Subjects: Republic debate; Malcolm Turnbull; GST; multinational tax avoidance; superannuation loopholes; Apple company tax; Christopher Pyne
PRESENTER: Well, every Wednesday we are going to be catching up this year with our good friends the Liberal Member for Boothby, Christopher Pyne, and also –
PRESENTER: What did I say, Boothby?
PRESENTER: Deary me. Sorry. Good pickup Will. And also the Member for Grayndler from New South Wales, Anthony Albanese, who is the Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. We mentioned at the start of the show people are meandering their way back to work. Well, Chris Pyne is in that category this morning. He’s back on deck but he’s on a flight so we’ll have to let the hostilities between the pair of them resume next week but we talk now to Albo.
Good morning Albo. Thanks very much for joining us.
ALBANESE: G’day. I think that’s one-nil in my column, isn’t it? A no show!
PRESENTER: It’s a forfeit this morning. You’ve hit the front in 2016.
ALBANESE: The local boy forfeits.
PRESENTER: That’s right.
ALBANESE: His alarm clock hasn’t gone off.
PRESENTER: He’ll get the transcript later and he’ll be spewing.
ALBANESE: Hope so.
PRESENTER: This republican push by the Premiers, it looks like the world’s most short lived republican campaign with Malcolm Turnbull taking less than 24 hours to come out despite his own republican pedigree and declare that now is not the time. What do you think of that?
ALBANESE: Well, good old Malcolm. he bloke who stood for the republic, the bloke who stood for real action to avoid dangerous climate change, the bloke who stood for marriage equality.
Except that none of them were as important as getting the keys to The Lodge. You know, this is a bloke who has sacrificed all of the principles that he has held over in the republic cause over decades just to appease the conservatives in his own party.
PRESENTER: Is that entirely fair though?
ALBANESE: You bet it is.
PRESENTER: Saying now is not the time, though. I mean if he, and the polls suggest that he will win at the election this year, that we’re scheduled to have, he’ll then have his own mandate. It’s probably not too far off, is it, him trying to get it back on the agenda, or do you think as long as the conservatives are there and active and organised and shooting their mouths off in the Liberal Party as they quite clearly currently are, that he’s basically sold his soul for party political reasons?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s pretty clear that the Liberal Party remain a party in conflict between the conservatives and the moderates within the party and it’s clear that that isn’t the problem. The problem is Malcolm Turnbull’s in conflict with himself. And I think people want conviction politicians. No one’s saying that the Prime Minister’s position is one whereby you’ve got a right of veto either way over the republic, but he went out of his way yesterday to dampen enthusiasm for the republic.
I don’t think the republic will happen tomorrow, I don’t think anyone’s arguing that that’s the case, but in terms of building momentum, you can either be a part of that, or you can be a part of winding it back and Malcolm Turnbull clearly has chosen the latter.
PRESENTER: Is there a danger though, for your side of politics, Anthony Albanese, that if Bill Shorten comes out between now and the election and really nails his colours to the mast and says ‘we will act on the republic as a matter of urgency’, I’ve got to say here in South Australia, for a full calendar year now we’ve had the highest unemployment in the nation. I don’t think our listeners regard – and I’m a republican – I don’t think our listeners regard the republic as a real bread and butter matter of urgency.
ALBANESE: They’re right in terms of what’s the most important priority that a government should have, and its first priority is to create jobs and to grow the economy, to deal with education and health issues.
That’s what people are concerned about each and every day. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. It doesn’t mean that you should dismiss the right of our nation to mature, essentially and have our own head of state.
For me, I’m a member of the Australian Republican Movement. I’ve been a republican for a very long time. I can’t remember not being a republican, to be frank, but you know, it’s not something that is a first order issue for me. That’s been infrastructure and jobs and economic growth, and doing it in an inclusive and sustainable way. But, it just doesn’t mean that the republic isn’t an issue that shouldn’t be dealt with.
PRESENTER: The big issue that’s gaining momentum in South Australia is the GST. Our Premier said recently that there is a massive and undeniable revenue problem threatening our hospital and school services as well as the health of the federal budget. Your leader, the Leader of the Federal Opposition has taken the diametrically opposed view. Who should SA Labor support, who should Labor supporters in South Australia believe?
ALBANESE: That’s not right, that there’s a diametrically opposed view. Jay Weatherill and Bill Shorten have argued that there’s a revenue problem as well as a fiscal problem that has to be dealt with.
PRESENTER: Bill Shorten said that a 15% GST on everything is just plainly a bad idea.
ALBANESE: What he has said is that there’s a revenue problem, that that’s one issue that is on the table from the Federal Government, and he’d be prepared to look at other issues as well, and of course we have other measures on the table. Let’s get rid of the superannuation loopholes that are there for the very, very wealthy, who are using it as an avenue not for saving for their retirement but as tax avoidance. Let’s look at multinationals and their tax avoidance that’s occurring. Let’s look at other measures as well as looking at savings measures in order to one, get the Budget over a period time onto a sustainable footing, but secondly, we do have to deal with education and health. This is a federal government that has ripped $80 billion out of the education and health sectors, and that’s why state governments including the state government of South Australia, are under such pressure.
PRESENTER: Actually, can I ask you about company tax. I was taken by an article in the Australian this morning that Apple paid $84.9 million in tax despite revenue of about $7.86 billion.
ALBANESE: Well, I wouldn’t mind that deal. Nor would your listeners for their tax. They’re the sort of things that really have to be looked at. Because if you’ve got tax avoidance occurring and I’m not specifically aware of all the details, obviously of the Apple company, but common sense tells you as I sit here, with an iPad and an iPhone on the desk, they’re not doing too bad this company, they’re not doing too bad.
There’s a store here in George St that has grown into a sort of metropolis, that has glass windows so everyone can see what looks like thousands of people packed in there and for them to be paying that level of tax just seems to me to be an issue.
This is what causes people frustration, I think. The people listening to this program go out and work hard each and every day. They pay their tax through the PAYE tax system and you have, I raised this at national conference, the fact that you have something in the order of, I forget the precise figures, but essentially it was well over a couple of million dollars for each person, paying zero tax at the end of the day because of various deductions and schemes, and at the same time spending a fortune on accountants and lawyers in order to achieve that outcome.
We really do need to make sure that those people at the high end are doing their share of heavy lifting as well. That’s why Warren Buffett in the US has promoted the rule known as the Buffett Rule, which was essentially a minimum rate of taxes that people on high incomes would have to pay, when he realised that his secretary was paying more than he was in tax and he was one of the wealthiest people in the world.
PRESENTER: It’s perverse. Well, the score for 2016 is A.Albanese, one. Chris Pyne, nil. Albo winning on all hands there on account of the forfeit by the Member for Sturt.
ALBANESE: That’s one of his best performances! Silence is golden when it comes to Christopher Pyne.
PRESNETER: The ding dong tussle will resume next Wednesday. Good on you Albo, we’ll catch up with you next week.