January 25, 2024
PETER STEFANOVIC: Let's bring in the Shadow Home Affairs Minister, James Paterson, for his thoughts this morning. James, the government seems unapologetic at this stage about breaking a major election promise as they gathered at the Lodge last night to vote for it unanimously. Your thoughts on the tax changes this morning?
JAMES PATERSON: Well, the very least that the Australian people deserve is an apology from the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, for lying to the Australian people repeatedly. They didn't just take this to the election. They promised on more than 100 occasions that Australians would have the tax cuts delivered as they were legislated, which the Labor Party voted for when they were put to the parliament. The Prime Minister even said that his word is his bond and the stage three tax cuts, and his commitment to it is evidence of that. So the real question for the Australian people is how can you trust anything that the Prime Minister or the Treasurer or any Minister, or Labor MP, Senator, promises to you at the next election? If you're a voter in the Dunkley electorate and are about to have a by-election where no doubt lots of commitments will be made, how can you trust any commitment they make? If they break this commitment, which they promised 100 times, they're willing to break any commitment in order to do what's necessary for them.
STEFANOVIC: It's central argument in this instance James, is that times have changed. Is that fair enough?
PATERSON: What if that is true, times did not change this week. We've had a cost of living crisis in this country for years, and the Prime Minister's only recently discovered that, he spent the first 18 months of his term obsessed with dividing Australians with the voice in our constitution. And he's only belatedly discovered that there's a cost of living crisis, perhaps coincidentally, because there is a by-election coming up, where there are a lot of Australians who are struggling with the cost of living. That is not an excuse. Those circumstances did not recently change. And in any case, when the Prime Minister was asked before the election, are there any circumstances in which you would change this commitment he himself said no. A change circumstances are not an excuse, they are not a get out of jail free card. The Prime Minister lied. The Treasurer lied. every Labor MP and Senator lied.
STEFANOVIC: I asked Susan Ley this question yesterday, but would you be inclined to roll these changes back if you win the next election, James?
PATERSON: Well, we don't even have the details of these changes yet. It's been briefed to the media in a quite a sneaky and cowardly way, the government hasn't actually released them transparency and we'll look at the details. But Pete, we are the Liberal Party, we look for the opportunity to lower taxes at every opportunity for every Australian. We just don't believe you should break an election commitment to do so. So we'll look very carefully at this and we'll announce our own tax policies in good time before the next election.
STEFANOVIC: Politically, are you outmanoeuvred here? I mean, this helps more people than it hurts.
PATERSON: Well, I don't think lying should ever be excused, regardless of the number of people that may benefit on paper. Although with this government, you just can't have any confidence. How do we even know that these tax cuts will stay in place? How do we know they won't change these after the next election when they have the next opportunity? They lied before. They will lie again. This is not a government you can trust.
STEFANOVIC: Treasury and the PM has got a point to this today, James, we'll have to wrap it here. But Treasury is seeming to indicate that it's not inflationary. This money that will be passed on to those at the lower end who traditionally spend and not save. Do you have any reason to disagree with that?
PATERSON: Well, the main reason to disagree is Labor's track record in government so far. We will not take them on trust when it comes to forecasts like this. Inflation has been higher for longer than it should have, it's now one of the highest in the developed world because this government is addicted to spending. Because it can't help but do things like spend half a billion on a voice to divide our country, so we don't take their assurances at face value. This will be interrogated as it should be.
STEFANOVIC: Even if it's from Treasury, though?
PATERSON: Well, the Treasury's forecasts, unfortunately, have also been wrong, particularly under this government, and so we can't take those forecasts at face value. They said inflation would have fallen further by now, and it hasn't, it remains high, and Australians are really struggling. And so we won't take these predictions at face value.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. James Paterson, good to chat as always. We'll talk to you soon.