30 January 2019
Transcript - #2019011, 2019

Doorstop interview, Camberwell, Victoria

Subjects: Labor’s retiree’s tax; Australian economy; Oliver Yates; climate change; energy policy; coal; jobs; federal election; and Banking Royal Commission Report.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good afternoon. Today Chris Bowen offended over one million Australians, dismissing their real and deep concerns, about Labor’s retiree’s tax, and arrogantly telling them, to vote against Labor. These people have done nothing wrong. They’ve simply saved for their retirement. And their retirement savings should be protected, not raided. That’s what the Coalition will do, and Labor with its $200 billion tax grab and tax hike, will hurt Australian retirees, will hurt Australian home owners, hurt Australian renters, and hurt aspiration, and all Australian workers.

QUESTION:

Is that a fair characterisation of them? Their savings being raided? Isn’t it the other way around, they’re raiding Australia’s budget, if an income that they’ve never actually earned?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

There has been broad consensus for more than two decades, around this notion of double taxation, and the Labor Party in 2000, Simon Crean, as the shadow Treasurer, supported the government’s efforts to protect these people’s retirement savings. But Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen are desperate. And now they’re hitting all Australians with higher taxes. Chris Bowen has shown that he is Bill Shorten’s weakest link. Weak on the economy, and promising Australia and Australians $200 billion of new taxes. Labor has arrogantly told over one million Australians to vote against Labor. What they have failed to do is listen to their concerns, their deep concerns that we’re hearing and seeing from Australians all around the country. People who have simply saved for their own retirement, people who are not necessarily rich, but people who have taken personal responsibility, to save for their retirement. Australians retirement savings should be protected, not raided, as Labor is promising to do.

QUESTION:

Is this where the election is going to be won and lost, on taxation?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

The election will be fought on the economy, and the Morrison government and the Coalition has delivered lower taxes, a record 1.2 million new jobs, and unemployment that has now fallen to 5 per cent. This is not luck. This is the product of hard work, and decisions that we’ve taken over five and a bit years. These are decisions that have led to the lowest rate of growth in government spending in 50 years. These are decisions that have lead, to the lowest number of people on welfare, of working age, in 30 years. These are decisions that have led to nation-building infrastructure being rolled out across the country. These are decisions that have led to record spending on hospitals and schools. That’s the dividend from a strong economy. More drugs that are listed on the PBS, more hospital funding, more school funding. This is what the Coalition has delivered. This is all at risk, with Bill Shorten and Labor; they can’t manage money, so they come after yours. The Labor Party have shown, when they were last in government, that they have a high tax agenda, and that they will waste taxpayer’s money.

QUESTION:

Are you worried about the challenge from Oliver Yates in Kooyong?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I look forward to the contest, locally at the next election. I continue to work hard to earn the respect, and the trust and the support, of my local community, as I’ve done over the last three elections. We’re working hard to deliver better health and education services. Working hard to protect the environment, working hard to create jobs, and working hard to create safer communities, here in Kooyong.

QUESTION:

On the environment, he says the Liberal Party has failed and moved away from what it used to be about conserving the environment. He says that you failed to stand up against coal, is that something you’re vulnerable on? Are you worried about that?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well climate change is real, and the Coalition takes very seriously, our international and domestic responsibilities and obligations to reduce emissions, and we’ve actually seen emissions come down to its lowest level on a per capita and GDP basis in 28 years. I’m proud, of the work that we’ve done to support the renewable energy target. Because it’s been under the Coalition, that we’ve actually seen a record level of investment in renewables. I’m proud of the work that we are doing to drive energy efficiency. I’m proud of the work we’ve done through the Emissions Reduction Fund. For seeing nearly 200 million tonnes of CO2 abated, through a very competitive process around $13 a tonne. I’m proud of the work that we are doing, as a Coalition, to build the world’s biggest pumped hydro facility through the Snowy-Hydro Scheme. This will help balance out the grid and ensure that as more intermittent renewables come into the system, that there will be back-up and storage and support, something the Labor party never did. The Labor Party will promise you the world when it comes to cutting emissions, and energy policy, but their record was a doubling in energy prices. We are responsible in the work that we have undertaken in this area, and as you know we’ve seen emissions come down to the lowest level per capita GDP basis in 2018.

QUESTION:

A lot of the feedback at the state election was that, from Liberal voters, was that your party wasn’t doing enough on climate change and environmental action, and you saw in your backyard, Hawthorn is gone, are you worried about that happening here?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we’ll continue to put the facts before the Australian people, that the work that we have done to support the renewable energy, to support energy efficiency, to support the Snowy Hydro and other storage projects around the country, to support the Emissions Reduction Fund, are making a difference. And these investments that we are making are there for future generations to enjoy. We have to have a broad suite of technologies and resources in our energy mix. There’s a place for wind and solar, and a place for pumped hydro, there’s a place for thermal generation. These all have a role to play. We need to place engineering and economics at the forefront of our energy policy, not ideology.

