Transcript: Government Scared To Talk About Its Own Corporate Tax plan, DFAT Paris junket; Census shutdown

10.45am | October 20, 2016

Parliament House, Canberra

Jenny Mcallister, Senator for New South Wales:  Well good morning everyone.

Day four of the estimates week. Yesterday we were treated to the unedifying spectacle of the Finance Minister preventing the Treasury Secretary from answering basic questions about the Government’s economic policy. The Government, of course, is reluctant to talk about the details of its corporate tax package and it seems that they don’t want anyone else to talk about it either.

Mr Fraser, the Treasury Secretary was asked a direct question- ‘what is the single largest item of expenditure or revenue negative item in the budget’ and he took the question on notice. Now I don’t believe for a moment that the Treasury Secretary requires a departmental official to provide a brief about the biggest line item in the Budget. The Treasury Secretary then was prevented, by the Finance Minister, from answering further questions about what Treasury modelling shows about the corporate tax measures.

I think what we can conclude is that the Government is very worried about the negative impacts of its unaffordable, un-costed, corporate tax cut to big business. It doesn’t want to talk about it, and it doesn’t want anyone else to either. 

QUESTION: Senator, if I can ask you about reports this morning that DFAT spent $250 000 dollars on a Paris junket. Do you think that’s an appropriate use of tax payer money?

MCALLISTER: Well the use of a very large sum of tax payer money to fly bureaucrats to Paris is consistent with this Government’s extraordinary arrogant and profligate approach to government finances. These are certainly matters that we will be pursuing today during the estimates process.

QUESTION: If I could also ask you about the Census shutdown. We had the Chief statistician last night admit that poor judgements were made in the lead up to Census and that it’s going to cost taxpayers $30 million to resolve. Do you think heads should roll over this?  What do you think the Government should do?

MCALLISTER: Look, my principal concern is that the ABS were not, that the Government were not engaged with the ABS in a sensible was during this critical time. The Minister responsible ought to have been much more keenly interested in the process of the census. We’ve had a series of different ministers take responsibility for this portfolio area and in my view those are the key factors that have led to these problems emerging at the Census. Very serious problems which have cost a great deal of money.

Thank you

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