TV Interview - Sky News Live - Labor's Plan for a Fairer Taxation System




SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan for a fairer taxation system, the Turnbull Government’s failure on home care packages, foreign affairs

TOM CONNELL: Let’s go live now to Helen Polley, she’s the Shadow Assistant Minister for Ageing. This is an area that obviously broadly takes into effect Labor’s policy- the big one for the week, the big tax policy that’s going to raise $59 billion over ten years. But is it going to cause unrest along the way? Helen Polley thanks very much for your time today. What about this policy – it’s scrapping cash payments for those of course with so called excess franked dividend credits. Are people coming to you and saying they’re going to be affected at the lower end of the income not just the higher end?

Shadow Assistant Minister for Ageing, SENATOR HELEN POLLEY: Good afternoon it’s great to be here with you. The reality is that the majority of the population and in particular pensioners are not going to be affected. What this policy is, is Labor leading the way as we have said we would. Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen have been out on the front foot with all our policies - all we’ve seen is Malcolm Turnbull who has vacated this space is no vision and no narrative. What we’ve done is release this policy and I think it’s good policy and I’ve had some contact into my office but not a lot. I’ve contacted my colleagues and yes there are some people who are wanting to have more information. I think overwhelmingly though what we will find with this policy is that it will make Australia fairer. If somebody hasn’t being paying tax why should they get a tax refund in cash? And let’s face it, some of them, the big high earners are getting $2.5 million.

CONNELL: Some might be, but let’s use another example because you mentioned that not a lot of pensioners are affected. Yes only about 10 percent are but there’s a lot of case studies being sent through not just in the theoretical as well but are actually happening out there. You might have a couple on the part pension, they have a total income of $44,000 a year. I think you wouldn’t argue a lot of money. 10 percent of that in these examples would go with this policy. They’d lose $4,000, it doesn’t sound like a lot of money but it’s 10 percent of their wages though. Are these the type of people you’re supposed to be focussing on?

POLLEY: What we have to do is make sure that we are responsible with our budget and with any new policy. The taxation system has to be addressed in this country and we have put this policy out there and as with all new policies and taxation people obviously have to meet the requirements. There may well be some that will be disadvantaged from that lower end but we haven’t released all our policies yet and I have no doubt whatsoever that those people will be looked after as we continue to release our policies that will all be fully costed before we go to the next election. But let’s not forget that it’s $8 billion that’s returned to people who haven’t paid taxes that’s the real issue. We will always look after these lower income families and pensioners – our history dictactes that. We’re the ones at every opportunity that protects pensioners. We’re not like the Turnbull Government that still wants to cut the energy supplement futher. We will, and I have to explain this to reassure people that they will not be worse off. But what we to do is deliver the education and the health expectations. In my own area of responsibility of aged care – we have a huge blow out of people who can’t get home care packages.

CONNELL: I’m going to get to that next, but you just said that people won’t be worse off. Under this policy you’re saying that the 10 percent of pensioners, once all of Labor’s policies are released, won’t be worse off?

POLLEY: I believe that we will go to the election that will not see people any worse off. As economist Saul Eslake said this week on radio here in Tasmania, you cannot not change the taxation and the budget requirements because the economy changes and we need to have that flexibility. This will be good and this will make Australia a fairer place to raise your family and a fairer place for people who are workers. We always spend more money on education and we always spend more money on health and as I said, we will always look after pensioners.

CONNELL: In terms of not making them worse off I suppose an easy one to look at and it was mentioned in Jenny Macklin’s release- perhaps deeming rates?

POLLEY: We will look at all of those options but what I can assure you just as Bill Shorten has, is that under Labor there won’t be any disadvantage for pensioners, they won’t lose a cent. Those people who do have their shares, their dividends will not be decreased by a cent. What we will do is put fairness into the taxation system which is what the Australian community expect us to do. We’re out on the front foot with this policy and it will prove to be good for the majority of Australians.

CONNELL: We’ll see how it goes down. The home care package report you mentioned came out recently and aims to keep elderly people independent found that a quarter are waiting more than a year for this. Is this just down to money?

POLLEY: It is money and it is also the fact that we don’t have a Minister in the Cabinet and both the Abbott Government and the Turnbull Government turned their back on older people. It is far better for people to be able to age in their own homes with the support that they need, but when a 92 year old man is told he will have to wait 12-18 months for home care that is totally unacceptable. We should be treating the elderly with respect and they should be receiving the support and care they need to age at home.

CONNELL: So Labor would put a position in Cabinet and a figure before the next election about how much more money specifically for the home care packages?

POLLEY: We can’t afford to wait until the next election, older Australians cannot afford to wait and we will continue to put on this government. We need a Minister who can speak up and we want the Prime Minister to intervene. We’ve had three Ministers responsible for this area in the last four years. We need action and we need it now. Many of those waiting have high needs, many have dementia- they cannot afford to wait until 2019 or beyond. We need action now and Labor will continue to put as much pressure as we can on the Turnbull Government to deliver before then.

CONNELL: Just finally, Peter Dutton making comments this week that perhaps we should look at the plight of farmers in South Africa, specifically white farmers that from all the reports are being targeted on race or forced in some cases to leave their farms. Should we look at this group of people to bring out to Australia on humanitarian grounds?

POLLEY: What we should be doing is not racial profiling on the colour of their skin. If the Turnbull Government was really committed to humanitarian resettlement then they would have supported Labor’s plan at the last election to increase that humanitarian intake to 27,000. I’m afraid that this Minister as always has put his foot in his mouth as he does so often and the Australian people can see him for what he is.

CONNELL: But the plight of these people, it’s not racial profiling is it to say that there’s one specific group that might need our help in the same way you might say there’s a specific racial group the Rohingya’s group that might need our help. That’s not racial profiling is it?

POLLEY: That’s what people are telling me since he made those comments. What I’m saying is that everyone should be assessed on humanitarian grounds and that shouldn’t be based on the colour of your skin or which country you’re coming from.

CONNELL: Helen Polley thanks for your time today.


Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra