8 October 2018
Transcript - #2018036, 2018

Doorstop interview, Vision Australia, Kooyong

Subjects: the new $50 note; coal; Labor’s housing policy; GST; unions; jobs; and emissions.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, good morning.

It is a great pleasure to be here at Vision Australia where we have revealed the new $50 note with tactile features which will assist the 350,000 blind and vision impaired Australians better use our currency and participate fully in society, as we all want them to do.

Yesterday, Bill Shorten announced his five point plan for Australia. I will tell you what his five point plan is: $200 billion of new taxes. A new tax on your income, a new tax on your business, a new tax on your property, a new tax on your savings and a new tax on your electricity. That is what you will get from a Bill Shorten-led Labor government.

What is more, under Bill Shorten, union law-breakers will become union law-makers. The unions are getting ready for a feast at the Cabinet table and the Australian taxpayer will be paying for their lunch. Bill Shorten has done nothing to ensure that the Australian economy continues to grow strongly.

Only the Coalition can be trusted to continue the momentum and strong economic growth. And what we have seen with the recent economic data is that the heat has come out of the property market and that first homebuyers are going into the market in their greatest numbers since the global financial crisis.

But Bill Shorten is promising a new property tax which will take a sledgehammer to the families’ number one asset – the value of their own home. And it could put in danger our AAA credit rating which was recently reaffirmed by Standard and Poor’s.

So, Labor cannot be trusted with the $1.7 trillion Australian economy. Their plan for Australia is more tax, more spending, more debt, less jobs and less economic growth.

Are there any questions?

QUESTION:

The IPCC report basically calls for phasing out coal powered power by 2050. Is Australia in a position to do that or should they be able to?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

No, coal continues to play a vital role in our energy mix. If we were to take coal out of Australia’s energy system the lights would go out on the east coast of Australia – it is as simple as that.

And what we saw with the closure of Hazelwood in Victoria, which was cheered on by the Labor Andrews Government, was wholesale prices go up by more than 80 per cent. What we saw in South Australia with the Northern Power Station closing there was wholesale prices also going up significantly.

So, we need an energy system which uses a range of sources of energy, namely coal, gas and increasingly renewables. The Labor Party on the other hand have an ideological approach, they want to see the end of coal and as a result they will drive the household power bill up, just as they did when they were last in government when household energy prices doubled.

QUESTION:

So the IPCC has got it wrong?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it is very clear what we need to is act in the best interests of Australia. And the best interest of Australians is continuing to have coal playing an important and major role in our energy system.

But, at the same time, we continue to support new technologies including more renewables. But, it has to be balanced, you have to have power that is there when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. And that is why Snowy is such an important investment from this Coalition Government.

QUESTION:

Could Labor’s housing policy harm the AAA credit rating?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It can, absolutely. Indeed, what we have seen from Standard and Poor’s is a warning that if there was a property market crash, that this would impact upon our ratings.

You see, Labor came up with a policy which was designed to push down the value of your home – that was their policy. And now, we have seen the heat come out of the housing market, the dynamic change away from investor led growth to more owner occupier growth.

Over 100,000 first homebuyers are getting access to loans, the greatest numbers since 2009, and first homebuyers making up an increased share of the overall owner occupier sales in the housing market – that’s what is happening.

So, Labor’s policy couldn’t come at a worse time it will take a sledgehammer to people’s housing prices and their value in their own home.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, Labor says that the grandfathering mechanisms in their negative gearing policy will protect most of the Australians that you claim will be hurt by this policy. Why do you think those grandfathering mechanisms won’t work?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, Labor is looking for any excuse because what they are trying to cover up is that their policy is designed to push down the value of the family home. Labor’s policy is designed to push down the value of the family home. I challenge the Labor Party deny that is the intent of your policy. That is exactly why they are taking a sledgehammer to property prices, that is exactly why they are attacking negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount.

QUESTION:

Will the GST legislation be introduced into parliament next week?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

That is the intention.

QUESTION:

And why not put the guarantee that no state will be worse off in that legislation?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, every state and territory will be better off under the reforms that we are making to the GST…

QUESTION:

But, why not but that in a guarantee?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

...and we are guaranteeing that we are putting an extra billion dollars a year that wasn’t there before into the pool for the states and the territories.

