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22 January 2019
Transcript - #2018009, 2019

Doorstop Interview, Sydney

Subjects: Economy; international economy; Budget; Labor’s retiree tax; Abu Bakar Bashir; Productivity Commission superannuation report; Liberal Party preselection; Labor’s energy policy; women in the workforce; and Kelly O’Dwyer.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

… the IMF has downgraded its global economic forecast from 3.7 to 3.5 per cent citing asset reclassing, rising global debt levels and falling investor sentiment. It also followed a contraction in the September quarter in key economies, like Japan and Germany, and a softening in China. As the global storm clouds gather, it is more important than ever that we stay the course on our economic plan. A plan that has delivered more jobs, lower taxes and a budget that will be in surplus after a decade of deficits.

We cannot, as a country, risk Labor’s $200 billion of new taxes that will hurt everybody who owns a home and everybody who rents a house. That will hurt retirees and people who are planning for retirement. That will hurt small businesses and workers in big businesses. The Labor Party’s answer to the global storm clouds across the international economy is higher taxes. It’s the wrong prescription and they have the wrong diagnosis. The Coalition has an economic plan that is working and we must stay the course.

QUESTION:

How much will these global storm clouds you speak about impact [inaudible]

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we are obviously watching it very closely, but we will be delivering a budget that is in surplus, the first budget surplus after more than a decade of deficits. It’s a product of hard decision making, difficult decision making over the last five years. We’ve reduced the rate of Government spending growth to under 2 per cent, 1.9 per cent, that compared to around double of what it was under the Labor Party. And, we’ve provided record spending for health and education without increasing taxes.

Only the Coalition can be trusted to run a strong economy and deliver the jobs that Australians need and deserve.

QUESTION:

Will your predictions have to be more conservative as a result? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We are always conservative in our predictions around the economy and that is what Scott Morrison did as Treasurer, and that is what I am doing as Treasurer. Particularly around some of the commodity price forecasts, we are conservative and we have delivered on the upside. 

QUESTION:

How much has the global outlook deteriorated since the mid-year budget update and how do you expect that to impact on your economic forecast going forward?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, as the Reserve Bank of Australia said only a few weeks ago, before Christmas, the Australian economy is performing well. That’s the view of the Reserve Bank of Australia. But, we are watching it very closely, we are watching household consumption, we are watching the property market. But, what Australian homeowners can’t afford is a big new housing tax from the Labor Party. What retirees can’t afford is Labor’s commitment to a new retirees tax. What people who are saving for their retirement can’t afford is Labor’s new superannuation taxes. You see, it doesn’t matter what the question is, for Labor, the answer is higher taxes. We’re delivering a major social dividend for the Australian economy, with more spending on health and education and infrastructure, without increasing taxes.

QUESTION:

 The Sydney Morning Herald lead this morning [inaudible]… Royal Commission recommends sort of an elevated outcome stance, where funds are forced justify their position as a default for certain industries and jobs. What are your views on that? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well as you know it was the Coalition and that commissioned this landmark report, from the Productivity Commission about our $2.7 trillion superannuation sector, and what the Productivity Commission found was that the existing superannuation system was not serving all members. The Labor Party seemed to rule out key findings, key recommendations of this three year review, before they had even read the report.

What we have said is that we will study the report, we’ll consider it properly, we’ll look at it in the context of what Commissioner Hayne recommends when we get his final report into the Banking Royal Commission because there are some overlap in certain areas, and then we will respond with a formal, government response.  But our number one focus, our only focus, is the interest of all members.

QUESTION:

[inaudible]

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

There is a lot that governments can do to stimulate growth, to create jobs. And that is what we have seen through the Coalition’s strong economic management that has delivered more than 1.2 million new jobs.
Let’s not forget that when we came to power, unemployment was 5.7 per cent. Today, it’s 5.1 per cent. Let’s not forget that when we came to Government that growth was 2.1 per cent. Today, it’s 2.8 per cent. Let’s not forget that Government spending was much higher than it is today under the Coalition. We have put in place the policies that have backed small business, the policies that have backed workers, the policies that are tackling inequality, the policies that are creating jobs and better outcomes for all Australians.

What the Australian economy and what 25 million Australians can’t afford is Labor’s punitive, high taxing agenda, with $200 billion of new taxes. We need to stay the course with an economic plan that is working with an economic plan that is delivering.

QUESTION:

Warren Mundine has been installed to run in Gilmore. Can we just get your thoughts on Warren, and what you think he can bring to the Liberal Party.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well those issues and the selection of candidates are matters for local branches, that’s one of the great strengths of Liberal Party as opposed to the Labor Party. We attract people from all walks of life. People who want to make Australia better, but most importantly, people who believe in the values that we as the Liberal Party were founded on, supporting the individual and their enterprise. Values that involve putting in a safety net for people who have a go. We put in place policies that back our values, supporting the family and small business.

