Interview on ABC Radio Adelaide, Breakfast with Ali Clarke and David Bevan
Topics: Senator Tim Storer: Company tax cuts: The Greens; Russian Diplomats

David Bevan: Simon Birmingham, Education Minister, Greens Senator for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young, Labor member for Wakefield which is north of Adelaide and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Manufacturing, good morning to you Nick Champion.

David Bevan: Just to begin with, have any of you met Tim Storer? Anybody met at all and had a word with Tim?

Nick Champion: I haven’t, I’ve not met him at all.

David Bevan: You’ve not met Tim Storer, Sarah Hanson-Young have you met Tim?

Sarah Hanson-Young: Yes I have, I’ve had a couple of chats with him in the chamber over the last week or so.

David Bevan: Just a couple of chats?

Sarah Hanson-Young: He seems like a nice fellow.

David Bevan: He seems like a nice bloke?

Sarah Hanson-Young: Obviously thrown into the deep end, the poor guy in relation to all of these tax cuts.

David Bevan: Simon Birmingham have you met Tim, have you had conversations with the guy?

Simon Birmingham: I’ve met Tim and had a few chats.

David Bevan: Yeah, how does he strike you?

Simon Birmingham: He strikes me as being an earnest, diligent, thoughtful individual, I’m sure will make a contribution to the Senate through his time here.

David Bevan: Because this lone South Australian man who is an independent, and my guess is that the vast majority of South Australians listening right now wouldn’t have any clue about Tim Storer, wouldn’t know him from a bar of soap. He’s caught up in the biggest political debate of the moment which is occupying the minds of the Federal Government, the Opposition and some of the most powerful companies in the country because Mathias Cormann was after his vote and he didn’t get it on the big company tax. Simon Birmingham you haven’t given up on Tim I take it?

Simon Birmingham: We haven’t given up in terms of delivering our business tax reforms and that’s because we think that companies like for example Yalumba, a great South Australian wine exporting business or many others in South Australia deserve to have competitive company tax rates that will enable them to invest more in their businesses–grow their businesses–employ more South Australians–deliver higher wages to South Australians and we will absolutely continue to work with all crossbench Senators on this and we wish the Labor party still stood by what Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen, and I’m sure Nick Champion as well have said in the past where they’ve recognised that Australia needs to be globally competitive, now the OECD reported recently that we’re on track to have the second least competitive company tax rate in the OECD and we can’t pretend that global capital for investment is aligned to these things, of course they recognise where they are going to get reasonable returns and of course it impacts in terms of the ability of companies to reinvest. It’s not just a debate about very big companies, there are many many South Australian companies–family names that we would see as household names, like Haigh’s being another one who would have extra scope to reinvest–to grow–to create more South Australian jobs.

Ali Clarke: Well Nick Champion?

Nick Champion: Well look I think Simon is changing the goal posts. Originally they told us this was going to be a wage rise for workers that somehow a tax cut for big banks, big business, multinationals was going to be some boon for workers. They’ve now had this survey, an anonymous survey of the top BCA members and of course they all say that their either going to give it to shareholders or put it into future investment. They don’t intend to give it workers in the form of wages. We’ve got the lowest wage growth; we’ve got under investment in education thanks to this Government. This is a question of basically whether we’re going to give a tax cut to big business or whether you’re going to repair Australia’s fiscal position, and do investments for the future in education and health and all the other important services the government provides. I suppose the second question I guess which David talked about in his intro was we now have a Senate that is very different from the one that was elected in the double dissolution election and I guess new Senators that have been elected on party tickets, reflected one individual, in this case the Nick Xenophon team, do have to be mindful I think of what sort of mandate they hold and they have to consider I suppose the nations position very carefully before they sign-up to this Government’s agenda which has ever changing justifications to it.

Sarah Hanson-Young: Look I think part of the problem here is that of course the Government wants to talk up needing to spend $65 billion, that’s forgone revenue on tax cuts to big businesses and the public knows, the voters know that means $65 billion not going to schools, not going to hospitals, not going to public infrastructure because at the end of the day this is about priorities and the Government is choosing and continues to choose big business and the banks over people, over the community and the false promise of this trickle-down economics has been blown apart by the evidence that has been raised during this debate about the tax cut. The workers and mums and dads, and young people who are struggling to get enough money week in and week out to pay for rent, mortgages and school uniforms and things like that know that they’re not feeling any of the benefits when we’ve got big banks positing billions of dollars’ worth of profits, record profits. Workers aren’t getting that money, it’s not flowing through and if the Government doesn’t change their rhetoric on this they will feel it at the ballot box. Just rehearsing the same old lines didn’t work on Tim Storer, it didn’t work on Derryn Hinch, it didn’t work on Labor and the Greens in the Senate and it’s not working on the pubic.

Ali Clarke: Well look if any of you do see Tim Storer, Simon Birmingham you said he was a diligent person. He’s not overly diligent in returning anyone’s call so if you could let him know that all of us in the media are trying to contact him that would be absolutely great.

Simon Birmingham: Well I think that applies to every member of parliament that you don’t have to return every journalists phone call.

Nick Champion: That’s bad form.

Simon Birmingham: The business tax reforms were a policy the Turnbull Government took to the last election and if you listen to Nick and Sarah and all of this rhetoric, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that businesses are owned by shareholders, shareholders are Australian superannuation funds, they’re the pensioners and superannuants and retirees that Labor wants to tax more, so they’re trying to deny Australian businesses from being globally competitive by blocking these reforms. Again they want to….

Sarah Hanson-Young: Let’s be honest about this.

David Bevan: Sarah Hanson-Young if we can move on please and not talk over each other. There is a report in the Australian yesterday that analysis had been submitted to your party room and National Council which shows that the Greens are flat lining. Have you seen this analysis?

