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Transcript of interview with Mark Braybrook: Radio 4BC with Mark Braybrook: 28 August 2018: Liberal leadership; debt; preferences; negative gearing; gig economy; dividend imputation



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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING

SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

RADIO 4BC DRIVE WITH MARK BRAYBROOK

TUESDAY 28 AUGUST 2018

SUBJECTS: Liberal leadership; Debt; Preferences; Negative Gearing; Gig

economy; Dividend imputation.

MARK BRAYBROOK, PRESENTER: It has been an extraordinary week in

politics, one I was going to say you don't see too often but sadly we are seeing it

quite regularly with a change of Prime Minister again. Scott Morrison is our new

Prime Minister of course and the Cabinet, the front bench was sworn in today at

Government House. As I've mentioned a couple of times on this program it seems

to me that the Labor Party is in position to win the next election and only they could

lose it. I wonder whether the Deputy Labor Leader and Shadow Education Minister

agrees with me because Tanya Plibersek is in the studio with me. Ms Plibersek,

thank you very much for your time.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hi Mark, please

call me Tanya.

BRAYBROOK: Tanya, thank you very much. Is it your election, the Labor Party's

election, to lose?

PLIBERSEK: Well we take nothing for granted. We are working very hard every

day. I truly believe we've got the best policies. We've been working on our policies

since we left government so that we can really focus on what matters to people: a

decent job with good pay and conditions; great schools for their kids; a hospital

they can rely on, and we've got the best people. Bill's leadership has been terrific

and we've been making sure we've got terrific candidates particularly in our

marginal seats, so I hope we'll be successful but we take nothing for granted.

BRAYBROOK: What do you believe will happen over the next few months? Are

you expecting an early election? Are you expecting the Government to try and live

on as long as they can?

PLIBERSEK: I haven't actually have much of a crystal ball going because I didn't

expect to have a change in Prime Minister last week so I'm not sure I'm the best

person to ask for predictions. Most people would say that the most likely thing is

that we have an election either in October this year or May next year and that

takes account of big sporting events and state elections and so on, but it really is

anybody's guess. I think Malcolm Turnbull said as he was leaving that an election

sooner rather than later is what the Australian people expect and I get that very

strong feeling too in talking to people. They're asking me who is this guy Scott

Morrison, we didn't vote for him. A lot of people actually don't really know who he is

or what he stands for. They want the right to choose, they want the right to decide

who is their Government, not 80 people in a party room somewhere in Canberra.

BRAYBROOK: Do you find it difficult to argue that when your Party did the same

thing with Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I think we’ve certainly learned our lesson. That time of division

and disunity for Labor was very destructive, it was bad for us as a Party and it was

bad for the nation. We've had five years of unity and discipline under Bill's

leadership. We've been focused on policy, as I said, and I'm confident that we've

learned our lesson. I think people look at the events of the last few weeks and are

scratching their heads. They can't believe that this has happened to Australia

again and we want to offer them, the Australian people, the chance for them to

make a decision about who should lead our country rather than having it decided in

Party back rooms. It's important to say we actually changed our rules to stop this

happening in the Labor Party as well. We recognised that it was a destructive thing

for us as a nation and we've changed our rules to make it much harder to change

the leader.

BRAYBROOK: You said you've been out with the people and they're telling you

this, that and the other. Surely the overwhelming thing their telling you is that

they've had enough. That this has to stop from both sides of politics, that we need,

I think we had a stat that it's been a decade since a Prime Minister has served out

their term. That has to stop surely.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, absolutely, I agree. And like I say, we've changed our rules to

make it so much harder but more particularly we've learned our lesson. If you look

at our behaviour, our discipline, our unity over the last five years under Bill's

leadership I think it's been very strong and I'm proud of that because it shows that

we are focused on what matters - the lives of the people we represent, not our own

jobs. I mean it was pretty extraordinary last week that the Liberals actually closed

down Parliament so that they could go and fight each other in their Party room.

You know all over Australia there were people going to work in factories, in mines,

teaching kids and nursing sick people and they have to turn up to do their job but

the Australian Parliament actually closed down so the Liberals could spend their

energy fighting each other instead of governing.

BRAYBROOK: Is politics now more about popularity that politics in this 24/7 news

cycle, Instagram, social media, etcetera. Has the politics of politics changed?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it’s changed for good and bad. I think the good thing is

we can communicate much more directly with people so you're not relying on

media organisations or individual journalists who put a particular spin on the policy

that you're trying to present. You can say this is what I believe, this is what I stand

for in a much more direct way. But I think that some of that communication

becomes quite superficial too - it's very short and instant. So I think we have to be

careful not to try and dumb things down. Australians are smart people, they're

prepared for big debates, they know we have to make some hard decisions so I

think it is important to trust that, to actually present our arguments, to present our

vision for the future.

