Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Bendigo

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

TUESDAY, 29 APRIL 2014
BENDIGO


SUBJECT/S: Paid Parental Leave; Tony Abbott’s broken promise on tax increases; Tony Abbott’s twisted priorities; University deregulation; Labor Party Reform; War on drugs.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:
It's great to receive some home hospitality in Bendigo. It's great to be here in Bendigo, with hard-working local repetitive, Lisa Chester’s. I have just been treated to a lovely morning tea with people who are concerned and don't understand why on earth they say is Tony Abbott making life harder for pensioners, yet wants to give millionaires an extra $75,000 each for paid parental leave?

 

We have here this morning people who have worked hard their whole lives, people who have been carers for people with disabilities, people who have paid taxes their whole life, and now believe that they should have not a rich retirement, but just a modest retirement where they can participate in their communities. There is a great deal of concern, not only in this kitchen in Bendigo, but in kitchens and houses throughout  Australia.

 

People in Australia, and these lovely pensioners and the morning tea organised by Lorna, these people know that a broken promise is a broken promise.  A tax increase is a tax increase. No amount of weasel words by Tony Abbott and his Liberal Government can change the truth.

 

Before the election, the pensions were not going to be touched. Before the election, there would be no tax increases in a Government led by Tony Abbott. Now we see two weeks from the Budget, rampant speculation that there will be a tax increase on people who go to work, someone who is earning $80,000 will pay an extra $800 tax under Tony Abbott. These are not rich people. These are people who work hard to feed their kids, to have a roof over their heads, to have an okay life. Pensioners are really worried and scared that Tony Abbott will break his promises with his twisted priorities.

 

If you've been someone who has paid your taxes, raised your kids, worked hard your whole life, you have the legitimate ambition for a reasonable and modest retirement. Pensioners do not understand in Australia why Tony Abbott wants to give millionaires an extra $75,000, yet give less to pensioners in the future.

 

A broken promise is a broken promise, a tax increase is a tax increase, no amount of weasel words from Tony Abbott can change the truth that the Abbott Liberal Government's budget is focused on getting most ordinary Australians and pensioners to pay more and at the same time reward millionaires with the twisted priorities of the Abbott Government.

 

Happy to take questions.

 

REPORTER: Would Labor try to block any debt tax if it’s announced in the Senate?

 

SHORTEN: The Abbott Government said before the election in order to get Australians to vote for them, that they would not break promises and that they would not have tax increases. Today we have the remarkable spectacle of a desperate Prime Minister trying to pretend that a tax increase for a period of time is not really a tax increase - that's wrong, Mr Abbott.

 

A tax increase is a tax increase is a tax increase, and if ordinary Australians, people who work hard, earning $80,000, have to pay an extra $800, then we know that's a tax increase. The Abbott Government is justifying tax increases on ordinary Australians by saying there’s a budget emergency. How can there be a budget emergency in Australia if the Abbott Government's going to provide millionaires with $75,000 each for paid parental leave? How can there be a budget emergency when on one hand, the Abbott Government's happy to be photographed sitting in the cockpit of expensive war planes, and saying we’re going to spend billions of dollars buying these war planes, and on the other hand they’re telling mum and dad in the suburbs, pensioners in Bendigo, that you should be very concerned and very scared about your income and not seeing pensions increase, and seeing extra taxes paid by ordinary people.

 

It is a crazy idea to break the promises to increase taxes, to say to people on $80,000 a year, you have to pay $800 extra tax, yet tell millionaires that they can have $75,000 extra. There is no budget emergency in Australia. This government is creating a false budget emergency and in the process scaring pensioners and taxing ordinary Australians.

 

REPORTER: So is the Senate an option for blocking it?

 

SHORTEN: Well we need to see what they actually do. We will fight a tax increase on ordinary Australians, absolutely. Is it's a bad idea, it’s a broken promise, it’s a tax increase. Labor will have no part of it.

 

REPORTER: Mr Shorten, do you support this morning's announcement by the Prime Minister that the Commonwealth will commit $1.5 billion towards East West Link stage two?

