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Transcript of doorstop interview: Brisbane: 16 February 2016: Labor's plan to fund health & education - and balance the Budget; the facts on negative gearing; time for Turnbull and Morrison to outline a detailed tax plan

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SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to fund health & education - and balance the Budget; the facts on negative gearing; time for Turnbull and Morrison to outline a detailed tax plan.

CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: Well thank you. A few things to deal with this afternoon briefly; earlier today, the Prime Minister said the GST increase was off the table. Another day of confusion from the Turnbull Government. On the day that one of his Cabinet Ministers, Michaela Cash said specifically that it was on the table, the Prime Minister forced to rule out increasing the GST. Let’s make one thing very very clear, Malcolm Turnbull has ruled out increasing the GST because he’s worried about his own job not your job. He’s worried about his own future, not your future. Malcolm Turnbull is scared of an increase in the GST because he’s scared of politics; he’s scared that it might see his Government defeated. Now Malcolm Turnbull, it was very clear that Scott Morrison wanted to increase the GST but don’t have the courage of their convictions to go to the Australian people and seek a mandate for it. Liberal and National MPs worried about their jobs, worried about their seats, lobbying the Prime Minister and the Treasurer to drop their GST increase.

What’s also clear is that the Government is bereft of any other ideas other than increasing the GST. The Labor Party made a very substantial policy announcement on the weekend. Since then, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have been all at sea when it comes to our announcement about negative gearing. Malcolm Turnbull even today was reduced to the same myths and lies that Scott Morrison has been peddling, arguing that negative gearing predominantly benefits low income earners. This is just not true. Malcolm Turnbull should know that 50 per cent of the benefit of negative gearing goes to the top 20 per cent of income earners. That a surgeon on average gets 100 times the benefit than a cleaner. The fact of the matter is negative gearing needs to be reformed. It needs to be reformed and put to work in the best interests of all Australians.

Now Malcolm Turnbull was also today saying that our proposed changes would create a distortion in the economy. Well Malcolm Turnbull needs to get on top of the facts. He might want to read his own financial systems enquiry, the Murray Review, which under the headline “Major Tax Distortions” argued that negative gearing and

that capital gains tax discount needed to be reformed to minimise distortions within the economy. They were creating the distortion; our policy actually deals with the distortion.

Malcolm Turnbull is getting it wrong. He gets it wrong when he says that negative gearing predominately benefits low income earners, that’s a lie. He gets it wrong when he says that our policy would create distortion, that’s not true. Our policy will fix a distortion, would deal with a distortion as recommended by the Murray Review.

Finally, the Treasurer is going before the National Press Club tomorrow. Two and half years into this Government, the Treasurer is going before the press club to outline his vision for tax. A Government, a Treasurer who started the Green Paper/White Paper process and then junked it just late last year, Scott Morrison was saying how important the Green Paper/White Paper process was. They’ve spent millions of taxpayers money on staffing the process and advertising the process, and now they’ve junked it.

We have shown that we are prepared to lead the tax debate; high income superannuation, multinational tax, tobacco and negative gearing and capital gains tax. Scott Morrison must come to the press club tomorrow with more than slogans, more than platitudes. He should come to the press club with his briefcase and in that briefcase he should outline policies; costed detailed policies. He should actually put his policies on the table, not say that everything’s on the table, put some policies on the table.

Let the Australian people judge his policies, scrutinise his plans as the Labor Party has been more than happy to do. We’ve been more than happy to lead the debate, to introduce detailed policies and to have them scrutinised. All that Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have done is float an increase in the GST and walk away from it because they’re scared. At this point, Malcolm Turnbull’s only achievement as Prime Minister has been to sack four Ministers and to lose two more.

It’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to get on with the job of focusing on the real issues for the Australian people, instead of the internal chaos and dysfunction of his own Government.

Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Just one totally off topic. You’re in Brisbane, baby Ashley (inaudible)?

BOWEN: Richard Marles, our Shadow Immigration Minister would deal with that particular matter. Obviously these are very very difficult matters and sensitive matters where an individual child is involved and of course everybody would be concerned for the welfare of that particular baby as well as the broader issue but I’ll leave Richard Marles as our Shadow Immigration Spokesperson to comment in any detail.

Okay thanks very much.