FRIDAY, 3 JUNE 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s positive plan to boost jobs and tourism in Tasmania; Company tax; Nick Xenophon; Repatriation ceremony; Warren Mundine; United Fire Fighters Union; Cradle Mountain
JUSTINE KEAY, CANDIDATE FOR BRADDON: Good morning everyone. My name is Justine Keay, I'm the Labor Candidate for the seat of Braddon. Welcome to Burnie today. It's fantastic that we have not only Bill Shorten with us today, but also the Bill Bus that's made the journey across Bass Strait, and thank you to Senator Sam Dastyari and to our sitting Labor members who used their acting abilities to promote the Bill Bus coming over here. Sometimes in Tasmania we sort of get left off the map but certainly the Bill Bus has not forgotten Tasmania and it's great to have that on the campaign trail with us today.
Today we're making some announcements around tourism. And we know that numbers in tourism in Tasmania are growing. And from my perspective here in Braddon, we need to make sure we capitalise on that growth, to create the jobs which I'm hearing, as I go campaigning in the north-west and west coast, that we desperately need and to grow our economy by having those people in our region spending money and enjoying the wonderful scenery in what would have to be the best part of Australia if not, in my opinion, the world. Thank you for coming, I will now hand over to Bill to say some more.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, everybody, and welcome to another great day of weather in Burnie. I'm here with Justine Keay, our hardworking candidate. I've got Brian Mitchell here in the neighbouring seat and Julie Collins, our shadow spokesperson, who has worked hard on these policies, and Senator Anne Urquhart. I'd like to give a shout out to my friend Bryan Green, Leader of the Tasmanian Opposition too.
Tasmania can no longer hide its beauty from the world. It has been one of the best kept secrets but the world is waking up to what a glorious destination Tasmania is. In 2015, Lonely Planet rated Tasmania as its 4th best destination to visit. What Tasmanians deserve with the great opportunities of tourism, is a national government committed to making sure that Tasmania's beauty is brought to the world. As Justine said, there's more visitors coming to Tasmania than ever before. Something like 16 per cent of the Tasmanian workforce or 38,000 Tasmanians derive their living from the tourism-related industries which make Tasmania such a world beater. And that's why I'm really pleased to say that Labor has a plan for jobs in Tasmania, we have a plan for tourism in Tasmania, we have a plan to bring Tasmania to the world. That's why we're announcing a raft of sensible, practical measures. After extensive consultation s led by my shadow colleague, Julie Collins, to help address the questions of tourism infrastructure in Tasmania, to help make sure that we can protect the environment of Tasmania, which is the great secret weapon of Tasmanian tourism. That's why we will be pleased, therefore, to be building new amenities for Cradle Mountain and many, many Australians have already enjoyed the Cradle Mountain walks, and what we're able to do with our Cradle Mountain investment, is make sure that more people can enjoy it whilst preserving the important environmental balance. I should say that Jacqui Lambie too has been talking to Labor about Cradle Mountain and its importance.
We're not just stopping at Cradle Mountain, there's the foreshore we're on and the Burnie master plan. We're putting more money into that so that this glorious foreshore which we're on now can be further developed. We want to make sure the Three Capes Walk, further south, enjoys extra investment, and we are committed to seeing a dive vessel as a wreck for diving in the north-east of Tassie. These four measures will be part of a $44 million Tasmanian tourism infrastructure fund and what we will do here is generate jobs, not just in the construction phase, but, of course, in the tourism services which flow from the improved tourism infrastructure. What I'd like to do now is to invite Julie Collins to talk a little bit more about the specifics of our Tasmanian tourism infrastructure fund, and I'd be happy to take questions from you.
JULIE COLLINS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Thanks, Bill. It's great to have Bill and the Federal Labor team here to announce this tourism infrastructure package for Tasmania. This package has been the culmination of a year of work and the Tasmanian taskforce going right around the State, talking to communities, taking public submissions and talking to them about how we grow Tasmania's economy and how we invest in Tasmania to get the returns that we need. Since the election of Malcolm Turnbull almost 4000 jobs have been lost in Tasmania. We know that Tasmanians are doing it tough and it's only Labor that has a plan for the future of Tasmania. This announcement, together with the other announcements that we've made around the Tasmanian taskforce, including NBN on the west coast, including a range of small projects, including the University of Tasmania expansion, really me an that we will be investing to ensure that Tasmania gets the investments that they need, that Tasmanians can get the education they need and that Tasmanians can get the jobs that they need for the future. Thank you.
