SUBJECTS: Tax cuts; tattoos.
LAURA JAYES: Joining me live now is Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. A point that no doubt you wanted to make that it was a broken promise, but you could assist with that it can be retrospective-
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: We can’t go in a Tardis, Laura. And the fact is that Scott Morrison promised very clearly that this would all be legislated by July 1. The worrying thing is that he knew at the time he was saying that, during the election campaign that the writs wouldn’t be returned in time. The schedule that he put forward to the Governor-General would ensure that that wouldn’t happen. So it is disappointing that there’s already a broken promise before we’re sworn in. Now, with regard to the tax cuts that are before the Parliament, we’ll facilitate debate tomorrow night unusually after the Governor-General’s reception, Parliament will sit. We’ll facilitate that because what we understand is that the economy is softening, we have low consumer demand. There is even the potential for another interest rate cut tomorrow. That will be the Reserve Bank really pressing the alarm button to have two interest rate decreases two months in a row. So we do need stimulus. That’s why we’re saying past stage one bring forward stage two, those important tax changes. What that will mean is that every Australian worker would get a tax cut this year. What the Government’s saying is that they’re prepared perhaps to hold up the whole package and hold up a tax cut now for something that might happen in 2025.
JAYES: When you say you’re prepared to facilitate debate, Mathias Cormann flagged last week that he wants to pass a motion that would force Senators to stay here until the tax cut package is passed. Is that what you mean by facilitating debate?
ALBANESE: No, tomorrow- of course there’s no business on the notice paper because it’s the first day of Parliament. So the only way that the Government could debate the tax package in the House of Representatives- it wouldn’t even be in the Senate on Thursday were it not for Labor facilitating that. We want the Government to have a bit of common sense. They won the election, but there’s this arrogance about them thinking that they can do whatever they want, well they can’t-
JAYES: Aren’t you arrogantly saying that from Opposition you can change what was just taken to an election six weeks ago?
ALBANESE: No, well what we’re saying is that the economic circumstances have changed even since May 18. You’ve had an interest rate cut. What that is, is the Reserve Bank intervening in monetary policy. They’re saying if you look at the statement that they made when they made that cut, they called for infrastructure investment to be brought forward. We’re in favour of that. We’re also saying – we’re not trying to redesign the Government’s stage two tax package- we’re saying if it’s good in 2022 why is it bad in 2019? And we agree that those changes are positive, of increasing the threshold from $90,000 to $120,000. What that would do is ensure that everyone above $90,000 also got a tax cut. They talk about aspiration but they don’t want to give a tax cut to middle and high income earners right now.
JAYES: But what is your position, is it immovable? I mean Katy Gallaher yesterday said that you’re going to wait to see what the crossbench does. What does that mean?
ALBANESE: No we’re trying to win in the Parliament. We of course won’t win in the House of Representatives –
JAYES: Is this your final position?
ALBANESE: We want to win in the Senate. That’s what we’re about.
JAYES: And this is your final position?
ALBANESE: That’s what – we’re about winning in the Senate. We’re about getting stage one through. Stage two we support but we think it should be brought forward because the economy needs it. Stage three, we think the idea that you would hold up tax cuts today in return for something that might happen in 2025 is quite frankly an economically irresponsible position.
JAYES: So under no circumstances will you support stage three?
ALBANESE: Well we’re opposed to stage three. We want it split off-
JAYES: So no?
ALBANESE: We’re trying to win in the Senate, we’ll react as the Senate changes if we have to consider what happens post amendments but we’re arguing the case. And there is a strong case. It’s not just being argued by us, it’s being argued by every economist in the land and the Reserve Bank. We’ll wait and see what happens tomorrow, Laura.
JAYES: You claim every economist in the land –
ALBANESE: Well everyone is saying the economy softening, is any economist out there saying the economy is going well?
JAYES: We’ve just had Joel Fitzgibbon say in this building about half an hour ago that no one should be standing in the way of these tax cuts. And that’s what you are doing-
ALBANESE: No we’re not. The Government is potentially – it’ll be on the Government’s head if they say they want to hold up tax cuts today in return for tax cuts of potentially in 2025. And quite frankly-
JAYES: Isn’t this another example though of you trying to run government from Opposition just like you did with the Medevac Bill?
ALBANESE: No, no. This is an example of us being economically responsible as I might say it was an example of us being responsible in a humanitarian way. The Medevac Bill; we don’t resolve from that, Laura. Remember what was going to happen, there was going to be a crisis, the whole system was going to collapse. None of it happened, none of it happened. Peter Dutton’s been caught out on that and he’s gone a bit quiet on that I noticed that in the last few days.
JAYES: Let’s stick on tax cuts, stage three would reduce the marginal tax rate from 32 per cent- to 32.5 per cent to 30 per cent. That would apply to everyone earning $45,000 up to 200,000.
ALBANESE: And above.
JAYES: Exactly. So those above $200,000 would still be paying 45 cents in the dollar and that doesn’t even include the Medicare levy. What do you say to those aspirational voters who you just admitted last week were not classified as the top end of town? Do they deserve nothing?
ALBANESE: No what I’m saying is that the Government needs to come clean about what cuts will be necessary. If you take that much money out of revenue what is the consequences for expenditure? The government’s sort of pretending that-
JAYES: Sure but you can see how- Mr Albanese after an election loss, last week you change your language and that was welcomed by so many. You’re saying no, $200,000 isn’t the top end of town but that’s where you’re drawing the line?
ALBANESE: No, let’s be very clear here, Laura. Under our proposal to bring forward stage two, every worker including those above $200,000 would receive a tax cut. This year, $1,350, that’s our position. Tax cut for every worker right now regardless of what income bracket they’re in as opposed to the Government that has the low and middle income tax offset- that’s stage one but has nothing for those above $90,000. We think that if it’s a good idea in 2022, it’s a good idea in in 2019- 2020, the current financial year.
JAYES: Okay, last week you ruled out any kind of spider tattoo but could I ask you do you have a butterfly?
ALBANESE: I said last week that you’ll never find out
JAYES: Okay. No tattoos – no spider, no butterfly. We’ll keep on going Anthony Albanese thanks so much for your time.
ALBANESE: No worries.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.