21 January 2019
Transcript - #2019008, 2019

Interview with Peter Gleeson, Gleeso’s News Talk, Sky News

Subjects: Economy; Labor’s housing tax; Budget; women in politics; Queensland; and Adani

PETER GLEESON:

I'm joined now by the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, it's a tough ask, but can you deliver the goods, Josh?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well Peter, we are delivering a stronger economy, and that's not to put a trophy on the cabinet, that's to deliver better education and health services and disability support for millions of Australians.

But, we are not complacent, there are some cold headwinds in the international economy, and there are some domestic challenges and we are facing up to them and we are continuing to grow the economy.

Let's not forget, that when we came to Government, unemployment was 5.7 per cent, today it is 5.1 per cent, and we've created more than 1.2 million new jobs, there's a record number of women in the workforce today, and more than 100,000 young people got a job over the last year, the highest number on record. Our economic growth, Peter, is today at 2.8 per cent, that's faster than any G7 country, except the United States, and again, when we came to Government, it was 2.1 per cent. And, we are now going to deliver a budget surplus on 2 April, and that's really important because we've had a decade of deficits.

And we know that the last time the Labor Party delivered a budget surplus was back in 1989. So, we have a very strong economic record and we will be exposing the Labor party for their false prophesies and the detrimental and terrible impact their $200 billion of new taxes will have across the economy.

PETER GLEESON:

Now, you've got a significant economic address tomorrow in Sydney, can you give us a bit of an insight into what you're going to say?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Look, I'll be talking about the strong economic performance, some of the challenges that we face, the values that underpin our approach to the economy and our economic plan, how we're the party of lower taxes, and we have legislated lower taxes both for over three million small businesses as well as ten million income earners. We're the party of more infrastructure investment, we're the party of less regulation, and we're also the party that is spending more money on health and education to provide the services that people need most.

But, I will also spend time exposing the Labor Party for what they are promising the Australian people, which is higher taxes on their superannuation, higher taxes on their home, driving their rents higher, as well as ensuring that small businesses don't get ahead when they are imposing them with higher taxes as well.

PETER GLEESON:

Now, Treasurer, you just mentioned exactly that, that you were going to have a crack about Labor's signature housing tax, the negative gearing implications attached to that, of course the franking credits, you were quoted earlier in the day as saying "this is becoming a bigger mess by the day." I mean, clearly this is the Coalition's best opportunity to change votes leading into the next election. What sort of message will you be saying to the Australian public, leading into the May election, about Labor's housing tax and those negative gearing implications?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, the Labor Party is planning to abolish negative gearing as we know it. And that will do only one thing, that will drive down the value of people's homes and if people are renting, it will drive their rents up. Now, let's not forget Wayne Swan, when he was Treasurer of Australia, said it would be economically disastrous to touch negative gearing. But Labor has so many spending promises, that they have been forced into a desperate tax grab, hence their policy on negative gearing. They designed their policy, Peter, at a time when housing prices were going up. Now, for the last year or more, housing prices have come down. So, it's a policy that's ill-suited to the times. Independent economists and property analysts have warned about the consequences of Labor's policy. And they can't even get their lines straight. You've got Chris Bowen saying that their policy will drive housing prices down, and then Bill Shorten just a couple of days ago saying 'no, that won't happen,' then you've got Jim Chalmers, the Shadow Finance spokesman saying prices will actually go up under their negative gearing policy and then you've got poor old Joel Fitzgibbon, saying prices will neither go up nor down. So they've been all over the shop, and Chris Bowen describes this policy as a signature policy of the opposition, but he can't even say when the start date for their policy will occur, and any delay will be a $6 billion hole in their budget. So, a message to your viewers tonight is if you own your own home it will be worth less under Labor's policy and if you rent a house, you will pay more under Labor's policy.

PETER GLEESON:

Now, Treasurer, traditionally, budgets tend to be fairly closely guarded, you've got a budget coming up in April, with obviously May being the likely election date. I mean, some would suggest, you know, the budget will be the last throw at the stumps, if you can somehow pull something out of the fire during the budget process, it might give you guys a little bit of hope leading into the election. Is there anything coming up in this budget around taxations cuts or anything of that ilk, that you can enlighten our viewers at home with?             

