Peter Costello

Media Transcripts

Private health insurance, Labor's plan to increase income taxes

 

Transcript No. 2000/19

TRANSCRIPT OF
The Hon Peter Costello MP
TREASURER

Doorstop
Nowra
Tuesday, 22 February 2000
12.30 pm

SUBJECT: Private health insurance, Labor’s plan to increase income taxes

TREASURER:

Well, this morning somebody in the Labor Party apparently raised the expectation that Mr Beazley might pay for his promise to guarantee GST revenue to the States by scrapping the Government’s 30 per cent rebate on private health insurance. And Mr Beazley went out on the 3LO programme with Jon Faine this morning, and he ruled out scrapping the 30 per cent private health rebate which the Government has introduced. He can rule that out, but after 30 pages of transcript and 10 opportunities to do so, he can’t rule out income tax rises under the Labor Party. Let me tell you why he can’t rule out income tax rises under the Labor Party. Because it’s Mr Beazley’s intention to keep the GST and to increase income taxes if he ever becomes Prime Minister. 30 pages of transcripts, 10 opportunities to rule out income tax rises under Labor, and he hasn’t taken that opportunity once. Mr Beazley has a plan to keep the GST and to increase income taxes. That has been the Labor plan all along. That is the only way that Labor can fund this promise to roll back GST and guarantee the full revenue from it. It is a plan for income tax rises. Under Labor you get GST and income tax rises. Under this Government we are introducing GST and cutting income taxes so that families are going to be better off as a consequence of tax reform.

JOURNALIST:

Mr Beazley says, he will relieve the tax burden on families Treasurer . . .

TREASURER:

How can he . . .

JOURNALIST:

(inaudible)

TREASURER:

How can he relieve the tax burden on families when he can’t rule out income tax rises. He has got absolutely mutually inconsistent promises out there. He says on the one hand he’ll roll back the GST, and on the second time guarantee every last dollar of revenue it raises. Now he won’t have a wholesale sales tax to get that revenue from. The only place he’ll be able to get that revenue from is by hiking up income taxes. When you hear him say, rollback GST, hear what he’s really saying: hiking up income taxes. Now he’s had 30 pages of transcripts since I raised this question on Friday, he’s been asked directly 10 times to rule out income tax rises, and he studiously refuses to do so. Why does he refuse to do so? Because he wants to do it. He actually wants to increase income taxes. His plan is GST plus income tax rises, that’s the way that Mr Beazley is going to resolve this dilemma which he has created for himself. All of the campaign against GST, as I’ve said all along, was an elaborate cover, because at the end of the day he was so opposed to the GST he wanted to keep it. I gave him a piece of paper in the Parliament, I said to him, if you’re so opposed to it write down your promise to repeal it. He went out and he confirmed he would keep it, he guaranteed the revenue. And when you hear him say, rollback GST, hear what he’s really saying: hike up income tax.

JOURNALIST:

Isn’t the income tax a legitimate fiscal lever that a Government can use?

TREASURER:

Well . . .

JOURNALIST:

So what’s wrong were he to increase them, given that there might be some other elements in this package?

TREASURER:

Well, you’re putting his case for him. He’s probably saying today, yes, he thinks it is legitimate to put up income tax. And if he’s going to do that he ought to tell us the rates, he ought to tell us which people, and we ought to be able to model his tax package. Because I’m sure what it will show you, is people will be worse off. The whole idea of introducing GST was to cut income tax. And what’s Labor policy? Keep GST and put up income tax.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer . . .

TREASURER:

Now, he’s entitled to put up income taxes and I think he ought to be honest with the Australian people, tell them how, how much, how it’s going to be done.

JOURNALIST:

Why Treasurer . . .

TREASURER:

And we’re entitled to argue against income tax rises because we in the Coalition actually believe in lower income taxes. We want to make sure that a family, a family with two children on $40,000 will have $47 a week extra under a Coalition Government. That’s what Mr Beazley wants to take away.

JOURNALIST:

Why should he reveal his policy now Mr Costello, when in 1995 you and Mr Howard were saying you would leave your detailed policies much later, much closer to the election?

TREASURER:

He has revealed his policies now. It’s not a question of why should he, he has. He has revealed his policy.

JOURNALIST:

He’s revealed one point.

TREASURER:

Well, his policy is to keep GST and to fund any changes out of income tax. He has revealed his policy.

JOURNALIST:

That’s a misrepresentation of his policy . . .

TREASURER:

Michelle, I must say to you 30 pages of transcripts, 10 opportunities to rule it out . . .

JOURNALIST:

He’s failed to rule it out . . .

TREASURER:

Well, why do you . . .

JOURNALIST:

. . . he hasn’t said he would do it. There’s a difference.

TREASURER:

If I may say to you, if I may say to you, why would any political leader who doesn’t intend to raise income taxes miss 10 opportunities to say so? Let me, you know, let’s just ask this question. If it was not your intention to raise income taxes, why in 30 pages of transcripts and 10 opportunities, why wouldn’t you say so? I’ll tell you why you wouldn’t say so - he has to leave that door open because it’s the only way he can make good on his promise. He has two completely inconsistent promises out there. One – rollback GST. Two – guarantee every last dollar that the GST raises to the States. They can only be reconciled in one way, and that is by raising income taxes. And if he were against it he would’ve said it, or he would’ve . . .

JOURNALIST:

. . . depends how much he rolls it back . . .

TREASURER:

. . . repealed one or two of those inconsistent promises. I must say to you, Mr Beazley has been a Minister of a Labor Government, I think, for 13 years. I think he is, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he is either the longest serving or the second longest serving, something like that, Labor Minister in Australian federal history. He’s been a Deputy Prime Minister. He’s not some new person on the political stage. He was a Finance Minister. He sat in the Cabinet and was responsible for the federal finances. If Mr Beazley wasn’t in favour of raising income taxes, he would say so. He doesn’t say so because he is in favour of it, and it’s the only way that he can make good his promise.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer . . .

TREASURER:

He’s been campaigning now, let’s just go back, he’s been campaigning now since we released our policy in August of 1998. And he campaigned for several years under the cover of saying, he’s actually opposed to GST. First occasion, the first occasion that he’s asked to give a commitment to roll it back, he says, no, he’s actually going to keep it. The first occasion he’s asked how he’s going to fund the rollback, he guarantees the full money to the States. And then 10 times he’s asked to rule out increasing income taxes, and 10 times he refuses to do it. If he were against raising income taxes, he would’ve said so. You don’t slip up 10 times in a row. You don’t slip up in 30 pages of transcript. Now, we all know Mr Beazley is a good talker, and in 30 pages of talking he’d have managed to do it by now. Thanks very much.

22 Feb 2000

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