Bill's Transcripts

ABC AM - Budget 2015






SUBJECT/S: Budget 2015


MICHAEL BRISSDEN: Welcome to the program.




BRISSDEN: You could call it many things I suppose this Budget, but you wouldn’t call it unfair would you?


SHORTEN: What I'd say is this is a Budget aimed at saving one person's job: Tony Abbott's. What I couldn't call it is a Budget for the future. Now what it does do is - it still retains some of the unfairness of last year and I heard you talking in the interview just previously with Tony Abbott that there's $80 billion worth of cuts to schools and hospitals. $80 billion.


BRISSENDEN: Are you going to restore that money if you get back to government?


SHORTEN: There's no doubt that the way Tony Abbott is approaching the Commonwealth/State relations, it's a disaster. Last year they were talking about debt in almost hysterical terms. This year they're now almost hysterical with the excuses why debt isn't the issue that it was last year.


BRISSENDEN: Will you restore the $80 billion?


SHORTEN: We're going to have to see what the final numbers look like.


BRISSENDEN: You can't make the promise either?


SHORTEN: One thing we can say very clearly and it goes to answering your first question straight up, I think Australians just want to hear more straight talk from their politicians. You said is it an unfair Budget like last year, that was the question.


BRISSENDEN: Well you couldn't call it an unfair Budget, could you?


SHORTEN: Well I'm sorry, but if you're going to lose $80 billion worth of schools and hospitals yep, I call it unfair and I also call it unfair if families with children who are between 6 and 16, working families, the people who Tony Abbott's now, he’s dropped the issue of lifters and leaners, we've now got a new saying, he wants the people who have a go, well the people who have a go, Tony Abbott, people who rely on family payments, people who earn $60,000 a year, Tony Abbott is still cutting $6,000 from their payments. That is unfair.


BRISSENDEN: Now the Government has given up on quite a number of last year's unpopular cuts. It's trimmed its ambitions on pension reform, Medicare and the dole. Isn't the Government right when it says the heat is now on you, Bill Shorten, to work cooperatively to get the economy moving?


SHORTEN: Well there's plenty in that and I'll go to the first part of your question. When you say ‘they've trimmed their unfairness they've given up on pension reform’. Labor has won an argument so far where we said it was never pension reform. It was a cut to the pension. Tony Abbott has not atoned for what he said last year. For a year and you've been witness to it, you cover the Canberra political scene, for a year the Liberal said about Labor we're exaggerating the pensions. He kept saying with that trademark smirk, he said ‘pensions are going up’. The truth of the matter is Tony Abbott was cutting pensions and we've forced a retreat at this point. That's what's happened. That's what he's been doing.


BRISSENDEN: Will you support the assets test?


SHORTEN: You and I both know we've got to see the detail. What sort of Opposition Leader would I be if I just gave Tony Abbott a blank cheque. I mean after all, we know that Tony Abbott can't keep a position longer than a day. So we will look at means testing, we always have. We always have. But before we just wander in to give Tony Abbott a deal where 320,000 pensioners, that's right, 320,000 pensioners, lose some of their conditions, I don't know why Tony Abbott, and this is a question you asked me just a little earlier, what would we do? Why does Tony Abbott have such an aversion, such a reluctance to actually clamp down on the excessive concessions that we provide multi, multi-millionaires in the retirement phase with their superannuation?


Tony Abbott would say that a pensioner who might accrue an income stream of $16,000 off an asset base of $800,000 well he doesn't think they should get a part pension. But someone who has got $10 million in super who might be accruing hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments, something you and I and most people will never ever get to do in their lives, Tony Abbott says they should keep getting a 45 percent tax concession. I mean that would raise over $14 billion. Labor's changing the game in Australia at the moment. Because Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are so poor at running Australia, we're putting out costed policies halfway in the election cycle. You've never seen that before.


