Feb 7, 2018

Transcript of radio Interview – Two Tribes segment

Subjects; Polls; company tax; Barnaby Joyce 

PRESENTER: It’s time for Two Tribes on this Wednesday morning. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning from sunny Canberra.

PRESENTER: Welcome back to the nation’s capital for another year. We’re going to kick off with you today if we can, Albo. Now, what does it say about Bill Shorten’s standing with the Australian people that both you and your colleague Tanya Plibersek are in front of him as preferred Labor leader?

ALBANESE: What this week’s poll said was that if an election was held this Saturday, Bill Shorten would be the Labor Prime Minister and I’d be a minister in his government. That was the key takeout of the 26th consecutive occasion in which the Labor Party was ahead of the Coalition and we remember that Malcolm Turnbull himself said 30 polls behind is the reason why he knocked off Tony Abbott, the elected Prime Minister.

PRESENTER: You’re right, the party vote is important and very interesting and I’m going to ask Chris a question about that shortly. But you can’t just dismiss out of hand or ignore that finding about your or your leader, can you?

ALBANESE: People are focused on the respective teams of Labor versus the Coalition and we have a very strong team. That’s a good thing.

PRESENTER: Stronger than the leader, perhaps, Anthony?

ALBANESE: No, he’s the leader of that team. He’s the captain of the team. Tanya Plibersek’s vice-captain. I’m the half back, or the midfielder in AFL terms.

PRESENTER: But Bill Shorten is…

ALBANESE: Sneaking up in the forward line occasionally to kick a goal against the Tories.

PRESENTER: But maybe you’re kicking a few too many.

ALBANESE: No one’s ever kicking a few too many goals for Labor again the Tories. That’s the important thing. It’s not surprising. I’ve got a pretty good portfolio given I’ve got infrastructure and this government isn’t building any. South Australia’s share drops to under $100 million dollars in the federal infrastructure budget in three years’ time.

PRESENTER: But if 8 out of 10 Australians don’t rate Bill Shorten, will Labor continue with him as leader or should it think about getting rid of him as leader?

ALBANESE: We’re ahead in the polls and the only thing we’re thinking about is not focusing on ourselves, focusing on what Australians want us to focus on, which is  living standards. We’ve raised just in the last week the new policy on private health insurance. The Productivity Commission review, the two year cap of 2 percent are just the latest installment in us providing leadership from Opposition, as opposed to the Government, that acts like an Opposition-in-exile.

PRESENTER: I think instead of a football analogy you need a cricket one, because it was like bowling to Geoffrey Boycott there. Tucked in behind the pads, Albo.

PYNE: I’ve got a cricket one. Remember Ron Brearley, who of course while he was the captain of the English cricket team, certainly wasn’t the best player.

ALBANESE: Mike Brearley.

PYNE: Mike Brearley was the captain of the English cricket team.

ALBANESE: Ron Brierley was a businessman.

PYNE: He was, a good businessman.

ALBANESE: You’re always on the top end of town folk, Christopher.

PYNE: You’ve had a lovely run. Now it’s my turn.

ALBANESE: Away you go.

PYNE: Everyone knew Mike Breally wasn’t the best English cricketer. He was the captain because he was trying to hold the fort. The reality is that Bill Shorten is exactly the same. He’s not the best player in the Labor Party and he’s not going to be there for the long term. And the problem with Anthony’s thesis about winning an election this Saturday, is there isn’t an election this Saturday. There’s not election ’til mid-2019.

PRESENTER: Chris, what does it say though about your Government that you’re trailing a party led by a bloke who is the third most popular leader?

