SUBJECTS: Labor’s economy wrecking climate policy;  Labor’s additional 387 billion in higher taxes.

George Gardner:  First week of campaigning [joining us] is Coalition Senator Simon Birmingham in Adelaide and Labor’s Anthony Albanese in Rockhampton.  Good morning and welcome to you both.

Simon Birmingham:  Good to be with you.

Anthony Albanese:  Good Morning.

Georgie Gardner:  Thank you. Anthony, I want to go to you first since climate change, of course, is one of your key policies. We’re talking very big numbers here. Does it pose a risk to the economy your policy? Can the country really afford it?

Anthony Albanese: The country can’t afford not to act, Georgie.  And what Warrick McKibbin has said today of course is that the differences is minimal.  The fact is that the economy will grow by 23 per cent under either Labor’s scenario or under the Coalition’s scenario.  And that makes sense Georgie, because we all know and the government acknowledges that there is a cost to carbon pollution. It’s a matter of whether you just leave it alone and deal with it later on, let the next generation deal with it.  Or whether we deal with it ourselves. Common sense tells you that the sooner you clean up pollution, the cheaper it will be the more efficient it will be.  And that’s why we have a 50 per cent renewables target by 2030.  We have an emissions target of reduce, reduction of 45 per cent and I’m sure that we will be able to get there.  I mean when were elected in 2007 there were 8000 houses in Australia with solar panels on their roofs, today there are two million, when we said that 20 per cent by 2020 target the coalition then said the world would end, the fact is that people are making savings today as a result of taking that action.

Georgie Gardner:  All right. Simon, how do you respond to that because your attack on Labor’s policy does smack of scaremongering?

Simon Birmingham:  Well no Georgie, it’s about doing what’s proportionate and responsible.  Our target for emissions reduction is to achieve a 26 to 28 per cent emissions reduction by 2030.  And that is well and truly responsible for Australia.  It’s one of the largest targets in the world in per capita terms or by GDP standards.  Labor though have argued and gone to this election saying they want to virtually double that target.  And what’s the difference?  Well Warrick McKibbin, the economist that Bill Shorten has been citing in the last couple of days, and has been very clear on the record today, saying the economic cost by 2030 would be $60 billion or more difference between the Coalition’s policy target and Labor’s policy target.  And that’s $60 billion or more that isn’t available to be invested elsewhere in the economy. And how is that cost materialising?  Materialising either in higher electricity prices for Australian households or businesses or in tens of billions of dollars in international permits that Australian businesses will be forced to purchase offshore.  And that is billions of dollars less those businesses have to employ Australians and to give Australians wage rises or to invest indeed in their own businesses in terms of emissions reduction in the future.

Georgie Gardner:  Anthony, this is, this is confusing and convoluted to a lot of voters. How will you meet the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Anthony Albanese:  Well the fact is that the Government’s own modelling, and Simon Birmingham just months ago was running around saying like other Coalition Ministers and the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, that their NEG, their national energy guarantee would save households $550, they put it through their party room twice.  Then they walked away from it. Because of a minority of climate change sceptics in the Coalition party room.

Simon Birmingham: But you are doubling the target.

Anthony Albanese:  The fact is, the fact is, the fact is that we need to act on climate change. Simon knows full well there is a cost of climate change. We can either pass it on to future generations, but the sooner we act the cheaper it is to act.   That every, every basic law of economics will tell you that. And that’s why we’ve taken this position just like our position on emissions in terms of cars, will save every driver $500 according to the Government’s own modelling.  The question the Government’s got to answer is where do their $40 billion of cuts that they’re going to have to make, in order to pay for their tax cuts to the big end of town, which schools, hospitals and infrastructure projects are going to be shelved?

Georgie Gardner:  Alright we are going to move on because I want to talk to you about how you’re tracking in the polls.  Simon, the most recent poll shows Labor winning 82 seats to the Coalition’s 63. You’ve got your work cut out for you to turn this around, haven’t you?

Simon Birmingham:  This is always going to be a mountain that we have to climb. But what we won’t tolerate in this campaign is the type of lies that Albo was just telling before.  The pre-election fiscal outlook handed down independently by the heads of Treasury and Finance this week made very clear, that current policy settings, current policy settings apply the whole way through in that outlook. There are no secret cuts.  In fact I can say very clearly there’s continued growth, record levels in schools, in hospitals, in roads right through into the future.  But, importantly what we are also able to do, because of our economic growth as a government, is balance the budget, deliver consistent surpluses, deliver tax cuts to hardworking Australians.  And that’s a stark choice in contrast compared to Bill Shorten who has $387 billion worth of additional taxes.  Even though this week he was out there lying about them, avoiding saying that he had any new taxes on superannuation.  When in truth he finally backed down and said yes actually there are $34 billion of new taxes on superannuation that are additional to the new taxes on retirees, additional to the new taxes on housing stock in Australia.  Additional to the extra cost people will face on electricity, on cars and indeed higher taxes for wage earners. 

 Georgie Gardner: Anthony, this election is Labor’s to lose and this week as Simon mentioned Bill Shorten has stumbled. He didn’t seem to be across his brief on climate change or tax on superannuation. How do you think he faired this week?

Anthony Albanese:  He’s faired very well and Labor is out there putting forward a positive agenda for the nation.  The Government’s reduced to scare campaigns. The fact is the big difference between us and the government is that we won’t get people on over $200,000 a year a massive tax cut.

Simon Birmingham:  You also won’t give someone on $45 000 a tax cut.

Anthony Albanese:  Someone on $50,000 should be on, should be on a different rate than someone who’s on $190,000.  For the government they see no distinction between the two and want them to be paying the same rate of tax.  The fact is we’ll have bigger surpluses, we’ll have a stronger economy, but we’ll also be able to fund education and health because we will close tax loopholes.  We make no apologies for that. We’ve said that upfront and in advance, unlike this coalition that of course came to government in 2013 saying no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no cuts to the ABC.  And we know what they did. I know what they would do again because the pre-election fiscal outlook tells us they’re going to have to make $40b in cuts each year.

Simon Birmingham:  That is just not true.

Georgie Gardner:  Ok gentleman, it is Good Friday.  We will call a truce.  We are going to say Happy Easter to each other, you are going to stock up on Easter eggs because one week down, you have four weeks to go.

Anthony Albanese:  I hope everyone has a Happy Easter.

Simon Birmingham: Indeed.  Happy Easter to all.