 

SHORTEN: Tony Abbott hasn't said where this money is coming from and he hasn’t said when it's going to get spent. This is another proposition on the never-never by a desperate Prime Minister, who knows that his new taxes for ordinary Australians is coming across like a led balloon. I don't believe Tony Abbott has ever caught a train in Melbourne in his life. Anyone who catches a train in Melbourne or indeed from the regional centres like Bendigo knows that we need to have Metro Rail so more people are able to use public transport.

 

You cannot solve the problems of Melbourne's roads without having a public transport option. Tony Abbott has ruled out his Government ever supporting infrastructure funding for rail. Having a plan for roads, without having a plan for rail, will not solve any congestion issues in Melbourne or anyone using public transport in Victoria headed to Melbourne.

 

REPORTER: Is the framework for the pension out-dated? Should it be changed?

 

SHORTEN: Well the Abbott Government clearly misled people before the last election. Where was the speech that the Abbott Government gave when they were in Opposition greedily chasing everyone's votes? Where was the speech that Mr Abbott gave last night before the election? Imagine the uproar before the election if Tony Abbott had been truthful with the Australian people and said he was going to increase taxes, said that he was going to start monkeying around with the pension, monkeying around with the assets test, starting to flag that in the future he wants to restrict pensions? What on earth did carers in Australia who receive a carers pension ever do to Tony Abbott that makes Tony Abbott want to do nasty things to the carers pension?

 

Being a carer in Australia is not easy. There are carers up at midnight wondering who is going to care for their beautiful adult child with a profound disability. Now, in addition to their midnight anxiety about what happens to their children when the carers can no longer look after them, they’ve now got to worry what Tony Abbott is doing to their carers pension in this next budget and in future years.

 

REPORTER: Will he not have a mandate if he took it to the next election?

 

SHORTEN: Well if Tony Abbott wants to fight the next election on not looking after the people on the aged pension, that's his choice, but that would be a big mistake.

REPORTER: Just back on the debt tax, do you consider or accept that the Government's had to consider it because of the position the budget was left in by Labor?

 

SHORTEN: The Abbott Government is guilty of gross exaggeration and a broken promise is a broken promise, no matter which way they choose to try and use weasel words to justify it. If there is a so-called budget emergency in Australia, why on earth is Mr Abbott spending $22 billion over the next four years, in part to help give millionaires an extra $75,000? You can't say on one hand, the people earning $80,000 a year have got to pay more tax or that pensioners have got to worry about the future of their pension rises, and on the other hand provide millionaires with an extra $75,000 for paid parental leave.

 

This is a Government with twisted priorities. This is a tax increase that they are talking about, this is a broken promise, this is the mother of all broken promises by the Abbott Government. New taxes are making pensioners worried about what will happen to their future income.

 

REPORTER: It’s not a stretch to say the ALP didn't leave the books in the best state?

 

SHORTEN: If you want to talk about a stretch, let's have a look at the Abbott Government. Where did they say in their 32-day pre-election period they were going to increase taxes on all Australians? What has really changed in the Budget in the last seven months other than Tony Abbott is now the Prime Minister of Australia? If you really want to do something about budget of Australia, don't give millionaires $75,000 extra. If there is a real budget emergency, make sure people who don't need the money are not getting extra taxpayer money and instead asking the rest of Australia to subsidise this paid parental leave scheme for millionaires.

 

REPORTER: Mr Shorten, you’ve actually asked - and called on the Party to distance itself from unions organisationally at least, which is something that Ms Chesters has actually come out in her maiden speech in favour of, supporting unions. She's thanked nine unions in her speech, including her own and she's also helped to get Joe Bullock on to the number one WA Senate ticket and then called for him to stand down. On this visit here have you had a chance to speak to her about the modernisation plans that you have in Labor and convince her that you are right?

 

SHORTEN: There is a lot in that question. I'll try and give an answer covering all the points. First of all, Lisa Chesters is a hard working Member for Bendigo, a proud member of a union and uses the lessons that working people have taught her to make her a more quality representative, representing issues never in Bendigo. Lisa Chesters will never support increased taxes on ordinary people of the pension, and a $75,000 bonus for millionaires.

 

In terms of rebuilding the Labor Party, the Labor Party is political arm of the Australian people. The Labor Party needs to rebuild so that we can be strong on what matters to all Australians, including fighting for good Australian jobs, including standing up for education and healthcare, and defending the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Labor will appeal in coming years to people from all walks of life. I'm proud of having been a unionist and I am a member of a union. What I recognise, though, is that there are many people in the Australian community who look to Labor and we need to make them feel welcome.

