Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Yeronga, Brisbane




SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s deceit tax; Pensions.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It's great to be here with hard working local Member of Parliament Graham Perrett in the electorate of Moreton, in the suburb of Yeronga. I've had the privilege of talking to hard working pensioners, people who have worked their whole lives and paid taxes. It is not right that Australia’s pensioners should be having to foot the bill, after having paid taxes all their life, to foot the bill for Tony Abbott's broken promises and twisted priorities.


Right here we stand during the Brisbane River floods, where the water was up to the roofs around here. So what we see is pensioners whose houses were flooded, and at that time Tony Abbott would not support a flood levy to help reconstruct lives in Queensland. But I think they, like all Australian’s were amazed to discover yesterday that Prime Minister Tony Abbott, contrary to all of the promises he made before the election, wouldn't rule out breaking a promise and having a deficit tax which should be renamed a deceit tax.


This is a Government who is selling out pensioners, people who have worked hard their whole lives. Pensioners are concerned, they're up in arms about broken promises and twisted priorities. You’ve got people here in their 70s and 80s who worked hard their whole life and are stunned that the Abbott Government will give some very wealthy Australians $75,000 each for paid parental leave, yet is going to slug pensioners and other hard working Australians.


Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Mr. Shorten, the pension is the biggest and fastest growing budget [inaudible]. Does Labor have any ideas about how that can be pared back [inaudible].?


SHORTEN: Here's a couple of ideas for Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott - don't break your promises. Here's a couple of ideas for Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey - don't say nine times in a 32 day election period when you're chasing people's votes that they won't touch pensions, and then as soon as you get elected have twisted priorities and broken promises and introduce a new deceit tax. No bigger broken promise than saying to pensioners before the election that your pensions are safe, then after the election starting to scare Australia's pensioners by talking about messing around with aspects of the pension.


JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] Do you think that there is a case for means testing in the pension?


SHORTEN: In terms of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, expecting Australians to have to work until their 70 before they can get a pension, and not telling people before an election that that was what their plans are, that's just a broken lie. In terms of telling concreters, laborers, blue collar workers, people who have worked in hospital orderlies looking after the sick and unwell in our community, asking them to do the same physically demanding work for an extra number of years, it's not on.


We all know in Australia that older people often are the victims of discrimination in the employment market. The idea that Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott are simply proposing that we can ignore the discrimination against older people in the workforce, that we can ignore the high unemployment of older Australians who get retrenched in trying to find work, that we can simply ignore the fact that some people, many people cannot keep doing the same physically demanding work for more and more years, this is a Government who has got twisted priorities and they're breaking their promises to old people.


JOURNALIST: A study out today shows that Australians are losing up to 20 per cent of their investment [inaudible]. What do you think the government needs to do to make sure that people aren’t being ripped off?


SHORTEN: Labor believes in lower fees and charges in superannuation. It is not right that people with limited superannuation balances are paying out big fees in financial consulting and other charges when they need that money when they retire. The Abbott Government has been winding back reforms which Labor put in place to lower the fee, to put downward pressure on fees and charges in superannuation. The Abbott Government should immediately stop its changes which undermine the confidence in our superannuation in the financial planning industry, and stop opposing policies which put lower pressure on fees and charges, it's a real issue.


JOURNALIST: Would this help the budget if fewer people had to rely on the pension?


SHORTEN: There's no doubt that the best reform you could do to help release pressure on the Budget is to lift compulsory superannuation from 9.25% to 12% over the next number of years as Labor has proposed. Mr. Hockey, if you don’t want people to rely on the old age pension, why on earth are you reintroducing taxes on low paid workers on the superannuation they pay- new taxes on 3.5 million Australians on their superannuation? This is a Government with the wrong priorities. On the one hand, if you're a multimillionaire and you want paid parental leave, the Abbott Liberal Government will give you $75,000, on the other hand if you’re a battler who is only getting $3,500 superannuation a year, this Abbott Liberal Government wants you to pay $500 in extra taxes on your superannuation. This is a Government with twisted priorities.


JOURNALIST: Wouldn’t a temporary levy though, or a deficit tax, be a better option rather than paying out the debt over an extended period of time [inaudible]?


SHORTEN: The Abbott Liberal Government has created- concocted a budget emergency. By their decisions that they've made since coming into power, they've doubled the deficit, now because they've doubled deficit they want all Australians to pay a deceit tax because of the broken promises of the Abbott Liberal Government.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]


SHORTEN: I haven't seen that report today. We’ll certainly look at it with great interest.


JOURNALIST: At the moment we’ve got a stousch going with the Queensland Premier and the billionaire founder of the Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer. Do you agree with the Queensland Premier’s complaint that Clive Palmer has been looking to purchase influence in Australian politics?


