SUBJECTS: Western Australian Election, Miscarriage, Company Tax Cuts, Expenses, Banking Royal Commission

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Tim Hammond, thanks very much for your company.

TIM HAMMOND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS: Great to be here with you again guys, very much so.

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Yeh, you don't look that thrilled, but anyway.

HAMMOND: I was trying really hard to be measured in relation to the election victory, I did my best. 

VAN ONSELEN: You weren't being measured at all, you were trying to take Federal credit for a great State result by Mark McGowan. Look I am glad you raised the WA Election because I wanted to ask you, have you spoken to Stephen Smith about it? Because he was adamant, not that long ago, that Mark McGowan was unelectable and he had to challenge him not even from within the parliamentary party, but from outside of it. Stephen Smith thought Mark McGowan was unelectable, he must have more egg on his face than anyone else in the great state of Western Australia, have you spoken to him?

HAMMOND: Well, I don't know about that. Stephen of course was one of my predecessors before he retired in the Federal Seat of Perth and Alannah ran, so I speak to Stephen every now and again and he provides me a bit of advice every now and again.

VAN ONSELEN: I wouldn't take it, Tim Hammond, because his advice to Labor at State level was don't stick with Mark McGowan, he's unelectable.  I wouldn't listen to that advice.

HAMMOND: He served the Federal Labor Party well for twenty years, Peter, so I think you've got to take that into account as well to be fair.  

KENEALLY: Alright taking other things into account, explain your actions Tim Hammond, yesterday you were kicked out of a very fiery question time. I think you said to Peter Dutton along the lines that you wishes his answers were as polished as his dome.

VAN ONSELEN: That is unparliamentary, you should be kicked out, will you apologise?

HAMMOND: I wasn't asked to, if Peter is offended by it, I am quite happy to have a chat to him about it. Look, it was one of those heat of the moment kind of exchanges, it was that kind of a day yesterday. I don't know what it is about the three of us getting together, I think last time I was here, it was after that first fiery Question Time, and again yesterday. But, no my time, in the chamber was cut a bit short, I had a bit of time to reflect on it and I'll be back better than ever today. 

KENEALLY: Are you going to try and get thrown out again, aren't you? I mean you want an early mark for this last sitting day, you've got to get back to WA?

HAMMOND: No, no, we are going to be here for a while I think, there is a bit of activity happening in the other place that I think we will have to deal with so.

VAN ONSELEN: Is that right, it could be a long night? People missing flights, having to stay in Canberra an extra night, particularly the Western Australians?

HAMMOND: Yeh, look I think it's pretty hard to get out of here and to get back west much after sort of 7 or 8 o'clock, even if you go through some of the other capital cities, so I think us West Australians are confined to getting the pyjamas out for one more night and staying on this side of the country until we get back to electorates and families and those sorts of things. 

KENEALLY: Now what about Bronwyn Bishop, while we are talking about travel, she's in the spotlight today for her expenses. She makes the point, and it's probably one worth making, that she actually did act within the rules. Other people may observe that the rules were so wide, that the Government and the Opposition probably both have responsibility here for developing a system where you could probably drive a truck through the rules. What's your take first of all, on Bronwyn Bishop, the reports of her, the inquiry into her expenses?

HAMMOND: Look I thought Bronwyn's reaction was pretty interesting. She certainly didn't leave her light hiding under a bushel on this channel the other night. Look, for me, this stuff kind of just gets back to a common sense test. Back in my old job, we sort of use to have a rule, how would this bit of correspondence look if it was put in front of a judge. I think in this job it's sort of the same thing. How would this conduct look if it was on the front page of the paper? And we talk about a pub test or a common sense test and those sorts of things, but we've just got to be really mindful in our roles of relating this back of what does the community reasonably expect of us to do. I reckon if you relate it back to that the answers kind of answer themselves. It's also that gut instinct thing, if you've got to ask the question of yourself about whether this is something that you should or shouldn't be doing, then you probably kind of know the answer, really.

VAN ONSELEN: But Tim Hammond, doesn't the same thing go on both sides, I mean you can apply that to Bronwyn Bishop, you could equally apply that to some of the media around Tony Burke for an example, with his travel with family, all within the rules however, same principle applies but none of this seems to be getting fixed up. 

HAMMOND: I think again, we can create rules and more rules and I think that both sides are actually trying their best at the moment to come to some sort of consensus on the Conde Report about we can improve the process so that the community doesn't feel as if we are letting them down in relation to how it is that we get about and do our business. There are always going to be cases that come before the papers, and the media and the community and whatever as to whether it's sort of outside that pub test, but again, it just comes back to common sense.

KENEALLY: Well we will wait and see. I do know the Government has introduced legislation today, our colleague Sam Maiden had a fair amount to say earlier today about that it did not solve the problems, so we will see how this legislation makes its way through the parliament. Can I ask you, back on company tax cuts, it does look like it's possible that they will get a company tax cut through the Senate for businesses who have a turnover up to $50million.

VAN ONSELEN: It's all on Derryn Hinch.

KENEALLY: Well the fate of the nation, the fate of the company tax cut, sits on Derryn Hinch, potentially. Tim your thoughts? I mean Labor's staked a lot on this company tax cut staying in the budget for its amount. Surely, Labor would like to see Malcolm Turnbull win this argument internally within the Government and keep the company tax cut in the budget?

