Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Canberra






SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Budget of Broken Promises and Twisted Priorities.  


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone. Great to be here with Jenny Macklin, our shadow spokesperson on families. We talking just had the privilege of talking to Karim and Radmila and their lovely 4-year-old daughter Isabella, her parents. These are hard-working ordinary Australians who are deeply concerned, shocked, and upset at the Abbott Government's very harsh and unfair Budget.


At the core of their upset is that Tony Abbott lied to the Australian people. He lied on pensions, he lied on Medicare, he lied on no new taxes. Tony Abbott lied.


Tonight, I will be talking about what Labor believes in, what Labor will fight for. And I can tell you now that Labor will fight for Medicare. Labor will fight for our pensioners. Labor will fight for working families, for people who shouldn't be subjected to Government increases to their cost of living through a petrol tax. Labor will fight on behalf of Australians against a broken promise Budget based upon lies of the last election by Tony Abbott.


Before I pass to my colleague Jenny Macklin, I’d just like to make a brief comment about the comments the Treasurer Joe Hockey has made earlier today. Joe Hockey, just how out of touch are you with the real needs of ordinary Australians? Casually dismissing the new tax on going to the doctor and saying that it wasn't very much money at all, and what was the fuss about? Joe Hockey and the Abbott Government, you are out of touch with Australians if you think that repeated visits to the doctor with a new tax, co-payment on going to the doctor, more expensive medicine, more expensive visits to the hospital, if you think that this is just a casual matter then this is very worrying for ordinary Australians because it confirms the people who wrote Tuesday night’s Budget have no clue about the real world in which the rest of us live.


I might few ask my colleague Jenny to say a few words.


JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES & PAYMENTS: Thanks very much Bill. I would just like to echo Bill's words in thanking Karim and Radmila and Isabella for coming to talk to us today


This family is typical of the pressure that is going to come on Australian families from Tony Abbott's Budget. Tony Abbott's Budget is going to deliver a cut of up to $5,000 a year to Australian families. This will come from cuts to family payments, the abolition of the Schoolkids bonus, the new GP tax, the new fuel tax. All of these cuts and new taxes will mean that Australian families are so much worse off as a result of Tony Abbott's Budget.


And of course this applies to Australian pensioners as well. Australian pensioners are being punished by Tony Abbott's Budget. Australian pensioners are being told "tighten your belt, take the cut" even though Tony Abbott promised before the last election there would be no changes to pensions, no cuts pensions. Australian pensioners have worked all their lives, contributed to the Australian way of life and now they're being told by Tony Abbot “you must take a cut to your pension, even though you've worked hard all of your lives.”


SHORTEN: Thank you. We're happy to take questions.


REPORTER: If families are going to be so then much worse off, will you block then all those measures you just enumerate? The fuel tax, the co-payments, the family payments cuts and the pension changes?


SHORTEN: We'll talk more about this tonight in my Budget Reply, but let me put down some markers right now. Labor will oppose the petrol excise because it's an unfair tax on the cost of living of every Australian motorist. Labor will fight and fight and fight to defend Medicare. We support a universal scheme. Labor will never buy this Joe Hockey Tony Abbott cigar-chomping attitude which says that you can tax sick people to make them better, that we will discourage people from going to the GP. Labor will fight for Medicare on behalf of all Australians. The third thing which we will absolutely do is we’re going to stand up for our pensioners. There are millions of Australians who are today worried sick that somehow Tony Abbott lied to them at the last election, now they're finding out that their pensions will be cut. So on the pensions, on the Medicare, on the petrol we are going to be on the side of Australia not on the side of Tony Abbott.


In terms of other matters, we think the family payments proposition where they're taking thousands of dollars from people who earn $80, $90, $100, 000 a year, $110, 000, we think that's a terrible idea. We'll finalise our position, but let me say to those thousands of families who are contacting Liberal and Labor MPs, we're hearing you loud and clear. We already knew it was a bad idea and you are convincing us yet again how outraged the Australian people are.


REPORTER: Mr Shorten, you mentioned this morning that it was harsh, the changes to youth unemployment benefits. Is that something you'll also fight, the youth unemployment benefits changes?


SHORTEN: What's Tony Abbott got against unemployed people under the age of 30? He just wants to have cheap slogans: earn or learn. That's not a program to create jobs. His Budget was light on job creation, big on blaming people. This idea - what he's doing is cost shifting, when a young person's unemployed, he's putting it back on the family for 6 months. How does he think young people live with no money for 6 months? So we are very, very unimpressed. We are astounded at the heartlessness of these measures and we'll have much more to say about these measures in coming days.


REPORTER: Astounded but will you fight it?


SHORTEN: We've got more to say, but we think it is a bad idea. Can't be any clearer. It is a bad idea. They're all stick and no carrot. What they need to do when it comes to jobs is talk about how they're going to create jobs in this country, not about how you punish people. We're about the future of this Australia. Labor understands that in the real economy, in the real world, you've got to be about growth. Budgets have got to build confidence, they've got to help families. They're not to put pressure on families, not to kill confidence. But it is a bad idea to tell Australians that for six months you are on your own completely. That's heartless.


REPORTER: Do you support the deficit levy?