QUESTION:

Does Victoria need a new coal power plant then?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Victoria desperately needs more backup and storage. This is where the Andrews Government has very badly failed. They were warned multiple times, about the dangers to the stability of their grid, and the fact that Victoria from being an exporter of energy was going to end up being an importer. And what we’ve seen in recent days and weeks in Victoria is nothing short of a disgrace, and is a reflection of bad management by the Andrews State Government.

QUESTION:

You’ve seen a few retirements from the front bench. Should the PM freshen up the front bench ahead of the election, given you’ve got some lame duck Ministers sitting there at the moment?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we’ve seen retirements on both sides of the political divide over the years and the decisions that have been taken by Jenny Macklin, and by Tim Hammond and by Gai Brodtmann, I didn’t see Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek come criticise these people who took very personal decisions to leave the Parliament. But he’s shown what an opportunist he is and in a very disrespectful way, attacked Kelly O’Dwyer’s very personal and hard decision to leave the Parliament. What we need to do is respect our people who take personal decisions, not to seek to make political advantage out of it, which is exactly what Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek did in their disgraceful comments after Kelly O’Dwyer’s personal decision.

QUESTION:

But do they need a refresh of the front bench, as Angus asked, those MPs that aren’t standing again?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We’ve got a very strong front bench, all our members are working hard, and what they are doing is contributing to a strong economy, to strong border protection policies, to strong job creation. They’re the results that are there for everybody to see. A record number of new jobs being created, more young people, over 100,000, got a job in the last financial year, and on record, we’re seeing more seniors come into the workforce, more women are coming into the workforce. And the Prime Minister has set a new target; of 1.25 million new jobs. These are jobs that are part of the industries of the future. These are the jobs for our young people, who can hope for a better career and a better life into the future. These are the jobs that good economic management delivers for all Australians. And the Labor Party can’t be trusted. The Labor Party can’t be trusted with the economy, because under Labor the economy will be weaker, there will be less jobs, growth will be lower, that’s their record when they were last in government. And that will be their record if they were ever given another chance.

QUESTION:

Does John Pesutto’s loss make you fearful that this is no longer a safe seat at a Federal level?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I’ve said no seats are safe across Australia. I certainly don’t take anything for granted locally and continue to work hard to deliver for my local community as I’ve done over the previous elections.

QUESTION:

Why do you think so many disaffected Liberals and members or supporters are now standing as independent members?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well when I speak to Liberal members across the country, they are strongly supporting our policies, and they’re very concerned, and scared, about the prospect of Bill Shorten ever getting in to the Lodge. Because they know that Bill Shorten will open the door to militant unionism, they know that Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen are promising higher taxes, and they know that the Labor Party doesn’t believe in aspiration, reward for effort, reward for hard work, doesn’t believe in supporting small businesses, which are the engine room of the community, and indeed here in Kooyong, are the engine room of our local economy.

QUESTION:

Well all these independents have one issue in common, and that climate change. If you think you’re doing enough, have you got a perception problem?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, in terms of climate change we’re continuing to invest in renewable energy, continuing to invest in major schemes like the snowy-hydro scheme, we’re continuing to invest in new technology, and in energy efficiency. And of course, there is money in the emissions reduction fund, for more work to be done in the land sector.

QUESTION:

On Friday you’re going to get the Banking Royal Commission Report, and you’ll be releasing it on Monday. Can you guarantee there will be no market sensitive leaks over those three days? It’s a long time to be holding onto that sort of information.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well of course we will ensure that Treasury officials, and certainly I, and the Prime Minister, are not going to be putting any information out there. What we are seeking to do is proceed in a careful and considered manner about something which is very important to the community and very important to the economy. We want to have a strong stable banking system, but one where then public has confidence in our financial institutions. We want a system where the public can trust their financial advisors, and can trust their banks, because we need a strong and healthy and well-regulated banking system. But we also want to ensure that there is the free flow of credit, that’s affordable and accessible to the public, because credit is part of the blood of the economy, we need the free flow of credit and we’ll be obviously carefully considering that in terms of responding to the Royal Commission. What we also want to ensure is that we continue to support small businesses, and we continue to support a healthy financial system that delivers better consumer outcomes. They are the government’s priorities and they will influence and determine our final and formal response to the Royal Commissions report.

QUESTION:

Are you concerned that the Home Affairs Department didn’t consult any Fijian law experts before stripping Neil Prakash of his citizenship?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I know Peter Dutton has spoken on those issues and I’ll leave it to them.

Thank you.