Transcript: Interview with Tim Shaw, 27 April 2017









SUBJECTS: APVMA Relocation, Decentralisation, NBN rollout, 2017 BudgetYassmin Abdel-Magied


TIM SHAW: Gai Brodtmann is the Member for Canberra, she’s on the line. Good morning Gai.


SHAW: And Tim Wilson - two Tims for the price of one. Tim Wilson, Liberal MP for Goldstein is on the line from Melbourne, where it's currently 8 degrees. Tim Wilson, Good morning.


SHAW: I'm very well. We've got Gai Brodtmann, you and I having a chat this morning. Senator Zed Seselja, Tim Wilson - your colleague - is overseas on Parliamentary business. Now listen, Tim you're a Victorian, what do you make of Barnaby Joyce, the leader of the National Party, wanting to rip the heart out of the APVMA and take it to Armidale. What's your reading of this Tim Wilson?

WILSON: Well as a general proposition I support decentralisation and not putting every public service agency in Canberra, particularly when to better serve the community they need to be close to them. Armidale in New South Wales is a nice part of the world but more importantly is connected to a lot of the industries and the sectors that they need to build a relationship with the APVMA to make sure it can serve its purpose and it’s reflective of community needs.

SHAW: You're a great supporter of the amazing work of Robert Menzies. He became Prime Minister of Australia on the 26th April 1939 at the age of 44. And he was the greatest advocate of decentralisation – he made it happen here in Canberra. Can Igive you the figures Tim Wilson – and Gai Brodtmann will back me up on this  38 out of 100 federal public servants work here in Canberra and the other 62 out of 100, guess where they are? In Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. We've already done the decentralisation, Gai - haven’t we?

BRODTMANN: Absolutely. And as you mentioned, Robert Menzies would be turning in his grave with the outrageous and shameless and blatant pork barrel that is the plan to move the APVMA to Armidale. Tim mentioned that it has benefits for the industry - well it doesn’t. 85 per cent of the staff of the APVMA will not be moving to Armidale, so there will be a huge brain drain from that organisation. That's already had a significant impact on approvals – they are down from 82 per cent to 50 per cent. Industry is saying that they're losing business and taking a huge hit in terms of the approval process, so this is an absolutely outrageous idea. 

It's all cost and no benefit. It's currently costing about $26 million and counting. 

It's going to be a huge brain drain for a very important regulatory agency and I underscore the fact that this is a regulatory agency. This is not a service agency. As you mentioned, 60 per cent of government agencies are outside Canberra and they deliver services outside Canberra to people right throughout Australia. 

Menzies vision was to have policy agencies here in Canberra, to have regulatory agencies here in Canberra. The Coalition Government is deconstructing the Menzies vision, deconstructing the Menzies legacy, unpicking that and it's just appalling and outrageous. 

WILSON: I think we need to actually acknowledge the fact that if more public services jobs need to be moved out of Melbourne city, I’m quite relaxed about that.But we should also be moving them to regional centres. The reality is regulators still need to have proximity and relationships with the people that they serve and saying that they can only be based in Canberra is just frankly, a load of bollocks. 

We need to decentralise across the board, not just Canberra.

SHAW: During the Gillard government, Gai Brodtmann, we had the NDIA move out of Geelong. I mean, Labor has done the same thing in the past. 

BRODTMANN: That's a service delivery agency. I'm talking here about policy agencies and regulatory agencies. The National Farmers Federation opposes this move. Croplife opposes this move. Animal Medicines oppose this move. These are the industry associations that work with the APVMA. They are opposed to this move. They realise the inefficiencies this is going to cause for the agricultural industry.

It is a huge contributor to our GDP and so it's a blatant, shameless pork barrelling exercise all designed so the Deputy Prime Minister could win a seat at the last election. Now the latest thought bubble is the decentralisation plan for all other government agencies to move out of town. I mean, what do they want to see? Do they want to see the complete annihilation of Canberra? 

SHAW: Tim, I was shocked.

WILSON: This is just childish. The suggestion that the plan of the Government is a complete annihilation of Canberra is just, there's no other word apart from childish. 

Let's be real, they are government agencies, some of them should be based in Canberra, some should have decentralised functions in other capital cities. Some should be in Perth, some should also have access to, have components of their activity in regional centres as well, because we're not just about Canberra and capital cities - we're about the whole of Australia. 

When it comes to regulators that deal with regulating industry, principally in rural and regional areas, surely they should have some proximity, some connection and some relationship rather than being in a far off distant capital. 

SHAW: Alright you two. Let's move to the budget. Infrastructure is a very important investment. The Treasurer will make his last public speech before the handing down of the budget on 9 May. 

Tim Wilson, now one of the big infrastructure investments of the past LaborGovernment and continued by the Coalition of course is broadband. 

Are you satisfied as member for Goldstein and a member of the Coalition Government about the rollout, speeds and effective performance of the broadband so far? Mitch Fifield's calling it, as Minister for Communications, a great Coalition policy. Are you satisfied it's working well?

WILSON: Well it is working well because what we're actually getting is rollout that's consistent with people's expectations. The problem with what we had under the previous Government was that there was a very high cost model, they wanted to be able to get it at every single home and get connections for homes that would have cost tens of thousands of dollars per home, and the timeframes would have gone on and on and on. 

And while that’s happened, we've had one government policy solution through a National Broadband Network. We haven’t had private sector investment in any existing maintenance of copper wires and the like. So what we've done is try to make sure we actually get the nbn to people’s homes in the timely way so they actually have the internet speeds that people expect of the 21st century. 

SHAW: Gai Brodtmann?

WILSON: Having these proposals simply would have meant longer times for waiting for delivery, slower speeds and it's substantially, not minor, substantially higher costs into the tens of thousands of dollars per household. 

