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Transcript: Doorstop: Canberra: 27 March 2018: Labor's retiree tax, corporate tax cuts, Russian diplomats

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The Hon. Scott Morrison MP Treasurer




Subjects: Labor’s Retiree Tax, Corporate tax cuts, Russian diplomats.

TREASURER: Morning. What we have from the Labor Party today is a statement which confirms their incompetence, their arrogance and their confusion. It was only two weeks ago that Chris Bowen said this policy was well-designed, it was well-thought through, it was well-designed, he even admitted that he knew it hit pensioners two weeks ago. A week ago, he was standing by it. Yesterday, it got ‘the big Swanny stamp of approval’ of good tax policy, the architect of the mining tax to kick this off and today, it is an absolute dog’s breakfast. The confusion continues. It’s not okay to steal people’s tax refunds, it’s not okay to do it to pensioners, it’s also not okay to do it to self-funded retirees, it’s not okay to do it to people who are on low incomes and are not in the pension phase of their retirement yet - they just own some shares, it’s not okay to steal people’s tax refunds. It’s not okay also to penalise self-managed super funds because they’re not in the pocket of unions. What the Labor Party has said today is even if you’re a pensioner, after the end of this week, and you have shares in a self-managed super fund, no tax refund for you. Where on earth is the principle involved in that decision? Bill Shorten’s basically saying - because we know industry funds are able to use up all the tax credits that come from these dividends, they can use them all up largely, the Labor Party knows that - and so what Bill Shorten is saying is, “You can keep your tax refund so long as you don’t put it in a self-managed super fund if you’re a retiree and a pensioner. So go and put your money in an industry fund, don’t put it in a self-managed super fund, but if you will give your money to my mates in the union fund then I’ll let you keep your tax refund if you’re a pensioner.” That is extortion from a thuggish leader of the Labor Party who is doing the bidding of his union mates in industry funds. Now, this is arrogant because Chris Bowen knew it would hit pensioners. Nothing has changed in his mind in the last two weeks other than he has been caught out and rolled by his own party. He was standing behind it a week ago, he was standing behind it in the last few days and his incompetence in putting this thing together has been caught out. He and Bill Shorten thought they would get away with hitting 230,000 pensioners and more and others on benefits. Now, this policy is still a dog’s breakfast. It is still not okay for people in self-managed super funds - people who have assets below the cap who under our laws means that if you’ve saved your entire life and you put together a nest egg to keep you in retirement, our laws say that you don’t have to pay tax on that when you’re in retirement. What Chris Bowen is now saying is if you’re in that situation, you should pay more tax because, remember, this is not a welfare payment. This is just people who hold shares getting the full value of the tax that is already paid. It’s not a benefit, it’s not a welfare payment, it is a tax refund and the only argument that they say is, “Well, these tax refunds cost a lot.” There’s $30 billion in tax refunds that are paid on personal income tax - is that unsustainable too? Are they going after those tax refunds as well - simply because a tax refund costs the revenue? Of course tax refunds cost the revenue but they’re legitimate tax refunds, it’s not okay to arbitrarily decide: “Tax refund for you, no tax refund for you.” That is just arbitrary policy put together on the run and it just displays the incompetence and the arrogance and confusion of this policy. They should scrap this policy, they should scrap this policy because it’s not based on principle, it’s just based on tax greed of the Labor Party. They’ve thrown the tax rules out the window, they’re coming after your money and if Labor is elected, you will pay more.


QUESTION: Treasurer, there are reports that two Russian diplomats have been expelled from Australia, is that true?

TREASURER: There’ll be further statements made about that matter today. We’re obviously in complete solidarity with the United Kingdom and the other countries that have made these announcements overnight and we’ll have more to say about that later on.

QUESTION: So you are in complete solidarity, can we take that to mean there have been Russian diplomats expelled?

TREASURER: You can take it to mean we’re in complete solidarity and that we’ll make a statement later on.

QUESTION: So you are not denying it?

TREASURER: No, I’ll just refer you to my earlier question.

QUESTION: Treasurer, what do you make … Labor is expected to suggest today that 200,000 or 300,000 low income retirees will be exempt from this policy…

TREASURER: They’re protecting people from their own policy. It’s like standing there with a cricket bat saying, “I’m not going to hit you but I am going to hit you.” They’re the ones holding a cricket bat and thumping people.

QUESTION: So from your understanding Treasurer, so can you say who this will continue to hit and which ones will be unfairly hit?

