SUBJECTS: Tax cuts, Coalition agreement.
RAY HADLEY: Joel has been a Member of Parliament since way back in ‘96 so he has a fair idea of what his electorate thinks about issues impacting this country. When we last spoke to Joel Fitzgibbon he was considering his own tilt for the leadership citing other candidates needed to show more interest in regional Australia. It didn’t come to pass. In the end he gave his support to Anthony Albanese. But now Joel Fitzgibbon is speaking out against the leader calling Mr Albanese to recognise the Labor Party had its backside kicked and to perhaps to pass the Coalition’s tax cuts in full. He’s on the line. G’day Joel.
JOEL FITZGIBBON: G’day Ray, good to be with you.
HADLEY: Are they listening to you?
FITZGIBBON: Yes they are and I’m in deep conversation with Anthony Albanese. He gets it Ray, absolutely. Can I just have a go at simplifying this for your listeners?
FITZGIBBON: The tax package has been presented in three stages and the Labor Party supports one and two and in fact we’ve offered to bring two forward a little bit to give a bit of economic stimulus to the economy. I think we have legitimate concerns about stage three. At $95 billion it’s 30 per cent of the cost of the total package. It is heavily weighted in favour of higher income earners and we are worried that it’s not affordable and it will either blow out the budget deficit or cause the government to go hunting for budget cuts somewhere else which obviously could hurt many, many Australians. So we are saying we will vote for one and two next week, we have no problem with that but they should separate away stage three and give us some time to have a closer look at it and give it further consideration. Now remember Ray, Labor’s vote has only become important because the government hasn’t been able to convince the Senate crossbench on the merits of stage three so we don’t stand alone here. It would be fair to say the majority of the Parliament has concerns about stage three. So what’s happening? The government is holding the Parliament to ransom in effect. It won’t split the package because keeping it in one allows it to force the Parliament to support stage three because to not support stage three means opposing the one and two tax cuts which we all support and indeed Labor offered before the election so your listeners need to come to a conclusion as to whether that is a reasonable tactic Morrison is adopting or whether it is unfair. I think it’s the latter. I don’t think he should be holding the Parliament to ransom.
HADLEY: I know you punt straight out, you don’t bet each way but you’re having a punt each way. You’ve allegedly said to pass them in full and now you’re hedging your bets saying ‘no hang on, let’s get one and two through and then we’ll talk about three.’ Now you’re a practical man and a pragmatist. The one thing you and I will find common ground on is that you did get your backside kicked and you and I would use another coarse expression we wouldn’t say on air to say what you got kicked.
FITZGIBBON: We are politically correct you and I Ray.
HADLEY: Exactly, and you got it well and truly kicked. Now when you compare the Senate, you aren’t asking - you aren’t doing any horse trading as a party. You’re not saying ‘look we’ll give you all three if you do this’, you know having dealt with crossbenchers previously in government that the horse trading is there and that on a whim they can be got at. If Pauline gets what she wants she will pass them. If Centre Alliance get what they want, they will pass them. The Greens are no hope, they are further left than most of your mob. But it’s about horse trading with them. It shouldn’t be about horse trading with you. It should be a realisation as a pragmatist that you copped a hiding. You got the Larry Dooley of a hiding when you were supposed to win and you need to be cognisant of the fact that the tax cuts were part of the package that got the other mob home. It was in fact one of the few platforms that they went to the election with and they won and they won comprehensively given they were going to lose 10,15 or 20 seats. You have changed leader because of it.
FITZGIBBON: And I have said Ray and I will say it again, we can’t afford to get in between taxpayers and a tax cut from Opposition after suffering a heavy defeat but remember the Labor Party easily remains the biggest party in the Parliament. I mean Scott Morrison only governs because he has this Coalition arrangement, a secret one by the way, with a minor party called the Nationals.
HADLEY: Joel, Joel please.
FITZGIBBON: So please don’t tell me we are not in a position to exert some influence.
HADLEY: I didn’t say that but you got your backsides kicked in fact you got your a**s kicked. You know that.
FITZGIBBON: I do know that.
HADLEY: Okay the bottom line is this, if it had of been line-ball and Dr Di Natale had have come to you, not you personally but your party, you would have cuddled him, you would have embraced him and you would have said ‘of course we want to govern with you, you wonderful Greens. We think you are mad and think you are quite cuckoo and particularly poor old Joel up there in the middle of the coal belt, he thinks you’re really mad but we’ll embrace you.’ So I don’t think it’s really fair to be critical of the LNP which is historically been together. You fall in and fall out of love with the Greens depending on whether you will govern in the ACT or somewhere else in the continent so I don’t think it is really fair to be bagging them as a Coalition because you and I both know if things had gone differently and it had been locked up with whatever with the independents, the crossbenchers and the rest in the Lower House and the Greens would have got you across the line, Bill Shorten would have been shaking the hands, he would have been touching his toes and doing whatever is required to do to get Di Natale onside so we should leave that debate for another day.
FITZGIBBON: I’m tiring of the idea that we have some arrangement with the Greens. We never have done and never will do and few people have spent more time criticising the Greens than me. We do not have an arrangement with them. I’m just making the point that we are the biggest party in the Parliament and the Libs only ever govern because they do this secret deal with the Nats. I think that’s a reasonable point to make.
HADLEY: Alright well you will probably survive next election if you keep down this path. A lot of your mates won’t but I appreciate your time.
FITZGIBBON: Good on you Ray.