful tradition, it is something that John Howard has often referred to as a broad church, those of us who are strong Liberals and those of us who are conservatives, together that makes up, I think, the very broad fabric that is the Liberal Party, and the very strong fabric that is the Liberal Party, which has the right policies for our country to make sure that we can succeed in the years ahead and provide every Australian with every opportunity to live their very best lives.

QUESTION:

Should Tony Abbott be walking away and going away perhaps towards the Conservative Party?

ACTING TREASURER:

I’ll leave matters as to what Tony Abbott should do to Tony Abbott to answer.

QUESTION:

Was Malcolm having a swipe at Tony when he said it was not a party for conservatives?

ACTING TREASURER:

Malcolm Turnbull was very clearly talking about the foundations of the Liberal Party, it’s vision at the time it was founded and how that vision still speaks to us today. I think it is very current in today’s times, times that are more turbulent, to understand that we need to have a strong vision for the country. It’s a vision that Menzies founded, it’s one that allows for a combination of those who see themselves as Liberals but also those people who have got a sense of the conservative tradition as well. As John Howard has said, we are a broad church in the Liberal Party and we will continue to be and we will continue to have the right policies to take Australia in the right direction. Thank you.