TRANSCRIPT: Weekend Sunrise Interview, Saturday 4 June




SUBJECTS: Superannuation; the Liberals' unfair budget; #electionrat

ANDREW O'KEEFE, PRESENTER: Time to talk politics and no shortage of things to discuss as July 2 draws near. We are exactly half way through the campaign - 28 down, 28 to go.

MONIQUE WRIGHT, PRESENTER: Is that all? Now to discuss the past week of the campaign trail and the three yet to come are Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek and Liberal Assistant Minister Angus Taylor. Morning to you both. Now the big issue of the week seems to be superannuation. Angus, starting with you no one seems to really understand your side's policy. Can you explain it in, say, two sentences?

TAYLOR: Well it's very simple. We need a fairer superannuation system which has integrity and this means that those of us who can afford to pay, should be paying our fair share. What we're really talking about here is people who are on a zero tax rate, under certain circumstances, paying 15 per cent which is still highly concessional. It's still very, very attractive.

O'KEEFE: And that's only 15% above and beyond their - what is it - 1.5 million?

TAYLOR: Their 1.6 million. So this is not a change that's going to send people broke. It's a fair change and it's an integrity measure which allows us to pay for other things like a better super system for low income earners and also for people getting back into the workforce who've been out for a number of years.

O'KEEFE: It sounds fair that Tanya you pay 15 per cent above and beyond your 1.6 million.

PLIBERSEK: So, Angus and I agree on the fact that we need changes because about 40 per cent of the taxation concessions go to about the top 10 per cent of earners. So, we suggested some changes last year that we think are much fairer than the retrospective changes that the Coalition have introduced. There are about 10 different changes that were proposed in the budget, so Angus has talked about one of them. But there are a number of others that are causing a great deal of concern, including one which is the $500,000 lifetime cap on non-concessional contributions that starts in 2007. That is the very definition of retrospective.

TAYLOR: Well it doesn't, it starts from now. But let's be clear about this Tanya. There are no payments until now. There are no payments until now, Tanya.

PLIBERSEK: No, no, it doesn't. It says "income from 2007" - that is in the legislation. It's in the budget. You pay from now on, but the cap is calculated from 2007. People don't even have those tax records anymore.

O'KEEFE: Okay, so from when those payments were starting to be made?

TAYLOR: Let's be clear about this. The payments start from now, not from the past.

O'KEEFE: Yeah, but on money contributed.

PLIBERSEK: On the basis of money you've already collected.

TAYLOR: But the situation we had was some people were contributing millions of dollars into super and it's totally inappropriate that someone who's contributed millions and millions and dollars continues to get those 15 per cent concessions.

O'KEEFE: I think there's agreement on that.

PLIBERSEK: We agree on that. But there's a better way of doing it.

TAYLOR: This is a fairness measure. And look the important thing is what's it paying for? It's paying for a super system which is fairer for women, fairer for others who have been out of the workforce, fairer for low income earners and it's also allowing for us to pay for small business tax relief.

PLIBERSEK: So when it comes to the low income superannuation contribution the Government have now decided to keep something that Labor introduced rather than abolish it, and they're asking for congratulations on the fact that they are no longer going to abolish something for low income earners.

O'KEEFE: Well, on which point the Government, of course, has been hitting back at you this week going out of their way to remind people what Bill Shorten has said about his support for company tax cuts when he was Assistant Treasurer in 2011. And this is what he did say Tanya.

BILL SHORTEN (RECORDING): Cutting the company income tax rate increases domestic productivity and domestic investment. More capital means higher productivity and economic growth and leads to more jobs and higher wages.

PLIBERSEK: You know when you look at that footage it shows that he's lost 20 kilos doesn't it?

O'KEEFE: That's his personal cut in the Australian economy.

PLIBERSEK: Look, we're not going to be lectured by the Government. Malcolm Turnbull used to believe in a Republic - he doesn't any more. He used to believe in climate change - he doesn't anymore. He used to believe in marriage equality - he doesn't anymore. He used to support the ABC - he doesn't anymore. You've got a government that used to say that retrospective changes to superannuation were a bad thing - they obviously don’t believe that anymore. They used say debt and deficit was a problem - they don't think that anymore because they're giving $50 billion tax cut to big business. So I think it's...

O'KEEFE: But you've change your mind on this one as a party?

PLIBERSEK: Well, we've got real economic challenges. We've been told that our AAA credit rating is at risk. We won three AAA credit ratings - for the first time - during the Global Financial Crisis under Labor's management. The Government have put that at risk. They've tripled the deficit, they've added $100 billion to net debt. We choose schools and hospitals above a tax cut that will flow mostly to overseas shareholders. Can you imagine, Andrew, if we give a $7.4 billion tax cut to the four big banks over the next ten years that they're - what - going to reopen branches? They're not going to do that.

TAYLOR: Hang on, hang on. This is rot. So the deficit is lower than it was when Bill Shorten made that speech. And more importantly, the old Labor Party of Hawke and Keating that reduced company tax rates from 49 per cent to 33 per cent and saw company tax revenues go up. Go up. That's what happens. That's gone. What we've got now is a Labor Party controlled or influenced heavily by Green philosophy and the important point here is that if you reduce company tax rates you get more investment, more jobs, and more company tax revenues. And Labor used to understand that but it's gone.

PLIBERSEK: And what the Government's counting on is that will trickle down, that will trickle down. That those extra profits that the big banks will take - they're going to trickle down to the rest of us.

TAYLOR: But it did Tanya. It did. And your party did it.

WRIGHT: Now we can't let you go until we find out the update on the rat that you took home on the hustings this week.

O’KEEFE: You took Harry home.

PLIBERSEK: We weren't really planning on getting a new pet during the election campaign because obviously my husband ends up doing all the pet care when I'm on the road. So he was not delighted when I rang him and said 'Michael - I've got this cute little new pet'.

WRIGHT: It's a rat!

O’KEEFE: This is the rat that was thrust upon Tanya by the Chaser guys. And here he is at home.

PLIBERSEK: I can tell you, the kids...except I've got to give you an update. Louis, the five-year-old, is the one that was in charge of naming. He has changed the name overnight.

O’KEEFE: Oh dear.

PLIBERSEK: He has gone from Harry to being Templeton - that's the name of the Rat in Charlotte's Web.

O'KEEFE: Really!

WRIGHT: That's perfect.

PLIBERSEK: Yes. There we go!

O’KEEFE: Look, I don't know my rats terribly well. I think that's a Norwegian rat. ‘Ratus Norwegicus’. So, is there a Norwegian name?

TAYLOR: It's a very standard name [inaudible].

PLIBERSEK: It's a ‘Ratus Cuticus’.

O’KEEFE: Angus, Tanya thanks very much for joining us.