TRANSCRIPT: Weekend Sunrise, Saturday, 23 April




SUBJECTS: Labor's positive plans, Liberals' cuts to health and education; Budget 2016.

ANDREW O’KEEFE, HOST: Time to discuss what happened in our corridors of power this week. Joining us in studio is Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash and Deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek. Morning to you both. Of course the big news this week is the anticipated July 2nd double dissolution election. So as of today we're effectively at the beginning of a 70-day election campaign. Michaelia, look, a lot of the commentary this week has said over the last year is it has been Labor that has floated all the big policy ideas and got traction with them; the Government has floated a lot of ideas but got no traction. Does the Turnbull Government...does it deserve to be re-elected at this point?

SENATOR MICHAELIA CASH: Absolutely, and I am going to disagree with you with not getting any traction and not having any big policy ideas. This is all about which of the political parties is going to guide us into the future of work. And in particular, when you look at Malcolm Turnbull, this is someone who embraces innovation. In fact I often joke with people if you stand close enough to Malcolm, you are likely to recharge your mobile phone. That is his commitment to innovation and his understanding of it. We have had that huge investment in innovation. Look at what we are doing in defence capability.  Look at what we are doing in particular in terms of trying to clean up the building and construction industry. Yesterday, just yesterday, we saw Federal Court of Australia hand down $1 million almost in fines to the CFMEU for bullying, harassment, intimidation on work sites in Adelaide. So in terms of our big ticket items, they are out there. But then of course, May the 3rd.  May the 3rd is Budget night and that is literally when our economic plan for Australia's future will be revealed in fine detail.

O’KEEFE: It will be interesting to see how we account for that 10 billion we have spent already in the first, you know...

CASH: We will offset everything in MYEFO, and I think we have a history of, if we do spend taxpayers money, we spend it responsibly, but at the same time, as a coalition government, we do it by reducing government spending, as opposed to increasing taxes.

ANGELA COX, HOST: Tanya, let's talk about Labor and what your big issues are going to be coming into this election.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Sure, can I just correct one thing though.  Government spending is higher now than it was during the global financial crisis. Tax is higher as a share of GDP and a lot of the services that people have rely on have been cut. One of our big issues of course will be education. You can't have innovation without education, and we have seen more than $30 billion cut from schools. TAFE cuts. University cuts. $100,000 degrees.  So we'll focus as we always do on jobs, growth, making sure that people have decent working conditions, but also the services that we need. Decent healthcare, protecting Medicare, investment in our schools. Protecting pensioners. We know that 330,000 pensioners are going to see a cut to their pensions soon. I think the incredible achievement of this government is that they're taxing more, they're spending more but they are still cutting services.

COX: Obviously tax is a big issue.

O’KEEFE: Tax has been a big issue. Now News Corp today is reporting that the Treasurer will increase the tax threshold for middle income families who earn between $37,000 and $180,000 - without the changes it's expected that the average worker would be paying an extra $2000 in tax by 2018, you know, bracket creep and all that. Is this a tax cut?

CASH: It is media speculation at this point in time. And as I said, May 3rd is Budget night, and it is when we will reveal to all Australians our economic plan for the future. But if you look at the principles upon which we will be looking at the taxation system, I think all Australians understand, we want a taxation system that rewards incentive. We want a taxation system that will back you as an individual to do your very best. And we certainly want a taxation system that will enable business to prosper and grow. Because when business prospers and grows, it creates more jobs and more jobs for Australians. So in terms of the basic fundamentals, they are the fundamentals, that is our philosophy.

COX: How are you going to balance the books? Because The Australian is also reporting that Malcolm Turnbull is planning on committing an extra $10 billion in fresh spending. Where is he going to get the money?

CASH: Again, it is speculation. Governments are entitled to spend money; I think we all agree with that.

COX: How do you pay for that money?

CASH: When you look at MYEFO we clearly showing to the Australian people, that whilst we can spend money, we can spend it responsibly and we offset every single cent. You will see the exact same thing.

PLIBERSEK: There has been an extra $10 billion of spending since that time. There has been no offsets so far, and we know based on past experience, what happens. The 2014 Budget cut health spending, cut education spending. The only confirmed tax cut -

CASH: Tanya, you know that is not true.

PLIBERSEK: No it's true. It says it in your Budget papers. The only confirmed tax cut so far is for people earning $180,000 or more a year. That's the only confirmed tax cut so far.  The speculation is about slowing down the number of people going into a higher tax bracket and we want to know how you are going to pay for that? Is it by further cuts in health and education?

CASH: You know on the 5th of May they will be looking for the additional $51 billion in a black hole that you currently have. The only type of payment system that you have put forward to date is to increase taxes by an additional $7 billion. At the end of the day that is going to be the fundamental difference. Do you want higher taxes or do you want Government to rein in spending. That's going to be the decision.

O’KEEFE: May 2. May 2 is the date -- May 3 is the date.

CASH: Hang on a second.