Doorstop - Canberra 3/7/19

July 03, 2019


SUBJECTS: Floundering economy under the Liberals; Labor’s plan for tax cuts for all workers in this term of Parliament; interest rate cut

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: The Reserve Bank couldn't be any clearer: the Reserve Bank can't do all of the heavy lifting on their own. They're crying out for help. Those cries for help have been falling on the deaf ears of a Morrison Government which thinks that there's nothing wrong with this economy. The Government has been too busy patting itself on the back for its election victory to notice that the economy has deteriorated substantially on their watch. This is the worst possible time for a Government with no plan and no idea how to turn around this slowing economy. 
Remarkably, we've got Josh Frydenberg saying that the economy is strong. Well, that's news to the Reserve Bank, which cut interest rates to one per cent - a new record low - a third of what they were during the Global Financial Crisis. It's news to so many people in the community who are worried about their stagnant wages, worried about how they'll pay their mortgage, worried about how they'll pay their power bills as well. So the Reserve Bank has been making the obvious point that they can't do all of the heavy lifting on their own. We need the Government to recognise that the economy is floundering and middle Australia is struggling, and we need a Government which is actually prepared to do something about it. 
Yesterday's rate cut bolsters Labor's argument that we need to get more money into the hands of more workers sooner, and circulating through this floundering economy. Labor's amendments in the House last night were all about bringing forward part of Stage 2 of the tax cuts, supporting Stage 1, and not saddling the budget with a $95 billion tax cut which wouldn't come in for another five years. This is a Government which has got the economy wrong at every turn, now wants to pretend that they know what the economy and the Budget will look like in five years' time. It's a Government which has not told the Australian people how they intend to pay for this $95 billion in Stage 3, what cuts to services, what cuts to programs, how they would make room in the Budget for such a big tax cut. 
Remarkably, in the House last night when Labor moved an amendment to bring forward part of the Government's own tax cuts from 2022 to 2019, the Government voted against that. The so-called "party of lower taxes" voted against their own tax cut being implemented sooner than what they are proposing. And what that means is it's only Labor which has a proposal on the table which would give every Australian worker a tax cut this term, not on the never never. The Government opposed that and so that remains - the Government's tax plan would not give every Australian worker a tax cut this parliamentary term or this year. Labor's proposal would do that. 
So our position remains that we want to do three things. We want to boost the economy, which desperately needs it. We need to get a tax cut into the hands of more workers and flowing through the economy this year, not down the track. And we don't want to saddle the Budget with $95 billion in tax cuts which won't come in for another five years when the Government can't tell us how they'll pay for them, and they have absolutely no idea what the economy or the Budget will look like in five years' time. And we'll be pursuing our amendments in the Senate along those lines.
JOURNALIST: Are you now in a position, Shadow Treasurer, that if the crossbench winds up supporting the Government, you will wind up supporting this package in full?
CHALMERS: What we've said is we'll put all of our effort into our amendments. There's still discussions to be had in the Senate. We'll consider our other options after that. 
JOURNALIST: Do you plan on holding another Shadow Cabinet or caucus meeting between now and the Senate vote? 
CHALMERS: Well, our internal decision-making processes are a matter for us. We'll do what we can to involve colleagues in that discussion. But as we've said ever since Monday's meetings, the Shadow cabinet and the caucus agreed when they saw the legislation before us that our intention was to pursue the amendments that we moved in the House last night and that we'll move in the Senate tomorrow. What those amendments are about is getting more workers a tax cut sooner, boosting the economy which desperately needs it, and not saddling the Budget with $95 billion in unfunded tax cuts when the Government doesn't know what the Budget or the economy will look like.
JOURNALIST: When you say you have to consider your other options after that, what are your other options?
CHALMERS: It depends how the Senate debate unfolds. It's clear to everyone here that at some point if our amendments fail, we'll have to make another decision. And we've said that we'll make that at that point. 
JOURNALIST: So you'll make a similar decision what you made in the House then?
CHALMERS: I'm not prepared to pre-empt that.

JOURNALIST: But would it not, the optics of it, if you don't vote the same way you do in the House that you do in the Senate, would that they not show that there is an uncertainty in your own position on this?
CHALMERS: I'm not going to get into the ins and outs of a decision we haven't taken yet. Thanks very much.