3 April 2019
Transcript - #2019062, 2019

Interview with Sarah Harris, Angela Bishop, Kerri-Anne Kennerley & Merrick Watts, Studio 10, Channel 10

Subjects: 2019-20 Budget

SARAH HARRIS:

Mr Frydenberg, welcome to Studio 10.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good morning. Nice to be with you.

SARAH HARRIS:

Much is being made of this $7 billion dollar surplus but, as the secretary of the ACTU has tweeted this morning, what's the point of a surplus if working Australians are struggling to pay the bills?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, the first thing to say is there's lots in this Budget for all Australians, in fact we're providing the largest tax cuts since the time of the Howard Government, which will ensure more money is in the people, in the pocket of working Australians. There's more funding for health and education, for disability support, for aged care. There's infrastructure spending, so that we can bust the congestion in our cities, get people to work sooner and get people home earlier. So, there's lot in this Budget that deals with cost of living, growing the economy and providing the essential services, but it's important to keep the Budget in the black because if you are running surpluses and paying down debt, then the interest bill, like a household mortgage, the interest bill for the Government is lower which means more money for the things that people really need. That's why it's important to run balanced Budgets, that's why it's important to be responsible with the fiscal management.

KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY:

Is there also an international component? We know Liberals and Nationals put money in the bank, Labor spends it. So on an international level, in terms as a surplus, why is it important to protect Australia? Why not reinvest that money in the country?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we never know what's going be around the corner in terms of the global economy and we also face some challenges here at home. So we do need to be responsible and live within our means, just like any family sitting around the kitchen table doing their mortgage payments, they also have to live within their means and we've taken that prudent approach. But at every opportunity, we've sought to put more money into the pocket of hard working Australians. We believe that Australians should earn more and keep more of what they earn and that's why these tax cuts will see a couple, let's say a tradie and a teacher both earning $60,000 dollars, they will have $2,160 dollars extra in their pocket in 13 weeks' time when they put in their next tax return. That's real money that will go towards paying their quarterly energy bill, their monthly mortgage payment, their yearly car insurance premium. That's what we as a Coalition, Liberals and Nationals are all are about.

ANGELA BISHOP:

But, Treasurer, in fairness, that's only if you're elected. To use the ACDC analogy that you've started, you might be back in black but it's a long way to the top of the polls. You've put out a strategy that you're hoping will win, perhaps a five week election campaign. Does five weeks sound about right? You've got lots of treats for marginal seats, bucket loads of bitumen and bricks. Are these going to bring back the so called "Howard battlers" in those seats that you need to win to take this election?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, this election is about the Australian people. This Budget is about the Australian people. It's about what it does for them and there's an acknowledgment in this Budget that they are facing cost of living pressures. There's an acknowledgment in this Budget, that we're seeing congestion in our cities. There's an acknowledgment in this Budget, that we need to provide more support to deal with youth suicide and mental health and give respite to carers in our community who are unsung heroes. That is what is reflected in this Budget. It makes a difference to the kitchen table. It makes a difference to every household. We're about families, we're about putting more money back into your pocket. We're about being responsible economic managers. It's not about us, it's about you, the Australian people.

KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY:

Treasurer, we are supposed to let you go by 9:25. We're just sort of a little out of kilter. Have you got another couple of minutes you can spend with us?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Let's keep firing away.

KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY:

OK. Merrick

MERRICK WATTS:

Treasurer, watching last night, you were clearly very pleased with handing down a surplus Budget and in fact you look like a 21st young guy giving his speech. You were pretty rapt and had a captive audience, but how do you think the Opposition is going to react to this Budget?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it doesn't really matter what they say. You have to look at what they do. And unfortunately, they're going to hit the Australian people with $200 billion dollars of higher taxes. They always chase higher spending with higher taxes and it doesn't matter if you're putting more money into your superannuation. It doesn't matter if you're working a bit harder, or running a small business, or seeing your accountant, or buying a property, or a share. You will pay higher taxes under Labor. That's the reality of it and so the Australian people will face a very clear choice at the next election between a Coalition who is driving taxes lower and is building the infrastructure that people need, and the Labor Party who will always tax you higher and will always hit you in the hip pocket.

SARAH HARRIS:

Treasurer, voters are very tired and very cynical of politicians at the moment. We're sick of chopping and changing at the very top. Do you think this is going to be enough to get you re elected?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, again, it's not about us, it's about the Australian people.

SARAH HARRIS:

Yes, it is.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

And from every day on -

SARAH HARRIS:

It is.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

And from every day on -

SARAH HARRIS:

With all due respect, Treasurer, this is supposed to be a bag of goodies to buy our votes. Yes, it is. Come on.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, let me tell you, as a dad, and I've got a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I want a better Australia for them, so we put more money into early childhood education in this Budget.

SARAH HARRIS:

Why not implement the Budget now then? Why not implement it now? Why wait until you get re-elected? If you care that much about Australia?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, if the Labor Party said we'd sign on to every one of our amendments, you know, we would be a stronger Australia, but the reality is they don't support everything that we have announced. They don't support our infrastructure plan, they don't support our long term structural reform to the tax system, they don't support our skills package that's going to create 80,000 positions.

SARAH HARRIS:

Why not put your money where your mouth is and why don't you

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Hopefully they will support

SARAH HARRIS:

Why don't you put in place now? Why don't you say, you know, the next six weeks we're going to get this done because we really care about what Australians need right now. Stuff the polls, and see if Labor turns up?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we are implementing policies that are making really a difference to the people of Australia and lot of those we've actually had to implement over the heads of the Labor Party with the support of the cross benchers and the minor parties. The reality is we're putting more money into hospitals, we're putting more money into schools, but it comes back to what the Australian people need. They need a strong economy, not as an end in itself, not as a trophy on the cabinet. A strong economy that can therefore pay for more drugs on the PBS. So last night, for example, I announced that a new drug to treat acute leukaemia will go on the PBS, so instead of costing $120,000 a course, it will now cost $6.50 for a concessional patient and $40 for a general patient.

KERRI-ANNE KENNERLEY:

Can I, and I am sorry for interrupting, Treasurer, and I know I've heard all the great things that you want to do, but when somebody with as much experience as Peter Costello talks to you, what advice has he given you?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, he's said that it's important to deliver surpluses as he did, and we've done that. It's important to deliver tax relief which he did, and we have done, and it's important to make the contrast between ourselves and our political opponents because when you do change governments, you do change the country. You do change the economic plan. And we have an economic plan that is working. There are more women in work today than ever before. The gender pay gap is the lowest that it's ever been. We announced last night that we're creating 55,000 places to help women become young entrepreneurs. We're putting more money into STEM; science, technology, engineering and mathematics for women. There's an economics security statement that Kelly O'Dwyer's announced for women. We are really focussing on creating more opportunities, money for childcare, more money for early childhood, more drugs on the PBS. That is the social dividend from a strong economy.

SARAH HARRIS:

Alright, Treasurer, we appreciate your time this morning. We're about to lose your link. I think Bill Shorten's trying to pull the plug. Thank you very much for joining us this morning. We know it's a very busy day for you and we appreciate your time.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Thank you.