Topics: King Charles cancer diagnosis; Sentencing of Dr Yang Hengjun; Stage 3 tax cut changes; 

06:50AM AEDT
6 February 2024


Peter Stefanovic:  Joining us live the Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham. Simon good to see you. Thanks for your time.


Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Pete.


Peter Stefanovic: Let’s start though, with your reaction to the King’s health this morning and his shock cancer diagnosis.


Simon Birmingham: I’m sure many Australians will wake with shock when they hear the news of the King’s cancer diagnosis. And of course, all will want to send their best wishes and thoughts to King Charles for his treatment and hope that his treatment is effective in enabling him to be able to resume his duties fully and continue, hopefully a long and successful reign.


Peter Stefanovic: True. To local matters now Simon and the fate of Yang Hengjun. China’s Foreign Ministry has claimed overnight that his court trial was held in strict accordance with the law, and Australia was allowed to sit in on his sentencing. Your thoughts on those comments?


Simon Birmingham: Well, Australia was denied access to his trial. There has been a lack of transparency all along. For more than five years, Doctor Yang has faced unjust process and unjust detention and now faces a potential lifetime of unjust detention. This is a real reality check moment in relation to the relationship and underscoring the fact that we have vastly different systems of democracy and of justice. But in the case of Doctor Yang, we must make sure that he remains at the absolute forefront of all Australian engagement with China, and that the advocacy on his behalf is strong, is vocal and persistent.


Peter Stefanovic: So what is the right approach now, Simon? Loud diplomacy?


Simon Birmingham: I think it is important that the outrage felt across Australia is heard very clearly in Beijing. Now, of course, we will make sure that each step is calibrated, and we have to do so in a way that puts his best interests first and foremost. But it is critical that his case is not allowed to slip from view or from mind but is actually prosecuted continuously at the highest levels of government in every single part of the Albanese government’s engagement with Beijing.


Peter Stefanovic: Will the Coalition support the government’s revised stage three tax cuts?


Simon Birmingham: We’ll conclude our party processes in the normal way. We only got this legislation on Sunday. So, we will be working through it, have started working through it, and will conclude that in the usual course of events. But ultimately, this is a band aid for Australians who are on average some $8,000 per person worse off under the Labor government thanks to inflation, to interest rates, to bracket creep and to the mismanagement of the economy by the Albanese Government. Australians are going to see that this broken promise by Anthony Albanese, where he is reshuffling the Coalition’s tax reforms into a much milder form of tax rejig, is not going to do much other than provide a band aid for the bulk of Australians over a gaping wound in their personal finances and household incomes that they are suffering from. Australians will go to the next election whatever happens with these tax changes, knowing that the Coalition stands for tax reform, for lower taxes and can be trusted to deliver that. Because Anthony Albanese wouldn’t even be doing this if these tax cuts hadn’t been legislated by the Liberal and National parties.


Peter Stefanovic: So, on that, Simon, what changes, what reform are you considering to take to the next election?


Simon Birmingham: Well, we will outline all of that at the time of the next election and leading up to it-


Peter Stefanovic: Do you rule out do you rule out a return to the flat 30% tax bracket between 45 and 200,000, though? Do you rule that out?


Simon Birmingham: We will stand for lower, simpler, fairer taxes. We will want to see the type of pursuit of a tax system that incentivises work, which is what stage three tax cuts absolutely sought to do. The Labor government, the Albanese government is abandoning tax reform by junking the tax cuts, as they were, because indeed that abolition of the 37 cent in the dollar tax bracket would have seen the vast majority of Australians no longer face the threat of bracket creep in their working lives, and the consequence of Labor keeping the 37 cent in the dollar tax bracket is actually Labor undertaking a tax grab. Anthony Albanese is going to take an extra $28 billion out of the pockets of hard-working Australians by keeping the 37 cents-


Peter Stefanovic: Why not take that out then?


Simon Birmingham: We will release our policies in the lead up to the next election. Costed, properly developed, all of the steps you would expect an alternative government to take, which is what we will be outlining.


Peter Stefanovic: Okay. Simon Birmingham, good to have you with us as always. Thank you. We’ll talk to you soon.