SHORTEN: Thanks, Julie, and I just – are there any questions on that or any other matters? Lauren.
JOURNALIST: How can you campaign against a company tax cut now given you were for one back in 2011, what's changed?
SHORTEN: There's no comparison between 2011 and now. The truth of the matter is you can only ever do company tax cuts when the nation can afford to do them. That goes for any tax cuts. And the truth of the matter is that in 2016, the idea that we would give a $50 billion tax giveaway where it basically goes to overseas shareholders, to large banks, mining companies and multinationals, well, that's the wrong choice for this country at this time. I choose Medicare, I choose to stand up for pensioners, I choose to stand up for well-funded schools. I do not choose a $50 billion tax giveaway and also, the $50 billion tax giveaway will have very little, if negligible impact upon jobs. Quite frankly what we're talking about today is a better practical example of how you drive sustainable jobs in the future. Mark.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, how can you say that a $50 billion tax giveaway, your words, would have no effect on jobs when a much, much smaller tax cut that you were talking about in 2011 was going to create jobs? It's illogical?
SHORTEN: First of all, you can only give tax cuts when you can afford them. Now the circumstances are quite different between 2011 and now. And let me illustrate what I mean by the changed circumstances. The tripling of the deficit, the AAA credit rating being at risk, standard of living in Australia declining since the Liberals got in, wages growth flat lining, the Government's getting increasingly hysterical in their attacks on Labor at the moment. They know they've made a mistake with a $50 billion tax giveaway. They know it is a mistake to send $7.4 billion to the big banks' bottom line. They know it is a mistake to send $11 billion to US shareholders. They know it is a mistake to make a tax cut which is delivering a 60 per cent of the benefit to overseas shareholders. In fact, they know their decision not to have a royal commission into the banking industry is a mistake and they know this because they're hearing it loud and clear fr om the electorate, hence their hysteria.
JOURNALIST: The question is why is a tax cut in 2011 of a very small nature going to create jobs when a much larger tax cut in 2016 to 2026 won't?
SHORTEN: Because the choices that this Government's making are the ones which undermine our economic prosperity in the future. I choose to invest in Medicare, I choose to invest in schools, I choose to stand up for our pensioners, we need to have sustainable economic growth. And at the numbers which we talk about for the poor economic growth of Mr Turnbull's economic changes, highlight the paucity and the shallowness of their economic recipe. We know that Malcolm Turnbull promised that when he rolled Tony Abbott there would be new economic leadership. We know for six months they were working busily away on a 15 per cent GST. When Mr Turnbull thought that would jeopardise his job security, then he moved to the State income tax levies and now he's moved to this corporate tax cut. You can only afford corporate tax cuts when they can pay for themselves.
When Paul Keating did his corporate tax cuts, the only way he could do that was by introducing capital gains tax at the full marginal rates. The only way he could do that was by introducing a full fringe benefits tax. He abolished the privilege position that entertainment had which was claimed by companies as a tax deduction and introduced taxation on company cars. He made that company tax pay for itself. Mr Turnbull is making his company tax pay for itself by cutting Medicare, cutting schools, cutting the conditions which pensioners enjoy. Vast difference.
JOURNALIST: When you made those comments back in 2011, the budget deficit was $50 billion how is it affordable then and not now?
SHORTEN: They've tripled the deficit.
JOURNALIST: But a $50 billion is still a high deficit?
SHORTEN: Let's not rewrite history. That was a debate in the context to the changes to the mining tax. The whole challenge is here that you can only do company tax cuts or indeed tax cuts to income tax when you can afford to do it. The truth of the matter is the cost of living in terms of our people's standard of living has fallen, wages growth has flat lined, the credit agencies are doubting the ability of Australia to keep its AAA credit rating. These are real problems which this Liberal Government has been in charge of and they've tripled the deficit. Labor makes no apology for choosing Medicare over $50 billion of tax cut. Labor makes no apology for not making the mistake Mr Turnbull has made. Mr Turnbull knows his corporate tax cut, his $50 billion giveaway to large business, is a mistake. He knows it's a mistake when $7.4 billion of taxpayer money is going to be handed back to banks. He knows it's a mistake when $11 billion of taxpayer budget giveaway is going to the United States and not in Australia. He knows he's made a mistake when 60 per cent of the benefit of this tax cut that he is proposing is going to go to overseas shareholders and they know that the decision not to hold a Royal Commission into the banking sector, well, that is a mistake and they're hearing it loud and clear, that's why we're hearing the increasingly hysterical language, all of the references to war, et cetera, because they know that Australians are choosing Medicare, schools, investing in the levers of growth, not a $50 billion cash splash which is the largest giveaway in this election.
