Sky News Interview with Kieran Gilbert

E&OE Transcript







KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Mr Dreyfus thanks for your time. Underpinning this idea from Mr Turnbull is this suggestion that the states need to be more accountable for the money that they’re spending. If they’re responsible for generating it, the argument is they would be more efficient in terms of spending. Is there not an inherent logic to that argument?


MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Very good to be with you Kieran. I don’t buy that argument of extra accountability or extra efficiency. There is already a tremendous incentive on the states and territories to be efficient in the way they spend. Obviously the more efficient you are, the less you will need to rely on taxpayers for, the less you will need to ask the Commonwealth for, so I think it’s a very hollow argument. What we’re seeing effectively is a ripping up, Kieran, of fiscal arrangements that have been in place since 1942. It’s breathtaking, from a Prime Minister who said we weren’t going to have policy on the run, now coming up with a thought bubble early in the week, it’s going to be dead by sundown. It’s over. The Premiers have already said – other than one, the Western Australia Premier – that they don’t like the idea. And the idea that this was produced out of traditional cabinet processes, I think that was the other thing Mr Turnbull said he was going to bring back, that would also be laughable because the Treasurer didn’t even know the detail of it.


GILBERT: It did go to cabinet last week apparently but in terms of this reaction from the states, they’re asking for more money on the one hand but rejecting the solution on the other. Isn’t it fair to say that this system, this approach works in many countries around the world? Canada, Switzerland across its 26 various provinces or cantons as they’re known – they have different income tax rates. Why not here?


DREYFUS: They’ve got different tax systems as well. In the United States municipal government, local councils raise money to fund local government schools. You could hardly get something more different. Perhaps Mr Turnbull is going to foist that idea on us. What we’ve got is continuity – Mr Turnbull has confessed to that – we’ve got continuity from the first two years of this Liberal government where in the 2014 budget we had huge cuts to health and education. It took a while for the then Prime Minister Tony Abbott to own up to those huge cuts, and to the way in which he had misled the Australian people before the 2013 election. Mr Turnbull wants to go further than that. He wants to completely withdraw the Commonwealth’s role in funding public education, another breathtaking change.


GILBERT: Let’s look at another couple of issues now. The Electoral Commission in New South Wales has refused to retract statements relating to the Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos. Now whatever has been done or is alleged to have gone on in relation to donations to the NSW Liberal Party, do you accept that the Commission is restricted in what it can do due to the statute of limitations?


DREYFUS: What is extraordinary about the NSW Electoral Commission is that it is withholding more than $4 million of public funding from the Liberal Party of New South Wales because of irregularities by that same NSW Liberal Party. This is the NSW Liberal Party that Arthur Sinodinos was the Treasurer of, chair of the finance committee. This is the NSW Liberal Party that Angus Taylor also served on the finance committee for. What they were doing was running a money laundering operation to wash donations from prohibited donors – that’s property developers – through this supposed charity to wash back to the NSW Liberal Party for use in the 2011 state election.


GILBERT: You mention those two individuals but do you have proof that they were involved or were aware of the behaviour you are referring to this morning? That those two individuals were complicit in it?


DREYFUS: Well just to start with Mr Taylor, Mr Taylor’s involvement became known last week when an email that hadn’t received much public attention before last week came to light, that showed he was actually engaged in some kind of underhand mechanism to get money from a property developer, Mr Haggarty. A prohibited donor. Mr Sinodinos of course, Senator Sinodinos, was the Treasurer of the Liberal Party of NSW. It’s not the case that ICAC has fully looked at all of this. They are looking at one aspect of it. What we’ve got is Mr Sinodinos saying ‘I didn’t know anything about it’ – I find that beggars belief. He’s the Treasurer of the NSW Liberal Party and either he’s turned a deliberate blind eye to it or in fact he did know something about it. He’s got many questions to answer, so does Angus Taylor.


GILBERT: Mr Dreyfus we’re out of time, appreciate your time with us this morning.


DREYFUS: Good to be with you Kieran.