Sky News Interview: North Korea, Newspoll, Corporate Tax Cuts



SUBJECTS: Trump and Kim Jong-un Meeting, Corporate Tax Cuts,

KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Let’s go to the Labor Party’s Peter Khalil. Now Peter, good morning to you.


GILBERT: I want to start on a much broader front with yourself and these developments that we’ve seen overnight. Donald Trump very, very positive now about this looming summit on the 12th of June.

KHALIL: Yes, Kieran, well look, it’s this on again off again bromance between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. You know, they’re kind of like teenage pen pals, writing to each other, or Donald, the President, writes to Kim, you know, pleading and upset with his latest statements and it’s back and forward. But it does mask a much more serious – a deadly serious – set of circumstances on the Korean peninsula which effectively is all about the future security and stability of millions of people, frankly, as well as the impact on the rest of the world, as well as global security. So it’s deadly serious and I’ve been trying to look at, sort of, deeper. What are the motivations for Kim Jong-un to engage in this respect? And I think partly, and this is all speculative Kieran, but there is probably a push to ensure that they open up the economy in North Korea. He needs to feed his people. He needs to also reward his elite. And that could possibly be done with an opening up economically. While he might think he might be able to still control the security and the establishment, if you like. And looking at other autocratic regimes as models, like Myanmar and others, he may think he can go down that path.

GILBERT: Well, it’s just extraordinary to see how far they’ve gone already in terms of… as someone who watches these matters pretty closely yourself, you’d be hard to imagine this sort of thing happening only months ago, really. To see Moon Jae-in making a secret meeting with the North Korean leader on the North Korean side of the DMZ over the weekend

KHALIL: Yes, that’s right and I think that I mentioned motivations earlier. South Korea is also motivated, I think, in some respects as well. And I assume the business community in South Korea see the opportunity of having factories in the North with cheap labour and all the rest of it. Samsung and all the others. And money is a big part of this, but what’s interesting to me is also China’s positioning on this. What they would like to see happen. As long as they can maintain some level of control over the North Korean regime, they may be also open to the opening… opening up the regime. They certainly wouldn’t want North Korea to go entirely into the western sphere of influence, or the US sphere of influence. That would be something that the Chinese would not want to see. Although, as part of a deal going down the track, what will Kim need, what’s the price that will have to be paid by the US for Kim to denuclearise? And I think a big part of that will have to be around the presence of US troops in South Korea. So there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge yet, on these negotiations.

GILBERT: To news at home and we’ve seen that Newspoll showing more than 60 per cent of people think that either the corporate tax cuts should be delivered immediately or within the ten year framework that the Government’s looking at. Peter Khalil, were you surprised by the strength of that support?

KHALIL: It’s interesting, the question that was asked of people in that poll. You know that Labor supports tax cuts for businesses up to $2 million in revenue and that’s over 80 per cent of businesses across Australia. So we’ve supported that. We think that’s a really important element of tax relief for small business which employ the most people in Australia. So I’d have to ask what the question actually was. Were people thinking about that, as well as the broader tax cuts for the big end of town. We don’t believe that giving the tax cuts to the multinationals is actually the right priority for Australia. We think that those moneys, that funding, should be spent on education, on healthcare and infrastructure. That’s what we’re putting to the Australian people.

GILBERT: And finally, when. You’ve seen these comparisons, leadership comparisons, with Tanya Plibersek and Bill Shorten at 23 per cent ratings. 23 per cent for those two, Anthony Albanese at 26 per cent. Do politicians look at those?

KHALIL: [laugher] That’s a trick question, Kieran! You know, and the trick answer… I’m not going to give you a trick answer actually, I’ll give you a straight answer. The only poll that matters is the one on election day. And look, frankly, on the leadership stuff, Kieran, Bill has done a fantastic job uniting the party and being very, very brave on policy announcements and that’s very unlike any opposition since the history of federation. And I think that’s why the party is doing so well.

GILBERT: So you’re still, you know… Everyone’s relaxed and comfortable with the Shorten leadership, because he has put a lot of emphasis, he’s put a lot at stake on those company tax cuts in opposing them and if the public mood is not as visceral as you might have hoped, it’s certainly not going to be a vote changer by the looks of it.

KHALIL: Well, I mean, that’s your opinion, I think. We oppose the tax cuts to the big end of town and I think it’s our job to explain to the Australian people why investing that money, instead of giving it to big multinational companies, investing that money in their schools, in their hospitals, in their roads and their infrastructure is actually better for Australia. That’s our job as an opposition to talk to the Australian people about our priorities and what we would do in Government. I think, you know, that is a winning formula, policy formula, and it’s our job to actually explain and articulate it.

GILBERT: Labor MP, Peter Khalil. Great to see you. Thanks for that. We’ll talk to you soon. A quick break, back in a moment. Stay with us.

KHALIL: Thanks Kieran.