21 May 2019
Transcript - #2019073, 2019

Interview with Neil Mitchell, Mornings, 3AW 693

Subjects: Election 2019; tax cuts; Fair Work Commission; the economy; East-West Link; and Malcolm Turnbull.

NEIL MITCHELL:

The Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, good morning.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good morning to you, Neil.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So what do you reckon, have you got majority or not?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Look, I see the AEC have us ahead in 77 seats but there's still a number of postal votes to be counted. I mean, here in Victoria, the seat of Chisholm is in the balance. We're 192 votes ahead so it's a slim majority there but we're confident that things will go our way but there's still votes to be counted so I'm not going to call it.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Okay. Tax cuts. When do we get 'em?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, the people of Australia will get tax relief in just a matter of weeks' time because we've got bipartisan support for the initiative we announced in the Budget that is for people who are earning up to $126,000 will get up to $1,080 in their pockets so if you've got two listeners today, who are a couple, a teacher and a tradie, each earning $60,000 a year, they will get $2,160 in their pocket in just a matter of weeks' time and Scott Morrison has said that he would like to call the parliament back as soon as possible.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Okay, so that could actually be in your pay packet within weeks?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Absolutely.

NEIL MITCHELL:

What does it cut off at?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It cuts off at $126,000.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Okay, so anybody over $126,000 doesn't really get the benefit?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Doesn't get that immediate tax relief but, as you know, we've got a staged tax plan where we're actually taking the one tax bracket from $45,000 to $200,000 and we're reducing that marginal rate of tax from 32.5 cents down to 30 cents.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Will you revisit corporate tax cuts?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We said no during the campaign but our focus has been on small and medium-sized businesses and we're reducing their tax rates to 25 per cent. We also announced an extension of what is called the instant asset write-off, up to $30,000 with a turnover of up to $50 million so, Neil, there will be good tax relief for small and medium-sized businesses which obviously make up the bulk of businesses in this currently.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Nothing for big business?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Not for tax cuts but what we are doing for big business is improving the workplace through sensible industrial relations…

NEIL MITCHELL:

Okay.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Legislation and reform.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Wage rise. Will you change your submission to the Fair Work Commission?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we've put in our submission and that's where it stands but what we have seen across the economy is a 2.3 per cent increase in wages according to the Wages Price Index and that's above inflation but the way to get wages growth is not through higher taxes, which is what Bill Shorten was offering, the way to get wage rises is through productivity improvements.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Okay. Luke Hilikari, Trades Hall Council, I was talking to him just before nine, he said he expects malicious payback towards the unions from the Coalition Government. Would you rule that out?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We're not into payback. That's maybe something the other side of politics does. We're actually interested in what is best for the Australian people and when it comes to the workplace we want sensible industrial relations reform. We want the cop on the beat who is the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The Labor Party were going to abolish that organisation and we've left it in place and actually, Neil, we've seen a 40 per cent reduction in days lost to industrial disputes since we've come to Government. That's what you get for having sensible workplace relations reform.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Should there be further cuts in penalty rates?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, it's not about cuts to penalty rates. What it is about is the Fair Work Commission making decisions based on the best advice for them.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Yeah, but would you support…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We're not…

NEIL MITCHELL:

changes to penalty rates?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We're not calling for changes there. What we are saying is we want our workforce to be well paid, we want wages to rise, we want taxes to be lower and we want more jobs to be created. That's what our policies are designed to do.

NEIL MITCHELL:

You talk about economic head winds, what are they and when do they hit?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, they're both global and domestic. So globally, it's happening right now. There's escalating trade tensions between the United States and China and China is our number one trading partner and the United States is our number one investor and one in five Australian jobs are related to trade, Neil, so it's really important that we see calmness prevail, sensible heads prevail, in those trade conflicts. Domestically, the impact of the floods in Queensland particularly but also the drought in NSW and Queensland has had an impact with farm GDP down about 5 to 6 per cent. We've also seen a slow-down in the housing market and that's why it was important not to have Labor's housing tax and that's why we announced during the campaign the support for first home buyers.

NEIL MITCHELL:

But if you put all that together, what are we potentially facing here? Are we looking at worse job figures? Lower interest rates? What are we looking at?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we saw 28,000 jobs being created last month and 8 out of 10 new jobs that have been created have been full time and we've got record workforce participation rates.

NEIL MITCHELL:

But if these economic head winds hit us, what happens?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

What happens is you do see tightness in the job market, you also see impact across the economy more broadly but what we're focussing on is actually withstanding these head winds, growing the economy, created more apprentices, providing tax relief and infrastructure spending and the RBA governor has actually said our tax cuts which will put more money into people's pockets, so that's more disposable income, that's better outcome.

NEIL MITCHELL:

I know you need a get-away very quickly. You've got $4 billion for East-West Link, how much does the State Government have to put into build it?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Zero.

NEIL MITCHELL:

That's not what they're saying. They say there's no way $4 billion's going to pay for it.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Not a ruble, not a dollar, not a cent. What we want from the State Government is for them to give the tick-off because this is a priority project for Infrastructure Victoria and for Fair Work Australia.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Okay.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

But, Neil, it's really important that the people of Victoria, the people of Melbourne get this project…

NEIL MITCHELL:

But if they don't do it they don't get the $4 billion.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

They don't get the $4 billion if it the project doesn't go ahead.

NEIL MITCHELL:

But they're saying it costs a lot more. Do you reject that?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

No, the costing has been around $6.8 billion and what we've said is we'll partner with the private sector for the rest but $4 billion from the Federal Government for this important Melbourne road project I think is a really substantial commitment. We want it to go ahead.

NEIL MITCHELL:

So it would be a toll road then if you're partnering with the private sector.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Pardon me?

NEIL MITCHELL:

It would be a toll road?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Yes, there will be aspects of it but $4 billion will be the bulk of the cost.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Okay. You've got to go. Have you talked to Malcolm Turnbull since the result?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I have exchanged a text message with him. He wished me congratulations.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Where did you learn to pour a beer?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

On the spot.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Really? Is that the first time you've done it?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

A while ago probably but it hasn't been for a while but I tell fun pouring it but it's better to drink it.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Are you going to have some time off?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I don't know about that. I want to spend some, obviously, my first priority's my family and my wife and I ducked out to the movies yesterday afternoon in Hawthorn but I fell asleep halfway through.

NEIL MITCHELL:

What did you see? Or what did you half-see?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It was a movie; it was a movie with Charlize Theron about her becoming the President of the United States.

NEIL MITCHELL:

For heaven's sake. Thank you very much for your time. Congratulations.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It was a bit of light relief but obviously I needed to catch up on some sleep.

NEIL MITCHELL:

Thank you very much. Josh Frydenberg. He's been through an election campaign, he wants to relax so he goes to a movie about politics then goes to sleep. Oh, well. Josh, he has been one of the success stories, without question, of this election campaign.