Sky News with Laura Jayes
Subjects: ABCC legislation, tax reform and GST, upcoming announcement of Sex Discrimination Commissioner
LAURA JAYES: Well the first week of Parliament for 2016 is done and dusted. The tax reform debate was the focus, but so was the ABCC legislation. This passed the lower house, has been introduced into the Senate, and then it was pushed off to a committee by Labor and the Greens, and some crossbenchers. Let's take a closer look at this now with the Employment Minister, Michaelia Cash. She joins me from Perth this afternoon.
Minister, thanks so much for your time.
MINISTER CASH: Great to be with you Laura.
LAURA JAYES: Can I first ask you, this seems like a bit of a delay tactic from Labor, the Greens, and some of the crossbench; what does this mean now for the legislation?
MINISTER CASH: Basically you're right, and the only question I have for Labor and the Greens is why do you continue to support bullying, intimidation, and thuggery on work sites in Australia? This bill is the identical bill that has previously been knocked back by Labor and the Greens in the Senate. The bill has been already looked at by the exact Senate Committee it was sent back to yesterday. I will put money on the fact, Laura, Labor and the Greens are going to again recommend the bill doesn't pass the Senate. So why not just bring it into the Senate, have a full and wholesome debate publicly on the bill, and then let's let Australians see where we all sit on restoring law and order to the building and construction sector in Australia.
LAURA JAYES: Do you think the aim here is denying the Government a double dissolution trigger on this issue?
MINISTER CASH: Again, the Government already has a double dissolution trigger in relation to the registered organisations commission legislation. Look, Labor and the Greens do not want the Australian people to have publicly aired the reasons that we need the ABCC in Australia. Let me give you one quick example. Former President of the Queensland CFMEU, David Hanna, fronts to a work site knowing full well he needs a right of entry permit. That's what the law says. The employer says can you show me your right of entry permit. David Hanna allegedly gives the employer the middle finger and says basically I don't need a right of entry permit.
Laura, enough is enough. That's not how you operate in any workplace. It's against the law. Why is it Labor and the Greens and some of the crossbenchers continue to defend that type of behaviour? If you don't want the ABCC, let's just take it to a vote so all Australians have an informed position on where all of us stand.
LAURA JAYES: Well it's not just Labor and the Greens as you rightly point out, some crossbenchers are resisting on this as well. Dio Wang, one that has really stood out to me, he wants to see a Federal ICAC, but yet he voted for this legislation to be shoved off to a committee.
MINISTER CASH: Look, again, I've had extensive conversations with Senator Wang, I've explained to him that the ABCC is not a corruption watchdog, it is merely a regulator that enforces workplace laws. I thought he understood that. But at the end of the day, Senator Wang needs to explain to you why he did not support the legislation being brought before the Parliament. I personally think maybe you need to talk to Clive Palmer about the instructions he gave to Senator Wang.
LAURA JAYES: Yeah perhaps it does look like he's pulling the strings, doesn't he.
MINISTER CASH: Look, from my opinion, yes it does. I think that's very sad, because I think Senator Wang is a supporter of the ABCC. But again, speak to Clive Palmer, speak to Senator Wang, and get them to go on the record as to why they don't support lawful behaviour in the building and construction industry.
LAURA JAYES: Minister, can I ask you about the GST now. We've seen a really interesting debate about this over the last week or so. We saw Scott Morrison earlier this week arguing the point, not around the GST, but saying he can prosecute difficult policy areas. Now in the conversation we're having at the moment, the GST would be the most difficult. But then you have Malcolm Turnbull today pointing out the problems and the concerns with implementing a GST. Where's your thinking on this at the moment? Can you still do broad scale structural reform in our tax system without that increased revenue stream that would come from the GST?
MINISTER CASH: Laura let's go back to basic principles. What are we not as a Liberal Government? We've openly said we're not a government and we never have been, that raises taxes so that we can spend. That's what Labor does, Andrew Leigh admitted that this morning. So we're not going to do that. So in terms of basic principles, what are we looking at bringing to the Australian people? Well, Scott Morrison as Treasurer on the record as saying we want to take a package that delivers income tax reductions to individual workers. That's a good thing. We also want to take a package to the people that ensures that in giving those income tax reductions we give a boost to economic growth and productivity. So that's what we want to do by way of principles, the conversation we're currently having is what's the best way for us to do that? That's the conversation we're having, and as both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have said, the Australian people will see our policy in good time, and will be able to make decisions based on it. But in terms of broad principles, income tax cuts for individuals and boosting economic productivity and growth, because at the end of the day in my portfolio that's how we create more jobs for Australians.
LAURA JAYES: As Mark Textor pointed out to me last night on Sky News, the Government does have time to formulate a policy and a package here, but the public also like to see markers. So is it fair enough to think that around the Treasurer and the Premier and Prime Minister's COAG meeting in March-April of this year, we'll start to see some of the detail, more detail in the budget, and then the full package before the election?
MINISTER CASH: I think the Prime Minister made it clear today that there will be announcements along the way. But in terms of markers, I think the most important marker for the Australian people is what are the underlying principles of any policy? Labor in its announcements to date have indicated they will spend more money, and the way they fund that is by increasing taxes. We've made it very clear, not on the table for us, that's the lazy policy option. The basic marker for us in the first instance is we want to give the Australian taxpayer a tax cut; we want to ensure that our tax package boosts the economy, contributes to growth, ultimately creates jobs. So there's your basic marker. Now let's look at all the options as to how we do that, and in good time you'll see our policy and we'll ask the Australian people for a mandate to deliver that very positive economic change.
LAURA JAYES: We know the Government is looking at savings, is one area of that in superannuation? Will the Government consider not going ahead with that increase in super contributions to 12 per cent, keeping that at 9.5 per cent?
MINISTER CASH: Laura I saw that reported today; I also saw the Prime Minister's very clear comments. That is not under consideration.
LAURA JAYES: Okay. One final question on the leaked documents that we've seen on the special humanitarian intake. There is some suggestion that there could be tightening of security around those 12,000 Syrian refugees that will come to Australia. Is there a greater national security concern when it does come to these 12,000 people?
MINISTER CASH: Can I just say one thing Laura, I haven't seen the document. The Prime Minister hasn't seen the document, the Minister hasn't seen the document. So I'm not going to comment on a document that none of us have seen. I don't even know if the document really does exist, other than what I've seen reported in the press.
LAURA JAYES: Now I know, just finally, I did ask you about this earlier in the week but I just want to get it again once again on the record. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, we will see an announcement soon won't we?
MINISTER CASH: An announcement is imminent, absolutely.
LAURA JAYES: Michaelia Cash, thanks for getting that on the record, and thanks for your time this afternoon.
MINISTER CASH: Always great to be with you, thanks for having me.