BRAYBROOK: In my eyes there's been so much discussion about energy,

education today, NAPLAN, etcetera, but one of the biggest things that no one

seems to, well that may be unfair, that doesn't seem to get the discussion that it

deserves in my opinion is this ballooning debt that we have at the moment. Surely

that has to be one of the most serious issues facing either government, whether it

be the Liberals or the Labor Party.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, I completely agree and of course Scott Morrison was the

Treasurer who has actually doubled the deficit and taken Australian debt beyond

half a trillion dollars for the first time ever. It was the Liberals together with the

Greens that removed the debt cap. They've had five years to get the budget back

on track, and instead of getting the budget back on track, they've cut hospital and

school spending, but they've wanted to give away more than that to the big end of

town. So who on God's earth thinks it’s a great idea to cut schools by $17 billion at

the same time as you want to give the four big banks a $17 billion tax cut? Like

that's extraordinary. The tax cuts at the top end of town will mostly flow to overseas

shareholders. Scott Morrison was on one of his first press conferences, he's talking

about the 'fair go'. His idea of the 'fair go' is someone on a million bucks a year,

earning a million bucks a year, gets a $28,000 a year tax cut, while someone on up

to $90,000 a year gets 13 bucks a week. So we absolutely think you need to deal

with debt and deficit, and we can do that because we're not giving away tax cuts at

the top end of town, but we also think you need to focus on the services that

Australians rely on. We can properly fund our hospitals and schools, we can

properly support our pensioners and pay for aged care because we're not

committed to those giveaways at the top end.

BRAYBROOK: We've got some callers, do you mind taking some calls?

PLIBERSEK: Sure, of course.

BRAYBROOK: 131 873 is the telephone number. Peter, good afternoon.

CALLER 1: Yeah g'day Mark. G'day Ms Plibersek.

PLIBERSEK: Hello Peter. Please call me Tanya.

CALLER 1: OK Tanya I will. I'm a actual union member.

PLIBERSEK: Great.

CALLER 1: I am, let's just say I was part of the Labor base and I will never vote for

Labor again. Simple reason is that I cannot understand why you decide to take all

your preferences from Greens. I, and you know, the blatant hypocrisy of your party,

you know, to sit there and actually call out untruths, you know, you just mentioned

there that, you know, the money that, there always seems to be a hypocritical

comment that comes from you guys to put down the smaller guys and the Liberal

Party and I'm no fan of the Liberal Party, believe me, but I will say one thing is that

I cannot understand why, and I know that this is a state issue, right, why the two

major parties, and I'm not a greenie either, but why would the two major parties get

together to oust a Green candidate in an inner Brisbane seat just for the sake of

keeping the little guy out.

BRAYBROOK: Right-o Peter, thanks very much for your call. Tanya?

PLIBERSEK: I feel like saying maybe that's a comment rather than a question.

BRAYBROOK: Well, it is. He's entitled I suppose to, to have a comment about a

Party that he used to be a member of?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah look, I'm not really sure what the point that Peter was making.

We of course very gratefully accept preferences from other political parties. Where

we direct our preferences is a test of our values, and we don't direct our

preferences to racist parties. We want to see stable government so we're prepared

to work with whoever is in Government for the best interest of the nation and we've

said for example to the Liberals, and the LNP as it is here in Queensland, we want

to work with you on energy policy. The problem is we can't get them to work with

each other on energy policy. So we're happy to work in a bi-partisan way in the

national interest but at the moment we've got a Liberal Party that can't agree with

itself on how to bring down power prices and bring down pollution, and that's just

one example where we'd love to be bi-partisan but there's no-one serious to deal

with on the other side.

BRAYBROOK: Eddie, good afternoon.

CALLER 2: Good afternoon. Good afternoon Tanya.

PLIBERSEK: Hello Eddie.

CALLER 2: I heard that your Party were looking at negative gearing and changing

of the negative gearing so it will only affect the new houses.

PLIBERSEK: Yep.

CALLER 2: If that was the case that will affect a lot of people that are unemployed

or on low incomes, because people buy houses at a lower cost and people with

less income can get into those houses. So that's going to affect the people that are

going to be able to get a roof over their head, knowingly full well that government's

cannot look after the homeless or the low incomes through their own Department

of Housing. What can you say about that please?

