SUBJECTS: Banking Royal Commission; ASIC; Business Council of Australia; NDIS; Tax.


VIRGINIA TRIOLI , PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek good morning. Thanks for joining us.


TRIOLI: Just on some of the news of the day given that we have all the consequences now from the Royal Commission. What would you like to see follow from say, the high profile scalps of those who might be falling on their swords for example there at AMP, should there be a consequence there for any golden handshake or parachute that they might be exiting with?

PLIBERSEK: I think shareholders will take a pretty dim view of people who have brought companies into disrepute walking away with very large payouts. I guess the other thing I am a bit worried about is, I don't want this Royal Commission to see a few people fall on their swords and the Government says well we've gotten rid of a few bad apples, nothing to see here. What’s being uncovered in this Royal Commission is some systemic problems that will need a systemic response. And it is important for the Royal Commission to be able to make recommendations that actually go to preventing this type of behaviour in the future making sure that we have strong assurances that consumers are protected.

TRIOLI: And on that score in relation to ASIC on what it may or may not have done in relation to corporate prosecutions. In your view have they been under resourced? Have they been asleep at the wheel? Or have they become captive to the interests?

PLIBERSEK: There is absolutely an under resourcing problem, their budget was substantially cut in the 2014. I think the amount was $120 million. But its more than that. In recent years we have seen a lot of people from the financial services industry crossing over to work in ASIC the permeability between ASIC as an organisation, its advisory boards and Councils, and the industry has sometimes I  think lead to a capture of ASIC. I think you do need to look at both elements. There is certainly a resourcing elements but there is also questions about how close the regulator has been to the industry that we would need to look at.

TRIOLI: And Tanya Plibersek just on another matters is there anything wrong with the BCA getting politically organised for the next election campaign in the same way say the ACTU always has been?

PLIBERSEK: Yes I saw that they were doing a so-called "grassroots” campaign I think it’s also astroturfing when rich companies pretend to run grassroots campaigns. And look they've got every right to make their case, but don’t forget the BCA wrote to its members and said  we've love you all to sign on this letter to the Senate saying please give us $65 billion and if you do we'll employ more Australians, we won't offshore, we'll create more jobs, we'll increase wages, we'll pay our taxes. And the members wrote back, they got out the red pen,  and said: sorry couldn't agree to that, couldn't agree to that, couldn’t agree to that. They actually have already made public the fact that this big business tax cut won't lead to more jobs, higher wages, more jobs in Australia it won't even lead to these companies actually paying their taxes. So I don't think anybody is going to be fooled by a campaign from rich companies saying rich companies deserve a tax cut.

TRIOLI: On another topic that is on the front page of the Australian this morning: that is the Flinders’ University NDIS analysis. The inequity in the system really struck me most, that educated influential families are doing better out of the NDIS because they can advocate for their child, and they can advocate for themselves and get better outcomes. That's something a number of doctors and clinicians have directly told me they are worried about, they see people who are very well educated, who can argue and get a good outcomes versus those who can't. How do you fix that in the system? 

PLIBERSEK: Anybody who has a child with a disability learns very quickly that it is their - almost full time job - to argue for and fight for their child. One of the purposes of the National Disability Insurance Scheme was to help families with that enormously complex task by having qualified trained people working with the National Disability Insurance Agency that could provide assessments and help people with a disability and their carers come up with individualised care plans. You absolutely need to make sure that we have the trained people working with families to come up with those high quality plans. Again - I don't want to sound like a broken record - but this Government has frozen employment at the National Disability Insurance Agency, there are questions about how much assistance people are getting with their plans whether they are getting adequate time, or resources to help them come up with a plan that really suites them. There is no mystery or secret to this. You need to have well planned well-resourced helpers for families.

TRIOLI: According to the original design of the scheme there were supposed to be many more employees in the system working, so what's Labor promising to restore should you win government? How many more NDIS employees would you put in place?

PLIBERSEK: We have always said that we will - we developed, we designed, we implemented the National Disability Insurance Scheme we want it rolled out fully so that every Australian with a disability gets the care and support they need. We'll have to look at numbers down the track but the principle is there we will fund it, we will support it, it is our creation just as Medicare is our creation, and we will always do it properly.

TRIOLI: Now conservative commentator Judith Sloan is asking today why Bill Shorten is picking on the middle class when it comes to the tax changes. You may well say, that Judith Sloan might say that, but nonetheless she is entitled to her view and it’s a compelling case when it comes to the focus of your tax changes. Can you answer that question for us today, why is Bill Shorten picking on the middle class?

PLIBERSEK: I'm not sure whether Judith Sloan’s definition of middle class is different to mine, but we have said that people on more than $180,000 a year will continue to pay the deficit levy so that someone on one million dollars a year will pay $16,000 a year more tax. Maybe her definition of middle class incorporates those people on one million dollars a year. When it comes to changes like negative gearing, capital gains tax; we have said if you are already doing it you can keep doing it, and if you want to do to it in the future you have to buy a new property, so that you are actually adding to the pool of rental accommodation built, rather than just bidding up the price of existing property. That hardly strikes me as an attack on the middle class, that seems to me like very sensible policy. Those of us who have kids actually want our kids to be able to afford a house one of these days as well. If you are talking about family trusts I mean, honestly we know that the vast bulk of benefit in arrangements like this, that seek to minimise the tax payed, flow to people who are on very high incomes indeed. It was only Scott Morrison that wanted to increase, by half a percentage point, the income tax paid by low and middle income earners. Thankfully he's dumped that proposition at the moment. We are all about making sure that tax is fair, that big companies, millionaires pay their fair share and we use that money to invest in our schools, in our hospitals, in our TAFEs, our universities. We're all about making sure that people on middle incomes actually see an increase in their wages. You've got a Government that's fighting to get rid of penalty rates and has seen the lowest wages growth on record. Middle class families want to see their kid’s school properly funded and their hospitals properly funded. That's what we're about.

TRIOLI: Tanya Plibersek we'll leave it there we are short of time thanks for joining us today.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks Virginia.