Topics: Childcare reforms, multinational tax avoidance, Green Army
Greg Hunt’s the Federal Environment Minister, he’s sitting on the phone saying ‘Oh God don’t talk to me about Paid Parental Leave’.
Good morning Mark. I’m happy to discuss anything.
You do live and learn don’t you?
Oh look, part of the engagement in a democracy is a dialogue and a dialogue is precisely the process of discussion and listening in both directions. People ask whether we have a top-down or a bottom-up system – a real democracy works best when there is a direction set by the leadership after consulting with people, you get feedback and then you try to evolve policies.
The childcare is what people have been asking for, for the last eighteen months and the package which ultimately it’s the Prime Minister and Joe Hockey and Scott Morrison together, as well as the Cabinet, that have been architects of it and in the end, that’s about helping probably 38,000 families without jobs back into the workforce and to improve the ability of about 240,000 families to get more work. And so childcare, more work, more jobs, better quality of life, better situation for kids. So that is probably one of the central themes of the Budget and it’s about having listened.
If Joe Hockey were here now, I think he’d be saying – I tell you what he’d be saying, he’d be saying this –
Who will benefit from a tax cut in this Budget?
Well just wait and see.
No, no, sorry it’s just in the paper that it’s sole traders, it’s small business. Could you give us some more detail please?
Well, what you will see is that we are being very fair and that we are focussed on, in particular, helping small business to get ahead, to have a go.
Yeah ok, that’s happening right now out the front of Parliament House, just in case you wondered. I thought it was a really wonderful announcement, although, you know, there was obviously some detail that was missing yesterday, regarding these multinationals that everyone knows are going to enormous lengths to avoid paying tax and we’re going to have a go at them. I wonder if it’s going to be successful.
Look, I think it will be. Joe led an international consensus last year of G20 Finance Ministers, so twenty of the largest economies in the world, focussing on this idea of effective tax avoidance in the giant online world by companies that are borderless in the current sense. And other countries are looking at it. I know it was a significant theme in the UK that George Osborne, the Treasurer there, took a lead on it.
Australia under Joe has taken the global lead and it’s gaming the contemporary system which when you look at some of the richest companies in the world, they have a duty to contribute back to the societies that are helping them generate, not just profit, but mega profits.
Now we have no problem, and I much prefer companies to be making profits and that is a great and wonderful thing, but part of the deal is, if they do, they should be contributing back to those most in need through their company taxes. And so there is a significant measure on effectively cracking down on multinational profit-shifting and tax-shifting.
Alright, can I focus on some things in your portfolio closer to home for us?
I know that Zed Seselja actually announced a number of things last week. Two Green Army project teams have commenced on the ground work in the ACT and one – can I tell you, one I wanted to focus on was the reconstruction of the Mt Tennent walking track.
Now I’ve not actually got to the top, I’ve gone halfway and I’m looking forward to returning. I think on the day, I think it was a Giants day – a GWS Giants day – and I just didn’t have time. I looked at the clock and I thought, no there is no way I’ll get up and back, but tell me about what’s going on in places like that Mt Tennent walking track.
So we’ve got the two Green Army teams that have just started and they’re the two big projects are working in the ACT parks to improve the natural links and the cultural links and the second one is restoring species and habitat in Mulligan’s Flat and Jerrabomberra wetlands. In particular, part of it is the threatened species rehabilitation but the other element is improving the walking tracks. So in Mt Tennent, there is the reconstruction of the walking track.
It does two things – it makes it more amenable to people, but it keeps them in an area where they have a more enjoyable walk, but they’re not straying off into, sort of bush-bashing through sensitive land. So you get a really good environmental outcome and a better outcome for walkers. Similarly, we’re finishing off the final four kilometres of, also known as the Australian Alps Walking Track, and so improving that walking track.
Again, people get better access, but the bush is better protected and we’re working on a species conservation programme for the bettong which is a beautiful little animal in the Mulligan’s Flat area that I went out and saw with rangers only a couple of months ago. Zed and I went out and had a look at that. So this is young people in the field, work experience. The feedback from around the country has been tremendous and really good environmental outcomes.
So the whole theme of what we’re trying to do is getting people back to work or into their first jobs, whether it’s through the childcare, whether it’s through the Green Army, and then the small business package – which obviously more details will be given about later today – that’s about giving employers the opportunity to bring these people in. So the opportunity to employ and the initiative and the incentive to be employed. That’s really at the absolute heart of what we’re doing today.
Greg, very important day and night for you and your Government. Good luck with it.
Thanks very much. Cheers.