Doorstop - Parliament House 25/6/18

25 June 2018


MONDAY, 25 JUNE 2018
SUBJECT/S: Pauline Hanson refusing to immediately reject company tax cuts; Liberals’ $80 billion corporate tax handout; Turnbull always siding with top end of town
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Well, here we go again. We've just seen some extraordinary scenes in the Senate which confirm our worst fears, really, about Senator Pauline Hanson and her approach to these big business tax cuts of Malcolm Turnbull's. Pauline Hanson was just given the opportunity to vote down Malcolm Turnbull's big business tax cuts and she squibbed it. Pauline Hanson says that she opposes tax cuts for multinationals and the big banks but she refuses to vote them down immediately. We just provided Pauline Hanson the opportunity to put her money where her mouth is, to vote down these big business tax cuts of Malcolm Turnbull's and, true to form, she voted with Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party yet again. 
What Pauline Hanson is doing is buying herself time to do another dodgy deal with the Liberal Party which sells out the battlers, which puts the interests of millionaires ahead of the interests of middle Australia. Pauline Hanson is giving herself the opportunity, the time necessary, to do another dodgy deal which sells out the battlers of Queensland and the battlers of Australia.
In the Labor Party, we oppose these company tax cuts of Malcolm Turnbull's because they're unfair; they come at the expense of schools and hospitals. They'reunwise, because we just won't get the bang for buck we need to grow the economy. And they're unaffordable, because we have record debt which has doubled under the Liberals and which is seeing record interest repayments paid by the Australian people. 
We call on Pauline Hanson to do the right thing for once, to support the battlers over Malcolm Turnbull's multinationals and millionaires. She squibbed it again on this occasion. It's not acceptable. She can't continue to wander through Longman, Queensland, and around the country pretending to be a friend of the battler if she's not prepared to vote down these tax cuts for multinationals at the very next opportunity.
What is very clear from what's just happened in the Senate, what's clear from Pauline Hanson's reluctance to kill off these tax cuts for multinationals and the four big banks once and for all is that these company tax cuts of Malcolm Turnbull's will not hit the fence until Malcolm Turnbull's Government does. Over to you.
JOURNALIST: To be fair, it's not like she's in support of the Government on company tax cuts. She may well follow through when it actually comes to a vote?
CHALMERS: It confirms our worst fears because if Pauline Hanson was serious about killing off Malcolm Turnbull's tax cuts for multinationals and the big banks, she would do so at the next available opportunity. Senator Wong and the Labor team in the Senate provided Senator Hanson with the opportunity to vote these tax cuts down immediately and she squibbed it. That confirms our worst fears because Pauline Hanson has form when it comes to selling out the battlers. When Malcolm Turnbull says "jump", Pauline Hanson says "how high?". That's why it's getting harder and harder to work out where the Liberal and the National parties end and One Nation begins, because they vote together with such regularity.

JOURNALIST: Why should One Nation endorse Labor procedural tactics?
CHALMERS: It's more than that. It's about the substantive outcome. What we're talking about is saying to the Australian people via the Senate that we don't think, at a time when we got record debt, which has doubled under the Liberals, where we got other priorities in hospitals and schools, we don't think it's right to give $80 billion to multinationals and the big banks - $17 billion of that tax cut goes to the big banks. So it goes beyond that.
JOURNALIST: That's fine, but I was asking why you think One Nation should support Labor procedural tactics because you've said she's squibbed it. But what she's done is not support a tactical manoeuvre in the Senate by Labor.
CHALMERS: I'm answering your question by saying it's the substance of the outcome that matters. It's not about procedures in the Senate. It's not about political games or anything like that. We are talking about an outcome here which kills off these big business tax cuts once and for all so that we can get back to investing in hospitals and schools and paying down the debt which has accumulated under this Government. It's the substance that matters, and if Pauline Hanson was truly committed to killing off Malcolm Turnbull's tax cuts for multinationals, she would have done so today.
JOURNALIST: Former Labor Minister Graham Richardson wrote today that he's being told that Labor looks like losing the seat of Braddon and possibly also Longman, that it's very, very close. What do you make of that assessment?
CHALMERS: I agree with Richo that it’s going to be very, very close in both contests, and we've said that all along. People forget that Longman, for example, was a Liberal seat less than two years ago. It's a highly marginal seat. Susan Lamb did such a terrific job to win it from the Liberal Party at the last election. Braddon has also changed hands over the years. So I think the point that Graham makes is a point well made - it's a big challenge, we don't take it lightly. We take absolutely no votes for granted in either of those places and we know that we're in for a fight. But at the end of the day we've got the better candidates, we've got the better leader, we've got the better policy offering and we are the only party, when you compare us to the Liberals, the Nationals and even One Nation, which was prepared to vote today to kill off Malcolm Turnbull's tax cut for multinationals and the big banks so that we can prioritise investment in hospitals and schools in Caboolture and Morayfield, and northern Tasmania.
JOURNALIST: Another poll out today says you're ahead. But if you do lose these two seats you'll be going backwards at this stage of the game rather than going forwards close to an election. Is that acceptable?
CHALMERS: Obviously, we're in both of those contests to win them. We never go into a contest like that expecting or hoping to lose. We want to make sure we give a good account of ourselves and I think for the reasons I have just identified, we'll be very competitive in Longman and in Braddon, but it will be very tight as Karen's question and Richo's column alluded to a moment ago. What we say to the people of Longman and to the people of Braddon is if you want a political party to put the interests of middle Australia before the interests of multinationals and the big banks and the millionaires, then people will support the Labor Party. We've got the better candidates, we've got the better leader and we've got the better policies for both seats.
JOURNALIST: Mr Chalmers, last week in Parliament and in previous Parliamentary weeks, we have seen debate in Question Time dominated by name-calling, basically, by slagging off one side by the other in both directions. What do you think voters make of that? And the over-shadowing of that of substantive debate about policy?
CHALMERS: Well, they want a bit of substance. I think the robust political barney that we're having at the moment is about substance. It's about issues. It's about $80 billion going to multinationals and the big four banks. It's about income tax cuts from Malcolm Turnbull where 60 per cent of the benefit goes to the wealthiest 20 per cent of Australians. These are big, meaningful, costly changes, which go to a deeper thing in this country, which is whether we want the fair go to be advanced and part of our future or just something kids read about in history books. This are big issues and we engage on them robustly. 
JOURNALIST: Your TV ad is about Malcolm Turnbull being a rich man. 
CHALMERS: It's about Malcolm Turnbull giving tax cuts to the top end of town. We will never step back from making the argument that Malcolm Turnbull will always prioritise the top end of town over middle Australia. We will take every opportunity on every day that we can to remind the people of Australia that they have in office right now a Prime Minister who does not make them a priority and we will take every opportunity to make sure that the people of Australia know that Bill Shorten and Labor will make middle Australia a priority unlike Malcolm Turnbull.

