ABC Radio Wide Bay 4/7/18

04 July 2018


SUBJECT/S: Visit to regional Queensland and Bundaberg.
DAVID DOWSETT: Gentlemen good morning.
CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: Good morning David. Great to be here.
DOWSETT: Welcome to ABC Widebay, first of all Chris Bowen what brings you to Widebay?
BOWEN: Well Jim Chalmers, the Shadow Minister for Finance and I do spend a lot of time travelling around regional Queensland. We want to make sure that the economy is working for everyone and Treasurers or Shadow Treasurer shouldn’t spend all their time in Sydney or Melbourne, we should get out and look at the economy. We see all sorts of things, some economies doing really well, some towns doing it tough and really good ideas which Mayors and regional organisations and chambers of commerce put to us for their economy and we take them away and work on them and sometimes come back and make announcements down the track. But certainly listen to the views of the community, listen to people like Zac Beers here, listen to what needs to be done and we do spend a fair bit of time doing it, so it’s great to be in Bundaberg today.
DOWSETT: Okay, I understand you are heading out to Bundaberg Port later this morning. What’s happening there?
BOWEN: Well again, a port is an important part of any economy and I’ve spent a lot of time over the years in Gladstone Port but I haven’t actually had a good look at Bundaberg Port so we’re going to do that today. We are going to be holding a press conference and saying a bit about our different policies and how they impact on the region and again that is a pretty important part of the trip.
DOWSETT: Labor Party is it in sort of a little bit of damage control now following last week‘s company tax backflip?
BOWEN: I wouldn’t put it that way. Look sometimes you have in politics you have pretty robust debates. Our Labor team works very well together and it has been one of the hallmarks of our last five years and that continues and the economic team works on some very big things. We’ve done more policy, more economic policy in the last five years than any political party in Government or Opposition in recent years in terms of big reforms and you know sometimes that makes for a difficult press conference but it’s the right thing to do. So no I wouldn’t characterise it the way you did David.
DOWSETT: Not a good look for the party doing such a big U-turn on economic policy?
BOWEN: Oh look, as Bill said you listen and when a compelling case gets put to you, you adjust your policy and that is the sign in many senses of good leadership. As I’ve said, we put a lot of policy out there. When we’ve done it some people have said ‘Oh that’s it the Labor Party has lost the next election’ but it has stood the test of time and those policies have withstood all the scrutiny but where you have got one where one, you think you can afford to do a little better and two, you get the feedback that certainty is important, of course you adjust the policy.
DOWSETT: Good leadership is about consulting with the party before you make the announcement. There wasn’t too much consultation going on last week was there?
BOWEN: Well we could go through all the processes, the fact of the matter is the Expenditure Review Committee of our Shadow Cabinet which runs very thoroughly through all these policies reached a conclusion about what we could afford. By the time it got to the Shadow Cabinet the costings had changed a little bit, we could afford to do a little bit more and we had had good feedback from business and from colleagues about what we can do to ensure certainty of the tax arrangements.
So we have said that any tax cut that is actually implemented for business by the time we come to office and that will be those for businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million will be honoured. Now that means we can say to Australian business 99.8 per cent of businesses are better off under Labor because not only do we have those tax cuts which Labor and Liberal match but also Labor has something else on top, the Australian Investment Guarantee which is a very advanced depreciation schedule so every business can claim 20 per cent of their investments upfront in the first year over and above what they can already claim. That applies to businesses here in Bundaberg, it applies to businesses in Sydney and Melbourne. It is a really good boost for business investment and we make our tax relief conditional on that investment occurring.
The Government says have a corporate tax cuts for multinationals and it can go 60 per cent offshore and there’s no requirement to invest. We have a slightly different approach and a better approach.
DOWSETT: Do you have a situation where you have last week does that give the impression to the voter that when it comes to economic policy, the Labor Party really can’t be trusted?
BOWEN: Look I wouldn’t accept that at all. I mean as I said we have engaged in lots of policy development and when it comes to trust, the Liberal Party has blown out the budget deficits, they have had all sorts of-- remember they used to talk about budget emergencies and debt and deficit disasters? Now they just don’t care about that.
They are giving away big handouts in corporate tax cuts, they think we can afford tax cuts off in the never never which apply primarily to high income earners. We have a different approach. We have bigger better tax cuts in the short-term here in Hinkler; 49,000 taxpayers better off under Labor’s plan. 58,000 taxpayers better off under Labor’s plan next door in the seat of Flynn. So I very much welcome David, an economic debate and I would very much welcome an election based about our economic policies. I mean if Malcolm Turnbull is so confident, hop in the car, go down and see the Governor General and call an election and we will have an election based on our competing policies. We are up for it.
