ABC 7.30 2/7/18

02 July 2018

ABC 7.30

SUBJECT/S: Newspoll; Liberals’ $80 billion corporate tax handout; Labor prioritising middle Australia over top end of town; Labor’s Australian Investment Guarantee; Labor’s united team
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: I spoke to Shadow Finance Minister Jim Chalmers earlier. Jim Chalmers, thank you for joining 7.30.
TRIOLI: This is what your Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek told the New South Wales Labor conference yesterday and I wanted to read it to you and everyone watching: "If an election was held any time in the past 21 months we would have won and won comfortably." I'm wondering if you would like to repeat that assertion tonight for our viewers about an election being held this week. Would you win? Would you win comfortably? 
CHALMERS: I certainly think we're in an election-winning position, Virginia. That's because we have done the policy work and we have gone around the country listening to Middle Australia and we have got policies and priorities that more closely align with people who work and struggle in this country than our opponents.
TRIOLI: That was an unequivocal assertion by Tanya Plibersek: "We would win and we would win comfortably." Is that something you'd say and you'd say today? Would you say it for us? Just repeat that for us?
CHALMERS: I think we are in an election-winning position. I don't know how else to say it, Virginia. I think...
TRIOLI: She took it a little further.
CHALMERS: I beg your pardon?
TRIOLI: She took that a little further.
CHALMERS: Tanya's words are her own. I agree with her largely that if an election was held right now we'd be more likely to win than not win. That's a function of some very good work by Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek and right throughout our whole team. Because people around Australia recognise that we have done a lot of work on policy, we have done a lot of listening and our values and priorities more closely match up with theirs than the Liberal Party, which wants to take money out of our hospitals and schools and give it to big banks and foreign multinationals.
TRIOLI: That's the rhetoric, but then there's the numbers. Can you really win with a primary vote of 37 per cent?
CHALMERS: I think we can, Virginia. I think that we will, frankly.
TRIOLI: Explain that to us, though. With a primary vote of 37, how does that get you there?
CHALMERS: We went very close last time, Virginia, with a primary vote lower than that. But I'm not an election analyst. My job is to get out there and listen to people in my community and right around Australia and do my job on economic policy and others have got similar jobs to do. I think that anybody who has objectively observed the last couple of years of Australian politics would say that Bill Shorten has set the policy agenda. I think he's done something like 70 different town hall meetings since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, and that's just an indication of his commitment to listening to people out there in Middle Australia. We have got a good united, inclusive team and we are doing our best to make sure that we deserve to win.
TRIOLI: Alright. We will get to the united team in just a moment. I wonder, have you run these other numbers? Do you know how many businesses in your seat of Rankin would be affected by you repealing the last tranche of the corporate tax cuts that you are not going to go through with, should you win Government? Do you know how many would be affected in your seat?
CHALMERS: As you know, Virginia, we will implement the tax cuts that are in place... 
TRIOLI: No, no. I know that. I am taking you to my question. No, no, time is tight actually so I will take you to the question. Do you know the numbers? 
CHALMERS: I know that 99.8 per cent of companies around Australia, including in my electorate, will pay the same or less tax under Labor because we have got a combination of leaving in place the implemented tax cuts for small business, we support the instant asset write-off for small business and we also support and have proposed an Investment Guarantee, which allows people to write-off more tax when they invest onshore in communities like mine in Australian jobs.

TRIOLI: OK, well I am going to assume that you don't actually know the figure. I do. 4,790 incorporated businesses in the seat of Rankin according to the Treasurer's office. Can you afford to alienate those voters in your seat?

CHALMERS: I say to those thousands of businesses in my electorate, that they will keep the 27.5 per cent tax rate that we will inherit if we win the next election. You know what, I am pretty confident, I spend a lot of time in the small business community, especially in my area, and I know they want decent roads and decent hospitals and schools and TAFEs and universities. They know we will do the right thing by them, but we also have got broader responsibilities to the entire community. That is to do what's fair, to do what is affordable and responsible and to do what is best for the economy. That's why we are targeting our tax relief to small and medium businesses, in contrast to the Turnbull Government, which wants to give the lion's share of tax cuts to foreign multinationals and the big four banks when we can do better for less money at supporting businesses like those in my community and around Australia.

TRIOLI: What leads us of course to this discussion is last week's tax policy snafu by your leader. Is that an example of what can happen when one's leadership is under pressure and is under a leadership threat?

CHALMERS: I don't accept that it is, Virginia. But we have been through in some detail over the last six days now how we came to the conclusion that we reached on Friday, which is that we would have the same position as the Government, a $50 million threshhold for the company tax cuts...

TRIOLI: Sure. I am going to jump in there because time is tight and you have said what the policy is.


TRIOLI: But we all saw that happened and we do know there is much discussion now about whether Bill Shorten has a stronghold on that leadership. So what was it an example of? I know that's what people do when they are rattled; when they are under pressure. Could he be feeling some of that?

CHALMERS: I don't think so, Virginia. What happened last Tuesday was that Bill was just reflecting the position that the Expenditure Review Committee of the Shadow Cabinet - and I'm a member of that, and Chris Bowen and others are in that - he was reflecting the position that we were recommending to him. We got some new Budget numbers the very next day. We did more consideration, some more consultation and we came up with the position through Shadow Cabinet that we announced on Friday. I think people out there are more interested in the outcome than in the process. I can understand why it is of interest to some, but I think out in Australia in the broader community, people just want to know we land on a fair and responsible and affordable outcome and that is what we have done.

TRIOLI: Jim Chalmers, good to talk to you. Thank you.

CHALMERS: Thank you, Virginia.