Subjects: GST; income tax, Bill Shorten’ Pacific Islands trip, Kitchen Cabinet
SYLVIA JEFFREYS: Welcome back to Today. Well it is a burning issue now at the heart of the Turnbull Government: Will the PM push through a hike in the GST before the next election? For more this morning, we are joined by Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Anthony, last night on The Verdict you made it clear that Labor will oppose the GST. We are going to speak about that in a moment. First to Christopher. A lot of noise, Christopher, about the GST and tax reform. When will something actually be done?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, the government’s got a plan and that plan is to talk about and then implement a new tax system that means that we have a tax switch away from income tax and towards other taxes that’s fair, that compensates all Australians and that ensures that we go forward with the revenue we need to pay for the health and education that Australians expect. Labor just wants to do their usual carping from the sidelines, pretending everything is fine while they rack up more debt. Labor is old politics. We’re new politics.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, yesterday we saw Malcolm Turnbull give a speech and not mention the GST. I mean, quite extraordinary. They say they’ve got a plan. They just don’t want to tell anyone what it is. The way that I’ll judge any plan is what is the impact on the pensioner, on the low income earner.
PYNE: Well Labor has $57 billion of unfunded promises …
ALBANESE: Well that’s just making up a figure. You are just making up a figure, Christopher.
PYNE: … on taxes that they oppose and on savings that they oppose – $57 billion they are going to pay for with their money tree in the back yard. This is what we saw with the Gillard-Rudd governments of course; this idea that you could just keep spending money, not raise the revenue that you need and just borrow from overseas. Well, we are not going to do that. Labor is old politics and we are not going to be like that.
JEFFREYS: Let me bring up Anthony’s plan. You spoke about it last night on The Verdict. Your plan in all this is to target multi-nationals and superannuation. The Australian points out today that that’s only going to raise $2 billion a year, which is 5 percent of the revenue lifting that is required. What else is the Labor Party going to do?
ALBANESE: That’s $20 billion over 10 years.
JEFFREYS: That’s not enough though to get us out of debt.
ALBANESE: Well, we also need to look at other measures but we need to judge them on the basis of fairness. The problem with the GST is that whether you or I or a low income earner make a purchase we pay the same rate, whereas for income taxes, they are progressive – the more you earn, the more you pay. One of the things that we can look at …
PYNE: Our income tax is too high in Australia.
ALBANESE: One of the things we can look at is… You might want to turn up to Sydney Christopher if you want to just give us a go.
PYNE: You can’t go on for ever Anthony. We can’t have an Albanese monologue this morning.
ALBANESE: In terms of the tax arrangements we know that there are 75 millionaires who earned a total of $195 million who paid just $82 in tax in 2011-12. We need to look at measures which ensure that just because you’ve got an accountant and a lawyer, you can avoid tax. We need to make sure that people who can pay and should be paying are paying.
JEFFREYS: We need to look at the fact that the average Australian from next year will be paying 30 cents to the dollar for everything they earn. Christopher, you can have go now.
PYNE: Yes Sylvia.
JEFFREYS: Malcolm Turnbull’s speech yesterday, his address, was as poetic as it was light on detail. I’m sure you have to agree with that. So where do we go from here? When is something actually going to be done as I said and can you guarantee the most vulnerable Australians will not be left worse off?
PYNE: I can absolutely guarantee that if there are any changes to the tax system, the most vulnerable Australians will be the ones that we look after first because we want to make sure that the people who have the least to be able to pay are the ones that are protected and supported by the government. Malcolm Turnbull said yesterday we want a high-income, high-wealth, generous safety net in Australia and we can have it. And by the next election, which is still 12 months away by the way, there’ll be a very clear outline of a new tax system from the government. You hit the nail on the head Sylvia before when you said that Labor wants to try and trick people into pretending …
JEFFREYS: That’s not what I said.
PYNE: With a few changes around the edges …
JEFFREYS: Those aren’t my words.
PYNE: With a few changes around the edges they can somehow solve every financial problem for the tax system. You and I both know that is not true. The Australian knows that and the public knows it’s not true. There needs to be widespread tax reform to pay for the health and education that Australians expect. Jay Weatherill, a Labor Premier, and Mike Baird, a Liberal Premier, started this debate. Labor doesn’t want to be in the debate. They just want to try and win elections because they are still trying the politics of the old world, rather than the politics of the new (inaudible).
JEFFREYS: You must be concerned at least that this whole debate will take some of the wind out of Malcolm Turnbull’s sails?
PYNE: No, I’m not concerned. I think the Australian public are quite mature. They are very sophisticated. They know that we can’t go on as you pointed out with income taxes rising every year because of bracket creep. They want a government with a plan. They don’t want an Opposition who simply say everything is fine, we don’t need to change anything. We can just borrow more money overseas and get ourselves further and further into debt. That’s Anthony’s plan. That’s not our plan.
ALBANESE: Well, we don’t know what your plan is. That’s the problem here.
JEFFREYS: There’s been a noticeable absence from the tax debate this week and that is one Bill Shorten who has been very busy across the Pacific, shuffling his way across the dance floor. This moment was the moment that received the most coverage of the Opposition Leader’s Pacific Island tour. Anthony, has this been a wasted opportunity?
ALBANESE: No, not at all. Bill Shorten was there talking about climate change but having a bit of fun there, respecting the cultures. It gives hope to dancers everywhere.
JEFFREYS: How, how does it give hope? It’s like watching a horrible Blue Light disco.
ALBANESE Well it’s all relative. It’s all relative.
PYNE: Anthony would never have done that.
JEFFREYS: He does realise there are no votes to be won in Kiribas doesn’t he?
ALBANESE: I think our leaders travel overseas and he went there and to Papua New Guinea and it’s good that we have good relations with our Pacific neighbours.
JEFFREYS: You are right. He did travel and he did go overseas to the Pacific islands (inaudible).
ALBANESE: It’s a bit better than making jokes about people drowning in the Pacific, which is what Peter Dutton did.
JEFFREYS: All right.
PYNE: As a dancer he makes a better politician, I think.
JEFFREYS: The two of you did come together this week for a cooking session in the kitchen for the ABC’s program Kitchen Cabinet. What did you take from your experiences of rolling dumplings together?
PYNE: Dumplings are for everyone. That was my take-out.
ALBANESE: It was good fun and we both avoided getting cameras in our respective kitchens, which was a good thing.
PYNE: That’s true.
ALBANESE: And we also had assistance with the cooking which was a very, very good thing given …. Look at Christopher’s little dumplings. I mean seriously!
PYNE: He can’t help it can he? My dumpling tasted delicious. It’s the tasting. It’s the tasting, not the looking.
ALBANESE: Micro dumplings.
PYNE: It’s the tasting, not the looking.
JEFFREYS: Well, it sounds like we are going to have to redo that segment in this kitchen so that we can be the judges of that.
ALBANESE: Without bits hanging out of the dumplings. Look at all the bits hanging out of his dumplings, so to speak.
JEFFREYS: We’re going to end on the dumplings this morning. We’re going to do a rematch right here in this studio by the end of the year. Gentlemen, thank-you for your time this morning. I want to see what your dumplings throw up, for sure.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.