Mar 14, 2014

Transcript of television interview – Today Show

Subject/s:  South Australian and Tasmanian state elections, GST

HOST: The polls are predicting a Liberal victory in both the South Australian and Tasmanian state elections this weekend and with the country still dealing with massive debt, the idea of a GST increase is rearing its head again. Joining us now to discuss these issues and more, Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese. Good morning to both of you.

PYNE: Good Morning Lisa.

ALBANESE: Good morning.

HOST: I’ll start with you Christopher. It does look like the country is heading for coast-to-coast Liberal governments with those two state elections. Are you cracking out the champagne yet?

PYNE: Definitely not. I hope so. I hope for South Australia’s sake they change the government and in Tasmania. But I’m a South Australian so obviously I’m very keen. But the polls in the paper this morning, they certainly point to a strong primary vote for the Liberal Party in Tasmania, but the vote in South Australia, in fact, may not even be enough for us to get elected in that state because of the current drafting of the electoral boundaries.

HOST: It has to be 53-54 per cent.

PYNE: Well it’s 53-47 at the moment in that poll but we need to get about 54 per cent. So in fact Labor has so skewed the boundaries that we are desperately needing people to understand that even if they think the Liberals are going to win tomorrow, unless they vote for the local Liberal candidate they can’t be sure of a change of government. I don’t think people want to wake up on Sunday and discover they hoped to change the government and by a stroke of good luck Labor falls across the line. So people need to think if they want to elect a Liberal government in South Australia they have to vote for their local Liberal candidate.

HOST:  All your fault Anthony?

ALBANESE: It is a pretty extraordinary allegation Christopher has just made that the Labor Government skews electoral boundaries; they of course are done independently. These will both be tough elections for the Labor Party. They are long-term Labor governments and it’s hard after you have served for a decade to continue on. But I think they are both good governments. I think Jay Wetherill has done an outstanding job of infrastructure development in South Australia and in Tasmania, I think they need someone who will stand up to Tony Abbott rather than just roll over. When I was in Tasmania a couple of weeks ago, the National Broadband Network was an issue that was biting so we’ll wait and see what the voters do on Saturday.

HOST: Everyone wrote off Clive Palmer at the federal election but as we know with the coming Senate he could be set to have very significant influence. He is looking like he might get somebody up in Tasmania. What effect do you think that will have?

PYNE: Well it will depend on the rest of the seats but if the Palmer United Party gets a person elected I hope that they will support a Liberal government. Generally, Palmer United Party voters, and Clive of course, are more to the centre right than the left. So Even if a Palmer United Party candidate gets elected I would hope they support Will Hodgman.

HOST: All right. Moving on former Treasury boss Ken Henry is a well-respected authority on both sides of politics and he says that the GST will have to be increased. Christopher, I’ll start with you again. Is it under discussion at the moment with the government?

PYNE: No. It’s not. There is no discussion in the government whatsoever about changing the GST. And people need to understand of course to change the GST every state and territory would have to agree and we said before the election if they wanted to do it – if the states and territories wanted to change it, they could petition the federal government to do it. But we have no desire or plans to change the GST.

HOST: But Anthony, Joe Hockey has said since he’s discovered the real numbers are post the election now that he is Treasurer,  every is on the table? Why wouldn’t the GST be there as well?

ALBANESE: Well, that’s a green light from Christopher saying it is. He’s just said that he hopes to see wall-to-wall Liberal governments and he says that if the states want it, then the federal Liberal government will agree with them.

PYNE: No I didn’t, there is not one state that says they want it.

ALBANESE: The states have an incentive because they get the money. So why wouldn’t they want an increase in taxation from another level of government when they get the benefit? So I think that’s one of the dangers that people should think of this Saturday when they cast their vote in South Australia and Tasmania, do they want a blank cheque for Tony Abbott to increase the GST?

PYNE: Anthony is badly verballing me, obviously. Not one state or territory has asked (inaudible).

ALBANESE: You said they could and you’d welcome it.

PYNE: I didn’t say I’d welcome it, I said they could petition us and we said before the election that we wouldn’t change the GST. So I didn’t say we’d welcome it. I didn’t say there was a green light.

ALBANESE: Sounds like a green light to me, Christopher.

PYNE: Not one state or territory has asked for an increase in the GST so Anthony’s, in the desperate last days of the state election campaign is trying to find a new scare campaign to run and I don’t think the public are going to buy it.

HOST: All right. We will have to leave it there.