In her opening question to Morrison, during a 7.30 interview shortly after this year’s Federal Budget was unveiled, Sales was forthright in her assessment.
“Could you be the first Liberal Treasurer in history to deliver a Labor budget?”
Watch: Leigh Sales grilled Scott Morrison on the Medicare levy increase.
The blow came after the Turnbull Government announced it would introduce a 0.015 per cent levy on banks and raised the Medicare levy by 0.5 per cent.
The 7.30 host said this move – raising taxes to reduce debt, instead of cutting spending – was more in line with Labor’s tactics than the Coalition’s, which is a conclusion other commentators have also reached.
However, Morrison said the revenue-raising measures were included to make up for $13.5 billion in spending cuts the Senate had rejected over the past year.
“We pay for our budgets, and our budgets are honest about the numbers that are in them,” he said.
“What we’ve done is deal with the problems that are in front of us… otherwise you have to increase the debt or the deficit.”
Keeping true to the interview style we’ve come to expect from Sales, she didn’t let the politician off that easy.
“You have a Medicare guarantee, you’re paying for Labor’s National Disability Insurance Scheme with a tax, you’re taking on debt to pay for infrastructure and giving more money to homeless,” she countered.
“That can’t get more Labor, can it?”
Sales mentioned the Coalition had previously pledged to cut spending, but instead were increasing revenue.
Morrison said it was highly profitable banks, multinationals and foreign investors that were being taxed, not the Australian people.
However, he conceded the Medicare levy was still a tax, but pointed to the public's desire to fund the NDIS as his justification.
When asked if the tax increase on banks would be passed on to customers, Morrison said the ACCC would keep them in line.
Are you happy with the 2017 Federal Budget?