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Transcript of interview with Hugh Riminton: Meet the Press: 28 October 2012: Mining tax; MYEFO; Labor Party

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David Bradbury MP

Assistant Treasurer

Minister Assisting for Deregulation

Transcript of interview with Hugh Riminton

Meet the Press

28 October 2012


Topics: Mining tax, MYEFO, Labor Party

HOST: Our guest this morning is Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury, good morning Minister.

BRADBURY: Good morning Hugh.

HOST: Let’s start with the mining tax. Is it going to bring in the $2 billion it’s budgeted to bring in this financial year?

BRADBURY: Well we’ve revised down our forecasts, we do expect the mining tax will bring in $2 billion in the coming year and $9 billion across the forward estimates. Of course there’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not tax has been collected in the first quarter. I’d make the obvious point that I think we should all be making, and that is to say let’s not judge good public policy based upon a single quarter, let’s look at what this is going to mean into the future.

HOST: Zero dollars. You say there’s a lot of speculation, are you denying the speculation? Have you got a number you can share with us about how much money has flowed into the coffers?

BRADBURY: We’re not in the business of speculating on the tax bills of individual companies. Such is the nature of this tax that answering questions like that would go to the heart of particular amounts of tax that would be paid by just a handful of

companies. Can I make this point. This is a tax on mega profits. Where mining companies make mega profits, then the government will collect a fair share for the Australian people. Now if the companies are not making mega profits then we rely on the company tax that comes in in the ordinary course. But that is what we’ve always said. That’s why the claim that we’ve heard from the Opposition, day after day, that this was going to destroy the mining sector has been such a furphy. In the end, where the companies are strong, we get a return, where they’re not as strong, we continue to get company tax.

HOST: But as you say, you rely on mega profits to get money out of this particular tax, but you rely on this tax to deliver a surplus. If you don’t get the $2 billion, you’ve currently got a surplus of $1.1 billion, you’re not going to make that surplus are you?

BRADBURY: We have, through both the budget and the mid-year statement process, gone through and revised expenditure, we’ve revised these matters according to revised revenue forecasts and we continue to manage the budget responsibly in this way. That’s something that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

HOST: So in managing the budget responsibly, what have you got up your sleeve now? If this money’s not coming in because the mega profits are not there or whatever other reason built into the structure of that tax, what else have you got up your sleeve to make that surplus, which you’ve attached so much to?

BRADBURY: It’s not about having something up our sleeves. Let’s not forget, in all the hot air in the political debate on this issue, the mining tax still accounts for less than one per cent of Commonwealth revenues, so it is a small proportion of the overall contribution to government revenue. We stand by our estimates that there will be substantial revenue to be collected across the forward estimates, but notwithstanding that, through this budget process, the mid-year statement, you see that we’ve taken some difficult decisions in relation to savings measures, particularly some of the long-term structural savings measures that will make sure our budget will be sustainable, not just in the next quarter or the next year or over the forward estimates, but moving well beyond that.

HOST: If we don’t get into surplus, will Australia lose its triple-A credit rating?

BRADBURY: Well it’s not as simple as that, but you make a good point. We have a triple-A credit rating, not just by one or two but by all three of the major credit rating agencies. Fitch one again reaffirmed that on Friday night.

HOST: I think the point is we keep the triple-A regardless of whether we go into a surplus in this financial year, so why the obsession with a surplus in this financial year? There can be no economic imperative for that.

BRADBURY: You’ve got to keep working hard to run tight fiscal policy to maintain what we have today: triple-A credit rating, first time in Australia’s history, the previous government didn’t deliver it. People that suggest to me that you don’t need a surplus,

I ask them the question, how much deficit do you want? The point is where the economy is returning to trend growth, where we have contained inflation, where we have unemployment at contained levels and a record pipeline of continued investment, these are the circumstance where in which governments should be pulling back on their spending, should be returning their budgets to surplus to give the Reserve Bank the space that it needs to do what is so important to families and businesses, to cut interest rates. And that has benefitted families and businesses considerably. If you’ve got a $300,000 mortgage, since we’ve come to office you’re now paying $4,500 less in repayments.

HOST: David Bradbury you were a Julia Gillard backer in the last leadership vote. Another Gillard backer, Simon Crean, said today it was wrong, in fact, to chop down Kevin Rudd. Do you agree with that?

BRADBURY: These matters have been canvassed comprehensively. What I will say is that we are Labor in Government. We have the opportunity to make history, not to just write about it. I’m determined to be a part of a government that is getting on with doing things that will make a difference - introducing a National Disability Insurance Scheme, investing in education so that every Australian child has the opportunity to realize their potential. And later today we’ll see from the Prime Minister we’re about ensuring that, moving into the future, we are able to build the opportunities and make them available to all Australians, of an Asian Century. So that we can tap into shifting power of economic growth into our region so that all Australians can lift their living standards over time.

HOST: Just quickly, you in the seat of Lindsay had a five per cent swing against you last time, you hold it by about a one per cent margin, is there a single thing, and if so what is it, you need this government to do to ensure that you are returned at the next election? What does this government need to do?

BRADBURY: I never think it’s ever as simple as saying one single thing, but we have to be a good government. We are a good government. We are not only managing our budget and economy better than just about any country in the world, we’re a standout performer.

HOST: Is unity essential? Must you go to the next election without the leadership thing revisited, is that a requirement?

BRADBURY: Unity is always crucial. We have runs on the board. We’ve got more to do but the thing that will set our government apart from the Opposition heading into the next election is that we actually have a plan for the future. We are looking through the windscreen to see what opportunities exist rather than looking up through the rearvision mirror.

HOST: Okay, David Bradbury thanks very much for your time today, I know it’s your twins’ birthday, so thanks for your time.

BRADBURY: Thank you and congratulations to you Hugh and your team for 20 years of providing outstanding breakfast television for us all.