Apr 15, 2016

Transcript of television interview – The Today Show

Subjects: Tobacco tax; AAA credit rating; debt; Labor policy; election timing; Malcolm Turnbull comments re AFL as the greatest sporting code

STEFANOVIC: Welcome back to the program, well it’s just over two weeks to go until the Federal Budget is handed down and it could bring bad news for smokers.

This morning Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now. Good morning to you both. Nice to see you.

PYNE: Good morning Karl.

ALBANESE: Good morning.

STEFANOVIC: Christopher, Tony Abbott called a tobacco tax a workers’ tax but it is going up regardless, right?

PYNE: Well the Budget will reveal all the decisions around taxation and spending on May the 3rd.
Labor’s policy is to increase the tobacco tax. Our policy will be announced in a couple of weeks.

STEFANOVIC: You are going to do what Labor proposed though, yeah?

PYNE: Well, Labor proposed a massive hike in the tobacco tax. What exactly is it Anthony? It’s about double, I think. You want to double it.

ALBANESE: Poor old Christopher doesn’t realise that he is the Government.

PYNE: They want to double the tobacco tax. I don’t know exactly what the Budget says at this stage but I will know obviously before May the 3rd and it will all be revealed but I’m not going to speculate.

STEFANOVIC: You like the idea of increasing the tobacco tax.

PYNE: We have very high tobacco taxes. But we also have found as a Minister for Health in the Howard Government – I was the Assistant Minister for Health in the Howard Government – one of the most significant ways of reducing health costs is to reduce the number of smokers. It makes a direct impact on the cost of health to the rest of the community.

STEFANOVIC: So it’s in all the papers today, you can confirm it for us, yeah?

ALBANESE: I think he has.

PYNE: I haven’t and I am not going to do that. You’ll know that in the Budget.

STEFANOVIC: Any other taxes going up. Are there any new taxes?

PYNE:  You will know that in the Budget. You don’t have to wait very long.

STEFANOVIC: Can you rule something out?

PYNE: I’m not ruling in or ruling out.

ALBANESE: This is the only Government that has ever been in Opposition for its entire three years.
PYNE: Your zingers are getting very old. You have tried that one before.

ALBANESE: You’ve just been there. Every time you get asked a question you talk about Labor. See if you can say “Government will. The government will.” Try it and see how you go.

PYNE: Bill has dropped his zingers. You are the only person who is still trying the zingers.

STEFANOVIC: You like Labor’s policy though on tobacco.

PYNE: I’m not going to get drawn.

STEFANOVIC: We are also are in serious danger of losing our AAA credit rating. That is a big concern.

PYNE: Well the biggest threat to our AAA credit rating is the election of a Labor Government because they want to increase taxes, they want to increase spending, they want to smash negative gearing, they want to put up rents, they want to reduce house prices, they want to increase the capital gains tax by 50 per cent, hurting investment. So the biggest threat to the AAA rating is the election of a Labor Government.

STEFANOVIC: With respect the biggest threat to the credit rating is the national debt.

PYNE: And Labor wants to add to it with higher taxes and more spending and they haven’t learned any of the lessons from the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd period.

STEFANOVIC: OK, let’s take a look at the national debt. There it is right there. It just keeps going on and on and on – nearly $10 million an hour. Anthony, how are you going to reduce that debt?

ALBANESE: Well, what we won’t do is just talk about, if we come into government, just talk about it as if we are still the Opposition. I mean, Christopher was just asked what he was going to do in the Budget and he just spoke about Labor. It’s about time – they have two weeks to get their act together to bring down a Budget.

What they should do is have a path in terms of how they deal with debt. They talked about it but they have doubled it, that’s the truth, since they were in government and what they are talking about now is keeping the cuts to education and health.

PYNE: What are you going to do? That’s what he asked you.

ALBANESE: What we won’t do is cut education and health and give companies – the big end of town – a tax cut. That’s what we won’t do.

STEFANOVIC: You are promising huge spending measures though. According to The Australian, they will wipe $400 billion from the Budget bottom line.

ALBANESE: That is nonsense of course. All of our spending commitments, including our commitment to spend $37 billion over ten years on giving kids a better opportunity through education through schools funding, doing what they said they would do a the last election it must be said.

Fully costed, fully funded, we’ve said where the money is coming from, that’s a good thing unlike other oppositions in the past.

PYNE: More taxes, more spending.

STEFANOVIC: Well you are doing the tobacco tax. You are increasing that so you can’t really say that.

PYNE: If we have tax savings in the Budget they obviously have to be offset.

