TUESDAY, 12 MAY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Joe Hockey in hiding before Budget release.
ED HUSIC, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE SHADOW TREASURER: In the week leading into the Budget, Joe Hockey has been about as easy to find at the Loch Ness monster, and as I’m committed to helping my friends in the media out, I thought I’d do something that would bring Joe Hockey out and make him answer questions. So in the interest of helping you in that regard, I’ve got here the equivalent of seasonal fruit for Joe Hockey [pulls out box of cigars] – it’s some cigars that I understand he’d probably be enjoying puffing on at this point, much like he did last year when he was about to bring out a budget that cost a lot of Australian families, not only in terms of money, but also cost the economy. And we figure if there is something easy to bring out Joe Hockey to answer those questions, let’s do it because there’s a lot riding on this Budget. It’s not about Tony Abbott’s job; it’s not about Joe Hockey’s job – it’s about the jobs of ordinary Australians, it’s about the future of the country and the economy, and they really should be stumping up to answer those questions, and let people know what’s in this Budget for them instead of seeing the slow drip of leaks and the lack of detail. Joe Hockey has been in hiding, and the answers with him.
JOURNALIST: Is there any part of the Family Tax Benefit cuts that you are looking at, at the moment, that Labor would negotiate on, perhaps the age limit of six years or ten years, or so. Was there any part of that you could see any room for movement on?
HUSIC: Two things. First, we obviously want to see the detail of the Budget and what’s being proposed because as we discovered last year, there might be the gloss that is around on Budget night, but it’s really the detail that lies within that has caused this Government to walk away from so much of its Budget since they have made bad calls at every turn. Second, in terms of reform itself, we’ve had to do something as an Opposition in record time, and that is produce policy because the Government’s policy production process has been woeful. We’ve already stumped up, for example, by putting forth suggestions on how to better get revenue out of a tax system that can better capture the profits made by multinationals that are moved offshore. We’ve put forward ideas on superannuation, and we’re expected to deliver more policy because this Government is unable to do the job. So let’s see what they put forward and go from there.
JOURNALIST: So you’re happy to see small business tax cuts being extended to unincorporated businesses?
HUSIC: Judging by some of the reports, it reminds me of that great saying that ‘imitation is the greatest form of flattery.’ Effectively what the Government is proposing to do is what we had – a suite of measures in place to help small business that this Government promptly removed after coming into office. For example, the instant tax write-off, and some of the measures that would have helped small businesses with their cash flow; they got rid of them. Now they’re proposing, instead of something simple like that, they’re proposing two measures: one is a tax cut for incorporated small businesses, and the other is a suite of measures we had when we were in Government. It would have been easier and better for those small businesses, mind you in the economic conditions that we’ve had, to have those measures in place and to be able to give benefit to small business to create jobs and local economic activity. So again, they’re having to walk away because they’ve made bad calls, and then they’ve walked away from the bad calls and take up the good ideas we had when we were in Government.
JOURNALIST: You say you want to see more details of various policies that have been announced. Labor already on their Facebook page though is pushing, basically suggesting, that this Budget is a bad one. How do you know that if you don’t have the details?
HUSIC: Because we go by track record. We look at what happened last year when they made a series of decisions that went counter to what they were suggesting to the Australian public leading up to the election. They then walked away from those bad calls, and what have we seen as the result? We see consumers spending less, businesses investing less as a result of that, the economy performing worse than it should be, joblessness higher now than it was under the GFC, and it’s largely been when you look at the consumer surveys, consumers are worried about the quality of Government decision-making. So again, we need to go through the detail but judging by track record, it’s a pretty woeful one from this government, and we’ll wait and see if they actually break away from that track record, break away from making bad judgment calls, and do something that helps the economy. But again, odds are against them.
JOURNALIST: The bank deposit tax, the point zero five percent on bank deposits – that was a Labor idea. It appears that the Government will introduce that. A number of seniors groups say they’re obviously concerned, especially with the rate of interest rates and self-funded retirees. Is that a proposal Labor still supports?
HUSIC: Again, this is a government that hasn’t been able to switch on a light properly. So I think they come up with the idea, and then you have to wait to see the detail and the implementation that is supposed to back it before you make the final call. But again, there have been a number of ideas, as we were talking a minute ago in the small business space, where we’ve had things in place, they’ve removed them, they’ve hurt people affected by those decisions in the meantime, and we then have to pick up the pieces afterwards. So I just come back and say let’s see the detail before we’re very quick to give them credit because it’s always the detail that gets them undone.
JOURNALIST: But the detail is point zero five per cent tax on bank deposits. Does Labor support that idea or not?
HUSIC: We’re just going to wait and see. Its Budget day – all will be revealed apparently and when we do get that, we’ll make a judgement call then. Thank you. Have a good day.
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