4 April 2019
Transcript - #2019067, 2019

Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: Budget 2019-20.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, thanks Zed and thanks to you for your leadership in exposing the lies about Labor’s new housing taxes and working so constructively with the property sector. Today, we’ve got people who are involved in the selling of property, we’ve got people involved in the financing of property and we’ve got people who are involved in the building of property and I think that’s very, very, welcome.
When we handed down the Budget just a couple of nights ago, it was very clear that Australia faces some challenges. Some challenges with an economic slowdown internationally, but also some challenges here at home including the impacts of the floods, the fire and the drought.
But, one of the most significant challenges we face to our economy domestically is the predicted fall in dwelling investment. In fact, dwelling investment has risen by an average of five and a half per cent over the last five years. But in the Budget papers, it shows that dwelling investment will fall by seven per cent in 2019-2020 and four per cent in the year after. So, this is exactly the wrong time for Labor’s housing taxes.
I wanted to say to mortgage brokers that the Coalition stands with you. Mortgage brokers are an essential part of our community. In fact, they’re involved in every local community, particularly in regional communities. They provide choice and add competition to the housing market and financing of new housing. And so, the Coalition stands with mortgage brokers.
When it comes to Labor’s housing tax, as Wayne Swan said as Treasurer, it would be economically disastrous to change negative gearing. But Labor’s plans to increase the capital gains tax by 50 per cent and to abolish negative gearing will see everyone who owns a home have it worth less under the Labor Party and everyone who rents their own home end up paying more.
In fact, we’ve seen research from SQM say that rents could go up by as much as $90 a week as a result of Labor’s policy and property prices go down by 16 per cent. And we know that there are more than one million Australians who currently negative gear, including 58,000 teachers, 41,000 nurses, 20,000 emergency service personnel. These people aren’t necessarily rich. In fact, two thirds of people have a taxable income of under $87,000.
So, Labor’s $200 billion of taxes that they are going to put on the Australian people are going to have a dramatically negative effect on the economy and none as much as the impact on housing at exactly the wrong possible time.
Now, tonight Bill Shorten is going to give his Budget in reply speech. Now, every time Bill Shorten opens his wallet, you need to check yours, because he’s coming after your money. And every time Bill Shorten makes a promise, the Australian people have to ask a simple question, what taxes is he putting up to fund these promises? The Labor Party is a party of higher taxes. The Coalition is putting taxes down. That’s our record and that’s our commitment in this year’s Budget.
So ladies and gentleman, thank you for being here today, I hope it’s a very constructive discussion. We are focused on supporting the housing market, supporting household consumption, supporting more investment and, most importantly, supporting jobs. Because as it has been pointed out by the Master Builders Association, that Labor’s housing tax will cost 32,000 jobs and see 42,000 fewer dwellings being built. We want more dwellings built, we want more investment, we want more jobs and we want people to be able to be confident in the value of their home.
Thank you very much.

QUESTION:

[inaudible].

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

[inaudible] and taxes on your electricity bill. Every time Bill Shorten makes a promise tonight, the Australian people have to ask themselves a simple question, what taxes is he putting up to fund those promises? Every time Bill Shorten opens his wallet, the Australian people have to check theirs, because he’s coming after your money.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] people on $200,000 don’t need a tax cut, the lower income people need a tax cut.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well as you know, in our tax package are the most significant tax cuts since the Howard Government. We focused on low and middle income earners. In fact, the measures that we announced will see a person earning $50,000 get $1,080 in their pocket in just 13 weeks’ time when they put in the next tax return.
If you’re a couple, let’s say a tradie and a teacher both earning $60,000, you’ll get $2,160 in your pocket in 13 weeks’ time. The reforms that we have made to the tax system, maintain its progressive nature. You still have the top five per cent of taxpayers paying one third of the overall…

QUESTION:

You quoted Wayne Swan, Joe Hockey said in his valedictory that there needed to be a crackdown on negative gearing, is Joe Hockey wrong?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we have said that we will never get rid of negative gearing, the Labor Party have said they’re going to abolish negative gearing as we know it. They’ve also said they’re going to increase the capital gains tax by 50 per cent.
The reality is under Labor your home will be worth less, that’s the purpose of their policy. That’s what Chris Bowen, as the alternate Treasurer in this country has said. The purpose and design of his policy is to send house prices lower and to send rent higher. And so tonight, Bill Shorten might be talking about giving more to people who are earning $40,000, but that means nothing when he’s putting up their rents by up to $90 a week. That’s the impact of his policy…

