SUBJECT | Migration, Budget and Stuart Robert | 8 May 2023
KENNY HEATLEY: Australia's permanent migration impact could be as high as 600,000 next financial year because of under the Albanese Government's 350,000 New Zealanders who have been in the country more than four years will be offered permanent residency. And that's on top of the permanent overseas migration intake. Your thoughts on that?
TEHAN: Well, what we have to see is what is the plan? The Labor Government have to deal with this. What are they going to do to deal with the housing crisis, it’s going to exacerbate; the rental crisis, it's going to exacerbate; the congestion that we're seeing in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and other capital cities. I mean, they're cutting infrastructure funding at a time they're bringing all these permanent residents into the country. 715,000 is the overall net overseas migration number we're looking at. We know that they’re baking in this permanent increase and they've just got no plan to deal with it. So, it's going to be very interesting to see how in the budget they set all this out and what the cost is going to be to the Australian taxpayer.
HEATLEY: Do you think Peter Dutton, in his budget reply speech, will focus on the migration levels and the housing crisis that you just spoke about, and is that how he's going to try to appeal to middle Australia?
TEHAN: Well, we'll have to wait and see what the Leader of the Opposition delivers on Thursday night and I'm not going to do a spoiler alert on a Monday morning ahead of Labor's budget on Tuesday, where what we know we're going to see is more tax. We know that this country won't have been taxed like it — and it will have to go back to 2008 when Labor was last in office. So we're going to see a lot of tax. We're going to see spending which has no plan and is not going to address inflation. If they have no plan to address inflation in this budget, that's going to hurt Australians in the longer term. So that will be the focus but we've been making the point now for about the last 4 to 5 months when it comes to immigration, Labor's got no plan whatsoever. We can't find out how many young skilled people they're bringing into the nation because that is how we address the skills shortages. All we’re seeing is huge numbers coming in, which is making a bad situation worse. It's big Australia policy not a better Australia policy.
HEATLEY: The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association is urging the Coalition to support the PRRT tax reforms so Labor is not forced to deal with the Greens and independents in the Senate, who will most likely call for even higher taxes on the industry. So, will the Coalition do what the gas industry wants and support the Government on this?
TEHAN: Well, we'll look at this and we'll take a very considered approach to it. Obviously, higher taxes are not in our DNA, but we will consider it. We'll see what the budget papers have to say about the amount of revenue that it's going to increase. We've got to make sure that if it is going to be something that we would accept, that it's a tax that is actually going to work. I mean, Labor's history in this regard, going back to the mining tax, is often they’ll put taxes in place which don't actually work. So, we've got to consider it sensibly, examine it based on its merits, obviously do the consultation with the industry and then we will make a decision on it.
HEATLEY: Credit Suisse is saying that the PRRT tax reforms are a Canberra tax on Western Australia and will hurt investment in Western Australia. Do you share those concerns?
TEHAN: Well, the way Labor's history of tax works is that they do seem to like taxes which kill investment, and we saw that with the failed mining tax the last time they were in government. And that's why we've got to look at the detail, consider it as part of tomorrow's budget, and then make a decision. We won't rush to it. We will look at the detail. We'll obviously consult with industry and take all those things into account, ie will it kill investment and kill investment, for instance, in the gas sector when we know that we need investment in the gas sector because it is the most important fuel we need as we transition the economy.
HEATLEY: Okay, Stuart Robert’s exit has triggered a by election in Fadden on the Gold Coast, it sits on a margin of 10%, you should hold on to that one, surely?
TEHAN: Well, first of all, can I just thank Stuart Robert for his contribution to the Parliament. As he said himself, it's been at times a tough time for him, and I wish him and his family well. We'll obviously be putting a very, very strong case to the voters of Fadden as to why they should stick with the LNP. The most important thing is we get a good local candidate on the ground as quickly as possibly as we can. And the LNP are already working on that. And it is just a matter of us making the case of why we represent that part of Australia, because their values the values of those voters, align with our voters, which are smaller taxes, less spending, dealing with inflation and making sure we're delivering for households in a way which will enable them to grow and grow their families.
HEATLEY: Gold Coast businesswoman Fran Ward is the front runner at the moment for the fight, and that's what Peter Dutton wanted — he wanted a local in the seat.
TEHAN: Absolutely. We want a local. That's always what we're looking for is to get the very best local that we can. So we've got a strong candidate that can represent communities that they know well. So, obviously, in the end, that's up to the preselectors of the LNP, but I'm sure there will be very good, strong candidates who will be able to choose from to be the next member for Fadden, if that's the way the voters see it.
HEATLEY: Dan Tehan, appreciate your time this morning. Thank you