STEPHEN JONES - TRANSCRIPT - TV INTERVIEW - ABC - TUESDAY, 21 MAY 2019

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
TV INTERVIEW
ABC AFTERNOON LIVE
TUESDAY, 21 MAY 2019

Subjects: Tax cuts, Labor Leadership, Federal Election results, Franking Credits

PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: I want to bring in my panel Liberal MP Tim Wilson and also Labor MP Stephen Jones. Welcome to both of you. 

BOTH: Good to be with you 

KARVELAS: Tim. I'm going to start with you your campaign revolved around the income tax cuts. And now we've had Josh Frydenberg say yes, they will be delivered. But actually they're inevitably going to be delayed because that's the point isn't it? If you get them in two lots you're going to have a delay so you are actually breaking your promise. 

TIM WILSON, LIBERAL MP: No, not at all. I mean the objective is to pass these as soon as we can through legislation. That's how our democracy works. We just had this giant thing called an election. The Australian people voted for the Government and its agenda and its budget. We have a challenge always around recalling the Parliament in time for the end of the financial year, but we are doing everything we can to honor those promises exactly as intended. 

KARVELAS: Okay. So if I can bring you in Stephen Jones the Government clearly has just won the election. I know that you're probably not feeling too good about that, but it has happened they made this their big signature item, so will Labor vote for it?

STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL SERVICES, TERRITORIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Well lets wind this back: Before the election Scott Morrison, well Chris Bowen went to Scott Morrison and said 'if you want these tax cuts legislated before we pull up Parliament, you'll have our commitment to do that for the low and middle income earners.' Scott Morrison made a big deal of saying he didn't need legislation. This could be done administratively. We said we didn't think it could. Now it appears now that within three days of the election the Messiah from the Shire has become the Liar from the Shire. It could never have happened. He over-promised and it now looks that they are going through contortions to try and get the tax cuts that were the centerpiece, the centerpiece of their election commitment through the Parliament. It's simply not good enough. 

KARVELAS: Tim Wilson. He does make one very accurate point: The P.M. did say, it could be done administratively. I remember this. He definitely said it and clearly it can't did he misled the public? 

WILSON: Well, it's just rubbish. 

KARVELAS: But he did say that.

WILSON: No hang on, I mean, there was an administrative process that follow-through from passing legislation. We're going to pass the legislation, we're going to honour our commitment. The question now is one simply of timing. We're waiting for the issues of writs which is a complicated process that happens after the election. It's set about through processes and legislation, the Constitution, we're a country governed by law and we're going to honour and to respect the law and so the hope and the aspiration is that Labor will recognise that they were comprehensively defeated at the election, that they'll come on board and support the legislation including the full package the full budget as, as was taken to the Australian people and we'll be able to deliver these tax cuts. 

KARVELAS: Now you're being a little tricky with your language.

WILSON: No I'm not.
 
KARVELAS:  And I'll tell you how you have been Tim Wilson. You've said: 'oh administratively after the legislation.' No, the Prime Minister said administratively, they could be delivered without the legislation passing that was misleading wasn't it?

WILSON: Well hang on you're putting words in his mouth. Administratively we can pass them through legislation. That's how the system of laws works in this country. 
KARVELAS: But you can't.

JONES: That's not what he said.

WILSON: Well the administrative process after passing legislation. Our objective, make no mistake about this, is to deliver the legislated tax cuts that we proposed at the election and at the budget and the question now is for the opposition who were the opposition before the election said they opposed parts of our legislation and now the opposition again because they have been defeated, not by us, but by the Australian people and whether they're going to go on and on about legislation that commitment and that budget and I think it's time we did that and moved on. 

KARVELAS: Okay Tim Wilson given you want to deliver these tax cuts as you've just said why not split the bill so you can ensure all of these taxpayers get this as soon as possible. 

WILSON: Because we talked to the Australian people that we were going to pass this legislation, this budget and it was emphatically endorsed by the Australian people and Labor took a different position and was emphatically defeated. So it's about time they accepted, and I realise that it's difficult, their defeat and they then supported the Government's agenda, supported the government's mandate to be able to deliver these tax cuts comprehensively. 

JONES: I think you need to dial it back. 

KARVELAS: Wait a minute let me ask the question because that's right. The Coalition did just win the election and they talked about this all the time. I mean, there was no compromise about this it was offered to the Australian public. They voted for the Coalition don't you just have to get on and vote for the entire package now. 

JONES: Look as a number of us have said over the last couple of days. We took a policy platform to the election which included the things that we supported and things that we opposed. We'll review that over the coming weeks and months, but I do want to take Tim up on the comprehensive bit. You're going to fall over the line, mate. You're going to fall over the line with a maybe a two to three seat majority and a handful of seats with a margin of under 1%. In your own seat you copped a swing of 5%. Yes, you won, congratulations, but this idea that you've got this thumping majority and that there was an overwhelming win to the Coalition is simply not true. 

WILSON: So, we won, you lost, move on. 

