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Transcript of interview with Alan Jones: Radio 2GB-4BC: 13 September 2018: economic growth; jobs growth; tax relief; Paris Agreement; power prices; Liddell Power Station; land clearing; and nuclear power



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Interview with Alan Jones, Breakfast 2GB and 4BC SUBJECTS: economic growth; jobs growth; tax relief; Paris Agreement; power prices; Liddell Power Station; land clearing; and nuclear power.

ALAN JONES:

May I say, good morning to you.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good morning to you. I’m blushing after that introduction. I’m afraid my mum’s not listening to this.

ALAN JONES:

Never mind, you are blushing for other reasons. They have all had a rough night in Canberra. It was the, what ball do they call this thing?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

This is the Press Gallery ball to raise money for a range of important charities.

ALAN JONES:

Right and do the charities get certain per capitation in relation to the number of drinks that are partaken?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I went for the diet coke last night.

ALAN JONES:

It didn’t sound like that earlier this morning.

13 September 2018

Transcript (http://jaf.ministers.treasury.gov.au/transcript/ )

Now, your team are a mile behind in the polls. Is this because you are bad at prosecuting the case? Because you spoke in Question Time yesterday, you said the economy is growing at 3.4 per cent. That is as good as anything around the world. That you have created more than one million jobs, which Tony Abbott said would happen.

You say you are bringing the Budget back into balance early - 2019-20. You are going to provide tax relief to 10 million Australian families and businesses - 10 million Australians getting a benet. I will come back to that in a moment. 

Ninety four per cent of taxpayers down the track will pay no more than 32.5 cents in the dollar. And small and medium sized enterprise will get tax relief.

How much of that do you think the electorate knows? 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well they need to know more of it. And of course it is incumbent on us to prosecute our case and to explain not only our policies, but the great risk that Bill Shorten and a union-led government would actually mean to the Australian people…

ALAN JONES:

Now look, Josh, you worked for a Foreign Minister and a Prime Minister. The golden rule in politics, you are not going to sell a Mercedes by rubbishing a Holden. So you don’t win votes by telling everyone how crook the other side is, but rather promoting what you have done.

Now I am simply saying, I’ve just read a handful of things out here, I don’t think the public know about that and it is a pretty good story.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well it is a very good story, particularly when it comes to jobs growth. We have created more than a million jobs and as you said, that was a Tony Abbott commitment and he and Malcolm Turnbull and now Scott Morrison can take credit for that jobs growth.

We have seen more women come into the workforce than ever before, more seniors, more young people and in fact they’re some of the best results in 30 years. And it is really important that people understand that the Australian economy is growing faster than any G7 country, faster than the OECD average and that is going to be good for their job prospects.

ALAN JONES:

Okay now, is there a weakness in the argument nonetheless, that when you say you are going to provide tax relief for about 10 million people, depending on their income, that is not until July next year. You’ve got an election to jump over before then.

And the tax relief would be maximum, according to your gures, sorry it is not a tax cut either, it is a rebate, it’s a rebate of $530.

Now that is two cups of coffee a week.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

In reality, $530 is enough to cover a quarterly energy bill or a set of new tyres on your car. And it is not unusual for tax offsets to be provided as part of nalising the end of year tax return.

Now as you indicated in your opening Alan, there are a range of measures we are doing, including ensuring that today there are 63 per cent of people who are paying no more than 32.5 cents in the dollar, that will rise to 94 per cent. That is a big improvement in the number of people who are paying less tax.

ALAN JONES:

Yeah but that’s 2024.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well it is a three stage program…

ALAN JONES:

Yeah, in 2024, so it is a long way away isn’t it? Will you be around in 2024?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well I hope so.

ALAN JONES:

Hope so, right.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

But in terms of $530, that’s now - that’s this…

ALAN JONES:

Quite, I know, but can you understand there’s people, and I am sure you do understand that the case isn’t prosecuted, there are people listening to you now on $80,000 and they are working very, very hard to get $80,000.

