Sky News with Kieran Gilbert

02 February 2024


Kieran Gilbert: Joining me live in the studio now is the Assistant Minister for Trade and Manufacturing, Tim Ayres. Thanks for your time. I want to play you to start off, comments by Peter Dutton today on the tax changes. It looks like the coalition might indeed wave them through. Have a look.

Kieran Gilbert: Your own electorate is among those who are going to benefit greatly from these changes to the tax cuts, some 85% of them. You don't want to take money away from them, do you?

Peter Dutton: And we're not going to. I've been very clear.

Kieran Gilbert: So, you're not going to stand in a way of these changes as a party?

Peter Dutton: Very clear. The Liberal Party is the party of lower taxes. We always have been, we always will be.

Kieran Gilbert: Senator Ayres, what do you make of the comments?

Senator Ayres: Well, it's hard to get past the last bit. Peter Dutton says that the Liberals are the party of lower taxes. That is just not borne out by the history of the Commonwealth, certainly not the post-war history. The Howard government, highest tax take. That is just the victory of imagination.

Kieran Gilbert: Do you welcome the signal that they'll wave them through?

Senator Ayres: The broader point is the tax package that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister announced just a week or so ago is the right measure right now for Australians who are experiencing cost of living challenges. In Peter Dutton's own electorate, more than 85% of P-A-Y-G taxpayers will get a bigger tax cut. Middle income Australians in his seat will get a bigger tax cut as a result of the government's new plan.

Kieran Gilbert: So, he's not going to go through, he's not going to block it, is he?

Senator Ayres: Well, it's really, from my perspective, what is the big challenge here? It is not the partisan politics of this. It is the impact that this is going to have at the kitchen table in households all over Australia. This is the right measure, not an easy decision for the government to reach, but the right measure for Australians who are still experiencing, despite some improvements as a result of the government's economic plan here to deal with the cost of.

Kieran Gilbert: But does he end up outplaying you on this? I know you don't want to get into the politics. But if Peter Dutton says, okay, we'll bank that, we're not going to take money off people in Dickson and ride around his seat and ride around the country, but then also go to the next election having done the numbers and promised to do further reform for those at the higher end of the income spectrum.

Senator Ayres: Well, it's all a bit complicated and down the track, isn't it? Right now, the question is, will Australians get the cost of living relief that is there in the government's plan? I'm very confident that the parliament will deliver on Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmer's tax announcement. It is overwhelmingly good news for middle-income and low-income Australians. The parliament will deliver that. Peter Dutton needs to decide whether he's for it or against it.

Kieran Gilbert: Simple as that. Breaking news in this last 10-15 minutes. DP World and the maritime union have done a deal. There's a compromise. Four-year bargaining agreement for the wharfies. Do you welcome that there's been a reproach and the ports can get back to normal?

Senator Ayres: Well, it's the first I've heard of it, Kieran. If that is the case, it is a very good development and it goes to show a couple of things. As somebody who's been engaged in some of these kinds of negotiations over the course of my career, you always reach an end. There is always a settlement that is available for workers and employers in these kinds of situations. It backs in the judgement of the Workplace Relations Minister who, when asked to intervene, made it clear that his expectation was that unions and the employers should engage and reach a solution. I'm very pleased to see that.

Kieran Gilbert: Yeah, I'll just read to you. The three days of negotiations were before the fair Work Commission. The maritime union says the deal delivers fair pay, safety and fatigue management measures and provides job security and a fair work life balance. That's from the union. So, if that's their view, DP world obviously have come to the table and the ports can get back to a bit of normality because they were potentially contributing to cost of living pressures.

Senator Ayres: Well, agreements require compromise. There's never a perfect outcome in a negotiation, so that is good that that outcome's been reached. It backs in the way that the system works and the fair Work Commission's engagement in their systems and backs in the judgement of the workplace relations Minister Tony Burke on this issue. He made the right call.

Kieran Gilbert: Minister Tim Ayres. Great to see him. Talk to you soon.

Senator Ayres: Good on you, Kieran.