JOURNALIST: What you've announced here in Tasmania, the Liberals say you can't afford it. What do you say to that?
SHORTEN: The $44 million?
JOURNALIST: Do you think there's enough money to do that?
SHORTEN: Absolutely. First of all, what we do is we prioritise things which local communities ask for. Julie outlined for a year we've been working on our policies. We've been working on the policies longer than Malcolm Turnbull has been leading the Liberal Party. The choices that we come up with are the ones that communities are talking to us about. The completion of the master plan of the Burnie foreshore is what the local community told us they want. Helping invest in Cradle Mountain is meeting a request from local authorities and local interests to say they need some support from Canberra. Completing the Three Capes Walk, the 46km of wonderful walk, is a reflection of what local communities said on the peninsula in that part of Tasmania. The real question is can Australia afford a $50 billion tax cut which principally goes to overseas shareholders? No, we can't. But can we afford to stand up for tourism in Tasman ia, yes, we can.
JOURNALIST: Small and medium-sized businesses, is there any circumstances where Labor would increase that turnover to $5 million because the Henry tax review recommended that. That was a review Labor commissioned. Are you saying that that recommendation is wrong, that it shouldn't be increased to $5 million?
SHORTEN: It's all about choices. That's what this election is about. Now, you quite rightly point out or allude to that Labor has supported reducing the tax rates paid by companies under $2 million and for the record, despite the heated, hysterical rhetoric of the Government, we're supporting tax cuts for 83 per cent of all Australian businesses. But when I look at the prospect of bulk-billing being undermined in Australia, when I look at higher up-front fees for people to go and see the doctor, when I look at schools throughout regional Tasmania, not getting the same resources as large schools in leafier suburbs of Melbourne or Sydney, I make a choice. Would we all like to see more tax cuts for our income earners? Absolutely. But the truth of the matter is that this Government's tripled the deficit, our triple A credit ratings are in peril, it's under risk. The truth of the matter is that wages growth has flat lined. The truth of the matter is that the standard of living of Australians has shrunk, not gone up under this Liberal maladministration.
So we have to make hard choices. And I'm going to choose to fight for Medicare. I'm going to choose to fight for tourism jobs in Tassie. I'm going to fight for our pensioners. I'm going to fight for our schools. Mr Turnbull knows he's made a mistake and that's why they're getting increasingly desperate to distract attention from their poor economic plan which doesn't help the bulk of Australians.
JOURNALIST: Could I ask about Nick Xenophon in South Australian, given he's outpolling the Labor Party at the moment, are you concerned he may hold the balance of power and are you also concerned about his position on the World Trade Organisation procurement policy and the TPP?
SHORTEN: Well, I think the fact that Malcolm Turnbull's standing alongside Jamie Briggs on what was formally a safe seat in Mayo shows how concerned the Liberals are. There's two horses in this race. So Malcolm Turnbull's in South Australia, obviously he's seen the smoke signals calling for rescue of Jamie Briggs, so he's standing up in what has been traditionally regarded as a heavily Liberal voting seat. The Liberals on submarines, we know their policy on submarines. They've been dragged kicking and screaming to. Two years ago, I was at Osborne standing up for the workforce there saying that the previous Liberal Prime Minister needed to stick to his promise, one which they made just before the 2013 election. Then history repeats itself and now you've got Malcolm Turnbull promising to spend billions and billions of submarines. They will all be built in Australia and he's doing that for one reason. Not because he cares ab out defence manufacturing jobs, because they're feeling the pressure of the dissatisfaction of South Australians. For ourselves we're going to keep advancing our pro-South Australia policies. We're the ones who stand up for the steel industry, we're the ones who stand up for the domestic defence manufacturing industry. We're the only people with a plan for AdeLINK which will see more trams and tram lines throughout South Australia.
In terms of what Senator Xenophon said about the World Trade Organisation, let's be clear, agreements which we've entered into or the nations entered into, we will not be repudiating, the Labor Party. In terms of talk about local procurement, Nick Xenophon's a relatively late starter compared to Labor. For 20 years I've been promoting the use of Australian steel in our contracts. I've been promoting the support for local content, but in terms of me for this election, the biggest concern I have is Mr Turnbull's $50 billion economic plan, his $50 billion cash splash where the bulk of that benefit will go to overseas shareholders, $7.4 billion to big banks with little appreciable benefit and little prospect of new investment and I will choose the health of the nation, the education of the nation over Mr Turnbull's $50 billion reward for the top end of of town.