HAMMOND: Look Kristina, we're pretty clear eyed and we always have been in relation to our views on these company tax cuts. The size of the figures projected forward, are quite frankly astounding. We've made it clear that this country cannot afford what is being proposed, and also the fundamental questions is, really is this something the community also wants to see, with the big four banks, getting a &7billion tax cut, in a circumstance when on the other side of the coin the proposal is to rip $30billion out of education? Our position on this has been pretty consistent on this all the way through. 

VAN ONSELEN: Well hang on a second, it’s only been consistent in fairness, post Chris Bowen's book where he called for company tax cuts and post Bill Shorten's desire for company tax cuts as a Minister. Since then it has been consistent.

HAMMOND: I just don't agree, we went to the election saying that for turnover at a particular point, in the $2million range, then company tax cuts a) are affordable, and b( could be supported. What we are talking about here is a Titanic of tax cuts. A $50billion projected forward to entirely the wrong end of town in terms of who might actually need it. So we've been on the record for a long time saying pretty clearly this is what the country needs, and more to the point this $50billion company tax cut is not what the country needs.

VAN ONSELEN: Alright we just need to hold that thought for moment, Tim Hammond, I just want to play, who is that MP in the Senate? Let's go to the Senate. Ian MacDonald! But not the Ian MacDonald, we want to be very clear, making news today, from state politics. We could go to the house, Mark Dreyfus, of course.

KENEALLY: This game's getting to easy for us Pete, we might have to retire.

VAN ONSELEN: Alright Tim Hammond, back to you, you say that you've been consistent on company tax cuts. You have been consistent in opposing the quantum of these company tax cuts, of that there is no doubt about that, but where you are inconsistent as a party is the philosophical rhetoric about the needs to bring company taxes down to be competitive which was the cornerstone of the book that Chris Bowen wrote when he was talking about why company tax cuts are so important.

HAMMOND: I tell you what Chris Bowen must be rapt at the publicity he is getting around the book, he's written more than one book and he might have mentioned tax cuts in one part of one book, but again I think it’s about putting into context. I think we do have a really good story to tell here in terms of what the community expects from governments or oppositions about where to bank what precious little available revenue we have. That's in education, that's in hospitals, that's in schools, it's not in the big four banks.

VAN ONSELEN: Ok so the big four banks. You can't carve out for one sector surely?

HAMMOND: No, but it's all about the amount of money going to the top end of town, who year after year, declare record profits. $7billion to the big four banks where, quite frankly, what we actually need to be doing, is shining a light on their conduct and actually calling for and implementing a Royal Commission.

KENEALLY: Alright Tim we have to move on.

VAN ONSELEN: Hang on we also need to ask him about the breaking up the banks, because Sam Dastyari said that, so has Matt Thistlethwaite, are you of the view that breaking up the banks so that they are not 'too big to fail' would be a good thing to do?

HAMMOND: I think where we need to start is by putting a spotlight in an environment of a Royal Commission to work out the conduct that is currently affecting the way in which Mums and Dads invest their funds, the way in which they are being treated by a large bank that is constantly year after year recording profits that is in the millions and millions of dollars. The starting point right here, regardless of where we end up, in regards to what we do or don’t break up, is a Royal Commission.

KENEALLY: Alright, Tim I think that is a fair point and this issue is going to go on. If Labor wins the Election, there will be a Royal Commission and then that question will undoubtedly be on the table. Let me ask you this thought Tim, you wrote a piece today in the West Australian newspaper, about miscarriage. We often talk about the need to have a human element in discussing what it is to be a politician is you do have public platform. You've chosen to do that in a very open way about a very personal issue for you and your wife about miscarriage, wanting to shine a light on it. What really sat behind your decision and what were you hoping to do by writing this essay today?

HAMMOND: Look, Kristina, the back story was that there was an opportunity to write for the West about something that wasn't part of our everyday life and we have some great news, my wife Lindsay and I, in that we have discovered, quite to our surprise that she is ten weeks pregnant. Which is terrific. But it kind of then presented a bit of an issue in the context of this kind of convention that we have created for ourselves about keeping these things under wraps until the twelve week mark, because of the risk of miscarriage up until twelve weeks being really high. One in four, to one in three mothers, will miscarriage before that time. It got us thinking, because as I said in the article, we have two young girls, but this wasn't our third child, it was actually our sixth, because between our two little girls we had three miscarriages in a row. So with me being all the way over here and Lindsay being back in Perth, we reflected on, what's the downside of being really open about the fact that we are pregnant, it is only in those early stages and yes there is a risk that things might go wrong. So I reflected on that, and we talked as a couple about, hey why don't we put pen to paper and talk about the fact that, perhaps if we are more open about what can go wrong in those early stages, what it will do is hopefully go some way to reducing the risk of mothers and couples feeling more isolated and more lonely than perhaps they might need to, if something goes wrong. I kind of felt that it was important after discussing it with Lindsay, that it was important to shine a bit of a light on that twelve week time period and just make sure that everyone knows that if they want to share that information then it's really ok to do so regardless of what happens. But fingers crossed for us, she had a scan yesterday and things are looking alright at the moment and the feedback from the article has been terrific.

VAN ONSELEN: Well we wish you all the best with the pregnancy, congratulations and also well said I think one of the big reasons that it gets left to twelve weeks by a lot of people is this unnecessary and incorrect almost stigma the wrong word, but this idea that in case something does go wrong, you don't want to be open about it. Full marks to you for doing that, I think it’s the right way to go. All the best, thanks Tim.

KENEALLY: Thanks Tim.

HAMMOND: Thanks guys.