FRIDAY, 22 JUNE 2018
SUBJECTS: Labor’s investment in the University of the Sunshine Cost; Tax policy; Longman by-election; One Nation

REBECCA LEVINGSTON, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, good morning
LEVINGSTON: Well, thank you. Why are you coming to Queensland?
PLIBERSEK: We're making a really important announcement today for the Moreton Bay region, which is an $120 million commitment towards the new Moreton Bay campus of the University of Sunshine Coast. We know that the jobs that are being created today, most people are going to need either a TAFE or a university education to do those jobs in the future. We know that the Moreton Bay region has actually some of the lowest university attendance rates in the country so we're working with the Moreton Bay Regional Council, the Mayor Allan Sutherland’s been a great proponent of the new campus as have our Labor candidates, particularly Susan Lamb in Longman, but also Corinne Mulholland from Petrie, and Ali France from Dixon. They have been talking about how this is necessary to the Moreton Bay region and we have come to the table.
CRAIG ZONCA, PRESENTER: This University is just over the border, I think, it actually lies in in the seat of Dixon which is held by Peter Dutton obviously the Immigration and Home Affairs Minister. But if we-
PLIBERSEK: It's a shame that he hasn't managed to secure this funding, but-
ZONCA: Well some of it he has, because you talk about this $120 million that you are putting on the table, $50 million of that is for a super lab, the other $70 million is effectively for university places, and that matches what the LNP have already put on the line isn't it?
PLIBERSEK: Yes, but the difference is that we say we shouldn't be capping university places. As many young people as are prepared to work hard, study hard should have a place in university. And instead of that the Liberals are saying they are going to ration out these places and they haven't put the $50 million on the table that will build the new super lab which is a really fantastic state of the art, world class facility, that we are very excited about. It's going to be right near the Petrie railway station, so that people will be able to come from other parts of the Moreton Bay area and even further afield. It will mean that local kids from high schools and so on will be able to work with the university to open their eyes to the sort of courses they might want to study, so it will be really world class facilities.
ZONCA: So the difference between what you are offering today, and what is already on the table from the LNP and they have said they will fund up to 3,600 places at this new university over the three years of its operation, or first three years of its operation and moving forward 3,600; which would be equivalent to around about $70 million, $69.4 million I think is the number. So the difference between what's on the table from the LNP and Labor is effectively the $50 million super lab, is that right?    
PLIBERSEK: The $50 million super lab, and the uncapping of student places, so if the University of the Sunshine Coast attracts more students as they intend to over time, we'll fund every one of those places, and Moreton Bay campus is expected eventually to have about 10,000 students there. And instead of saying 'we are going to cap it at 3,000 ' we say 'great' if the University of the Sunshine Coast can attract more students there we will make sure every one of them has a place.
LEVINGSTON: Well the voters of Longman will determine which of those two proposals is more appealing. Tanya Plibersek, on her way to Brisbane today to be in the seat of Longman. But it will be the voters of Australia who will decide whose tax ideas they like better. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says the Government’s package is fair. Here is what he told us this morning.
LEVINGSTON: Tanya Plibersek, why doesn't Labor support the rebalancing of our tax system?
PLIBERSEK: It's not a rebalancing, it’s a $7,000 tax cut for Malcolm Turnbull and Pauline Hanson, and me and very little extra for your ordinary worker, $10 a week for your ordinary worker. So 70 per cent of taxpayers would be better off under Labor's proposal. We've got a proposal that matches the Government in the first year then from the second year onwards gives almost double the tax cut to ordinary tax payers. We make no apologies for not offering tax relief to very high income earners. The Government's stage three of their tax package, every single cent goes to the top 20 per cent of earners. So you look at wages in Queensland, what people are generally earning, your average Queenslander and certainly your voters in Longman will be much better off under Labor's proposal. Sixty three thousand people in Longman who earn less than $125,000 a year will get a bigger tax cut under Labor. We think that people on low and middle incomes who have been struggling with flat wages growth in recent year deserve a bigger tax cut than people earning $200,000, $300,000, $400,000 a year, a million dollars a year. It is so unfair to be giving these huge tax cuts at the top end while people continue to struggle at the bottom end.
ZONCA: But you are talking about tax cuts at the top end that wouldn't come in for what, another seven odd years or so? So why not support the plan as it is, to get low and middle income earners some relief right now?