JOURNALIST: Are you worried about Senator Xenophon having the balance of power is the question.
SHORTEN: It's up to the Australian electorate who they to vote far. I'm not going to start saying to people anything other than, Labor's got the positive plans. We're the only parties other than the Liberals that can form a government. At the end of the day the Labor Party has got positive plans which include all Australians. Mr Turnbull's just got a plan for big banks, multinationals and the very top end of town.
JOURNALIST: On candidates at risk of losing their seats, you're going to Victoria for the next couple of days, will you be campaigning along David Feeney who is at risk from the Greens at Batman?
SHORTEN: I will be campaigning in many electorates. I will certainly be supporting David and plenty of other people but the best thing I can do for Labor candidates is explain to Australians our positive plans. We have got a real plan for jobs. We speak about the jobs that we can create through our concrete bank, unlocking private sector investment and infrastructure. Up in Cairns some of you were with me earlier this week talking about how we protect jobs in Far North Queensland on the reef, our policies to help save the reef. You've heard me talk about tourism jobs in North Queensland. Today I'm here with my very strong Tasmanian team talking about how we promote tourism jobs. The best thing I can do for Labor candidates, is focus on providing a positive alternative to Mr Turnbull's $50 billion, to be honest his outrageous and misplaced priority of spending $50 billion from our budget to help big companies and of course, reminding Australi ans that if you want to save Medicare, if you want to see the schools well funded, if you want to see working and middle class kids to be able to afford to go to TAFE and university, if you want to see tourism jobs created in Tasmania vote Labor at the next election.
JOURNALIST: Many veterans believe that you and Malcolm Turnbull showed a lack of judgement yesterday by not attending the repatriation ceremony in Sydney. Do you apologise to those people who you've offended and what was the reason for not attending?
SHORTEN: Well, I found out about this matter and I went back and checked what happened. I understand that our people contacted the relevant Government Minister. We were informed that the PM wouldn't be going, that the Governor-General in the caretaker period would be doing these events rather than politicise it with Malcolm and myself turning up. And our people thought, well that seemed a sensible and respectful thing to do, not to have a big political sort of entourage and all of that, when a much more important thing was being concluded. So that's what happened.
So certainly, you did ask that other part of your question first, you know, I would like to have been there in hindsight. And I'm certainly sorry that I missed that event. It was an important event. And also, it's I guess you know, it's that judgement, you don't want to politicise an event. But certainly I think that the return and the repatriation was very important. And might I just give Tony Abbott a bit of acknowledgment for his work on that too.
[shouting] I'm going to ask some others - can I just go to some other people first?
JOURNALIST: Can I just take you to comments by former ALP president Warren Mundine today. He said that Labor's anti-business rhetoric is particularly disturbing. He says Labor could take Australia down the path of higher taxes and more expensive education. How unhelpful is that?
SHORTEN: Well everyone's entitled to their opinion. But I will work with business. I just won't work for business. I will work with unions but I won't work for them. I will work with all of the stakeholders in Australian society. I had a lovely chat to the head of ACCI yesterday. We are supporting tax cuts for 83 per cent of Australian companies. But what I won't do and what I can't do, is in a choice between saving and defending Medicare, supporting our schools, I won't give up our school education system being properly resourced. I won't give up our Medicare system. I won't give up bulk-billing. I won't support the privatisation of Medicare and in turn give a $50 billion tax reduction to large companies, and for no appreciable benefit. We know, the Australian people know, that Mr Turnbull has made a mistake prioritising a massive cash giveaway over 10 years to the big end of town and not choosing Medicare and hospit als and schools. We will invest in growth by investing in a sound health system. We will invest in growth by practical decisions, from building public transport, to promoting tourism, to promoting renewable energy. That's how we will invest in jobs.
JOURNALIST: Just back on tax cuts, you mentioned a few minutes ago that you'd only support tax cuts when they're affordable for the budget, but how do you reconcile that with the fact that you are supporting a cut to the personal income tax to people earning $80,000? Do you still support that tax cut plan of the government or would you be better off taking that money and using it for your own priorities?
