Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB Radio - Wednesday 10th May 2023

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Topics: Budget 2023


RAY HADLEY: We have the Opposition spokesman on Treasury matters, Angus Taylor online from our offices in Canberra. Angus good morning to you.

ANGUS TAYLOR: G’day Ray, thanks for having me.

RAY HADLEY: Nice to catch up with you again. Now, I don't know if you heard my earlier comments, but I said, the real judge of whether this is sort of going to control inflation will come next month when the of course, the bank, the Reserve Bank meets, and it wouldn't matter what you say today or what I say or what the Treasurer said last night or you say in your budget reply along with Peter tonight, Peter Dutton tonight, the real judge of this will be the Reserve Bank. Am I reading that rightly?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, it's one and of course, we got a big surprise, a big wakeup call from the Reserve Bank just last week, where they increased rates against the expectations of the so-called experts in the markets. And that's a lot of pain for people. And the real risk here is that we have inflation and interest rates that go stronger for longer. And whether the Reserve Bank raises interest rates this time or not. The fear is that we're going to have high interest rates for an extended period of time. And the real challenge for this budget was to deal with that. To deal with those pressures that Australia and Australians are facing. And we think, of course, it fails to help those hardworking Australians trying to get ahead. That had to be the objective of the budget. The one thing in this budget that would have helped all Australians, doesn't matter who you are, is a budget that took pressure off inflation, and took pressure off interest rates, and it fails on that test, because it's an inflationary budget. That's not what we needed. Inflation is different from other problems governments face, if you're throwing money at inflation, it makes it worse. Labor has committed over $185 billion of additional spending since it got into government. It loves to do this and that's not what we need when we need interest rates coming down, and inflation coming down.

RAY HADLEY: So, in other words, you're agreeing that by all accounts, the Reserve Bank in June and then July and August, will almost have to increase interest rates, because you're saying this is just inflationary?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, I'm not going to predict what the Reserve Bank will do. I think the fear is that whether the Reserve Bank raises interest rates or not, we're going to have higher interest rates for longer. That's the concern. And, you know, if you're a family now, with a mortgage, you're a typical family with a mortgage, you're $25,000 a year worse off than you were a year ago. I mean, that's just extraordinary pressure on Australian families, and those people are being left behind in this budget. Albanese said he's not going to leave Australians behind, well middle Australia and those hard-working mortgage holders, tradies and apprentices, self-funded retirees, farmers who have been hit with a new tax, truckies who have been hit with the new tax.

RAY HADLEY: Six per cent for the truckies.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Exactly. These are all people who have been left behind in this budget, and they are the engine room of Australia, those people.

RAY HADLEY: We haven't had enough time to cover it all, but the truckies right and they're screaming the joint down and the representatives on their behalf are saying it. But at the end of the day, they won't get it in the neck, they'll pass on the costs for bringing goods from you know, ports, to retail outlets or wholesale outlets. The end user will be the person who will eventually pay somewhere between six and 10 per cent more to cover the costs that the truckies have had imposed on them by the federal government.

ANGUS TAYLOR: That's exactly right. So, you got a farmer’s tax here on every cow and sheep they sell. You’ve got a truckies tax here and of course that will be passed on. You know, if you want prices to come down for something, you don't tax it more. Labor doesn't seem to understand this. They want to tax everything, but worst of all, they want to spend that money. They're spending $2 in this budget for every $1 of new revenue they're getting, and that's inflationary. So, the pain that people are feeling out there at the moment is extra inflation. Of course, real wages are not expected to increase in this election cycle over three years. And they're feeling pain also because they're paying more tax as their incomes go up to try to keep up with inflation. They get pushed up into higher tax brackets and they're paying higher taxes, let alone the additional taxes that we just talked about that Labor's imposing.

RAY HADLEY: The Treasurer spoke to my colleague, Ben Fordham this morning and they made a lot about this $1.5 billion in federal energy bill subsidies and boosted rent assistance payments, $3.6 billion to support vulnerable households and the rest of it, but when Ben questioned him about you know comparing it with the $275 reduction we heard from the Prime Minister when he was Opposition Leader, the Treasurer then revealed this morning this will be a one off payment of $500 to those vulnerable households during winter, for one year. So, it's not beyond and I don’t know whether they’re meaning this winter or maybe next winter as opposed to this winter. But whatever winter, it may be in 23, or 24. It's one winter, it's one winter. I don't know what they think that the air conditioners don't get turned on in summer. But it's one winter. So, for people who are jumping up and down, the devil is always in the detail. The devil is in the detail.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Exactly right. So, here's the reality. Labor promised this electricity price reduction. In fact, we now know from the numbers that are in the budget, for this term of Parliament, this three-year period, electricity prices on a typical bill will be going up around $500. So that's the outcome. That's a broken promise. It's part of that real pain that's been felt by the Australians, you'll have many listeners out there who feel worse off than they felt a year ago, Ray. And this is part of it. There's more to it than this, but it's an important part of it. You know, mortgage is going up, electricity prices going up, but also the price of everything going up and I don't think there's anything in this budget that's going to deal with the source of those problems. There's no point putting a band aid on a bullet wound and giving handouts with one hand and then taking back with the other with inflation and taxes. And yet, that's what this budget is. It's a budget that's not for all Australians, there could have been a budget for all Australians, which is one putting downward pressure on inflation and interest rates.