PLIBERSEK: Because it is unfair and it’s irresponsible. Who knows what the economy going to be like in seven years. We could have another global financial crisis. I heard the Prime Minister on the radio this morning refusing to say what would happen if the Australian economy was in trouble in seven years’ time. Would he persist with the tax cuts? Would he cut health and education more if he was still Prime Minster? He won't answer that question. You look at this proposal in seven years’ time, stage three of the personal income tax cuts and the business tax cuts will cost $25 billion a year. Is the Government really saying that they can afford that? They know they can afford that without cutting into health and education? I think it's highly irresponsible but-
ZONCA: But they do say that they it can be afforded, if you are saying it can't doesn't the question become more about trust than anything else?
PLIBERSEK: Can you tell me what the economy is going to be like globally in seven years’ time?
ZONCA: No but I am not an economist, either.
PLIBERSEK: No well neither is Malcolm Turnbull. The heart of this is a surgeon on $200,000 a year earns five times a nurse on $40,000 a year but the surgeon gets a 16 times bigger tax cut. Is that fair?
LEVINGSTON: Well the Government would say high income earners are still paying their way, because they are still paying the largest share of taxation collected.
PLIBERSEK: I don't think this Government understands what it is like to make ends meet on $40,000 a year or $60,000 a year. What they're saying essentially when they are saying " oh we need to give tax cuts to people on $200,000 a year or they're not going to work hard it's a disincentive, the tax system to work hard'. Honestly, if they think that someone on $40,000 a year wouldn't like a wage increase to $100,000 a year cause they are going to be paying more tax? They really have missed what most families are experiencing around the kitchen table when they're trying to pay the bills and balance the family budget. They just don't get it. And as for voting himself a $7,000 tax cut yesterday, this Prime Minister ought to be ashamed of himself. And so should Pauline Hanson for voting herself a $7,000 tax cut.
ZONCA: Well you speak of Pauline Hanson, in fact in the seat of Longman, your party, Labor, was running a robo-call campaign that went something along these lines.
ZONCA: Now Pauline Hanson says -
PLIBERSEK: It was prescient, wasn't it?
ZONCA: Well Pauline Hanson says she supported the plan because it does help people on low incomes pretty much straight away, it provides that tax relief and One Nation does have a pretty significant support base in Longman. Will you be forced to do a deal with Pauline Hanson in order to win the seat?
PLIBERSEK: Just on this tax cut and One Nation, right. We support every dollar of the tax cuts in the first year - not a dollar difference between the Government and Labor. In the second year, from next year onwards, people would get almost twice the tax cut under Labor. They would get almost double under Labor's proposal. But we make no apologies for the fact that that is for low and middle income earners. But we're not going to give stage three of these tax cuts, where almost 100 per cent of the $42 billion we're spending, in fact 100 per cent of the $42 billion we're spending, goes to the top earners. Why would we commit to giving massive tax relief to people who are already doing OK and less to people on low and middle incomes. Pauline Hanson, really, has betrayed the people who put their trust in her. She's voted with the Government 100 per cent of times in 2018. How very disappointing for the people who thought she'd stick up for them against the Government.
ZONCA: Your language is strong against Pauline Hanson there, but would you be forced to do a deal with her in order to win the seat of Longman?
PLIBERSEK: I think people will make up their own minds that Susan Lamb is the only person who stands for fairer tax cuts for low and middle income earners, greater investment in health and education, a better economy, decent jobs, wages increases, not cutting penalty rates - there's another cut to penalty rates on the 1st of July, so Malcolm Turnbull is taking penalty rates away from 700,000 working Australians again on the 1st of July, so people will be doing the same work for less money again on the 1st of July. And it's only Labor that stands against these things. Pauline Hanson is just a puppet of the Government. She votes with them all the time.
LEVINGSTON: Tanya Plibersek, if Labor loses Longman, no doubt that will ratchet up pressure on Bill Shorten's leadership. If there's a spill, will you run?
PLIBERSEK: We have no contemplation of this. We are working every day. It is a hard seat for Labor-
LEVINGSTON: You must have contemplation of it, because if you look at the preferred-
PLIBERSEK: No we don't.
LEVINGSTON: - Prime Minister, Bill Shorten can't make any ground on Malcolm Turnbull.
PLIBERSEK: We are planning to win Longman because we've got the best candidate and the best policies.
LEVINGSTON: Really appreciate your time this morning. Tanya Plibersek, thanks so much.
PLIBERSEK: Great to talk to you.