QUESTION:

Treasurer, last year you said electric vehicles would be- there was a coming revolution bigger than the iPhone, a million of them on the road by 2030, what do you think of Bill Shorten’s plan, you would be a supporter of that wouldn’t you?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, what we have said is we’ll support the rollout of infrastructure, we’ve made that very clear, with more stations where people can recharge their electric vehicles and there are more vehicles coming onto the road.
But effectively, the Labor Party, when it comes to their energy policy have not costed the impact of forcing such a change. We haven’t heard from the Labor Party about what the real cost of a 45 per cent emissions reduction target is. We haven’t heard from the Labor Party how they’re actually going to meet their targets. The Labor Party is interested in virtue signalling, in saying that they’re for lower emissions, but they actually haven’t said how much it is going to cost and how they are going to fund it.

QUESTION:

[inaudible], why did you leave people to find out [about the energy supplement], they only heard it on the radio, why didn’t you tell them the night before, why didn’t you announce itproperly, what was this brains trust, why did you leave people to find out the next day and why didn’t you consult people widely, why was it just decided by you and the Prime Minister?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Everything that we announced on Budget night sets Australia up for the next decade. It’s our economic plan, it was all there for people to see and the focus of our Budget is bringing it back into surplus, the first time in more than a decade, so that there is less money going on the interest payments on government debt and more money going to the pockets of hard-working Australians. You see, we believe that Australians should earn more and they should keep more of what they earn. Everything that we have made very clear is in the Budget and it sets Australia up for the next decade.

QUESTION:

But, you changed the budget. $80 million – you changed it.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

You’re talking about the changes to Newstart? Well, what is very clear there is that we needed to secure the passage of that legislation through the Parliament. Now when it comes to Newstart, as I’ve said publically before, it is a different type of payment to the age pension and the disability support pension. Ninety-nine per cent of people who are on Newstart are actually getting another payment. They might be getting a family tax benefit for example or a parenting payment, whereas people who are on the age pension or the disability support pension, that’s their primary form of income support.
The other point about Newstart which is different is that two thirds of people who are on Newstart move off it within twelve months into a job. And when we had previously put an energy assistance package, we kept it to pretty much the same…

QUESTION:

Does it take a threat of losing a vote to actually change your mind…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

As I’ve made clear, we’ve put an additional $80 million in for the 2018-19 year, it doesn’t affect our surplus of $7.1 billion. But, the clear point is that we have provided a blueprint, an economic plan that will help strengthen the Australian economy, create more jobs, is fiscally responsible and, importantly, guarantee the essential services that Australians need and deserve.
There’s more money going into hospitals, there’s more money going into schools, importantly, there’s more money going into disability support services, there’s more money that is going into mental health and tackling youth suicide. These are issues that are so important to us, but this is the dividend from a strong economy. A strong economy is not an end in itself, a strong economy is the means to the end. And on Budget night, I announced, for example, new listing of drugs on the PBS. That is critical, I mean, a drug to treat acute leukaemia was announced on Budget night. That means a person who would otherwise be up for $130,000 for a course of those drugs is now paying $6.50 as a concession holder for a script or $40 if they are a general patient. This is very…

QUESTION:

What is the impact on the grid of having 50 per cent of vehicles sold being electric by 2030? What do you need to do to upgrade the grid?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well look, Ben, obviously there’s going to be more demand on the grid from some of these types of reforms, but what we have done as a government is placed real attention and focus on the reliability of the grid and as you know, the reliability guarantee – we’ve got the support of the states on board.
The Labor plan, firstly, it’s not costed, it’s not funded. The impact will be higher energy prices for Australian households and again because they haven’t costed the backup and storage that’s needed, they haven’t costed what the impact on the change in the existing energy mix is. The Labor Party is only interested in putting people’s power bills up because as we know, Ben, when Labor was last in office, power prices doubled. They did not prepare for the changes in relation to gas and developing a large export market, they did not provide the gas for domestic use. They did not provide the storage for more intermittent sources of power, wind and solar, coming into the system…

QUESTION:

What about the transmission lines?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

And obviously that, they haven’t prepared for that as well. Now we’re working with AEMO, Angus Taylor is doing an excellent job in that respect, there was money in the Budget, how do we get a better network of transmission throughout the country to manage this change.