SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s Trump-style corporate tax cut; Greg Norman; US-Australia alliance; ABCC legislation; Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everybody. It's great to be here at the annual ACOSS conference talking about Labor's positive plans to tackle inequality. This country needs to do - to look more, to look after the dispossessed Australians, the marginalised, the homeless, the people who are doing it really hard in our society.
We want to make it very clear that Labor has been talking about jobs and jobs are at the core of ensuring that people can get out of poverty and enjoy the benefits that this country can offer people. Jobs is the strategy which actually generates a brighter future for more Australians.
What doesn't generate a brighter future for more Australians is the idea of persisting with Donald Trump-style corporate tax cuts for multinationals and big banks. Labor believes the best way to prioritise jobs is look after working class and middle class families with a strong safety net, a strong minimum wage, good superannuation, a properly funded pension system, good skills and education for our young people and workers seeking to be retrained, investment in infrastructure. That's how you build a growing economy and you ensure that fairness is at the core of everything you do.
What you don't do is practice trickle-down economics where you spend $50 billion of taxpayer money giving a tax cut to large corporations, to the big banks, and we'll see little return for the rest of Australia. It's the wrong priorities. Australia doesn't need Donald Trump-style tax cuts.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Speaking about Donald Trump, are you surprised that the Prime Minister didn't have a direct number for the President-elect and had to ask Greg Norman for help?
SHORTEN: I'm a fan of Greg Norman, he's a great Australian golfer. I think it's a little unorthodox but, you know, we live in unorthodox times. I'm not going to be critical of getting Greg Norman to get the phone number. But what surprises me more is that this government, the Turnbull Government, is persisting with a $50 billion corporate tax giveaway, that they're persisting with Donald Trump-style $50 billion corporate tax giveaway which is not going to help create jobs, which is not going to help ordinary Australian families make ends meet.
JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to Penny Wong about the comments she made yesterday about the Australian-US alliance?
SHORTEN: Oh listen, the US-Australian alliance is a bedrock of foreign policy, my Labor team share that view. But it's not the only pillar of Australian foreign policy. We do need to reach out and engage more deeply in the region and both sides of Australian politics have pursued exactly that strategy. The third leg of our foreign policy pillars is of course making sure that we deeply engage in multilateral institutions, be they trade, be it the United Nations, be it the High Commission for Refugees. Three-points of our foreign policy: the American alliance, engage deeply in our region, and work with multilateral institutions.
JOURNALIST: You mention corporate tax, and are you worried that the 15 per cent corporate tax in the US would rob Australia of investment?
SHORTEN: I'm worried that Mr Turnbull within a week of Donald Trump being elected is now seeking to use Donald Trump-style tax cuts as the basis for our economic policy. The economic modelling shows that there will be a negligible, a microscopic bump in improvement in a decades time if we hand away $50 billion of taxpayer money in corporate tax cuts. What is the case to give multinationals lower taxes in Australia and they remit that as extra profits overseas? What is the case for Mr Turnbull to hand his mates in the big banks tax cuts of billions of dollars which they add to their bottom line, and in return we see cuts to family payments and we see cuts to Medicare.
JOURNALIST: So will Labor, Labor's not going to reconsider the Opposition’s, sorry, the Government's plan to cut tax rates from 30% to 25%?
SHORTEN: Mr Turnbull's Donald Trump-style corporate tax cuts was a crazy idea at the budget, was a crazy idea during the election, and it was a crazy idea since then. And I think even people in the Government know it's a crazy plan because they're not doing a lot to proceed with these tax cuts, are they?
JOURNALIST: Well on ABCC, the legislation’s due to be debated in the Senate next week, what do you think the chances are of Nick Xenophon supporting this?
SHORTEN: Well it'll be a matter for the Senate how it votes. But what is the case for anti-worker, anti-union laws to be put through? Is this the only priority of Malcolm Turnbull? Why is he obsessed about what a steel fixer or a carpenter or a crane driver gets paid on a building site? Yet he has nothing to say about the ridiculous remuneration which is given to executives in large multinationals and large Australian banks. Malcolm Turnbull's always got a view about why you should cut someone off on the aged pension, why you should go after a disability pensioner, why he's worried about what they get paid at the ABC, or what a crane driver might get on a building site. But he's got nothing to say about the top end of town, tax cuts for millionaires, corporate tax cuts, and he says nothing about the excessive remuneration of the top end of town. He is out of touch with the lives of everyday Australians. One last question if there is one.
JOURNALIST: On the Indigenous program audit, the Productivity Commission looked at Indigenous programs and found that only 24 were properly evaluated. Is that good enough?
SHORTEN: There's no doubt in my mind that progress under this Liberal Government has been too slow in closing the gap of disadvantage between our first Australians and those who have arrived subsequently. Let's be clear, the numbers are all headed in the wrong direction. A young black man in Australia is more likely to go to jail than university. The suicide rates are going up, we're seeing poor outcomes in terms of jobs. Mr Turnbull needs to give more attention to our first Australians. This is not too hard, one thing I'll say about Tony Abbott, I didn't always agree with his policies but he was certainly very focused on a debate about the future for our first Australians.
And generally, this Government isn't doing enough about unemployment. We've just seen the unemployment numbers come out. 90,000 full-time jobs have been lost since Christmas. The projected jobs growth from the budget, we've only seen half of the projected jobs growth the Government promised us at the budget. We're seeing the growth in part-time jobs. We see 1.8 million of our fellow Australians either unemployed or seeking to get more hours of work than they're currently getting.
This government is doing nothing about jobs and that's why it needs to look at our temporary visa reforms, so that cheap overseas labour is not getting exploited there. This is why they need to drop their $50 billion Donald Trump-style corporate tax cuts and they need to focus on looking after people at the bottom of the heap, rather than just their friends at the top.
Thank you everybody