The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Chris Bowen

Chris Bowen

Treasurer

27 June 2013 - 18 September 2013

Transcript of 02/08/2013

Interview with David Koch and Melissa Doyle

Big Guns of Politics, Sunrise, Channel 7

Friday, 2 August 2013

SUBJECTS: Bank levy, economic statement, election date speculation, Ashes test.

DAVID KOCH:

Let's bring in the big guns, Federal Treasurer Chris Bowen who is readying for that mini-Budget and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey is in Melbourne.

Chris, Kevin Rudd is being portrayed this morning as a robber, with the Courier Mail headline: Kev's $733 million bank heist. It's bank customers who will end up paying this levy, according to the banks. They're going to pass it on rather than absorb it in their bottom line. Are you going to stop the banks from doing that?

CHRIS BOWEN:

Well, Kochie, what we're doing is building a fund over time to make sure we're protecting investors, mum and dad investors, people with bank accounts, if anything goes wrong with their bank, and we're doing that...

KOCH:

Where will that money go, though? Will that go into general revenue?

BOWEN:

No, it'll go into a special fund which we put aside. It'll be run by either the Future Fund or another like organisation, and they will put the money aside. It'll be quarantined from the rest of the Budget and just put aside in case there is ever a need with a bank getting into trouble in Australia - bank, a building society or a credit union. It hasn't happened in Australia for quite a while, but we can't be complacent. The Reserve Bank, APRA, ASIC, have all suggested to us that this is a good idea.

You know, one of the reasons, Kochie, we got through the global financial crisis so well is that we had some of the best financial regulators in the world, and when they make a recommendation like this to government, government should listen.

MELISSA DOYLE:

So, Joe, what's your view? Will you keep the bank levy?

JOE HOCKEY:

Well, we want to speak to the banks about it. We want to find out exactly whether they are going to pass it on in full to their customers. Look, you know, with all due respect to Chris, he's on his L plates as a Treasurer, but the fact is this is the Labor Party. They're - you know, they always do this, and if they're doing this just before an election, imagine what they'll do after the election if they win, you know.

KOCH:

But Joe, you were Financial Services Minister. If ASIC and APRA came to you and said, hey, we need this, wouldn't you do it?

HOCKEY:

Well, Kochie, when I was Financial Services Minister, HIH fell over. The Government had to tip in $620 million. We didn't put a levy on every insurance policy to pay for it. We focused on the fact that it needed repair. Now, look, the starting point is, this just flows through to everyone. It's like the tobacco tax. It flows through everyone. And the Labor Party's doing this because they've run out of money. You know, the money is actually going to go in revenue, so yes it goes into a special fund that, of course, Labor won't open, but the fact is it is revenue. It's counted as revenue towards the budget bottom line. It's all about that, it's not about good public policy because why would they be doing it now?

BOWEN:

Can I make two points, Kochie? Can I make two points just to respond. Firstly, Joe is right. When HIH collapsed, the taxpayer had to pay and, as the regulator said to us, the banks benefit from the Government guaranteeing their deposits so the banks should make a contribution over time, a very small levy to start with and build it up over time.

And the second point is this: if Joe thinks it's all going to be passed on, well, I suppose he'll be announcing today that they're dropping their plans to increase company tax on the banks, on the supermarkets, on all big companies in Australia because that is massively bigger than the levy we're talking about. Joe and Tony Abbott didn't consult with business about that, and that will be passed on and that will be a big impost on Australian families. They're going to increase company tax on all Australian big businesses. Joe shouldn't be lecturing me about tax. He's the one with the tax increase which is much bigger than anything we'll go to this election with.

HOCKEY:

Well, how do you know we're going to increase company tax?

BOWEN:

Well, because it's your policy, Joe, unless you've changed that.

HOCKEY:

Well, we've also said...

BOWEN:

How are you going to pay for the Paid Parental Leave? How are you going to pay for Paid Parental Leave?

HOCKEY:

Well, we won't spend as much money as Labor, that's a starting point. We won't waste taxpayers' money. Now that you've fired me up...

DOYLE:

Oh dear, alright...

HOCKEY:

We're not going to start on this waste. The waste and mismanagement of Labor is not going to be part and parcel...

BOWEN:

So, Joe, are you going to increase company tax or not? That's your policy. Are you walking away from it?

HOCKEY:

Well, you watch. You watch what we do, because we're going to have...

BOWEN:

Oh, interesting.

HOCKEY:

Yeah, interesting, that's right. Because we don't waste taxpayers' money.

DOYLE:

Alright, watch this space, clearly. Okay Chris, can I get an answer on this too: are the decks cleared for Kevin Rudd to call an election this weekend?

BOWEN:

Oh, you're going to see all this speculation around this time of year. There's going to be fever pitch. Has Kevin Rudd scratched his ear, what city is he in, is he going to call an election today? Election's getting closer, of course it is...

HOCKEY:

He doesn't scratch his ear.

DOYLE:

Is he going to call it this weekend?

BOWEN:

Look, that'll be between the Prime Minister and the Governor-General. That's the way it works. The PM goes to see the Governor-General. Tony and Joe have called for an election every day since 2010. We are in election season. The election is due. It'll be called soon enough, and Kevin Rudd will make the announcement after he's spoken to the Governor-General.

HOCKEY:

See, they're all starting to sound like Kevin Rudd, aren't they?

Laughter

BOWEN:

I'll take that as a compliment, Joe. I’ll take that as a compliment.

KOCH:

Alright. Speaking of Kevin Rudd, he is angry overnight about this decision, day one, the Ashes test. Blind Freddy could see Khawaja wasn't out, even when up to the third umpire. You could drive a truck between bat and ball. Joe Hockey, should we be calling on the Government to make an official complaint to the Brits over this?

HOCKEY:

Ah, well...

Laughter

DOYLE:

That's a yes.

HOCKEY:

Look, I always accept the umpire's decision, Kochie.

KOCH:

Awwww!

Laughter

HOCKEY:

I've been given out on lots of occasions when I haven't deserved it, so I've always walked. I've always walked.

Laughter

KOCH:

Chris, do we need a royal commission at least?

DOYLE:

Oh, yes.

BOWEN:

I think at least. I think we should we call in the British High Commissioner today. I think clearly this is a scandal. Absolutely.

DOYLE:

Alright, perhaps we could leave it with you.

HOCKEY:

You could put a levy on all the pommy immigrants.

Laughter

KOCH:

Great idea. Give the British High Commissioner a dressing down, officially.

BOWEN:

Yeah, I think so.

KOCH:

Thank you for that.

DOYLE:

Thank you. Have a great weekend, both of you. Thanks very much.