TOM CONNELL: Let’s test the temperature of the Labor back bench. We’ve got Graham Perrett with us, live now from our Sydney studio. Graham Perrett, thanks very much for your time. What did you think when Bill Shorten gave this one word answer and effectively tried to set policy earlier this week?
GRAHAM PERRETT, MEMBER FOR MORETON: Well we’ve always had concerns in the light of current budget circumstances about giving money away to that top end of town. But obviously we made that earlier commitment to the smaller companies; it was just getting that balance right in the middle. We got some updated figures that meant we were able to ensure the companies that were currently getting the benefit of that 27.5 per cent cut won’t have to rearrange their circumstances. So giving certainly to the 19,000 small and medium sized businesses in my electorate is a good thing, but we’ve still got a budget that has some serious questions which is why we’re still fundamentally opposed to giving that tax giveaway to the top end of town. Particularly to the big banks, when we’d rather focus our resources on schools, hospitals, aged care facilities and the like.
CONNELL: What about, you know, in the income tax cut Labor came in and said, ‘we'll be more generous to those lower income earners’. Could Labor have maybe trumped the government on small business? You know give a bigger, earlier tax cut to those with turnover up to two million dollars? There's another strategy.
PERRETT: Well certainly that Labor's income tax cut would have benefited 10 million Australians and would have been almost double what the Coalition Government has rolled out. But in terms of small business we know that under Labor, 99 per cent, 99 per cent of businesses will get the benefits of that cut. So that they can invest in new equipment, so that they can invest in their new jobs, so that they can invest in the wages of their current employees. And we hope that that will happen, because the economic circumstances do have a bit of a wobble about them. A few challenges out there in the world at the moment. And obviously we'd like to make sure that our economy was much stronger and had some capacity to absorb any shocks that roll out of this Trump world, this burgeoning trade war that's taking place around the world.
CONNELL: We'll see what voters make of the new lines on company tax. But you're a pretty straight shooter Graham Perrett, it's been messy this week, hasn't it?
PERRETT: Look, sometimes when you have a look at how sausages are made you can get a bit of a surprise, but the Labor Party policies, the Labor Party platform has always been clear. We've always had that focus on health services, making sure they're affordable, and schools and you only do that if companies pay their fair share of tax. Now you know we've gone through, in the last 10 years, a global financial crisis, we've had an exchange rate nudging $1.10, we're now down to about 75c, so that's given a lot of our businesses some advantages in terms of making stuff and selling it around the world. Which meant the Parliamentary Budget Office was able to give our economic team some new figures and you take advantage of the figures as they are now. I never saw the logic of any Treasurer or any Prime Minister saying, ‘this is what you will do in 2026’, that this decision now binds the Parliament in 2026. My son Leo is in grade four at the moment, he’ll be finished year 12 by the time these Turnbull Government tax changes were going to be rolled out. We've made that commitment that we would get the balance right and look at the economic circumstances and data of today.
CONNELL: And as for these first sort of real questions for quite a long time around
Bill Shorten and what Anthony Albanese's motives might be at the moment. You once said, of course, if Kevin Rudd came back you would quit because of all that instability. What would you make if something like the rules had to be overthrown that Kevin Rudd brought in for a leadership change? How'd that make you feel?
PERRETT: Kevin Rudd didn't bring any rules in, the Labor Party Caucus brought in those rules and I'll tell you this, since the last election we've had about 126 polls from the four major polling companies and Bill Shorten has won every single one of those polls. He's got a strong team and it put us in a strong position, what we’re at 52.5 per cent two-party preferred. That's a good position to be in leading up into these by-elections. I don’t get too hung up on polls, but I do know that if we keep working hard as a talented team, behind a great leader we can hopefully give the people of Australia a better vision, a better future, a fairer future and under Bill Shorten that's what can happen at the next election.
CONNELL: I want to ask you about a couple of policy areas, energy, the National Energy Guarantee. There's still consternation amongst Liberal and National ranks. Where do you think this policy sits on Labor's support and maybe it might need a tweak for more emissions reductions under your Party? But are you still sort of willing to come on board and end part of the paralysis?
PERRETT: Look Mark Butler has done some incredible work here to try and give business certainty. It's embarrassing that ten years on, ten years on, after Tony Abbott basically rolled Malcolm Turnbull on a on a climate skeptic platform, that we're still having these arguments. Conservative governments around the world have actually responded to the reality of climate change and have policy certainty. Yet here in Australia, it's embarrassing that we're still having these arguments. So Labor will do what we can to get certainty, but we've got to be fair-dinkum about doing our fair share of reducing emissions. The Coalition, look, I'm not really one to interfere in their affairs, but don't you think Tony Abbott shutting up would actually do Australia a great service? We need to have policy certainty so business can get on with the job of investing in and producing reliable energy sources. Technology's doing its bit, engineers are doing their bit, we now need the politicians in the Parliament to do their fair share.
CONNELL: I just want to ask you as well about this decision, this has been ticked off by the Attorney-General, to lay charges against a former Australian spy and his lawyer. Now this is over them becoming whistleblowers on Australia, the government effectively bugging the Timor-Leste Cabinet. This was during discussions between Australia and Timor-Leste over a very lucrative gas and oil reservation. Do you agree with the decision to lay these charges?
PERRETT: It is that classic intersection of protecting our secrets, but then doing the right thing by our neighbours. I haven't read the brief, but I do have concerns about one of our closest neighbours not being treated fairly. I think as a nation it was not one of the great moments in our history. One of the smaller nations that had come through some troubled times. We do need to do the right thing by neighbours and
I'm glad that Labor and the Coalition have actually had some certainty in terms of looking after Timor-Leste and making sure they get the benefits.
CONNELL: And what about the whistleblower?
PERRETT: Well look, whistleblowing legislation hasn't been great under this government. In terms of, I know this is a historical charge, it's something I might leave the comment to Mark Dreyfus so that I don't get into trouble, Tom.
CONNELL: All right, you sound like you have a bit of a reservation though about this person being charged?
PERRETT: The Attorney-General, Christian Porter has all the facts in front of him. He has made that decision in terms of that recommendation to the DPP. I’d need to look at it in a lot more detail and that's beyond my security clearance at the moment, Tom.
CONNELL: At the moment. Always hopeful Graham Perrett, thanks for your time today.
PERRETT: Cheers Tom.