7 April 2019
Transcript - #2019068, 2019

Interview with Nick Mccallum, Dee Ryall & Darren James, Sunday Mornings, 3AW

Subjects: 2019-20 Budget; and political advertising.

NICK MCCALLUM:

Josh, good morning to you.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good morning.

NICK MCCALLUM:

I thought there was going to be an election announced this weekend. What has happened?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, there is no haste and there's no delay. There's always been three dates that have been speculated on in the media, the 11th of May, the 18th and the 25th. And obviously these are decisions for the Prime Minister. But our political opponent, Bill Shorten, he’s already measuring up the curtains. But my advice to him is don't go and buy them because there's a long way to go still yet.

NICK MCCALLUM:

The cynic in me says, Mr Frydenberg, that you’re delaying, because if you delay that means the taxpayer gets to pay for all your ads promoting all your measures and by some reports that’s $600,000 a day rather than the Liberal Party.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, governments of both political persuasions have always used political advertising to explain the Government's policy. I mean Labor spent half a billion dollars when they were last in Government on government advertising…

NICK MCCALLUM:

Isn’t that why you're delaying though?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

No. We're not delaying. We're actually just going out and explaining our major economic plan, which was announced last Tuesday night in the form of the Budget to the Australian people. You see there wasaround 700 different measures in that Budget and it sets Australia up for the next decade. It helps make our economy stronger and helps secure a better future for all Australians. And we need to explain the tax, the skills, the infrastructure package, as well as the essential services that are being guaranteed.

NICK MCCALLUM:

That figure $600,000 a day, is that right?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, look, all the numbers in relation to government advertising are made public. But the key point here is…

NICK MCCALLUM:

But is that figure right? Cause that's what the Labor Party is throwing out at the moment. Is that accurate and is it fair?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, you know better than to believe the Labor Party's figures…

NICK MCCALLUM:

Well, that's why I'm asking you, to say is it right or not?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, look, I'll just say that all the spending on government advertising is released, it's very transparent. But the key point here is we're just a few days after the major economic statement of the year, namely the Budget. In this Budget, we set out the plan for Australia's two trillion dollar economy. There was $100 billion set out for infrastructure including, that will make a difference in the lives of your listeners, in Victoria. We've got a $2 billion investment going into the Melbourne-Geelong fast rail. We've got a $4 billion congestion busting program that will get people home soonest to be around the dinner table and get them to work earlier. We're easing the cost of living by putting into people's pockets up to a $1080 in just 13 weeks’ time with tax cuts. I mean if you're a tradie and a teacher and you're both earning $60,000 dollars a year each that will put $2160 in your pocket to ease the cost of living, whether it's your quarterly energy bill, your yearly car insurance, or your monthly mortgage.

NICK MCCALLUM:

But is it, I'll try one more time. Is that $600,000 dollars figure, they’re going to be whacking you with this all week. Can you say yes or no? Is it $600,000? And you know that goes to your economic management cause that goes, you're blowing that money.

JOSH FYRDENBERG:

Well, there are really important government initiatives that need to be explained to the Australian people and there is a very…

NICK MCCALLUM:

Very important Coalition initiatives in the lead up to an election.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, you're hugely cynical…

NICK MCCALLUM:

Thank you.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

…[inaudible] cynical, when we're coming into an election where we need to be fair and balanced. And the reality is that we have an economic plan that guarantees people hospitals, schools and roads, we’re fully funding the NDIS, we've put some 2000 new drugs onto the PBS, lifesaving drugs, we're providing respite for carers, we've got a three quarter of a billion dollar mental health and youth suicide package and we do all of that without increasing taxes. That's what the contest at the next election is about, it’s not about government advertising, it's actually about who puts your taxes up in order to fund reckless promises, namely the Labor Party. And who is driving your taxes down so that you can earn more and keep more of what you earn, which is the Coalition.

DEE RYALL:

So, Josh, Dee Ryall here. How are you going?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good morning, Dee. Nice to hear your voice.

