E&OE…

Kieran Gilbert

To get some reaction to some of things we know that Bill Shorten’s talking about this morning.  Liberal Frontbencher, Zed Seselja is with me.  One of the points that he is making very strongly this morning is a defence of Labor’s progressive approach to the Medicare Levy.  They are saying that things have changed quite dramatically since they supported an across the board increase four years ago.

Senator Zed Seselja

Well that’s obviously a radical change to how the Medicare Levy is being seen, Kieran.  Because the Medicare Levy since it was introduced in the 1980’s by Labor has been seen as something that everyone contributes to.  Of course if you earn $100 thousand dollars you contribute more than someone who earns $50 thousand dollars and progressively up the income scales.  But the idea that everyone does their bit when it comes to the Medicare Levy has been entrenched.  We’ve also got a progressive tax system which sits alongside things like the Medicare Levy and of course people as they go up the income scales not only pay more tax but pay a higher rate of tax.  And most Australians think that’s pretty fair.  Where the Labor party wants to take us it seems, is to kill aspiration.  What they are effectively saying is that there is no limit to how much you can increase taxes on higher income earners.  We say that there has to be some fairness right across the scale.  When someone once they earn $180 thousand a year of course is paying 45c in the dollar plus the Medicare Levy which is a substantial amount of their income.

Kieran Gilbert

But twice as many people will be affected under the Government’s across the board plan than Labor’s plan, according to research done at the ANU released this morning.  Is that tough politically to sell then?

Senator Zed Seselja

Well, they’re looking at things in isolation.  The idea that someone who’s earning $100 thousand a year or $150 thousand a year and raising a family is not doing their bit, with the amount of income tax that they pay, paying a higher rate as you get into those higher incomes, I don’t think is fair and I think it’s reasonable.  So we think it’s very fair to say, as you earn more you pay more.  When it comes to Medicare Levy and to pay for the NDIS we think it’s important that everyone contributes because everyone has the potential to take out.

Kieran Gilbert

Do you think that’s the popular view? That most people agree with that.

Senator Zed Seselja

Well I think there’s substantial support in the community for that.  But where Labor wants to take us, it seems, you know they say they compare someone earning a million dollars versus someone earning $50 thousand dollars and they look at what the tax cut might be in a particular year.  We don’t want to get into the game of comparing how much tax someone who’s on $200 thousand pays versus someone on $100 thousand.  Of course they pay more tax as they earn more and that’s a fair thing.  Most Australians would say that is fair.  But do we really want to turn around and kill aspiration? Labor seems to be going down a path where there is no amount of tax that would be too much once you earn a certain amount.

Kieran Gilbert

Is it too much though, to question Bill Shorten’s support for the NDIS?  He was one of the people in Government when Labor was last in Government who argued so strongly for it.  Is it too much to suggest that he is now weakening his support for the Disability Insurance Scheme given Labor says its approach is actually going to raise more money than what the Government will.

Senator Zed Seselja

Well if you don’t have a credible plan to fund it then you’ve got to question the support. And…

Kieran Gilbert

They say they’re credible in raising more.

Senator Zed Seselja

And if you go back to what Bill Shorten said when he was in Government, he said it’s fair that the Medicare Levy is raised for all Australians to pay for an insurance scheme which all Australians will potentially benefit from.  Certainly we all want to know that if it was our son or daughter who was severely injured or born with a disability, if it was ourselves or our loved ones who needed that support, we would want that support.  The way you can ensure that all of us can get what we need through an NDIS is to make it sustainable and to ask everyone to contribute is a very fair way for doing it.

Kieran Gilbert

Minister finally, the former Prime Minister this morning in the Daily Telegraph writes, that we pussy foot around the fact that many passengers of the Muslim Holy Book command things that are completely incompatible with modern western life and even justify terrorism.  He believes that we… in the context of the comments made Federal Police Commissioner, the ASIO Director General, he thinks we pussy foot around this issue too much.  What do you say? Do you agree with him?

Senator Zed Seselja

Look I say, Colvin has said that radical Sunny Islam is what’s driving a large amount of terrorism, terrorist threats here in Australia, terrorism around the world.  So I think we call it as we see it and there is no doubt that that radical ideology that exists in parts of Islam has driven some terrible atrocities and we are working very hard to make sure that Australians are safe.

Kieran Gilbert

So you think the Commissioner of the Police and the ASIO Director General have got it right?

Senator Zed Seselja

Well look, I’m not going to get into every word that’s uttered but what I would say is, the Australian Government has the approach right.  The approach is to keep our borders secure, which we are doing, we’ve stopped the boats, we screen very very carefully who comes into this country and ASIO and our intelligence and AFP work very hard to prevent threats.  They’ve successfully done that in a number of cases, we continue to do it and we do it in a way that doesn’t divide us as a nation. So I think the Government is getting it right.  And people should have confidence that, unlike what we have seen in Europe where there has been real concerns about open borders and not knowing who is coming into their country, I think Australians can have a large degree of confidence that we do a pretty good job, a very good job I would argue, in ensuring that we know exactly who’s coming into our country at any given time.  And that is one of the things that helps protects us from terrorism.

Kieran Gilbert

Minister, appreciate your time.

[ENDS]