PRESS GALLERY, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 9 MAY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Budget 2018; High Court
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, everybody. I've got time for just a couple of questions given I've done a few interviews this morning and so over to you, Phillip.
JOURNALIST: On the tax cuts at the moment, you're saying you will only support step one which is LITO business and $87,000 to $90,000, the threshold. Step two is $90,000 to $120,000 - do you think that is too generous? Do you think people -
SHORTEN: Which year is that particular part of the story?
SHORTEN: Oh, so in four years’ time?
SHORTEN: No, what we will do is - let's make it very clear here: Labor are the ones who've championed tax relief for people under $87,000. That's why it was Labor, contrary to the wishes of the Government, who opposed increasing the Medicare levy. So the Government after 50 weeks, it declared it this time last year that was a must-have, anyway we stared them down and we protected low and middle-income earners from paying extra income tax.
So of course we'll support some relief for Australians in that bracket up to $90,000. Now the Government is trying to say apart from that, that we must sign on to tax rises in four and six and seven years’ time. Well just hold your horses there, we want to have a look at the detail. The idea that this Government will even have Mr Turnbull as leader in six and seven years' time to implement these promises is laughable. So this is a government who shouldn't hold to ransom people on $90,000 or less, demanding that we support a $140 billion worth of tax changes to people on much higher salaries in the future. One step at a time, and I think we all appreciate that the Government here is running a hoax of a budget.
I mean this is a budget which supports big business over battlers. And we certainly call upon the Government to legislate the first part of their tax changes. And as for the rest of them, we will work it through in due process. They're not due for four and seven years. The fact that Mr Morrison wants it done overnight, well smacks of politics and trickiness, doesn't it?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, if the time-frame was reduced and if it was split into perhaps two or three separate bills, will you then support it?
SHORTEN: Oh well, I suppose if my mother was my father it would be a different issue too. I'm going to deal with what the facts they've given us here. And let's front up here - I genuinely thought that this out of touch government would realise the sheer futility of slugging pensioners and actually stop cutting their energy supplement. I really actually thought that was a no-brainer. But this Government is so mean and tricky; they want to pretend to be the friend of the pensioner but they're taking away their energy supplement. I also genuinely thought that this Government would stop trying to inflict one of the world's oldest retirement ages on Australians but they're still going ahead with that.
And I thought they could find $715 million to reverse their hospital cuts. And I genuinely thought they'd do more on the schools front instead of the cuts which they're still pushing ahead with.
This Government is mean, it's tricky. They're trying to say that in return - if you earn $36,000 a year, they're going to give you under $4 a week? This is a government who is really out of touch with the needs of ordinary people.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Prime Minister talks a lot about his Government getting people back to work. One of these budget measures will see 3,500 refugees a year have to wait 6 months longer to get assistance to find a job which obviously has a flow-on effect for the economy. Migrants waiting longer to receive welfare, do those measures worry you?
SHORTEN: I think that there is a range of measures in this budget which haven't been fully scrutinised. As I say, this budget lacks credibility and the more that people read it, the less they will believe it.
That's one change that they're looking at but there's another change I just want to bounce the ball on here; they've cheered themselves silly on their so-called extra home care packages for older Australians. We're still trying to find out where the money is coming from. I have a concern that they're finding the money from within existing budgets which means that they're taking money off aged care to give back to aged care. This is a money-go-round which doesn't help the needs of older Australians.
This Government is mean and tricky. Look at the way they're going after the poor old ABC; talk about trying to kick their political opponents even though the ABC is just doing their day job.
This budget's a hoax. It's all about getting big business $80 billion reduction principally in their taxes. I mean the fact that the Commonwealth Bank stands to gain $7.5 million per week from the Government when nurses and mechanics on $60,000 a year are gaining $10 a week speaks volumes for the wrong priorities of this Government.
One last question.
JOURNALIST: Thanks Mr Shorten. Mr Shorten will you force three Labor MPs to resign if Katy Gallagher's ruled ineligible this morning?
SHORTEN: Let's wait. The High Court will make its decision. If the High Court sets a new precedent, then we'll deal with the cards that we’re played.
JOURNALIST: How are you feeling ahead of this decision?
SHORTEN: Well, it's up to the High Court. My feelings are not really relevant, are they?
Alright, very last one, Phil.
JOURNALIST: $80 billion on company tax - you're reserving your right to use that money for something else - some or all of it depending if you repeal. But at the same time, you're also making the criticism that that money is unfunded. Tanya Plibersek was saying last week that it's in the budget but we don't believe it. So how do you spend it if you're not even sure it is there?
SHORTEN: You're assuming we're going to spend it all -
JOURNALIST: Well bank it, save it, spend it, whatever - reallocate it to Labor's priority.
SHORTEN: This budget last night, it is a hoax. $10 for average working-class people and $80 billion baked in for the big end of town principally. This budget is a hoax. This Government is out of touch. The fact of the matter is that if it was fair dinkum, this Government would be doing more to fund schools and hospitals, look after pensioners, more to help the income tax relief of lower-paid middle-class voters. And also, it would have a plan to reduce the half a trillion dollars in debt or $20,000 for every man, woman and child in Australia, racked up under this Government.
Thanks everybody. See you later.