 

We are not just a union party, we are a party for all Australians. The process of rebuilding the Labor Party and demonstrating to changed Australian that is we have changed has started. And Lisa Chesters is a formidable and capable representative for Bendigo, and she walks on the national stage with a great deal of respect from other Members of Parliament.

 

REPORTER: On recent proposals for university deregulation, does Labor support these ideas?

 

SHORTEN: The Abbott Government seems to have a people a problem with making it easy for people from a range of good backgrounds to be able to get a good education. In education, we believe in needs-based funding. We want to make that sure students at university, students from regional parts of Australia, such as Bendigo, don't have to pay much greater debts and fees in order to go to university.

 

Universities in Australia should be accessible to all. I'm very concerned that the Abbott Government is interested in making it harder for people from ordinary backgrounds to be able to go to university in this country, and we will be vigilant to ensure that all Australians, regardless of that their backgrounds, can hope that they get an opportunity to they want go to university if that's what they want to do.

 

REPORTER: There's been some varying speculation on the Defence budget heading into the budget next month. Should there be any reason for concerns for people in Tallis, in Bendigo, the projects coming up there?

 

SHORTEN: The Abbott Government doesn't have a good track record in seven months fighting for Australian jobs. I'm very concerned they are dragging their feet on the land warfare project, which could potentially be very positive for good quality jobs in Bendigo. The Abbott Government won't stand up and make decisions about constructing warships in Australian dock yards. The Abbott Government as we know presided over the death of the car industry. We have seen job losses in manufacturing being announced on a sad and regular basis. The Abbott Government will never fight for ordinary people's jobs, they just fight for their own job.

 

REPORTER: Mr Shorten, after what you have said here today, does this mean you are now prepared to block budget bills?

 

SHORTEN: What I say today is the idea that the Abbott Government wants to put a new tax on ordinary Australians is a bad idea. I predict that the Abbott Government will fold this issue before the budget. This is a Government whose testing the reaction of the community to their bad ideas, and if it gets too hot in the kitchen this Abbott Government will give up. We call upon Australians to let their Liberal MPs know that they do not believe that it is necessary or appropriate for ordinary Australians to have to pay tax increases, and Australians will mark the Abbott Government down very poorly if they try and put new taxes on ordinary Australians.

 

REPORTER: So you are not prepared at all to block the budget?

 

SHORTEN: I think the Abbott Government will fold its cards on this issue because frankly it is such a bad idea and such a shocking broken promise that the Abbott Government - they are saying there is a budget emergency, yet they want $75,000 to give millionaires an extra $75,000 paid parental leave? This is a Government with the wrong priorities. They wanted to try and break their promises on education, and community outcry at least made them retreat for the time being. They wanted to muck around with the age pension and now the Abbott Government are saying they will make that an issue at the next election. We can stop this nasty tax on ordinary Australians if people just say to their Liberal MPs ‘do not make us pay more taxes for your expensive paid parental leave schemes and false budget emergencies.’

 

REPORTER: Tony Abbott this morning has asked about [inaudible]. He says the war on drugs is one we may never win. What's your response to that?

 

SHORTEN: We can't give up on the war on drugs. The ice epidemic is a real issue, not just Melbourne or Victoria, but in country towns throughout Australia. All drugs are dreadful, but this is a particularly dreadful drug in terms of the impact it has on the people who consume it. It is being used by criminal gangs to hook young people and wreck their lives. It also has a very harmful effect on our community, because it seems that some of the by-products consuming ice are heightened violence and heightened energy and problems for our public at large.

 

So ice is a dreadful, dreadful drug, and we can't just expect the police to do the heavy lifting here. The whole community has to make it clear to those who would peddle and harm our young people that we will fight it with all means possible. It's not just a state issue or national issue, not a Liberal or Labor issue. On one hand, Tony Abbott's banging on about the need for us all to pay extra taxes, he'd be better off doing more to fight the challenge ice and the drug gangs, because that is really harming our young people and their families and our communities.

 

Thanks everyone. Have a good day.

 

ENDS

 

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