SUBJECT/S: 2015 Budget.

STEVE CHASE: Now the Government is saying its creating conditions, as you just heard there, to allow Australia to only become more prosperous by ‘having a go.’ Nothing wrong with that is there? 

ED HUSIC, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE SHADOW TREASURER: It’s a great motivational speech; he should go on the circuit later, Joe Hockey, and try to talk up an economy that needs talking up. And this is the problem that we are in – I would ask your listeners to take into account that we’ve had two interest rate cuts in quick succession. We’ve had very optimistic assessments about where growth is going to go, but don’t judge the Government by what is written; judge them by their actions. They’re bringing forward significant investment, an attempt to get small business to invest because the economy is performing lower that what it should be, investment has been not as strong as it should be, because consumers aren’t spending because of a lack of confidence, and a lot of that has stemmed from a bad Budget last year that they are incredibly over-compensating and over-correcting in this Budget. There is a lot to be concerned about. What should be asked is, ‘what does this Government know about where the economy is headed that they’re not really telling us?’

CHASE: Yeah fair point, but you’ve got a lot of tradies, as I understand it, in your electorate. They would be licking their lips, wouldn’t they, at this $20,000 accelerated depreciation allowance. Would Labor, in Government, take that away from them?

HUSIC: We welcomed the announcement because, in effect, it represents what we were doing when we were in Government –

CHASE: Albeit on a smaller scale –

HUSIC: Yes, and that’s actually something worth exploring too, in a few moments. But we certainly had a similar system in place designed to help small business deal with a number of small challenges, be it the GFC or the strength of the dollar at a particular point in time. This Government came in, got rid of all of them, and not only did they get rid of them, Steve, they made the changes retrospective so anyone who had claimed was forced into a terrible position as a result of that retrospectivity. They are now bringing in a system much higher, much stronger than what we had in place, and again, it comes back to the point I made a few moments ago – what is so concerning about what they’re putting in place at such a scale that prompts them to have to do this. I think that’s pretty important to follow up.

CHASE: If it works, you’d be happy. I’m assuming the scheme that you alluded to that Labor brought in was a similar one, it worked; and as I understand it was about $5,000 so if it’s $20,000 it will be four times as good as Labor’s, wouldn’t it?

HUSIC: And it’s been put it place simply for two years. Ours was in place on an on-going basis to assist with the cash flow and other pressures that confront small business. That support was taken away at the same time the Government’s first Budget cruelled confidence and worsened economic conditions for those businesses. Now they’re having to bring in something to over-compensate at a much larger level because investment isn’t there, the economic growth isn’t there, the Reserve Bank is compelled to cut interest rates in quick succession. So as much as they would like to claim the bouquets of this Budget, but really it’s just cleaning up the mess of the last one.

CHASE: Now I spoke to Andrew Laming from Queensland Liberal Party up there about an hour ago, and I put it to him to that it’s going to make his job a lot easier to sell to his electorate then it was a year ago. Conversely, you’re talking to your constituents, and they’re saying ‘well, the Liberals have got it right now.’

HUSIC: [laughter] I don’t it’s so much that –

CHASE: Some of them will say that, won’t they?

HUSIC: I think it’s more the case that the barrage has stopped – the barrage of bad decisions has tapered off, and they’ve had to backtrack on the ones that they’ve done. But it’s hard too, Steve; the Budget still contains some fairly significant cuts to schools, to hospital spending, to healthcare spending, families that are looking at the prospect of losing $6,000. There are still a lot of nasties in this Budget. And in my area in particular where I want to see – and we’ve had a lot of discussion about the need to lift people in lower socio-economic areas out of that situation through proper funding support in schools and vocational training – all these things are cut in this Budget. It doesn’t help the people I represent in my area.  

CHASE: But the Liberals are arguing – I’m just putting it to you – that Labor left us a lot of things to spend on; for example, NDIS, which by and large they go along with. But there are some other things, like Gonski, have to be paid for, and they are poking you in the chest and saying ‘how are you going to fund these things?”

HUSIC: Well, we’ve put forward in record time as an Opposition, because of the failure of this Government to get its policy right, we’ve put forward a range of policies in two key areas where we believe you could add $20 billion over the course of ten years. For instance, in terms of changing superannuation treatment for those people at the higher income level, getting them to pay more in their superannuation in terms of the taxes they would pay. We, for instance, argued that with the times changing the way they are, and with multinationals shifting profit and being able to game different taxation systems across the globe; we put forward a range of measures to deal with that. The Government answer on both those is: we’re not doing anything on superannuation, and to bring in a much more paltry system on dealing with multinational taxation arrangements. We’ve stepped up. We’ve brought forward arguments to bring revenue to the table. The Government has just refused to take those on board, Steve.



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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley

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