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SkyNews Interview with Peter Stefanovic

Peter Stefanovic: Joining me is Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, Senator good morning. Thanks so much for joining us so before we get to New South Wales matters. I just want to get your thoughts on what's going on in Victoria and it kind of relates to New South Wales because it's quite clear that the authorities didn't learn the lessons of New march House today.

 

Senator Andrew Bragg: Good morning. I think the most important thing at this stage is that people don't see politicians engaging in unedifying squabbles. At  the end of the day, if  you're a resident or you’re a family member of someone in one of those Aged Care homes what you want to know is it the  governments are working together collaboratively to ensure that these outbreaks are contained.

PS: The squabbles are brought about because of a few different reasons though right, and it's pressure, people are really feeling the pressure at the moment?

AB: They are and I know that from personal experience. My mum has been an Aged Care nurse in the Victorian system, they very high pressure jobs. I'm very conscious of the work that the nurses are doing under extreme pressure. Obviously a number of the aged care workers  have contracted the virus, and so that's why we’re doing things like funding new training so new staff can go in there to support these homes.

PS: Two different points, one’s a Federal point, one’s a state point, Minister Greg Hunt talked yesterday about sending in these crack medical teams. I mean it’s taken 39 deaths before that's started to happen.  Should that have happened sooner?

AB: The Victorian Government is responsible for its own jurisdiction and we have provided support and offered help on whole range of…

PS: But the Federal Government runs the aged care sector,though, right?

 

AB: We licence the aged care providers, but at the end of the day  the providers are also responsible for running their own affairs under the licensing regime.  These homes are in the state of Victoria, so we all need to be working together. It doesn't help to try and have division sat this very difficult time. It certainly won't help those people that are in the  aged care facilities.

PS: Ok, then should Daniel Andrews have cancelled the elective surgery earlier as was the wish  by the prime minister to kind of free up staff members to be able to go into these aged care centres?

 

AB: Look Pete, again,  I'm unwilling to engage in unedifying tiffs,but what I would say is that  wherever we have, at the federal level, we have followed the health advice to a tee and I think that's what all governments should do.

PS: Okay, I’ve just got a few other issues now, the Queensland premier. We’ve have got some breaking news. There is a school that has a teacher infected with COVID-19. It's probably going to strengthen the argument for her to close the border with New South Wales what's your thoughts on that particularly now that the outbreak seems to be gathering momentum in Sydney as well.

 

AB: At the end of the day there hasn't been substantive health advice that shows that closing borders is particularly effective obviously in Victoria it’s been necessary.

PS:  You’d  be happy with that, wouldn’t you be happy with Victoria New South Wales closing It's border?

AB: There was always going to be some outbreaks from time to time Pete and that was always part of the plan. We've got a plan to deploy resources where we need them whether it’s PPE or training or funding and I think we want to try and maintain a balance where we don't close down everything in one jurisdiction because there is one or two cases.

PS: So when is the marker, when's the marker for when borders need to be closed? Not one or two cases, I'm sure most people would agree with you there, but at what point do you start shutting things down. Is it a hundred , one fifty, two hundred have you got an idea on that?

 

AB: Again,  I'm reluctant  to put my finger in the air and guess but it my  understand is New South Wales which is a state that I represent in the Federal Parliament that  they have talked about  numbers of around 250 people or more would be required as a daily caseload to close down the state.

PS: Do you get the sense that Josh Frydenberg’s figures from last week are going to be a bit off because you kinda get the feeling, that Victoria’s shutdown is going to last longer than 6 weeks now, and now that case numbers increase in New South Wales as well, you know you're kind of start to get worried a bit.

AB:  Forecasting is always very challenging, but I think we've shown over the discourse of coalition government that we've chosen to be quite conservative with our projections. And so I'm sure that that's how the treasury would have conducted their  forward forecasts, but at the end of the day we can't continue on under a system where we're closing down a huge parts  of the economy, so we need to be able to live with this virus and managing it properly.

PS: Even that the World Health Organisation finally conceded we have to live with it, and you can't keep shutting things down as well. They mentioned that two days ago, which I found a bit of a surprise coming from the World Health Organisation at the moment. Josh Frydenberg, he last week espoused a  keen interest in Thatcherism,  Senator do you agree with him?

 

AB: I do, and I think it's absolutely the right way  to go in terms of looking to ways to increase private investment, and that can happen through deregulation cutting taxes,making government easy to deal with the only way out of this virus over the long-term is going to be to increase  private investment, which is the  driver of jobs growth, lower taxes, deregulation.That is absolutely the way to go.

PS : And what time would your hope there? Would you be hoping to bring for the next tranches of tax cuts past starting from next year?

 

AB: I think we should absolutely look at lower taxes, we should absolutely look at pursuing Christian Porter’s agenda to simplify the industrial relations system. I mean the idea that you have a horribly complex award system the way the enterprise bargaining system is being killed. I mean these things are job killers, and so we need to have an environment where it's easy to create jobs, but equally  we want to have an environment where Australia is seen as an attractive destination for foreign investment .Especially with the demise of Hong Kong as a financial centre. We should be doing all we can to try and attract those jobs  to Sydney predominantly, which is already  a strong regional,  financial and tech centre.

PS:  What about an increase to GST?

 

AB: I think you would only do that if you were going to reduce other taxes, I don't think the answer is increasing the overall tax take I mean we want to be reducing taxes, so that we can improve the levels of private investment, and I've never seen a study that shows that increasing taxes leads to higher levels in investment and jobs.

PS: When  it comes,  given the current economic climate that we'rein at the moment, should this change at all the legislated increases to super?

 

AB: Well as you know the Treasurer has received a retirement income review, and that is an important review in the life of this  government,and I'll leave it to the treasurer  to respond to that in detail. But at the end of the day we don't want to be increasing the cost of employment and during a pandemic.

PS: Just finally Senator, APRA, it’s  given the green light for not-for-profit funds to sponsor political events by treating payments differently to direct political donations. What's your thoughts on this?

 

AB: Super is there for the workers. It's not there for the Labor Party or for the trade unions, and I'm very worried that the prudential regulator has effectively given it a green light for the super funds to make political donations. I mean this is ridiculous. That's not what super is for.

PS: Senator Andrew Bragg, appreciate your time this morning.Thanks for joining us.

AB:  Thanks Pete, see you.

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