CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: Well quite an extraordinary story this morning. Not only has Pauline Hanson withdrawn her support for the Government’s big business tax cuts saying that the Government hasn’t sold the message, well of course the problem is the message is a dud message and it’s a poor product, but also we see revealed for the first time that there was a written agreement between the Government and Pauline Hanson‘s One Nation Party that the Government made a series of concessions to One Nation in order to get their big business tax cuts through the Parliament.
Now this has been secret until today. This simply isn’t good enough. Scott Morrison should release the full details of this deal today. We shouldn’t be relying on Pauline Hanson to learn what Government policy is, what deal they have done. We should have, the Australian people should have full access to all the information that the Government has been horse trading on in relation to policy. These aren’t just commitments into the future, these are detailed policy decisions which the Government has been horse trading on. So Scott Morrison should come clean today; what deals were done, what arrangements have been entered into, what horse trading has occurred. We all know his company tax cuts are a dud product but we also need to know what has he sold out on, what dirty deals has he done in order to get them through with the support of One Nation.
Now just one other matter I will deal with before opening up to questions. I see the story this morning about the Budget lock up. Now of course this is a desperate attempt at a distraction by the Government, the Government’s spin unit at the fact that their Budget continues to cut health, hospitals, schools and also the tax cuts don’t stack up compared to the Labor Party’s. But I want to make this point: the story this morning is just wrong. Senator Wong did not smuggle out the Budget papers from the Budget lock up. She carried them out under her arm as she was entitled to do, as every Member of the Opposition has done for as long as anybody can remember. It is the case that Treasury officials stopped Jenny Macklin and I and asked us to leave the Budget papers behind. This was the first time this has ever happened and we did question that decision but the conversation was respectful, the Treasury officials were doing their job. They were following their instructions and they respected us at all times and they were respected at all times. But the question is this, the Opposition for as long as anybody can remember has been given access to the Budget lock up and Members of Parliament have left at 7 o’clock with the Budget papers. The Treasurer outlines the conditions of the Budget lock up and at no point was there a condition that the Budget papers should be left behind.
So the Government has some questions to answer about this matter but this is a desperate attempt to smear a Member of Parliament, a respected Member of Parliament in Senator Wong who was complying with the rules and the Government should grow up. Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Is Labor now open to the second part of the Government‘s tax plan?
BOWEN: Our position hasn’t changed since Budget night and just as I said at the National Press Club last week, we support the 2018 tax cuts, we have grave reservations about the 2024 tax cuts and we want more information about the 2022 tax cuts. I mean the Treasurer wants the Parliament to vote on these tax cuts but he won’t release the year on year costings. I mean the Treasurer is treating the Parliament and the people with contempt. Of course we also want bigger tax cuts earlier. The Labor Party believes in tax cuts in 2019 which we will implement on coming to office, the Government is entitled, we are more than happy for them to take our policy and run with it if they choose. Scott Morrison a few days before the Budget in his normal hyperventilating way said Australians will pay more tax under Labor. Well, Labor is delivering bigger, better, fairer tax cuts than the Government. That’s a fact.
JOURNALIST: If the Government releases details of the costings what would Labor need to see in that to cause you to reconsider?
BOWEN: There’s three tranches to the tax cuts. We want to see what each tranche costs. At the moment we just have a global cost for the entire package and we want to see what each element costs, we want to see distributional analysis. Of course if the Government won’t provide that we can get our own analysis done and we will go through that process. These are tax cuts which don’t come in until 2022 and 2024. I mean the Parliament is entitled to take some time. We could pass the 2018 tax cuts today. These are the ones that are urgent, that need to pass the Parliament now to be implemented on 1 July. We support them, the Government supports them, the Greens oppose them, that’s okay but they are going to pass the Parliament with Labor and Liberal support. Guess what? Together we have got the numbers, Labor and Liberal, so let’s get it done and pass the 2018 tax cuts.
JOURNALIST: So if you deem the way those costings are spread in each year are reasonable that would be cause to reconsider?
BOWEN: I mean we just want to see the information and the Australian people should see the information. The Australian people should see the information. Scott Morrison is being shifty by refusing to release the full data, the full cost things of his tax cuts. He says they are great, well let’s see the evidence.
JOURNALIST: Do you think Australia needs a digital companies tax like the Central Alliance Senators have put forward?
BOWEN: I think all Australians want to see digital company is paying their fair share of tax. Now if the Government has got a proposal, let us see it. There is a very considerable decision in the Budget which we still don’t know about in the ‘decisions taken not announced’ section. Give us the information yet again. Of course Labor has pretty much led the debate on multinationals and profit shifting but if there is a proposal that the Government has been talking to the crossbench about I think they should be upfront with the Australian people about it as well. Of course we will look at any sensible proposals.
JOURNALIST: I might have missed your remarks on Hanson but is, the Government at the moment can’t get the legislation through the Senate, are you calling on the Government to split the bill?
BOWEN: Sorry, this is on personal income tax?
BOWEN: Yes. The Government should split the bill, absolutely. Pass the 2018 tax cuts and give the Parliament the respect and the time to consider the other elements of the Governments tax cut plan. And while we are at it, why don’t we passed the 2019 tax cuts as well? I mean Labor will bring it to Parliament if we win the election but we are also happy for the Government to vote for them today. But of course they weren’t because they actually don’t believe in bigger, better, fairer tax cuts for low and middle income earners.
Okay, thanks very much.