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, obviously tonight I am not going to go into the details of an economic document, an economic plan that will be outlined to the Australian people on 2 April. But what I can tell you is that we will be announcing a budget surplus and that is very significant and we're paying back Labor's debt. During the Howard and Costello years, they paid back Labor's debt and they left money in the bank and they delivered budget surpluses. That, obviously, was wasted during the Rudd-Gillard years, and ever since then we've been trying to recover ground. In fact, spending growth under Labor was nearly double than what it is today and we've been able to make hard economic decisions which are now starting to produce the dividends for the Australian people. But, all that will be put at risk, Peter, by a Labor Party which only knows one thing; whatever the question is, the answer is higher taxes. That is their record when they were last in Government and that will be their record if they get another chance.   

PETER GLEESON:

Does the Liberal Party have a problem with women?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

No, it doesn't. We, in fact, have an outstanding series of policies and announcements that have been providing better support for women across the community; whether it's childcare, whether it's domestic violence, whether it's paid parental leave, whether it's flexibility around superannuation. They're the issues that we are focused on and if you look at the gender pay gap, it expanded under Labor and its come back under us. And we actually have more women in the workforce today on our watch, than ever before. In the Parliament, in the Parliamentary Party, we want to see more women in our ranks and, as you know, we've got a target of 50 per cent by 2025. We've also got a number of very senior, successful, outstanding female leaders in our team. For example, Linda Reynolds was the first female Brigadier in the army reserve who is now an Assistant Minister in our ranks. Sarah Henderson was a TV anchor. Marise Payne is the first female Defence Minister. Julie Bishop was Australia's first female Foreign Minister. Kelly O'Dwyer has done really important things as the Minister for Women and in the Treasury portfolio before that. So, we've got runs on the board, but of course, we need to get more women into our Parliamentary ranks and that is what we will do.      

PETER GLEESON:

Now, you mentioned Julie Bishop there, Mr Frydenberg. What are your thoughts on Jeff Kennett's argument that it is time for long-serving MP's, like Julie Bishop and Kevin Andrews, to go to make way for fresh talent?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I'm not going to buy into that debate. People will make their own decisions based on their own individual set of circumstances and it is not for me to opine on that. I want to pay credit to Kelly for what must have been a hard decision for her and a very personal one. She can be very proud of the legacy that she leaves.  

PETER GLEESON:

Now, Queensland is shaping as a real battleground ahead of the poll. Do you have any special plans for the Sunshine State, because we know that the likes of GetUp, we know that the likes of the Unions and the Labor Party and the Greens, are particularly targeting some of these marginal seats in Queensland, in particular, the seat of your good colleague, Mr Peter Dutton down there in Dickson. They are going to pull out stops to try and unseat Peter Dutton from the seat of Dickson. Is there something you would say to the people of Queensland when they consider their vote, come May?   

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we're on their side. We're on their side for more jobs, for better health and education services and we're investing in significant infrastructure across Queensland. For example, our $10 billion commitment to the Bruce Highway, the Brisbane Metro, a $300 million commitment, our $250 million Townsville city deal, which will see money invested in the stadium, money invested in the port. And just today, the Prime Minister has announced $60 million for the Cairns hospital, for an upgrade there, which will free up 150 beds and invest in research and clinical services and will create more jobs. They're the sort of things we are doing in Queensland, they're the sort of things that matter to the people of Queensland and they can only be done when the Australian economy is strong and that is what we have created with our policies based on our values.   

PETER GLEESON:

And, Treasurer, just before we go to a break. There was a story on the front page of the Courier Mail today about the Palaszczuk Labor Government in Queensland. They've appointed a so-called independent review into Adani, headed up by a group of greenies. And basically, they will determine whether or not Adani complies with strict environmental regulations around relocating the Black-Throated Finch. Many cynics here in Queensland are suggesting this is just another example of the Palaszczuk Government sitting on the fence when it comes to Adani. On the one hand, they tell the inner-city elites around West End that they're opposed to Adani. And then they go out into the regions and say exactly the opposite. This is a project that has the potential to create 8,000 jobs, there is double-digit unemployment in places around Townsville, Bowen, Mackay, Rockhampton, as you are aware. What do you say to the Palaszczuk Government when it comes to the Adani project?      

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I say put the focus on regional jobs in Queensland. Don't mix your messages. I mean, Bill Shorten is famous for saying one thing to the miners of Mackay, and another thing to the baristas in Batman when he was campaigning there in Melbourne. And, you just can't believe somebody who will really say one thing to one set of people, and another to another group of people based on what he thinks they want to hear. Consistency counts and on this issue, the Labor Party is trying to walk both sides of the street.  

PETER GLEESON:

Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, thank you so much for joining us on Gleeso's News Talk tonight.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good to be with you, Peter.