Subjects: Barnaby Joyce; tax; pensioners.
HOST: It’s that time of the week. We catch up with Chris Pyne and the most popular man in the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning team.
PYNE: Nice to be here with the people’s choice.
HOST: Hey Albo, we don’t want to sound biased, but could you run for the Labor leadership, because we reckon you would do a better job than Bill Shorten?
ALBANESE: That sounds a bit biased to me.
HOST: No, we play it with a straight bat here at 5AA.
ALBANESE: That’s just because I’m on your show. You probably think that Christopher should be the Liberal Leader.
HOST: Well, we are about to get to that. He once said he had a baton in his rucksack.
ALBANESE: And how wacky is that idea?
HOST: I think you would both do a terrific job. Hey can we start with …
ALBANESE: We are happy with the job that we’ve got which is here on 5AA every week.
HOST: That is the most important part of your job. Good answer Albo.
PYNE: He hasn’t answered your question yet by the way.
HOST: You always say that Chris.
ALBANESE: Right after I have answered it.
HOST: This Barnaby Joyce business – now everyone has had a say about the 150 grand. Can I ask you question, and this might be more or more to you Chris, a bit of a procedural …
ALBANBESE: Yes. Where’s our money?
HOST: Exactly. You guys don’t get paid a cent for coming on here. But how does Barnaby Joyce suddenly get three months leave? What what’s the process by which that happens where, because his private life obviously needs a bit of attention at the moment, he can just vanish and does he continue to be paid?
PYNE: Well like any worker in Australia, they are entitled to sick leave. Barnaby has a sick leave certificate provided by his medical practitioner and that’s why he has been given leave and any other person in a workplace who produces such a certificate would get the same kind of leave.
HOST: Would it be that long though?
PYNE: Well, it would depend on the circumstances of the individual worker. So Parliament sits until, I think, the 28th of June. He is not on leave from turning up to work if he chooses to do so after that, but he is just on leave from Parliament and the Parliament doesn’t sit again until mid-August and that’s the time frame you’re looking at from Parliament. Whether Barnaby is well enough to return to work in his electorate office in New England is really a matter for him and his medical practitioner, not a matter for me to cast judgement on.
HOST: So it is a medical thing is it?
PYNE: As I said, he has a certificate from his medical practitioner which has been provided and that is why he has been given a pair, appropriately, by the Labor Party and I think the obsession with pursuing Barnaby Joyce over these issues, you know, perhaps it’s reached its nadir.
ALBANESE: Yes. I mean he’s getting 10 days’ leave from Parliament effectively is what has happened and when someone produces a medical certificate, the Labor Party has done the right thing here. I’m sure that well, I would hope that, everyone would do the right thing if it was someone from any party produced a medical certificate you say: “Yep, we’re going to honour that’’. And that’s just a sensible thing. I mean, I think that we do need to move on. The truth is of course that Barnaby made a decision to, well, he and whoever else was a part of that decision-making process have made a decision, to further the public debate on this. I, for the life of me, can’t see why that was in anyone’s interests regardless of the payment which is, in my view, entirely inappropriate as well.
HOST: Albo, I want to ask you about personal income tax in light of some modelling that’s been released by the Federal Government through Treasury that compares the Federal Government’s, or the Coalition’s, tax plan with Labor, specifically looking at certain employees. Now it makes some assumptions about what you will and won’t support regarding the current plan. But at its most dramatic it suggests that teachers, nurses and mechanics could pay between $500 and $2000 a year more in personal income tax by 2024-25. Now, it may be dramatically less than that, but are you in a position where you might go to the next election having to champion a tax policy that will have people in those sorts of jobs paying more in the long-term?
ALBANESE: Well this is quite frankly absurd and is an abuse of the public service. We’ve seen a range of so-called modelling with all sorts of assumptions in there, you know, that don’t relate to reality at all, including the idea that we’re going to project out what people are earning in 2024-25; what will have happened in terms of the national and international economy over that period of time, we are talking about three terms on – not this term. What we know is right now on the table are two tax plans for now, which are one; the Government offering a bit of $500; and our plan for offering a bit over $900 dollars for low and middle-income earners.
HOST: But this is a long-term projection and it uses a predicted …
ALBANESE: Projections long-term …
PYNE: But you want us to do a projection on company tax over the next ten years. That’s your position on company tax.
ALBANESE: No, that is what you have done. That is what you have done.
PYNE: You are demanding some kind of figure over ten years for company tax changes and now you are using the same argument that we use on company tax. The truth is Bill’s got an enormous problem. You’ve got a $220 billion tax hit. It’s got to come from someone and …
ALBANESE: And what is that figure over?
PYNE: Retirees are being hit. Retirees are being hit worse than anybody.
ALBANESE: Oh rubbish. You want to raise the retirement age.
PYNE: You are getting $10.5 billion from retirees.
ALBANESE: That’s what you want to do. You want them to keep working. You want them to not be pensioners.
PYNE: You are wanting to take away their tax. You started the process of increasing the pension age – not us. You want to take away their money and we have $220 billion of Bill Shorten’s tax grab at the next election and he wants to pretend that this isn’t coming from someone. Everyone in Australia knows if you are raising $220 billion more in tax it’s got to come from someone.
HOST: Chris, why is federal Treasury doing party-political analysis like this?
PYNE: Well, it’s not. It is not doing party political analysis.
HOST: It is analyzing Labor Party policies.
ALBANESE: Of course it is. It has been dropped out with a big exclusive on the front of the modelling.
PYNE: It’s entirely within Treasury’s job to model taxation plans.
ALBANESE: What? To give things to the media outlets as exclusive articles?
PYNE: So what is the Labor Party’s argument here? You shouldn’t tell people how much you are going to tax them?
HOST: Guys, guys. Let’s calm down. Calm down. I’ve only got one question which is, is there anybody within Treasury who has been paid $125,000 for their saucy tell-all tale about Labor’s tax policy?
PYNE: They get a lot more money than that.
HOST: We are going to wrap it up. Good on you Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese, always a rollicking chat. We’ll do it next week.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.