KARVELAS: Tim Wilson. You did get a swing against you in your own seat. 

WILSON: Sure last, the previous election I got the biggest result in the seat's history, they haven't finished counting postal votes. And so I'm very relaxed about the position within my own electorate, you know, currently it has a the swing against me has a four in it. That means that I still am basically at 58% 2PP, a primary vote of nearly 53% Could someone make your point? 

KARVELAS: Oh, no, you definitely won your seat. I'm not contesting that, that's a fact Tim Wilson. 

WILSON: 52% of the primary vote. That's normally considered a win. 

KARVELAS: That's a fact checked. Absolutely, you've won your seat, no one's contesting that, but you got to swing against you so I don't know unless... 

JONES: The simple point I'm making.

KARVELAS: I'm the host here, I've got a question. 

WILSON: You know who's got a swing against them was the Labor party. 

KARVELAS: Tim Wilson, I'm gonna ask you a question though. Do you take any lessons from the swing you did get against you in your seat, even though you won it. 

WILSON: Well the people who got a swing against them were the Labor party nationwide. 

KARVELAS: I asked you about your seat.

WILSON: And I'm going to get to that but I think it's incredibly important since apparently this swing against my specific seat apparently means I'm accountable then we've got to put it to our opponents and make out the point that they got a swing against them nationwide and lost many seats and are there lessons.

KARVELAS: What are the lessons, tell me, tell me, tell me. 

WILSON: There are always lessons in elections, you know, the issues that people rose with me on the booths where people, people were furious about refundable franking credits were vindicated completely on that. There are people who are concerned about climate chop policy and we need to make sure we have a comprehensive policy that brings them confidence, but also, doesn't leave people behind. I fully support that there are plenty of issues that people raised with me that they want to see addressed from the Federal Government. And that's what exactly what we plan to do over the next three years if we can just get on with Governing, the opposition can accept they were defeated because I don't think people actually want to see us arguing over whether we have a mandate for tax cuts or not. I think we do we're just going to get on with it and it'd be great if the opposition would respect that in the will of the Australian people.

KARVELAS: Stephen, what do you make of the electoral repudiation that Labor did get because it is accurate, you're the one that lost the election, the broad election not just in you know swings in seats. Were your policies too out there.

JONES: Well, we'll go through a review over the coming weeks and months Patricia. Clearly, we loaded ourselves up. There's no doubt about that. We had a big agenda. We were very honest with the Australian people. We said we want to make these reforms, we want to make these investments in education, in health and infrastructure, in childcare and we're going to map out for the Australian people how we intend to pay that. That made a very broad target, a very big target for an incredibly negative and at times incredibly dishonest campaign against us. The Coalition armed with Clive Palmer's cheque book, an undercurrent of lies and a big broad target that we painted were very successful in painting fear, in creating fear amongst the Australian people. Now, we've got to go away and look at how we ensure that we don't allow that to happen again. We'll go through a leadership contest. We've got a process in place on how we replace our leader. We'll then go through the policy analysis process.

KARVELAS: Ok but do you accept that negative gearing and, and also the franking credits policies were incredibly contentious and do you accept now that you've got to junk them? 

JONES: Well, I think they both.. I think we can deal with both of them separately. The negative gearing, this is the second election we've taken that policy to.

KARVELAS: But housing has changed and housing prices have gone down since. 

JONES: I want to answer your question directly Patricia. Clearly there is concern within the community about both of those policies. The circumstances have changed from when we first proposed the negative gearing policy to this election. The franking credits could have been explained a lot better. Clearly, we need to get also go back and look at whether there are unintended people who are going to be hurt by that policy who really frankly weren't wealthy people as at times our language indicated. We were targeting those changes to so yes, clearly they were issues clearly and it beggars belief for anybody from Labor to stand up and say they weren't issues clearly they were but I had as many people on my polling booths raising issues with us that clearly weren't our policy like death taxes that the Coalition were putting out. Simply lies, simply lies that were being peddled by the Coalition and others and other alleged policies that simply weren't in our offering. I think these had as much impact on us as well. So in our policy review, we not only have to ensure that we look at the things that we were proposing to do that simply are no longer viable. But you also look at the things that were said about us that were simply lies and ensure that we do not leave ourselves exposed to that sort of attack again.

KARVELAS: I just have to ask you briefly before I go to Tim Wilson who you're backing in the ALB leadership contest.

JONES: Look, I think we've got a range of excellent candidates, very lucky to have a range of excellent candidates. I will be backing Anthony Albanese. I think he's got the unique ability to be able to relate to Australians from boardrooms to outback pubs to playgrounds and sporting fields across the country. I think he's a great communicator he's a great Parliamentary performer. He has the ability to bring our party together and to continue the unity that was enjoyed by Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek. But also for us to review our policy offering. I mean Anthony is famous for wanting to build stuff. He's had the infrastructure portfolio for over a decade now keen to ensure that we are a big nation with big building projects. I think you'll see that at the centre of his pitch for leadership of the Labor party and if he's successful, as I think he will be, the next three years as we take our policy towards the people at the next election. 