SHAW: Gai Brodtmann? 

BRODTMANN: Well I'm on the NBN Committee and we have been travelling around Australia, speaking to people about what the reality actually looks like and there's a stark difference between the Turnbull vision and the reality on the ground. But my concern is mainly about Canberra and the nbn rollout here. Just a few months ago Canberra was finally put on the nbn rollout map. Until then we were just one big blank space, and we've got suburbs in Canberra, particularly in the south-east part of Tuggeranong where they've got some of the worst speeds, the lowest speeds, upload and download speeds in the country, in the world. They are appalling speeds, we're talking sub 1 megabit per second. 

So I have been campaigning, and I am going to continue to campaign, to ensure that Canberra is prioritised on the nbn rollout map. It's taken us 18 months to actually be put on the rollout map. I’m going to be campaigning hard for us to be prioritised because most of the rollout isn’t happening until the end of next year. And I’m going to be campaigning to ensure we have the best service available because at the moment the plan is for this patchwork of services - fibre to the node, fibre to the curb and fibre to the premises - all in one street. 

We’ve got a patchwork of services that are going to be delivered to the people of Canberra. I'm not happy about that and I'm going to be campaigning to ensure we get an even approach to the technology deployed in the nbn rollout, and also for us to be prioritised. 

SHAW: Tim Wilson, in your maiden speech you called for 20% personal flat tax, company tax and consumption tax. Prime Minister Turnbull's meeting with President Trump in New York next week and President Trump has signalled that he'd like to see major reform of the US tax system. He's talking about 7 tiers of tax down to 3, and he's looking at raising the threshold for US couples to somewhere in the order of $24,200 US dollars. 

We're presently at $18,200 as the tax free threshold. Would you like to call for more work on the tax free threshold from the Treasurer and possibly even raising that threshold in the 2017 budget?

WILSON: Well what we know is that we have an international competitive tax environment. That's the real question in response to Donald Trump's announcement today, but let's wait and see what comes. 

We're obviously going to have to be mindful and considerate of that because if we're going to be attracting the investments to create jobs we're going to have to be competitive as a nation. But what I suggested in my maiden speech, my first speech, that would be my preferred way to deal with these issues but it's got to be graduated, changed to recognise what's happening in the rest of the world and we've also got to take the Australian community forward together. 

The reality is that there is not going to be any, well not that I’m aware of, substantial tax reforms in this budget, I'm not calling on the treasurer to do that but I do think it's something as a country we're going to have to face because international competition is going to force us to do so in the long run. 

SHAW: Yeah. Gai Brodtmann, there's no more money left in the tin. We've got $400 plus billion overdrawn out of the bank and we've got Chris Bowen, in response to the Treasurer on 17 May, at the National Press Club. Any early signals on how Labor is viewing this 2017 budget?

BRODTMANN: We want to ensure that the cuts to Medicare are reversed, effective from budget night. 

We want to scrap those tax handouts to big business and millionaires, what is it? $50 billion worth of tax handouts - $16,000 for all millionaires.

We want to ditch unfair cuts to families and pensioners. We saw in the 2014 budget it was the most vulnerable and those who were doing it tough in the community, low and middle income earners who were targeted. We do not want them targeted in this budget.

We want budget repair that is fair. We want it to focus on local jobs and investment in training in Australia. And we also want the budget to tackle the housing affordability crisis by cracking down on tax breaks for wealthy investors. 

We've come up with a plan for that and we want to see some real action on that. 

SHAW: Gai Brodtmann is the member for Canberra and Tim Wilson is the Liberal MP for Goldstein. Tim Wilson, we read in reports in the Telegraph today about another possible cabinet reshuffle. Would you be putting your hand up for a portfolio Tim Wilson?

WILSON: I'm very happy serving the people of Goldstein who are wonderful but of course if you're given the opportunity to serve whoever is going to turn it down? The critical thing is to make sure if you're in those positions it isn’t just about holding them, it's about doing something important and worthwhile in them. 

And that's exactly what the government is trying to focus on, those people who are ministers trying to drive reform that the country actually needs in focussing on how to build ourselves for the 21st century so that everybody has the opportunity and the dignity of work. That's where our focus is and that's where our focus should be. 

SHAW: To both of you, a young woman Yassmin Abdel-Magied made some unfortunate remarks on social media on ANZACDay

Gai Brodtmann, are you disappointed that a young woman who has represented Australia – particularly in the Middle East and also on the Centenary of ANZAC – are you disappointed by this young woman’s comments on social media?

BRODTMANN: Yes, they were disappointing because ANZAC Day is about the ANZACs. It was a very important day for all Australians. 

It was a time for Australians to not only reflect on the sacrifice that the ANZACs and others have made in various wars that Australia has taken part in over the years, but also to reflect on and remember those who came back wounded and the effect that it had on the families of those who came back wounded and who served. 

So it is a time for reflection. It is a time to acknowledge the contribution made by others, particularly the ultimate sacrifice. It's not appropriate on ANZAC Day to be making those comments. 

SHAW: Tim Wilson?

WILSON: I don’t think anybody would be surprised by those sentiments, I thought what Yassmin said was grossly inappropriate and offensive. Now, she's acknowledged that and has deleted it.

As far as I’m concerned that's the end of the matter and should be a cursory reminder for others who want to use ANZAC Day to advance their political cause that Australian's take a very dim view of that conduct and it shouldn’t be repeated. 

SHAW: I want to thank you both so much for your time this morning. Gai Brodtmann, the member for Canberra, Shadow Assistant Minister for Cyber Security and Defence and Tim Wilson, Liberal MP for Goldstein. Great to have had you both on the program - thanks for your time. 

WILSON: Thanks Tim. 

BRODTMANN: Thanks Tim, and thanks Tim. 



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