25 August 2016
Transcript - #2016048, 2016

Interview with Michael Brissenden, ABC AM

SUBJECTS: $6.5 billion in Government savings measures taken to election by Labor, Labor seeks to deny Australians fairness and flexibility in superannuation.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

I’m joined live in our Parliament House studio by the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer. Kelly O’Dwyer welcome back to the program.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Great to be with you, Michael.

BRISSENDEN:

If the Budget had a spending problem rather than a revenue problem how is it that we now have an earnings problem?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

It is very clear that we are not receiving the same amount in terms of earnings from company taxes than we otherwise would have received in previous years. The Government is obviously making sure that we have integrity in our taxation system and we plug any of those gaps. That is why the government has been very quick to make sure that we have legislation in place for those multinationals who are trying to shift profits offshore to make sure that they can’t do that. We can’t thank the Labor party for any help with that. Unfortunately despite all the big talk they didn’t actually help us pass our legislation.

BRISSENDEN:

Ok. You haven’t been very quick with providing them with any details of the Bill the $6.5 billion Omnibus Bill that is going to be presented to Parliament presumably next week, why not?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

This $6.5 billion Bill is basically all of the savings that Labor said it would agree to during the election.

BRISSENDEN:

They do, they just want to see the Bill though…

MINISTER O'DWYER:

They banked it before the election.

BRISSENDEN:

Before they give you a guarantee that they will support it.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

But they put it in their Budget. There is nothing in that Bill that they haven’t agreed with the Australian people. They put their hand on their heart and they made a promise to the Australian people that if they were elected these were the savings that they were going to put forward. Now we have said we want them to honour that promise. We will negotiate on all of those other aspects that they haven’t agreed but we have said this is something very, very simple that they can agree in principle to and we don’t know why it is that they are looking like they are going to backflip on this.

BRISSENDEN:

I’m not sure they are, they just say they want to see it. But we will see what happens next week presumably they will see it at some point. Now just to the Treasurer’s speech this morning. It contains some pretty tough rhetoric warnings against complacency, asking politicians to look at the hard questions, warning that if we don’t, we will answer the questions the hard way with a recession. Surely part of the answer is trying to find some sort of compromise with the Opposition on Budget repair measures?

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We would love to work with the Opposition, we will work with the Opposition, we will work with the Greens, we will work with the crossbenchers. We will work with anybody who wants to repair the Budget to make sure that we can reduce the deficits, reduce the debt and reduce the burden that will be passed on to future generations. We want them.

BRISSENDEN:

But you have rejected the things that they have offered.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

They have put forward a whole heap of tax increases. They don’t seem to accept that you need to also find savings and this is the big message that the Treasurer is delivering today, you actually need to find savings. You can’t spend as much when you don’t have as much to spend. Every Australian family understands this, they understand you need to live within your means, you need to do that as a government as well. Simply taxing people more, which is what the Labor party’s solution is to every particular problem, they simply want to tax people more, is not going to be solution in this instance.

BRISSENDEN:

They are offering up a few other things as well. Removing alternative therapies from the private health insurance rebate, capping personal income tax deductions, the baby bonus - they don’t agree with that. There are some savings that they're putting up that you have also rejected.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We have put forward savings around the energy supplement because we haven't got a carbon tax so there is no need for this additional energy supplement, this additional payment. The Labor party said that they would actually agree to scrap this during the election campaign and now they're walking back from it. These are the sorts of things that they need to come clean on. They need to either tell the Australian people that they are serious on this and that they will work with the Government on making sure that we can repair our budget, or, Bill Shorten needs to come clean and say that he is going to be a fiscal wrecker, he is going to be a Budget wrecker, he is not going to contribute constructively to the process. It’s one or the other, it can't be both.

BRISSENDEN:

I think my point is the rhetoric has certainly stepped up as we head to Parliament resuming after the election, that’s pretty clear. But both sides say they don’t want to play politics but both sides are playing politics with this, neither side seems prepared at this stage to act in the national interest and seek a consensus.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We are absolutely working in the national interest and we're very happy to work with Labor. That's why this Omnibus Bill is all of the measures that Labor has actually agreed. We haven't put anything in there that they haven't agreed during the election so it's pretty simple for them to be able to agree to this Bill and pass it through the Parliament. That's why it's going to be one of the very first bills that we introduce into the Parliament when Parliament resumes next week.

BRISSENDEN:

You talk about Labor introducing tax, more tax increases, but you're still planning to give big corporations tax cuts at a time where clearly everybody, both sides are saying, we're in a bit of a crisis.

MINSITER O'DWYER:

What we are wanting to do here is to make sure that we’re starting with small business. We're saying to them we want you to be able to invest more in your business and we’re prepared to offer you a company tax cut so that you can do that. When you reinvest in your business, you create growth and you create the opportunity for more jobs. That is what is going to drive our economy forward, that is why we have put this forward as a measure and even Labor has not agreed to actually pass these measures.

BRISSENDEN:

Let’s look quickly at superannuation which is an area of policy where both of you are pretty close, it has to be said. Why not do a deal with Labor on that.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We’d love to do a deal with Labor, the problem is that Labor doesn’t want to do a deal with us.

BRISSENDEN:

They don’t want to do a deal on your terms and you don’t want a deal on their terms.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Labor have created all sorts of very spurious arguments. They’ve used the term retrospectivity, they’ve simply made that reference time and time again.

BRISSENDEN:

Some on your own side have made that reference too.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Without actually understanding that for something to be retrospective, you need to actually apply a penalty for past actions. Now our policy doesn’t in fact do that, it doesn’t do that, and simply saying it doesn’t make it true.

BRISSENDEN:

But you’re not going to be able to deal with anyone, clearly the Greens are not going to deal with you on this, a lot of the crossbench doesn’t look like it’s going to deal with you, so you are going to be left with having to find some sort of compromise with Labor on this otherwise the whole thing is finished.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

We are going to work with everybody on our superannuation package. What we want to do, is we want to make sure that it is sustainable and flexible, and will deliver the sorts of retirements that people want and expect. We are very disappointed that Labor yesterday, they announced that they were going to scrap flexibility measures which means that women, carers, people who take leave because they’ve got interrupted work patterns, who might need some time out of the workforce for whatever reason, they will be disadvantaged. Older people will be disadvantaged. We will have self-employed people, contractors, small business people, all of them will be disadvantaged because Labor will not agree to the flexibility measures that actually allow people to be able to catch up and make additional concessional contributions.

BRISSENDEN

You’re ruling out their proposal to increase the tax for people over $200,000?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

This is their solution to everything as I said before Michael, they just simply want to tax people more. We believe you need to have a comprehensive package that also provides flexibility into the system because we’re no longer in the 1970s – it has changed. Working patterns have changed. We want people to be able to take full advantage of their concessional contributions, we want them to be able to save for their retirement. Our flexibility measures help people to be able to achieve this, Labor wants to hold them back. We want aspirational Australians, we want them to have a good retirement so we want Labor to rethink this.

BRISSENDEN:

OK we’ll leave it there. Kelly O’Dwyer thanks very much for joining us.

MINISTER O'DWYER:

Pleasure.