1 November 2015
Transcript - #2015063, 2015

In the role of: Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer [21 September 2015 - 18 July 2016]

Doorstop interview, Melbourne

SUBJECTS: GST.

MINISTER O’DWYER:

It is wonderful to be here at the Glendi festival here in Oakleigh celebrating our wonderful multicultural Australia. Particularly here in Victoria there is such a wonderfully vibrant Greek community and I am just delighted to be the local federal member who is able to support all of these terrific community activities in Higgins and in the surrounding border areas.

JOURNALIST:

Is your government looking at raising the GST to 15 per cent and broadening the base to include health and education?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

Fixing Australia’s tax system is all about getting the incentives right for Australians to invest more, to work more and to save more. It is all about growing our economy and creating more jobs. The government has been in discussions with state and territory governments around their tax bases, whether or not they have got their tax system right and whether it is doing what it is meant to do which is also about encouraging Australians to work, save, and invest more. Those discussions are ongoing at the moment - all options are on the table. We are considering those options but let’s not forget the GST is a tax where the money goes directly to the states. It goes directly to the states and the Government is not looking to increase taxes and chase ever increasing spending, but we are looking to get our tax structure right which is why we have been very methodical in the discussions that we are having with the state and territory governments.

JOURNALIST:

You say all options are on the table but this is more than on the table, this is on the front page of Sunday papers across the country. Is this a proposal that you are purposefully putting out there and trying to float?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

You see a lot of speculation when it comes to the tax discussion and tax debate. As I said, it is important for us to continue to have discussions with the states and territories. We are not looking at increasing the overall tax spend, we are not looking at getting our taxes to increase to chase increased spending. What we are looking to do is to make sure that we get the incentives right for Australians to work more, to save more, and to invest more in their own future which will grow our economy and create more jobs.

JOURNALIST:

So are these newspaper reports rubbish then?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

There is a lot of speculation at the moment around tax and I am here to tell you that what we are doing is creating the right incentives for Australians to work more, to save more and to invest more so that we can grow our economy and create more jobs and that will mean is our tax system fit for purpose right now, is it doing what it is meant to do in order to encourage that growth in our economy. Now we are in discussions that are ongoing with the state and territory governments, the GST is in essence a state tax. All of the money goes to state governments, not one dollar goes to the Commonwealth. We will continue those discussions with the state and territory governments but we are not simply looking to put up taxes to ever chase increased spending.

JOURNALIST:

Given that Malcolm Turnbull seems to have enormous political capital at the moment, he is enjoying a bit of a honeymoon, is now the time for your government to tackle tough economic reforms like the GST?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

The government is looking at whether or not our tax system is fit for purpose, whether it is actually getting the incentives right for people who work incredibly hard, is it giving them money in their pocket at the end of the day and encouraging them to work even harder. Let’s not forget next year we are going to see the average Australian worker in the second highest tax bracket. Does that sound right to you? It certainly doesn’t sound right to us.

JOURNALIST:

If you are going to push ahead with the GST increase, do you need to announce it before Christmas? Is this something that you can announce in the lead up to an election?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

As I said before, consultations with the states and territories will be ongoing when we talk about tax more broadly. The tax that the state governments are responsible for they are going to need to come back to the Commonwealth and talk about whether or not those taxes are also fit for purpose.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think personally that Australians are ready for a great new big tax on everything?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

As I said to you before, the principle that we have here when it comes to tax is simply not to be putting up taxes to ever chase new and increased spending. We want to actually contain the taxes but to make sure those taxes that we have are going to be fit for purpose, that they are right for Australians, that they create the right incentives for people to work more, to save more, and to invest more. I think we are about to be overwhelmed by the drumming of the bands here.

JOURNALIST:

Is it inevitable that the GST will have to rise? There is a tax problem, isn’t there as the states run out of money for health and education?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

We are in consultation with the states and territories; we have asked them to look at their tax mix, whether their taxes are going to be fit for purpose in today’s age. We are also looking at what the Commonwealth can do to encourage Australians to invest more in their own futures, to save more and to make sure that they are encouraged that when they work that they can save a bit more of their own money and keep it in their own hip pocket. Thanks very much.