SHORTEN: On the deficit levy, let me be perfectly clear - it is a broken promise, it's a whopper of a broken promise. I think every Australian recalls that before the election Tony Abbott made himself the Mother Teresa of politicians by saying he would never break a promise, yet he lied. He lied, and he lied, and he lied. He said there would be no new tax increases. Deficit levy, what weasel words. He's increasing the top marginal tax rate by 2 per cent.


Now for Labor, our concern though is this: there's so many fronts to fight on. We want to be the people who defend Medicare, we want to be the people who help every Australian motorist with their cost-of-living pressures, with their new petrol tax, opposing that. We want to stand up for the pensioners. So they're our priorities, but let us make no mistake in the reckoning of this Government's pre-election lies, they're increasing income tax is a broken promise and it’s a dreadful lie.


REPORTER: Will you oppose a debt levy?


SHORTEN: We haven't got a final position. It's clearly a broken promise but with the political capital that Labor has as the Opposition, our priority are low and middle income earners. But let us make no mistake, the Abbott Government has lied to every Australian.


REPORTER: You haven't mentioned the cuts to health or education. State Premier Mike Baird is calling an emergency meeting of a Premiers on Sunday.


SHORTEN: Well, it's a good point you raise. There's a lot to mention in this Budget which is bad. What we saw is the Abbott Government on Tuesday say that they’re going to cut $80 billion from hospitals and schools. You probably could hear a pin drop in the Premiers’ suites all around Australia. The Abbott Government is systematically going, in the next 10 years, to starve our hospitals and schools. In politics you can argue about a lot of things but there's always been a general agreement, I thought, between Labor and Liberal that kids have got a right to go to a school, kids have got a right to go to TAFE and uni, people have got a right to go the doctor and the hospital.


The Abbott Government is cutting across this nation with their astounding attack on the States and make no mistake, the Premiers have worked it out, Australians have worked it out, what he intends to do is create the - by cutting and cutting and cutting, extending the waiting lists, making the schools more decrepit, making sure that people can't get in to see their doctors in a timely fashion, he is creating the perfect storm to force the States to demand a GST. But we're not going to let him off his cuts first of all, because these cuts are unnecessary, they’re harsh, and they’re based on pre-election lies by Tony Abbott.


REPORTER: The States say the GST needs to rise by 50 per cent. The Government says it’s being upfront with people. Should the Government be upfront and tell people they should expect the GST to be 15 per cent?


SHORTEN: Who will ever believe what Tony Abbott ever says again? Before the election he said no changes to pensions, that was a lie. Tony Abbott said there would be no new taxes, that was a lie. He said that Medicare would be - there would be no cuts to health and education, that was a lie. He also said there would be no change to GST. You wouldn't hold your breath that he was telling the truth on that either.


REPORTER: Is there any element of the higher education changes that you might be inclined to support?


SHORTEN: What is it that Tony Abbott's got against country kids and kids from modest backgrounds, by creating more barriers for them and their parents to hope they can go to university? From the Whitlam era onwards we all had the opportunity to go to university. The idea in Australia that regardless of your post-code, if you chose to go to university you could get that chance, has been one which we thought there was a political consensus. Tony Abbott has made decisions which are going to hurt ordinary families in every town and every region in Australia, and his higher education changes are no different. We take a very dim view of creating a two-class society where only the rich can afford to go to higher education and the rest of Australians, we just pay Tony Abbott's taxes.


REPORTER: Would you welcome an early election if these changes are passed?


SHORTEN: Tony Abbott's not going to go to an early election. He is trying to distract people. We think the best thing Tony Abbott could do is go back and redo his Budget –


REPORTER: Is that something you'd like to see though?


SHORTEN: No, we want Tony Abbott to stop attacking people's cost of living. We want Tony Abbott to stop attacking Medicare. We want Tony Abbott to protect the pensioners.


MACKLIN: To stop lying.


SHORTEN: We want Tony Abbott to stop lying.


REPORTER: If the States unanimously came to Canberra and said ‘there’s no other way to fund schools and hospitals, we have to lift the GST,’ wouldn't it be irresponsible of the Commonwealth to say, ‘no, you have to find it some other way’?


SHORTEN: You assume that Tony Abbott is right to cut $80 billion out of health and education. We do not. The Commonwealth, since the days of Menzies, has been supporting the education of Australian children, since the days of Menzies and Whitlam. Though now all of a sudden Tony Abbott wants the starve hospitals of money, starve schools of money. When they say that there is no role for the Commonwealth in education or in schools, they are betraying every parent and every child.


REPORTER: [Inaudible] could provide a base level of funding but not these sorts extravagant, over-the-top expenses for the future?


MACKLIN: That is the most extraordinary comment. That is saying to Australians who need to go to hospital ‘you'll just have wait longer’, it's extravagant to go to the hospital.


REPORTER: I'm not quoting anyone.


SHORTEN: That's what Tony Abbott thinks by cutting hospitals’ and schools' budgets by $80 billion. $80 billion. Tony Abbott is cutting Australian schools and hospitals, and at the same time he is going to introduce a gold-plated paid parental leave scheme worth $20 billion. $20 billion on a gold-plated paid parental leave scheme while every school and every hospital in Australia faces a Tony Abbott cut.


SHORTEN: Thanks, everyone.