Jul 19, 2013

Transcript of interview with Lisa Wilkinson & Karl Stefanovic – Today, Nine Network

Subjects:  Asylum seekers; Fringe Benefits Tax

KARL STEFANOVIC: It’s time now for In the House with Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Shadow Education Minister Christopher Pyne. He’s got a fancy title since you were here last.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: He’s really come up in the world.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s been a big three weeks.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Since he’s been doing this show.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Exactly, we like to claim credit for it. Let’s start with boat arrivals. Any developments overnight at all, any more boats coming?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The development overnight which is pretty important is Indonesia making an announcement that they would remove the exemption that has been there for people from Islamic countries have automatically got visas, from Iran.

That won’t happen, they are moving on that and they have made that announcement overnight, which is pretty good news.

LISA WILKINSON: What sort of difference do you think it will make?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  What it will do is stop the transit traffic going from Iran, Middle East, Indonesia, get your visa on arrival, and then have already pre-organised a people smuggler to put you on a boat.

That will be far more difficult if there’s not an automatic transit through Indonesia. It’s an example of good cooperation and I congratulate and thank the Indonesian Government for doing what they have done.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  There’s also a story on the front page of the Daily Telegraph today saying that you have cut a deal with other countries. Is that true?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: What we’re doing, and we’ve said this, is there needs to be a regional solution to this. So we are in discussions-

KARL STEFANOVIC: You haven’t cut a deal yet, you’re just in discussions?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, announcements will be made when they’re made, and I’m not in a position to make further detail here. But suffice to say we know that part of the solution is a regional solution, and we of course made an arrangement when the Prime Minister went to Jakarta to see President Yudhoyono they announced the regional summit. So those steps are in place.

LISA WILKINSON: Christopher Pyne, you must be pleased to hear that there is movement happening?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I think the decision the Indonesians have made about the Iranian visa holders is a good one. It would be good if Malaysia made the same decision because that would then end that capacity to come through either Malaysia or Indonesia. So that’s the next step. But we do welcome Indonesia’s move.

In terms of the stories in the Daily Telegraph this morning, I had two thoughts about them. One, it sounds like Australia is a regional processing hub, and I’m not sure that’s going to stop the boats if we are the regional processing hub. And it sounded like more summits, more meetings for Kevin Rudd to fly to around the world to see world leaders to talk about stopping the boats.

The only way to stop the boats of course is to take away the sugar off the table, which is permanent residency. If you make people who come by boat unable to get permanent residency, which is what John Howard did, it takes the sugar off the table.

Offshore processing, and of course turning back the boats when it’s safe to do so. And we’re now seeing a lot of naval officers and people from the military saying that that’s perfectly capable of being done. And that is the most important thing you can do to stop people smugglers having a business plan.

LISA WILKINSON: We’re also seeing a lot of naval officers who are really suffering through this process as well.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: They are thoroughly sick of it. I mean the Navy doesn’t want to be a taxi service for people smugglers, it wants to defend Australia.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  Is it actually legal to turn the boats around, in terms of international piracy, if you look at the strict definition of piracy, is it actually legal for you, I mean have you checked that?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well if there are fishing boats or people smugglers on international waters, then there’s no reason why Australia can’t say here’s enough fuel for you to get back to Indonesia where you came from. You’re not coming to Australia. That’s perfectly within our rights to do that.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Alright let’s move on. Let’s have a look at the salary sacrificing cars issue which has been a hot one the last couple of days. A little bit later in the show we’ve got a man called Danny Wilson coming in, he runs a car leasing company – NLC.

Basically yesterday he has been forced to sack 83 workers following these proposed changes because the phones essentially just stopped. I mean, was there enough consultation done with business? Was there enough warning or was this just policy on the run?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: This was certainly not policy on the run. When you make tax changes, you announce them and they come into force on that date, and that occurs with all tax measures. It has occurred for time immemorial.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  It’s started?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes, it requires legislation but let’s be serious about what this is.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Just to clarify, sorry I want the detail here, has it started yet? Or will it require legislation?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Correct, but it will start from the day of announcement, that’s what happens with tax changes, for obvious reasons so people can’t shift and avoid tax.

And all we’re talking about here is that anyone who is entitled to claim will still be able to claim, simple as that. All we’re doing is removing a loophole whereby some people who are claiming entitlements that they weren’t due, because they weren’t actually using their car for work, can’t continue to claim them. This is a common sense change.

LISA WILKINSON: People do get a bit spooked though when they know the tax department are going to be all over something like this. For a lot of people in business, they’re people who are under $100,000 and they are aspiring. And the car becomes part of something that means they can aspire to something better. Surely the Labor Party would support that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Absolutely, and guess what Lisa, people in business who use their car use it for a lot more than 20 per cent of the time. The tradies out there using their utes, the people who might be the salespeople driving around use it for a lot more, they keep a log book.

And what will occur is12 weeks every five years you get an app, you put it on your phone, keeps a record, done. It is as simple as that.

The only people this will affect are people who are claiming they were using their car for work who aren’t using their car for work, simple as that.

HOST: Will you wind this back if you get into office?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I think the first thing is that on this day that Kevin Rudd announced that he was terminating the carbon tax, he didn’t terminate the carbon tax but he is terminating the car industry. Wreck it Rudd; he’s all talk and now action.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  Will you get rid of it? You don’t know.


KARL STEFANOVIC: What are you going to do?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I’m going to finish my sentence.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  This is a yes or no.

KARL STEFANOVIC: You keep rambling and rambling.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I’m not rambling. The point is, he was going to terminate the carbon tax, he didn’t.

KARL STEFANOVIC: You’re rambling again.

LISA WILKINSON:  He’s still not answering the question.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It is highly unlikely that the parliament will sit and this will be legislated. So it’s highly unlikely the Coalition will get to vote against this before the election.

But if we do win the election, which is our plan, it’s highly unlikely we would ever introduce this.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Of course they will.

KARL STEFANOVIC: What we would do is talk to industry, which Rudd didn’t do, so old Kevin has not changed at all. We’ll ask the industry first if what Labor is saying about the car industry is true.

If it’s not true, and I suspect Labor’s not telling the truth about this otherwise a previous Treasurer would have done it before, we will not support it.

LISA WILKINSON: Well the industry would say don’t do it.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: So I’ve answered your question. After consultation with the car industry, which Labor didn’t do, I think it’s highly unlikely that we will support this legislation at any point.

And if we win the election, it’s highly unlikely that we will introduce it because it’s a job destroying tax, just like the mining tax.

KARL STEFANOVIC:  As you know, highly unlikely is not definitive.

LISA WILKINSON:  There’s a door about that much open.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We haven’t had a Shadow Cabinet meeting to discuss it, and we haven’t consulted with industry. We’re doing that now.

Unlike Labor who didn’t do any of those things, we think that’s how government should work. But we don’t believe we should destroy the car industry.

I come from South Australia, I want Holden to stay open. They’re the ones who are introducing this thing.

KARL STEFANOVIC: We’ve got to go guys, it took you ten minutes to fire up.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  And he still couldn’t say yes.