SUBJECTS: Tax cuts; John Setka.
SABRA LANE: The Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese joined me a short time ago. Mr Albanese thanks for joining AM.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks for having me on the program.
LANE: The Prime Minister says the Senate will sit without a break until the three part tax package is passed. What’s your response?
ALBANESE: Well Mr Morrison has a choice between an outcome and an argument. We’ve put forward a proposition that would see immediate tax cuts passed faster, higher tax cuts for every single worker in the economy and we can do that in one day. We’ve promised to expedite the package. But Mr Morrison just wants an argument rather than an outcome, more conflict more of what the country doesn’t need.
LANE: But he argues that Labor is being fiscally reckless here that the Coalition will deliver an election promise where this policy was central to its campaign?
ALBNANESE: Well the fact is that stage one was central to its campaign, that tax cuts will be passed by July 1. Mr Morrison has broken that commitment that he made. What the difference here is over whether the economy needs additional stimulus and that’s why we want to bring forward the part of stage two of the tax cuts that would increase the threshold from $90,000 to $120,000 for 37 per cent and that would provide up to $1,350 to all those who earn above $90,000 and have a real stimulus effect on the economy and that’s precisely what’s needed right now.
LANE: The Government seems increasingly confident that it will get its entire package passed with crossbench support, is Labor about to become irrelevant to a key federal debate?
ALBANESE: Well we’ve been discussing with the crossbench our proposals as well and we’ll continue to do that. But what we’re doing is putting the national economic interests first. We want to see a positive outcome. We want to get that economic activity occurring. The fact is, the economy is struggling. We have very low growth. We have wages that are not keeping up with the cost of living. We have a doubling of the debt under this Government’s watch. We have dampening consumer demand and the government is acting like once again like an opposition and just looking for more conflict when the opposition is actually being constructive in offering a path forward.
LANE: Some of your colleagues notably senior frontbencher, Joel Fitzgibbon says Labor should pass the entire package, that you can’t afford to give the Government an opportunity to blame Labor if the economy turns sour. Is he wrong?
ALBANESE: What we’re doing here is offering to assist the economy. We know that the economy is slowing and we know that stimulus is needed right now. The Reserve Bank of Australia indicated that when they decreased interest rates since the election and are talking of another further rate cut down the track from the already levels that are at a very low levels. So the fact is that we are being constructive. We’re offering to pass the first stage of the tax cuts but to bring forward the second stage so that all workers will get a tax cut. Under the Government’s proposition, all workers won’t get a tax cut in this term, that’s their idea. What we’re saying is that more is needed as well as a bring forward of some of the infrastructure investment.
LANE: Mr Morrison’s also flagged he wants change unknown in scope and size on IR and scrapping red tape- particularly on development projects. How would you assess whatever policy puts forward?
ALBANESE: Well that’s exactly the point isn’t it; there is no policy being put forward. What there is is just a little bit of anti-union rhetoric as usual from the government and a statement about red tape. I thought that they solved the red tape issue during their first two terms of government when we had whole days of Parliament devoted to getting red tape that mainly consisted of moving commas and adding words like ‘and’ into legislation or removing particular paragraphs that had been duplicated. The fact is that this government is in search of an agenda and that’s why Labor has been constructive and putting forward an agenda that would actually assist the economy.
LANE: Just on the unions, the CFMMEU solidarity with John Setka has given the government a free kick against Labor and the union movement hasn’t it?
ALBANESE: Well we’ve taken a strong stance. As Labor Leader I’ve said that I will move for the expulsion of John Setka when the National Executive meets on July the fifth. We’ve suspended his membership of the party and that is in the party’s interest that he no longer remain a member.
LANE: The CFMMEU is standing by Mr Setka and so are a number of other unions. Are they out of step with the public?
ALBANESE: Look it’s up to the union movement to determine its own position. What it’s up to me to do is to put forward propositions that are in the best interests of the Labor Party. It’s not in the interests of the Labor Party that Mr Setka remain a member.
LANE: Mr Albanese thanks for talking to AM.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much.