5 July 2019
Transcript - #2019094, 2019

Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

Subjects: Tax cut package; infrastructure;

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Last night, the Australian Parliament delivered the tax cuts that the Australian people voted for. The Australian people have got the tax cuts that they voted for and over ten million Australians will get up to $1,080 in their pocket from next week. This is really good news for the Australian economy, it's good news for Australian tax payers. It's $8 billion a year that will flow into their pockets where it belongs and this was a central plank in our Budget that was delivered on April the 2nd. It was a central part of our platform during the election campaign and the Australian people spoke very clearly at the election; they spoke in favour of tax cuts and rejected Labor's $387 billion of higher taxes. This is good news for the economy and we've done it without the support of Labor but we've reminded the Australian people they were, they are, they will always be the Party of higher taxes.

QUESTION:

If the economy doesn't perform as well as we are hoping to come, what happens with stage three?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We're absolutely committed to stage three because this will be good news for the economy and it will create a much flatter, simpler, fairer tax system. We'll have the vast bulk of Australians taxpayers, about 70 per cent, of whom will be earning between $45,000 and $200,000 and they'll pay a marginal rate of tax of no more than 30 cents in the dollar. But our plan for the economy as set out in the Budget is more than tax cuts; it's about $100 billion infrastructure pipeline; it's about 80,000 new apprentices; it's about cutting red tape; it's about backing small business with an instant asset write off that's been already used by 300,000 small businesses; it's about extending our trade agenda with new deals that give opportunities to our exporters into the booming markets of Asia. So, we're focused on growing the economy as the economy has done for the last 27 years. 

QUESTION:

Are you committed to then delivering on stage three regardless of how the economy is going?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Absolutely. It's absolutely baked into our forecasts. We're absolutely committed to stage three. It's now legislated. There's only one Party that's focused on rolling back stage three, that's the Labor Party. And that will see a worker who is going to have $100,000 as their income, an average full time earnings in 2024-25, will be $100,000. They will be $1,375 worse off a year as a result of Labor's plans to roll back our tax cuts. You see, the Labor Party always have to have higher taxes because they need to chase their higher spending promises. The retirees tax, the housing tax, the family business tax, the superannuation tax; it's still part of their platform. They don't believe in a tax to GDP cap, they don't believe on a limit to the amount of tax that Australians should be paying.  

QUESTION:

Can you guarantee there won't be any cuts to services to come?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We've absolutely said there are no cuts. The Budget has these forecasts baked in, has the fully funded tax cuts baked in. And we're going to see the economy continue to grow. Let's not forget that hospital funding is increasing by 59 per cent as a result of those five-year funding agreements we've locked in. And that school funding is increasing by 62 per cent per student over the decade. Record funding on schools, hospitals, and roads as well as reducing taxes and as well as bringing the Budget into surplus.

QUESTION:

What will the cost to the Budget be of the deal that you're doing with Jacqui Lambie on social housing?   

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we've made very clear that we are happy to sit and talk to the crossbenchers about the issues that are important to them and that is one issue that is important to Jacqui Lambie. And as you know, there's energy issues that are important to the Centre Alliance. So, we'll continue to sit down and talk and work through those issues that are important to them and important to the Government. But what happened last night was those crossbenchers supported our tax cuts on its merits. They supported our tax cuts because they understood those tax cuts would be good news for the Australian economy and good news for Australian taxpayers.

QUESTION:

With people starting to get money from as soon as next week, what do you want them to do with it?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Spend it wisely. Obviously that is a choice for them. But people will get up to $1,080 from as early as next week when they put in their tax return. Spend it wisely. Spend it on the things that are important to you and your family.

QUESTION:

The evidence is that people are saving this, going back into their bank accounts and not into the shops. Does that reduce the stimulatory effect and put more pressure on your Government to do fiscal stimulus?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well the evidence is that when people have more money in their pocket they do spend it. They spend it at the local shops, they spend it on services, they spend it on a whole range of choices that they make. It's not for the Government to tell the Australian people how to spend their money, it's up to them to spend it wisely. And what we will do as a Government is make sure they keep more of their money. You see, for us, it's absolutely fundamental that it's not the Government's money, it's the people's money. And out tax cuts encourage aspiration, reward for effort, and allow Australians to earn more and keep more of what they earn.

QUESTION:

Do you agree with that the Leader of the Opposition is saying that the economic circumstances have changed since May 18 and that the Government does need to go back to the drawing board?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well we've been very clear about the challenges that the Australian economy faces and when we put the Budget down on April the second we knew there were trade tensions between China and the U.S., we knew there was a softening in the housing market, we knew that the impacts of flood and drought were seeing our farm GDP coming down. All of those things were known, but we've put in place a plan to continue the rapid and incredible growth that we have seen here in Australia. And that is from tax cuts, that is from infrastructure, that is from the 80,000 new apprentices, that is from the small business support and that is from our deregulation agenda. But the Labor Party have been a shambles, let's make no bones about it. Anthony Albanese can't control his own party. Joel Fitzgibbon out there freelancing, saying that the Labor Party should support these tax cuts. You have Peter Khalil who has been out there freelancing saying that the Labor Party shouldn't stand in the way of tax cuts for low and middle income earners. We've even had Labor backbenchers say that a surplus was a vanity exercise where the shadow ministers were saying how important a surplus was. The Labor Party have found a different excuse to oppose these tax cuts every single day. Every single day. So Anthony Albanese should go back to his economic textbooks, start learning them, and not show the Australian party what a novice he and the Labor Party are when it comes to the tax department.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, the Reserve Bank Governor is essentially pleading with you to go beyond these tax cuts to stimulate the economy. Would you consider, for instance, fast tracking some more infrastructure projects?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well we are absolutely focused on getting those infrastructure commitments that we made at the election happening as fast as possible and already the Prime Minister has sat down with state premiers and sat down with the relevant infrastructure ministers to work through those timetables. But we agree with the Reserve Bank Governor there it's not only monetary policy that needs to do the heavy lifting, it is also fiscal policy. That is why we are spending $100 billion dollars of tax payers' money on infrastructure to boost the productive capacity of the economy. That is why we are providing this tax relief. I mean not just $158 billion dollars in this year's Budget of tax relief, but $144 billion dollars of tax relief was already legislated in last year's Budget. That is over $300 billion dollars of tax cuts. Because the Coalition not only believes in tax cuts, the Coalition delivers tax cuts. Thank you very much.