BRISSENDEN: You loaded up the Budget before you left office with a lot of money, billions in health and education spending and the NDIS. Surely as an Opposition you do have a responsibility to help get the Budget back into surplus now conditions have changed so much as the Prime Minister pointed out?


SHORTEN: Well, we do recognise that there's been a massive transition from mining to non-mining. Massive contraction. What we recognise is confidence –


BRISSENDEN: And a massive drop of revenue.


SHORTEN: What we recognise is there’s a massive contraction and Australians are feeling great uncertainty. What we've said in terms of revenue is that we don't think it's right that some foreign multinationals game our system and treat Australian tax laws as a soft touch. Now I notice belatedly the Abbott Government's decided they want to become Robin Hood too in terms of some multinationals although they’re detail is disturbingly light. We’re the ones, Labor is the one who said why would you give someone with $10 million in superannuation a tax concession, so that even if they’re earning on even a 5% return, half a million dollars, they pay no tax at all. That's crazy.


And what we also recognise, though, is that you need to grow the economy. This Budget last night failed that test. Where's the big plan for the future? We all know an election budget when we see it. You know and I know and Australians know they would have been hugely disappointed by last night's Budget because it's all about trying not to upset anyone. It was trying to have a few giveaways and the truth of the matter is it's still built on last year's unfairness.


BRISSENDEN: They are building a path back to surplus. A lot of it is credited on a lot of the stuff getting through the Senate that you have opposed in the Senate. Now, many people have pointed out that politics is crueling our efforts to rebuild the Budget. Why not be cooperative?


SHORTEN: What's cruelling our efforts in terms of the economy is that we've got an Abbott Government who opposed everything in opposition, they had no policies when they got to government, they've got more reviews than you can shake a stick at and they did a terrible, shocking Budget last year. Remember last year when you would be interviewing Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott? They were so pumped up and full of themselves, they said this is the best thing since sliced bread. Now a year later they want everyone to forget about last year. What we want to do is see more vision in this country. I'll be giving a Budget Reply speech on Thursday. I invite people to listen to that because I think the Government failed the test of the future last night.


BRISSENDEN: Let's look at what you will support. You will support the small business tax cuts presumably?


SHORTEN: We're certainly open to what we can do in small business but again –


BRISSENDEN: And the assets depreciation, you will support that?


SHORTEN: They're all part of the small business package. We recognise the importance of small business but it does beg the question, doesn't it, where has Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott been for the first 613 days of their government? They killed confidence in the high street from 3 weeks before the last Budget. Now they've got a few ideas to try and help small business. So we're open. I'm not going to be Tony Abbott. I do not believe in simply opposing everything. We've supported $20 billion –


BRISSENDEN: Let me put it this way, which bits will you not support?


SHORTEN: I'll go to the issue of the fact that I'm not Tony Abbott. We have supported $20 billion in savings. We've taken a political risk. We've ripped up the political rule book. We've put out our own savings and measures and what we would do with high-end superannuation tax concessions, reining them in. We've said we'd go after multinationals. What we're saying today is we do think small business is a worthy target and priority for government attention. We think infrastructure is a worthy priority for a government. But what we can't do is support the trickery.


This is a Government who is addicted to trickery. Look at their paid parental leave. What a mess they've made of it. 3, 4, 5, 6 years ago Tony Abbott said you'd have paid parental leave over his dead body. That's a matter of record. Then more lately he probably realised he needed to do something to win over women voters so he had this road to Damascus conversion when he says he's going to have the signature policy, whatever else he did he was going to have the rolled gold paid parental leave scheme. He then dropped that. Now he's cutting 80,000 mums off paid parental leave. The real problem with this is he doesn't respect, he doesn't hold a view and respect what he says. It's all about Tony Abbott, the polls and getting re-elected.


BRISSENDEN: And finally, are you ready for the election?


SHORTEN: We are.


BRISSENDEN: Alright, Bill Shorten thank you very much for joining us.


SHORTEN: Thank you


BRISSENDEN: That’s the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten there.