SHORTEN: I'm not about to start making comments about comments that LNP leader Campbell Newman made about Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer. I understand that Clive Palmer said that he'll be taking the LNP leader to court. I don't think I want to help inflame this situation with any comments that I might make.


JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]


SHORTEN: First of all I understand it was Premier Newman's fairly hot comments which have triggered Mr. Palmer's reaction. Mr. Palmer was elected by people in his electorate. I will treat all members of parliament with same level of courtesy if they've been elected by Australian voters.


JOURNALIST: Is that something Premier Newman should be doing?


SHORTEN: I'm not going to give advice to Premier Newman in his attacks on Clive Palmer or how Clive Palmer will seek his remedies. Frankly that's their business. What I'm concerned about today and concerned about every day till the release of the commission of audit and to everyday to the budget, and if the worst decisions that we hear reported are going to emerge.


What I'm concerned about is that the Abbott government has broken its promises, they're slugging pensioners, they're telling people who have paid taxes their whole life, that their future is not what they thought it would be. And they’ve got twister priorities where they’re pushing paid parental leave for multimillionaires and yet they're telling some of our lowest paid workers and some of our pensioners, that you’ve got to be concerned about your income. This is a government with the wrong priorities, not the priorities we need for this time and Australia's future.


JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister says his government is about right decisions, not popular ones, and the deficit tax is only an idea they’ve floated. Are you expecting that this budget is going to yield Labor some opportunities here to get a lot of political gain?


SHORTEN: What I'm interested in is the future of this country. What I'm interested in is that if you have been a pensioner who has worked hard your whole life and paid your taxes, that the Abbott Government doesn't come in and break its promises to you. What I’m interested in is how we get older people the chance to get meaningful work in the labour market and jobs, not just telling them they have to work until they drop. What I'm interested in is making sure that the Abbott Government keeps the promises it made in Opposition.


It is clear to most reasonable Australians that the Abbott Government said one thing in Opposition and are now doing something else in Government. If they are not committed to this deficit levy, what we call this deceit tax, the Abbott Government should just rule it out. The Abbott Government has ruled out other things, the fact they're letting these rumours, these fears run tells me that the Abbott Government is using the Australian people, to scare them, to prepare the ground for unpleasant, unnecessary decisions.


JOURNALIST: Would you then be prepared to support any cuts to political entitlements or superannuation for politicians in order to address deficit issues?


SHORTEN: I'm on the new - the pension scheme that I'm on or the superannuation I get, as is Graham, is far less than what Prime Minister Abbott and the people who were elected when he was first selected to Parliament are getting, so there has been quite some change. What I do know is that the Abbott Government should not be thinking about slugging people who have their whole life. The pension is not a king's ransom, the pension is not like winning TattsLotto. The pension is a very modest amount of money. What I don't understand is why is it that the Abbott Government are obsessed about what people of modest income are getting, yet they're going to wave through $75,000 to people who don't need the money. This is a Government of twisted priorities.


JOURNALIST: Is there ever a point in which Labor would have to look at raising the aged pension age? How long can it remain at 65?


SHORTEN: You'll find that Labor did, through consultation and negotiation over a long time period, has put in place lifting it to 67. But Labor would also have policies which support people to find work, support retraining of older workers. The Abbott Government, they always just look for the stick and never look for the carrot. What they’re doing is saying to concreters, to carpet layers, to nurses, to construction workers, to a whole lot of people, to truck drivers, that an Abbott Government wants you to work longer, but they’re not going to do anything about making you retain, they’re not do anything to help the thousands of people who get laid off because of all the jobs going overseas.


This is a Government who just doesn't get it. They’ve got twisted priorities. They did not tell the Australian electorate before the last election that they were going to do all of these things. Now in their first Budget, they're proposing all these broken promises and to cap it all off yesterday you have Tony Abbott not ruling out his deceit tax on all Australians.


JOURNALIST: What measures though would Labor support to [inaudible]?


SHORTEN: To begin with, we had plans in place. But what I would say is the test here is not for the Opposition, the test is for the is the Government. Joe Hockey is the Treasurer, Tony Abbott is the Prime Minister. They wanted these jobs, they were willing to say and do anything to get into power, now we're finding that they're breaking their promises, and I promise we will hold the Abbott Government to account for their twisted priorities.


It is really wrong of the Government and shows their lack of priorities that they would say to people who have worked their whole lives, who get a modest pension, that you are the people that we are coming after, or that they say to people with a disability we're coming after you, yet they're giving the green light to multimillionaires to be able to get $75,000 of paid parental leave that they neither want nor in many cases particularly need. Thanks everyone.