TV Interview – Sky News Newsday with Tom Connell

TOM CONNELL, HOST: There is a growing call to reconsider at least phase three of the income tax cut plan initially passed by the Coalition and eventually backed by Labour. I am joined live by Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Gorman for further information, thanks for your time. We have, particularly crossbench senators from the Senate and House of Representatives, crossbench’s, I should say, who say look at this, be ready to talk about the timing or even going ahead at all. Are you open to a discussion?

PATRICK GORMAN, DEPUTY MINISTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER: Well, I know some of the new Members of Parliament are asking for that to be reconsidered. I was in Parliament when we legislated these tax cuts. Labor is known to have voted for these tax cuts. We don’t see that this is a conversation really worth having. The decision has been made, she has gone to the polls. In fact, these tax cuts were implemented in two elections. This is basically regulated by law. I understand why some of the independents might want to garner some attention and media, but no, we support the third tier tax cuts. That decision has been made. There are other areas we can work on to try to get more revenue into the Commonwealth budget, such as our work on multinational tax avoidance.

CONNELL: Nothing would touch the page compared to when you’re talking about what, $200 billion? This was passed in 2019 and would come into effect in 2024. So you are talking about five years in which there has been a major bushfire disaster, flooding and basically a doubling of our projected debt due to COVID. Don’t you start a new conversation when the facts on an issue change?

GORMAN: Obviously just 100 days ago at the election there was a conversation where the Labor Party went to the election and said we were going to keep that in the budget, in fact the projections and our costs were based on those remaining tax cuts. We see opportunities when it comes to multinational tax avoidance and indeed in cleaning up some of the mistakes and wastes that the previous government made as a habit of sorts in their governance processes. So we see other areas where we can generate revenue while maintaining the confidence of the Australian people that what they are told in an election is what happens after, and on these big issues like tax cuts, we support tax cuts the third stage and they will remain state budget.

CONNELL: All right, is this some kind of hell or high tide? I mean we could even face a recession next year and there will be all sorts of calls for immediate spending to get the economy going. At this point, you again have a huge unused spending reserve. Would it ever be considered?

GORMAN: They’ve been required by law for a number of years. They are included in the forecasts. We support the tax cuts. We went to the polls three months ago and said we would support tax cuts. That conversation has been had and if others in Parliament want to suggest areas for revenue or want to reduce waste or reduce errors, we’re really open to that conversation. But I think that’s where the energy needs to be right now.

CONNELL: All right, you made that very clear. Five days of isolation is the push for Australia to join the rest of the world from seven. This would relieve a lot of pressure, even just in the health sector, as people can indeed go back to work as long as they are not sick, they can of course still stay at home if they are sick with COVID. Where are you sitting?

GORMAN: I’ve been very consistent with your program, Tom. I always want to see the health advice first. So I understand that there may be more health advice in the coming days. I’m not exactly sure if it’s on the National Cabinet agenda for Wednesday or not, but I’m sure if there is a coordinated move where the States and Territories and the Commonwealth can come together and look at these things, then you there would have this discussion. But I don’t really have anything else to add.

CONNELL: Should we take all health advice, have it released publicly, so we can all take a look and have a public discussion about it?

GORMAN: We’re having a public discussion now. Health counseling takes different forms. Obviously we are in a different phase of the pandemic. I understand the New South Wales Premier has a very strong opinion on this. I understand why he has this strong view. But how you kind of reduce these things and change them over time, I don’t want to get ahead of the leaders, the elected leaders of the states, of the territories, yes, the prime minister. These talks will take place over the coming weeks. It was proposed a few weeks ago and people felt like it wasn’t the right thing to do at the time. That may change at some point in the future, but I don’t have much more to add.

CONNELL: All right, well, I guess you said that there’s all sorts of health advice out there, and that goes to show that there isn’t just one view in medicine when it comes to things like this. Last but not least, the Jobs and Skills Summit was compared to the 2020 Summit, which was of course moderated by Kevin Rudd. What were the big positives, the lasting positives, from this summit?

GORMAN: One of the highlights for me was ABC Kids, ABC Three, which I watched with my kids every day. That was an idea put forward at the Summit and that impacts my life every day in relation to something that impacts the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians every day and has dramatically improved the quality of life for Australians. The 2020 Summit did work on the national really set in motion the disability insurance system. That changed people’s lives.

CONNELL: That was an idea before.

GORMAN: Yes, but different things. These events are never the beginning and never the end of a conversation. It’s always about building momentum, getting things going. And I think if you look at some of the articles that came out of that 2020 summit, the other article is about democratic participation. And it’s important over time that people have a say and engage with their governments, whether by attending reviews, whether by attending the local Skills and Jobs Summits that Labor MPs are holding across Australia have to get input for the Summit taking place in Canberra on Thursday and Friday. All of this makes a difference because the policy discussion, the policy development process, never begins and never ends. It’s always going on. And I think you’re looking at that in relation to some of the conversations that are now taking place between a number of employers about the skill mix and migration mix that we need. But yeah, I would say ABC Three, ABC Kids and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, two big accomplishments of the 2020 Summit.

CONNELL: There you go, maybe we wouldn’t have Bluey without him. Thank you Patrick Gorman, we’ll talk about this in a couple of weeks when all of this is done and see what that summit has produced.

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