Interview with Michael Rowland, ABC News Breakfast
7 February 2024
MICHAEL ROWLAND: The revised stage three tax cuts are set to take effect on July 1, after the Federal opposition agreed to support the changes after a fortnight of at times very strong criticism, the Coalition folded on the first sitting day of 2024, but is promising a broader tax policy for voters to mull over ahead of the next election. For more, let's bring in the Shadow Finance Minister, Jane Hume, very good morning to you.
JANE HUME: Good morning, good to be with you, Michael.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: Your leader, Peter Dutton, has spent most of this year formulating over the changes to stage three. He said they'd be the end of Anthony Albanese's Prime Ministership. He demanded the Government call an election to seek a fresh mandate for the changes. In the end, as we say, you've folded as the Coalition. That is quite a humiliating backdown, isn't it?
JANE HUME: Well, let's be very clear about what's happened here. Anthony Albanese promised before the election that there would be no changes to the stage three tax cuts, which were genuine reforming tax cuts. He promised that before the election because he knew he couldn't get elected unless he did. He learnt that from Bill Shorten. So he went into the election saying there'd be no changes. He said it more than 100 times since. He even said it 12 times over the summer, after he had commissioned the Treasury to do the work into unwinding the stage three tax cuts. So he lied to you then. Indeed, it was only just over two weeks ago that he still looked Australians in the eyes and lied to them, saying that there were no plans to change the stage three tax cuts before he did change the stage three tax cuts. Now we will never stand in the way of tax cuts for hard working Australians. But what we do commit to is genuine reform to make our tax system more aspirational, embed aspiration in than remove it, suck it out of the economy. So we will go to the next election with the tax package that will restore simpler, lower and fairer taxes for all Australians and inject aspiration back into the economy without cutting essential services.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: I want to get to what's coming up at the next election. But you talked just then Jane Hume about the stage three tax cuts, the Coalition's tax cuts as being genuine tax reform and just to be crystal clear, you are actually voting against your own legislation in supporting this revised legislation. Where's the principle in that?
JANE HUME: Well, unfortunately, the way that the legislation is structured, if we are to vote for a tax cut for those on the lowest incomes, taking down that $0.19 threshold down to $0.16, then unfortunately, there is no way to maintain the legislated tax cuts that are already there that are supposed to start on the 1st of July.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: But the Coalition going back on its word as well?
JANE HUME: No, that's not true. We would like to see those tax cuts go ahead. But unfortunately they're gone. There is no way that they can go ahead okay.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: If the Coalition wins the election let's talk about that. Will you extend the tax cuts to the high income earners who had their tax cut, um, affected by these changes?
JANE HUME: Yeah, Michael. So stage one, two and three of the personal income tax plan that the Coalition put together was very carefully calibrated and it was very carefully timed. Anthony Albanese has junked that. So we now need to go back and recalibrate it and retime that tax reform to make sure that it is also fiscally responsible and that's exactly what we'll do.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: Shadow Treasurer, Angus Taylor, says the tax policy will take to the election as a Coalition. His words will be in keeping with and in line with the principles of the original stage three tax cuts. The big principle was that flat tax rate of 30% for those on incomes between 45,000 and 200,000. Is that something you'd like to see reasserted in that you'd abolish the 37% tax bracket?
JANE HUME: Well that's exactly right. In fact, what Anthony Albanese has done has reinstated that 37% tax bracket. Absolutely right.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: Just to be clear, you are wanting to remove that tax bracket if you win the next election?
JANE HUME: Well, that's what simpler taxes are all about isn't it. Having a lower, simpler and fairer tax rate.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: So you are declaring that you will, if elected again, remove that 37% tax bracket.
JANE HUME: Michael, we'll reveal exactly what our tax package is closer to the election. Once we have done the work to be able to recalibrate a personal income tax plan that restores aspiration back into our economy, that allows people to keep more of what they earn because they deserve to do so, and more importantly, doesn't provide a disincentive for people to get a promotion, get a new job, go out and work those extra hours so that they can keep more of their own money. That's what Anthony Albanese has taken away through these tax changes and that's what this government, that's what the Coalition in government will restore.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: Okay. Hey, before you go, as a senior Liberal, Jane Hume, what do you make of the Liberal Party's dirty laundry being aired so spectacularly on the ABC's nemesis series?
JANE HUME: I have to admit, I watched the first episode. I haven't had a chance to watch the second one yet. It's been a kind of busy week here, but I think the ABC are pretty good at airing dirty laundry of governments of all hues. Obviously we were in government for nine years. It was a very good government that made some significant reforms, including significant tax changes and that's what we're dealing with this week as well.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: Malcolm Turnbull reckons Peter Dutton's a thug. Is he?
JANE HUME: Well I have never ever seen that in Peter Dutton. Not in a million years. So I think everybody is entitled to their own opinions and they all like to reinvent history somewhat with the benefit of 2020 hindsight.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: It's next level though. Malcolm Turnbull is calling Peter Dutton a thug. This is all on Nemesis. This is all going to air. Malcolm Turnbull calls Scott Morrison duplicitous. James McGrath, Liberal senator, your colleague calls Malcolm Turnbull a turd. Barnaby Joyce calls Malcolm Turnbull a s***. This is very embarrassing, isn't it?
JANE HUME: Honestly, the ABC, what right - do you remember The Killing Season and the way that they spoke about Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd? It was absolutely outrageous, this is nothing new and I know you guys love this stuff. We are in the job of making sure that Australians get the tax cuts that they deserve, injecting aspiration back into society, into our economy and making sure that economic growth starts up again, that productivity, which has been going backwards under this government is fired up once more and that there is something that Australians can look forward to, the hope and opportunity they deserve. This is something that this Government, because of the lies they have told, has gone.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: Okay, we’re not going to be seeing you next week on Nemesis just to be clear?
JANE HUME: No, I’m afraid I didn’t put my hand up.
MICHAEL ROWLAND: Jane Hume, thanks for joining us.