LAURA JAYES: … in Kevin Rudd’s first election promise, the Prime Minister has pledged to terminate the carbon tax and move to an emissions trading scheme a year earlier than planned…
LAURA JAYES: … Simon Birmingham, first, your reaction to this announcement, Kevin Rudd moving to an ETS [emissions trading scheme]… he says it’s good for the budget bottom line – good for the family budget – and good for the environment, so what’s not to agree with here?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, good afternoon, Laura and viewers. Laura, what we saw today was Kevin Rudd not being the Terminator but Kevin the Conman because, in the end, Kevin Rudd stood there today and tried to claim that there was some ongoing benefit to families from what he was proposing and that is just blatantly untrue. Kevin Rudd was attempting to lie to the Australian people today when a claimed a year-on-year benefit.
LAURA JAYES: Well, Penny Wong just clarified that… Senator, Penny Wong just clarified that. She said, because it does move to a market base, it is $380 in the first year and the savings will continue for years after that. Do you dispute that?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Absolutely! The projections here from 1 July 2015 onwards are exactly the same as they were under Julia Gillard. Let’s be under no illusions here. All Kevin Rudd has done is take the $64 billion carbon tax that existed under Julia Gillard to 2020 and change it into a $58 billion carbon tax. We were already going to go to a floating carbon tax from 1 July 2015. Kevin Rudd’s just changed that to 1 July 2014. This, in effect, is a minor technical change with an impact that occurs for only one year. By the time we get to 2020, the carbon tax will still be up to $38 a tonne, compared with $25 where it is today, based on the Government’s own estimates, so there is no ongoing benefit to people here…
LAURA JAYES: But the Treasury forecasting did look at the European price and changed the 2015 price to about $12.50, so hasn’t those estimations and forecasts come down anyway?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, if there are new estimates from the budget beyond 2015, the Government should release those. That’s not what they did today. All they’ve announced today is a change for the 2014-15 financial year and that is just a technical change that impacts on one year and the reality is, beyond that, people will still be paying the same under the carbon tax under Kevin Rudd as they would have been under Julia Gillard. Industry will still be paying the same…
LAURA JAYES: Okay, there’s been a clampdown… There’s been a clampdown that Kevin Rudd has announced on the fringe benefits tax on salary sacrifice. Does the Coalition support that? Will they retain that measure if they win government?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: We’ll look at the detail of all of these savings measures, or so-called savings measures. We’ve, of course, already announced some $15 billion of savings measures that we will take to the next election, just as at the last election we took significant savings measures, because we’re determined to bring the budget deficit back under control, so we’re very serious about identifying savings. I think are some concerns that people would rightly have about the impact in terms of administration and the ‘red tape’ burden these changes may pose for business and, of course, there is the amazing position of a Government that continues to change its policies that impact on the automotive sector on a basically monthly basis. Sometimes they’re having a green car fund. Sometimes they’re axing a green car fund. They change the rules all the time and I’m sure this tax change will certainly not be welcomed by Australia’s car makers.
LAURA JAYES: There’s been $2 billion in saves made by the scrapping of various programs, bringing forward the permits… Energy Security Fund, for example, clean capture and storage… these were mostly programs that the Coalition was going to get rid of anyway, weren’t they?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, it’s a demonstration that the Government doesn’t really know whether it’s Arthur or Martha. These are programs that the Labor Government established. Now they’re cutting their own programs, just as Kevin Rudd has never really known quite where he stands on a carbon tax – he was for a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, before he shelved it, before he scrapped it altogether, before he was then for a carbon tax. Only two weeks ago he was voting to support the increase of the carbon tax this year to the $25 a tonne that it now is. Now he’s saying he wants to bring forward a different change to the carbon tax regime. It’s all just ‘smoke and mirrors’ from this Government. The truth is: the carbon tax will be there; it will be there under Labor indefinitely and the only way we will see the carbon tax terminated is to have a change of government and, unlike what the Labor Party’s tried to do previously, to permanently terminate Kevin Rudd’s tenure as Prime Minister.
LAURA JAYES: Alright, I just want to, finally, ask you as well … Tony Abbott today was in Tasmania. He was asked about the candidate in Denison. He couldn’t name that particular candidate. There’s only five seats there. Shouldn’t he be more across this detail?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, there are 150 seats across Australia and that’s before you count Senate candidates in each state or territory as well, so I think we can get hung up on some of these things from time to time. In the end, that’s just the ‘gotcha’ sort of game of politics. What really matters today are the policy issues and the policy trickery of Labor, which is to try to con Australians into believing that they’re axing the carbon tax when they’re doing no such thing.
LAURA JAYES: Graham Perrett, just quickly – only about 30 second on the program – would you expect Kevin Rudd to be across similar detail or is it an easy mistake?
GRAHAM PERRETT: Oh, look, I don’t like to agree with Simon on too much but, yeah, it is one of those things where… but I can tell you this: I bet Kevin can name the… his candidates. He’s pretty… got a mind like a steel trap when it comes to names. I’ve seen that often, even when he meets people in my electorate…
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Tempting fate, I suspect, Graham.
GRAHAM PERRETT: Yeah, you know, so it is one of those things that Kevin just has that… one of those great memories when it comes to remembering names.
LAURA JAYES: Graham Perrett and Simon Birmingham, we’ll have to leave it there today.