PLIBERSEK: Yes, look, I think homelessness and rental accommodation for

people on low incomes is a really serious issue and I'm very glad you raised it. Our

policy is to say that we want to apply negative gearing tax concessions and the

capital gains tax concessions only to newly-constructed housing. So you'll still be,

if you're negatively gearing a property at the moment, nothing changes. This is all

for people in the future once we're elected, so nothing changes if you're negatively

gearing a property at the moment. You can keep doing that if we're elected. This

policy is what's called 'grandfathered'. It will only apply in the future. But in the

future we say if you want to negatively gear a property and get the capital gains tax

concessions, it has to be a newly-constructed property, and we're doing this for

two reasons. The first reason is we want to drive new construction. We have a

shortage of construction of housing in Australia. We want to drive new

constructions. We want the jobs that come with it, we want the economic

investment that comes with it. If you're negatively gearing in the existing housing

market, what you're doing is putting investors in competition with first-home buyers

and we've seen the very strong growth in property prices in recent years. If you've

got kids, if you've got grandkids, you know that they're competing against cashed-up investors for that existing housing, so we want to make it easier for first-home

buyers to enter the housing market - particularly in those existing homes and we

want to make it more attractive for builders to build new housing because investors

will be buying into that new housing and that gives us, I think, a double-whammy

for the money that we're spending on negative gearing tax concessions. It gives us

more homes for people to rent because people will still be negatively gearing but it

gives us more incentive for new construction, too and the extra jobs that come with

it.

BRAYBROOK: Eddie, thanks for the call. Mick the cabbie, good afternoon.

CALLER 3: Good afternoon Mark. G'day Tanya.

PLIBERSEK: Hello Mick.

CALLER 3: Bill Shorten supported the, in the previous election, came out and

supported the gig economy which supported Uber, which have supported ride-share across the country and what you mightn't realise is that you keep talking up

the, you know, the $90,000 jobs and everything else. I mean, my wife and I took a

$53,000 pay cut just as ordinary commission drivers since four and a half years of

Uber. I mean, how can you possibly support seeing people earning less than nine

dollars an hour down from twenty five with no rights and no working conditions and

call yourselves "supporting the working poor'"?

PLIBERSEK: Yeah, well we don't support that. That's just flat-out exploitation and

at the time of the last election, we didn't say we supported the gig economy, we

said there should be principles for the gig economy that actually prevents the sort

of exploitation you're describing. We're very worried about insecure work, the taxi

industry is just one example where we've seen these new entrants really driving

down pay and conditions but all over the place, we're seeing more people on

contracts - they're supposed to be short-term contracts but they get rolled over

again and again and again. Or we see people bringing in labour hire into their

businesses and the labour hire people come in on lower pay and conditions and

suddenly the workforce that's been there for years is competing with people on

lower pay and conditions and guess who's getting the overtime and guess who, as

the employed people leave their positions, guess who's filling them? It's more of

the labour hire. So, we've got industrial relations policies that really try and support

predictability and permanence in our workforce. We support higher minimum

wages and we've already said we would immediately restore the penalty rates cut

from 700,000 working Australians, so they're working for less this Sunday than

they were Sunday this time last year, and less again than they were Sunday this

time the year before because of the cuts the government supported to penalty

rates.

I am dead-set, I reckon, dead-set, the biggest problem that faces us, economically,

today in Australia is the fact that we've got flat wages growth because, you're

talking about the stress in your family budget; I can only imagine how hard it is to

have seen your income decline in that way and it is bad for you, but it's not just bad

for you. You're not buying the cup of coffee on the way to work, you're not taking

your wife out to dinner on a Saturday night because you've got less money to

spend. Those are the jobs that hang off you having a decent income. Those jobs

aren't being created either. This is bad for our whole economy, the fact that we've

seen no wages growth in recent years. Wages growth - lowest on record - that's a

problem for the people who are directly, you know, stressing in their family

budgets, failing to make ends meet but it's a problem for demand and confidence

across our whole economy, too.

BRAYBROOK: Mick, thanks for the call. Bill, good afternoon.

CALLER 4: Hello?

BRAYBROOK: You there, Bill? Yes, Bill go ahead.

CALLER 4: Yes, is that me?

BRAYBROOK: It is, Bill, yeah. If your name is Bill?

CALLER 4: Yeah, sure. I just wanted to ask Tanya, how can you credibly say

you're a party for jobs and you just articulated then that you want to increase the

minimum wage when the Fair Work Commission said businesses can't afford it?

