18 December 2018
Transcript - #2018099, 2018

Interview with Michael Usher, Sunrise, Channel 7

Subjects: Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook; and Andrew Broad.

MICHAEL USHER:

Mr Frydenberg, good Morning to you.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Nice to be with you.

MICHAEL USHER:

Look, Mr Broad’s behaviour, this sleazy behaviour overshadowed your surplus yesterday. Are you furious at Mr Broad, your Coalition colleague?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well clearly his conduct is unacceptable and he’s done the right thing to resign, but the Australian people and certainly the Government are focused on delivering a stronger economy, and yesterday’s announcement of the mid-year budget update shows that the books…

MICHAEL USHER:

…Before we get to that though, I’m going to give you are fair go on that, Treasurer, if you don’t mind, because you’ve got some significant announcements to make there, but this sort of behaviour, should Mr Broad quit the Parliament all together? This behaviour does not look good for the Coalition.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, these are questions that only he can answer, but on both sides of the political divide, there have been issues with parliamentarians, we’ve seen that play out on the Labor side in recent weeks, but there is a bigger issue at play here which is the state of the economy, what the Government is doing to deliver better outcomes for all Australians. That’s what I’m focused on, Michael, that’s what the Prime Minister is focused on, and I know that people like to talk about the headlines in New Idea, but we’re really focused on what for the country, is the big ideas.

MICHAEL USHER:

Well, in this case, Mr Frydenberg, the New Idea seems to be spot on and the behaviour was absolutely accurate. If Mr Broad as is being reported this morning, has been found to have misused taxpayer funds, will there be an investigation into those claims?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we have an independent process for looking at Parliamentarians expenses and I’ll leave it to that process.

MICHAEL USHER:

You can see, though that it doesn’t look flash for the Coalition, this sort of behaviour by one of your MPs.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, like I said, on both sides of the political divide, there have been issues with MPs and we’ve all got to remember that we are only in Parliament to represent our constituents and the Australian people. We need to uphold the standards that they expect and that they live up to themselves, and I would say that about a National, a Liberal, or a Labor or an Independent or a Green MP. We all should be living up to the standards that our constituents expect of us.

MICHAEL USHER:

Alright, let’s talk about the surplus, which was overshadowed by this sleazy behaviour yesterday. A bigger than expected budget surplus for next year – the Opposition says that’s more good luck than good management but let’s drill into what you potentially have here. Potentially $9 billion in unspecified revenue reduction. Can you confirm that that will equate into tax cuts – put more money back into people’s pockets?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well we’ve already legislated tax cuts for the crane driver and the café owner and for millions and millions of Australians and we’re going to see the benefits of that, but as a Liberal and National Government, we are focused on ensuring people can keep more of their hard earned money. That’s why we are the party of lower taxes and we will continue to prosecute that argument.

MICHAEL USHER:

But let’s be specific about this. Before the election, using the money that we have now, rather than blow it on all sorts of election spending, can you commit to further tax cuts? Wages growth this morning has been described as pathetic, real household income, good disposable income flat-lined for the past eight years, people need more money in their pocket – will you commit to that before the next election?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well Michael, firstly, I’m not going to be making any announcements today about what we will say or do between now and the Budget, but just to a couple of the statements that you just made. Firstly, wages growth is at 2.3 per cent. That is the biggest jump that that we’ve seen in three years, that came down in recent weeks, that compares to inflation at 1.9 per cent. We want wages to go up and of course, we are taking the necessary steps for that to happen, but when we came to government, unemployment was higher than it is today. When we came to Government, growth was lower than it is today. When we came to Government, investment was falling off a cliff and now it is rising, and when we came to Government, there were deficits that Labor had run up that were going out many, many years into the future. We’ve turned the corner, not by luck, not by accident, but by disciplined decision making. It is truly pathetic that the Labor Party continue to say we didn’t produce this result, that it was some sort of international economic experience that led us to the results we are having today.

MICHAEL USHER:

Sure, but Treasurer, if I can pick you up on wages growth. You’re in charge, you’re going to have an election early next year to mid-next year, wages growth is flat, people don’t have enough of their own money back in their pocket, employers aren’t giving pay increases at all. Isn’t it up to the Government now to start announcing some further tax cuts, not the legislated ones, and will you commit to that?  

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well firstly, those legislated tax cuts continue to play out, but what we have said, and what the Reserve Bank Governor has said is as the economy continues to grow and as spare capacity in the labour market is eaten into, Michael, you will see upward pressure on wages. That’s coming from no lesser a figure that the Reserve Bank Governor himself. But the Labor Party, and you’ve got to focus on the fact that this is a battle of ideas, between us and them, it’s a contest between us and them at the next election. They’re proposing $200 billion worth of new taxes. When they had record high terms of trade, they couldn’t deliver a budget surplus. The last one they delivered was thirty years ago. We are now delivering a surplus next year. That is a result of good economic management and it’s not an end in itself, it’s merely a means to provide the health, the education, the infrastructure and the defence services and projects that the Australian people need and deserve.

MICHAEL USHER:

All right Treasurer, terrific, thank you for your time this morning.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good to be with you.