Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Doorstop - Parliament House

05 February 2016

Parliament House, Canberra

Prime Minister

E&OE

PRIME MINISTER: There's never been a more exciting time to be Chris Uhlmann.

JOURNALIST: Are you contemplating scrapping the rise in compulsory super to 12 per cent?

PRIME MINISTER: The Government has got no plans to change the rise in compulsory super. What is happening at the moment is that we're having a very lively debate about tax and economic reform and so all sorts of proposals are swirling around.

And as I was just saying on the radio a moment ago we're considering all of those things and that's, you know, that's basically all I can say. But there is no - on this point there is no proposal to cut or restrain the rise, the already scheduled rise in the rate of contributions.

JOURNALIST: And we will see the whole plan the budget?

PRIME MINISTER: Well yes, absolutely. The point I was making earlier was that the budget, of course, is about three months away so that will be the Government's economic platform, the Government's tax platform.

There may be, depending on the timing of the election, there may be other proposals raised or platform, you know, planks in an election platform presented subsequent to the budget but the budget will, as it does every year, set out the Government's economic blueprint for the year ahead.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, in regards to the documents obtained by Lateline last night; you just said on radio that you and the Minister haven't seen them. Is it alarming that the media has seen it before you have and also now that you have heard some of the detail of that document, is it something that you think would be a worthwhile proposal?

PRIME MINISTER: I'm not going to comment on a document I haven't read, haven't seen.

JOURNALIST: Can you comment on the leaks [inaudible] in the media?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is always, ideally, assuming it's genuine, ideally these thing do not get leaked, if you like, but it happens from time to time.

JOURNALIST: Will you investigate the source of the leak?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I haven't yet had an opportunity to discuss it with the Minister. So if in fact it is - if in fact the leak did occur as you describe and if the document is in the terms that it's been referred to on 'Lateline', then no doubt the Minister will be looking into it.

My understanding is that he hasn't seen it, it he hasn't got to him, anyway.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe that 18c in the Racial Discrimination Act strikes the right balance?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is, there are no plans to change it, so no plans to change it.

JOURNALIST: But what is your personal opinion?

PRIME MINISTER: That’s a long – that’s a long topic. I think that the - that's a longer discussion, there's a longer discussion about the wording of 18c but there are no plans to make any changes to it. OK, thank you.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just back to tax -you seem to be making a case on radio before not to increase the GST?

PRIME MINISTER: Hopefully what I was trying to do was to set out what the issues are and, you know, what the criteria are by which we would judge any changes to the GST and they were: Firstly, we, the Liberal Party - I know the Labor Party or elements in the Labor Party have got a different view and they're entitled to that - but we believe that we should not increase the total tax take in net terms.

We think it's already very high. I think most Australians agree with that. That's why we're trying to restrain spending. We've got to, you know, pare back spending and live within our means, as Paul Keating observed only yesterday. It was a very classically pungent observation.

If only his colleagues in the Labor Party, particularly in the Senate, would listen to him more intently we might have more success getting our savings measures through.

Any changes also have to be fair, that is absolutely critical.  And have to be seen to be fair, right across the board, and finally, they've got to drive jobs and growth.

So that's what, you know, that is what we're looking at. We're looking at it carefully. I'm really thrilled that there is a good discussion going on.

You can see the benefits of it, if I might say so. I don't want to be unkind to Mr Swan and Mr Rudd, but if you just cast your mind back to when the Henry tax paper came out, which is a very good, comprehensive piece of work and still, in many respects, is very current in a lot of the issues that it fleshed out.  And in a great panic, Wayne Swan ruled everything out. 

And of course once the Government says we're not going to do any of these things, and people stop talking about them because they say what's the point of expressing my view on superannuation or GST or, you know, any other form of taxation because if the Government's not going to countenance it.

This is why it's important to have an open debate and as that debate occurs, some of the contributions are better informed than others, some of them are better - have better intentions than others. But what they all do collectively in a free society like ours is that they raise the level of awareness and people will feel, they will know that when we come to a decision – which we will do shortly, as I said we've got three months until the budget – people will be able to say, even if they don't agree with us, that we thought about these issues carefully, we took a lot of different contending arguments into account and came to a landing.

And on that note I must go. So thanks very much.

Ends