Transcript: Sky News with Laura Jayes and Kieran Gilbert

3.42pm | April 02, 2019



SUBJECT: Federal Budget, Labor’s Climate Change Action.
LAURA JAYES, HOST: Let's go live now, Jenny McAllister Labor Senator joins us here in the studio. We've seen a lot of pre-budget leaks, lots of spending on infrastructure, but tax relief, a good thing?
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES: Well, we've been arguing as you know for some relief for low and middle income Australians for a long time and in fact one of the remarkable things about this Government is that over the course of six years they have done so little for middle and low income people. They've cut their services. They've been indifferent to flat lining wages. They've been seemingly indifferent to the cost of living pressure brought about by having no energy policy. Yes, we would welcome some relief for low and middle income Australians but it's really too little too late isn't it. Because they've had six years and done nothing.
KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: This is going to be not too late in the sense that people will get $1,000 tax cheque in their bank balance as of July. When the tax returns are done, they will get $1,000 back according to what the Government's going to promise tonight and that's for over 4 million workers.
MCALLISTER: Let's wait and see what's actually in the Budget. These are leaks as you say, but we've had a plan on the table for almost a year that would provide relief to nearly 10 million Australians. Those cuts for the last year have been nearly double what was on offer by the Coalition. I think the thing is a question of trust. Why would you believe this last minute pitch for support? Cash in the pocket, when they've had six years to act and have done nothing. They will not act in the interests of low and middle income Australians and I don't think that you can convince people in the final hour that you've changed. They just haven't.
JAYES: It's not so much of a question of belief though is it? Because if Josh Frydenberg hands down these tax cuts tonight, I mean Labor could stand in the way or otherwise of passing them by the end of the week?
McALLISTER: We'll have a look at what's in the Budget. We've said that we are open to relief for low and middle income people. We've had a plan on the table to do that for you know, nearly a year. But, it is a question of trust because these last minute actions to shore up support from ordinary Australians, I think look hollow. They look fake because they've had six years to do things of this kind. They've been in Government and they haven't done anything like that. All they've sought to do is give tax relief to sort of very large businesses. There was an $80 billion corporate tax cut on the table and that was their primary political project for most of the last year.
GILBERT: But the other primary project they've had is budget repair and there they are clearly making progress on that. The surplus to be forecast for 2019-20 over that $4 billion dollar forecast of the mid-year budget update. I'm told that's going to be somewhere between four and ten. It won't be beyond 10 billion but still a pretty healthy surplus in 2019-20?
MCALLISTER: Well, I guess what's the surplus built on? It's built on pulling money out of hospitals, pulling enormous amounts of money out of public schools. Pulling money out of the services that low and middle income Australians rely on. Whilst constantly trying to prop up the interests of very high income Australians or corporate Australia.
GILBERT: They would argue that they've got record school funding from the Federal Government and you know, to be honest, if you ask economists what's propping up in the surplus they'll say commodity prices, no ripping out services.
MCALLISTER: $14 billion dollars taken out of public schools cannot be described as record school funding.
GILBERT: Well, compared to your promise. It's not taking it.
MCALLISTER: Yeah, there was a plan on foot to inject substantial resources into public schools which they can.
JAYES: Yeah, but to be fair. Labor never put it there. Put the money there in the first place. There was a change of Government, that was a promise from you and then as Kieran said, the main focus has been budget repair which they have made headway in and will deliver a surplus - a more substantive one next year?
MCALLISTER: The real question is who are you managing the economy for? And if you look at the Coalition's record, the answer for the last six years has been for the top end of town. And they can't escape that. You can come into the Budget today and promise tax relief for low and middle income Australians but you can't escape the fact that all of your actions so far have punished that very same cohort of people.
GILBERT: On the climate change policy, do you feel that you - it's a credible approach when you are promising to go with electric cars from 0.2 percent I think it is at the moment saturation point to .2% to what 50 percent by 2030. It's a big climb?
MCALLISTER: It is a big climb and it's in the context of a global car market that is changing rapidly. So essentially that car market is already changing. It's already shifting internationally. We are behind that shift at the moment.
JAYES: But is it a projection or a promise?
MCALLISTER: We want to see us get to that threshold. We want to see a change in the profile of vehicles in Australia.
JAYES: And what steps are you putting in place to make that 50 percent happen by 2030 and how much will it cost?
MCALLISTER: Part of it will be around putting in place vehicle emissions standards that actually meet the basic standards that are in place overseas. We've said that we'll put in place standards that are similar to what's in place in the United States. It's pretty amazing that we don't have any emission controls. Any requirements in terms of air quality to match what's in place in the US or in the EU. We think that's a pretty important step. Fuel efficiency will save Australians when they are at the bowser.
GILBERT: On the broader issue have you squibbed it in the sense that you know you are copping from the right but from the left, Adam Bandt says by using international permits, you're offloading your responsibilities essentially?
MCALLISTER: I don't think we'll take advice from The Greens about how to proceed. There's an international market in carbon credits. It's part of the international framework for reducing climate change. We think Australian firms ought to be able to access that. But we also know that we've got an ambitious target. We've got a 45 percent renewable energy target by 2030. We've got net zero emissions by 2050. That's an ambitious target and we don't shy away from it.
JAYES: It is ambitious but you're dealing with a pretty cynical public at the moment and the last Government in the last two terms have promised lower emissions and lower prices. Neither has been delivered. But Labor's unwilling to say how much power prices would come down under you if you are in Government, or how much this plan is actually going to cost?
MCALLISTER: All of the modelling shows that prices will come down. The big problem in the electricity sector for the last six years, has been the absence of a policy of any kind, and when you don't have policy settings, investors are reluctant to invest in new generation so we've actually had this sort of tightening of the generation market. That's translated to high prices for consumers and that's a direct response to the Coalition's failure to have an energy policy of any kind. We are very confident that when we put in place some investment certainty, investors will return to the market.
JAYES: Will the Senate allow you to do that though?
MCALLISTER: We will work with the Senate that's elected of course. We don't know what the election will produce. Some of the things we'd like to do we can do without legislation but ideally we would put in place something like a national energy guarantee. Building on the bipartisan work that was done before parts of the Coalition trashed it once again.
GILBERT: Senator McAllister thanks so much for your time. Busy week.
MCALLISTER: It's a pleasure thank you.