31 March 2019
Transcript - #2019049, 2019

Interview with Peter Van Onselen, Channel 10 News, Channel 10

Subjects: Budget 2019.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

Treasurer.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good to be with you.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

You’re going to hand down a surplus in the Budget, it’s a forecast though. Do you feel like Wayne Swan?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, Wayne Swan forecast a $46 billion turnaround in one year. It wasn’t credible. But what we have seen is a steady trajectory to surplus and we will be announcing the first surplus in over 12 years in Tuesday night’s Budget.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

It is a forecast though. Will you be disappointed if you don’t win the election so you’re not around to take the glory when it becomes an actuality?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it’s actually a very important marker. For the first time in 12 years, we will be putting a down payment on Labor’s debt. It will be a sign that we are repairing the nation’s finances and it will be the product of difficult decisions, but necessary decisions, that have been taken over the last five and a half years.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

The update at the end of last year had a large amount of money put aside for what everyone was assuming are tax cuts, income tax cuts. Is that what we’re going to see in the Budget?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, as you know, Peter, we’ve already legislated $144 billion worth of tax relief, which will see 95 per cent of tax payers…

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

But there is another $10 billion coming though, isn’t there, Treasurer?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, you’ll have to turn-on on Budget night to see what transpires in relation to tax. But what I can say is that this Budget, Peter, does build a stronger economy, it does secure a better future. It will ease cost of living pressures for Australian families, it will fund infrastructure that busts congestion in our cities and unlocks the potential of our regions…

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

Can I ask though…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It will guarantee the essential services of hospitals, schools and pharmaceuticals.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

Easing costs of living pressures, though, that’s what tax cuts do, income tax cuts, is that a bigger priority than a bigger surplus?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, what we think you can do is deliver a strong surplus and we will show that on Tuesday night. At the same time, we are reducing the cost of living pressures for Australian families and today’s announcement of a one-off energy support payment, which will go to nearly four million Australians, aged pensioners, people on the disability support pension, people on carers payments, veterans payments, single parenting payments, these people face cost of living pressures and the Government acknowledges that and this payment for $125 for couples is important.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

And, how much for individuals?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

$75.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

That is a hand out, but is that a sign that the Big Stick legislation, you couldn’t get it through to try to do something about energy prices directly with the companies, so you’re giving in and using the Budget to hand some money back to taxpayers?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we’re absolutely committed to holding the companies to account with legislation. But, at the same time we’ve also introduced reforms, there’s getting more gas into the market to reduce power prices. We’ve taken on the energy networks, we saw prices come down last July, we’ve seen prices come down for people on standing offers on the 1st of January and we’ve got a default price coming in in July of this year, which will see Australian families save significantly on their power bill.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

This is your first Budget. Tell us about the process.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it’s been a long process and a lot of people have done a lot of work to produce what I think is a very important economic statement on Tuesday night. It will be the next stage in our economic plan and it is a plan for more jobs, for higher wages, for better services and for a stronger economy and a secure economy for all Australians. 

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

It has been framed as an election Budget.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it’s a Budget that actually delivers a stronger economy and from a stronger economy you can deliver a dividend, which is secure jobs and better services. 

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

But, is it different than you would have framed it, for example, at the start of a term as opposed to right before a difficult election? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we’re focused on the same economic plan that has already delivered for Australia. This is the next stage in that economic plan. But, the focus is on infrastructure, the focus is on jobs, the focus is on easing the cost of living pressures, the focus is on ensuring guaranteed services in hospitals, in schools, in disability support and pharmaceuticals.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

How many surprises are we going to see in the Budget? I mean, obviously we are going to have to wait until the night to see where these income tax cuts are spread. Anything else of significance in there that we don’t know about yet?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, there’s going to be a lot in the Budget that hasn’t been announced previously and today was one announcement. There has been previous announcements around funding for sporting programs, funding for people with breast cancer and medical assistance and support, funding for infrastructure projects. So, a number of announcements have already been made and there is more to come.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

Just finally, though, if you don’t win Government, other than the money bills presumably, not everything in this Budget will be legislated?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we will have legislation that will be introduced on Budget night to put in place a number of the provisions, a number of the measures that we are announcing…

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

If they don’t get through the Senate, though?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, this will be up to the Labor Party whether they want to stand in the way of a stronger economy, whether they want to stand in the way of more support for the Australian people with respect to easing their cost of living and guaranteeing them the essential services.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:

Good luck on Tuesday night.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Thank you, Peter.