SUBJECTS: Rooty Hill visit; Labor’s taxes; Climate Change
Journalist: Good Morning Liberal MP for Sturt, Shadow Minister for Education, good morning to you.
Hon Christopher Pyne MP: Good morning, Matthew and David.
Journalist: And Mark Butler, on the road, Labor MP for Port Adelaide, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, good morning to you Mark Butler.
Hon Mark Butler MP: Good morning gentlemen.
Journalist: Are you in strife again Mark Butler?
Journalist: You’re in strife again.
Journalist: Talking about I think a car alarm went off in western Sydney and you suggested that someone was trying to steal it and maybe they ought to get you a bus?
Butler: Well this is, this is a beat up if ever there was one. My press conference was interrupted by a car alarm going off and some fellow yelling and waving his arms and the car driving away very fast and I think everyone there thought something was up. It eventuated pretty clearly after that something wasn’t up, something else was happening but, look this is just a beat up, an utter beat up.
Journalist: Are people, perhaps the media or perhaps people in Rooty Hill; are they all just a bit too sensitive?
Butler: Well I think they’re very different propositions. I think last week I made some silly comments, I was pulled up for them by people over here in Sydney and I apologise for any offence I caused. And I’ve gone out to Rooty Hill, I’ve walked Rooty Hill Road north and spoken to a lot of people down there on Friday afternoon and I’ve made clear that what I’ve said was silly and I apologise for them, but the situation yesterday I think was quite different, I think that’s a beat up.
Pyne: I hope you’re not becoming a gaffe prone Minister Mark, that would be unfortunate, no one wants to be called the gaffe prone Minister.
Butler: Well yes, no one wants to be diagnosed by their opposition about those things either Christopher.
Journalist: Mark Butler, what’s been achieved in, by the Rooty Hill visit of the Prime Minister, what’s the bottom line here? We’ve now got a national Gangs Task Force, $63 million. Our Police Commissioner didn’t seem to know a lot about it when we spoke to him yesterday, what’s going on?
Butler: Well the Prime Minister and her Ministers spend a lot of time out of Canberra and out of their home bases, talking to people about various issues that matter to them. Either today or about the future of the nation and being in western Sydney is no different to the time that the Prime Minister a couple of weeks ago in Adelaide and Tony Abbott’s in Adelaide today and we’ve spent a lot of our time travelling the country. Western Sydney is an area about twice the size of Adelaide, it’s got one tenth of Australia’s population and it’s appropriate that the nation’s Prime Minister and the nation’s Leader of the Opposition, Ministers and Shadow Ministers spend significant time there, as they do everywhere else in Australia.
Pyne: But the Prime Minister has made a lot of this idea of going out to Rooty Hill and staying there in accommodation 45 minutes from Kirribilli House, it’s just not the normal kind of visit.
Journalist: Thank you for that Chris Pyne. Chris Pyne, always grateful for suggestions for questions, but, Chris Pyne, Tony Abbott is now, is he now spending money that he doesn’t have? In other words, doing what he accuses the Government of doing and he says that he is going to get rid of the carbon tax. That carbon tax has already paid for a big list of the tax free threshold?
Pyne: Well actually it hasn’t because the carbon tax is not collecting anything like the revenue that it was forecast.
Journalist: Well, let’s say it’s partly funding it though?
Pyne: $4 billion short of what it was forecast to collect, just like the mining tax.
Journalist: However you will be a lot more short when you get rid of the carbon tax?
Pyne: I think it’s a very good point you raise Matthew, about what the Government has done…
Journalist: No, no, no, I want to know what you’re doing. You’re going to get rid of it altogether; you won’t get any revenue stream from it.
Pyne: We have said quite openly that we will abolish the carbon tax and we will abolish the mining tax…
Journalist: But you’ll keep the benefits it’s paying for?
