Scott Emerson A spendathon, some describe it as labor lite or labor heavy, depending on who you are, and a lot of money, a lot of debt, a lot of deficit, but also designed to get jobs into the economy again, unemployment rate, push it down below five per cent. Senator Simon Birmingham is the federal finance minister and he joins me now. Minister, thanks for being on 4BC Drive.
Simon Birmingham: G’dayScott, great to be with you as always.
Scott Emerson: Now, the budget last night, a massive amount of money being spent. Some people described it as the Labor budget that Labor would have loved to have delivered. Have you suddenly given up all your fiscal principles and taken on Labor’s mantra of spend, spend, spend.
Simon Birmingham: Well, absolutely not Scott, this is a budget that sees a continued reduction in taxes for Australians. We are continuing to implement income tax cuts across the country that will see for most Australians, the maximum tax rate they pay being 30 cents in the dollar. In this budget, we have implementation of the low and middle income tax offset arrangements that provides significant benefits to around 10 million Australians overall. And that’s going to provide significant benefits to low and middle income earners right around Queensland. This budget is seeing lower taxes for business investment, for targeted areas of business growth in the future as well. And so this is very much a liberal and national party consistent budget and delivering lower taxes to fuel economic growth to ensure jobs for Australians. And yes, we are also supporting essential services, as our governments always do, guaranteeing those essential services, whether it be Medicare, despite Labor’s lies over the years or whether it now be making sure that we fully fund the NDIS, that we deliver the services in aged care that Australians rightly expect. But we’re able to do that because they’re the dividend from strong economic management. And that dividend has ensured that even with the decisions we made last last night and released to the country, net debt over each of the next 10 years is forecast to be lower than was expected last year, that through our strong economic management, we are actually able to make these types of decisions to invest in essential services and still bring net debt in at lower rates than were being forecast.
Scott Emerson: But when I look at that debt, I look at the deficits. We’re not going to go potentially back into the black. And remember, this was Josh Frydenberg’s mantra before COVID. We’re not going to get back in the black until potentially Brisbane’s hosting the Olympics in 2032.
Simon Birmingham: That we face globally and remarkably challenging and disruptive times that as a country we’ve managed to withstand pretty well. But we can’t ignore everything that has happened around us. Covid-19 has globally been the biggest economic shock since World War Two. It hit countries for six, it’s hit their economies for six, and its hit their budgets for six. And so we’ve managed to withstand in terms of much of our economy, thanks to many of the budget measures that we had to put in place. Now they’ve left a lasting cost impact there’s no denying that and that is there just as indeed Countries came out of World War Two with higher debts are going to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic with higher debts too. But Australia has still managed to maintain our advantage over others and the UK, the US, Japan, and they’re all developed nations and the share of their economy has debt multiples of what ours is now.
Scott Emerson: I said Simon Birmingham. I said earlier that a lot of winners out of this budget in terms of money that’s going to their areas, someone who claims that they’re a loser, or at least claims Queensland is a loser is the Queensland Treasurer, Cameron Dick. Now, he was on my colleague Neal Breen’s programme this morning on 4BC Breakfast. This is what Cameron Dick had to say:
[EXCERPT] Cameron Dick: If they properly acknowledge the population growth in this state, which is all we’ve ever asked them to do, then we’d get our fair share and we wouldn’t be ripped off. And that money going to other states, it’s just not good enough. And I’m going to keep fighting for Queensland to make sure we get our fair share.
Scott Emerson: So Cameron Dick is claiming that Queensland has been ripped off, hasn’t got its fair share on infrastructure spending. Simon Birmingham, we did see that infrastructure announcements. We got $1.6 billion here in Queensland. New South Wales got $3 billion. Victoria got $3 billion. Has Queensland been ripped off?
Simon Birmingham: I know you also had had the Prime Minister on air this morning. And I thought he argued the case very powerfully and forcefully in relation to the fact that Queensland is, in fact getting its fair share of infrastructure spend. Each year there are some new projects added to the infrastructure profile. We’re committing $110 billion of infrastructure spending overall. We added around $10 billion or so to that profile, it varied depending on the nature of projects with a different point in time, some years some states will see slightly bigger lists than others. But when it comes to the works actually being delivered on the ground, Queensland is well and truly getting its fair share, as the prime minister rightly acknowledged this morning. And if we want to talk about relativities. Well, of course, we could look at the huge economic load that the Commonwealth has carried in relation to covid-19, the support that we have delivered to Queensland in $6.9 billion in cash flow payments to the Queensland businesses and the $4.6 billion to recipients of the coronavirus supplement. That’s before we get things like JobKeeper and so on. And we have made sure that we’ve delivered plenty to Queensland and economic support through times of crisis, well above what we’ve seen the Queensland government willing to step up and do.
Scott Emerson: Simon Birmingham, I know it’s a very busy day for you. I appreciate you taking some time to come on 4BC drive this afternoon.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks, Scott. My pleasure.