Subjects: Budget, infrastructure, tax cuts, South Road, election timing.
HOST: Special post-Budget edition of Two Tribes. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Now, we’ve been doing this segment for long enough. l think that we can probably be all honest with one another now. I know you two typically are. No matter what we ask you post-Budget morning we are probably going to get a rendition of the talking points so what we figured, you’ve got 60 seconds each to get it out of your system and then we are going to get into the questions. Chris Pyne, you can go first.
PYNE: Well the Budget is delivering a stronger economy, essential services and we are living within our means. We are returning to taxpayers their own money in a transformative tax package that means that 94 per cent of Australians will pay 32.5 cents in the dollar tax or less and Labor is opposing that income tax cut. So we have delivered the essential services, more jobs and a stronger economy. We are living within our means. We are returning to surplus faster than was anticipated. So we have turned the corner and we are delivering tax cuts back to Australians which is their money and Labor is saying” “No, we want to keep it’’.
HOST: Nice and concise. All right Albo, your shot.
ALBANESE: This Budget is a hoax. It has tax cuts off in the never-never in Malcolm Turnbull’s fifth term or something. It has infrastructure investment that fails South Australia. Infrastructure investment in South Australia this year is $832 million, in 2017-18. It declines to $504 million, then $311 million, then $135 million, then $236 million. That represents three per cent of the national infrastructure Budget is going to South Australia in 2020-21. It’s a complete fail when it comes to supporting South Australia and I am amazed if this South Australian Marshall Government just rolls over and has its tummy tickled by this Government that is taking South Australia for granted.
HOST: To you Chris, on the question around the long-term nature of this tax reform and tax cut plan, is that the reason that the Government is going to try within the next few weeks to go into the Parliament and say: “here is the legislation” and is the thinking that you will not only stare down Labor into challenging them, to oppose tax cuts for so many Australians, but that you will also future proof the savings, meaning that they are law and that a future government of any hue would have to bring in new laws to abolish them?
PYNE: Well we will be introducing the Personal Income Tax Plan this morning into the House as is the normal course of events and Labor has already announced that they are going to vote against tax cuts.
ALBANESE: We have not. Don’t lie.
PYNE: They have. You’ve already announced …
ALBANESE: We have not. You are just lying.
PYNE: Well. I am not.
ALBANESE: You are just lying to the listeners.
PYNE: Chris Bowen has announced that you are going …
ALBANESE: He has not.
PYNE: Has already announced that you are voting against the income tax cuts.
ALBANESE: He hasn’t. You are lying.
PYNE: I heard it this morning. Fran Kelly said it this morning. Fran Kelly from the ABC said it this morning.
HOST: Guys settle, settle, settle.
ALBANESE: Fran Kelly is not Labor’s spokesperson.
HOST: I’ve never even heard of Fran Kelly. Let’s not worry about what was said. What is the case Anthony Albanese?
ALBANESE: You will find out on Thursday night. On Thursday night we will make, in Bill Shorten’s Budget Reply, we will outline our alternative plans. We will outline what we are doing. We said last night that we will vote for the tax cut that comes in on the 1st of July, 2018. We will vote for that first tranche. As for the rest, we are looking at the detail and we are asking for the detail of what the impact will be. We’ll be raising questions about a whole range of things in the Budget that don’t have the detail outlined beyond the Forward Estimates because what they are talking about here is something that is off in the never- never, of which they have provided no detail.
HOST: It’s not off in the never-never if you back it and it becomes law though Albo.
ALBANESE: It is off in the never-never. You know quite well David, your listeners will be sitting there today thinking this is a Government that can’t keep its commitments from week to week.
PYNE: We haven’t broken any promises from the 2016 election.
ALBANESE: You broke one last night – no cuts to the ABC. When you look at the detail for example …
PYNE: That’s two elections ago. We are talking about 2016.
HOST: It’s also a victimless crime.
ALBANESE: What about the South Road?
PYNE: We have not broken a promise since the 2016 election.
