Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 7 October 2022


SUBJECTS: Mass shooting in Thailand; stage 3 tax cuts.

NATALIE BARR: Well, more now on the tragedy in Thailand – at least 38 people, including 22 children, are dead after a man armed with a knife and a gun went on a rampage at a childcare centre. The former police officer arrived at the nursery and became agitated after realising his child wasn’t there. He then forced his way into a locked room where the children were sleeping. Afterwards he drove home firing shots from his car before killing his own wife and own son and then himself.

Joining me now is Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you.

SUSSAN LEY: Good morning, Nat.


BARR: Jason, obviously a tragic incident coming out of Thailand this morning.

CLARE: It’s horrific. Can you think of anything worse? I guess every mum and dad packing bags today for their child to go off to care would be hugging them a lot tighter this morning. I got a phone call from my centre yesterday afternoon saying, “Can you come and pick up your little one? He’s got a temperature and a runny nose.” That’s the sort of call you want to get. Can you imagine those mums and dads in Thailand and that phone call?

BARR: Yeah, just horrific. And Sussan, as our reporter said, we don’t often see mass shootings in that country.

LEY: We don’t. And, Nat, it’s heartbreaking to read reports that one of the teachers was found with a child in her arms, and to understand the horror that the community is feeling and, indeed, our Australian Thai community must be feeling today, so our hearts go out to them across the nation in all of this awful pain.

BARR: Yeah, we are really close, aren’t we?

Back home the Prime Minister reportedly has the support of Parliament to wind back Stage 3 tax cuts if he decides to break his pre-election promise. Under the plan the threshold for the highest tax bracket would be raised. The current 37 per cent bracket abolished and the existing 32.5 per cent bracket lowered to 30 per cent. Jason, where is Labor at with this, and are you personally in favour of the cuts?

CLARE: Our plan hasn’t changed. The change we want to make, though, is to multinational tax. We want to make sure that multinational companies pay their fair share. The Budget is in about two weeks’ time, and we’ve got some big challenges. I think that’s a fair thing to say. We’ve got – the world economy is getting worse not better. We’ve got pressure on the Budget with increased costs with defence and hospitals and disabilities. They’re the things that we want to invest in, that we need to invest in. But that’s going to require some tough decisions. We’ve got a trillion dollars of debt on top of that as well. So, we’re going through the Budget line by line to see where we can cut out the waste and the rorts that the Liberals left us.

BARR: And because of all that, the Treasurer has said he is reviewing the Stage 3 tax cuts, which was a promise made by the Prime Minister –

CLARE: Well, what he said – let’s be clear about what he said – he said our position has not changed.

BARR: And will it because of the world’s economic situation?

CLARE: What he said is – and I think this is fair enough – if you’ve got the UK on the brink of recession, Europe on the brink of recession, potentially the US there, then you’ve got to build a Budget that is fit for the times. Plus, we’ve got to make sure that we don’t do anything that’s going to make the Reserve Bank’s job harder. So, where we do invest more, like more investment in childcare, it’s designed to boost productivity rather than make the situation worse.

BARR: Yeah, so it’s sounding like you’re reviewing it and really thinking hard about winding them back.

CLARE: Well, no, I think what Jim said is pretty clear – the position hasn’t changed. The big tax change we want to make is to make sure that multinationals pay their fair share.

BARR: Opposition, of course, saying this is a broken promise if they change their plan.

LEY: Nat, at the last election Anthony Albanese said regardless of who you voted for the Stage 3 tax cuts will be delivered. I have the promise here.

BARR: Of course, well brought in.

LEY: But these are tax cuts that millions of Australians were promised, millions of Australians are expecting, and millions of Australians are owed. And Jason just sounded like he was crab-walking a little bit away from it with that language.

Your own Finance Minister a couple of days ago said, “We haven’t changed our position yet.” Brendan O’Connor talking on skills yesterday said there were lots of different views and it was two years away, that’s a long time. And your own backbench is all over the place. So clearly this is a situation where, if we’re not careful, Labor is going to break another promise – the first one being the $275 reduction each year for electricity costs.

BARR: All governments break promises, don’t they, when economic conditions change, to be fair to the Government. I’m sure if we looked hard enough and I got Mark Riley on the phone and he went through his list, there’d be stuff that you guys broke over 11 years.

LEY: Nat, these are not – these are not tax cuts for the rich. These are tax cuts for people on ordinary incomes that start at $45,000. I think if you’re earning $60,000 a year you get a tax cut of $400, in that order. You cannot suggest that the baked-in assumptions that have built all of this into the Budget going forward have not been catered for in the thinking of the Government at this time. So, what we’ve got is Jim Chalmers once again diagnosing the problem and hinting that, as we always know with Labor, when they run out of money they come after yours.

BARR: Final say, Jason.

CLARE: Well, you’re right. Remember Tony Abbott? They broke promises like they were plates at a Greek wedding. “No cuts to education.” “No cuts to health”.

BARR: So now it sounds like you’re preparing to break it, Jason.

CLARE: What we’re doing is implementing the things we promised to do. I introduced legislation last week to cut the cost of childcare for more than a million Australian families.

BARR: But we’re talking about tax cuts right now.

LEY: None of this happens – Nat, none of this happens until after Christmas. The cost of living and the pain and the hurt that families are going through now, the cost-of-living crisis, nothing is being improved.

CLARE: I can give you an example of something that’s happening right now, okay? So, we’ve increased the minimum wage for more than 2 million Australians. You opposed that.

BARR: It’s not an election campaign. We’re just talking about the tax cuts. Final say: are you going to break it?

CLARE: I think I answered that – our position hasn’t changed.

BARR: Okay. Well, we might see you next week and we’ll see what happens then. Thank you both for coming in.