PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 6 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Federal Budget; possible tax cuts; Government’s wedgislation; announcements vs follow through.
STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning everybody. This evening’s budget got to be all about jobs and the future of the economy, how it's going to help those one million plus Australians who have lost their job find their way back to work. How we're going to support households and give households the confidence to get out there and spend, businesses the confidence to get out there and invest.
I see the Finance Minister is out there this morning demanding that Labor back the tax cuts. Well we haven’t seen them. But frankly the test is on the government. We will obviously support the tax cuts that we called for 12 months ago, the second round of tax cuts. But the challenge is for the government not to play politics with this one. We want to ensure the working Australians have money in their wallets so they can get out there and get the economy moving again.
If the government is truly committed to that, they won't play games. They won't play politics. They won't engage in “wedgislation”. They’ll put a clean bill up, a bill that we've called for for over twelve months now and we can get behind the national task of getting the economy moving.
Of course, the biggest challenge that the Morrison government has had in dealing with the coronavirus crisis, dealing with their recession, dealing with their economic debacle has not been Labor. It's been what goes on between the press conference and the prime minister's office. Because they're great at making big announcements, but absolutely hopeless at the follow-through.
Let's run through the list. Bushfires, millions promised. Six months later, very little delivered on the ground. Aged Care Royal Commission, the Royal Commission implements or initiates its interim report, describes a situation of utter neglect. Six to nine months later, still no action from the government despite their commitment to do something about it. Small and medium enterprises loan scheme. Big announcement, very few dollars of flowed through. The home builder scheme, big announcement not a dollar has yet been spent.
So the big challenge for the government is not what Labor will do, but the government's failure to do more than a press release. What happens after they press send on the press release, that's where the problem is. So we need the Prime Minister do more than the photo op. We need the follow up.
JOURNALIST: So to be clear, if stage 3 tax cuts were packaged in with stage two would Labor support that?
JONES: We're deeply concerned about the stage three tax cuts. They deliver the most money to the wealthiest people. We're not convinced that they're going to lead to the sort of stimulus the economy needs right now. We are convinced, in fact, we've been calling for over 12 months for the stage two tax cuts to be delivered and we’ll support those.
JOURNALIST: You’re deeply concerned about stage three tax cuts. If they get packaged in with stage two will you oppose the legislation?
JONES: We’re deeply concerned that they're not well targeted and they're going to make it even harder for the government to balance …
JOURNALIST: So will you …
JONES: … let me answer the question. They're going to make it even harder for the government to balance the budget at a time when the government is set to announce an increase in the debt ceiling above $1tn dollars, a record budget deficit approaching $220bn. It's for the government to explain how poorly targeted tax cuts are going to make the task of balancing the budget and stimulating the economy all the more easier. We are convinced about stage two. The government hasn't convinced us about stage 3.