Sky News Interview: Huawei, FIFA World Cup, Company Tax Cuts, NEG




SUBJECTS: Huawei, FIFA World Cup, Company Tax Cuts, NEG

TOM CONNELL, HOST: Let’s start with our panel on Huawei, Labor MP Peter Khalil and Liberal MP Craig Kelly here in the studio with me.


CONNELL: I know you only heard part of that address but what do you think if Huawei wanted to get involved in 5G? I thought it was an interesting pitch from John Lord, saying “hey china tech is coming – smart china companies”. I mean, we had no issue putting on their t-shirts very cheaply.


CONNELL: This is a bit different of course, but…

KHALIL: [interrupting] and undies

CONNELL: But if its good cheap technology as the Chinese often do, is it crazy to exclude them?

KELLY: Look you’re right, it is a fair bit different from putting on t-shirts and running shoes, when it comes to communications. Especially when you get into the area of 5G, I don’t pretend to know it all, but I understand that it’s very highly technically advanced and it enables the mass transfer of data from one device to another. I think we need to look at this and tread very, very carefully in this area.

CONNELL: Peter Khalil?

KHALIL: Well, Tom I think, not specific to Huawei, but a general principle is that of course Australia will do business with any companies that have commercial imperatives, commercial goals, and that their goals are not tied to a state, if you like, that their strategic imperatives are not tied to that state. And, of course, we’ll take the advice of our national security agencies on the basis of whether a company is doing that in a commercial sense. And, these are sensitive areas and we trust the analysis and the assessment of our security agencies on these matters.

CONNELL: This sensitivity, I guess could come with us saying “No to China”. On something else, we’ve had a bit of tension in the relationship at the moment. But if that’s the case, do it carefully and diplomatically, but do it all the same.

KELLY:  Look it needs, Peter, look, this is one thing we probably agree 100% on; We as politicians don’t have the expert knowledge to make decisions in this area and we really have to rely on our security agencies advice on it.

KHALIL: And I think you made that point, about the broader relationship, and I think if there is clarity with our partners – the Chinese – that’s one of our most important trading partnerships, our economic relationships. We have to be clear with them, and straightforward, and I think they would respect that. We’ve got to manage the relationship well on that level.

CONNELL: It gets interesting too, with a sort of marker for future involvement in such Chinese companies. Anyway, an interesting decision coming up. Now, we’ve better, before we get on to other issues, talk about the Socceroos. You two, last week, were in the studio were on a united front on this, and do you take any responsibility for the failure last night?

KELLY: We’re both a bit bleary eyed this morning after sitting up and watching it. Look the results, bounce of the ball, a few other decisions could have gone the other way, we could be undefeated in that group. Just unfortunate. We could have had a draw with France, we could’ve beaten Denmark, we could’ve…

CONNELL: [interrupting] We keep not getting past this stage though

KELLY: Well look it’s a very competitive field, you know, soccer’s still not our major sport. We’ve still got Aussie rules, you know, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Soccer. Our talent pool gets spread thin and wide.

KHALIL: I think I’d say about this. I am devastated. I think the boys did a really good job. They gave everything out on the field. There were some tactical issues there about possibly putting Timmy Cahill on in the last ten minutes against Denmark, I think would’ve done the job. And Arzani on a little bit earlier. I just think we have to be braver in our football. Aussies love winning. Let ‘em go. Let ‘em play. And let ‘em, you know, attack. And that’s what we should see more of.

CONNELL: More attacking start, there you go …

KHALIL: [interrupting] Like politics

CONNELL: Some advice from the application to be the next Socceroos coach. Speaking of tactics though, interesting ones today from some of your colleagues. Now we’re going to play – first of all – Anthony Albonese, on of course whether or not Bill Shorten has made the right decision on the company tax cut, which many are calling a “captains call”. Here he was:

ANTHONY ALBANESE, Member for Grayndler (clip): Bill Shorten’s got a right to announce Labor policies. He did that. He did that consistent with the way that Labor had voted in the House of Representatives and the Senate, when these changes were considered.

SAA RADIO INTERVIEWER (clip): So if he asked you, you would’ve said yes?

ALBANESE (clip): Well it is a matter of priorities

INTERVIEWER (clip): Key criticism of Bill Shorten right now is that he’s too anti-business. The key point that you made in your speech is that Labor needs to be more pro-business.

