WEDNESDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan to crack down on tax avoidance; Labor delivering extra funding for every public school; Liberal chaos and division; Halloween.
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: With an election looming and the Prime Minister's approval rating at an all time low, Labor has launched its bidding for your vote. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten joins me now live from Melbourne. Good morning to you Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning Karl.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, let's start with the business end of things. You've promised to crack down on multinational tax loopholes for companies and individuals. Easier said than done isn't it?
SHORTEN: Well, it is certainly easier said than done, but we have got to do it. I don't think most Australians waking up this morning realise that some corporations and some high net wealthy - very wealthy, wealthy individuals are dodging about $5 billion in tax over the next ten years by basically going to tax havens. And what I mean by that is, that there are some Australians who are able to claim citizenship or residency of another country, a low tax jurisdiction, and even though they earn money here they shuffle their money around and they pay practically no tax in these tax havens, these Caribbean Islands etc. I mean they even are able to fly over and inspect their tax accounts, in these tax havans and claim that back off the Australian taxpayer. So we are going to shut down the loopholes. The other thing we are going to do is we're going to reward whistleblowers. So if you are doing something dodgy with your tax overseas and a whistleblower comes forward, the whistleblower is going to share some of the reward. So it just means that for everyone who is not doing the right thing by tax, it means that someone who knows what they are doing, could well get some more money by giving you up. That way we think that we're going to get our multinationals -
STEFANOVIC: A lot of these wealthy individuals get themselves lawyered up and you're talking about international boundaries and international laws here. I think it's unfair Aussie businesses pay full freight as well but it's been like that for a long time. How exactly are you going to - how specifically are you going to shut them down?
SHORTEN: We're going to change the laws and we're going to put the resources to enforce the laws. If you want to crack down on multinationals and very, very wealthy people not paying their tax, who do you trust? The Liberal Party who spent most of their time in government wanting to give them tax cuts, or the Labor Party who wants to properly fund our schools and hospitals? When it comes to this, there's only one party you can trust to clean it up and that's the Labor Party.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, and nothing specific though?
SHORTEN: Well we are putting forward a series of recommendations. Changing the law on whistleblowers, changing the ability of companies to mask or hide what they are doing. We are going to ask them to be much more transparent in their reporting. So we are very going to put forward a series - and we put them forward today, very specific proposals which international tax experts say are best practice to clamp down on all the money going overseas, rather than paying for our schools and our roads and our hospitals.
STEFANOVIC: It would be good to clean up those multinationals who are using those loopholes, it would be a good thing. Okay, there are reports also this morning you are going to increase the dole after you get elected, is that true?
SHORTEN: What we have said is that we are going to review the Newstart allowance. It is, in my opinion too low. You don't review something to cut it. We don't know what number will come up - that we’ll get at the end of the review, that's why we're having the review. But I'm not going to stand here and say that someone on $260 a week is doing it easy, they're simply not.
STEFANOVIC: The flip side will be that people out there say, hang on a second you don't want to encourage people to be on the dole.
SHORTEN: Of course we want people to get off the dole and get a job. But you know, this sort of simple view that you either starve people in order to make them get off the dole, it's just not as straightforward as that. No, our priority is to make sure people find a job. Our priority is to make sure that we encourage people to work, they have got the skills to work, they've got the attitude to work. But at the same time, I'm not going to start kicking a person who is down in the head, am I? That's what we do when we just say bad luck.
STEFANOVIC: You are aren't spending too much already are you?
SHORTEN: No, what we are able to do is we are prioritising schools and hospitals over creating richer multinationals and more tax minimisers in you know, Caribbean Islands. That's how we pay for our promises. We want to make sure - everyone has got to live within there their means, but what annoys me is that there is one rule for some and another rule for most other people. What we want to do is make sure that we've got a fair tax system which is one which covers everyone and treats everyone the same.
STEFANOVIC: The reality is Bill, you don't actually need to do anything. You don't need to be on our show, you don't need to say anything, you just need to be quiet and you will win the next election.
SHORTEN: Well, some people say that to me. But with the division and the instability of the government, the fact that the Liberals sacked Malcolm Turnbull nine weeks ago, then they have got to send him to Bali to clean up the new Prime Minister's foreign policy mess, the chaos has got to end. But what I'm not going to do is just do that by doing nothing. We need to that demonstrate to Australian people that the system can work. That at least one of the major parties is working on policies for the future.
STEFANOVIC: You don't want to run the risk of bringing yourself undone though, I mean you're in the box seat, you've basically won the race.
SHORTEN: No, it's still got a long way to go. That would be too arrogant to just assume that the election is over. No, what I want to do is restore people's faith in the system. For me the reason why I want to be Prime Minister is to hand on a better deal to our kids. That's why today we are announcing that we will – that we can explain to every school in Australia, the extra funding for the extra tutoring for kids who are doing really well and the kids who are falling behind. And the reason why we can make promises on that -or reducing waiting lists, properly funding our hospitals, making sure that kids can get apprenticeships, is that we are cracking down on the multinationals and the big end of town. We just want to have the same set of rules for all Aussies.
STEFANOVIC: Happy Halloween to you this morning. Are you going trick or treating this arvo with the kids? Maybe you could go around Malcolm's house, he has got plenty of goodies for the government.
SHORTEN: I don't know if he is back from Bali yet, with the old mop, cleaning up Mr Morrison's problems. But no, I'm going trick or treating. My little daughter made me ring all the parents of her friends to make sure they knew what time to be here. And it's a big deal, I mean I know people don't like the commercialisation some days, but I have to say, this is one of the unusual times in the year where the kids get out - I mean parents watching, and they go and talk to the neighbours. I like the atmosphere of Halloween.
STEFANOVIC: I don't mind it either. Good on you Bill, thank you very much.
SHORTEN: Maybe not the lollies. See you, bye.