The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Peter Costello

Peter Costello

Treasurer

11 March 1996 - 3 December 2007

Transcript of 07/06/2005

Treasurer

Doorstop Interview

Ministerial Entrance
Parliament House, Canberra

Tuesday, 7 June 2005

9.50 am

SUBJECTS: Tax Cuts, Uranium Mining, Singapore Airlines, Mr Chen

TREASURER:

Well in three and a half weeks time every Australian should be getting an income tax cut. That is what the Government announced in the Budget on the 10th of May, that is what every Australian should receive.

Unfortunately, the Labor Party continues its blocking and delaying strategy. This blocking and delaying strategy will stop Australians receiving tax cuts and cost Australian taxpayers about a quarter of a billion dollars per month. Every month that Mr Beazley can delay tax cuts means that people will pay around about a quarter of a billion dollars more in tax than they should be. And their chances of getting that back are not good until the time they file their income tax returns in 12 or 18 months time. Labor’s policy to delay tax cuts for every Australian has now completely backfired. It has no public support. People are looking at Mr Beazley and they are wondering why he is going to the lengths that he is to delay a tax cut which he can’t stop and every Australian deserves. This is now also causing confusion for employers, software developers are now preparing two tax schedules for the 1st of July, two sets of costs, two sets of regulation, two sets of red tape, all because Kim Beazley decided to try a stunt that has now backfired which won’t work and which is designed to delay income tax cuts.

Sooner or later, Labor will have to give up the game and allow these tax cuts. And I say to Mr Beazley, do it early before you inflict more damage on the employers of Australia, before you inflict more delays on the income tax payers of Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Is the distribution of the schedules a costly exercise?

TREASURER:

Well, it depends how you do it. For the software developers it is very costly. For the employers that use the software, it is also costly. For businesses that use the hard copy prepared by the Commissioner, the ones that I have tabled in the Parliament, it is quite extensive, you have seen it, it is about 120 pages. There are schedules for employers with dependents, schedules for employers without dependents, schedules for people who are paying HECS debts, schedules for people that have differences in relation to their tax and you have got to apply the right one to each employee. So, you have got 120 pages of schedules, but you might have 100 employees and they might have different schedules for each one. So to actually have this doubled up, to have employers at the moment loading both on their computer systems, is very expensive and very time consuming.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, is today’s poll an indication that it is a case of any tax cut is better than a possible more generous tax cut?

TREASURER:

No, what today’s public opinion shows is that Mr Beazley’s attempt to block or delay tax cuts has backfired. He decided to try a stunt, but at the end of the day people saw right through the stunt, they knew that what he was doing could only have one effect. That is to either block or delay their tax cuts. They have caught him cold, they have seen through him and the only thing I would say is that the sooner he comes to his senses, the better. You see, he may have his own political reasons, there may be internal Labor tensions that are forcing him to take this position, but those tensions are playing out in costs for every employer in the country, they are playing out in delays for every income tax payer in the country. And the income tax payers of Australia are not going to thank him if they have to put in a tax return in 12 or 18 months time to get back what they should have in 3 weeks, which is a tax cut on the 1st of July.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, you were saying last week that the 6th of June was something of a deadline for the software people, are you saying now that that deadline has passed that there is now no way that Australian tax payers will get their tax cuts on July the 1st?

TREASURER:

Well, the 6th of June was the deadline for MYOB. That is what they said. They said if they didn’t know by the 6th of June, they would prepare two schedules, distribute it to all of their customers, and instruct their customers on how to line up two schedules with that expense. That was MYOB, that was not me. What I am saying is that every day that ticks by is just more expense and more confusion. If Kim Beazley were to fix this problem today, it will be better than if he fixes it tomorrow. If he fixes it tomorrow, it will be better than fixing it in two weeks time. Every day that counts down, we are only 3 weeks away from the 1st of July now, is just another day of cost and delay.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think Kim Beazley will last through to the next election as Opposition Leader?

TREASURER:

I don’t want to speculate on his future but I will make this point, this stunt, this stunt that he has pulled over tax cuts hasn’t done him any good because the people of Australia have seen through it.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, where do you stand on this emerging debate about nuclear energy in Australia, do you think it should be a debate on whether it is a path to go down?

TREASURER:

Well, I said at the time of the Xstrata and BHP application in relation to Western Mining that this was a fabulous resource and I wanted to see it developed. So, where do I stand, I don’t even know that there has to be a debate, I think we can move to a conclusion, which is the development of Australia’s uranium industry and the use of it for peaceful purposes would be very much in Australia’s interests.

JOURNALIST:

But not just for export, what about domestic use?

TREASURER:

Oh well look, if domestic production stacks up on economic grounds, of course I would support it. The only point I would make is that we have large deposits of coal, we can produce electricity from coal extremely competitively, I am not sure about the economics of producing from uranium, but if it were commercial, of course I would support it. I believe that it can be done peacefully, I believe that it can be done in a way which meets all sorts of safeguards including environmental safeguards. The only reason why you would look at it in the Australian context is to make sure the costs stack up.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, do you support granting Singapore Airlines access to the trans-Pacific route?

TREASURER:

Well look, these matters are under discussion but I think the Government has previously said that we would be looking at developments which would increase tourist opportunities and if that would increase the tourist trade into and out of Australia, but particularly into, I think it would be something well worth looking at.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, do you fear economic fallout if Australia allows Mr Chen to stay?

TREASURER:

I don’t think these things should be decided on economic grounds, I think they should be decided very squarely on the grounds that he has claimed. Whether or not he has legitimate ground to be considered a refugee. I think that is the ground on which these things should be decided and I have no doubt that they will be decided on those grounds. Thank you.