Bill's Transcripts

Interview: Sunrise - Budget 2015






SUBJECT/S: Budget 2015


DAVID KOCH, HOST: The current opposition will be giving its official Budget reply tonight. Opposition leader, Bill Shorten joins us ahead of that from Canberra. Bill, good to see you.




KOCH: What did you like about the Budget and you will give the thumbs up to and what won’t you like?


SHORTEN: I think on balance, the Budget was a missed opportunity. It should be about the future. I think it was a lot more about the survival of the Prime Minister and that sort of came out in the question about an early election I think. But in terms of what I liked, I think it is right that we are seeing renewed attention upon small business. So when I looked at that package, a lot of it did remind me of what Labor predecessors tried to do in terms of instant asset write off and accelerated depreciation but it is going in the right direction.


KOCH: Okay.


SHORTEN: I also think it's important that we have a greater attention on infrastructure. In terms of what I didn't like though, I think it doesn't address some of the bigger issues. It wasn't a plan for the future. And I think that when we see our taxes up and spending up, I am not sure that it is going to deliver the confidence which this nation desperately needs.


KOCH: Changes to Family Tax Benefit, give that the tick or will you block that?


SHORTEN: I think they are a bit tricky really. On one hand, it's right to see what we can do to help people, double income families, participate in work and try and help them with the cost of child care. But on the other hand, what they are doing is cutting payments to families on $60,000 whose children are between 6 and 16. The thing about children, Kochie, is that they don't stop needing support at the age of 6 and we still need their mum and dad at work. I think the Government also has to explain what it is doing for single income families. What they are doing I think is giving with one hand but taking with the other. They are just moving the problem around.


KOCH: You are not convinced on that - could block that. What about pharmaceutical benefit scheme changes. Tick or block?


SHORTEN: We have to look at the detail on that. Again, it is appropriate to constantly be reigning in the costs. Labor will take a measured approach. But on the other hand, we are wary of a war between the Government and the small business on the High Street who is the pharmacy. Pharmacy costs go up and up. We will be talking to chemists and pharmacist, in many ways our chemists in the High Street, they will be getting ready for work if not already at work, perhaps with this show on. They are part of the community, the community healthcare where a lot of people go to their pharmacist for a chat. So we want to be careful that we don't punish these small businesses who provide such an important part of the network but again, we have got to make sure we get our costs balanced.


KOCH: So that’s looking a bit dodgy, you’ll need more information on that. Pension reform?


SHORTEN: I would say more information rather than dodgy. I am just conscious that last year the Government went after GPs who are the front line of our health service. I just want to be careful that they are not picking chemists off and making them the sort of the public whipping boy but again, we have got to get it right. In terms of the pension matters, we will just again look at it. On one hand, part pensioners have structured their financial affairs believing in a certain state of affairs. Now you've got the Government changing things. But at the very top end, we have got to look at matters. What has been important for us for the last year though is that the Government said they wouldn't change pensions yet they were cutting the pension rate. We have won that fight. I have to say I am a little sceptical when I see this Government talking about pensions because they have been so hard on them for the last 12 months.


KOCH: Tony Abbott indicated to us this time yesterday morning and also again during the day, it looks as though they will never touch superannuation. What is your stance on super?


SHORTEN: I get very nervous when I hear Tony Abbott saying he will never do anything. He said he would never tackle pensions. He would never cut health, never touch the pension, he’d never cut education - even the poor old ABC he said he wouldn’t  cut. So when Tony Abbott says "never ever", you’ve got to start to get worried, does he mean it? Remember how he had that rolled-gold paid parental leave scheme?


KOCH: What about you though? Will you touch super?


SHORTEN: In terms of superannuation, we don't want to make any more changes than the ones we have proposed but you know, the Government has been quick to attack us for saying that at the very top end, and Kochie, you are a trained business and economist mind, you know this. You can't keep giving massive, massive multimillion-dollar concessions to people who have already assembled multi-million dollars in super. We think that people should be able to get concessions on their superannuation – absolutely but once you've got $5 or $10 million in your superannuation, and you’re pulling down an income stream of $500,000, do you need you or I and everyone else giving them a further tax concession.


KOCH: Yeah, there is one person with $300 million in their super.


SHORTEN: Why is it the Government says that if you've got $300 million in super, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey will collect taxes off mum and dad so they can get to $350 million in super. That is the truth of it and that’s where I think the Government is being dishonest.


KOCH: Bill Shorten, thanks for joining us.