Standing up for Canberra

Transcript: Gai to Zed with Tim Shaw

SUBJECTS: Tax cuts for medium business, repeal of the Andrews Bill, Huawei and the 5G Network, Newstart Allowance, ovarian cancer.

TIM SHAW: Senator Zed Seselja was to join us this morning in our regular segment, Gai to Zed. Unfortunately Senator Seselja has some issues he needs to deal with this morning, and I'm really delighted that Tim Wilson, Member for Goldstein - Liberal MP from Victoria - goes head-to-head with Gai Brodtmann. I'm delighted to welcome Gai and Tim. Welcome back both of you.

TIM WILSON, MEMBER FOR GOLDSTEIN: Thanks Tim.

GAI BRODTMANN, MEMBER FOR CANBERRA: Morning Tim.

SHAW: Great to have your company. Gai Brodtmann, do you agree and do you support your leader in the winding back of tax cuts for medium business that he announced this week.

BRODTMANN: We’re continuing to consider businesses up to $10 million turnover, but we've always been crystal clear Tim, that we put schools and hospitals ahead of tax cuts for big business and the banks - the $80 billion worth of tax cuts to big business and the big banks.

SHAW: Gai, I asked you specifically, do you support Bill Shorten's position when he said yes to the winding back of tax cuts for medium business? And I remind you that you're a former small business person yourself.

BRODTMANN: Yes I am, and a proud former small business person. As I said, we're continuing to consider these businesses up to [$10] million dollars turnover. 

SHAW: So the Leader was wrong to announce to the media, the policy of the Australian Labor Party was to repeal already law, tax cuts for small business?

BRODTMANN: There have been internal discussions on this issue and those discussions continue. We will continue to consider whether those businesses up to $10 million turnover should be addressed.

SHAW: Tim Wilson, the Prime Minister nailed it - literally - here in Canberra. He visited a small business, but it does turnover $10 million or more. He had a nail gun in his hand. It is a company that builds roof trusses for homes to be built all over Australia. I spoke to Mr Potter, a director of the company. He has welcomed and supported the reduction in company tax for his business, and is devastated at the announcement that Labor may repeal that law. What's your message to Canberran businesses that are being screwed on electricity prices here in Canberra, because of a one hundred percent renewable energy guarantee requirement of the ACT Greens/Labor Coalition, plus the increases in rates? These tax cuts are getting gobbled up. What's your message to Canberrans businesses? Should they go and set up a business in New South Wales or Victoria?

WILSON: What everyone should always do, is focus on business where there is opportunities. When it comes down to it, these tax cuts are designed very clearly to put money back into the pockets of businesses so they can invest and grow. So hopefully they can have a business in the ACT, and Victoria and NSW as part of a growth strategy to employ more people, to create new job opportunities for Australians. That's what's so devastating about the announcement by Bill Shorten, to go out there without consultation of his own Party, and say he's going to repeal these tax cuts. We've just heard on the radio this morning from Gai Brodtmann, there is division within the Opposition, there isn't clarity within the Opposition about whether this even is their position, and whether even Gai supports it. All this does is feed in ambiguity and a lack of confidence in small businesses who are trying to grow.

SHAW: Leaders of political parties, Malcolm Turnbull in your case, Michael McCormack for the Nationals, Bill Shorten, aren't they entitled to be able to tell it it to us from the heart? They are, after all, the Leader. The Leader in your case has suggested that Coalition MPs might be able to vote on conscience in repeal - possibly - of the Andrew's Bill. Has that been discussed in the Party Room, Tim Wilson?

WILSON: That doesn't need to be discussed in the Party Room. It's a standard long practice that, on matters of conscience, Liberal MPs get a free vote in the Parliament consistent with their conscience - particularly on matters of life and death. It's exactly the same as how John Howard operated when the legislation to stop the ACT and the Northern Territory from being able to introduce euthanasia laws in 1997 went through. This is a straight forward proposition, and we have always had a conscience vote, and we should always continue to do so.

