Doorstop - Brisbane (11)

06 April 2017




SUBJECT/S: Flooding in Logan; Budget; Scott Morrison begging for help with his job; Turnbull Government’s $50 billion big business tax cut; Multinational tax avoidance


JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Thanks for coming out today. Before I get on to the issues of the day, and particularly the economic issues of the day, I just wanted to pay tribute to this local community here in Logan for the effort that has gone in as we recover from the very substantial flooding that we experienced here in Logan City over the last week or so. Where we are standing right here today was actually substantially underwater. This road was closed, as so many roads around the electorate were closed, and there has been a great deal of effort put in as the floodwaters have subsided, to help people who needed help. I'm really proud of my community; I'm really proud of the Mud Army that has re-formed to help people who have been impacted by these floods and by this flooding. It's been heartening to see; it's been inspiring to see, really, people who were not impacted come to the aid of those who have been impacted. I'm always proud to have grown up in this community and to represent it now but especially so at the moment. It's a community that looks out for each other and looks after each other and that's what we are seeing now as we respond to this flooding. I also wanted to pay tribute to the SES and the firies, the first responders, but really everyone in the community who's doing doing their bit to alleviate the burden of those who were impacted so harshly by the severe weather that we had last weekend. 


I'm also here to talk about the Budget. The Budget is a month away and it's a mess. We have a deficit which has tripled for this year since the government's first Budget. We've got debt that's blown out by $133 billion since the Government took office and we've got Australia's AAA credit rating at serious risk because of the Government's incompetence. At the same time we’ve got an unemployment rate as high as it was during the peak of the Global Financial Crisis; we've got record underemployment, 1.1 million Australians looking for more work, more hours, and unable to find them; and we've got wages growth at record lows as well. At the same time, we've got a divided and dysfunctional Government at war with itself over tax reform and housing affordability policy, which is preventing them from putting in place the policies that Australia needs.


Instead of fixing the mess he's made of the Budget, Scott Morrison has engaged again today in another red-faced rant which blames everyone but himself for his own incompetence. We have a much-diminished Treasurer, angrily lashing out again at everybody else; a much-diminished figure, not taken especially seriously by his own colleagues or the business community or the broader Australian community, for good reason. This is a Treasurer who would rather whinge than work. If he is incapable of doing his own job - and he knows it - then he should get out the way and let someone else do the job for him. This is a Treasurer reduced to begging big business to do his job for him. It's pathetic, he's a much-diminished figure, it’s no wonder that he is incapable of getting on top of the mess that the Turnbull Government has made of the Commonwealth Budget.


Finally, we have news today that the Government expects to be patted on the back for the Australian Tax Office doing its job and pursuing multinational corporations who evade their tax. Never forget that these companies, which are being pursued by the tax office, are exactly the same companies that the Government wants to give a $50 billion tax cut to. The Government thinks the Australian people are so stupid that they won't realise that the Government is claiming credit for cracking down on the same companies that Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison want to shower largesse on when it comes to that $50 billion company tax cut. Precisely the same companies which benefit from the tax cut are the ones the Government wants to claim credit for cracking down on. What we want to see is the tax office do their job; a professional outfit and we welcome their good work. But we also want to see more serious, more substantial measures taken against multinational tax avoidance. We've had proposals on the table now for some years which go further than the government has proposed. And we also want to see that $50 billion tax cut off the table and not given to these big companies which the ATO is simultaneously pursuing for avoiding their tax obligations. The Australian people know and understand that this is a Government which will never seriously crack down on multinational tax evasion. They are soft on tax evasion because they are soft on the big end of town, and people on middle incomes and low incomes pay the price for their approach.


JOURNALIST: I know you touched on it, but is Scott Morrison asking big business to do his dirty work for him in promoting these cuts?


CHALMERS: Without question. We have a Treasurer who is so substantially reduced and diminished that he has resorted to begging the big business in this country to do his job for him. If he is unable to do his own job, he should get out of the way and let somebody else do that job instead. We have a Treasurer who fumbles and flails around, trying to blame everybody else - Labor, the broader community, the states - for his own incompetence. Nobody else is to blame for that severe deterioration in the Budget, the tripling of the deficit, the blow-out in debt, the fact our AAA credit rating is at risk. Those are issues laid squarely at the feet of Scott Morrison. He should stop pretending it is somebody else's fault. He should stop blaming everybody else. He should stop begging everybody else to do his job for him. It's pathetic.


JOURNALIST: Do you think that some blame for the Budget deficit lies with the Opposition and the crossbench dragging their feet at every opportunity for savings measures that they constantly try to introduce?

CHALMERS: Every time that we have opposed a savings measure proposed by the Government, because it is unfair or it asks the most vulnerable people to carry the can for the Government's Budget failures or it hollows out the future of this country, we have proposed substantial alternative savings so that when we oppose what the Government's proposing, we have an alternative there ready to pick up and run with. It is true of negative gearing reform; it's true of capital gains reform; it's true of our calls for them to maintain the deficit levy, which would raise more money from a third as many people as the cuts that the Government has just made to family payments which impacts 1.5 million families right around the country. So we take our job very seriously. We think Budget repair is important, but it has to be fair. We have led the conversation when it comes to fair Budget repair and will continue to do so.


JOURNALIST: Just one other question - will Labor repeal the tax cuts that were passed last week by the Parliament?


CHALMERS: We don't think the best way to respond to a slap-dash deal done in the Senate on the run last Friday is to respond in a slap-dash way. So we make no apology whatsoever for taking the time to demand from the Government the modelling which shows what the impact of the deal done in the Senate on company tax was last Friday; to come clean with the Australian people on how they would pay for it; what it means in terms of further cuts to schools and hospitals or attacks on Medicare or other important things. So the onus is on the Government to provide that information. They have been unable to do so. We are in no rush to respond to another red-faced rant from the Treasurer who would like to pretend that it's Labor's fault that the Government is blowing a $50 billion hole in the Budget by showering largesse on the biggest companies in this country at the same time as they take money out of hospitals and schools and infrastructure and all the other things that might actually deliver jobs and growth in this economy.

Thanks everyone.