Sarah Hanson-Young: No I haven’t so I thought that was an interesting piece in the Australian actually, because I thought it said this was analysis that was meant to be given to our party room while there’s not many people in our party room and no one I spoke to yesterday has seen it so I think there is a bit of frivolous game playing going on there. But look let me be clear…

David Bevan: Well actually Rick produced extracts from the internal party document that says several of our Senators are at serious risk, we’re flat lining, we should be very worried, we need to lift our vote, our vote is stuck lower than it was before the 2016 Federal election and its trending down. But they’ve got a document.

Sarah Hanson-Young: Yes, the point I’m making is that I haven’t seen it.

David Bevan: Maybe Robert Simms…[Indistinct] you might be out of the loop?

Sarah Hanson-Young: I mean the Newspolls are there for everybody to see, we can see that the Newspoll came out yesterday and we’re on 9 per cent and we’ve been bouncing around 9 or 10 for the last six months or so.

David Bevan: You didn’t get the 9 per cent in the state election?

Sarah Hanson-Young: Well no and the state election was unpredictable for everybody, of course it was, the Nick Xenophon team running hard and I think it’s fair to say people don’t like too much spin from politicians at times like this. It’s fair to say the Nick Xenophon team took votes everybody and that included the Greens and we’ve got to be conscious of that. We are the party that is the strongest progressive voice in both the state and the Federal Parliament. We are the party in South Australia that if you care about the environment and climate change where the ones you can trust to stand up on those things,

David Bevan: But people don’t trust you. If people trusted you, they would vote for you?

Sarah Hanson-Young: Well it’s about making sure we are able to get that message out David and I think it’s fair to say that in the state election, the Greens weren’t given much oxygen and I think that’s part of the problem and talking to members and talking to people on polling day that was a frustration for them that they know we’ve got great policies, they know we’ve got great passion and commitment in our party but they weren’t seeing that message being reflected in the media or indeed in the…

David Bevan: Maybe if the Greens weren’t fighting amongst themselves they’d do better at Batman?

Sarah Hanson-Young: Well I absolutely think that’s right and that’s one of the most disappointing things about the Batman campaign was that in the end it was brought down internally because there was a small number of people who wanted to make havoc and were selfish and cared more about themselves then the outcomes, not just the Greens because it’s not about us at a political party, it’s about the things that we stand for.

David Bevan: How are you going to bring them into line?

Sarah Hanson-Young: Well, the party is running an investigation about that and in Victoria they’re going to make a decision. Richard of course as the leader has called for the people who participated in that campaign to be expelled and I support him in that. I don’t think there is a place for people to white ant inside out party and I don’t believe it does anyone any justice. We’ve got amazing passionate members who believe in our principles, who believe in our values and at the end of the day we’ve got to give them the opportunity to get out and do that. Having to talk about division and in-fighting does no courtesy to them.

Ali Clarke: Well is former Senator Robert Simms then being selfish and white anting by announcing he is running for your Senate spot?

Sarah Hanson-Young: No I don’t think so at all. I’m quite open to the idea that as many members who want to put their hand up. That’s the great thing about our process and it’s an open process, any member can throw their hat in the race and I welcome that.

Ali Clarke: But now you have to talk about leadership and how the party is running as opposed to the issues which you just highlighted was a problem with the Greens?

Sarah Hanson-Young: Well I think that’s something that we discuss within our party, one of the great things about the pre-selection process is it gives us an opportunity to speak to our members about what members want

David Bevan: In the paper today you are playing the women and mum card, ‘I feel privileged that as a woman and mum that the SA Greens have backed me’?

Sarah Hanson-Young: Well I do feel privileged David that as a woman and a mum that I’ve been backed to stand-up for the Greens values and principles on this. It is one of the things that members continue to say to me all the time that they thank me for being a role model in these areas and I thank them for that privilege. I absolutely do and I think it’s important that everything we stand-for, whether its climate change, whether its funding in education, whether it’s dealing with inequality, overwhelmingly it’s women in this country who are often left behind. They’re the first to feel it on the poverty line, it’s going to be children and women when it comes to the issues in environment that confront it first. It’s women who run our activist groups often because they’re the ones who put the future of their children first.

Ali Clarke: Sorry unfortunately it’s going to have to be this woman that cuts you off there because we do need to move on, apologies.

Ali Clarke: 14 minutes to nine, and were in the middle of Super Wednesday, Sarah Hanson-Young there. Nick Champion, Federal member for Wakefield and Simon Birmingham Education Minister. Mr Birmingham should we be going to Russia and playing soccer in the World Cup?

Simon Birmingham: I would expect that we will be. Australia has taken strong action in relation to the deeds that Russia undertook in relation to various violations of international law and domestic law in the UK. They put many lives at risk as a result of what appear to have been Russian actions in the UK and that’s why we have followed the lead along with 20 other nations in supporting the UK in sending a very strong message of leadership around the fact that we won’t tolerate misuse of chemical weapons, that we won’t tolerate such violations of sovereignty through such actions on soils of another nation and of course it is quite strong action that has been taken.

David Bevan: Nick Champion just very quickly, do you think we should play soccer with the Russians?

Nick Champion: Well I support the Government’s actions in expelling the diplomats in adverted commas back to Russia and I think it’s a good action and one that has been take in concert with the international community and I think it was a mistake to raise the World Cup in the context of yesterday but of course we’ll listen to what Simon and the Government has to say and listen to what the world community has to say and take appropriate actions there.

Ali Clarke: Thank you all for your time. Simon Birmingham, Sarah Hanson-Young Greens Senator for SA and Nick Champion, Labor member for Wakefield and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Manufacturing.