E&OE - PROOF ONLY
KINGSTON: It’s day two of the Tax Forum in Canberra with today’s focus income tax as well as superannuation. But the GST is still looming over the get together thanks to comments by Liberal backbencher Jamie Briggs. Let’s cross to Finance Minister Penny Wong who is in Canberra this morning.
Senator, thank you for your time.
WONG: Good to be with you.
KINGSTON: Now Jamie Briggs if we could talk about those comments. He says if you go to have a tax forum, like we’re seeing at the moment, an extension of the GST should just be on the table. What is wrong with that?
WONG: Well let’s be clear what Jamie Briggs, this member of the Liberal Party is calling for. He is calling for a tax on food. He’s calling to extend the GST to food, increasing the price of food. Something I am sure struggling families in Australia would not welcome.
It does say something about the values and the priorities of the Liberal Party, calling for a tax on food but opposing an increased tax for our mining companies. It says something about how much fairness matters to the Liberal Party.
KINGSTON: Senator, do you think anything will come out of this two day forum or is it just the Government sort of pretending to listen. Will we get any reform?
WONG: We are listening and it’s been a very, very good discussion. A very constructive discussion. In fact a more constructive discussion than we often get in this place. I think it’s been really useful. And I think it will also help the Government inform its priorities in the years ahead.
KINGSTON: On that point, former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry, he has told the forum that not every tax has to be fair, every reform is opposed by someone out there. How hard do you think it is going to be to make any sort of change at all?
WONG: Reform is hard and it’s made even harder when you have an Opposition Leader who just runs a scare campaign in relation to any reform. When you’ve got an Opposition that’s saying we want lower taxes for miners, we want higher taxes for small business and manufacturers, it shows you that reform is hard.
But one very important thing you can do is do what we are doing over these couple of days. And that’s having a bringing together of people across Australia, so we can get a better shared understanding of what the priorities for tax reform should be.
KINGSTON: And Senator just quickly before you go, the investigation into Craig Thomson by Victoria’s Fraud Squad that’s now underway, we’ve heard reports of that this morning. At what point does the Government stop supporting him?
WONG: I have a very strong view about this and perhaps it’s because I am a lawyer. I think due process has to be observed. There’s an investigation underway and I think politicians should allow that investigation and that consideration to occur free from comment so I certainly don’t intend to comment on it.
KINGSTON: Minister Penny Wong, thank you very much for your time this morning, we appreciate it.
WONG: Good to be with you.