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Transcript - 23787

Interview with Chris Uhlmann, 7.30, ABC

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 02/09/2014

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 23787

Subject(s): Government delivers on commitment to abolish the mining tax

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Tony Abbott, welcome to 7.30.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks, Chris.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

How is the deal that you've done with Clive Palmer a good deal for ordinary Australians?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it's a good deal because it honours our commitment to get rid of the mining tax and while it doesn't get rid of all the associated spending immediately, it does get rid of the spending that was simply unsustainable. So what it does is it enables us to get the Budget back under control. That means our economy will be stronger, that means people's jobs and prosperity will be more secure.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

But how does slowing the growth in superannuation to 12 per cent by seven years help workers?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, as Bill Shorten pointed out, the Superannuation Guarantee Levy comes out of workers' pockets. So by delaying the increase in that levy, we actually keep more money in workers' pockets. But Chris, if people do want to make a voluntary contribution to their superannuation obviously they can do that.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

But if you believe that doing this actually saves workers money in the long run then why are you going to 12 per cent at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

Because we do think that an increase in national savings is a good thing, but we have to accept that the money does, in the first instance, come out of workers' pockets. That's why we think that this is a good deal for workers. It strengthens the Budget and it means that expenses that they face will be delayed for about three years longer than would otherwise have been the case.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Isn't superannuation though a mix? Some of it will come out of the wages of workers that have been foregone, but also some of it comes out of profits and according to the Financial Services Council you're taking $128 billion out of the savings of workers by 2025, how is that fair?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, again, if workers want to make extra contributions to their superannuation they can. What we're saying is that the compulsory contribution will be delayed for a while. It will kick in eventually, but as Ken Henry of the Henry Tax Review fame pointed out, in the end this is money that comes out of workers' pockets, agreeing with Bill Shorten.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

You said that there would be no adverse changes to superannuation in this term. Isn't this an adverse change and isn't that a broken promise?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, it's not. It's not an adverse change. No-one is going backwards – no-one is going backwards. We did take into the election a two-year pause. This is a somewhat larger pause, a somewhat longer pause, but nevertheless what we have done is delivered on one of our most fundamental commitments of all which was to repeal the mining tax.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

So you get $50 billion worth of savings over 10 years, the miners don't have to pay a tax that they didn't like and the workers may well think that they're losers. So, couldn't this be branded unfair?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, Chris, the Labor Party will scream unfair, but this was a dodgy tax from the very beginning. It wasn't raising any money. It was damaging jobs. It was damaging investment and it had been an excuse for a massive cash splash. Well the tax is stopping, the cash splash is ending – that will be good for workers, good for jobs, and good for prosperity.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Now people who are now on $37,000 a year pay no tax on their super contributions. After today, after these changes come in in 2016/2017, will they be paying more tax on their super than they will be on their incomes?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the superannuation concession that was put in place by the former government that was funded by the mining tax that was raising no revenue will cut out in the middle of 2017. But the fact is that people who want to make contributions to their super can continue to make contributions to their super. Our challenge is to implement our commitments and that's exactly what happened today. One of the most fundamental commitments of all to get rid of the mining tax and to get rid of the spending – the unsustainable spending – associated with it, that commitment has been honoured.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

But that low income super bonus was actually paid by the government to low income workers, many of them are women, so they are losing out of this?

PRIME MINISTER:

And we promised to get rid of it. We took it to the election. It's not going to be gone as soon as we would have liked, but nevertheless it will be gone so we have honoured an election commitment. Now, I accept that it wasn't necessarily an election commitment that everyone welcomed, but we were honest and upfront with people before the election that if you get rid of the tax you've got to get rid of the spending associated with it. We've got rid of the tax and we're getting rid of the spending associated with it.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

You've shown that you are prepared to compromise on big ticket budget items so will you also compromise on the Medicare co-payment?

PRIME MINISTER:

We believe in the policies that we have announced. We want the policies that we have announced to go forward as we have announced them. Obviously we accept that some of the policies that we've announced do have to get through the Senate and we will work with the Senate – the people elected – to implement policies that we think will be good for the Australian people.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

So will the $7 co-payment come down?

PRIME MINISTER:

The co-payment is a good policy.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

It might not be an achievable policy.

PRIME MINISTER:

But it's a good policy and that's what we're in the business of. We are in the business of putting forward good policy and getting from the Parliament the best policy that we can. I ask you this, Chris, if it's right and proper to have a modest co-payment for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme drugs, how can it be wrong and immoral to have a modest co-payment for Medicare?