SHAW: Gai Brodtmann, I know it's tough - I really know it's tough - but you are a Member of the Australian Labor Party, you're denied that right to cross the floor. Particularly for Canberra businesses, if Bill Shorten as Prime Minister, and the front bench in Government, decided to repeal those small business taxes that have been applied by the Coalition Government, would you be prepared to cross the floor to support those Canberra businesses with lower taxes?

BRODTMANN: Tim, I'm not going to speculate on any of that. The conversations are still being had within the leadership group. We're going to take our time to consider this issue, and we will be making an announcement once those considerations have been made.

SHAW: I appreciate both your candour on that matter. The National Press Club of Australia Address yesterday by the Huawei Chairman, Retired Rear Admiral, John Lord - was as shocked as many to read, that four senior Australian officials have already flagged, that Huawei will be excluded from the 5G Generation Wi-Fi and Telecommunications Network. Gai Brodtmann, Tim Wilson, do you believe that national security is always ahead of foreign companies and telecommunication matters? Gai Brodtmann.

BRODTMANN: 5G is going to be transformative for our nation. It is a game changer in many ways - so we need to get it right - and a decision on 5G needs to be made with advice from our national security agencies. When we were in government this is what we did, and it is a fundamental piece of critical infrastructure - an absolutely, vitally important piece of critical infrastructure that will be transformative. So that's why we need to get it right, and we need to seek advice from our national security agencies.

SHAW: Tim Wilson, three of the five, Five Eyes nations - including New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom - have all accepted Huawei technologies 5G Network. The Prime Minister said yesterday he will not comment publicly on matters regarding Huawei and national security. If three of the Five Eyes say yes, why isn't Australia saying yes to Huawei technologies? Tim Wilson.

WILSON: First I want to answer your earlier question, which is does national security come first? The answer is yes. These sorts of decisions are informed by our intelligence agencies based on how situations evolve. Huawei Technologies are involved in other parts of the telecommunications network. What happens with 5G is you get a much greater integration between the software and the hardware of telecommunications - which means having a single contributor or player in building the network exposes greater risks - and we have to make decisions based on what the intelligence agencies tell us, and that situation also evolves. Because some countries have done it, doesn't mean they'll keep doing that way if they had the time again.

SHAW: To you both - Huawei were blocked from participating in the NBN, and you ended up with single supplier. Tim Wilson, what's different here with 5G?

WILSON: The difference in this case is the NBN was built by Australian contractors as part of an Australian Government project, whereas Huawei is a foreign company - and I'm not somebody who normally beats up on foreign companies, and that's not my intention - but when you have such an integration of software and hardware, and there is direct links back to a country who - I guess you'd have to say - always has national security concerns, particularly when they become a monopoly service provider, you've got to be able to look at the risks and make sure we're protecting Australians. That's a decision informed by intelligence agencies and I'm happy to accept their council.

SHAW: I understand. And it's okay for Chinese-Singaporeans to own one hundred percent of Optus Communications? Tim Wilson on that thesis.

WILSON: That's not a monopoly, that's part of the competitive framework. As I said, there is a critical difference between 3G, 4G and 5G, about the degree of integration and the technology, and that's where people are raising their concerns. I would be listening to security agencies as well as telecommunication experts on this.

SHAW: Thank you. Gai Brodtmann, the Newstart allowance is $273 a week for a single with no children, is that enough? Gai Brodtmann.

BRODTMANN: Labor has been crystal clear that it is challenging for people to live off Newstart, and it's not helped when you've got MPs saying they can live on $40 a day. So it is challenging to live off Newstart, which is why the Government's attempt to beat up those on Newstart, on almost a daily basis, is not helpful.

SHAW: Tim Wilson, $273 Newstart - single with no children - is it enough?

WILSON: It will never be enough for the challenges facing a family, and part of the challenge is what people have to do, to go off and get a job. The point about Newstart has always been that it is a trampoline; it is not designed to encourage people to stay in that situation. Firstly, Gai didn't really give an answer, and on top of that, MPs aren't running around saying they can live on $40 a day, they're saying it is technically possible. They're saying it is difficult and challenging, because the objective of Newstart is not to encourage people to stay on it. More than 90 percent of people who get Newstart actually get more payments or contributions either at a state and a federal level to support them. So the idea of people living on $40 a day is almost a misnomer.