How can you seriously say you are a party for jobs when you want to increase

wages which small business clearly cannot afford and you want to close down the

coal mining industry chasing your 50 per cent or 45 per cent renewable energy

target which is going to close - which I would have thought was your base, or part

of your base, I think it's left you, as that other fellow said he was a Labor voter -

which is going to affect coal mining jobs. I mean you clearly are a party that is anti-jobs.

PLIBERSEK: Well, first of all, we're not about closing down the coal mining

industry. We see that coal has an important future for decades to come in

Australia. What we've said is we don't think any business will credibly invest in new

coal-fired power stations or any bank will want to bankroll them because

renewables are becoming cheaper all the time. But our coal industry, we've got an

existing coal power industry that's got a future in Australia and we've got coal

export commitments that certainly we want to keep going.

Secondly, when it comes to jobs and small business and so on. Who buys the

goods and services in small business? If we don't have people who've got a decent

income in their pockets, then small business can't make ends-meet either. We

think that, with historic low wages growth, that inevitably affects confidence in our

economy and you know yourself, this is common sense - if you're worried about

where your next pay packet's coming from, if you've got no extra spending money,

you're not taking the kids out for pizza on a Friday night. You're saving every

dollar. Those small business that rely on you to spend a few extra bucks that

you've got buying their goods and services, they can't succeed when we've got

historic low wages growth.

And, just on the "can we afford it or not?". We continue to see strong company

profits in Australia, I know many small businesses struggle to make ends meet but

overall, our company profits are strong and we see the CEOs and the, you know,

the big executives continuing to pay themselves very good incomes indeed. I think

we're up to the average CEO having an income that's over seventy times the

average worker in Australia. So, the idea that we can only afford to pay people at

the top end, we keep saying; "paying big executive salaries, that's a good incentive

for people at the top end", we can afford that, but we can't afford to pay nurses and

childcare workers and people working in cafes and restaurants and people working

in factories and so on - we can't afford to give them a pay increase? That just

doesn't make sense to me.

BRAYBROOK: Bill, thanks for the call. Mark very quickly before we head to the

news.

CALLER 5: Yeah, look I've changed my question. I'm a self-funded retiree, Tanya

and I get part of my income from imputation credits from shares that I own. Now, I

get nothing from the government, I don't get any pension or I don't get any

concessions or anything and one of the few things I get to help supplement my

living is the imputation credits and Bill Shorten has said that he wants to take that

away from me. How can you justify that?

PLIBERSEK: Well, dividend imputation, most people don't actually understand

how it works because most people don't benefit from it. Dividend imputation was

introduced by a previous Labor government and the idea was that if you're a

shareholder and the company that you've got shares in has already paid tax, you

shouldn't pay tax a second time on that. You should only pay tax once on the

profits of a company. Then, you know, sometime after that, I think it was the

Howard Government came up with this idea that if you're paying no tax, instead of

just having the tax-debt waived, you'd actually get cash back. The problem with

this is it's one of the fastest growing areas of expenditure in our tax system. We

are spending billions of dollars a year giving essentially a tax refund to someone

who hasn't paid tax. That means that these [companies] individuals aren't paying

tax twice, they're not paying tax once, nobody is paying tax on that profit. That's

just not fair, we can't afford it. I know that it's frustrating when you've set your

finances up in a particular way but what we're saying is it's not fair that you get a

tax refund if you haven't paid any tax and I think, you know, in an ideal world,

perhaps we wouldn't have to tighten up on areas of spending like this but we've got

to choose our priorities too and our priorities have to be, for example, the

government's trying to put the aged pension up to 70. We don't want to see people

waiting until they're 70 to get the aged pension. They've been trying to cut the

energy supplement from pensioners. We don't want to see that energy supplement

cut from pensioners. Sometimes we have to make tough choices.

BRAYBROOK: Mark, thanks very much for the call. We've run out of time, Tanya

thank you so much for joining us.

PLIBERSEK: It's a pleasure.

BRAYBROOK: It's been great for you to take calls from the listeners as well. I

know that, you know, the democracy of talkback radio is that they can ask

whatever question they want and I think you appreciate that as well so thank you

for your time.

PLIBERSEK: I'm delighted to speak to your listeners. I really, really appreciate the

opportunity. Thank you.

BRAYBROOK: Well, hopefully next time you're back in Brisbane you might come

in and spend some time with us again.

PLIBERSEK: Look forward to it.

BRAYBROOK: Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Labor Leader and Shadow Education

Minister on 4BC Drive.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: DAN DORAN 0427 464 350

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.