DOWSETT: Jim Chalmers, Shadow Minister for Finance, What’s your thoughts on what played out last week?
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Well as Chris said, we were recommending a position to Bill. We were able to improve on that position, we took that decision collectively really in the end in quite an efficient and effective way and we came up with a position which was better as Chris mentioned for 99.8 per cent of Australian companies and what that really means is the difference between our approach to company tax and the Liberal Party’s, the LNP’s, is that we really focus on tax cuts for businesses like those here in Bundaberg and in regional Queensland whereas Malcolm Turnbull‘s tax policy gives the lion’s share of the benefit to foreign multinationals and the four big Sydney and Melbourne based banks.
So we are very comfortable coming through regional Queensland with great candidates like Zac Beers next door in Flynn talking with a whole bunch of regional towns and cities about how our approach to tax really incentivises investment in local communities because we recognise you can’t grow the national economy unless you grow these local economies. That’s really where we differ from the LNP and that’s why we will be spending even more time up and down the Queensland coast, out in the bush, explaining to people that we actually have a superior set of economic policies and as Chris said, we invite people to judge us on those economic policies. We think they are better for regional Queensland and we think that that was one of the reasons why we will be so competitive in this election whenever Malcolm Turnbull calls it.
DOWSETT: And Zac Beers, Labor candidate for Flynn, what will you be spruiking in the run up to the next election?
ZAC BEERS, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR FLYNN: Look, our focus has been much the same as it has been in the last election campaign, getting out and talking to people in the regions, in their communities about the issues that matter to them.
Our focus is very much on trying to change the way that this part of the world gets represented. Right now we’ve got members of Hinkler and in Flynn and Capricornia, right up and down the coast who are part of this Government and aren’t actually out getting out and listening to the people in their communities. So for us our focus is on getting back to the basics, making sure that our policies and the decisions we make and the projects and funding that we announce are based on the needs in those communities. So it’s very much getting back to representation rather than just going down to Canberra for a junket which we see so much of from the current Members.
DOWSETT: The issue for our region right now is the cashless welfare card which of course the Government is pushing for for our region. How do you feel about that?
BEERS: Look I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about the cashless welfare card. What I do know is that where it has been rolled out there has been a support for it in those communities. Certainly hear there is a very divided view in the people of Hinkler and is certainly a lot of concern just over the border in Flynn about what the introduction of that card will mean for those towns that are just a hop over the border, so from my perspective there is a lot of concern about it and we would be very nervous about rolling anything out that doesn’t have support in the community, that’s for sure.
DOWSETT: So you wouldn’t support it?
BEERS: No, I wouldn’t support it being rolled out based on the feedback that we have received.
DOWSETT: Chris Bowen, there is quite some important by-elections coming up shortly. If it doesn’t go too well for Labor will you be looking for a new leader?
BOWEN: No and firstly we fight these elections to win. Point one: we turn up. There is two by-elections out of the five where the Liberal Party is not turning up and there are a few iron laws in politics but I tell you what, the biggest iron law is: you don’t turn up, you are not going to win. So we don’t mind facing people and facing the people at all five by-elections, the LNP is not bothering in two of them.
Now a couple of them are tough and tight, Longman and Braddon. Obviously, tough and tight for us but you know everybody had written us off in the seat of Batman before the last by election as well and we came home and won that solidly. I’m not saying that we don’t have a big fight on our hands in those seats but we fight to win. We’ve got better policy, we’ve got the better candidates and that’s the basis on which we are working. One of the Labor Party’s virtues in the last five years has been the unity of purpose which has gone with our very strong policy development and I’m sure that will continue.
DOWSETT: So if things don’t go well, is there a Plan B? You looking for a new leader?
BOWEN: No. I mean, One, we are getting ahead of ourselves, the by elections are several weeks away and two, we are in it to win it and again if Malcolm Turnbull is so cocky and confident, hop in the car. It is about a kilometre between The Lodge and Government House, it’s not that far, go and see the Governor General, bring it on. We are up for it.
DOWSETT: Okay, Federal politicians travelling around we get the feeling that the election not be too far off. When do you think it will be called?
BOWEN: Look I’ve always thought it would be 2018. I’ve always thought that, I thought it for the last two years that somehow or another we would end up with an election in the 2018. Now, it’s not up to me, it’s not up to Jim for Zac or you, it’s only up to one person so he can call it whenever he likes but we are ready for it. But if it’s not in 2018, if it is in 2019 well there is no harm in being ready for it if it gets delayed a little bit.
DOWSETT: That’s for sure. Chris Bowen, Jim Chalmers and Zac Beers, enjoy your time in the Wide Bay. Thanks very much
BOWEN: Good on you, thanks.