SHAW: Gai Brodtmann, in Canberra - 18 to 35 year olds - there's about 2,000 Canberrans living on that - or trying to live on - $273 Newstart allowance, single with no children. Should we double it for six months, Gai Brodtmann? Give them six months to get a job, to get some retraining; is that a kind of incentive? Thought bubble today for the Party Room and for the Caucus. Gai Brodtmann, would you take to the Caucus, doubling for that 18 - 35 group, the Newstart for six months, to give them a chance to really get ahead, get to those working appointments, after six months no more Newstart?

BRODTMANN: This is a complex issue Tim, so simplistic solutions aren't the answer here. We need to look at the options and access to education - that is vitally important. The vast bulk of jobs in the future will require either a TAFE qualification or a tertiary degree. So we need to be ensuring we're providing access to education for those who are seeking jobs so they can actually meet the jobs of the future, so they can be marketable for the jobs of the future - that would be my focus. It's not helped that we've seen in Canberra, a reduction in apprenticeships and traineeships of 42 percent under this Government.

SHAW: Simplistic, Tim Wilson. CIT are graduating outstanding apprentices here - ACT Government initiative. Is it too simplistic to suggest, you're 18 to 35 - you're a young, fit, single individual with no children - we'll double your Newstart, just go and get a job and in six months’ time you'll have that job. The Government's not there to get the job for you, you go out and get the job. Too simplistic?

WILSON: It's not too simplistic, but there will also be people who need extra assistance and will face extra challenges, but those who are able to secure work should do so. The reality is, people should never turn down jobs that might be the first foot in the door. If you go back to my experience, my first job was delivering newspapers and I was a waiter, I delivered timber around timber sites. You never know where life is going to take you, but the most critical thing is putting yourself out there, and taking a risk. You never quite know what's going to come from it. The enjoyment and satisfaction that comes from work will always be far greater than what happens when you're dependent on tax payers of the nation for your livelihood. Time is the scarcest thing we all have Tim, and you don't want to waste it by not being in employment, being in a job.

SHAW: Gai Brodtmann, three out of four women diagnosed with breast cancer survive. Three out of four women diagnosed with ovarian cancer die. We had Jill Emberson - diagnosed with ovarian cancer - and Nicole Livingstone from Ovarian Cancer Australia at the National Press Club last week. Do we need to put the ovaries back into overs? Get the same profile for ovarian cancer as we have for breast cancer, very much delivered through Cricket Australia and the wonderful McGrath Foundation campaign. How do we get more women to be sensitive and aware that they could be living with ovarian cancer?

BRODTMANN: Firstly I would like to thank the National Press Club and the National Press Club board for allowing Jill and Nicole to do the Press Club Address last week, it was terrific to get women's health issues discussed on the national scale. As an Ovarian Cancer Ambassador, ideally there would be the same level of awareness that we have with breast cancer. So I want to use this opportunity Tim if you don't mind, to explain the four symptoms of ovarian cancer - 

SHAW: I really would love to do it Gai, but I've got sixty seconds or less - 

BRODTMANN: I'll just underscore the fact that you cannot detect it from a pap smear.

SHAW: $12 million pledged by Labor, and you cannot detect it from a pap smear. Tim Wilson just finally, do we need to put the ovaries back into overs, and get that same profile to protect the women we love in our lives from ovarian cancer?

WILSON: In short, it's always good to do so. We should also recognise, many years ago breast cancer wasn't a high profile awareness. It's because we've tackled those issues and we've raised the profile that we can move onto other cancers, and yes ovarian cancer is a critical part of that as well. Particularly for our mums, our sisters and our daughters.

SHAW: Nieces, aunts, every one - 

WILSON: Nieces - every woman in our life we love.

SHAW: Absolutely. Gai Brodtmann, Tim Wilson, thank you both so much for your time on 2CC Breakfast this morning.

WILSON: Thanks Tim.

BRODTMANN: Thanks Tim.

SHAW: Thank you Gai Brodtmann, Federal MP for Canberra, Shadow Assistant for Cyber Security and Defence, and Tim Wilson, Liberal MP for Goldstein. Thank you Tim Wilson for stepping in for Senator Zed Seselja this morning.