JOURNALIST: A former banker - that's not a cheap shot though, is it?
CHALMERS: It's a fact of his resume.
JOURNALIST: Do you not fear getting marked down for playing the man and not the ball?
CHALMERS: No, we will engage in this in a robust way. I think it's entirely within our rights to point out, as it's entirely within the Liberal Party's rights to point out all of our experiences and backgrounds and where we grew up and what jobs we've done, and all of those sorts of things. That's fine. I've never had a problem with that, and he shouldn't have a problem with it either. It's a fact of his CV that he was an investment banker. He brings that perspective to these key questions about tax, and one of the reasons why we have such a comprehensive system of Parliamentary declarations are so the people of Australia can judge politicians when they're in this building, when the vote a certain way or another, whether they're bringing any other kind of influences to bear on that vote.

JOURNALIST: Jim, on the theory of your ad, that Turnbull's got a lot of shares therefore he does well out of the tax cuts - the biggest shareholders in Australia are superannuants. So is Labor saying that company tax cuts are good for people with super too, therefore the workers?
CHALMERS: We're saying that we don't support these company tax cuts. We've said that on a daily basis for months.
JOURNALIST: So you're denying the workers a better superannuation?
CHALMERS: No, we're making the point, as we are entitled to, that Malcolm Turnbull - whether it's the income tax cuts or the company tax cuts, in both counts - he stands to be a substantial beneficiary.
JOURNALIST: As do superannuants.
CHALMERS: If you, or he, wanted to make an argument about superannuation funds, and people have raised that from time to time in this broader conversation about tax cuts and he's entitled to. But we're also entitled to point out that Malcolm Turnbull's background, we think, is a key factor in him never putting the interests of middle Australia before the interests of the top end of town.
JOURNALIST: So someone who's worked in banking can't bring a legitimate perspective to this debate? Are you saying anyone who's got a banking background, their view is somehow skewed in they were to vote on this in Parliament?
CHALMERS: No, I'm not saying that. I'm obviously not saying that, no.
JOURNALIST: Then you bring it up for one individual, surely that would apply to any other individual in Parliament who has a working background in banking?
CHALMERS: I'm saying all of us bring perspectives to this Parliament. Malcolm Turnbull's perspective is that of an investment banker who will always put the interests of the top end of town ahead of the interests of ordinary Australians.
JOURNALIST: Paul Keating is arguing against the company tax cuts. He reckons they'll hurt domestic investors because they'll get a lesser tax credit on their dividend. So is Keating wrong? Because according to Keating's theory, Malcolm Turnbull would be doing himself in the eye on getting a lesser franking credit on his shares by lowering the company tax cut.
CHALMERS: We oppose the company tax cuts for our own reasons. Before you arrived, Phil, I ran through some of those. They are largely - we have record debt in this country, we can't afford to give $80 billion to multinationals and the big four banks. They're unwise because we just won't get the growth dividend we need. We won't get the bang for buck that we need out of such a big hit to the Budget. And they're also unfair, because they come at the expense of hospitals and schools in middle Australia. Those are the three principle reasons why we oppose Malcolm Turnbull's tax cuts for multinationals and the big banks. Thanks very much.