3 April 2019
Transcript - #2019055, 2019

Interview with Chris Uhlmann, Today Show, Channel 9

Subject: 2019-20 Budget

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Josh Frydenberg, welcome.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

$7 billion surplus won’t be inked into the books in fact until September next year, why should we believe that figure will actually happen?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well this is a very credible number, and it’s a significant number and obviously $7 billion in 2019-20, but $45 billion over the next four years, and we’re eliminating Commonwealth debt by 2030. Our trajectory to this point has been a steady reduction in the deficits since we came to government, and now a $7 billion surplus.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Yeah but there are threats on the horizon, don’t you risk the possibility of being like Wayne Swan, promising something that won’t be delivered?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well Wayne Swan totally had no credibility in this regard, because he was expecting a $48 billion turnaround in one year, three per cent of GDP. He had missed previous Budget forecasts by $80 billion. What we have done is we’ve under-promised and over-delivered, including in the last Budget we actually improved our bottom line by over $19 billion compared to what was predicted.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Now your big promise is of course on tax cuts, but won’t Labor just see you and raise you come Thursday night?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well look, we haven’t heard from them that they’ll support the reduction in the 32.5 cent to 30 cent tax bracket, that’s very significant, that flattens out and simplifies our tax system. 70 per cent of taxpayers under our plan will be paying no more than 30 cents in the dollar, that’s a…

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Again, that one’s a long way off, though.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it’s part of the structural reform that this Budget outlines, together with the immediate support in 13 weeks’ time, two families, two people who are earning under $126,000.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Now the energy payment of $75 to people wasn’t going to go to people on Newstart, you’ve changed your mind on that?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It is going to people on Newstart, and it is important to help alleviate the cost of living pressures that people are finding. Newstart is different to the age pension or to the disability support pension in the sense that many people, most people, leave Newstart within 12 months. It is currently indexed twice a year, but obviously what we’re focussing on is getting people into jobs and we’ve got a good record of doing that, with over 1.2 million jobs being created, and we’ve committed to 1.25 million more jobs being created, we can deliver that, we have delivered that.

CHRIS ULHMANN:

So $100 billion dollars going on infrastructure, but again, it’s $6 billion dollars this year, it’s $6 billion dollars next year.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well there are projects that are under way. We’ve turned the sod on the new airport in Western Sydney, we’ve committed $1.4 billion dollars to Snowy 2.0 to modernise the vision of Menzies and Chifley. We’re obviously putting $5 billion dollars into the airport-rail link in Melbourne. These are projects that we are committed to, we’re committed to busting the congestion out there in our cities. Your viewers today know that they can get to work sooner, they can get home earlier under our policies to bust congestion in the cities.

CHRIS ULHMANN:

Taking you to something that hasn’t been much, mental health. There’s provisions set aside in this budget. What are you aiming to do?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, that’s the most significant mental health and youth suicide package ever released. What we want to do is get more support to the people who need it most. So, perinatal support obviously is important; early psychosis treatment; 30 new Headspace centres; working with Indigenous communities to get greater peer support for those people who need it. A lot of young people are very vulnerable and youth suicide is a national tragedy. And so last night I spoke to those people, I spoke to those families, and I said, we hear you, with are with you. This is a bipartisan commitment. It’s a national tragedy that needs to be addressed with both resources and effort.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Well some of the criticism you’re getting though is on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Money is being saved because it’s been underspent. That helps to prop up your budget. What do say to people who are criticising you about that?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well we have fully funded the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and we will meet every cent of the Commonwealth commitment. This is a critical, bipartisan policy. This is, again, helping people who need our help. There are currently 250,000 people on the scheme, 78,000 of whom have not been disability support before. It grows to 460,000; it is a scheme in transition. But, as you say, it’s a demand driven program, so the money that wasn’t spent there was not because people were on the program and weren’t getting support. It was just that people are still moving into the program.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Alright, in four or five weeks’ time, we’ll be at the polls, and people might think, well, both sides are offering me tax cuts, what’s the difference between you and Labor?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we’re for lower taxes. We’ve legislated that and , last night, we announced lower taxes. Bill Shorten has a $200 billion plan for higher taxes. It doesn’t matter if you’re putting money in your superannuation, doesn’t matter if you’re going to work, it doesn’t matter if you’re running a small business, it doesn’t matter if you’re buying a property or buying a share, or renting your property; you will pay more under a Shorten-led Labor Government. They believe in higher taxes. They have higher taxes to chase higher spending. That never ends well. We want people to earn more and keep more of what they earn.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Josh Frydenberg, thank you.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good to be with you.