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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Grafton, NSW: 21 January 2011: New South Wales floods; Coalition’s proposed tax assistance for flood-affected small business; Labor’s proposed flood tax



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

21 January 2011

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR, JOINT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW WITH MR LUKE HARTSUYKER MHR, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR COWPER MR STEVE CANSDELL MP, STATE MEMBER FOR CLARENCE

GRAFTON, NEW SOUTH WALES

Subjects: New South Wales floods; Coalition’s proposed tax assistance for flood-affected small business; Labor’s proposed flood tax.

E&OE……………………….…………………………………………………………………

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m pleased to be here in Grafton with my colleague from the State Parliament Steve Cansdell and also my frontbench colleague and neighbouring federal member Luke Hartsuyker. I’m just going to say a few words myself about how I think things are going here in Grafton and then I’ll ask Steve if he wishes to say something.

I guess the first point I want to make is that the people of northern New South Wales have not been forgotten. Because there have been far fewer deaths and injuries in this part of Australia doesn’t mean that the flood hasn’t hit people hard, particularly people on the land making their living from the land or in the fishing industry. These important agricultural and primary industries have been seriously damaged by these floods and the people in the areas that depend on these industries do need significant help.

I want to congratulate state and local governments for their work in setting up this recovery centre. I want to thank and congratulate everyone who has been working hard over the last few days to try to help people who’ve been impacted by these floods. I particularly want to thank the Red Cross volunteers who’ve been so important in helping out people in trouble and I want to say on behalf of my political colleagues in all parliaments in all parties that it’s important for us to be with our fellow Australians at a time of difficulty and trouble which is why I think it’s important to be in northern New South Wales as well as Victoria and Queensland.

There’s just one point I do want to make and that is that at the moment, we are still in the immediate clean-up and recovery phase, but pretty soon we are going to be in the rebuilding

phase. We are going to move from the adrenaline phase of this disaster to the true grit phase of this disaster and I think for small business in particular it’s going to be very difficult. If you’ve lost production, if you’ve lost sales, if you’ve lost equipment, you are going to need a lot of assistance to help and to recover and that’s why today I’ve called on the Federal Government to grant flood affected small businesses a three month GST and PAYG tax holiday, a three month tax holiday for flood impacted small businesses to try to ensure that they can cope, to try to ensure that at a time when their cash flow is under pressure, they can cope. It’s effectively an interest free loan from the Government to these small businesses. The Government has been repeatedly asking bankers and insurers to do the right thing by flood impacted people and businesses. I think the Government has got to do the right thing by flood impacted business and a tax holiday is the best way to go and that’s what I ask the Federal Government to now confirm, that there will be a tax holiday for flood impacted small business.

Steve?

STEVE CANSDELL:

Firstly, I think it’s great that Tony could turn up here, see our political leaders, they give the support to many people who have suffered and as much as there may not have been any deaths and serious injuries, many people on the land, whether it be the cane, the dairy, the cattle or even the fisherman who have suffered greatly by this flood and this resource out here, recovery centre is vital for them to help them in their recovery and show them where the support is from the governments and if the Federal Government can come onboard with this tax break for a few months, I think that will mean a lot, a hell of a lot for those people who are struggling under the circumstances that nature has virtually given them.

QUESTION:

What would that cost?

TONY ABBOTT:

This is a tax deferral not a tax waiver and so the money will eventually have to be paid but it will be paid at a time when business has got back on its feet, when it doesn’t have the same cash flow problems that it now does. So, this is recognition that small business in flood impacted areas is doing it really tough right now. Now, small businesses are resilient and they will recover if they’re given the right assistance and the point is let’s not hit them for money now which they don’t have now, let them get back on their feet, let them recover, let them get their cash flow back to normal before we start hitting them for tax.

QUESTION:

On another issue but related flood related, there have been calls from some quarters for a dam on the Clarence River to mitigate this flooding. Is that something that you support?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I’m not ideologically hostile to dams. I think that dams have a significant place in water management. Dams aren’t just water storages but they do have considerable potential

for flood mitigation and but for the Wivenhoe dam, the flooding in Brisbane and other parts of the Brisbane Valley would have been immeasurably worse, but each area is different. We need the right dams in the right places. We don’t need the wrong dams in the wrong places and so I’m not committed to damming the Clarence. I think that you’d want to be, you’d want to think long and hard before you went into that territory.

QUESTION:

What’s your reaction to the Prime Minister’s proposed levy for floods?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that the last thing Australia needs right now is yet another new tax. I think that Australians, particularly Victorians and Queenslanders and people in northern New South Wales, have suffered enough without having to suffer yet another new tax and this is actually the third great big new tax that the Federal Government has proposed for this year. There’s the mining tax, there’s the carbon tax, now they want to hit us with a flood tax. Well, this is a government which is addicted to taxes and we don’t need new taxes, what we need is a reprioritisation of wasteful government spending.

[ends]