SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to fund health & education – and balance the Budget




KIERAN GILBERT: This is AM Agenda. With me now, the Shadow Minister for Small Business, Michelle Rowland. You’ve heard a critique from the Government about the Labor party’s negative gearing plan, what do you say to the suggestion that you’re actually going to restrict access to this wealth creation tool to some of your own supporters, people trying to get ahead, first home buyers and so on?

MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURALISM: [audio drop out] … are fallacies and Labor is prepared to prosecute this argument for a substantial and real reform in this area, a significant structural reform because it is based on fairness. We have a situation where 93 per cent of negatively geared properties are in existing housing stock, we have a situation where it’s the top 20 per cent of wealth earning households that enjoy these benefits, and we have a situation where you get more support for providing and buying your eighth, ninth, or tenth property than you do for buying your first property. The only suggestion that this Government has been able to come up with in two and a half years is if you want to get into the housing market, get a better paying job. Well that’s not good enough for us in the Labor Party. We want to see negative gearing work, we want to see it release more housing stock, we want to see the benefits come from that investment in terms of construction jobs, in terms of allowing Australians to realise their dream of home ownership.

GILBERT: But if you wanted it about fairness in negative gearing more focused in the context of fairness, why not just restrict it to the first couple of investment properties beyond the family home? That way you are targeting more specifically those that are able to afford the removal of the negative gearing as opposed to those trying to make it in the first place, trying to buy their first home or first investment property.

ROWLAND: Kieran, there’s two important points here. The first is that under our proposal, these are entirely grandfathered, so if you’ve got an existing property or existing properties that are negatively geared, you won’t be affected. And we are putting it to work, you will still be able to negatively gear your properties as long as it’s in new properties. That way we are also addressing a significant issue of freeing up housing stock. Now the Government may like to poke holes in this, they may like to say that this is something that is going to be detrimental to the economy. Well I’m very happy to bring on that argument and this Government will be exposed as hypocrites.

GILBERT: Okay so this is more about fairness in the context of housing affordability, fairness in that context at the expense of fairness when it comes to negative gearing?

ROWLAND: It’s not at the expense of fairness at all. This is a policy which is of deep structural reform. We need to look at budget repair. This Government talks about budget repair but it has made absolutely no decisions on it. Here we have an Opposition which is putting forward sound policies and we’ve had a Government that has actually been acting like an Opposition. We put forward some months ago our proposal to crack down on high–end superannuation concessions that was railed against by this Government. Now they’ll pick it up and I will not be surprised if Scott Morrison puts forward reforms that he says will work in relation to negative gearing, yet on the other hand he criticises Labor. It’s absolutely hypocritical.

GILBERT: But are you worried that it’s going to have unintended consequences if Labor were to be elected you only apply negative gearing or allow negative gearing for properties that you will restrict access to those properties to first home buyers, investors, buying off the plan for example, it only really encourages wealthy investors to buy those particular properties because of the tax advantage.

ROWLAND: We already know that it’s wealthier investors who are enjoying these benefits. As much as Scott Morrison will like to say that that is not the case, that is not borne out by the facts and I am very prepared to prosecute this argument because it is based on facts.

GILBERT: And just quickly on the poll, a bit of a turnaround for Mr Shorten. Three points in the primary vote, a nudge up there. Not enormous for Labor, Mr Turnbull losing a bit of gloss but not all of it going to Bill Shorten. Is that a worry? Turnbull’s approval rating down 7, Bill Shorten is only up 1 point. Not a lot of the support seems to be going in his direction.

ROWLAND: I think what’s coming through loud and clear here Kieran is that for someone who rolled a first term very successful Prime Minister on the promise that he would be able to be the great communicator and be able to have all these reforms, he has been exposed as nothing more than a waffler. All this talk about being able to deliver, he actually has a divided team, he’s actually had more ministerial resignations and ministries than he’s had tax policies so that speaks volumes for Malcolm Turnbull.

GILBERT: You said Tony Abbott’s been very successful, I think that’s the first time you’ve ever used that phrase.

ROWLAND:  He was successful in the 2013 election, there’s no doubt about that. That’s a fact. Malcolm Turnbull said that this was a Government that had lost its way in terms of economic progress. He was going to turn it around and people have been widely disappointed.

GILBERT: Shadow Minister for Small Business Michelle Rowland, thanks. We’ll talk to you soon.