13 May 2017
Transcript - #2017001, 2017

Joint doorstop interview, Craigieburn, Victoria

Joint doorstop interview with
The Hon. Scott Morrison MP
Treasurer

SUBJECTS: Budget 2017

MICHAEL SUKKAR:

Good morning, everyone. Thanks for being here. We’re at Highlands development here in Craigieburn where the Treasurer and Senator Patterson and I have been speaking to first homebuyers about some of the really great opportunities that this development represents for first homebuyers. Ten thousand homes are being developed here in which we’re about two-thirds of the way through. It’s estimated that about 50 per cent of all the homes here will be purchased by first homebuyers and, really, this week’s Budget has been significantly about first homebuyers. We’ve obviously launched a very ambitious housing affordability package – a real package that seeks to deal with all of the housing issues along the whole spectrum. From first homebuyers to renters to those in social and public housing and, of course, additional money for those suffering from homelessness. But today, we really want to focus on first homebuyers, the people in the market, the ones who are really trying to get their foot on the property ladder. And in the Budget on Tuesday night, we announced the Super Saver Scheme – a scheme that’s going to provide significant tax incentives for first homebuyers to accelerate the rate in which they save. So, it’s a great new story for first homebuyers. We’re very keen to indicate to every single one of them how much money they’ll be able to save, how much additional money they’ll be able to put into their own first home accounts and, therefore, making it a lot easier for them to get into the market. So, Scott, it’s great to be with you here today in Craigieburn, and Melbourne and Sydney are obviously two of the major areas where housing affordability is an issue and we’re very, very honoured that you visited us in Craigieburn today.

TREASURER:

Thanks, Michael. Thank you very much. It’s great to be here with James and Michael out here in Craigieburn. It was also a great opportunity to meet with some of the prospective first homebuyers out here in Craigieburn. For thousands of Melbournians, their dream of home ownership starts right here. It’s tangible, look around you, this is where that dream starts – and we want to help them realise that dream. And in the Budget this year, across a whole range of measures dealing with everyone who was sleeping rough last night in Melbourne – and there are too many people doing that – through to those who are struggling with rents, who need more affordable housing and we’ll talk more about that this afternoon actually, where we will be visiting some programs. And those who are trying to crack in as first homebuyers, this is where their dream starts and we want to help them realise that dream, and we’re doing that through a very simple and practical measure which will really help them – our First Home Super Savers account does this. If you’re on $70,000 a year and you salary sacrifice ten per cent of your salary – $7,000 a year – by the time you reach the limit of what you can put in this scheme, you’ll be $7,000 better off. $70,000 income a year, salary sacrificing $7,000 a year means you’ll be $7,000 better off from your own savings. That will be the value of the tax cut for you. That’s a 35 per cent improvement and accelerator on getting you closer to owning a home right here, and in similar places all around the country. Now, I call that a real support, a real help. It is off the back of their own efforts, their own savings and their own sacrifices, and we want to reward that by giving them this very simple way of accelerating their savings. If you want to check out how much you want to save, this is the First Home Super Saver Scheme estimator, you can find that, just go onto your search engine and just type in “First Home Super Saver Scheme estimator” or “Super Saver Scheme estimator”. You can go on there, you can see how much you will save by going onto this program and this is a tool that will help you plan for buying your first home and understanding that by salary sacrificing into your super account, you can get to that goal a lot faster than you can otherwise. So, we’re very proud of this scheme – I mean, others have tried to dismiss this scheme, they don’t know what they’re talking about. They certainly haven’t spoken to people who are here buying a home, seeking to realise their first home dream. This is real help, it’s real money and it’s going to realise their dream starting here, right here in Craigieburn. Questions?

QUESTION:

On a slightly different matter…

TREASURER:

Have we got any questions on housing?

QUESTION:

I think we’ve covered housing. The Medicare levy increase, if that can’t get through the Senate, are you willing to take that to the next election as policy?

