Interview with John Laws - Radio 2SM - Thursday 19th June 2014


Good Morning John

Q

A. Well John I’ve long had a view that government’s introducing levies should have those levies on all Australian income earners not just individuals but as well, companies.  I said this a couple of years back when there was a Queensland flood levy introduced by the Labor Government and I’ve said it again here.   I’ve desperately tried to get someone to tell me what is the good policy in having individuals pay a surcharge to help pay off Labor’s debt, and I agree with that, but why don’t we ask Coles and Woolworths and BHP and Rio Tinto and Westfarmers and all of those other companies that make big profits out of Australia?  But we’re not asking them to contribute to Labor’s financial mess.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Q

A. John look unfortunately the Bill went through the Senate on Monday there were only 2 Senators opposed to it.  Labor, the Coalition and the Greens all supported it.  With the exception of my friend and colleague Senator Cory Bernardi who opposed it, but I might say from a completely different point of view to me, I opposed it, but one against the rest didn’t make much difference.  I did enquire of the Minister in charge.  We spent some time and I kept asking, explain to me, give me a reason and I’ll shut up and retire to my corner but I say with regret there was no reason given that passed the common sense test.

Q

A. I’ve got no idea John, I genuinely cannot understand why companies are not levied.  I related an instance up in my neck of the woods up in North Queensland.  There’s a company there that owns 4 or 5 sugar mills, makes a lot of money out of the sugar industry in the north, but it’s entirely Singaporean owned, the profits all go to Singapore and I don’t object to that, you know they invest, they get money but why aren’t they paying their share fixing up Labor’s mess.  Why didn’t they pay their share of Labor’s flood recovery levy.  I know they benefitted from the flood recovery levy but they weren’t asked to pay it.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  It seems to be bad policy.  I have no idea, I’ve asked and asked and can’t get an answer.

Q

A. Well companies don’t pay the flood levy and they don’t pay the debt recovery levy.  Those on $180,000 or more do and I agree they should, but why don’t companies that make $5 million in Australia pay something towards it.  I mean there’s been no answer.  Hansard will show I asked Senator Cormann three times to explain to me, he gave answers and I appreciated he tried and as he said, he did his very best, but the Hansard records shows that there is no answer.

Q

A. Well someone must have some idea John but i nobody’s been able to explain it to me.

Q

A. I don’t and John it’s the same with the Paid Parental Scheme.  I mean I’m not opposed to it in principal per se but you know in this budget we’re asking everyone to take a bit of a cut, we’re asking students and people on some forms of assistance to take a cut and that’s been implemented, we’re asking high income earners to pay more in the debt levy but then incongruously for me, we’re then giving out what seems to be a very generous Paid Parental Leave Scheme that, I might say, hasn’t yet addressed my queries on stay at home moms, hasn’t addressed my queries on how that will impact on regional Australia which I represent and which I suspect it won’t help.  It just seems to me, whilst it’s a good ambition to aim towards when Australia’s back in credit, when we’re doing well as a nation, then perhaps we can look at these generous sorts of things.  But I just can’t understand why it’s coming forward now.

Q

A. Well I don’t need publicity John.  I’ve long had the views in relation to the Paid Parental Scheme and I’ve got to say that the Liberal National Party of Queensland of which I’m a member and which endorsed me overwhelmingly at the last election and I led our Senate Team to the best result in Australia, but they have a motion on their books opposing the Paid Parental Leave Scheme.  Look I’m pleased that as a result of the issues that I and others, I’m not the only one by any means, that we’ve raised, I read in the papers that the Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss has indicated that the matter is still under review, that they are looking at it, that they are talking with rural groups and so I take from that, that the policy is not yet set in stone.  I’ve been around here a long time John, I’ve known that things that are said at an election that we all support but while we know, at some time in the future, the detail will come that we’ll have a look at and make sure it’s right and I’m hoping that with the Paid Parental Leave Scheme, we’re still going to have the opportunity to have a say and amend it and even defer it until a better time.

Q

A. I think there are number of them and a lot of them have been named.  Again John in principle and as a goal to aim towards I think everyone supports that but why now, that’s the big thing and what’s it do for the people I principally represent and that’s those in the country.   I also want to be convinced that stay at home moms are not discriminated against because they choose not to work and stay at home and look after their children.  And if people can answer that, I’ll be a supporter again but those things I think have yet to be determined and I am hopeful that the government, picking up what people are saying, might just look at some of those comments.

Q

A. John a lot of what I call lazy journalists are writing it up as my motivation and I can’t do anything about what they write.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  John for most of my long years in parliament I have been on the front bench and on the front bench you have a certain obligation and duty to follow entirely the corporate line.  Now on the back bench I feel that I can do what the Liberal Party stands for.  I have a right to make my views known in relation to things that don’t seem right.  I have that obligation, in fact in the Liberal Party I have that freedom to do that, and now being on the back bench and I might say not quite as closely involved in the decisions that are made, I have to try and find out what is the background for these decisions, why they are made, have they considered all aspects of it, have they done modelling on for example the impact of the Fuel Excise increases on country Australians. 

Q

A. As part of an Executive Government John clearly you have your arguments in Cabinet and once the decision is made you go along with it.  And the government can only work that way.  I accept that and in Cabinet of course you’re part of the discussion.  You have a serious genuine input before the pronouncement is made, before the policy comes forward.  On the backbench one of the things that I have been disappointed about is that there is consultation at times said to happen with others but it never seems to happen with the backbench.  I was a little concerned before this budget, which I thought was awfully sold in the pre-budget period, that you guys in the media were getting all the leaks, and I think on many occasions they were official leaks, we on the backbench, the first we heard about it was when journalists would ring us and say what do you think about XYZ and we’d look blank and stupid and say, I’ve never heard of it.

Q

A. No I’m not dissatisfied with the Party John, I’ve been a member of the Liberal Party for over 50 years so I’m not dissatisfied with the Liberal Party but I’m just a little dissatisfied in the way things are being run at the moment.  I think it’s important that people who are elected by the people of Australia should be involved in some of the major decisions and you know, don’t get me wrong, don’t put the headline out that I oppose the Fuel Excise, that I oppose the Doctor’s co-payment but I do have serious questions to ask about how the co-payment will again adversely impact, or impact more, on rural doctors.  For heavens sake for years in this parliament we’ve been trying to get decent medical services in the country, I think we’ve almost got them but now.

Q

A. Well, we ask the questions.  Look it’s tough running a budget, it’s tough running a government.  I have the greatest respect for Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, they’ve got a very, very difficult job, they’ve got a lot of people who  they’ve got to try to please, but sometimes they overlook consultation with those who put them in their positions and so I think government works better when everyone’s involved and when some of these issues, which are so clear to you, to your listeners and to me, don’t seem to be understood quite as well by those who do have the ultimate decision.  So they’re the issues and the only way we get better results, we get an improved system, is to raise those issues in parliament, in the party room which I do, and which I will continue to do.

Q

A. My pleasure John

Bye

Back to List