Pyne: And that we believe that we can find the necessary savings in the budget through various other means to pay for a policy that will deliver tax reductions and pension increases which everyone will know about well before the election. So we’ve been very frank about that whereas the Government, according to the Business Council of Australia today, has promised $49 billion worth of new spending which is unfunded since the global financial crisis of which $19 billion is to be spent in the next few years, all of which they haven’t said how they will actually fund. So what Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have said is that yes we will abolish the carbon tax which will reduce electricity prices and we’ll abolish the mining tax which means you won’t need a carbon tax compensation package but we will have tax reductions and pension rises paid through other savings in the budget.
Presenter: Mark Butler?
Butler: Well another classic Pyne diversion. I mean I think people are starting to ask Mr Abbott that, if you are going to cut the carbon price which is paid by the biggest polluters in the country, doesn’t that mean you’re also going to cut the benefits that we get from that as well. The tax cuts from raising the tax free threshold, the pension payments, the school kids bonus, the super contribution for low income earners and the fact is that Tony Abbott is saying one thing to people while Joe Hockey at press conferences like yesterday is saying completely another thing. People I think are starting to get impatient about the sense that there’s some cover up here and that the Opposition is not being up-front about this. Tony Abbott has a great opportunity today in South Australia to clear all of these things up as well as clear up what his plans are for the GST in the future because it’s quite clear that the Liberal Party, from Julie Bishop’s statements over the last couple of weeks, is still intending to take significant GST income, about a billion dollars a year, from South Australia and give it back to Western Australia.
Presenter: But that is also something that has been raised by your own review of the GST is it not?
Butler: Look we’ve made clear that we are supporters of the age-old system of fiscal equalisation which ensures that Australians are entitled to…
Presenter: So why review the way that GST is distributed?
Butler: ..no matter, no matter where they live. There are always ways in which we can improve the way in which we raise revenue and distribute it but the fundamental principle of fiscal equalisation – spreading the benefits of the national economy across the nation including to South Australia – is something we support very strongly and something the Liberal Party looks like it wants to unwind.
Pyne: Well the best thing we can do for South Australia, Tasmania and the rest of the country is to increase growth because that will increase the GST revenues. Now if Mark Butler wants to argue about the same sized pie and cutting it up or making it smaller but still getting a bigger share for South Australia well good luck to him. I would rather be trying to put in place the policies that grow the economy which means a lower tax regime which means more growth, more growth will mean there is more GST revenue. That’s what happened during the Howard era rather than what Labor’s done which is because they don’t have enough money for all their promises, creating new taxes, whether it is the mining tax or the carbon tax, and slowing the economy down.
Presenter: Christopher Pyne, do you accept the Climate Commission’s findings that last summer showed the climate system on steroids.
Pyne: Look the climate is always changing, David, and I certainly believe that the climate is changing and that human beings have some impact on that. Of course I do, but I certainly don’t believe the doomsday predictions. Now my friend Tim Flannery, used to be our head of the South Australian Museum here, he said that the dams in Queensland would never fill again. I’ve just got back from Queensland, the dams are full to overflowing. He also said the Murray mouth would never be open again. The Murray mouth has been open now for some years so I don’t like doomsday predictions. I think that they’re knee-jerk things.
Presenter: Mark Butler, has Tim Flannery with some of his predictions undermined what may be very good argument on other fronts?
Butler: Well look I haven’t got all of Tim Flannery’s predictions in my head but look the climate change scientists have made very clear that the climate is getting warmer, that the industrial era is significantly to account for that, and that we wouldn’t just see a linear progression of different weather events. What you’d see is an increase in extreme weather events. More cyclones, more flooding as well as more droughts and that is… (inaudible).
Pyne: So do you think there is going to be a doomsday catastrophic event?
Presenter: No no I think you should ring up and interview each other because we are running and we want to talk to Ian Henschke. Mark Butler, thank you, Minister for Mental Health. And Chris Pyne, the Shadow Minister for Education, thank you for coming into the studio Chris Pyne.