May 6, 2016

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subjects: Budget Reply, election, costings, ASC job losses, Cross River Rail, public transport

LISA WILKINSON: Now, all eyes are on Malcolm Turnbull who is expected to call an election this weekend.

So it’s a very good morning to our pollies, to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne in Adelaide and Shadow Transport and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese who is in Canberra for us.

Good morning to both of you but I’m going to go to you first Anthony. That was Bill Shorten we just saw. He’s promised savings of $71 billion.

But the problem is how can we trust any of your figures when there are huge question marks over many of your costings as exposed by Laurie Oakes this week?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think the real costing issue this week, Lisa, is that the government was so busy trying to cost our policies and adopt them, they forgot to cost their own. The centrepiece of the Budget –

WILKINSON: OK, we will get to that in a moment. We need to talk about your costings here.

ALBANESE: It has a huge hole in it. There’s no problems with our costings.

WILKINSON: Yeah, but let’s talk about that in a moment. Well, there was. There was definitely a $20 billion hole in your costings.

ALBANESE: No there wasn’t, Lisa. It depends what assumptions you put into costings in terms of what comes out. Our costings were done by the Parliamentary Budget Office. It’s as simple as that.

WILKINSON: So you’re saying that there’s two separate offices and they are coming up with different costings. So that means that no voter can trust any of the costings that are out there?

ALBANESE: We will have a look at, and and Senate Estimates is sitting today, at what the assumptions were that were included, in the request from Treasury.

Of course, the real issue is that the government adopted our policy –  like, they adopted our policy on superannuation in some measures.

In some areas they have gone even further than we said we would go, because we didn’t say we would have retrospectivity.

We have a plan out there for Medicare, for education, for infrastructure.

This is a government that has run out of ideas. That’s why they are running to the Governor-General to call an election.

WILKINSON: Well, let’s talk to Christopher now. You’ve got problems with your numbers as Anthony was just mentioning.

Yesterday Mr Turnbull was unable to confirm the cost of his 10 year corporate tax plan.

Have you managed to confirm those numbers overnight Christopher and can you now tell us what that 10 year tax plan is going to cost?

PYNE: Well, Lisa, I’m happy to answer that question but quite quickly you put onto Anthony Albanese to clear up Labor’s costings debacle over the tobacco tax and Chris Bowen is saying they rely on the figures in the Budget.

Anthony Albanese is still saying they are going to rely on the Parliamentary Budget Office figures.

So there’s a $19.5 billion discrepancy in Labor’s costings and Anthony Albanese’s still pretending it’s the old number, Chris Bowen’s saying it’s the new number.

WILKINSON: Okay but this is now your turn to talk about the costings that the Prime Minister couldn’t put – Christopher, we’ve got to talk about your problem with the numbers.

PYNE: We don’t do 10 year costings as Penny Wong, the Finance Minister under the Labor Party in 2012 said, when she asked exactly the same question, she said ‘we don’t in the Budget do 10 year costings. We do four year forecasts, and the four year forecasts…’

WILKINSON: But the trouble is you’ve been insisting that the Opposition come up with those ten year numbers.

PYNE: No, we haven’t. Labor’s said they have ten year plans. We have never said they need to have a ten year costing.

That’s their problem. We have four year forecasts because that is what the Budget requires.

WILKINSON: But the Prime Minister wanted to legislate over 10 years. If you are going to want to legislate over 10 years, you have you to have the numbers and you have to put them out there to voters.

PYNE: The number is $5.3 billion because that is what is in the forward estimates, that is what is in the Budget, that is the definitive document.

On the other side, Labor still thinks that new taxes are savings measures.

So last night we saw Bill Shorten pretending that $71 billion of new taxes are savings measures.

Well, a savings measure is when you spend less at the shop last week than you spend this week.

You save 20 bucks or you saved 10 bucks.

Labor thinks that a savings measure is putting more taxes on the Australian public. Now, how much more can they take?

Labor thinks they want to tax more, they want to spend more.

On our side of the ledger, we want to reduce income tax, reduce company tax, reduce the capital gains tax, and live within our means because we are trying to drive jobs and more growth.

Labor just wants to get the more revenue in.

WILKINSON: That’s right. Well, is the PM is saying that this election is all about jobs and growth. But the problem is that what’s happening with submarines means that more than 600 jobs are going to be cut.

How is that about jobs and growth?

PYNE: Well, that is a very, very misleading story that was put out by the ASC yesterday.

Because it completely ignores the fact that we have announced the offshore patrol vessels begin in 2018.

So yes, over the course of the next two years or 18 months, the air warfare destroyers are slowed down because they will be delivered to the government.

They will probably run over time which means those workers won’t be losing their jobs in 2017 and then in 2018, that is why we brought forward the offshore patrol vessels to start in Adelaide and in 2020, the future frigates and $50 billion of submarines in the 2020s.

So I think the ASC made a off big mistake yesterday. They left off the second half of the sentence which is that it doesn’t matter because those jobs will be coming just back and those people will probably just continue on with the offshore patrol vessels.

WILKINSON: OK. Christopher, you’ve had most of the time this morning. So I’m going to give Anthony the last word, but you’ve only got 10 seconds.

PYNE: Well, I’m better quality.

WILKINSON: By July 3, will we have Prime Minister Shorten? You’ve got 10 seconds.

ALBANESE: I certainly hope that we do because we stand for Medicare, we stand for stand education, we stand for jobs.

We stand for growth, we stand for infrastructure investment.

You’re there in Brisbane. We will get the Cross River Rail done. We will get public transport funded.

The difference between Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull is that both of them want to ride on trains. Only Bill Shorten will fund trains.

WILKINSON: OK. Just goes to show Anthony you’re as rubbery on figures as the government are.

We are going to have to leave it there. Thanks very much. Hope you both have a great weekend. It’s going to be a big one.

PYNE: Pleasure. Thank you.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.