PYNE: Well, John Howard was behind most of the polls throughout the eleven and a half years that we were in government in the Howard era and he won in 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004. You only have to win – and Malcolm Turnbull is vastly more popular than Bill Shorten. Vastly more popular. In fact, extending his lead as preferred Prime Minister. Now if Anthony’s right, and Bill Shorten is doing all these marvellous things and everyone thinks he’s so tremendous, it seems surprising that that Malcolm Turnbull is extending his lead over Bill Shorten. Anthony’s being very generous today. We know that Anthony is up and about. He’s sneaking into the forward line much more often than I think the captain wants him to be doing, and he’s had a great start to the year. He’s everyman, everywhere. He’s everywhere man. It used to be Eddie McGuire, now it’s Anthony Albanese.

PRESENTER: You’re sounding like his hype guy.

PYNE: And good luck to him. As one Labor MP said yesterday, the thing about Anthony, is you get Anthony.

PRESENTER: It’s true.

PYNE: Nobody knows what Bill Shorten stands for. He’s changed sides so often, he’s had so many positions, so many inconsistent positions. Two years ago he was the champion of company tax cuts. Now he says it’s the worst thing you could possibly do.

PRESENTER: We want to shift to the policy question around the taxation.

PRESENTER: Yeah, let’s talk about that for a moment. Perhaps we’ll give Anthony Albanese first opportunity to respond given that your Government Christopher, wants to cut the corporate tax rate from 30 percent to 25 percent. The Senate at this point in time saying only for businesses with a yearly turnover up to $50 million. What’s the problem with the proposal, Anthony Albanese, aimed at increasing our competitiveness globally?

ALBANESE: Government’s about priorities, and what this government is relying upon with its $65 billion tax cut for the top end of town is the trickle down effect. It says that it’ll benefit us, except for of course those companies that actually will have that increase in profits taken overseas. Except for, of course all those companies who will keep more for themselves; except for those companies who won’t do anything to employ any extra Australians. We have a circumstance at the moment whereby wage growth is 2 percent. Company profit is 20 percent and yet what we’re seeing is more and more pressure on working Australians to make ends meet. This government has its priorities all wrong.

PRESENTER: Yeah, that’s a critique that sounds good except for the small business owners listening.

ALBANESE: Small business owners – the genuine small business owners, the overwhelming majority of businesses out there – have a turnover of under $5 million, not billions of dollars. They’re not based overseas. The fact is this government just wants to help the top end of town and we think that is the wrong priority. It will also place pressure on the Budget in terms of the need to, over time, return to surplus.

PYNE: Can I just say the first thing is that small business is not the top end of town. It’s sad that Anthony Albanese thinks it is the top end of town. It speaks a lot for the Labor Party’s values. Now listen to this ‘cutting the company tax rate leads to more jobs and higher wages’. Who do you think said that? Bill Shorten said that in August 2011. ‘Cutting the company tax rate leads to more jobs and higher wages. That was Bill Shorten’s view when he was in government. Now he has completely an inconsistent view. One of the good things about Anthony Albanese is he never changes his position. He’s always been a leftie.

PRESENTER: Okay, but setting aside politics for a moment Christopher and focusing on the policy here, the quandary for your government and perhaps it would have been for Bill Shorten championing that policy previously, but the question is; how do you resolve the equation about how big profits need to be before it translates into wage growth?

PYNE: On Q&A on Monday night, Chris Richardson, again not me, Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics said the company tax rate cut was worth $20 billion to the economy and two-thirds would flow through to higher wages. Now, Labor keeps saying they want higher wages, and they’re voting against the very measures that would increase wages. Because they actually don’t really want higher wages. They weren’t unhappy people because they think unhappy people will vote against the government. What the Coalition is trying to do is actually be economically responsible.

PRESENTER: If the correlation were so strong though, every profit reporting period of the year, where we’re hearing about major companies in Australia recording record profits, we’d be seeing some sort of equivalent jump in wages, would we not?