TREASURER: It will continue to hit at least more than 800,000 individuals and those 800,000 individuals will predominantly be those who have assets below the cap. The cap where you actually get a tax-free position on your earnings in the retirement phase of your pension - and by pension I mean the retirement savings in your superannuation - that’s who it will hit, self-funded retirements, people who are yet not on the pension and who put money away to ensure they don’t draw down on a welfare payment in their retirement. People have done the right thing, worked hard, saved hard, these are the targets of Labor’s tax refund swipe. That’s who they are. It is a retirees tax, if you’ve done the right thing, if you’ve put money away to provide for your future in retirement, Bill Shorten is coming after you, he’s deliberately targeting you because it’s not going to be those who have high incomes - they’ll get the full value of the tax imputation policy, they’ll be able to offset all of the value of the tax already paid by the company, they will get all 30 cents in the dollar, those - they say - on pensions, but who knows with Labor’s policy? It changes every day. Those at the other end, Labor’s saying they’re going to protect them from being hit with the baseball bat that they themselves are holding and as always, it’s the people in the middle - it’s the people who do the right thing. Like the nurse or the police officer who owns an investment priority, apparently their tax barons - according to the Labor Party. The politics of Labor’s envy always ends up hitting the people in the middle. They are the victims always of what happens with Labor when it comes to tax, because Labor thinks that a tax cut or a tax refund is a welfare payment. It’s not. It’s money that you’re entitled to because you earned it, you earned it - not the Government - you did.

QUESTION: Treasurer, is your message on this getting through? Surely you would have expected a bounce in yesterday’s Newspoll. There wasn’t one?


TREASURER: I don’t live in the age of instant political gratification like so many in this place seem to. These policies often require a lot of explanation and this is the thing about Labor, they know that. What they’ve done with their $220 billion in higher taxes they will put on the Australian people, they’ve tried to target things that they believe the Australian people will be confused about and they think they’ll be able to slide it right by, so don’t think Labor has had a change of heart on stealing people’s tax refunds. They just thought they’d get away with it with pensioners before and they think they will keep getting away with it and they will keep trying to take people’s money that they have earned. They don’t respect the earnings of Australians, they really don’t. They just see it as a big honey pot to go and put their hand in to pay for their uncontrolled spending.

QUESTION: Just following on Layne’s question, these are 800,000 people…

TREASURER: At least.

QUESTION: At least that you think will be affected…

TREASURER: Well, I know will be affected.

QUESTION: These are middle income earners, this is what you believe to be the case but it won’t be wealthy Australians which is what Labor would obviously argue?

TREASURER: Remember that if you’ve got money in your superannuation above the balance cap, the cap we’ve put on - above a reasonable amount - then you’ll pay tax on those…

QUESTION: That’s $1.6 million?

TREASURER: That’s $1.6 million. We’ve said that above that you will pay more tax than before but if you’re under that cap, we’re saying that you’ve worked hard for that money, superannuation is designed to make sure you can provide for yourself in retirement and having paid tax all of your life on all of those things, we will let you live off the nest egg that you’ve built tax-free. They’re the people that Labor are hitting. Now, Labor should be honest about that. If they think that people who have built a nest egg that’s sitting particularly in a self-managed super fund who are the real targets of this in particular, that’s just being nasty. That is just being nasty because they are singling out self-managed super funds for their particular attacks here. They’re saying to those people, “No, you should pay more tax.” And they will pay more, they will pay more, they will be denied legitimate tax refunds.

QUESTION: Treasurer, just quickly. The owners at Cubbie Station have expressed interest in buying Liddell, have you had any conversations and would you welcome such a move?

TREASURER: I haven’t had any such conversations and I haven’t been approached.

QUESTION: And with company tax cuts, are you expecting them to pass through the Senate by tomorrow?

TREASURER: We will know by the end of tomorrow.

QUESTION: Any chance Parliament sits further until they are passed?


TREASURER: As Senator Cormann said earlier, I’m sure here as he has on other occasions, the Senate is the master of their own destiny and so they will decide how long they will sit and for what purposes and the Government is in a position to direct those things. What I do know though that there is the need to ensure that Australia’s economy is lower taxed hasn’t changed, that hasn’t changed because that’s what’s necessary to drive investment, to lift wages, to support more jobs which is what this Government is delivering. The Labor Party, they are on an out-of-control tax mission, they are just taxing left, right and centre wherever they think they can get away with it, and they’ve been caught out here and they’ve had to admit that they were arrogantly trying to sneak one past Australian pensioners. They’ve been caught out but it was wrong to steal people’s tax refunds two weeks ago, it’s wrong to steal them today, the Liberal Party will not be stealing people’s tax refund, the Labor Party will, they will extort self-funded retirees and say to them, “You put your money in a self-managed super fund.” And they will still say to pensioners, “You put your money in a self-managed super fund and we will deny you your legitimate tax refund.” That’s not tax design, that is just being nasty, that is just being nasty, this is an admission of their arrogance, their incompetence and their complete and utter confusion. This is what they’re doing in Opposition, imagine how they’d run the country. Thank you.


Contacts: Andrew Carswell 0418 505 376, Kate Williams 0418 872 921