DEE RYALL:

Thank you. On the poll, the YouGov poll that's come out, the Galaxy poll in the Herald Sun this morning. It's got economy down at about number 10. Yet, things like law and order, things like health care actually require a strong economy to be delivered. How do you deal with the disconnect between knowing though that essentially we need a strong economy to fund those things and people not really recognising that it's the strong economy in order for that to happen?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it's a very important point that you need to connect the dots effectively in the public's mind, namely that you can only guarantee the essential services with the benefit of a strong economy. To talking about surpluses and talking and having a strong economy is not an end in itself, it's really just a means to an end. And we're very proud of the fact that we have been able to list 2000 new drugs on the PBS, because our political opponents actually deferred the listing of drugs on the PBS. Because at the time they said fiscal circumstances didn't permit. We have grown the economy. There is a record number of Australians in work, the gender pay gap between men and women has come down to a record low. We've got more seniors in the workforce. Young people found jobs in record numbers over the last year. And of course when playing out with our major infrastructure plan and our half a billion dollar skills package, so you can't do those things without having a strong economy.

DEE RYALL:

But the cost of living, as you would have read, Treasurer, is the main issue for people, 62 per cent in Victoria say that’s the main issue. Then 53 per cent say health and then there's a long drop to what remains. So, the cost of living, if people perceive the cost of living is the major issue at the moment and obviously wages growth is not what people are getting at the moment. So, surely that is that's something that they hold against the Government of the day, given you've been in power for five and a half years, that the cost of living, if it is spiralling out of control for many people, surely they blame the Government for that?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, you're right that the cost of living is a major issue for Australian families. That's why we announced for example an energy assistance payment for nearly four million Australians, people who were disability support pensioners, people who were on a parenting payment or people who were carers or veterans. And that's also now been expanded. But at the same time the tax cuts that we're providing will actually put real money into real people's pockets to ease those cost of living pressures. And that $2160 for a couple who are earning between $48,000 and $90,000 dollars will make a real difference. We've instituted a number of significant reforms around childcare, which has seen the cost of childcare come down, because that is also a major issue. But I'll tell you one thing is for certain, is we're not going to whack Australians with a retirees tax. We're not going to whack Australians with a housing tax. And independent research has shown that as a result of Labor's changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax, people in Victoria who currently rent, and there are millions of them, will pay up to $65 a week extra for their rent because investors are coming out of the market.

NICK MCCALLUM:

And two quick issues, because I know we've got to quickly wrap it up, the lack of funding or the lack of the use of the funds of the NDIS. I mean, there are so many people who need that money and are not getting it at the moment, why reduce it?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, the first thing to say is we have fully funded every single cent of our NDIS obligations in this Budget. There is actually $140 billion set aside. But the NDIS works as a program just like hospitals do and carer’s payments and veterans payments. That you pay for the number of people in the program. Now, there are 250,000 people in the NDIS at present, 78,000 of whom have never got disability support before. That number increases to 460,000. So, just as in this Budget there were fewer people in the NDIS than we were actually forecasting for, there were more people in this Budget using public hospitals. So, we actually had to find an extra $1.9 billion dollars to fund that extra public hospital. So, the treatment in the Budget papers is no different to what the Labor Party did previously in relation to other demand driven programs. This is really an ugly lie from Bill Shorten and it's akin to what we saw with Mediscare.

DARREN JAMES:

Busy time for you, you've been around a lot this week. How many interviews do you reckon you've done Josh?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It's just over 40 I think.

DARREN JAMES:

Just over 40, yeah.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

But it's been a very heavy week because obviously there’s the speech in the Parliament and then there's the Press Club Address and Question Time and a whole range of things.

DARREN JAMES:

Do you think you'll win in three sets or five sets when the election happens?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I’d have a better chance if I was as fit as I was when I had the mullet, I can tell you. But right now I see this as a five setter. We’re probably just finished the second set and there's a long way to go. You know I think…

NICK MCCALLUM:

So, you are saying it's going to be May the 25th. Is that what you’re saying?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

All I’m saying is campaigns have a dynamic of their own and I feel that we put out in the Budget our strong economic plan, a plan that does grow the economy, a plan that is the first surplus in more than a decade, a plan that is the first payment down on Labor's debt. With us you'll always see lower taxes and that's going to be the contrast with Labor.

DARREN JAMES:

Well, it's a tie breaker in the fifth these days, you can't have a two game advantage even. So, it could be exciting.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It's going to be a long game. Lots of backhands and forehands I hope.

DARREN JAMES:

All right good on you.