5AA Adelaide Radio
27 June 2018
SUBJECTS: Tax cuts; Labor Leadership;
JOURNALIST: Two tribes on a Wednesday morning, Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese, good morning to you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
JOURNALIST: We’ll kick off with you if we can thanks Albo. Now, last Friday in a very widely reported speech and a pretty well-received speech, you talked about how it's important for Labor to maintain a strong working relationship with the business community. Fast forward five days and we've seen Bill Shorten unilaterally embrace a tax position which reportedly does not have the support or the endorsement of Caucus or indeed even Shadow Cabinet, which could see businesses with, very small businesses with turnover as low as 2 million dollars being stripped of tax relief. Is Bill Shorten’s position an example of exactly what you were warning against?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, Labor is engaged with business, including small business. One of the things that we did when we were last in Government, of course, was the instant asset write off, that was opposed by the Coalition at the time and indeed when they came to government they abolished it. Then they brought it back and pretended it was their policy, having said it was a bad idea. It was good policy and it’s good that it’s there now. One of the things that we've also said for businesses of whatever size is the investment guarantee for investment of a twenty percent discount of for investment above $20,000 excluding only passenger vehicles, utes and capital equipment and that sort of investment to encourage that support.
JOURNALIST: What about current policy?
JOURALIST: What about this policy and particularly what about the way it's been handled by Bill Shorten?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well we’ve opposed, of course these changes in the House of Representatives and in the Senate when they were debated and dealt with on the floor of both of those chambers over the last year and a bit.
JOURNALIST: But are you surprised and troubled as other Shadow Ministers reportedly are that Bill Shorten could be advocating a threshold as low as $2 million for taking tax cuts away from very small businesses.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well what Bill said yesterday is that Shadow Cabinet will consider the issue of businesses with turnover between two and 10 million dollars and that will be the decision we’ll make at an appropriate time and announce.
JOURNALIST: Now as far as I understand to be an opportunity to have your say about what you think about the tax cuts being wound back for businesses with turnover between 10 and 50 million dollars. Bill Shorten came out and made the announcement yesterday without consulting. What would have you said, if he asked?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well I think Bill Shorten has got a right to announce Labor policy. He did that. He did that consistent with the way that Labor had voted in the House of Representatives and the Senate when these changes were considered.
JOURNALIST: So if you would have asked, you would have said yes?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well it is a matter of priorities. It’s a matter of whether the priority is for education or for health or for infrastructure for that matter, and Labor has clearly said that our priority is education, is health, is infrastructure, is paying down the debt, is making sure that we've been fiscally responsible. We've had a number of policy announcements indeed more than oppositions in the past have done and that's a good thing, the fact that we have so much policy out there.
JOURNALIST: Albo, your speech last Friday was widely reported as you putting yourself out there in the leadership context and saying, “I am available for the top job.” Is that a valid analysis of your speech?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No it's not. If you look at speeches I've given, four similar occasions in the past few years, be it, the Light on the Hill function that held in Bathurst, the Earle Page Lecture that done in Tamworth at the University of New England, the Eddie Graham Lecture which is done in Wagga Wagga in rural New South Wales. On each of these occasions, I always give considered speeches not about what happened in Question Time that day. I mean for goodness sake it's the Whitlam Oration and I make no…
JOURNALIST: Sorry, the key criticism of Bill Shorten right now is that he's too anti-business. The key point you made in your speech is that Labor needs to be more pro-business.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well that wasn’t the key point. That was one of a range of points that I made was that Labor has to appeal to not just members of trade unions but we have to appeal to small businesses, to people who are contractors, to people who are professionals, and aren't in any union and that's just common sense, and that's what Labor governments do. That's what I did and Bill did and others all did as a member of the Rudd and Gillard Governments. That's what Hawke and Keating did and that's what Whitlam did. That's what modern Labor is about.
JOURNALIST: What it should be about?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, that's what modern Labor is about. And Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen, we all have extensive relationships with the business community. I've got – we’re sitting in Canberra this week, I have a business lunch on Friday which is all about that engagement that we have with the community and indeed the NSW State Conference is being held on the weekend of the Labor Party. There will be business observers there, and I have a range of meetings with them on Friday and indeed on Saturday.
JOURNALIST: So Albo, if you're comfortable with the manner which Bill Shorten with his right to make an announcement regarding repealing those tax cuts - make the case to the small business owners listening right now about why they should pay more tax and will pay more tax under Labor?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well the fact is that a number of - you've got to look at the policy as a whole and I think the support for the investment guarantee that we're putting forward will be worth more than the tax changes which come in over a period of time, of course for businesses between 10 and 50 million dollars and that will be of significantly more benefit for them and that's something that the current government opposes and all businesses know that we need a strong economy and having a strong economy means making difficult decisions in terms of investment in education and training and skills for example, something that businesses say to me they're suffering from is they can't get a skilled workforce.
JOURNALIST: Chris Pyne you've been very polite and very patient, I’m going to bring you in now.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I thought he wasn’t here. I thought he had hung up.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: You were doing a lovely job trying to dig yourself out of a hole there so I thought I’d let you keep doing it.
JOURNALIST: Now Chris, you’ve been an MP since the early 1990s.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: The early 1890s.
JOURNALIST: That’s right!
ANTHONY ALBANESE: He’s a very old man…
JOURNALIST: You’ve seen a lot of leadership dramas in that time does what's happening in the Labor Party now look to you like a leadership battle?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: There's absolutely no doubt that Bill Shorten has said he's going to have a war on business. He wants the Unions front and centre Labor Party policy making. He wants the CFMEU to be involved in every forum and he's repudiated the aspiration of Australians that the Hawke Keating government understood, that Keating’s actually criticised modern Labor for, because Hawke and Keating got that Australians are aspirational. It’s why they were a successful Labor Party and Bill Shorten says he not going to do that, he wants to increase personal income taxes at the next election by $70 billion. And yesterday, he’s about to kick small businesses in the teeth and South Australia is a small and medium enterprise state. And yet Anthony Albanese on Friday last week said they have to remember that the unions are a small part of the workforce, it's not 1950 anymore he said. He said that Labor needed to be close to business and cooperate with business and that they should remember the Hawke-Keating legacy that Australians were aspirational. So Anthony stated a very, very clear contradiction to Bill Shorten and that's why this speech has had such a great run over the last few days because everyone can see that Bill Shorten is now a man on borrowed time. And yesterday he reacted under pressure, announced without consultation with his party room or his frontbench that Labor would roll back the company tax cuts for small businesses. So now 94,000 small businesses across Australia have a motivation to campaign against Labor because if Labor gets elected they'll have their company taxes increase. If Labor gets elected people's personal income tax will increase and Bill Shorten is saying that people on ninety five thousand dollars a year are the top end of town; he is now saying that small businesses with a turnover of more than two million dollars are other top end of town. He's boxed himself in because he lives day to day and what Anthony said last Friday was that we should stop living day to day and look at their history and have a vision for the future and that's why we're talking about Labor Party leadership.
JOURNALIST: There'll be more to come on this over the coming days. We’re sure. Chris Pyne Anthony Albanese thanks so much for joining us this morning this morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It was a great pleasure this morning!
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Great to be with you, I’m glad Christopher got a crack!