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Transcript of interview with Kieran Gilbert: Sky News AM Agenda: 8 March 2016: Newspoll; Labor's housing affordability plan; election/budget chaos

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SUBJECT/S: Newspoll, Labor’s Housing Affordability Plan, Election/Budget chaos

KIERAN GILBERT: You’d be encouraged by these figures in the Newspoll?

MATT THISTLETHWAITE, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR IMMIGRATION & FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Kieran it’s pleasing to see that the Australian public value and respect good policy making and that’s what Labor’s been about under Bill Shorten’s leadership, we’ve had two major reform policy announcements this year in our education policy for schools and also our negative gearing and capital gains tax policy and I was out on the weekend in my community and it’s pleasing to hear the feedback that we’re getting from people that they respect the fact that Labor’s put these policies out there, that we’ve done our research and we’ve worked with communities, consulting with them on these policies over the last couple of years and I think you’re seeing that reflected in the polls and that’s pleasing.

GILBERT: Let’s look at a few specific areas, the negative gearing policy that have been discussed this morning, David Murray the former bank executive is saying that your policy the way it’s framed at the moment will simply drive investors into self-managed super funds, has Labor thought about this?

THISTLETHWAITE: Look we have and we’re confident that the policy will work as it’s designed, Chris Bowen spent 18 months consulting with experts, with economists, with people like David Murray on the operation and design of this scheme and we don’t believe that you’re going to see a massive flight into self-managed super for a number of reasons, firstly a lot of Australians have their investments in terms of superannuation in industry funds, and they’re passive investors if you like so they’ll be on the default fund setting where they’ll leave the investment mix up to the fund managers so we don’t believe you’ll see a big flight

into self-managed super, the other point to make is that there already is a large number of people in self-managed super and a very small proportion of those would be investing in property through that superannuation fund.

GILBERT: But would Labor look at banning self-managed super funds from borrowing and using negative gearing with existing homes, is that a prospect yet?

THISTLETHWAITE: Well David Murray made a recommendation as part of his financial systems inquiry, this is a major inquiry that was commissioned by the Government yet they’ve ruled out a recommendation around this issue, the Labor Party hasn’t ruled out that particular recommendation of David Murray and that’s something that we’ll announce in due course when we make further announcements in respect of superannuation policy.

GILBERT: What are the implications for small business again it’s been suggested that small business could be hurt inadvertently by your policy, is that a risk here?

THISTLETHWAITE: No it’s not at all Kieran, and I want to make this very clear as Chris Bowen and Bill Shorten have, there’ll be no change to the manner in which small businesses can deduct capital expenditure to grow their businesses so the current system as it is will be maintained and small business can have every confidence that our new policy on negative gearing and capital gains tax won’t affect the manner in which small businesses can invest in new equipment to grow their business and deduct that expense as part of their tax return and if we have to write that into the legislation to make it very clear that is exactly what we’ll do.

GILBERT: So it’s just adding another complexity to an already very complex tax system?

THISTLETHWAITE: Well these sort of differentials already exist in the system as is pointed out by the CPA this morning and I want to make it clear once again there’ll be no change to the manner in which deductions operate for small businesses and we’ll make that very clear in the legislation so those businesses can have every confidence that things will go on as they do at the moment and business will be able to invest and grow their asset base to ultimately grow their business because in doing so you are creating jobs and that’s what Labor’s all about.

GILBERT: The Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer this morning keeping open the option or certainly not ruling out the prospect of an early budget bringing the budget forward a week earlier so that the Government can do that then also put forward to the Parliament once again their Australian Building and Construction Commission legislation to the Parliament which again if rejected would serve as a trigger for a double dissolution election, is Labor willing to fight on that particular issue of the Building and Construction Commission given the scathing evidence that we’ve heard before the Hayden Royal Commission?

THISTLETHWAITE: We’ll fight the election whenever it’s called we’re ready to go and we’ll stand by the policies that we’ve developed in consultation with the Australian public over the course of the last couple of years but we’ve seen over the last couple of days Kieran the dysfunction of the Abbott Government laid bare in the national newspapers and it appears that that dysfunction has just continued on into the Turnbull Government, they’re just making this up as they go because they don’t

have a clear tax plan, a clear plan to grow our economy and create jobs, they’re making this up as they go and a lot of it Kieran unfortunately is about trying to minimise the political risk to the Liberal Party from their internal ructions rather than doing what is in the interests of Australians and developing a tax plan as they said they would and a plan to grow our economy and create jobs.

GILBERT: But we’ve seen the evidence before the Hayden Royal Commission and the findings in relation to the construction sector, it is a problem is Labor willing to go to an election backing the likes of the CFMEU it’s a vulnerability for you.

THISTLETHWAITE: When we were in Government we introduced a series of reforms Kieran to improve the transparency and accountability of registered organisations and those reforms were implemented and they’re currently operating. In respect of the findings of the Royal Commission I and my colleagues in the Labor Party have no tolerance whatsoever for any wrong doing or illegal activities on any building site or any organisation throughout the country be that a union, be that a business, be that another registered organisation, so our view is that if there is wrong doing, if there is illegal activity then those individuals, the organisation should be arrested or prosecuted in accordance with the Australian law and if that requires giving additional resources to the Australian Federal Police, to the Crime Commission, to the State Police to do their job then that’s something that Labor would support.

GILBERT: And in terms of the election timing if it is July 2 it’s a double dissolution that would mean and under the new Senate rules that the Upper House would be cleared out do you accept that most voters most of the electorate would be sympathetic to the idea of removing the micro parties the likes of Ricky Muir and so on?

THISTLETHWAITE: Well if you look at what’s going on Kieran all of the commentary and all of the comments from members of the Government has been about wiping out the Senate, wiping out some of these parties in the Senate, it’s not about good policy, it’s not about what is in the interests of Australia, the Senate has passed some reforms that it’s seen as good policy and the Labor Party’s joined with the Coalition in supporting policies that we believe are in the interests of Australians, the Senate blocked a lot of the Abbott Government’s first budget because it was bad policy, you know the Medicare Co-payment, the $100,000 degrees, would have sent Australia backwards so the focus needs to be on what is good for Australia, what is good policy development and that is what Labor has been focusing on for the last couple of years and that’s why you’ve seen these great policies like our new education policy and our negative gearing policy and we’re happy to campaign on those and talk the Australian public about why those reforms are necessary.

GILBERT: Matt Thistlethwaite thanks for that.