Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Ferntree Gully - Tony Abbott’s cuts to pensions; Dr Karl criticising the IGR






SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s cuts to pensions; Dr Karl criticising the IGR; Tony Abbott’s broken promise on PPL and company tax cut; Northern Territory; East-West Link; Centenary of Anzac; Childcare


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone. It’s great to be out here at the foot of the Dandenongs in Melbourne’s outer east.  It’s been really special today talking to pensioners and to do so in the company of Labor’s newly minted candidate for La Trobe, Simon Curtis, who’s going to make a great contribution to public life if the voters give him that privilege.


Today though, is all about pensions.  We see 11 months after Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget of last year, pensioners still feel legitimate anxiety at the plans of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey to cut their pension. Pensioners have worked hard their whole life. They don’t understand that why Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are breaking their election promises and making pensioners bear the brunt of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s unfair Budget. Pensioners aren’t silly, they understand that if Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are banking $23 billion in savings from the age pension over the next 10 years, they understand that it’s pensioners across the board who’ll be feeling the pain, and they certainly don’t understand that if the Government wants to fix up the issue of a few very wealthy people claiming the pension, they don’t understand why Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey want every pensioner to feel the pain of their Budget. There’s barely a month to go before the next Budget of this chaotic and dishonest government. The best thing that they could do between now and Budget night is drop any plans to attack the pensioners of Australia.


I also note in passing that respected Australian scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is complaining that his words, his profile and his credibility have been twisted for the release of the Government’s taxpayer funded campaign in support of the Intergenerational Report. Everyone knows that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey in this most recent Intergenerational report have broken away from the spirit of Peter Costello and the former Labor Government in doing a serious piece of work for the future of Australia.  Instead they produced a propaganda document to justify their unfair attack on pensioners, on higher education and indeed on the Medicare system.


Dr Karl is the latest in a long line of people who found out that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey can’t be trusted to say what they mean and to mean what they say. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Bill you said yesterday that Labor’s happy to have a discussion with the Government about – on pensions about taper rates and assets. Are you willing to talk with Scott Morrison about that?


SHORTEN: Labor has always been prepared to be constructive. We want to save the renewable energy industry in Australia, we want solar power to be an energy source of the future in Australia, not a relic of the past if Tony Abbott gets his way, but we’re willing to cut a deal. We’re willing on renewable energy to work with the Government at the request of the Clean Energy Council and investors. We’re willing to work with the Government when it comes to tackling the scourge of domestic violence, we will work with Tony Abbott on constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians -


JOURNALIST: But on taper rates Bill?


SHORTEN: I’m coming to that, I’m just making clear that unlike Tony Abbott when he was Opposition Leader, the Opposition I lead is constructive. We’ve been willing to find $20 billion in savings with the Government, we’ve offered Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey a way out of the corner they’ve backed themselves into with their attack on the age pension by offering them billions of dollars in savings by shutting down legal loopholes for multinationals. And again when it comes to taper rates and assets we are willing to work seriously with the Government. But what we’re not willing to do is to wreck Medicare and put a GP tax or a co-payment in drag, a tax on the sick and the poor. We’re not willing to support an effective cut in the rate of increase of pensions in Australia. We certainly will never support $100,000 degrees for working class kids to go to university, and we will never support their ruthless anti-science attacks on sustainable policies to deal with the scourge of climate change.


JOURNALIST: Bill, the Prime Minister is going to confirm today that the Paid Parental Leave levy is going to be scrapped and the company tax rate cut – is this a broken promise?


SHORTEN: Well it just goes to show, this was the signature policy of Tony Abbott – we never liked it. The idea that millionaires could get tens of thousands of dollars for having babies to me was merely a fig-leaf for Tony Abbott to prove that he has got pro-women policies in terms of his settings in Government. We know that it was only ever a fig-leaf, but Tony Abbott said of all the issues that he could be trusted on, not touching pensions, not cutting health, not hurting education, not going after the states with an axe, this was his big scheme. This was the Tony Abbott brand, Tony Abbott’s scheme – he’s even dropped this. The issue is it was never a good idea, he should have never have raised it but this is a man who is only changing his tactics because he wants to save his job. In Tony Abbott’s world, it’s not Australians who matter, it’s Tony Abbott and that’s just isn’t good enough.


JOURNALIST: Is it appropriate to keep the company tax-rate at 30 per cent?


