Interview with Greg Jennett - ABC News

The Hon David Coleman MP
Assistant Minister for Finance




Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Company Tax Cuts, Australia’s banking industry, Banking Royal Commission, Cricket scandal

Greg Jennett: Well David Coleman welcome. The Government has gone into what at least will be a 5-week retreat now on company tax negotiations in the Senate. If they can't get the numbers now, what changes over five weeks?

David Coleman: It's not a retreat at all Greg, it’s just an acknowledgement of the reality that we still need two more votes. We're deeply committed to getting these company tax cuts through the Senate because we know when you give business more tools with which to invest they invest more and employ more people. That's very important for the economy. Obviously we made the statement yesterday that we didn't have the numbers to get it through the Senate this week. But we are very committed to lower taxes in contrast to Bill Shorten who's a tax addict and who never misses an opportunity to slug Australians. We'll continue to press on.

Greg Jennett: As we understand it Mathias Cormann threw the virtual kitchen sink at Tim Storer and Derryn Hinch and still couldn't get them across the line. Will it take more, is this tax cuts at any cost?

David Coleman: I’m obviously not going to comment on those negotiations with individual Senators, Greg, but what I will say is we are very committed to getting these tax cuts through the Senate and we will continue to work away at that and we have obviously said we'll seek to bring that back in the next sitting of Parliament.

Greg Jennett: Equally if you can't get this passed in the life of this Parliament, do you think the Coalition should keep this on its books all the way through another election campaign cycle and another Parliament?

David Coleman: Obviously these numbers are in the forward projections in the budget and we’ll continue to seek to get these tax cuts through the Parliament. They need to be passed through the Parliament because there are a huge number of businesses who employ millions of Australians who are currently disadvantaged, relative to their international peers. The bottom line here, Greg, is we have been extremely successful in creating jobs. We have had the largest amount of job creation in the last 12 months in Australian history, ever, and a significant part of that has been business confidence, part of that has been the reduction in company tax for those smaller companies. But we want to extend that more broadly throughout the economy. We have seen huge benefits in job creation already and we'll see more benefits once these cuts are passed.

Greg Jennett: Alright. Moving on from that, we have a banking Royal Commission up and running now, and in a previous role you were the head of the House Economics Committee. Nothing ever came out at your committee hearings quite like Commissioner Hayne is hearing. Do you concede now that the House committee wasn't as effective as people like the Prime Minister said it would be when you hauled chief executives in front of it?

David Coleman: Not at all, Greg, and I think the work we did in that committee was extremely valuable. The proof in the pudding of that is the Government is implementing the vast majority of the committee's recommendations.

Greg Jennett: But the rogue conduct such as it's being exposed right now was never volunteered by the chief executives when they fronted your committee was it?

David Coleman: It’s correct to say it wasn’t volunteered but it's not correct to say it wasn't discussed, it was discussed at some length. Particularly in the wealth management divisions in the banks, there's been a series of completely unacceptable forms of behaviour and those were covered in great detail. So, yes, if you look at the outcomes of that committee process, we're also introducing of course an open data regime, which will be good for consumers in getting cheaper products from banks. The other really important thing that came out of the committee was the fact that in the last decade there had only been one new licence issued for a new start-up Australian bank. Again going to that issue of lack of competition. So we're changing the laws around starting a bank to make it easier for banks to get off the ground and very shortly we'll start to have new licences issued for new start-ups and that's a good thing because it means competition, which is good for consumers.

Greg Jennett: On a final note David Coleman, in a former life you were a media executive and we're all watching the saga gripping the cricket sport at the moment. Do you assess that at least in a television rights point of view, the brand, the value of cricket is in decline right now?

David Coleman: Look, obviously this has been an incredibly disappointing episode. The Australian cricket team has a special place in the heart of Australians. It's, I guess, the only sport that is played in every single part of Australia, and you think about the kids who look up to the Australian cricket team, and think about what they have learnt in the last few days, it's really disturbing. Cricket Australia obviously is responsible for taking action on that. And, look, obviously not all the players were involved but it clearly reflects very poorly on those who were.

Greg Jennett: They're certainly going to be criticised heavily for it all round. David Coleman, for your thoughts today, thanks so much.

David Coleman: Thanks Greg.

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