Panel discussion 2CC Canberra Breakfast

13 October 2020


Subjects: NSW and VIC Premiers, tax cuts, COVID-19 Travel Bubble with New Zealand, the ACT election.

STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: It's time for our political panel, our regular who---well, he's become a regular---David Smith, the Labor member for Bean has joined us. G ‘Day, David.
DAVID SMITH, MEMBER FOR BEAN: Good morning, Stephen. How are you?
CENATIEMPO: Very well, and filling in for Zed Seselja is Angus Taylor, the Liberal member for Hume. Angus, thanks for joining us.
ANGUS TAYLOR, MEMBER FOR HUME: Thanks, Stephen. Thanks for having me.
CENATIEMPO: The premiers of our two biggest states are under a bit of pressure at the moment, and obviously Gladys Berejiklian ... it was a fairly explosive in ICAC yesterday. I'm going to go on the record and say that I think Gladys is probably the best of our premiers at the moment, but it's like being the world's tallest dwarf.
TAYLOR: Well, Stephen, I mean, the point I'd make here is that I judge premiers on their outcomes and its very clear how New South Wales has been going and how Gladys has been going with the virus. Yes, she had a bad day yesterday. No question about that. But look, New South Wales has been in an enviable position relative to other states and, you know, you only have to look across the border to the south, to Victoria to see that. She should be given credit for that because I think it's absolutely remarkable. I've had a series of outbreaks in my electorate which have been managed unbelievably well, including just recently, this in the last few days. Each time the tracing has occurred quickly, the containment has happened. The testing has happened at a rapid pace on scale. Absolutely remarkable. And I think we should always remember that despite the fact that she did have a hard day yesterday. But outcomes are what really matters to the people of New South Wales.

CENATIEMPO: Speaking of hard days, David, Daniel Andrews has probably had his hardest two days at these press conferences, where apparently, they were supposed to clap like trained seals, that he's turned up 100 days in a row, but it's only the last couple where he's actually been forced to answer questions by somebody that's not a journalist in Peta Credlin.

SMITH: Look, Stephen, I think one thing we can say actually about all our state territory leaders is that they've all done a pretty extraordinary job right across this year, and that includes Andrew Barr here in the ACT. But fundamentally, I guess when you want the top job and you're doing the top job, this is always a responsibility that comes with that in terms of how you respond to questions and challenges---
CENATIEMPO: Apparently not in Victoria, nobody takes responsibility down there.
SMITH: Well, I think we've actually seen a couple of people ... we actually have, we've seen the head of the public service take responsibility. We've already seen a minister take responsibility. But that said, I think at the end of the day, even in hard and challenging circumstances, there's still there's still an expectation that governments are responsible for the outcomes.
CENATIEMPO: Let's have a look at the budget has been handed down. Labor has made its budget in reply. Anthony Albanese made his speech a couple of days later. Now, debate over whether stage three tax cuts will be honoured by the Labor Party. David, why do you guys not want us to have more of our own money?
SMITH: Well, Stephen, I think the one thing that Labor's pretty clear on is, first of all, that we're supporting, you know, the first two tranches of tax cuts and we're suggesting that the second one should come forward. Look in relation to the third tranche ... there are probably all our concerns about whether this is the right decision at this time. And the reason for this is pretty simple, Stephen, we want to know, we need to get a bang for every buck that we spend or every buck that we don't spend, if you like and what we know is that tax cuts that particularly go to the top end of town are probably going to have the least amount of effect. But look, this is something that we're still prepared to work with the government, where we're prepared to let them get the measures necessary. But it doesn't mean that we're not going to be critical at times or raise serious concerns about whether there might be more effective ways to improve outcomes.
CENATIEMPO: Angus, that's a fair call, though, isn't it, that people with higher incomes are less likely to spend as much of their disposable income as those on lower incomes?
TAYLOR: Well, we're talking about tax cuts that are coming in in 2024/25, phase three. And so the question is whether Labor will support those. And there's no indication of that at all. In fact, quite the opposite. But look, the important point here about tax is this, it’s people's money. It's not government. We don't start from the assumption that this is government money and that the government gives it back to you. This is the money that people have gone out and worked hard to earn and we should tax them as little as possible. You know, this whole budget has been about making sure we get the private sector up and running again. It's the private sector that will get us out of the situation we're in right now. The public sector has kept going through, but it hasn't it hasn't slowed. So, it's the private sector that we've got to get moving. And what we handed down was a budget that's focused on getting investment, employment and, of course, money in people's pockets so that they can spend to make sure we get that private sector activity up and running as fast as possible as we come out of we come out of the pandemic.
CENATIEMPO: Well, I always use the analogy of the school bully only takes half your lunch money one week is not actually doing you a favour by taking less than he used to take off you. Let's move forward something I think we can all agree on, these travel bubbles that are being considered Singapore, Japan and South Korea. Obviously, New Zealand already in the works. Angus, we're still talking a fair way off but ... we've got to start to do something, don't we?
TAYLOR: Yeah, absolutely. Look, we want to get New Zealand up and running. That's the one to focus on first and foremost. And then the others can follow. We need a blueprint for how we'll set these up. These are not things we've done before so let's get New Zealand up and running. That's the focus right now and I think that gives great opportunity for getting this whole thing moving yet. But we do have to open up. There's no question about that. You know, New South Wales has shown what can be done if we manage this well. And that means that there's real potential now to open up and get things moving.
CENATIEMPO: Dave, you've been out on the --- and I think the ACT's handled it fairly well, too --- you've been out on the campaign trail with your Labor colleagues ahead of Saturday's election. Are you feeling a different sort of campaign this time, given that over 100,000 people have already voted?

SMITH: Look very much so Steve, and it'll be interesting how many people actually vote on Election Day. But look, the ACT government, like many governments, have had almost everything thrown at them this year. We had the bush fires and the smoke pollution. We had that mad hailstorm and then, of course, like other state and territory governments, it's about how we deal with the challenge of the pandemic. The mood on the booths is a pretty positive one, I think (they) realise we've got a quite competent and experienced government but that doesn't mean that they always like everyone in the government, but they realise they're pretty competent with experience and they probably want to get it out of the way before hopefully the Raiders get on their way to another Grand Final.

CENATIEMPO: Yes, indeed. Gentlemen, thank you for your time this morning. David Smith, member for Bean and Angus Taylor, member for Hume. Thanks, guys.
TAYLOR: Thanks, Stephen.
SMITH: Thank you, Stephen.