ALBANESE (clip): Well that wasn’t the key point, that was one of a range of points that I made.

CONNELL: Diplomatic and disciplined enough. Albeit, I think a few people got the message from his speech last week. But, gentlemen, this next one from Ross Hart, an interview with Tasmania talks. Perhaps slightly less on track. Here was part of the conversation.

KELLY: I think he’s your mate isn’t he Peter, Mr Ross Hart?

ROSS HART, Member for Bass (clip): Well, that’s a matter that’s been announced by Mr Shorten.

BRIAN CARLTON, LAFM Interviewer (clip): So you don’t Ross. You don’t support this do you? You don’t support what your Leader’s done?

HART (clip): I am not saying that Brian. I am not saying that.

CARLTON (clip): No, but you’re not saying you agree with him either, are you?

HART (clip): Let’s have a conversation about this another time

CARLTON (clip): No, let’s talk about it now Ross. Cause it’s absolutely critical. Do you back your leader or not Ross?

HART (clip): Well, look, I think the important thing is we talk about practical tax relief for Tasmanian companies.

CONNELL: Peter Khalil, it wasn’t a tricky weekly spot he had to commit to. He called up the program and had that to say, what do you make of it?

KHALIL: Well look, I’ll say this about this issue. You’d have to have been living under a rock not to know that Labor has been calling for, and making sure that we invest, tax payer dollars in health, education and infrastructure.

KELLY: Do you support it?

KHALIL. Yes, I do because you’d have to be under a rock not to know that, and Bill and the leadership team have been very, very clear about the fact that we’re not supporting tax cuts to big business and multinationals. Now Bill…

KELLY: [interjecting]

KHALIL: Hold on, don’t interrupt. Don’t interrupt. You know, and he’s given some detail about where the threshold might be and as I understand it, we’re going to go through all the processes to determine. We still have to make a decision about whether we support tax cuts up to 10 million. We support tax cuts up to 2 million, which is 91% of businesses in Australia, and 98% of businesses are up to 10 million. That’s where you get the relief for small businesses.

CONNELL: I just wanted to press a couple of points though. So,10-50, this was clearly a decision that was only made in concrete by Bill Shorten in a news conference this week.

KHALIL: Yeah, well, Bill gave some detail about that, as he can as the Leader of the Opposition…

CONNELL: [interrupting] But he didn’t go through Caucus?

KHALIL: All of these things, these considerations will go through Caucus and the Shadow Cabinet, as part of the normal process.

CONNELL: The normal process would be, there’s obviously additionally, Labor said no to the company tax cut plan. Then, a chunk of it got passed in the Senate, which sort of changed things.

KHALIL: Well, as I said earlier, you would have to be under a rock not to have seen the fact that we have said, time and time again, on this program and every time we’re on the media; “We are not supporting tax cuts to big business and to multinationals”.

CONNELL: I’ll let you have a go in a minute Craig, but just the comments from Ross Hart there. He was asked whether he supports Bill Shorten and his policy. He said they could talk about it another day. He should have been more emphatic, it’s not the best time to be making these comments, is it?

KHALIL: Well, I haven’t listened to Ross’ interview. Ross is a very good local MP and he’s committed to the team, like we all are. We’re a united team.

CONNELL: Ok, to the extent that you’re emphatic. Do you totally support Bill Shorten?

KHALIL: Of course I do…

CONNELL: [interrupting] Without any caveat?

KHALIL: Let me add to this, let me add to that point. He’s been consistent, as his leadership team has, as well all have, in saying that we will not support tax cuts to big business and multinationals. He’s provided some detail around that, as he can as Leader of the Opposition. The fact is that we still have to consider if we provide tax cuts up to 10 million, which would cover 98% of small business and businesses around Australia, and that’s where you get the real tax relief. That is not giving money to multinationals, which most if it goes offshore and into the hands of foreign shareholders. Now do you reckon Australian’s want that Craig?

KELLY: You are talking about $10 million turnover…

KHALIL: [interrupting] Yeah, that’s 98% of business Craig.

KELLY: I’m sure there are….

CONNELL: Just let Craig have a go

KELLY: I’m sure there are….

