Subjects: tax cuts, Lucy Gichuhi.
HOST: It’s time for Two Tribes on a Wednesday morning, the full complement back today – Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning. You are back from hiding Christopher.
PYNE: I’m always hiding.
ALBANESE: She was pretty good Anne Ruston, I thought. You know you might be …
PYNE: She’s very good. She’s very, very good. That is why she should be re-elected to the Senate.
ALBANESE: That is your preselection issue. Well, compared with Lucy Guchihi, she is going well.
HOST: We will be getting to Senator Gichuhi very shortly Albo. But first Chris Pyne, what is your read on another senator – Pauline Hanson – who this morning it appears has restated her position to support your three-stage tax cut plan. Is that your read?
PYNE: Well I hope that all the crossbenchers support the Government’s tax plan because what it delivers is $140 billion of tax cuts to all Australians and they deserve tax relief. We have put the Budget in a strong position. The economy is growing. Revenues are up because of that. We have cut unnecessary spending and that means that we can return some of the people’s own money to them and let’s not forget the tax cuts are not a savings measure, tax cuts are giving people back their own money. So the full $140 billion should be provided to them, not the bottom half of the hamburger, which is what Labor wants.
HOST: That’s the argument for the tax cuts. Are you any closer this morning than you were yesterday to them being passed do you think?
PYNE: Well I think Mathias Cormann is the point person in the Senate for negotiations with the cross bench. He has proved to be very adept in the past so I hope that he will be as successful in the next fortnight.
HOST: Albo, you guys have suggested that you would pass the first stage. Two and three not so, even going so far as to say that you’d repeal those. For people who would benefit from stage two, that earn between
$90,000 and $120,000, tell them why they don’t deserve a tax cut.
ALBANESE: The fact is what we are saying is that the priority is low and middle-income earners. That is why we support the first stage and we indeed will give more money to those people who most need it on low and middle incomes. That is our plan and our plan is to deliver a bigger tax cut to those people who most need it, sooner. So we have an alternative plan. The Government’s plan relies upon the view that you can decide today what should happen in 2024. Now, with due respect to our political system, it’s difficult to know what is going to happen in a month, let alone in 2024, and that is why the Government’s proposals aren’t believable and shouldn’t be supported and why our plan is a better plan.
PYNE: I just don’t think people on $90,000 a year are rich. But Labor does. I think they are middle-income earners and I think they should get a tax cut. And people on $200,000 a year; sure they earn a lot more money, but they pay 13 times more tax than people on $40,000 a year and that is the way it should be. But they only get five times the income, yet they pay 13 times more tax. That is what a progressive tax system is.
HOST: Is that fair Albo? Is that Labor’s position, that once you hit the magical $90,000 figure you are sort of on your own, that you are rich and you don’t deserve support?
ALBANESE: No, of course that is not our position. Our position is though that when you are in government it’s about priorities. This Government’s priority is to deliver first of all an $80 billion tax cut to companies including big multinationals, including those corporations including the big banks. It’s to prioritise giving tax cuts to those people on incomes like mine who frankly don’t need it on incomes like mine, or Christopher’s for that matter. He is on more than I am. He is on almost as much as you two blokes probably.
PYNE: Not that much Albo. Come on.
ALBANESE: I said almost.
ALBANESE: I said almost.
HOST: It’s hardly Chris’s fault that the people of Sturt keep returning him.
PYNE: Well, I am a humble servant.
ALBANESE: Haven’t they suffered enough?
HOST: Just on the timing of all this, and we are focusing in on that $90,000 to $120,000 group – the stage two of the income tax cuts, that comes into effect July 1, 2022, just about four years away.
ALBANESE: That’s three terms away. It’s not this term. It’s not the next term. It’s at least the term after that. Politicians making decisions for governments …
HOST: Four years?
ALBANESE: Yes, that’s right.
HOST: It’s not a decade away. Surely that’s a reasonable …
ALBANESE: It’s three terms away. It’s not this term. It’s not the next term. It’s the term after.
PYNE: People want to plan.
HOST: Isn’t that an indictment on how stuffed our political system is, with our three-year national terms, that we regard four years’ time as a bridge too far in terms of planning for our future?
