Television interview with Karl Stefanovic – Today Show

Transcript
22 Nov 2017
Canberra
Prime Minister
E&OE

KARL STEFANOVIC:

The PM joins us now. Good morning PM.

PRIME MINISTER:

Good morning, good morning.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Firstly I'm a little bit confused this morning, if you don't mind me saying, are we having a banking Royal Commission or not?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, we're not having a banking Royal Commission. Look, we've obviously looked at the banking sector and we can see that the mistakes that have been made, the bad practices that have occurred, the mistreatment of customers. What we are doing is taking action right now. We are establishing a one-stop shop so people can get their complaints resolved. Greater regulation, greater accountability. We are getting on with the job right now. People want action now.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, plenty in Cabinet seem to want one. Your Cabinet is leaking like the Titanic at the moment.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I tell you, we are in an age of social media, a media age of gossip and speculation and I would not place any reliance on it. The stuff you read nowadays -

KARL STEFANOVIC:

So no one in Cabinet wants one?

PRIME MINISTER:

Karl, I never comment on what goes on in Cabinet. But sometimes I read stuff about the Cabinet and I wonder if it's the Cabinet of another country or perhaps somewhere else, another plane you know. Look, the reality is we're getting on with the job. We’re focused on the priorities; putting more money into Australian hard-working families’ pockets, whether it is by reducing energy prices - and you've seen the great results of the independent modelling on the energy policy - and of course, our next priority on tax is to cut middle income tax rates -

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I will come back to that in a second –

PRIME MINISTER:

Labor's priority is to jack them up.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

But let's make it simple, just to write that one off. While you are PM, under your watch, there will be no banking Royal Commission?

PRIME MINISTER:

Karl, there is not going to be a banking Royal Commission and look, can I just say Karl, the reason for that is that banking Royal Commission is a long inquiry, it's very expensive. But it doesn't do anything other than write a report. What governments have to do is take action.

See, Bill Shorten wants to get on about politics. For him, it's a kind of showbiz. I mean they say politics is showbiz for ugly people. I'm not suggesting that Bill isn't terribly handsome, but you know, governments have got –

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Oh!

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I'm not, I'm just saying, there has got to be more substance.

Now, what Australians feel, what they want; they feel they are paying too much tax. I agree with them. Bill thinks they are not paying enough tax. He wants to put tax up on families, on businesses, on trusts. We’ve got to have action, this is not - you know, politics as entertainment is fine for the Twittersphere, fine for some of the media. My job is to deliver government and action and results and look what we are doing; 355,000 jobs in the last year.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay talking of loyal, Tony Abbott. He’s always calm, racial, logical and loyal, here's what he had to say about parliament not sitting.

TONY ABBOTT – RECORDING:

You might not always want to go back to Parliament, but you always have to go back to parliament because that's your job.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Your response this morning?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, Parliament is coming back. The House of Representatives is coming back on the 4th of December. All we’ve done is take the two weeks of sittings that were scheduled from 27th November and moved them forward by a week to start on 4th of December. Why is that? Because one of the things we want to do is deliver on the commitment to legislate same-sex marriage before the end of the year.

That is the main priority for the balance of the year and that bill will not be ready for the House until the 4th December.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

It shortens the time in Parliament though when you don't have the numbers. You did squib it, didn't you?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, it doesn't. No, that’s not true. That’s absolutely not true. We won't have Barnaby Joyce or John Alexander back in the House in the week beginning the 4th.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Right.

PRIME MINISTER:

I mean Barnaby’s by-election will be held on the 2nd but it takes some time for the poll to be declared, the writs to be returned and so forth. So it is really about ensuring that we respect in a business-like way, the direction we have from the Australian people and get that done.

So we have taken those two weeks, that were beginning on the 27th and moved them forward to begin on the 4th in order to match the timing of the Senate's deliberations on the bill. That's what we have done, it is commonsense.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

OK, there are plenty that are saying you are squibbing it and you aren't up for the fight. Are you?

PRIME MINISTER:

Of course, we’re fighting every day with the Labor Party who wants to put your taxes up. Do you think Australians pay too much tax or too little tax Karl? What do you reckon?

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Well, let's get on to tax now -

PRIME MINISTER:

What about you, what do you think?

KARL STEFANOVIC:

How can you promise tax cuts, well, I believe in responsible government and how can you promise tax cuts for middle income battlers, when the debt in this country is spiraling out of control. Let's look at the debt right now. Just incidentally, that’s the national debt right where you are PM. It’s at the bottom of the screen, you can’t see it. Any idea what that number is?

PRIME MINISTER:

No well Karl, I can't read the screen –

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Well what is the national debt?

PRIME MINISTER:

But I know what the net debt is –

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Well what is it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Net debt is around $360 billion. That is the net debt, because obviously you've got assets on the other side. Anyway, let's not get into it, we know debt is high. That's why we are bringing the budget back into the black by 2021. What our commitment is, as our next priority, just as we have reduced taxes on small and medium businesses, just as we’ve provided tax relief for people on middle incomes already, we want to do more, just as we are bringing downward pressure on energy prices with the great results of the modelling on our National Energy Guarantee and the reductions in prices people are getting with the better deals from retailers we have delivered, so we have to do two things at once; give tax relief to middle income families -

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I'm sorry, PM, I’m sorry - 

PRIME MINISTER:

And bring the bring the budget back into balance. That’s what we’re doing.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I’m sorry, but that number just keeps, that number is very distracting. I don't know how you do it, a billion dollars a day. That's a lot of debt. That's the Labor Party slogan at the next election.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well of course it's a lot of debt and it was left to us by the Labor Party. Let's be quite frank.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

You, you've added to it.

PRIME MINISTER:

The Labor Party baked in a lot of spending, some of which we have been able to constrain, most of which we haven't. That is why we have had to increase, raise the bank levy to get, you know, to raise more revenue.

But the important thing is that we believe Australians are paying too much tax. Labor believes they are not paying enough.

We want to reduce tax on businesses, we have. Labor wants to increase it.

We want to reduce tax on families. Labor wants to increase it.

Labor believes in higher taxes and they are not being mealy-mouthed about it, they’re saying outright they want you and everyone who is watching us this morning to pay more tax. We think you're already paying plenty of tax and we want to give you tax relief. That's our priority, that's what we have set out.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

That number just keeps on getting bigger by the minute, I was very distracted. PM thanks for your time this morning as always. We appreciate it, cheers.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks Karl, great to be with you.

[ENDS]