Topics: Legislating tax cuts; Iran; Newstart.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks so much for coming along today. I want to deliver to Mr Albanese today a bit of a brick bat, a small bouquet, and a real call to action. The brick bat is Mr Albanese claimed yesterday that there was no mandate for the Coalition Government’s tax relief plan. Well there could not be a clearer mandate. Mr Albanese somehow suggested that our primary vote had been lower than that of the Labor Party’s, he needs to go back and take a long hard look at the numbers because the Coalition secured a 41 per cent primary vote versus the Labor Party’s 33 per cent primary vote. A very strong and stark difference there. The Coalition increased the number of seats we hold in the House of Representatives, increased the number of seats we hold in the Senate and of course took to the election our plan for tax relief to benefit ten million hardworking Australians and their families, and we want to see that plan legislated. Now the bouquet that Mr Albanese as far as it went was his acknowledgement that those who make it onto the top marginal income tax rate are not necessarily the high end of town.
Well of course they’re not, they’re hardworking Australians working in our ports, in our factories, in our offices all over the country who go about their jobs, work hard, get a promotion, get a pay rise, may only be on that top tax rate for a few years but in that time they worked to pay off their house, to save for their kids’ education, to prepare for their retirement. And those Australians like all those who benefit from our tax relief plan, deserve to see it fully legislated and fully implemented. But the claims by Mr Albanese that he sees that those people are not the top end of town, will ring hollow unless he actually acts on that acknowledgement and the action he needs to do is to support the full legislation of the full tax relief package that we have outlined. Only through that full legislation can every Australian get the benefits that they deserve in terms of tax relief.
We see today evidence in the nation’s newspapers that without this passing Australia will have the highest income tax rates amongst the English speaking world in many cases. That Australians will be paying more tax than their counterparts across in New Zealand or in Canada, in the US, or than most people in the UK. That’s not a circumstance we want the nation to get into, that’s why we put forward the plan for tax relief. And if Mr Albanese wants to demonstrate that he is different from Bill Shorten then he should support the tax relief plan.
The only way Mr Albanese can clearly demonstrate that he and the Labor Party have learnt the lessons of electoral failure, is to support our plan for lower taxes for hardworking Australians.
Journalist: How can the government claim a mandate for tax cuts that won’t come into effect for another two to three years?
Simon Birmingham: Well these tax plans were released in the budget this year, before we went to the election. They were extensively debated throughout the election campaign. In the end, the election campaign was a clear contest between a Labor Party arguing for higher taxes and the Liberal and National parties arguing for lower taxes. We won that election quite clearly and decisively and it’s time for the Labor Party to accept the verdict. It’s time for Mr Albanese to stop the stuffing around and make the decision to support our plan for lower taxes on hardworking Australians. That’s what the Labor Party should do, is Mr Albanese really the leader of the Labor Party or is he just meekly, timidly, letting the rest of his party have the debate on this issue? He ought to step up as the leader, make the call and the recommendation, take it to his caucus and actually back lower taxes for hardworking Australians.
Journalist: The Treasurer has warned of economic headwinds threatening both Australia and the global economy, do you concede there is a risk these tax cuts will be unaffordable if the local economy tanks?
Simon Birmingham: These tax cuts are an essential part of our plan to keep Australia’s economy strong and to insulate Australia against economic headwinds, by ensuring that hard working Australians have an incentive to work hard and have an ability to continue to invest, to save, to prepare for their retirement, to do the types of things that help to keep our economy strong. Business leaders around the country today have been calling for the full passage of the tax relief plan, because they know that it helps drive consumer confidence, household spending and investment and that that’s good for the economy.
Journalist: Will the government considering lifting Newstart as a way to stimulate the economy?
Simon Birmingham: Well our plan to stimulate the economy is about ensuring we have the lowest possible taxes and to get people off Newstart into jobs where they’re paying the lowest possible taxes. That’s the best way to keep growing the economy, creating record numbers of jobs, and have people in those jobs paying the lowest amount of tax we can.
Journalist: If Labor doesn’t back these cuts it will come down to the Senate crossbench, Pauline Hanson says that he won’t back the proposal, so where does the Coalition stand with other crossbenchers?
Simon Birmingham: Well our stand at present is that we want the Labor Party to end any uncertainty about Australians getting tax cuts, for Mr Albanese to show leadership, to back it, and to actually guarantee Australians will get the tax cuts they deserve. Every member of the Australian Senate, the Labor Party, the Greens, and the crossbench all ought to acknowledge the election result, the mandate we have and get on board and back tax relief for hardworking Australians.
Journalist: Has the Coalition spoken to Jacqui Lambie about her support?
Simon Birmingham: Well we can talk to of course everybody across the Senate, but right now the focus lies as it should on the Labor Party. Is the Labor Party still a party of higher taxes under Mr Albanese or are they a party of lower taxes or at least acknowledge the mandate that the Liberal and National parties have for lowering taxes on hardworking Australians.
Journalist: Just a couple of questions in regards to Iran, has Australia been asked by the US to send more support to operations in the Persian Gulf in the wake of the oil tankers being attacked and the US drone being shot down?
Simon Birmingham: Well Australia is deeply troubled by events there and in particular, deeply troubled by Iran’s shooting down of a US drone. This adds tension to what is already a very tense region of the world. We continue to be in close contact with our international partners especially the United States and we maintain a very close brief in terms of monitoring the situation.
Journalist: Will you assist if you were asked?
Simon Birmingham: Well Australia considers all requests but we do so in Australia’s national interest and of course what we’re doing at present is closely monitoring the situation, staying in close contact with our allies the United States, and really we urge, we urge parties to show particularly Iran, restraint in relation to these matters. The shooting down of that drone is deeply troubling and we hope and trust that we don’t see any further activities that could escalate such matters.
Journalist: Just in relation to Newstart, what would the government say to those people who are on Newstart and are concerned about the money that they’re getting currently?
Simon Birmingham: Well our focus is to get you off of Newstart and into a job. That’s why we are so proud of having created 1.3 million new jobs over the last few years in office, it’s why we’ve got clear plans for the future to generate another 1.25 million jobs well into the future and to make sure that we give everybody the maximum chance of getting a job and paying the least amount of tax possible. Thanks guys.