Doorstop - Canberra 4/7/19

July 03, 2019

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

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: We'll be moving our amendments in the Senate, which will seek to give every Australian worker a tax cut this term of Parliament. That will help boost an economy which is floundering under the Liberals. We'll also be seeking to not saddle the Budget with a $95 billion tax cut, which doesn't come in for another five years. The Government needs to explain to the Australian people today what services and programs that they will cut to pay for their $95 billion cut, which doesn't come in until 2024. It doesn't come in for another five years. The government needs to come clean and tell us how they will pay for a $95 billion dollar tax cut, what services they'll cut, what programs they'll cut, how they intend to go about it. 
This is a Government which can't get the economy right in the next five minutes and they want to pretend that they know what the economy and the Budget will look like in five years' time. Our amendments will try and take that part of the tax cut plan out of the package. We enthusiastically support Stage 1 getting into the economy as soon as possible. We've got a proposal for Stage 2 to be delivered earlier. Remarkably, the Government voted against that. Our highest priority is to boost this economy, which is floundering under the Liberals. We want to see more tax relief in the hands of more workers sooner. And our amendments will be all about that.

JOURNALIST: In the final vote, will you vote for the package?
CHALMERS: Well, if it gets to that point that our amendments aren't successful in the Senate, then we'll consider our options at that point. We'll have the appropriate discussions and we'll have more to say about it later today.

JOURNALIST: We understand the key crossbench senators have given their support to the tax package, so it's all but a fait accompli that it will go back to the House. What will you do then?
CHALMERS: If that's the case, then we'll consider our options at that point. We intend to move our amendments, because we think it's important that we get every Australian worker a tax cut this term and not on the never never. We think it's important that we don't saddle the Budget with a $95 billion tax cut in five years' time when the Government can't tell us what services and programs that they will cut to pay for it. So we'll move our amendments. If those amendments are unsuccessful, we'll consider our options at that point and we'll have more to say later today.
JOURNALIST: How many options have you got?
CHALMERS: The options are before us. If our amendments fail in the Senate, if we can't get the support of the Senate, then clearly we need to consider what our next steps are. We've said all along that we'll have the appropriate discussions with colleagues at our end and we'll make an announcement about our position later on today.
JOURNALIST: Isn't the point that if it gets to that point, you have no option other than to support the tax cuts?
CHALMERS: I'm not prepared to pre-empt the discussions that I'll have with my colleagues today. Our efforts and our intentions are all about our amendments. Our amendments are really responsible, constructive amendments, which would give every Australian worker a tax cut term, pull out $95 billion worth of tax cuts in five years' time. What we really need to be doing as a Parliament - the Senate, the House of Representatives - anybody who is seeing how badly this economy has deteriorated on the Government's watch, we need to do what we can to turn that around. And that will guide our position. It guides our amendments and it will guide our position after that as well.
JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to Jacqui Lambie about your amendments? Has she given any kind of indication she'd support them?

CHALMERS: My colleagues have spoken to Jackie, but I'm not prepared to conduct a running commentary about those conversations. 
I want to say one more thing about deeming rates, which are in the news today. This Government has been caught pretending to be friends of retirees at the same time as they sting them with these ridiculous deeming rates. My colleague Linda Burney has been making the case repeatedly that it's time for the Morrison Government to stop stinging retirees with these ridiculous deeming rates. Interest rates are at record lows, because the economy is soft on Scott Morrison's watch. Every time that interest rates are cut by the Reserve Bank to try and get this floundering economy growing again, it stings pensioners because the Morrison Government won't adjust the deeming rate. It is long past time for Scott Morrison to stop treating the retirees of this country so shabbily. It's time for him to adjust the deeming rates. Stop delaying. He's been delaying for a long time and retirees have been copping it in the neck. Do the right thing Mr Morrison. Adjust the deeming rates so that retirees aren't stung with your ridiculous deeming rates every time the Reserve Bank cuts rates. Thanks very much.