ALBANESE: What about South Road?
PYNE: We are building the north-south corridor.
ALBANESE: You’ve made big this announcement. When?
HOST: I’m going to ask the question to you in a different way Albo, OK. Setting aside the question of whether the Labor Party is going to block tax cuts, conversely, given that you are opposing some of the largese toward corporate Australia, given that you are cracking down on negative gearing and given that you are recouping some money from some of Australia’s self-funded retirees, could Labor actually offer bigger personal income tax cuts?
ALBANESE: Well you’ll have to wait and see David. I’m not announcing our response….
HOST: Come on, you’d be in the room chatting to the boys. You’d know what’s going on.
ALBANESE: I was in the room last night. I was in the room and I was in the room that began the discussions about our response on Thursday night. Bill Shorten will be giving it on Thursday night.
HOST: Surely Two Tribes is a more appropriate forum to announce it than some cockamamee speech in the chamber?
PYNE: Labor is promising $200 billion of new taxes.
ALBANESE: Who cares about the Parliament – what about Two Tribes?
HOST: Well let’s talk then about what was announced yesterday in the Budget, Chris Pyne. Was there any new money for South Road in the Budget announced yesterday?
PYNE: Yes of course.
ALBANESE: In the Forwards? When is it? When does it kick in?
HOST: Give him a chance Albo.
PYNE: Actually Anthony, you’ve behaved quite poorly this morning.
ALBANESE: You began by lying.
PYNE: You’re at it again. Because Labor is promising $200 billion of new taxes, so even if they promise some personal income tax cuts they are taking $200 billion from older people and all Australians in order to give it back to people.
ALBANESE: How much is the corporate tax cut over ten years?
HOST: Let’s talk about infrastructure in South Australia, Christopher Pyne. Was there anything announced, anything new, that wasn’t announced previously?
PYNE: In terms of South Australia, we have $1.8 billion of infrastructure promised in this Budget and we are building the continuation of the north-south corridor …
ALBANESE: But not in the Forwards.
PYNE: At the tune of about $400 million and Anthony knows it as well as anybody …
ALBANESE: It’s not there.
PYNE: … that the expenditure on infrastructure goes up and down depending on the readiness to start projects. But I can tell you on ship building and submarines, we’re spending $1.3 billion in infrastructure at Osborne and $800 million at the Edinburgh RAAF Base and at Woomera in the north of South Australia to do the Poseidon and the Growler, being housed there as well as the ground station for the satellite. So that’s over $2.1 billion in defence infrastructure alone …
ALBANESE: That wasn’t what you were asked. You were asked about the South Road.
PYNE: … which we delivered. Plus $1.8 billion for road and rail infrastructure ..
ALBANESE: In the never-never. You’ll be Prime Minister before you start on the South Road.
HOST: You might be too, Albo.
PYNE: Labor knows that they have to face the next election promising $200 billion of increases in taxes..
HOST: Speaking of the next election, this is a Budget for an election this year isn’t it?
PYNE: No. We’re not having an election until the first half of next year, when it is due.
PYNE: And any other speculation is quite frankly bizarre. Why would we have an early election? The election is not due until May/June 2019. And it will be in the first half of 2019.
HOST: And one other thing – given that both Labor and the Coalition seem to have perfected the art of usurping the will of the people and knocking off leaders themselves, is a 10-year plan to reform the tax system a bit heroic given the instability we’ve seen in Canberra for the past decade?
PYNE: Well actually the Government is very stable. And we are looking for the long-term because that’s what Governments should do. We have immediate tax relief from this year, immediate tax relief, and then there’s a longer term plan over seven years to mean that 94 percent of Australian will pay 32.5 cents or less in the dollar. We have eliminated bracket creep. This is the most significant tax reform since the GST. It’s a very transformative Budget.
HOST: Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese; that was a wild old Two Tribes, as we expected. We appreciate it and good luck. Get through your talking points for the rest of the day.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.