Topics: Federal Budget




Deb Knight: Now our politicians have been trying to win our votes for months now but the stage is set for the official election campaign. The Prime Minister tipped to this weekend visit the Governor-General and name the date we will all head to the polls in May. The last day of Parliament saw some emotional scenes and the Opposition leader trying to outmaneuver the Government with big spending on health, education, and tax cuts in his Budget reply. Labor’s Anthony Albanese joins me now from Canberra, along with the Government’s Simon Birmingham in Adelaide. Good morning to you both.


Simon Birmingham: Good morning Deb.


Anthony Albanese: Good morning.


Deb Knight: Albo to you first, Labor was quick to question the surplus that the Government very proudly unveiled on Budget night. But if the figures are so thin and if these external factors like a slowing global economy are such a threat, why is Labor’s spending up so big?


Anthony Albanese: Well what we’re not doing Deb is having these massive, unaffordable, tax cuts at the very high end which would put myself on the same tax rate as the person who cleans my office, would put a nurse on the same tax rate as a specialist surgeon, and we won’t be doing that. What we are doing is affordable, it’s fully costed, in particular our plan to deal with cancer is the biggest reform to Medicare since Bob Hawke and Labor created Medicare.


Deb Knight: Well Simon, you are in it to win it, of course you both cherry pick the best policies the others come up with and health didn’t rate much of a mention in the Government’s budget, will you match Labor’s plan when it comes to cutting the cancer costs, it’s very appealing to a lot of voters?


Simon Birmingham: Well health absolutely rated a huge mention in the Budget, because we had a large mental health package. A really important area of reform put in place for 30 additional Headspace centres, other investments in mental health, (indistinct) listing drugs and on top of that you know we’re going to keep listing drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as they are recommended by the experts, and that’s something that Labor was…


Deb Knight: Will you look at cutting cancer costs though?


Simon Birmingham: Well indeed, by continuing to list those drugs, we have done 10 billion dollars’ worth to date. The Labor Party when they were last in office refused to accept that advice. So, for conditions like Endometriosis, we saw the Labor party decide to kick down the road the listing of drugs that could have helped people at that time but didn’t. And can I also just call Albo out; you know under our tax reform package, he’ll still be on the top tax bracket. This is not something that’s going to help Albo or me in that sense, it’s going to help make sure that people who are working,…


Deb Knight: Albo what is your reply?


Anthony Albanese: That’s just not right, the fact is that people on one hundred and eighty thousand dollars a year…


Simon Birmingham: You get paid more than that Albo.


Anthony Albanese: …will be in the same tax bracket as someone who’s on 50 not taxable…


Simon Birmingham: You get paid more than that Albo.


Anthony Albanese: …there’s something called taxable income Simon, you should learn about it and one of the things that this government keeps doing is confusing taxable income…


Simon Birmingham: You got a few houses you negative gear do you?


Anthony Albanese: …with pre-tax income. The fact is that Labor’s plan will look after everyone in middle-income brackets will get the same amount under Labor up to just over one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, will get the same tax cut. The people who’ll be better off under our scheme are the people under 40 thousand dollars, the people who’ll be better off under their scheme is people on two hundred and fifty thousand, three hundred thousand dollars a year. They’ll be getting the big bonus and we’re saying where everything comes from.


Deb Knight: Simon mentioned negative gearing and of course the policy from Labor on negative gearing and capital gains, they were announced when the property market was red hot, it’s not now, prices are set to fall further. You’ve got to rethink this policy don’t you in light of the housing market and the threats it’s facing?


Anthony Albanese: Not at all Deb the fact is that we’ve had this policy out since prior to the 2016 election.


Deb Knight: And the market has changed significantly since then.


Anthony Albanese: And I’ll tell you what’s still continuing to happen is that the young person going along looking to buy their first home which is our priority, is still getting outbid by the investor. What we will do as well is do what…but remember what negative gearing was supposed to do, it’s about building supply which is why we’ll do two things. Anyone with existing arrangements, no change whatsoever but if you want to negatively gear a property you’ll have to invest in new housing, what that will do is boost construction and boost supply.


Deb Knight: All right, now we saw some touching moments in Parliament on the last day yesterday. Bill Shorten of course showing the love for his wife Chloe after delivering his Budget reply, giving a bit of a smooch there as well. We saw Julie Bishop leave the building for the very last time and Christopher Pyne saying goodbye after 26 years in Parliament as only he could. Here’s a bit of a reminder.


Christopher Pyne: I’ve seen some truly dreadful people come through here over the last quarter of a century Mr Speaker. (laughter) It’s true though. [Audio break] Thank you, good bye and good luck.


Deb Knight: Simon, he really did get quite emotional there.


Simon Birmingham: He did and you know 26 years is a big part of anybody’s life, so you can understand that. Christopher is a dear friend to both Albo and to me, he’s been a great mentor to me as well and the place won’t be the same without him. But on a serious note, he also leaves with some incredible accomplishments and most importantly in terms of transforming our defence industry sector and Australians in decades to come, are going to look back and say this Government, but Christopher Pyne in particular, did an incredible thing in setting Australia up to have our own shipbuilding capacity.


Deb Knight: An Albo, you are sparring partners famously here on the Today Show for many years with Christopher, but you are good friends and his colorful character will be missed.


Anthony Albanese: Look he certainly will be missed and I hope for the sake of your viewers you show his line about his greatest hardship, he referred to in life is once having to get his own lemon for his G & T. I think it was one of the best lines delivered in Parliament and of course Christopher delivered it perfectly. We are sparring partners, we have very different views about politics but I respect him and I wish him and Carolyn and all the best.


Simon Birmingham: Yeah he’s pretty good at pouring a drink for you, me, and many others though Albo too, with or without a lemon.


Anthony Albanese: He’s actually a very generous person, who is very warm hearted and it was I think very good that the person he chose to quote most in his speech was Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was was a very good speech.


Deb Knight: It certainly was and he will be missed and well said by both, and we look forward to seeing you out and about on the campaign.


Anthony Albanese: I’m off to Brisbane.


Simon Birmingham: Thanks Deb, fantastic.


Deb Knight: Selling, spruiking trying to win our votes. Good on you fellows we’ll talk to you again soon.


Simon Birmingham: Cheers.


Anthony Albanese: Good on you.