PYNE: Well Labor does.
ALBANESE: But it is three terms away. There are two elections between now and then.
PYNE: But David, Labor does. The Coalition is saying that we have a seven-year plan and I think the public are really, really welcoming a seven-year plan. Labor says: “Oh no, we can’t decide anything from month to month”.
ALBANESE: This Government struggles to have a seven-day plan in between their caucus meetings, where they blue over energy policy, over economic policy, over everything else.
HOST: We are going to change tack now guys. Hey Chris Pyne, when Malcolm Turnbull was like the cat who got the cream a few months ago when he announced that Lucy Gichuhi had been wooed over to the Liberals’ side. Do you think he might have been less thrilled about that this week when it emerged that she has been playing fast and loose with her entitlements?
PYNE: Well Lucy Gichuhi, (correcting pronunciation) rather than Gichuhi, – Lucy Gichuhi –
PYNE: … is a very valuable member of our team and I don’t think it is fair to say that she has been playing fast and loose with her entitlements. Sure, if you publish the travel of any MP, you can make it look bad. The truth is that she says that all of the entitlements have been within the rules for her normal travel to go to Sydney to do electorate business or committee business.
HOST: What is her electorate?
PYNE: Well when you travel as an MP and as a Cabinet Minister, you don’t just stay in your city or your state. You might well travel to learn about things that are informing yourself in the job of being a senator. That is part of the electorate business. It doesn’t mean you sit in your electorate all day because obviously you’ve got have jobs to do elsewhere. Where she says that there was grey area, she has paid it back. Lucy Gichuhi was for quite a long time entirely on her own as an Independent and as an accidental senator because of Bob Day going under the chariot wheels. And now she is a member of the LNP team, she will get a lot more support. And of course when a new person comes into the Senate without any party backing, it is often very, very difficult to work these things through, but if she feels that she has made an error, she has paid it back, which is the honest thing to do. In the other areas where the media might be saying this looks bad, it is actually within her job as a senator to travel and learn about the world around us.
HOST: Just finally Chris in the context of the tax debate, you just said that you thought that $200,000 was actually quite a lot of money. She doesn’t seem to think so though because that is her salary and she has complained about it on African television.
PYNE: Well the context of that, I understand it now, is that she was being asked to compare how MPs in Australia are paid with Kenyan MPs, who are apparently paid a lot more and that was the context of those comments. So I think that has been taken out of context. Lots of things can be taken out of context. The reality is that she is making a great contribution. She is the first African woman who is an Australian now to be elected to the Senate. I think that is a great achievement. She brings a perspective to our Parliament that nobody else has and I think that is the reason why she should be re-selected on the Senate ticket.
HOST: Well do you reckon Albo? Has she given you all a collective black eye with the way she has conducted herself?
ALBANESE: Well, there’s a couple of things about Christopher’s comments. Firstly, write down the date on which Christopher spoke about how tough it is to be an Independent or a Family First person. It’s the first time I have heard him defend people on the crossbenches.
PYNE: They are all valued colleagues.
ALBANESE: He is desperate to get their vote for things, so that’s all that is about. Secondly, she hasn’t been elected to anything. She didn’t get elected. She got appointed after the Family First person hit the fence and had to resign and then so she’s number two on a Family First ticket and somehow she ends up then as an Independent and then ends up as a Liberal. I think this game of people changing political parties without reference to actual voters, like it is some game, is farcical.
PYNE: You could say the same about Cheryl Kernot, your star recruit though.
ALBANESE: No. Cheryl Kernot, be very clear, resigned from the Senate and then ran as an ALP candidate and got elected.
PYNE: What about Peter Slipper?
ALBANESE: She did the right thing.
HOST: I think there are examples on both sides.
ALBANESE: Peter Slipper was swapping around everywhere as well.
PYNE: You are the one that got him into the Speaker’s chair.
ALBANESE: He was never, ever a member of the Labor Party. Never, ever a member of the Labor Party.
HOST: As long as you two guys stay solid and we know where everyone stands. We have got to have something to depend on these days. Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese, Two Tribes on a Wednesday morning.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.