SHORTEN: No, absolutely not. We will not support at this point, and we do not, providing people earn $1 million a year, a tax cut of $17,000 when the vast bulk - I understand your question, but I'm going to answer it. We will not support giving a $17,000 tax cut to someone who earns $1 million, when the vast bulk of Australians under $80,000 are getting nothing. Now, in terms of the increase in the tax threshold for people between $80,000 and $87,000 a year, I'm not going to start writing to people and demanding, you know, a bouquet of roses because we support that. It's a $6 a week improvement in their bottom line. It's better than nothing. So we will support that. We think on balance, that is affordable. But when it comes to giving away $17 billion over the next 10 years, to people on the highest income bracket, giving away $50 billion to large corporations in the main, giving away $32 billion to people who negatively gear and en joy the benefits of a capital gains tax discount rate, giving them $32 billion, if it's a choice between giving away $100 billion to relatively very well off people or defending Medicare or prioritising jobs in Tassie, or prioritising the protection of the reef, or prioritising defending our schools, I'm on the side of the vast bulk of everyday middle class and working class families.
JOURNALIST: We're halfway through the campaign, how are you feeling physically? Is there still much petrol in the tank and how do you think the campaign is going so far?
SHORTEN: Well, today it's been 1,000 days since the Liberals were elected and I've got a lot of petrol in the tank for the next 28 because within the next 28 there's every chance that the Liberals won't get another 1,000 days on top of the 1,000 days they've wasted of the nation's life. The truth of the matter is that the last 1,000 days have been a failure for Australia because of this Government. Real wages growth is flat-lining. You've got AAA credit rating under threat. We see that the mining boom has eased off but the only thing keeping our growth numbers up are the volume of exports coming out of our mines. There hasn't been the great transition in the last three years for our domestic economy and all we are now left with is the lazy flaccid plans of Mr Turnbull where nine and ten months ago they rolled Tony Abbott because they were worried Tony Abbott would lose the election. That's the reason the hard right of the Liberal Party picked Malcolm Turnbull, not because they believed in them, they were just worried about their own jobs.
Now what we see is Malcolm Turnbull played and toyed and mused and philosophised and intellectualised about a 15 percent GST. He sent poor old Mike Baird out there on a mission to support the GST and left Mike Baird high and dry. Scott Morrison didn't know what was going on at COAG. And then Mr Turnbull drops that for the time being because it all just got too hard explaining it to the people. Then he came up with that idea of a State income tax levy. Mr Turnbull's second great idea for Australia, the biggest reform I think he called it since federation, was that he would allow States to levy income taxes on top of Commonwealth income taxes and now they sort of broke glass and produced this corporate tax cut, $50 billion giveaway. You know, the truth of the matter is Mr Turnbull knows he's made a mistake, people aren't buying what he's selling. And so, do I have enough petrol in the tank nor the next 28 days? My word I do.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just on a Victorian issue, do you support Dan Andrews' view that the United Fire fighters Union should take over the CFA?
SHORTEN: I would expect that the Victorian Government, on this State issue, will reach an amicable resolution with the CFA, both the volunteers and the full-time employees, and it's my expectation that that's what will occur.
JOURNALIST: How can you ensure all these Tasmanian policies are seen through?
SHORTEN: By electing a Labor Government. The biggest threat to the Burnie foreshore master plan, to helping the amenities for Cradle Mountain, for the Three Capes Walk, the biggest threat to all of these is voting for Malcolm Turnbull on July 2. The University of Tasmania has put forward an exciting and dynamic proposition which would lead to capital investment, construction of campuses, construction of buildings, that would generate 3,000 plus jobs. In the years of construction it's estimated it'd add $1.1 billion to the bottom line of the Tasmanian economic activity. It would add $428 million once completion occurs, it would generate jobs for researchers and academics. Thousands and thousands of Tasmanians, many of whom are the first in their family to ever go potentially to university, do the associate degree courses, have a great opportunity. All of that investment is at jeopardy if instead we see Mr Turnbull and his desire to shove Australi an budget money in a taxpayer spend overseas to the big banks, to large mining companies. It's all a matter of priorities. Thank you, everybody, I'll see you at our next –
JOURNALIST: A question about Cradle Mountain for local media.
SHORTEN: Local media, last one.
JOURNALIST: Cradle Mountain needs $30 million, you've committed 15, where is the rest of the money?
SHORTEN: We've got no doubt that we will see positive responses at the State level. But what we're going to do, is not keep Cradle Mountain and the tourism industry waiting and demand that everyone else has to have everything else in place before we go. I will lead, I know that us putting $15 million on the table gives the confidence for other investors to be able to do what they need to do to say great, we've at last got a partner for Tasmanian tourism infrastructure, and it's called a Federal Labor Government. Thank you very much.