Subjects: Budget 2017; Labor Party.
PRESENTER: Well the morning after a Federal Budget that really embodied the concept of more, more spending, more tax. Scott Morrison might say more fair. I think we need some more Two Tribes. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, for what I think will be a slightly longer session this morning. Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time.
PYNE: Good morning.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you, I’ve clocked off for an hour to talk to you.
PRESENTER: Oh right, it might be a one-way conversation in about 20 minutes’ time.
ALBANESE: Leon will have us on.
PRESENTER: No, I think Leon has got the Treasurer on, you got bumped for Scott Morrison sadly Albo. The first question to you if we can Christopher Pyne, what do you make of the criticism that with this Budget the Coalition has tried to out-Labor Labor, and also with this bank levy, how can you guarantee that the banks won’t just pass that charge onto consumers or shareholders?
PYNE: Well to the first question if Labor had a Budget they would have added $16.5 billion to the deficit, because they were their unfunded promises from the last federal election. So what we’ve managed to do is produce a fair Budget that provides opportunity for people, and security, economic and national security, and we’ve also managed to do that while delivering a surplus of $7.5 billion. Now that is an amazing achievement. We’ve done it by sensible savings measures, by sensible revenue raising measures, like paying for the NDIS; by increasing the Medicare Levy by half a per cent, and I don’t think people will complain about that. And we’ve got this on a list of other achievements already coming into the Budget like the company tax cut, the education reforms, the higher education reforms, media reforms. We really are getting on with the job. In terms of the second point, embodied in the new 0.06 per cent levy by the way, point 0.06 basis point levy on the banks, on their liabilities over $100 billion, and they can’t use any of the deposits of their customers to determine that figure. There will be inbuilt into that powers for the ACCC to ensure that the banks are being honest with their customers and if the banks try and pretend that they have to pass this on to their customers, in my view that will not be an honest response from the banks and there will be triggers in the legislation to ensure that the banks don’t. You know there’s nothing wrong with the banks. The banks do a terrific job in many respects and they’re our most profitable businesses, but they are also, by the way David, the most profitable banks in the world. A 0.06 basis point levy on their liabilities over $100 billion is not going to break the largest five banks in Australia.
PRESENTER: Anthony Albanese, the Budget last night was big spending, there was increased expenditure on health, the NDIS fully funded, a big infrastructure spend, the second Sydney airport, Gonski 2.0, so money for education. It was all funded by, well, will be funded by this transaction tax on banks and an increase to the Medicare Levy. These all sound like the sorts of things that, in part, you guys have been advocating for. Has the Government pulled the rug from beneath you?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is that the Budget last night delivered a tax cut for millionaires and a tax hike for those people listening to your program. If you’re on $1 million, you will pay $16,400 less tax this year. If you’re on $65,000 you will pay $325 more tax in two years’ time. The Budget fails the fairness test and what we’ve seen, I remember after the 2014 Budget, the headline screaming positively the next morning when you actually look at the detail, when you look at the detail in my area of infrastructure, for example, there is not a dollar for any project in South Australia, not one.
PRESENTER: Is not Albo that increased impost on the middle income earner by way of the Medicare levy …
ALBANESE: It’s not on the middle-income earner David, it’s on ordinary working Australians, including low-income earners.
PRESENTER: Isn’t that by way of the Medicare Levy, which was precisely the Gillard model for paying off the NDIS a half a percentage point increase?
ALBANESE: Well the NDIS was fully funded.
PYNE: Rubbish. Not True.
ALBANESE: You can interrupt Christopher, but you had your fair crack. Well (inaudible) having listened to you Christopher, the truth is that it was fully funded. The truth is that this Government has looked towards new taxes at the same time they have taken the deficit levy off of high income earners like me and Christopher, and no doubt you well-paid 5AA presenters as well. Why is it that the Government is imposing an increase in taxation at the low-end, but taking off the deficit levy while the deficit is still there? Scott Morrison, like his predecessor Joe Hockey saying, you know in the future in four years’ time there will be a surplus, well, you know, we will wait and see whether all that adds up or not because we have had a look at the Budget figures, there is a whole lot in there that is shonky including the infrastructure Budget that has fallen by $1.6 billion this year alone.