CHRIS UHLMANN:

And I ask you this – are you in the business of compromise and is the co-payment likely to be a compromise that you would make?

PRIME MINISTER:

Chris, I'm in the business of putting forward good policy and trying to get the best policy we can through the Parliament.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Is paid parental leave still a good policy?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's outstanding policy and it's policy that the Coalition took not just to the last election, but to the election before that. It's good policy because it boosts participation, it will ensure that our economy is bigger over time because if we can get female participation up to the levels in Canada, our economy would be up to $40 billion a year bigger and stronger and that's surely a good thing.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

And it will cost $7.4 billion a year by 2024-25 according to the Parliamentary Budget Office and that's surely a saving that the Government could make now by not going ahead with that policy given that it’s pretty much friendless except for you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I'm not sure about that, and as the Parliamentary Budget Office also pointed out it's fully funded.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

So, are you going to negotiate perhaps on young people waiting six months for the dole?

PRIME MINISTER:

We strongly support the policies that we have put forward including the ‘learn or earn’ policy that we put forward in the Budget. We think it's far better for young people to be employed or to be doing a trade than to be sitting around on the dole. It's no way to start your adult life. So that's the policy we believe. We are going into the Parliament to get support for that policy.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

And if you can't get support for it then you will negotiate?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, why would anyone want to see young Australians sitting on the dole when thanks to our policies there are all sorts of training options, all sorts of further study options, the economy has jobs that could be taken. So, when you could have a job, when you could be doing training, why should any young person be on the dole?

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Prime Minister, what is Australia's mission in Iraq? Is it to support the Kurds or to defeat the Islamic State?

PRIME MINISTER:

Our mission is to work for the betterment of mankind, if I might quote Ben Chifley. To work for the betterment of mankind, not just here but wherever we can lend a helping hand. There is a world of difference between Iraq 2003 and Iraq 2014. The fundamental difference is that anything we do in Iraq will be done to support the Iraqi government and at the request of the Iraq government.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Are you working though to defeat the Islamic State or just to support the government of Iraq? They're very different missions, aren't they?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't use that terminology because it's not a state; it's a death cult, so I'm not going to dignify this hideous movement with that kind of terminology. Obviously, it is very important for Australia, it's very important for Iraq, it's very important for the whole world that this death cult be defeated. Apart from anything else, we've got about 150 Australians who are one way or another involved with these terrorist groups. We might not naturally want to reach out to the Middle East, but tragically the Middle East is reaching out to us.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Well you said that you wanted to see this defeated, this death cult defeated. Does that mean that you also take this fight into Syria?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, no-one's talking about that at this time. What we've done so far is delivered humanitarian airdrops to besieged people in Northern Iraq. In coming days we will be engaging in military airlift via Baghdad into the Kurdish parts of Iraq with equipment, including military equipment. We want to help people to help themselves and we want to see decent people able to live their life and not be subject to the kind of murderous rage that we've seen all too much of on our TV screens.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

You've said regularly that there's been no specific request from the US for our warplanes, have you offered them?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are regularly talking to our partners and allies. They know what we are capable of. The point I want to stress, though, Chris, is that no specific request has come, no decision has been made. If a specific request comes it will be considered in the normal way by the Cabinet and in consultation with the Opposition.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

And have you told the United States that you are disposed to sending war planes if you were asked and this mission is expanded?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I'm not going to get into this who said what to whom stuff because our discussions with the Americans are as they should be – confidential. Let me just say, Chris, that the humanitarian airdrop earlier this week was done in conjunction with American, British, and French aircraft. The airlift to Erbil will be done in conjunction with American, British, French, Canadian, and Italian aircraft so we are already working in a coalition of peace loving nations to try to help people in a dreadfully, dreadfully afflicted part of the world.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Finally, Prime Minister, as a man from a peace loving nation you're off to India. Can you be certain that uranium sold to India will be used only for peaceful purposes?

PRIME MINISTER:

We want to put suitable safeguards in place and I make the point that if we are prepared to sell uranium to Russia, and we've been prepared to do that in the past, surely we ought to be prepared to provide uranium to India under suitable safeguards. India is a fully functioning democracy with the rule of law and I think we should be prepared to support India and that's what my upcoming visit will be all about.

CHRIS UHLMANN:

Tony Abbott, thank you.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you, Chris.

[ends]

Transcript - 23787