ALBANESE: We’ve got savings there as well. We are getting rid of their ridiculous Direct Action Plan on climate change.

PYNE: They use the same dollar over and over again.

STEFANOVIC: If you get into power on July 2 …

ALBANESE: July 2. We can confirm that today, Karl.

PYNE: Whenever the election is called.

STEFANOVIC: He didn’t say no.

PYNE: I did. I said whenever the election is called.

ALBANESE: On May 11.

PYNE: Stop putting words in my mouth.

ALBANESE: When it’s called on May 11 for July 2. Announced here. Live on The Today Show.

STEFANOVIC: When will you get the Budget back in the black?

ALBANESE: What we’ve said –

STEFANOVIC: No, no, no. Just give us a date.

ALBANESE: I’m not going to put a date on it. What we know is that under this mob, they said they’d deal with it and it’s doubled.

PYNE: He said before that I never stopped talking about the Labor Party. He hasn’t stopped talking about me. He’s obsessed with me.

ALBANESE: You’re the Government. It’s not personal, Christopher. The whole government is hopeless. You’re one of the better ones!

PYNE: Labor Governments never get the Budget into black. Ever.

ALBANESE: That’s why they put you on this show, Christopher.

PYNE: The last surplus Budget a Labor Government delivered was 1989 before Wyatt Roy was born.

ALBANESE: There was something called the Global Financial Crisis.

PYNE: Oh yeah, and the dog ate my homework.

ALBANESE: That we dealt with.

PYNE: The tram got a flat tyre.

ALBANESE: People in jobs.

PYNE: How many more excuses do you have?

ALBANESE: This mob, unemployment’s higher, debt’s higher, it’s a mess.

STEFANOVIC: Are you obsessed with him?

PYNE: He’s obsessed with me.

ALBANESE: No, no, no. At least we talk though, unlike Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.

PYNE: Trying that line again! Goodness, you just tried that last week. They’re besties.

ALBANESE: They’re still besties.

PYNE: They’re doing very well.

ALBANESE: They haven’t spoken in the last week.

PYNE: Rubbish. How would you know?

STEFANOVIC: You don’t have to necessarily get on if you’re Prime Minister and Treasurer.

PYNE: You were conspiring against Bill in February to take his job.

STEFANOVIC: Hang on. Listen. Hang on.  Let’s talk about Malcolm Turnbull. He’s in China at the moment. He’s said something very controversial; AFL is the greatest footy code in the world. That’s what he said. There’s footage of him playing. There’s Malcolm with the Hawthorn jersey on.
PYNE: They’ve won three premierships.

ALBANESE: Unlikely. That’s more unlikely.

STEFANOVIC: What do you say to that, Anthony?

ALBANESE: I say that I’ve seen Malcolm Turnbull at an AFL game; he wasn’t outside watching the game, he was inside having lunch. That’s what he was doing. Talking to people.

STEFANOVIC: That’s uncharitable.

ALBANESE: He missed the game! The grand final.

PYNE: It was lunch time.

STEFANOVIC: I was there. He was talking to me.

ALBANESE: We’re a happy team at Hawthorn last year.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, you were a happy team.

PYNE: That’s part of their song.

ALBANESE: Malcolm wouldn’t know that.

STEFANOVIC: Is it the best code?

PYNE: I’m a Crows Ambassador; I barrack for the Adelaide Crows. I’m an AFL Team Person and I think it’s a fabulous code. I think it’s a great code.

STEFANOVIC: You’re a what?

PYNE: I’m a Team AFL Person. It’s a fabulous code.

ALBANESE: AFL is a great game but so is rugby league which is why you should fund Townsville Stadium.

PYNE: There’s nothing wrong with rugby league, but I’m an AFL person.

STEFANOVIC: You should fund the Townsville Stadium, by the way.

ALBANESE: Absolutely.

PYNE: You got some extra money? You got a tree out the back as well? Bill Shorten’s got a money tree.

ALBANESE: You should fund it.

STEFANOVIC: You’ll be raising plenty of money with the tobacco tax.

PYNE: Apparently Anthony’s got more money than he can poke a stick at.

ALBANESE: Malcolm Turnbull would fund the North Queensland Cowboys except he thinks it’s a rodeo, not a footy team.

PYNE: Labor’s strategy for the next election is offer anybody what they want.

ALBANESE: He has no idea.

PYNE: Whatever people want, give them it.

STEFANOVIC: You two are firing up and have a great week. I do think he might be obsessed with you, though.

PYNE: Completely.

ALBANESE: Isn’t everyone?

PYNE: He thinks about nothing else.

ALBANESE: We’re only human.