LAURA JAYES: Welcome back, you're watching AM Agenda. Well, this week the Coalition has come to a full position of not standing in the way of Labor's tax cuts that favor the lower to middle income earners. But the Coalition and specifically Peter Dutton has said, 'Watch this space there'll be more to come before the next election'. Joining me now is Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume. Jane, thanks so much for your time. I said at the top of the program, it can't be a bad thing. With both major parties going to the Federal Election promising lower taxes. So what exactly are you thinking about here? I know Peter Dutton mentioned bracket creep, and returning more of that money to people who earn it. What else?
JANE HUME: Well, let's take a step back and recognise Laura that both parties went to the last election, committed to lower taxes for Australians, but only the Coalition has made good on that promise. In fact, Anthony Albanese clearly lied back then before the election, he lied over 100 times since the election, he even lied 12 times over the summer, after he had commissioned Treasury to unwind the stage three tax cuts he looked Australians in the eyes that there would be no change that they would address bracket creep, and they have failed to do so. So of course, we will not stand in the way of lower and middle income earners getting a very small but important change to their tax so that they have a little bit more money in their pocket come the 1st of July, nearly four months away. Now, the government is saying that that's addressing the cost of living, they're saying that they're doing that because everything else that tried has been ineffective, ineffectual. I think that was the phrase that the Prime Minister used at the National Press Club. Quite frankly, the maximum anyone is going to get here is around $15 a week, and they've lost around $150 a week from their disposable income just in the last two years alone, so it's hardly making up the difference. When we go to the next election. We will present to the Australian people a new tax plan, but it won't necessarily replicate exactly what we have proposed in the original stage three. The reason why it can't is because the original stage three tax plan was part of a calibrated program of stage one, stage two and stage three. It was well calibrated, it was well timed, and it was appropriately funded within the budget already. Now we're going to an election with an entirely different scenario and not only that, but we couldn't announce the exact details of it even if we wanted to because quite frankly, we are almost certain that there is more on this tax agenda, more on this broken promise agenda to come from this Labor Party.
LAURA JAYES: Well I hope so if it comes to lower taxes.
JANE HUME: Well, I don't think it's going to Laura. They haven't ruled out changes to negative gearing. They haven't ruled out changes to capital gains. They certainly haven't ruled out changing taxes on the family home so they've got some more questions to ask. But I would say watch that space, not just our space. I'm sorry I did want to answer your original question. But when we do go to the next election what I can say is that the coalition will offer a tax package that provides for lower, simpler and fairer taxes that are in keeping with the stage three tax cuts as they are currently legislated and about to be jumped on not only that, we will make sure that it is a policy that is fully costed, entirely affordable, that comes at the right time, and that it makes sure that we guarantee the essential services that Australians deserve, and moreover, that it will be able to be implemented with a mandate the moment a Coalition government, a Dutton Coalition government, is elected.
LAURA JAYES: That sounds like a dream at this point, lower taxes but still providing all the services. Every single government would want to do that. It's difficult when you say you've got to be responsible. You need to cut from somewhere, spending also needs to go down, the NDIS, that low hanging fruit.
JANE HUME: In the last Parliament, that was exactly what we delivered stage one, stage two and stage three, a well calibrated entirely funded tax plan that would address the insidious bracket creep, which is a pernicious element of our existing tax system. Bracket creep sucks the aspiration out of society and this backflip by the Prime Minister, this broken promise is only going to make that worse. We've already got essentially zero economic growth in this country. Yesterday, the Reserve Bank Governor made some forecasts that that essentially is going to stay around for a while, productivity has gone backwards and in fact, if it wasn't for the fact that migration was out of control, we would be in a recession. We're already in a per capita recession. We've got to turbocharge the economy again. The only way we're going to be able to do that is to eject a more efficient tax system, one that incentivises people to work hard at work, take that extra job, take that extra, you know that extra pay, work a little overtime, whatever it might be, without the punitive effect of bracket creep.
LAURA JAYES: Well, the consensus in the Coalition also seems to be in the midst of this debate that a year and 180 grand a year you live in the cities, particularly Sydney or Melbourne, you're certainly not rich. So can we take that to mean that at the next election, there will be bigger tax cuts, income tax cuts for those who earn that amount of money?
JANE HUME: Well, I hate this argument of who's rich and who's poor, who's a middle income earner.
LAURA JAYES: Well you have to draw the line somewhere, the Government has drawn that line, where would you draw it?
JANE HUME: But here is the thing. Aspiration is all about not necessarily what you're earning today but what you want to earn tomorrow, what you want to earn in the next year or five years time, what you might want to retire on. If I want $120,000 today, I'm you know, maybe I'll fall into Anthony Albanese net, but I would like to earn 145,000. I'd like to reach 150,000 maybe in the next few years. I might like to retire on 180,000 and because of the changes Anthony Albanese has made, he's essentially robbing your future prosperity. When we say sucking inspiration out of society.
LAURA JAYES: What are you going to do about that?
JANE HUME: Well lower and simpler and fairer taxes is exactly what we have in mind now, the State Three tax cuts as they have been, as they are legislated today, have been junked. Essentially, what's happened is Anthony Albanese has reinstated a 37% tax bracket. That has gone, so he has made your taxes more expensive. There's a lot of people that are going to miss out here now but there's more people that are going to miss out in the future. This is a regressive decision by the Albanese government that is taking Australia backwards.
LAURA JAYES: I remember when I put to you last week, for the last two weeks, that you would be concentrating on the broken promises but eventually stand up in Parliament and wave these changes through. I was right, wasn't I?
JANE HUME: Well, I think that you intuitively know Laura, as do we, that the Coalition is never going to stand in the way of lower taxes for ordinary Australians and people are doing it tough. We knew that and 10 months ago, we knew it at the beginning of this parliamentary term. That's why I established the Cost of Living committee that I know we've spoken about many, many times. It's just amazing that Anthony Albanese seems to have only cottoned on to this in December last year, amazingly, when a by-election is just around the corner. Let's face it. This has been a political decision, not an economic one, because economically it just doesn't stack up.
LAURA JAYES: Let's talk about what's happening in Parliament right now and that is this debate that comes out of work. Jacqui Lambie termed it a bit of greens overreach, the right to switch off I think, if you work in some, you know, job that doesn't fit neatly into nine to five or you're trying to climb that corporate ladder or indeed you work in Parliament House? It's a bit of a joke, isn't it? That you can't be contacted out of hours?
JANE HUME: I can't imagine you not being able to be contactable out of hours. I can't imagine myself not being able to be contacted out of hours. But more importantly there are actually already laws about unreasonable working hours. They exist already and the idea that you would try and legislate with a sort of you know, fancy name for the sake of making a media release or headline. I think it is a bit pathetic, quite honestly. It is important that employers and employees are able to have conversations about what is and isn't reasonable. We want to instill more flexible workplace practices. That certainly seems to be what the government's you know, that's their rhetoric, but then when you look at the anti flexibility that they've embedded into their industrial relations changes, they're not walking that talk.
LAURA JAYES : Whether staffers in Parliament House want to just try it tonight, and not answer their phone after hours. See how that goes down and make the point.
JANE HUME: I don't think my staff would ever dream of it.
LAURA JAYES: No, I don't think so.
JANE HUME: But neither would I expect them to work ridiculous hours. So there we go.
LAURA JAYES: There's that on the record. We've got that on the record. Jane, thank you so much. See you soon.