You see the situation was becoming unsustainable and threatening the integrity of the system as a whole, when Western Australia went down to just having 30 cents in the dollar. And they went down to 30 cents in the dollar in 2015/16, after the mining boom had ended.

This was creating a real challenge for the system, so we went to the Productivity Commission, we sought their advice, based on their advice, based on other work that we have done, based on the numbers that were provided by the states and the territories themselves, we have come up with a system where we are putting a floor at 75 cents in the dollar under which no state can fall. And we are putting an additional $9 billion to the states and territories, including an additional billion dollars in perpetuity as well. That was money that wasn’t there before. So, each state, each territory will be better off under this plan and what we are not going to do is run a parallel system.

Now, if the Labor Party, the Federal Labor Party is proposing to run parallel systems, I would be interested as to how they are going to account for it in their budget. If this is going to mean more money coming from the Commonwealth, then how much is that extra money coming from the Commonwealth and how is the Federal Labor Party proposing to account for it.

QUESTION:

The ACTU has called for the dumping of enterprise bargaining, a return to what they are calling sector-wide bargaining. What effect do you think that return will have on Australian businesses and the economy?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well it would be terrible for the unions to be back in charge and dictating the terms of the industrial relations settings in this country. But, this is just a foretaste of what is to come under a Shorten-led union government, because Bill Shorten is union bred, union fed and union led. And he is determined to give the unions a seat at the Cabinet table and the unions are preparing for a feast which the Australian taxpayer will pay the cost of.

QUESTION:

Wouldn’t it be a better deal for the workers because they would have more bargaining power?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, the best thing for workers is to create more jobs and that is what the Morrison Government is doing. We, in Coalition, have created more than a million new jobs. In fact, more young Australians got a job over the last year than since records were first kept. We’ve now seen more women come into the workforce, with female workforce participation rates near record highs. We’ve seen more seniors come into the workforce and we made changes in the budget to enable them to keep their pension and to earn more money at the same time. We have the right policies and the right economic settings that are delivering this strong economic growth and these a million plus new jobs.

QUESTION:

Are the latest RBA figures a result of your government or just good luck, as suggested by the Business Council?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it’s not good luck to have 3.4 per cent GDP growth, the fastest since the height of the mining boom, and to be creating around 1000 jobs a day. It’s not good luck to deliver the smallest budget deficit in a decade, to bring down the rate of spending growth to the lowest level in 50 years and to see the smallest number of working-age Australians on welfare in 25 years. And it’s not good luck to have a AAA credit rating from the three leading rating agencies, to create free trade agreements with China, Japan, Korea and the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to legislate tax relief for small and medium-sized enterprises and for millions of Australian income earners.

That is what a Coalition is delivering. The Liberal and National parties are delivering this strong economic growth. It’s not good luck. The Australian economy doesn’t run on autopilot and now is not the time to risk a Labor Government with its big taxing, big spending agenda.

QUESTION:

How long can Australia go without an energy emissions policy, now that the NEG is gone, how long can we survive without that?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we have seen emissions come down to their lowest level on a GDP and per capita basis in 28 years. And we have seen the Government take action right across the board. We have an Emissions Reduction Fund which has been able to contract for 190 million tonnes of abatement at an average cost of around $13. Now, when you consider that a million tonnes of abatement is the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the road for a year, that is a very significant achievement, and our 2030 task has improved 60 per cent since we came into Government from where we inherited under the Labor Party. In fact, when it comes to our 2020 target, the Australian economy, Australia was going to miss its 2020 target. Now, it is going to easily beat it. The Coalition (inaudible) put in place these policies.

QUESTION:

So we don’t need it, that’s what you’re saying?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

What we need is to have a strong energy policy which is focused primarily on driving the cost of people’s power bills down. Now we have that. That is what we’re implementing with the ACCC recommendations. More generation into the sector, a default price, so people can make better sense of their power bills. More gas into the market – we’ve just seen gas prices come down by about 50 per cent. And we’ve already seen electricity prices fall from the 1st of July this year in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.

Under the Labor Party, power prices doubled. They have a recklessly high 50 per cent renewable energy target and they are determined to increase the cost of people’s power bill. Under the Labor Party, you’ll always pay more for your energy.