Tax Reform and New Zealand Citizenship Announcement

19 February 2016



SUBJECT/S: Tax Reform; New Zealand Citizenship Announcement

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES AND SUPERANNUATION:  We had the Treasurer on radio again this morning fumbling and flailing around, searching in vain for something meaningful to say about the Australian economy beyond this bizarre obsession of his with pixie horses and unicorns.

This is a government with no plan, no policy and no vision whatsoever for the Australian economy.  Economic policy under this Government is a complete shambles. They have had two and a half years to get their act together and by any objective measure, they have failed.

After two and a half years, we have got more debt, more deficit, GFC level spending, more taxes, more chaos and more confusion but nothing at all that resembles a plan for our economy.

Now when this hopeless, hapless and heartless Treasurer opens his mouth, the only thing that becomes clearer is that he is not up to the job of being the Australian Treasurer.

When I talk to Australian businesses and people in the broader community, and they say to me that they don't have a clue what the Government is up to when it comes to the economy, I tell them that they are not alone and that the Government itself doesn't have a clue about what they are doing with the Australian economy.

In the space of one week, we haven't just had the Cabinet contradict each other when it comes to negative gearing or bracket creep or superannuation or the GST, we have had the Treasurer contradicting himself.

Now this is an election year and it is five minutes to midnight for this term of government and we still don't know where the Government stands on those key issues - superannuation, negative gearing, the GST that Michaela Cash says is still on the table.  All of these key fundamental issues in Australian economic policy and we don't have a clue where the Government stands.

When it comes to economic policy-making in this country, the Government is a circus and the Treasurer and the Finance Minister are the clowns.  Australians will well remember in a previous role, Scott Morrison presiding over the failed 'Where the bloody hell are you' tourism campaign, they are entitled to now ask about his economic policy 'where the bloody hell is it'?

Now when it comes to economic policy in this country, Labor is taking the initiative.  We are filling the void left by the absence of economic leadership from Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.  We have costed plans out there to make the tax system fairer, to make responsible savings, to fund health and education, to repair the budget and to underwrite the future of this country.

JOURNALIST:  Just focusing on superannuation.  The Government seems to be close to a position there.  Why do you say they are waiting too l long?  Surely it is better to get it right?

CHALMERS:  Well, we have had two and a half years now where Scott Morrison has said until he is blue in the face that he doesn't support any changes to superannuation.  Labor has had our plans on the table since April of last year, the best part of the year, and we have had a fully costed plan for fairer super.  The Treasurer says that he is prepared to move on superannuation.  We need to see those plans on the table so that the Australian people can choose between our plan which only impacts on the wealthiest people at the very top of the superannuation system versus the plan we expect from Scott Morrison which would impact on millions of hard working Australians saving for their retirement.

The time is long past due for Scott Morrison to put on the table what he plans to do with superannuation.  All we  have had is chaos and confusion when it comes to superannuation policy.  He now says he intends to put a policy on the table.  He should put his money where his mouth is so that the Australian people can judge our fully costed fair plan against whatever he proposes to do.

JOURNALIST:  Scott Morrison says Labor’s policy will discourage young from making contributions.  How do you respond?

CHALMERS:  Look, I don' think there is much that comes out of Scott Morrison's mouth whether it would be about superannuation or negative gearing or bracket creep or any of these issues which is particularly credible.  He is the type of guy that searches around and fumbles and flails around for anything to say to get him from day to day.  I don't accept the criticism that he has made about our superannuation policy - he is dead wrong about it and if he is so confident that there is a better way to do superannuation policy in this country, he should put his plans on the table.

JOURNALIST:  On a completely different issue, what do you think about the Australian citizenship changes for New Zealanders which have just been announced by the Prime Minister?

CHALMERS:  There is no bigger supporter in the Australian Parliament of the New Zealand community than me. For as long as I have been in the Parliament, for as long as I can remember, I have recognised, as have my colleagues, that New Zealanders in Australia make a tremendous contribution, not just culturally but also economically. And so we have put in our National Policy Platform, we have recognised in that Platform, the inequity that exists when it comes to the pathway for citizenship for New Zealanders in Australia.  We do note that it was the former Coalition Government who changed the arrangements in the early 2000s which really created this chaos and really put a lot of New Zealanders in limbo.

I am proud to represent an enormous Kiwi population.  Nine of the ten biggest Kiwi electorates are in south east Queensland where I am from.  This is a very, very important issue.  In principle, we welcome anything that makes it easier for New Zealanders to become citizens in Australia but that announcement has only just been made and we will go through the detail of it to make sure that it is the right way to go about it.  But overall we do support making it fairer and easier for our New Zealand brothers and sisters in Australia to become citizens of this country and to continue making that terrific cultural and economic contribution that they make to my community and right around the country.