And once they get to $37,001, they are paying 32.5 cents in the dollar for every dollar after that. Now that is a third of it goes in tax. Don’t we have to stop wasting billions of dollars and providing tax relief for that kind of fella?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well in terms of the forklift driver in Parramatta that you are talking about, they can actually be paying $4,500 more tax under the Labor Party’s plan. A police inspector in Brisbane who may be listening to your program this morning will pay more than $5,000 under a Labor plan compared to us. And a primary school principal in Randwick will pay up to $7,000…

ALAN JONES:

See, I know that. But when I hear you say that I think, okay you are telling me that the poor kid is going to be run over by a concrete truck if Labor are in government, whereas they will only be run over by a Holden Commodore. It doesn’t matter, they are being run over. The tax rates are too high.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well I actually think if you have got a tax bracket of 32.5 cents in the dollar from $41,000 to $200,000 - that is a pretty competitive tax system. And the other thing we are doing Alan is actually getting rid of one of the whole tax brackets…

ALAN JONES:

Yes I know that but that’s way down the track, that’s way down the track. That’s 2024.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We’ve legislated it.

ALAN JONES:

I am talking here and now.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well these are not dreams. These are legislated tax cuts.

ALAN JONES:

You would say that these will cost money. I know. And we are committed to this stupid Paris Agreement, I will come to that in a moment.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I am sure you will.

ALAN JONES:

A billion over ve years. Why I am saying stupid Paris Agreement, let me address this now. And I just say this to you advisedly, because you are in the game of winning an election.

Now I have had two, I think, very, very good interviews. Scott Morrison performed very well here. He indicated a change of direction, people felt that they could relate to the bloke and so on. However, when I then put up on the Facebook page and say, “What do you think of it?”, and they say, “Well it’s terric, but…”, and every one of hundreds of comments, Josh, are about Paris.

“A huge improvement on Turnbull, with the exception of dealing with the Paris Agreement”, says one. “After hearing Scott Morrison, it has become obvious, he too is a captive of the Paris Agreement ideology.” Another one, “I am a lifelong LNP supporter, I’ll not vote for them while we are in Paris.”

Another, “Until he cancels Paris and gets us back our sovereignty, he has not xed the problem.” Another, “He danced around the key issue of Paris and high immigration.” Another, “After Monday’s Question Time, I felt a glimmer of hope that maybe I could return my vote to the Coalition, but come Wednesday, listening to the Prime Minister heap praise on Snowy 2.0, where I might add there is no water, and Malcolm Turnbull, he returned to the same old rhetoric.”

Another, “I am only prepared to give him a fair go if Paris is gone.” Another, “Once he’s quit Paris, we can then see a new direction of the Liberal Party for the people.” Another, “He sure answered the Paris question, didn’t he? We are screwed.”

Everywhere you turn. Now how can you ignore those people? They’re your voters.       

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Because the real question is not whether you are in Paris or not, the real question is are you doing everything possible to reduce people’s power bills?

Now, I remember when Elaine, the elderly pensioner, called your program, she said she had to skip meals to meet her power bill.

Now, what we need to do is get the power bills down for Elaine. And we have already actually had some success in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

You and I have discussed this many times. It is not a question of just emissions reductions. It is actually a question of, what are you doing to bring the network costs down? What are you doing to get more gas into the market? What are you doing to ensure new generation assets are built?

That is why we are implementing the cop on the beat, the ACCC’s recommendation. That’s Angus Taylor’s job and he’ll do a very good job.

ALAN JONES:

No but I mean, if the Prime Minister is out there saying, because people with maths are not bad, if they are saying, oh well. I argue no one can win an election with a 50 per cent renewable energy target. That’s said a thousand times and I still hold to that.

But if a 50 per cent renewable target, as Scott Morrison says, is going to increase your electricity bill by $1400 a year, why wouldn’t a 26 per cent renewable energy target increase your power bills by $700 a year?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Because as we have proven, that on business as usual, you will get to 24 per cent by 2030. So you will actually see emissions come down because of greater technologies and efciencies in the system. The issue that we need to focus on is to create more reliability in the system and to keep our coal re power stations…

ALAN JONES:

Renewables are not reliable.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well we need to keep our coal re power stations in the system for longer.

ALAN JONES:

How many are you building?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well that is going to be a question for the market.