RAY HADLEY: Well, I mean, they were told by their advisory committee that the JobSeeker needed to go up by a massive amount, a massive amount that they've taken some middle ground and said $40 bucks a fortnight although if you're over 55, as opposed to 60 you get closer to $100 bucks extra fortnight. And there was, I don't know if you saw it or not, there was a story on 730 report, two nights ago about a couple who seem to be the go to couple about, you know, we are really hard done by. We live here on the Sunshine Coast. We can't get a quid out of this, and it's revealed that Mark and his partner who have a 15-year-old daughter with special needs, she’s on carers pension. He's on, Mark’s on JobSeeker to supplement his income because he works a few hours a week and I did a bit of research. He's on the Sunshine Coast, he says I can't get a job. He's a qualified chef. Even going to one employment outlet. I found 231 jobs on the Sunshine Coast. Pretty close to where he lives. Given that he has a care, and she has a care, they both can travel. 231 jobs for either a cook or a chef. Now that would indicate to me that someone's not fair dinkum, how many other people aren't fair dinkum, about actually getting a job, particularly as we keep, I know you can't live on that. But if you're, you know, working part time, and it's supplementing your income, it's supposed to be there for an emergency. It's supposed to be there until you get a job. How many long term, unemployed are on job seeker? And I recognize that some people will never get a job. But of the of the people on it, what percentage are capable of working and never will work?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, Ray. It's a good question. I know. We want the very best for people looking for a job. But let me tell you, the very best for someone looking for a job is to find a job. And here are the facts. Right now. We've got over 430,000 job vacancies. Now that's almost double what we'd ever seen before. And you only have to walk down the main street of any town or suburb right now. And you'll see as you go past the windows of the retailers, workers wanted in the window, signs up looking for people to work in those businesses. And there's no conversation you have more often than with small business people around those areas nowadays, than ‘I can't get the workers I need.’ Now to get people into work, you won't get $40 a fortnight extra, they'll get many times that extra. This is the right answer. And Labor can’t see this and I'm gob smacked by this one because it's so it's so clear and obvious. You know, nothing changes someone's life more for the positive than getting a job. Now, that's got to be the focus.

RAY HADLEY: I know those on the left hate mining, they hate coal. They hate the fact that they have to grudgingly admit that it brings in a lot of money, in terms of our exports. But there's a story last night by John Kehoe writing in the Australian Financial Review. I don't know if you've seen it yet, record personal income tax paid by workers and booming corporate tax underpinned by fossil fuel exports is delivering $152.6 B for billion revenue boost to the budget, over five years compared to the forecast seven months ago. For the first time, strong jobs growth and rising wages will push personal income tax receipts above $300 billion by next year. More than 50 per cent of total Commonwealth tax revenue will be paid by individual taxpayers in 23-24 according to Treasury. Now, your former colleague, of course, Tony Abbott, and the first time I met you was Tony Abbott’s home many years ago. He's talking about the lifters as opposed to the leaners. The lifters are those working in that industry, which is despised by the left, by the Greens and Labor. And here they are tipping in billions of dollars to the economy.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well, this industry is the goose that's laying the golden egg for Labor, at a windfall just this year alone, over 80 billion and many times that across the medium term, as you rightly just said a moment ago. And yet meanwhile, they're attacking these industries, coal and gas, with a whole series of regulations failing to make approvals, carbon tax, additional taxes, you name it, and this is the goose that's laying the golden egg. Now, you know, that's a real concern to me. Some people don't love those industries, but they have been very good for Australia. And, you know, I think those export industries, and it's not just, it's not just our commodity exporters on the mining side, our farmers have been contributing a lot lately, too. And that is a good thing. These are industries that we should be encouraging. And we see the benefit of 10 years of working hard to encourage these industries in what's coming through in these windfalls now, but Labor's taking the budget over a cliff Ray, let's be clear. They're doing alright this year, and then they’ll go back to budget deficit, big budget deficits over the next couple of years. And our concern here is that that's adding to inflation and it's going to add to the cost pressures that Australians are facing and seeing which is so acute right now.

RAY HADLEY: I can only assume given the Treasurer is a Queenslander, that prior to doing all of this he rang Anastasia Palaszczuk and said, listen, I want to just steal some ideas from you about public servants. What do I do? And Anastasia said, well, what we've done up here. We’ve put tens of thousands of more on and then they vote for us. What a good idea. So, I pick up the paper today, the Government plans to hire almost 11,000 extra public servants in 23-24, an increase of 6 per cent, excluding military personnel, the ranks of the Canberra Public Service have had to swell from 181,000 to a figure of 191,000, an increase of 5.96 per cent. Staffing levels at the Department of Climate Change, of course, Energy, Environment and Water, set to increase by more than 60 per cent. While the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations gets a significant boost as well. So, it's the Queensland formula being followed now by the Federal Government. Let's have more public servants.

ANGUS TAYLOR: It's absolutely right. So more than 10,000 new public servants, as you said, and as you put aside those in national security and frontline services, that's a lot of cost being added to the budget. New agencies being created, like the EPA and the NetZero Authority. I mean, these are things that can be done by government departments, you don't need to set up expensive new agencies. There's also $8.6 billion in foreign aid outside of the Pacific that's being added in this budget. I mean, these are spending items that are not right for Australia right now. And that's on top of the fact that there’s a budget adding 1.5 million new immigrants over the next five years. Now, there's a certain amount of immigration that's good for this country, but are we ready to accommodate right now, 1.5 million immigrants over the next few years. You know, there's some really serious questions about these plans, big spending plans for a bigger Australia. I've got to say, Ray, I don't think the country is ready for that.

RAY HADLEY: Okay. I might have mentioned the budget reply. It'll be tomorrow night the budget reply, tomorrow night and we'll look forward to that and we appreciate your time. Thanks, Angus.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Good on you.