PYNE: There hasn’t been a 20 percent jump in profits for years and years. Labor is reaching back to the mining boom for that. But every country, I mean Britain is reducing their company tax rate to 15 percent. The US has just reduced theirs. We have the second highest company tax rate across all the developed nations in the world. Now, these countries are reducing their company tax rates because they know it flows through to more jobs and higher wages. The Coalition has in its DNA lower taxes, whether it’s income taxes, whether it’s the GST, whether it’s company taxes. Let’s not forget Jay Weatherill wanted to increase the GST by 50 percent a couple of years ago. He was arguing the GST should be 15 percent.

ALBANESE: Hang on, your government started that debate.

PYNE: Labor’s always trying to increase taxes. Bill’s got a $165 billion worth of new taxes. Six different taxes across the economy, and he thinks that’s going to grow wages and create jobs? More taxes means less jobs and lower wages.

ALBANESE: You’re increasing taxes right now with legislation that’s in the Senate which would increase tax by $300.

PYNE: And what’s that to pay for, Anthony?

ALBANESE: The NDIS. The increase in the Medicare levy. That’s an increase.

PYNE: You don’t usually use the talking points.

ALBANESE: That is an increase in tax.

PYNE: So you think that the $300 increase in the Medicare levy is unjustified, do you? When it was your policy in government?

ALBANESE: What I’m saying is that your stuff about lower taxes isn’t actually what you’re doing.

PRESENTER: It’s a debate that’s ongoing in Canberra. We might move onto the next subject.

PRESENTER: Yeah, we’re just going to wrap things up. I quickly wanted to…

PYNE: I want to keep talking about it.


ALBANESE: We were just getting going!


PYNE: Who are you two? What are you, trying to take over this show?

PRESENTER: This program only goes for a finite amount of time. Before we let you go, I just wanted to get quick thoughts from both of you about the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s personal life has burst into public view in quite spectacular fashion on the front page of The Daily Telegraph in Sydney today. How do you think he will be dealing with all of these revelations and the fact that as he canvassed himself during the same sex marriage debate he’s clearly going through a few personal issues at home at the moment.

ALBANESE: Can I say as his Shadow Minister that this is a personal matter in which, in my view, there is no public interest in public discussion of it. People cannot possibly know what people’s personal circumstances are. Certainly I, and I would hope no one on my side of politics, is going to participate in a public debate. I have lots of debates I want to have with the Deputy Prime Minister about the failure of the Government on infrastructure. I want to talk about policy differences, not people’s personal lives.

PRESENTER: To you, Chris?

PYNE: I think one of the great things about Australia is that we haven’t gone down this tabloid journalism, Fleet Street approach of the London and the UK press. I think it’s a good testament to our democracy. I think it’s a great pity that this has happened to Barnaby Joyce and his family and it must be very traumatising for everyone, made much worse by being publicised on the front page of the newspapers. I agree with Anthony that we should argue a lot about good policy for Australia. MPs private lives, business people’s private lives, journalists private lives should be off the record.

PRESENTER: Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese, a terrific Two Tribes as always. Thank you, we’ll do it again next week.

ALBANESE: Maybe next week we can keep going into Leon Byner’s show.

PRESENTER: He’s actually in the studio.

PRESENTER: He’s just walked into the studio, I don’t think he’d be very impressed.

ALBANESE: He’d be happy with that.

PRESENTER: Do you want to keep talking about Bill Shorten, Albo?

PYNE: I just want to get back to company tax cuts.

LEON BYNER: Can I ask you one thing?

ALBANESE: Leon! See, it’s a success!

PRESENTER: Are you happy that you’re in the top three people that is very liked by supporters of your side, who think that certain individuals ought to be leader? You’d be a little pumped by that, wouldn’t you?

PYNE: Anthony loves it. He’s out there all the time.

ALBANESE: Any popularity that I have is solely because of my 5AA interviews…

PRESENTER: …yeah, well said…

ALBANESE: …with Two Tribes and with the great Leon Byner.

PRESENTER: Hey guys, stick around, Rowey and Bicks are coming in, in a minute, for a couple of questions for you as well [laughs]

PRESENTER: We’re going to leave Two Tribes there for this morning.