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Transcript of interview with Sabra Lane: ABC 7.30: 25 July 2016: Government's economic plan for jobs and growth; crossbench; superannuation; G20

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The Hon. Scott Morrison MP Treasurer




Subjects: Government’s economic plan for jobs and growth, Crossbench, Superannuation, G20

SABRA LANE: The Treasurer Scott Morrison has just returned from a meeting of G20 Finance ministers in China. I spoke with him earlier. Treasurer, thanks for talking to 7.30.

TREASURER: Thank you, Sabra. Good to be here.

LANE: Woolworths has announced it’s cutting 500 jobs today. For those workers who will be looking for new jobs, where will those new jobs be?

TREASURER: Well it's never good news when people lose their jobs. That's why our focus as a government has been very much on jobs. And Woolworths' decision, they've set out the reasons for that today - a lot of issues that are very internal, issues dealing with competition, some new ventures, Masters, things like that. But what we are seeing is good, strong growth in employment in the services sector. That transition from the mining investment boom through to the services sector which we've been talking about for quite a period of time, that is real, it is happening. We are seeing groups like ALDI and others actually take on opportunities in this area. And so it is important that this is what the economy is about at the moment, how people are able to move when things like this happened into new opportunities. The growth rate in unemployment, around two per cent, is 10 times what it was three years ago. So, that's the good news, but it's always difficult news when people lose their jobs.

LANE: The Coalition's jobs and growth strategy centred around the corporate tax plan to cut corporate tax over 10 years, $50 billion worth. It's clear that that's not going to get through the new Senate. How will you try and ensure that package does get through Parliament?

TREASURER: Well the Government took that package to an election and we won that election and we'll be presenting our budget to the Parliament in the normal way, as you would expect. Now we'll work constructively with crossbenchers, with the Opposition, with others, to see the passage of measures which we believe are critical to growing the economy. I mean, growth cannot be taken for granted in this economy. I've just returned from the G20, as you know, and you've got to fight for every inch of growth you get in this economy to support the very jobs that we were just talking about then. So that is our plan to take forward, but it starts particularly with small and medium-sized businesses and that will obviously be the initial focus of that legislation.

LAN E: Will you - a number of the crossbenchers - have you tried talking with the new crossbenchers - Pauline Hanson, Derryn Hinch, about how to get it through?

TREASURER: Well we've started that process and that will continue in the weeks ahead and it's some weeks yet before the Parliament returns and I have some of those meetings further scheduled for


later this week. And - and, look, I think it's important to be constructive, pragmatic and engaging on these issues and to provide more information for a lot of senators who'll be coming in, and that count is still yet to be finalised, to understand the issues that are there and help them make the decisions they need to make.

LANE: On the superannuation changes, are you surprised by the number of Coalition MPs who are complaining about the package that you've put forward, especially the half-a-million-dollar cap on after-tax contributions, given by the Government's own figures, only one per cent of people have put in more than that amount since 2007?

TREASURER: Well the superannuation measures are important changes and they go together with the changes we made in the previous year's budget around pensions. Now, what's one of the biggest challenges we face as an economy is the ageing of our population. You need to address the eligibility around pension arrangements, which we've already done, and you need to address the sustainability of tax concessions around superannuation, which we've done in this budget. Now...

LANE: Getting around to the question though, are you surprised by the number of people on your own side who are saying, "No"?

TREASURER: Well, that's your commentary on it. The exposure draft will go out in the weeks ahead.

LANE: It's your backbench.

TREASURER: Well, in terms of how many and those sorts of assessments, they're assessments you're making. They're not assessments I'm making. I'm working constructively with the Government members and there'll be exposure draft legislation. There is no special process we're engaged in. It's the normal process to pursue budget legislation. But I'd just make this point, this is critical, not only as an economic reform to make our pension and superannuation systems sustainable, it is an essential budget and fiscal measure which is critical to us meeting the trajectory of getting the deficit down. And if there's one issue that I know Liberals and National Party members feel strongly about and that is reducing the deficit so we can reduce the debt and that is my laser-like focus.

LANE: Now you talked about the G20. There was a focus of getting growth at two per cent, which Joe Hockey set. The G20's struggling to meet that. Is that impossible now given the rise of trade protectionism right around the world? The Brexit result, Trump, Clinton. Hillary Clinton, she's against the TPP.

TREASURER: Well first of all, it's a worthy goal to have and it remains shared by G20 countries to pursue growth. And there was a very strong mood at the G20 that we have to resist this path of going down the protectionist route, that we need to ensure that we effectively double down on ensuring that we're promoting trade and promoting entrepreneurialism and innovation and particularly small and medium-sized enterprises is what they were talking about. Obviously the Government's policies spoke strongly into those priorities that were being set out at the G20, whether it's reducing the tax burden for small and medium-sized enterprises or pursuing the innovation policies for startups and innovation companies and joint venture partnerships for those small starting-up companies or even issues around companies who are trying to resuscitate and the work we're doing in those areas as well.

LANE: Now, you're on the National Security Committee of Cabinet. There is some unease in legal quarters about the Government's announcements today to keep high-risk terrorists behind bars once they've completed their sentences. The Prime Minister says there needs to be some haste in getting these laws done. Why the hurry?


TREASURER: These are essential reforms and essential changes and they're changes we've been working on for some time collaboratively with the states and territories. They mirror similar provisions that are in place for other types of offenders and I think they work very well with the challenges that we have in this area. For those who are demonstrating that they are a danger to the community, how on Earth would you suggest that we should let them out?

LANE: I'm not suggesting that at all. But as you pointed, you've been working on these for some time. Why the haste right now?

TREASURER: Well it's a continuing process and we've got to the point now where you start to implement. We've done a lot of consultation, so now we just need to get on with it and that's what the Prime Minister is saying. I mean, the Government is just back at the job. The election is done, the Government has been returned and we're on the job, whether it's on national security issues or pursuing these economic issues that we've been discussing and the important changes that are necessary there, or it's indeed dealing with the implementation of the Budget and the fiscal challenges that we have to pursue. So, the Government is back at work. We're getting on with that job and whether it's national security or the economy, on forward we go.

LANE: Treasurer, thanks for your time.

TREASURER: Thanks a lot.


Further information: Kate Williams 0429 584 675