TREASURER:

We felt very strongly about this. Let me say a couple of things about the Medicare levy increase. Every single cent of the additional money raised from the increase in the Medicare levy by half a per cent in two years’ time from now, that will all go to fully funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The levy doesn’t come on until the bills start coming in. There is a $55.7 billion gap in the funding of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and that hole needs to be filled. Now, we tried to do that with savings measures – and we got some of those savings measures through – and they have gone into the special account that supports the National Disability Insurance Scheme. But there still remains a significant gap and that’s what the Coalition is doing. What Bill Shorten is doing is a cruel hoax. First of all, he doesn’t think there is a black hole when it comes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. His increase to the Medicare levy isn’t to fund the NDIS – Andrew Leigh made that crystal clear yesterday – he’s not increasing the Medicare levy to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme, he’s just raising a tax. It has no purpose other than to fund things that Bill Shorten will dream up. The other thing he’s done is he is saying that by extending the deficit levy that this somehow supports his bottom line. That is an outright lie. Bill Shorten announced before the last election that he was going to extend the deficit levy. You can’t spend the money twice, Bill, and that’s what he’s trying to do. That’s how he got himself into the mess with the funding gap on the NDIS in the first place. There was always a gap. Labor always thinks they can spend money twice. Labor had already fully spent every cent of, firstly, extending the deficit levy on their costings and, secondly, on fully reversing the company tax cuts that we’ve been providing – including the additional year which we talked about in the Parliament this week. So, Bill Shorten is trying to spend money twice and you can’t do that. It’s a cruel hoax on Australians with a disability, it’s a con on the Australian people and it leads to higher debt and higher deficits. And Australians know that Labor never fund the things they promise, and what we’re doing honestly is saying, “That’s when the costs go up. That’s when the levy is going on.” We all have a responsibility to pay our bit for this. If you’re on a higher income, you’ll pay more under our plan. If you’re on lower income, you’ll pay less. But all of us will share in the responsibility of helping our mates who are living with a disability, and I want the Labor Party to put the politics aside. I believe the Parliament will actually show a lot more pragmatism about this. We’ve said that we’ll meet the Parliament in the middle, and we’re going to stand there in the middle waiting for the Parliament to come and support what is a very reasonable and fair position.

QUESTION:

But are you willing to take that levy increase to an election as policy…

TREASURER:

We stand by this policy, absolutely.

QUESTION:

So, is that a yes?

TREASURER:

We stand by the policy, absolutely, 100 per cent because it’s the fair policy. This is the fair policy for Australians and this is what we are doing. It’s in my Budget, I handed it down, it will be in the legislation and I’m inviting the Parliament to support disabled Australians.

QUESTION:

At an election?

TREASURER:

I’ve already answered the question about five times.

QUESTION:

You’ve also received, seemingly, some support this morning from Paul Keating when it comes to the deficit levy in particular, and the position of taxes on the highest earners. What’s your response to that?

TREASURER:

Well, Paul Keating has always said two things when it comes to tax. He has supported reducing company tax, in the first place, on company tax and he always said that that was the right direction to head in and that’s certainly the right choice we continue to make as a Government. And he was also the Labor Treasurer that brought down marginal tax rates, and that was the right decision too. Bill Shorten is going in the opposite direction, he’s making the wrong choice. I think Australians understand that if he’s asking Australians to spend one day working for the Government and one day working for themselves – which is what a 49.5 per cent tax rate is – that’s not fair to anybody. That’s just simply not fair to anybody, and Paul Keating is calling Bill Shorten out, he is totally calling him out on this – and we’re doing the same thing. If Bill Shorten thinks you can run a successful economy for the next ten years when you’re asking people to pay up 49.5 per cent tax rate and companies to be paying, what will be over that period of time, possibly the highest corporate tax rate in the world over ten years, then that is no way to run an economy. That’s not how you grow the economy to support the jobs and the wages which first homebuyers here will depend on for getting that first home. So Bill Shorten has been called out by his own. It’s not a fair plan to ask Australians to work one day for the Government and one day for themselves. That is not a fair tax policy. People should pay their fair share of tax and people do pay their fair share of tax, but it’s important that the overall system has to be fair. We all have our obligations under the tax system and, as we have shown on the Medicare levy, a fair way of ensuring that as many Australians as is possible can be paying their fair share to support their mates when it comes to people with disabilities.

QUESTION:

Is Paul Keating a strange bedfellow for you?

