6 September 2018
Transcript - #2018007, 2018

Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today Show, Channel 9

Subjects: National Accounts; economic growth; jobs; and wages.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Josh, good morning to you. How is your timing? You arrived at the party just in time for pin the tail on the donkey.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Yes, well obviously a lot of work is behind those numbers including our policies that are driving more employment. We're creating more than 1,000 jobs a day, Karl, and we have now seen GDP growth numbers which are the best since the mining boom and have also been better than any G7 country and well above the OECD average. So Australia is definitely leading the way.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Were they a surprise to you those numbers?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, they're very positive. They're very encouraging. They beat the market expectations, which is a good sign too but we are not complacent. There is more work to be done. But certainly these numbers are very, very good for the Australian economy.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Spreading it wide in terms of the number of jobs. What about wage rises? Or are you happy with where wages are at right now?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

No, wages growth has been low. But we did see compensation of employees, which is the overall wages bill across the economy go up by 4.8 per cent. That has been driven, Karl, by greater employment.

We saw last year in 2017 more than 400,000 jobs being created which was the best jobs growth on record. We have seen more women go into the workforce, more seniors go into the workforce and 95,000 young people found a job which is the best result in nearly 30 years. So that's very good.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

The Opposition is going to crunch you on this. They Opposition is going to say that they are going to increase wages at the next election, post the election.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, don't believe anything that the Opposition says, other than the fact that they will hit your taxes by hiking them up by some $200 billion. Your property taxes will go up. Your taxes on your savings as a retiree will go up. Your taxes on income and taxes on business will go up. That's all that the Labor Party promises and not to mention the fact that the unions will be back in charge with Bill Shorten at the helm.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Will you support the 10 cent milk levy to help our farmers out?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well my instinct is the same as the Prime Minister on this, which is a new tax or a levy is not necessarily the answer to the problem. That being said we have a fantastic Agriculture Minister in David Littleproud.

He's listening carefully to the concerns of the farmers and the Ag industry more generally and we will look at any proposals that he brings forth. But we are very focussed on ensuring that people in the agriculture sector, which is part of the backbone of the Australian economy, get a fair go.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, I've got mail and I wanted to share this with our viewers as well this morning. I nearly fell off my chair last night when I was contacted by someone inside the Government - that you will have the budget back in black in the next month. Is that true?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Is that from the barista down at Bronte, Karl?

KARL STEFANOVIC:

It's a much better source than that - it's the barista inside Parliament. But is it true?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Look, I'm not going to comment on the future budget numbers other than to say nominal GDP which does flow through to the revenue forecasts of the budget was again better than expected when announced yesterday.

I will release a final budget outcome later this month and certainly that was good news for the budget. But we're scheduled to get back to balance in 2019-2020 and don't forget Labor - the Labor Party never delivered a surplus and we're on track to do that.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, this was really good mail. This was good mail, suggesting that in the next few weeks you will release predictions and they will be that the budget will be back in black officially in the next month. Is that going to happen or not?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, look, again, I'm not going to get on the sticky paper Karl and give you an answer to that. Obviously Treasury will work through all those numbers. But we are not scheduled to get back to balance until 2019-20. But certainly the numbers yesterday were better and that will flow through to the final budget outcome released later this month.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I reckon that's half a yes. If you're back in the black, if you are back in the black it's a game changer isn't it for you and the Government?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, these results indicate that the momentum in the Australian economy is strong, that the Australian economy is leading the world in this many respects and that the results are broadly based.

No-one particular sector did all the heavy lifting. And so this is certainly a vindication of the strong economic management that Scott Morrison as Treasurer and now as Prime Minister is bringing to the country.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

It explains the pensioner announcement yesterday by the PM on our show too doesn't it?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, that was an important announcement because what we don't want to progress is some of those 2014-15 budget measures that can't get through the Parliament. But what we are trying to do, Karl, is get more senior Australians into the workforce, allow them to earn income without affecting their pension.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Look, the Prime Minister had the courage to make a policy announcement yesterday on our show. I don't know why you don't have the courage to say yes, the budget will be back in black by the end of the month. Just say it, Josh Frydenberg, right now and our viewers will be happy.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Look, I know that Karl, I will be speaking with you regularly, talking to you about the economy and to your viewers. But they need to be rest assured that more jobs are being created than ever before, the economy is strong and that is very, very important for their household budgets.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Good on you, Josh. And we look forward to that being confirmed in the next couple of weeks.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good to be with you Karl.