QUESTION:

So why replace Grant Schultz then?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I’ll leave those matters for the New South Wales division and for the local branches.

QUESTION:

Do you think that Warren Mundine would make a good candidate?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Again, issues about who runs in and in what seats are handled by the relevant state division and by the local branch members. You know, one of the great strengths of the Liberal Party is that it’s the Parliamentary Party that determines the policies and that fights the campaigns, and it’s the local branch members who select the candidates and are responsible for the organisation.

QUESTION:

So the ABC understands the Liberal Party’s State Executive is going to block a motion to endorse Mr Schultz.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Like I said, I’ll leave those….

QUESTION:

Is that fair? How do you think that will go down with the voters of Gilmore?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Like I said, I’ll leave those matters for the Liberal Party of New South Wales, for the branch members and the executive.

QUESTION:

The Indonesian Government overnight said they’ll review Bashir’s, the decision to release Bashir early. What does the Government think of that?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well look, as the Prime Minister has said, we will, and are, talking closely with Indonesia, a great friend and a great neighbour. We cooperate very closely on issues of counterterrorism. Let’s not forget that in that tragic Bali bombing, Australians lost their lives, people from Indonesia lost their lives, as well as from a number of other countries.

QUESTION:

What does review mean though? A couple of days, a couple of months?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I’ll leave those matters to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.

QUESTION:

As a former Energy Minister, what do you make of Labor’s $1 billion plan to boost Australia’s renewable energy industry?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well the Labor Party has only one policy for people’s energy bills and that’s to send their prices up. That’s what happened when they were last in government. Energy prices doubled. They have a reckless target of emissions reduction, which the Business Council of Australia said is a wrecking ball through the economy. They have not released the funding details, the cost details of their 45 per cent emissions reduction policy and what we have seen of our side of politics, is that prices have started to come down. When I was the Energy Minister, we saw a fall in last July in key markets in Queensland, in New South Wales, in South Australia and what we are doing now under Angus Taylor is investing in new generation. We are ensuring that there are simplier offers for people on their energy bills and one of the things that I’m proud of that I was able to achieve as the Energy Minister was bringing an end to the Limited Merits Review process which was allowing the networks to game the system. If the Labor Party had gotten rid of that process when they were last in government then the energy consumers of Australia, the families of Australia, the businesses of Australia would have been billions of dollars a year better off.

QUESTION:

You spoke upstairs about the growing numbers of women in the Australian workforce, how important that was to the local economy…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

A record number of women!

QUESTION:

a record number….

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

In the Australian economy.

QUESTION:

I mean, how important is it to have women in the Liberal Party?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well it’s absolutely critical that we have women represented in all political parties. I do want to point out that as a party, our policies have served the women of Australia far better than the Labor Party. They have in the past and [inaudible]. We have delivered policies that have boosted funding for childcare, we have delivered policies that have supported women who are the subject of domestic violence, we have introduced policies that are giving more flexibility to paid parental leave, we’ve introduced policies that will benefit millions of women who will be united with low balance superannuation accounts that they may not have known existed or prevent them from getting insurance with their super that they don’t need that is costing them unnecessarily. We have the policies that are delivering for Australian women, we have the policies that have reduced the gender pay gap compared to what it was under the Labor Party and we have the policies that have seen a record number of women in the workforce. Of the 1.2 million plus jobs that we’ve created, over half have gone to women. That’s vitally important. 

QUESTION:

  And yet within your own party, you’ve seen a number of women drop out over the last few years, and in the case of Gilmore, replaced by a man.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, what we have seen is retirements from both sides of the political fence. We saw Jenny Macklin in the Labor Party, we saw Kate Ellis from the Labor Party, Gai Brodtmann from the Labor Party. I didn’t hear Bill Shorten try to make a partisan political point out of that. He understood that there were personal, private family reasons for people taking such decisions. The same applies with Kelly O’Dwyer. This was a hard, personal decision and she should be supported in that. Not the disgraceful smear that we have seen from Bill Shorten and his office, or that we’ve seen from Sally McManus saying that she’s thrown in the towel. Sally McManus and the ACTU and their fellow travellers in the Labor Party have completely misread the community’s mood on this issue. Namely that people who take these decisions should be supported because they’re personal decisions, not political decisions.

QUESTION:

APRA is expected to approve Volt Bank as the first Australian neobank through the Restricted Banking License Regime. What are your views on that?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well we welcome that and the Government supports more competition in the banking sector.

Thank you.