Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
Date: Tuesday, 29 March 2022
David Koch: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will hand down the Federal Budget later today, outlining the Coalition's economic plan in the face of the rising cost of living. Economists say that despite increasing inflation and low wage growth, the economy is doing really well and the best thing to do right now is to leave it alone. Joining me now, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham. Minister, as we heard from Craig James a little earlier. It's a really tricky time because you can't splash too much cash because that will feed into inflation, which will feed into higher interest rates.
Simon Birmingham: Kochie, it is a tricky time. You know, globally we've got the aftershocks of COVID. We've got the war in Ukraine and Europe. We've got the circumstance of China's continuing assertive and trade hurting actions. And, of course, what we're going to hand down tonight is a budget that deals with these global circumstances, but also an Australian economy that's outperforming all the other major developed economies. That's seen unemployment surged down to 4.4% already and is forecast to go even lower. And this will really be a plan to try to ensure our long term economic future as well as address those short term pressures we're seeing in cost of living that are the factor of some of those international events like the oil price surge.
David Koch: Would you be doing things differently in this budget if there wasn't an election looming?
Simon Birmingham: No, Kochie. This is all about building on the plan that we've handed down in the last two budgets. We said that once we secured the economic recovery from COVID, we'd move to budget repair and people will see the proof of that tonight that we are bringing down the rate of government payments by the largest levels in close to 50 years. We're banking savings to repair the budget bottom line, but we also see real pressures in Australian households from petrol prices, from inflationary pressures from overseas. And so it's only appropriate that with the strong economy we've got, we give Australians that bit of a helping hand to deal with these temporary pressures we're seeing, and they'll be very targeted and very responsible measures that we deliver to them.
David Koch: Because it's funny, isn't it? Australian households have never been richer because their house and their superannuation and. But you can't eat your super in your house can you? So prices are going up and wage growth is still low. And when will you get wage growth up do you reckon?
Simon Birmingham: The budget will show a clear trajectory that is a positive one for wages growth. And that should give Australians confidence that on top of the income tax cuts that we've already delivered in two stages and a third stage to come if our government is re-elected, that's all about ensuring Australians have extra disposable income in their pockets. But we know these pressures right now are real. And so it's about responding to the temporary spikes we're seeing caused by pressures out of Europe and elsewhere, doing that effectively to help Australians, but also building that long term ability for Australians to keep getting ahead. And our reforms are going to see around 90% of Australians pay no more than $0.30 in the dollar top marginal tax rate. That's a very positive reform agenda, but we're taking the careful steps through it.
David Koch: All right, Simon Birmingham, good luck with the budget tonight. Thanks for joining us.