Apr 22, 2016

Transcript of television interview – SKY News Australia

Subjects: Banking Royal Commission, Deficit Levy, Turnbull Government cuts

KIERAN GILBERT: With us now to discuss the politics of the day, Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese. Anthony Albanese thanks for your time.


GILBERT: We’ll start with the bank hitting back at some of the criticism. Ian Narev, of the Commonwealth Bank has described Labor’s call for the Royal Commission as baseless and he has urged the politicians of the nation not to use the banks as a political football in this election campaign.

ALBANESE: Well he has acted this week hasn’t he Kieran?

And it took the announcement of a Royal Commission to wake the Government up to the fact that people watching this show today will have family or friends who have been impacted through the bad advice of banks and financial institutions.

There has been a systemic issue which is why it requires a whole-of-government response and requires a Royal Commission.

And the people who have been the victims here aren’t the bank executives Kieran.

So I am more worried frankly about the customers and the customers who have lost their life savings who deserve nothing less than Royal Commission.

GILBERT: Do you accept that the banks have changed their culture to some extent; they have undertaken their own reviews into remuneration standards within their organisations?

ALBANESE: Since Wednesday?

GILBERT: OK, so you are saying this is a recent conversion here?

ALBANESE: Well it is indeed. I’m certainly not anti the banking industry.

To declare an interest many, many years ago Kieran, I worked for the Commonwealth Bank. I am not anti-banking. But it is quite clear that the industry has some systemic issues.

Now, they have responded to some of those issues. But imagine what the response will be to the benefit of consumers if we have a Royal Commission.

If the announcement of one by a Labor Opposition can actually get the Government moving, can get the banks to volunteer $120 million of funding in order to improve that accountability, then a Royal Commission, I am sure, will have positive benefits for consumers and that’s what this is about here.

And what I don’t understand is why the Coalition, that seems determined to have Royal Commissions into the Labor Party, isn’t prepared to have a Royal Commission in the interests of the Australian consumers.

GILBERT: I want to ask you about Labor’s broader approach on tax and spending.

Mr Shorten yesterday very much keeping it open as a prospect of leaving in the Deficit Levy for those earning upwards of 180,000 a year.

Are you comfortable with a tax rate for higher income earners which is close to 50 cents in the dollar?

Aren’t you worried about the impact on competitiveness in terms of attracting the best and brightest in this country?

ALBANESE: Well, let’s be clear Kieran, the rate of which you speak is the rate of the Abbott and Turnbull governments. It’s the rate that they put in place.

GILBERT: For three years.

ALBANESE: They are the ones who increased that tax, so let’s be very clear. And today we find that they have spent $10 billion since Malcolm Turnbull had his coup against Tony Abbott – an extraordinary proposition but consistent with a government that has doubled the deficit, which has increased taxation as a proportion of the national economy and has an economic record that quite frankly, is shameful.

They haven’t had to deal with a Global Financial Crisis. Nor have they had to deal with the sort of issues that we had in government of the bushfires in Victoria, the floods in Queensland and the collapse of a lot of the global capital markets. We kept Australia going during that period.

GILBERT: They said that Deficit Levy was to cover – and I know that is your argument in terms of the spend – but they say the Deficit Levy was to cover the blowout in spending under Labor, but that is obviously an argument that we have had many times.

I just want to get your thoughts on this idea of competitiveness though on the marginal tax rates. Doesn’t Labor think that that’s an issue because the Government said it would be a three-year Deficit Levy, Labor now thinking of quite clearly of keeping it for the foreseeable future?

ALBANESE: I think the Government’s economic management is indeed an issue where they have increased taxes, they have increased spending, they have blown out the deficit to double what it would have been and they have done that whilst trying to cut pensions, cut health, cut schools funding.

And now they are saying that in the Budget they are concerned about the fiscal position they are going to have a tax cut for the big end of town is what they have flagged – for company taxes while they are still continuing to slug ordinary wage earners and while they are continuing to advocate cuts to schools, cuts to hospitals and cuts to pensions.

GILBERT: All right. Anthony Albanese, appreciate your time this morning. Thanks for that.

ALBANESE: Great to be with you Kieran.