Doorstop Interview, Canberra
ATARs for teaching courses; Company tax cuts; National Energy Guarantee; Newspoll




Journalist:       Minister data on ATARs yesterday, yes- and then this morning Universities Australia releases a report saying that university students are struggling with the cost of living. Is this an area that the Government can look at?


Simon Birmingham:     Well, in terms of ATARs and admissions into teacher education, we were very clear that early on, reform needed to happen to guarantee those leaving universities and going into the teacher profession met clear minimum standards of literacy and numeracy, were classroom ready, and they’re the types of reforms we got states and territories to agree to, and we expect them to deliver on those reforms and to make sure that everybody who goes into a classroom has met those minimums standards to give certainty to Australian parents, that their kids are getting the teachers they deserve.


Journalist:        Victoria already announced a review yesterday, suggesting that some of these education authorities have been dodging their own reforms. Does that concern you?


Simon Birmingham:     Well look, I’d be quite embarrassed if I were the Victorian Government who went out championing the idea that they were applying low ATARs, the minimum ATAR scores for admission into teacher education courses and yet then the evidence shows that those minimum ATAR scores are being flouted by Victorian universities. So Victoria has absolutely cause for concern because the Victorian Government has failed in the implementation of its own policy.


Journalist:        Company tax cuts are going to go before the Senate this week, is this it, do you think, this next fortnight will decide whether or not it goes ahead?


Simon Birmingham:     Well, the Senate this week has a slightly different agenda which the senators have chosen to take in terms of considering matters other than government business but the Turnbull Government will ensure that we continue to prosecute a low tax message for Australia, lower taxes for Australian households, lower competitive taxes for Australian businesses.


Journalist:        But if it doesn’t get through the Senate by the end of the sitting fortnight, is this it? Is it done and dusted then? Will it not come back until after the election?


Simon Birmingham:     We will always be a low tax party and we are clearly lower taxing than the Labor Party who already have on the table more than $200 billion of additional taxes on people’s savings, their incomes, their houses, small businesses, their investments. By contrast the Turnbull Government is delivering lower taxes for houses and competitive taxes for Australian businesses.


Journalist:        Why won’t the Government release the modelling for the NEG?


Simon Birmingham:     Well, the modelling for the NEG is the independent Energy Security Board’s modelling and that’s what’s demonstrating $550 projected savings for Australian households. It’s a big saving, it’s part of a policy to deliver cheaper and more reliable energy in the future.


Journalist:        You mentioned the other business that’s before the Senate this week, Senator Leyonhjelm’s euthanasia bill, if you will, is that likely do you think, how do you think that’s going to pan out in the Senate this week? It’s a very hotly contested and deeply personal issue.


Simon Birmingham:     It is hotly contested, deeply personal, and I wouldn’t be ambitious enough to try to project the Senate’s deliberations but I’m sure that each senator will approach it with the caution and respect and gravity the issue deserves.


Journalist:        But why is it important for Australians now, this particular bill?


Simon Birmingham:     Well, you’d have to ask those senators who chose to put it above all other business but it’s an important issue and we’ll certainly be approaching it with the gravity it deserves.


Journalist:        Labor’s been dogged by the Emma Husar scandal: why are they still in front in today’s Newspoll?


Simon Birmingham:     Look, we will focus between now and the next election and next year in that election campaign on making sure Australians understand the choice before them and it’s a choice between our strong economy which has delivered record jobs growth, bringing the budget back to balance, or a Labor Party who is delivering or promising $200 billion-plus in higher taxes, on houses, on wages, on savings, on investments, things Australians just can’t afford.


Journalist:        So you’re not worried at all by today’s figures?


Simon Birmingham:     We’ll focus next year on the next election which will be when the Australian people have to choose the next government and choose between a government committed to lower taxes, fairer taxes, or a Labor Party committed to higher taxes on their savings and wages.


Journalist:        So you think there is still enough time between now and then to turn things around?


Simon Birmingham:     We will make sure that at the next election Australians understand the choice very clearly and it’s a choice between Malcolm Turnbull and lower taxes or Bill Shorten and higher taxes on their wages and savings. Thanks guys.