KARVELAS: Tim Wilson. I want to challenge you on the some of the things that were just said there by Stephen Jones. One of them was the lie around a so-called death tax. Now after the last election, I challenged Labor consistently on Mediscare and I think that was the right thing to do. So I am going to challenge you on the death tax. Do you accept that Labor never had that policy and it was wrong to suggest that they did. 

WILSON: Labor didn't have that policy but there are certainly people within the Labor party who want that policy or have made statements in favour of that policy in the past and highlighting that is not dishonest. In fact using people's own words and pointing it out just reinforced to people that Labor was mostly interested in grabbing people's tax revenue and they saw the opportunity to raid people's savings like they do with their franking credits policy. 

KARVELAS: But you suggested at times that Labor would implement a so-called death tax. 

WILSON: Well respectfully I never did. I never said that but the reality is there are people in Labor party who do want one and when it's highlighted and point out to people they want one. That's the reality. I mean that they're entitled to their view. They're entitled to do so.

KARVELAS: But they never offered that to the people,

WILSON: But hang on it. Well, I'm not aware of anybody saying it was their policy all I'm aware of was people highlighting there are people in Labor who definitely wanted it, like their policy was to take 30% of people's retiree income if they had a self-managed super fund and they had shares. That was a policy and so unsurprisingly people didn't like that, particularly those people who are affected and it's nice now that they admit that people who were affected by that policy, many of them were on low incomes when I used to say that before the election Kristina Keneally and all of the hacks from the Labor party would go out there and shout you down and say you didn't understand the issue and was for millionaires and now they're coming clean after it was exposed comprehensively how dishonest and lying they were throughout the entire election campaign. 

KARVELAS: Stephen Jones. I will put that to you because Tim makes a point you now say yes, some people who aren't very rich we're going to be hurt by this but it's true you weren't saying that during the campaign.

JONES: No what we were saying during the campaign was the overwhelming majority of the taxation benefits, the Government's taxation spend, look I don't really want to re-litigate the argument I will say what we were saying: The overwhelming majority of the the tax expenditure went to very wealthy people that remains a fact. 

WILSON: No it doesn't actually say that. 

JONES: Tim I didn't interrupt you when you were speaking. 

KARVELAS: Let him finish his point.

JONES: The overwhelming majority of tax expenditure goes to very wealthy people. It is also true to say that there are people on lower incomes who were going to lose a small benefit out of it. That is true. And that is why we have to go back to the drawing board and look at that and every other policy. But I do need to make this point: If the standard that Tim has just set which is this if you can find a Labor party member somewhere who has proposed an idea and that becomes the basis for a political allegation and a campaign against that whole party then we have no standards in Australian politics because we could find a Liberal Party member anywhere in the country that has suggested something on their Facebook page and say this is Scott Morrison's plan for the country. Of course, it wouldn't be true, but it might be very politically devastating. Now if that is the standard that has been proposed by Tim and the Liberal Party then we have got a standard in Australian politics, which is swilling in the gutterand it's not something that the majority of Australia want. 

WILSON: You spent the entire last election going on the argument around Mediscare when it was a blatant lie and you know that. 

JONES: You set up a taskforce.

WILSON: You set a standard, a depth that has never been plunged in Australian politics.

JONES: You set up a taskforce.

WILSON: Nobody actually said that there was a policy of the Labor party. You said that this was our policy and deceived the Australian people now, let's look at the reality of the franking credits policy. And this is this is the fundamental problem is they're still repeating misinformation and don't understand because I never actually the research, they never did the data. Can I just say one thing? Please make Chris Bowen your leader because he never did the work. He never did the research. He used baseless data as the basis of his argument. He misled you and you're still repeating his misinformation and that's what cost you the election because you never understood the impact of this policy on the Australian people and if that's the approach he's going to continue to take I just I wish him so well in the leadership ballot. 

KARVELAS: Tim Wilson final question to you did this inquiry and you were highly criticised for it because it was a very politicised Parliamentary inquiry, but you were arguing about franking credits for a very long time. Do you expect a reward for that? Would you like to be in the ministry? 

WILSON: Well that's entirely up to the Prime Minister. 

KARVELAS: Would you like a reward? 

WILSON: Everybody in politics, you know would love opportunities to serve in higher office. But this election was won by the Prime Minister doggedly exposing and shining a bright light on the Labor party and its agenda and particularly its higher taxing agenda and he has every right to decide these things but the inquiry, I've got to say I'm immensely proud of it, because all we did was give a platform for Australians who Stephen and Matt Thistlethwaite and Matt Keogh and Josh Wilson are on that committee and Chris Bowen wouldn't listen to and now they have paid the price. 

KARVELAS: All right. Thank you to both of you. It's like an election campaign still let's chill out a bit. Thank you so much to both of you. I did invite you on though my fault. Thanks so much.

JONES: Good to be with you.
 
WILSON: Thank you.