Doorstop interview - Parliament House, Canberra
JOURNALIST: (inaudible) …state of terrorism, rather terror, what's your reaction to that?
JULIE BISHOP: The President is seeking to exert maximum pressure on North Korea so that it will return to the negotiating table and we can find a peaceful solution to North Korea's behaviour. It's in direct violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting its development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. We've seen State sponsored assassinations, cyber-attacks against the United States, and so the President has determined that it is a rogue state and it has been on the terror list under previous administrations, and the President is maximising pressure.
JOURNALIST: He's due to announce more sanctions, what else can the US and other countries do?
JULIE BISHOP: Well there are clearly still trading arrangements with North Korea, there are joint ventures, there are workers from North Korea earning remittances around the world, there is also the question of oil and other basic commodities.
JOURNALIST: Ms Bishop how soon does the Government plan to deliver tax cuts for middle income earners?
JULIE BISHOP: We are wanting to ensure the Australian people have more money in their pocket, more of their hard earned dollars. The Prime Minister has raised this in a speech last night as part of our economic reform agenda. We want to continue to drive economic growth, lower taxer so that we can stimulate the economy. That means more jobs. In the lead up to the next Budget we'll be making the details clear.
JOURNALIST: Do you know how much people will save? Are you able to give an idea of how much?
JULIE BISHOP: We're talking about lowering income tax for low and middle income earners. We have tax rates from 19 cents to 32.5, 37, 45 cents, so we believe that particularly for lower and middle income earners it should be lower and we're also wanting to reduce our company tax rate. If the United States goes anywhere near 20 or 25 per cent in a corporate tax rate then Australia is internationally uncompetitive. Our businesses have to have a lower tax rate to be able to compete internationally.
JOURNALIST: Income tax cuts and company tax cuts – if you get them through – cost a lot of money if you want to return to surplus in 2021.
JULIE BISHOP: We are seeking to grow the Australian economy. We want to see stimulus to the economy. We also want to ensure that Australians aren't paying any more tax than is necessary. We're the Party of lower taxes Labor's the Party of higher taxes.
JOURNALIST: Can that come without cuts and savings elsewhere?
JULIE BISHOP: Well these are obviously issues that we'll discuss in the lead up to the Budget. There's an expenditure review committee that's always looking to save money. We want to return the Budget to surplus and we plan to do that. We also want to start paying off Labor's debt – they put a massive amount of money on the national credit card and it's got to be paid off.
JOURNALIST: We haven't seen many details around this announcement yet. Labor's saying that it suggests that this was made because of an upcoming newspoll or internal problems, is that the case?
JULIE BISHOP: That's not the way government works. This is a discussion that we've been having in Treasury, in the Cabinet. We want to ensure that lower to middle income earners pay no more tax than is absolutely necessary, and we believe that currently they're paying too much.
JOURNALIST: Would you be urging some Coalition backbenchers to back off calling for a commission inquiry into the banks?
JULIE BISHOP: I don't believe it's necessary. A Royal Commission can do nothing but make recommendations after many, many years. What we're doing is taking action now, and so I think that the people who have disputes with the banks want answers now. They don't want to see a Royal Commission that will take years and at the end of the day a Royal Commission can only make recommendations. What we're doing is taking action to relieve the burden now and to hold banks accountable now.
JOURNALIST: Ms Bishop people on your own backbench were surprised by putting off Parliament for a week and there's been suggestions the Government's running scared. What would you say to the colleagues that found out after the media?
JULIE BISHOP: There were always going to be two more sitting weeks before Christmas. There will still be two more sitting weeks before Christmas starting on the 4th and if necessary on the 11th so people should always plan to be sitting in the lead up to Christmas. We are still sitting for two weeks.
JOURNALIST: And there are claims that one of your own MPs could quit and sit on the crossbench. Do you know who that is and would you say morale is low?
JULIE BISHOP: No, I'm not aware of that and if any MP is considering such a matter I hope they will come and talk to me, talk to the Prime Minister and tell us their concerns so that we can work it through.