Doorstop - Parliament House

05 May 2016


SUBJECT/S: Budget 2016; Company Tax Measures; Income Tax Priorities; Labor’s Positive Policies

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES AND SUPERANNUATION: Good morning. The Treasurer of Australia is either unwilling or unable to explain to the Australian people how he will pay for ten years of corporate tax cuts. He's got a ten year plan for corporate tax cuts, but not a ten year costing. He needs to release that. In the newspapers today, we have analysis from Access Economics, from Chris Richardson, which shows that the corporate tax cuts in the Treasurer's Budget over ten years cost something like $55 billion. If that analysis is correct, then this Budget boils down to one thing: a $55 billion transfer out of family budgets, out of hospitals and schools, on to the bottom line of multinational corporations. $55 billion out of the household budget on to the bottom line of the biggest businesses in this country. $55 billion out of Medicare, out of schools and hospitals straight on to the bottom line of multinational companies. That says it all about a Budget which is a Budget for big business not battlers, a Budget for high income earners and not families.

Now Barnaby Joyce was asked last night why they didn't try and find room for a tax cut or some kind of relief for the seventy-five per cent of people who miss out on a tax cut whatsoever, people earning under $80,000 a year. And Barnaby Joyce said, 'well, we couldn't do that because we'd have to find the money from somewhere'. I think it speaks volumes about their approach to the Budget that they're happy to find $55 billion in household budgets and hospitals and schools to give straight to the biggest companies in the country. They're happy to do that, but when asked why they won't give tax relief or any relief at all or why they're cutting family payments and other relief for people who work hard in our community, the 75 per cent of people who miss out on a tax cut in this Budget, they say 'we couldn't possibly do that because then we'd have to find the money for it'. That speaks volumes about this Budget for big business over battlers.

As I said, the Treasurer is unable to cost his ten year corporate tax cut plan. He has also alarmingly and laughably refused to concede that one of the changes he's making in superannuation is a retrospective change. We've made our views on superannuation very clear for some time. We do think that the tax concessions at the top end are poorly-targeted. We do welcome a couple of our initiatives that were picked up in the Budget after Scott Morrison went around the country campaigning against them. We do welcome the changes that we have proposed which are now in the Budget. But there are other changes in the Budget that we are consulting stakeholders and others on, and one of the issues that has been raised with us is the retrospective nature of one of the superannuation measures. It's unbelievable, really, that the Treasurer of Australia cannot see that it's retrospective. He's claimed now since the Budget was handed down that there's no retrospective change. I think he would be the only one who holds that view. It's a ridiculous view.

Today is the last day of this Parliament. The Liberal and National members of this Parliament are in for a rude awakening when they go back to their electorates tomorrow morning. Budgets are not determined by what right-wing commentators say about them. They're not determined by the front pages of the tabloid press. Budgets, whether they are good or bad, are determined by their impact on real people in real suburbs around the country. And what people are coming to realise is that this Budget is for somebody other than them. So many people miss out in this Budget. Families go backwards while multinational corporations get a $55 billion handout, and that's what will determine whether this Budget goes well or goes badly. 

Tonight, Bill Shorten will outline his positive plan for Australia. The country is crying out for positive policies and Bill will fill the leadership vacuum left by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. We will put people back at the centre of our policy considerations. We will fund health and education properly and underwrite the future of this country.

JOURNALIST: Jim, when you're talking about ten year funding plans, you've got a $20 billion gap with the cigarette tax changes that were revealed by the Treasury costings. How are you going to pay for them? Have you made up your mind that?

CHALMERS: I think it says it all about the Government that one of the main things they want to talk about in Budget week -- it's supposed to be a triumphant week for them -- and all they want to do is talk about Labor policies. We welcome a debate about the bottom line and we've had on the table for some time now very significant, very well-considered savings which do improve the bottom line, but importantly also fund health and education in this country. The issue of the costing of the tobacco tax proposal has been well-canvassed. Chris Bowen and others have been saying all week that when the parameters change, we update our numbers. I think people will appreciate that we asked the independent Parliamentary Budget Office for that costing and received that costing. It wasn't a costing that was made up by Labor, it was provided to us by an independent, well-respected body. When the parameters change, we update our numbers. When people go to the polling booth on the second of July, they will be under no illusion about where we stand, what the Budget would look like under Labor, and importantly how we would put people back at the centre of our policies, how we would not go down the path that the Government has gone down of favouring big business over battlers.

JOURNALIST: Labor talked about $100 billion in savings that they were going to make. That's going to be $80 billion by the time Australians vote on policy --

CHALMERS: It's good of you to raise it. There's not been an Opposition in decades or more which has put more effort into repairing the bottom line, filling the leadership vacuum left by two hopeless Treasurers in a row. It's good of you to recognise the work that has gone in from the Opposition to come up with those kinds of savings, so that we can underwrite the future of this country and properly fund health and education.

JOURNALIST: That's one fifth less than what you were anticipating. That's a massive hole. How are you going to fill that?

CHALMERS: Well this issue has been well-canvassed as you know, and we have said--

JOURNALIST: Well we haven't heard a solution yet, have we?

CHALMERS: We have got substantial savings on the table, and that is well recognised that the Opposition has put substantial savings on the table. If the parameters for that particular saving change, then we will change with it. We've not finished, we've not said all that we will say about repairing the bottom line and funding health and education. There will be more to say between now and the election. When people go into the ballot box and they get that little pencil out and they make their choice, they can have full confidence that Labor has done the policy work to fix the bottom line, to properly fund their schools and hospitals and Medicare, and to underwrite the future of this country without resorting to this unfair strategy of favouring multinational companies over ordinary people in this community.

JOURNALIST: So can you guarantee that by July 2 you will find that extra $20 billion?

CHALMERS: I guarantee that by July 2, the Australian people will be under no illusion of where the Budget stands under Labor. And I'm confident that one of the reasons that we will prevail in that election is that we will have a better, well-considered, carefully-costed plan for the future of this country. Thanks very much.