SATURDAY, 28 MARCH 2015
SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s new Bank Tax
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good afternoon and welcome to Hackett where I've just been holding my annual Welcoming the Babies event – an event to celebrate community and the joys and challenges of new parenthood.
We've heard today that after going to the election saying there would be no new taxes, the Government is breaking that promise yet again. The Government, so far, has broken its 'no new taxes' promise when it has come to the high income earner levy, fuel tax, the GP tax, the NBN tax and now the Bank Tax.
This is the fifth time they've broken their promise on no new taxes. Joe Hockey really needs to start thinking about maintaining a touch of honesty, and to start worrying more about the Budget numbers than about his own numbers in the party room. He should spend a little bit more time focusing on the job needs of the unemployed – with unemployment rising – rather than worrying about his own LinkedIn profile and what he'll do for his next job.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: How would this tax affect people who use the banks?
LEIGH: We simply don't know what the Government is proposing. This is yet another Joe Hockey thought-bubble. What troubles me is that so often from the Treasurer you don't get carefully thought-through, costed proposals. You just get the first thing that comes into his head. It's like he's still the Shadow Treasurer in drag – not able to step up to the main game with the seriousness it demands.
JOURNALIST: Mr Leigh, if the Government goes with the Labor policy or something like what you supported, would it be 0.05 per cent on deposits up to $250,000? So it wouldn't be an upfront cost but it would be a reduction in the interest rate ongoing; it wouldn't be a lump sum that people would have to pay upfront?
LEIGH: We simply don't know what the Government is proposing. But we do know that when Labor talked about this kind of a measure, Joe Hockey called it a ‘smash and grab’ on the savings of Australians households. Now he's turning around and saying that he wants to put in place a bank tax. Labor will respond when we actually have a carefully thought-out proposal. What we have at the moment is just the fifth time this government has broken its 'no new taxes' promise.
JOURNALIST: Assuming that the Government adopts something similar to your policy though, you would obviously support this budget measure through the Senate?
LEIGH: We'll wait until we've seen a policy. When the government has actually put a serious policy on the table – rather than a thought-bubble – we'll respond to it.
JOURNALIST: When you were designing your version of this, what was your thinking behind it?
LEIGH: This is a thought-bubble from a Treasurer who seems addicted to promise-breaking. Just once the Australian people would like to see Joe Hockey stick to the things he said he was going to do before the election. This is the problem with Liberals both federal and state: they seem unable to keep their word to the voters. Unable to follow through, and unable when they say 'no new taxes', not to go back and break that promise five times.
JOURNALIST: Given Labor is determined to block every savings measure, even ones that it used to propose and support, isn't it reasonable for them to take one of your ideas and try and put that through?
LEIGH: Don't believe every idea that you hear floated at Liberal Party conferences. Labor has supported $20 billion worth of savings that the Government has put through, including measures which were framed in a way that we wouldn't have put to the parliament. But we were willing to support those in the interest of bipartisanship. We've also put forward a sensible savings measure in the area of multinational tax avoidance, where the government could add $1.9 billion to the budget bottom line with a policy that is no thought-bubble. It's a Parliamentary Budget Office-costed policy that Labor would back to narrow the deficit.
JOURNALIST: Do you have any idea how much this potentially could cost consumers or bank users?
LEIGH: There's so many questions about this which could be answered if Joe Hockey was willing to bring carefully-crafted proposals to the Australian people. I would just contrast the way in which he is handling this thought-bubble of a bank tax with the way in which Labor – from Opposition – is dealing with the issue of multinational profit shifting. We worked with the experts at the OECD, engaged with the Parliamentary Budget Office and held roundtables with experts. When we came out in public with our policy, it was a carefully crafted and costed policy. That's from Opposition. Joe Hockey doesn't even seem to be able to manage to go that from government.
JOURNALIST: Isn't it a bit hypocritical though for Labor to be criticising this when you actually proposed it yourselves?
LEIGH: When we put it on the table, Joe Hockey said that it was a ‘smash and grab’ on Australian households, just aimed at repairing the budget. I don't think we're going to take any lessons on bipartisanship from Mr Hockey. But if he's got a serious proposal to put on the table, Labor will respond to it.
JOURNALIST: Is Joe Hockey the hypocrite then?
LEIGH: I think that's one of the kinder things people have said about Mr Hockey lately.
Any other questions? Thanks for coming out.
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