TREASURER:

Paul Keating has agreed with me before. He has agreed with me before on keeping expenditure under control and he has commended me for seeking to do that, and we’ve kept expenditure under control in this Budget to less than two per cent growth a year. Now, that’s something Wayne Swan used to talk about and promise, but never ever delivered. We’re actually delivering it – expenditure growth of less than two per cent – it gets down to a quarter of the share of the economy and it’s been a long time since we’ve been at that level. What we’re doing here is we’re investing in Australia’s better days ahead by supporting first homebuyers to accelerate their savings so they can get into their first home, by supporting businesses by ensuring that we take the tax monkey off their back and the red tape monkey off their back with initiatives we’ve announced in this Budget. What Bill Shorten wants to do is he’s a till-raider. He wants to put his hands in the till of every single business in this country. And you know what comes out of that till normally? Money for wages for ordinary Australians. So, when Bill Shorten puts his hand in the till of a business, he’s putting a hand in your wages till – and that’s why it’s not a sensible policy for Australia’s future.

QUESTION:

How concerned are you by the cyberattacks overseas?

TREASURER:

I’ve been in contact with the Health Minister this morning and I think these issues are always a reminder of the world in which we live and obviously the Government takes all the precautions to address these types of threats. And you can be assured that that is something the Commonwealth is once again turning its mind to this morning.

QUESTION:

Are there any extra security measures in place at this time?

TREASURER:

I’ll leave that to Dan Tehan as he’s the Minister particularly responsible for cyber security issues. In the recent Budget, there was a funding commitment for the Bureau of Meteorology which, you’d all be aware, in recent times was the subject of some attacks and we’ve invested in improving the security and the efficiency of that system in this Budget with a very significant investment. So, the Government takes cyber security very, very seriously. We have a Minister who is specifically tasked with these responsibilities and Australians, I think, can be confident that the Government is taking every action that it can. It’s a very unpredictable area and it means trying to stay ahead of the game, and when you see these events, you can be assured that we would be in contact and liaising with our partners in other countries to ensure that we’re all protected.

QUESTION:

Do you know if Australians have been affected – and what’s your advice to Australians on this matter?

TREASURER:

At this stage, I’ve only had a brief report so I’m not in a position to offer any further comment on that so that’s why I’d refer you to Minister Tehan who would be more in the centre of dealing with that issue. But the reports I had this morning is that the Commonwealth is very alive and aware to these types of threats and that’s why we invest in ensuring the cyber security for all Australians with our own information and with our own data systems.

QUESTION:

What’s your ideal birthday present?

TREASURER:

Well, seeing my daughters and my wife. It’s been a little while. They were down on Tuesday night, it was great to have the girls with me and I look forward to having a quiet lunch with them later today as a family. I’m always reminded when I meet young people who are looking to start a family that there’s no bigger liberal value than that. What we’re looking at out here – yeah, it’s bricks and mortar, isn’t it? It’s bricks and mortar, Michael. But it’s where families will live their lives, will take their course, make their choices, have their loves, have their disappointments, have those great moments in life – whether it’s the birthday party of the one year old or the birthday party of a 49 year old. They’re precious days with your family so that’s what I’m looking forward to today.

QUESTION:

A political birthday present?

TREASURER:

Birthdays aren’t about politics. Birthdays are about family. Ok, well, it’s been great to be with Michael – is there anything you wanted to say as we round it off?

SUKKAR:

Well, thanks, Treasurer. The only thing I wanted to add, obviously today we met with first homebuyers. We are calling on the Labor Party, don’t stand in the way of giving first homebuyers thousands of more dollars in their own pocket, thousands of more dollars in their own savings that they can put towards their first home. How could you oppose standing in the way of a first homebuyer getting their foot on the property ladder? So, today, we are saying to every first homebuyer, get onto “budget.gov.au”, get onto the calculator, see how much you’ll save by entering into a Super Savers Scheme, because instead of sending that money to the ATO, it will be money that you can put towards a deposit on your home. And obviously, we’re saying to the Labor Party, we’re saying to the local Labor member here, Rob Mitchell, the Member for McEwen, “Don’t vote against first homebuyers.” This should be an issue where the Parliament comes together to support first homebuyers. Don’t criticise us just because it wasn’t your idea, Labor. Sometimes you have to support good ideas wherever they come from, and this is an idea that’s going to put more money to first homebuyers pockets, which means more money they can ultimately put towards their first home.

TREASURER:

Thanks a lot, and thanks a lot, James.