4 August 2018
Transcript - #2018042, 2018

In the role of: Minister for Revenue and Financial Services [19 July 2016 - 28 August 2018]

Doorstop interview, Melbourne

SUBJECTS: Removing GST on sanitary products, Labor Party hypocrisy, the Coalition’s plan for personal income tax relief

KELLY O’DWYER:

My name is Kelly O'Dwyer, I’m Minister for Revenue and Financial Services and I’m also the Minister for Women. Today is a great day for millions of Australian women across the country. The Treasurer Scott Morrison has announced that he will be taking the abolition of the GST on sanitary products to the next meeting of the state and territory Treasurers. We need their unanimous agreement in order to scrap this tax, this unfair tax, on sanitary products. We believe that the time is right to do that. It’s not the first time that our Government has tried to scrap this tax. Joe Hockey three years ago when he was Federal Treasurer listed it as an item for the meeting with the state and territory Treasurers. It’s something that we have been fighting for for some time and we are fighting for it today. And so we call on the state and territory governments to scrap the tax. We need their unanimous agreement to do it, it’s something that we believe in and millions of Australian women will benefit. It will mean a little bit of extra money in their pocket at the end of the day, but ultimately it’s the right and fair thing to do.

JOURNALIST:

When Labor announced its election policy to scrap the tax this year you said it was a cynical exercise, so what’s changed?

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well the Labor Party of course have been completely without any follow-through on this particular issue. The Labor Party, when Bill Shorten was actually in the Treasury portfolio, Labor didn't propose to scrap this tax. In fact during their entire period of government they didn't scrap this tax, they coulda-woulda-shoulda but just didn't. Our Government did through Joe Hockey when he was Treasurer, we are doing it again today. We believe it's important to actually scrap it. We need the agreement though of the state and territory ministers to do it. We’re the ones who have listed it on the agenda. This is the second time we’ve done it. Not one Labor premier has actually brought forward this proposition, so the Labor Party for all their talk have actually done nothing. We’re going again at this issue, we believe that we will get the agreement of the states and territories to scrap this tax, and they should.

JOURNALIST:

Why do you think that they would change their minds this time around given that they haven’t in the past?

KELLY O’DWYER:

I think this is an anomaly that has existed for a really long period of time since the introduction of the GST. We have seen the GST pool of course increase from around $25 billion at its introduction, to being around $67 billion today. We also know that through the integrity measures that our Government has introduced all of those GST monies, of course, go to the states and territories as they have always done, but it will increase over a four-year period by another $6.5 billion. So they can do it, they’ve got the headroom to do it, and they should do it. Millions of Australian women will benefit from it so they should get on and agree with Treasurer Scott Morrison and the Turnbull Government in scrapping this unfair tax and the time is right to do it now.

JOURNALIST:

Have you spoken with the states so far, are you getting any resistance from the states at the moment?

KELLY O’DWYER:

The Treasurer wrote to the state and territory Treasurers in June of this year to actually list this as an item on the next Council on Federal Financial Relations meeting. He actually asked them to list it and to consider their position. I don't know exactly what response he’s received from them, but it’s a great question to be putting to them today.

JOURNALIST:

The states will ultimately lose $30 million dollars, are you going to find another source of revenue so they are not worse off?

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well as I’ve said, the pool has grown from the introduction of the GST from about $25 billion to now being more than $67 billion dollars and through our integrity measures over four year period it’s going to increase by another $6.5 billion. They’ve definitely got the headroom to abolish this tax. If they want to introduce new taxes, that is something that they unanimously have to agree with their state and territory counterparts, it’s all something that the Commonwealth would have to agree to, but it's not necessary, it is not required, they can do it, they can do it today and they should.

JOURNALIST:

The Treasurer says that the tax should never have been there in the first place, but considering it has been around for two decades and you’re in your second term of Government now, why now?

KELLY O’DWYER:

Every day is a good day to cut taxes. I know this as the Minister for Women, but also as the Minister for Revenue. We shouldn't take one more dollar from the Australian people than we absolutely need to in order to protect and preserve the essential services Australians rely on, and to be able to provide the services that they demand and expect. And every single dollar that we do take from them in taxes we need to make sure that we as spend wisely as we possibly can. Our Government has had a very strong commitment to cutting taxes right across the board, from providing personal income tax relief for individual Australians to make it easier for them to be able to save and to get ahead and to keep more of their hard earned income. The result of the changes that have gone through the Parliament just recently, as announced in the budget, will mean that 94 per cent of all Australians out there at the conclusion of our tax plan will be paying no more than 32.5 cents in the dollar for their marginal tax rate. This is a massive change with the abolition of the 37 cent rate. We have cut taxes for small and medium-size enterprises with the turnover of less than $50 million. This contrasts of course to Labor who have a $200 billion tax hike that they want to impose on the Australian people, on Australian business and on the Australian economy. And let's not forget Bill Shorten’s mega retiree tax 2.0, $55 billion that he wants to hit retirees with, people who can least afford it. So the contrast is clear. Labor and Bill Shorten want to increase your taxes, we want to lower them and we know that that is going to help the Australian economy and help the many hardworking Australians that contribute to it.

JOURNALIST:

What does this cut mean to women?

KELLY O’DWYER:

Millions of Australian women will obviously see a benefit because it ultimately hits their hip pocket every day when they need to purchase these products. It’s a fair change, it’s the right change, it will mean more money in their pocket at the end of the day, but ultimately it's an anomaly that’s existed for a period of time. We have a strong record in fighting for this change. Treasurer Scott Morrison has listed it again for the state and territory meeting and we hope that the states and territories will come to their senses, and millions of Australian women will benefit as a result.