Sunrise interview with Samantha Armytage

  • Transcript, E&OE
21 November 2017

JOURNALIST: Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy Liberal Leader, Julie Bishop joins us now from Canberra. Minister, good morning and welcome.

JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Sam.

JOURNALIST: Is flagging an income tax cut a move to divert attention from the House of Reps not sitting next week?

JULIE BISHOP: Not at all. We are determined to ensure that the Australian people can keep more of their hard earned dollars in their pockets, and so we have been working to reduce personal income tax rates. We believe they are too high, particularly for middle income earners and we want to ensure they keep more of their money. The Liberal Party has always been a party of lower taxes and we think our tax rates are too high, so we are working together with the National Party. The Coalition is going to deliver lower income tax for all Australians.

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister was a little light on detail, by a little bit I meant a lot, last night. How much of a tax cut can people look forward to? When will it come in? How is Australia going to afford it?

JULIE BISHOP: The Prime Minister was addressing a group of business leaders last night, and you would expect him to give a speech about our economic agenda. What we are focusing on is lower taxes, paying down debt, ensuring we can get the budget into surplus. This comes on top of our policies for affordable and reliable energy, plus our reforms for childcare, higher education. This is a government getting on with governing. In terms of the detail of the tax rates, well of course that will be something that we will be able to announce in the lead up to the budget, but we are determined to ensure that particularly middle income earners keep more of their hard earned dollars.

JOURNALIST: OK, well let's talk about this delay to the sitting of Parliament next week. Is the Government just trying to avoid the embarrassment of Government MPs crossing the floor to vote with Labor for a banking royal commission, which quite possibly could happen next week?

JULIE BISHOP: No Sam, there were always going to be two more sitting weeks and two more weeks have been scheduled. They were to commence on 27 November and 4 December. What we have done is pushed it out so that we can have two weeks starting on 4 December and 11 December, so there's still two sitting weeks available. Given the question marks…

JOURNALIST: Why wait though, Minister?

JULIE BISHOP: Given the question marks about the eligibility of a number of Labor MPs we want to clear up this citizenship issue once and for all. We're requiring Members to file a declaration and this will give us time to clear up these citizenship issues, particularly the eligibility of those Labor Members who have admitted they are not eligible to sit in Parliament but have declined to do the right thing and refer themselves to the High Court.

JOURNALIST: What about the Liberal MPs who have question marks over their citizenship?

JULIE BISHOP: Well Barnaby Joyce, a National is facing a by-election and John Alexander is facing a by-election. That's the right thing to do. If you have got questions about your citizenship, the only authority that can determine that, if there are questions, is the High Court. So we have referred Barnaby Joyce, and John Alexander has stood down and is facing a by-election.

JOURNALIST: Are there any more Coalition Members that you've heard whispers about in the corridors, that you're worried may come out and say they've got dubious citizenship?

JULIE BISHOP: Not that I'm aware but I am aware of a couple of Labor Members who have admitted publicly that they were not eligible at the time they were preselected or indeed elected.

JOURNALIST: OK, alright. Julie Bishop, we have to leave it there. Thank you for your time this morning.

JULIE BISHOP: My pleasure.

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