KHALIL: [interrupting] Oh. Ok, sorry Craig..

KELLY: Countless businesses in your electorate…

KHALIL: [interrupting] Delicate flower that you are.

KELLY: [interrupting] I’m sure you’d have to walk around businesses in your electorate, when you go around door knocking, you’d say “do you do more than $10 million turnover”. Not profit, turnover remember. There going say “yes” and you’d have to say “Well, our policy of Labor is to rip and increase taxes from you and to rip more money out of you”.

CONNELL: Craig do you have a business for example in mind in your electorate?

KELLY: Well, I’ve got countless of businesses…

CONNELL: [Interrupting] But do you have? This is going to be key isn’t it, specific examples; here’s a business, here’s who owns it – not a big company.

KELLY: I know one company in my electorate, I visited a couple of weeks ago. They make the armour plating bullet-proof shields. They export these things around the world, They are now going to be facing a higher corporate tax rate. Peter’s policy, Labor’s policy, is to hit them with a higher corporate tax rate, that will put them at a competitive disadvantage against companies they compete overseas with.

CONNELL: Just before we wrap up on this. Did you see any difference at all between Anthony Albanese’s talking about closer ties on business – let’s be a friend with them – and basically a war on big business that Bill Shorten’s declared.

KHALIL: Well, you’re making some big assumptions there and I’ve said this before, that Albo is a team player. He’s part of the leadership team and he’s been very consistent and we’ve all been very consistent in the fact that we don’t support giving away $17 billion to big business and multinationals. That could’ve gone into the education sector…

KELLY: [interrupting] Oh Peter, $10 million is not a big business, $10 million turnover is not a big business.

KHALIL: And can I just add, and here’s the thing, we’ve also got an investment guarantee for businesses as well, which would allow every business to get deductibility on assets up to 20 thousand, that covers the field, if you like. And we’re also providing tax relief for 91% already, 91% of business. You, know…

KELLY: You said you’re going to take some of those away as well…

KHALIL: No, we’re still considering whether we go up to 10 million

KELLY: Oh, you’re still considering. So if I’m a business today and I’m between 2 and 10 million, the Labor party’s going to consider whether they’re going to slug you with more tax.

KHALIL: Mate, you are never going to be able to get around the fact, that you’re handing the big banks 7 billion or $12 billion or whatever it is and the fact that you’re handing $80 billion to companies, most of which will go overseas.

CONNELL: I’m going to stop you, Peter Khalil and Craig Kelly, because I want to get onto energy as well. This whole issue of maybe crossing the floor, what is the red line for you on this, on the national energy guarantee.

KHALIL: Come and sit next to me Craig

KELLY: Look, firstly, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. At the moment we don’t even have a bill or piece of legislation.

CONNELL: But you’ve spoken about this?

KELLY: The issues that concern myself and I’m sure many of my other colleagues on my side of the fence. Is what this item will do to the price of electricity and what will it do to some of our large industrial users, even medium sized industrial users, will it put them at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis their overseas companies.

CONNELL: Just on that point, so there’s a talk of either having some sort of subsidised coal fire power station. Tony Pasin’s other idea was for a cap overall, at $60 per kilowatt-hour on price, which would get coal in there in some way anyway. Is that the red line for you to support?

KELLY: No, no, well, I don’t support price caps and that’s not what Tony Pasin was talking about. He was more talking about an aspirational target…

CONNELL: Well, he actually mentioned yesterday on the program that he wanted to set a price cap

KELLY: Well, we have to aim. That should be a target price. That we need to get $60 per megawatt per hour as the whole sale price of electricity to be nationally competitive. Whether that’s the right price or not, he’s talking about that concept. At the moment we are well above that in every state in Australia.

CONNELL: Just on this though, you’ve spoken about crossing the floor…

KELLY: I’ve spoken about in outside. It’s an inherent right.

KHALIL: All talk-talk, no walk-walk.

CONNELL: Look, we’re out of time, but I just want to know what that sort of line is for you.

KELLY: It will be. I want to be able to ensure that the policies we bring in will lower electricity prices to Australian consumers and not put businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

CONNELL: NEG says it will do that I guess. We’ll see if you’re convinced of that with some more detail. Craig Kelly, Peter Khalil, thanks for your time.

KHALIL: Thanks Tom.