07 October 2020

SUBJECTS: Morrison Govt’s trillion dollar debt; tax cuts; unemployment; social housing; aged care; Anthony Albanese’s economic vision.
KIER SHOREY, HOST: Thank you for coming on this morning.
STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: It’s really good to be with you.
SHOREY: So then give me your reaction to hearing a budget that sounds to me and many people, I think, that sounds like more of a Labor budget when it comes to the ideology behind it.
JONES: Look we welcome some of the things that we've been calling for for over 12 months. Bringing forward of the second tranche of tax cuts. Obviously provide some relief for low- and middle-income earners. Calling for it, the governments decided to do it. We welcome that. We welcome the business investment incentives. This is a version of a Labor policy that we took to the last election. In fact, it was Labor policy that we introduced in 2012 on was abolished by the Abbott government. So that's been dusted off and brought back together which we welcome. Anything that's going to stimulate business investment. But I’ve got to say to say, eye-watering levels of debt, a trillion dollars worth of debt, but not a lot of vision in where we're going to be as we emerge from this crisis and I think that's what Australians were looking for. If we’re going rack up that sort of debt, where are we going to be as a country?
SHOREY: It’s the sort of thing that you would have been lambasted for if you were in government doing this with you know, what seems to be and I’m going to to use a term that the Advance Cairns Executive Chair used, “wanton spending” was the term that he used. So normally you'd be in a position where you would be criticised for doing such without as you say that vision for the future.
JONES: I can only imagine what the Government would have been saying if Labor had done exactly what they did last night. You know, this is a trillion dollars worth of debt, but not 10 cents worth of vision and I think we need more vision. What does it mean for the future of our industry? What can young people hope for as they’re leaving school and entering TAFE for University or into the workforce? And where's the vision for our workers who are feeling little bit more insecure about their future within the workforce as they're seeing incentives for employers to put on workers under the age of 35? Does that leave the older workers more vulnerable? So a bunch of these questions are being asked? Unemployment is going up 160,000 more people will be unemployed between now and Christmas nationally and yet there's no plan to do with the future of the Job Seeker, the unemployment benefit. In fact that's set to drop back to $40 a day by Christmas at the same time as unemployment benefits going up. So eye-watering amounts of debt. No broad narrative. No big plan for the future and some of the spending priorities just seem to be mis-targeted to not appropriately calculated to get unemployment down again now.
SHOREY: Stephen Jones, obviously the tax cuts are a major sweetener for many people hearing those numbers being bandied about. The question that's being raised at the moment is will it have an effect for the economy? You know, will people spend that money? And how do you feel it will happen?
JONES: If you're lucky enough to have a job then a tax cut’s going to be very welcome. The rule of thumb here is if you give a tax cut, a modest tax cut, to low- and middle-income earners they’re probably going to spend it. So the money moves from your wallet into the tills of local businesses. That's a good thing. Tax cuts which are geared towards the higher income earners generally don't get spent on consumption, don't find their way into businesses as quickly. They’re more likely to be saved or sent elsewhere. So low and middle income earners is good thing.  We hope it does create a boost  for local businesses. Of course if I could make this point if you guide to spend, if you’re going to hit a trillion dollars worth of debt, then you want to take the opportunity to fix some long-standing problems. And a couple of missed opportunities, I’ve got to say. Social housing, big missed opportunity. I know it’s a big issue in the north. The benefit of investing in social housing is you get jobs for tradies in the building of the house and you put a roof over a head of somebody who doesn’t have it who can't afford it. So once the house is built and you can do it everywhere in the country. Big missed opportunity. Secondly, a big missed opportunity in aged care. The Aged Care Royal Commission has put a spotlight on neglect, said more staffing is needed. Would be a perfect answer to all of those people who have lost their jobs in tourism and it don't say you're ready return to that International tourism coming back to the country. Jobs in the caring economy, a lot of transferable skills, that could be a filler for that big hole in the economy and a missed opportunity last night.
SHOREY: And so can we expect those particular points and to be you know major planks in the budget reply tonight?
JONES: Budget reply tomorrow night …
SHOREY: … sorry tomorrow night.
JONES: … you can expect a vision for what we see for the economy. Particularly keen on saying something about manufacturing. Particularly keen on sending a message that we want to see the women particularly who have been disadvantaged and those workers who have been thrown out of work, we have a vision for getting you back into the workforce and a pathway to you're getting back into the workforce. Also keen to put a spotlight on that issue of housing. We want to ensure that there's a roof over every head and we've got a pathway of using this crisis as an opportunity to boost employment. But also boast our national housing stock and particularly affordable housing stock. So a few things for you there Kier about what Anthony Albanese will be able to say tomorrow night. But you can expect a vision, you can expect the vision for the future.