PRESENTER: Christopher Pyne, Tom Koutsantonis has gone bunta about the infrastructure outlays in this Budget and said that the whole thing is skewed heavily to the eastern states and Western Australia. Is that a fair criticism or is that a bit of a, what have the Romans ever done for us scenario after all the money that’s been showered on SA in defence spending and so forth?
PYNE: Well we’re just seeing the usual Tom Koutsantonis performance, where he waves his arms about, makes a whole lot of exaggerated claims and hopes the Adelaide media market will notice him. The truth is that we are spending $89 billion on naval shipbuilding, the vast majority of which will be built at Osborne in the future frigates and the submarine that was announced in last year’s Budget. In this years’ Budget of course and let’s not forget that the entire infrastructure budget for this year is $75 billion…
ALBANESE: No it’s not…
PYNE: So $89 billion totally dwarfs the $75 billion.
ALBANESE: No it’s not.
PYNE: In terms of specific projects, Tom Koutsantonis is ignoring the $110 million for the Port Augusta Solar Power Plant. He is ignoring $70 million for the Proton Therapy Machine to be built at SAMRHI too on North Terrace. He is ignoring the gas pipeline study to put a gas pipeline from the Northern Territory to South Australia to south-Western Queensland, $100 million for advanced manufacturing, and now in this Budget the pumped-hydro scheme at Cultana, to put energy into the Spencer Gulf, I mean that’s just a few of them. We’ve already of course funded the North-South Corridor, the Darlington Interchange, the Torrens to Torrens Project…
ALBANESE: That would be the former Government mate.
PYNE: Honestly, the Labor Party in South Australia will do anything to distract people from their own massive failings and I have just managed to list four or five projects on infrastructure that Tom Koutsantonis apparently doesn’t know about.
ALBANESE: He knows about them because he was there at the sod-turn with me as the Infrastructure Minister in 2013. That’s complete nonsense. And last night …
PYNE: You didn’t put any money into the North-South Corridor, Darlington or Torrens to Torrens. That was all the Abbott Government.
ALBANESE: You are joking. That is a complete nonsense. It was fully-funded. The big con last night (inaudible).
PRESENTER: I suspect that we are not going to get any agreement when it comes to Budget matters, so we might just leave that to one side for a moment and Anthony Albanese, we’ll just leave you with a final question, regarding your very strong criticism of an advertisement that was put out by the Labor side. It appeared to be all public comments and the strength of them, to undermine the Leader of the Party, Bill Shorten. Why were you so strong on that ad?
ALBANESE: Well, I’ll come to that after I make this point, which is that Adelaide Light Rail got a mention in last night’s Budget but it didn’t get a dollar. A speech line doesn’t replace a rail line or a tram line. Bill Shorten himself has said that the ad was inappropriate.
PRESENTER: Point taken, but why did you take a pot shot at your boss?
ALBANESE: I didn’t, he agreed, he said the same thing. He pulled the ad. As did Chris Bowen, anyone who looked at it said it was inappropriate and it’s not being shown anymore.
PRESENTER: Did you tell Bill Shorten that you were going to make the strong comments that you did Albo before you made them?
ALBANESE: The time David, that I talk to you about my private conversations with Bill Shorten on air, is about the same time that I talk about my private conversations with Christopher Pyne on air. Okay? Good try.
PRESENTER: It was worth a lash. It did look to us Albo, like you’ve still got the leadership baton in your knapsack.
ALBANESE: Well it might look to you like I was asked a question and I gave an answer. Which is one of the reasons why you have me on this program, because I give answers.
PRESENTER: Can I finish with a time-honoured journalistic construction, so you’re not ruling out another tilt at the leadership?
ALBANESE: Fair dinkum, good try boys. Good try. We’ve got a leader. He is going well.
PRESENTER: He didn’t rule it out. Thank you gentlemen. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese on Two Tribes, thank you very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.