SHORTEN: Well your question earlier was about their new tax on companies, this is a government who said they were never going to increase taxes and then they put a levy on company tax. They’ve realised that the damage they’ve done to the confidence in the Australian economy, trying to sustain another tax on corporations who would simply pass it on to Australian consumers was a bad idea. What amazes me is not that they’ve dropped it, what amazes me is that he kept it for so long.  Tony Abbott’s only changing his tactics because he wants to keep his job not because he is reading the economy right. The real problem in this country is that we’ve got one of the worst governments ever since federation. They’ve read the economy wrong for the last 18 months. Instead of preparing for a transition from a mining to a non-mining economy, all they’ve done is go after the pensioners, go after the sick and the vulnerable, go after working class kids and make them pay $100,000 degrees. This government has read the economy wrong from day one and the whole of Australia is suffering because of the mistakes of the Abbott Government.


JOURNALIST: Still on company tax though if I can, what about a two-tiered system? Is that appropriate?


SHORTEN: Well again, you’re raising policy that you’re asking me to discuss: the missing link in this is what is Joe Hockey doing? We saw Peter Costello come out in one of the most savage attacks in Liberal party history. You’ve got a Treasurer Peter Costello, who I certainly haven’t always seen eye to eye with, say that the Government and Joe Hockey are a joke. The problem is Australians have known this for a very long time and they’re not laughing anymore. You’ve got disunity in the Government.  This Government, they float thought bubbles, they’ve got shares in the thought bubble factory, but the problem is why don’t they just come clean and tell us what they’re doing.


Even better, why doesn’t Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey just stick to their election promises where they said no new taxes, no changes to pensions, no cuts to health and education. They should just stick to the truth.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Northern Territory Labor leader Delia Lawrie appears to be losing support of the caucus, should that position be put to a rank and file vote?


SHORTEN: I’m unaware of the particular matters in the Northern Territory Labor Party. Of course, if they want to talk about losing support in the Northern Territory you’ve always got to constantly check every three hours who’s in charge of the CLP. We saw their Chief Minister, it’s Adam Giles, I mean he gets on a plane, there’s a coup then he gets off a plane, there’s a change. I don’t know the latest details of what’s happening in the matter you raise and I’ll certainly acquaint myself with that.


JOURNALIST: This morning Daniel Andrews announced a resolution on the East-West Link. Do you think Victorians will be satisfied with the transport plan that the Labor Government’s putting forward now?


SHORTEN: I understand that Daniel Andrews has stood up and spoken while I’ve been talking to pensioners in the outer-east. What I understand is that Daniel Andrews is keeping his election promises. I think that’s a good thing. He took certain policies to the poll, he put them forward and now he’s sticking to his word. I think he is what people were expecting. In terms of policies, I understand one aspect of the policy was saying that you can’t deal with the challenge of road congestion without enabling people to be able to choose public transport as an option. I know that State Labor went to the election with a policy of Metrorail which would see the amount of track in the underground increased so that more people can have the option of catching the train.


JOURNALIST: Bill, just on Anzac Day do you think Woolworths should be fined for using that word without permission from the Minster?


SHORTEN: I understand that there is a process to use the world Anzac. I think Woolworths were ill advised to have any impression of capitalising upon Anzac Day for commercial reasons. The Minister will no doubt get to the bottom of the matter, but I do understand that they’ve now backed off and I think that is appropriate. Anzac Day, this is the Centenary of Anzac, it is an important day every year and at the hundred year anniversary where there’s such great attention I terms of the sacrifice of our first Anzacs and the formation, I think, reasonable of a significant part of the Australian identity, I certainly wouldn’t want to see any commercial interests exploiting Anzac for their own purposes.


JOURNALIST: Just on the childcare initiatives, the PM has said that the issues are contingent on delivery of savings, are you reading that as an ultimatum for Labor to pass their bills?


SHORTEN: There is Tony Abbott again, he promised that he wouldn’t increase taxes and charges, he said he have good policies on childcare and he’s dropped his paid parental leave scheme. This is a dishonest and dysfunctional government, incompetently administering Australia. Labor’s got a very clear set of principles on childcare which we’ve announced a number of times. We believe that it should be affordable, we believe there should be quality, we believe fundamentally that intrusting our children in childcare means that those early years are very, very important. We want to make sure it’s affordable, accessible and of a quality nature. That’s the test we’ll apply to whatever plans the Government are working out. But I do know one thing, parents who are paying childcare bills know that since Tony Abbott’s got elected, life hasn’t got better. But then again, I think that’s the case for most Australians.


Thanks everyone.