ALAN JONES:

China are building 583; India - 271; Indonesia - 145; Turkey - 71; Vietnam - 84; Japan - 43; us - none. How will you build a coal red power station, Josh, when we are subsidising the other fella with renewable energy?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Because we have said on the ACCC’s recommendation that the Government is prepared to use its balance sheet to support new generation being built. Now that could be coal, that could be gas, or that could be other forms of generation. We are not going to specify what the market needs, let the market decide.

ALAN JONES:

Hang on, are you going to allow AGL to close Liddell?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well I have said that AGL should not close Liddell and you would have noticed that Andy Vesey…

ALAN JONES:

Gone. But they are still closing Liddell.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well let’s wait until that date, which is 2022. It is absolutely…

ALAN JONES:

Too late by then.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

But what Scott Morrison has indicated, Alan, is that we are now going to ensure that we have stronger powers to potentially divest assets from companies. We have got a big stick and that big stick will be used to ensure power prices stay down and the lights stay on.

ALAN JONES:

Alright. Now you were the Environment Minister, you see. I will tell you what the farmers are saying. They, the farmers are saying they’ll get to their 26  per  cent alright. They’ll tell you how they’ll get there - by sequestration.

And therefore, we have got vegetation acts everywhere, signed off by a Liberal government in Canberra, signed off by Liberal governments in New South Wales and the Labor Government in Queensland, where farmers are denied access to their land, to their grass and their trees and that “enables the carbon dioxide to be sequestered” and they have no access to their own land with no compensation.

One farmer in Queensland being ned $110,000 for using the mulga to feed his starving cows.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

And I remember listening to that interview.

ALAN JONES:

Right and what are we doing about these people?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We have been very critical. You would have heard Matt Canavan, he was on your show, very critical about what the Queensland Palaszczuk Government was doing. Anthony Lynham couldn’t answer the questions when you put it to him about these particular programs.

ALAN JONES:

But the farmer is still being ned. I mean, where are you? I mean, do you stand up and say, while I’m Treasurer, we are not giving Queensland money, and you have got the purse strings, you give them billions - well millions, hundreds of millions to Queensland.

Oh okay, you go on and prosecute the farmers, but you won’t get this money from us while you behave that way.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well I tell you what we are against. We are against Bill Shorten wanting to put a new trigger into the EPBC Act to actually stop land clearing. What we say is you can have good environmental outcomes and good agriculture or economic outcomes. Labor is making you choose the environment…

ALAN JONES:

But you can’t conscate farmers’ assets. I mean that is what they’re doing. You can’t conscate farmers’ assets.

Now listen, we are going to talk regularly about this so I just want to ask you one other question which you can think about before next Thursday.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Or I can try to answer now, maybe.

ALAN JONES:

Not in the state you are in, I don’t think. Now, every year Australia exports more than 400 shipping containers of uranium. Enough to generate all of our own electricity with zero emissions.

Now instead of producing electricity at home as we can, Australian uranium is being used to produce vast amounts of clean and cheap energy in America, the EU, South Korea, China, etc.

Now, you’re supposed to be a smart bloke. Why, why do we have a ban on nuclear energy?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, in my rst speech to the Parliament Alan, I said it was a curious situation Australia found itself in where we were exporting uranium around the world but we weren’t turning them into power ourselves. As you know, the Lucas Heights reactor in New South Wales is our one civilian reactor where it creates nuclear medicines for people, particularly those dealing with cancer.

I, for one, think that a nuclear industry would have been a good thing for Australia but the momentum stopped with the Fukushima reactor accident.

ALAN JONES:

Your job is to prosecute the case.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

As you know, John Howard tried to build the case with Ziggy Switkowski.

ALAN JONES:

You are smart enough to say, I can prosecute the case. You can prosecute the case for nuclear energy. People would buy it.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

The only way you will get…

ALAN JONES:

I’ll help you.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Thank you, the only way you will get it in Australia is if you actually have bipartisan support.

ALAN JONES:

Well get in the place and argue it. The public will support you. Now we have got to go, I’ll talk to you next week. 

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

All the best.

ALAN JONES:

Thank you.

Portfolio Ministers The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP (http://jaf.ministers.treasury.gov.au/) The Hon Stuart Robert MP (http://srr.ministers.treasury.gov.au/) Treasury Portfolio Ministers (http://ministers.treasury.gov.au/Default.aspx)

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