Bill's Transcripts

Press Conference: Ainslie

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
PRESS CONFERENCE


WEDNESDAY, 25 JUNE 2014
AINSLIE, ACT

SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s unfair budget; pension cuts; Senate; Tony Abbott’s unfair paid parental leave scheme; Iraq, petrol tax; IR review; Clive Palmer.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:
Good morning everyone. I’ve had a marvellous opportunity to talk to remarkable full pensioners, part pensioners and self-funded retires this morning with Shadow Minster Jenny Macklin and our most diligent Andrew Leigh in his local electorate. Tony Abbott last night rammed through his savage cuts to 300,000 seniors who will be losing each $800 in seniors supplement. Quite frankly, this unfair budget which is hurting pensioners, hurting people – the kids who are sick, hurting university kids who want to be able to be educated and get a fair go in life, this unfair budget we are now seeing rammed through last night because this is a government too scared to talk about their mean changes to Australia.

 

I don't know how Tony Abbott can sleep at night where on one hand he's cutting pension indexation, he's cutting senior supplements, yet on the other hand he’s giving millionaires $50,000 they don't need to have a baby. I do not know how this government can think it is fair that on one hand every time an Australian family goes to the petrol station they will be paying a new tax to be collected for Tony Abbott, yet on the other hand we will see multimillionaires receiving $50,000 they don't need for this expensive white elephant paid parental leave scheme, merely because Tony Abbott is too arrogant to admit he’s wrong.

 

Labor will fight this unfair budget. We cannot allow this unfair budget and many of its aspects to pass without a fight. Seniors have worked hard their whole lives. They have been doing the lifting for five decades and now, when it's their turn to receive modest payments for everything they've ever done, you’ve got Tony Abbott cutting the legs from underneath them. I’d now like to hand over to our Shadow Minister Jenny Macklin to talk more about the rotten priorities of this unfair budget.

JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES & PAYMENTS: Thanks very much Bill. Tony Abbott is saying to Australian seniors that the seniors supplement is a cash splash. That’s Tony Abbott's words, that the $800 that seniors get in their seniors supplement every year is, according to Tony Abbott, just a cash splash. But what we know is that many seniors rely on this extra assistance that they receive from the Government – $800 going to seniors each and every year to make sure that they can help pay their bills.

 

We also know that Tony Abbott is just axing the contribution that the Commonwealth makes to pensioner and seniors concessions. Another cut to the living standards of older Australians. We know that in the legislation that was rammed through the parliament last night Tony Abbott wants to cut pensions for the 3.2 million Australian pensioners who will now be worse off because of Tony Abbott's changes.

 

Well, Labor will do everything in our power to try and stop these cruel and unfair changes. We know how important it is to support those senior Australians who’ve worked hard all of their lives. We know how important it is to make sure that they can live a comfortable life in retirement and that's why we will fight this all the way through the Senate.

 

SHORTEN: Thanks, we’re happy to take any questions.

 

JOURNALIST: Are you confident that some of the words of Senator John Madigan overnight suggesting that he won't support some of these changes and it looks as though the Government is going to have a fight on its hands with some of the Independents, not just Labor.

 

SHORTEN: First of all, what the crossbench Senators do is up to them. Labor will not bully the crossbench Senators. But what I would also remind you is it is government Senators who are deeply uncomfortable at what Tony Abbott is trying to do. Tony Abbott’s budget is out of control. It is hurting ordinary Australians. How on earth can Tony Abbott day after day get up and attack seniors and take away their $800 supplement? How on earth can Tony Abbott sleep at night knowing that he is going after pensioners and despite all the promises he made before the election? How on earth can Tony Abbott say it's a good idea for every Australian family when they go to a petrol station to have to pay a new tax to Tony Abbott, and at the same time knowing that some Australian millionaires are going to receive $50,000 for having a baby?

 

This is crazy economics from this government. Tony Abbott is so out of touch with the real world of Australian people. He should show some real courage and start redoing his budget from scratch.

 

JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten in the interest of fairness then would you support pairing back the paid parental leave scheme that the public service gets to be in line with what everyone else gets?

 

SHORTEN: I’m really glad you asked that. Tony Abbott shows his weak command of workplace relations every time he attacks different people for the conditions they get. Tony Abbott puts his fingers in his belt and says ‘aren't I a good bloke because I’m going to give millionaires $50,000 to have a baby’, he says ‘because that should be, that’s a workplace entitlement’. Tony Abbott, you are so wrong. What a workplace entitlement is, is it's paid for by employers. Tony Abbott is replacing employers' obligations with taxpayers. Tony Abbott is so lacking in any knowledge of the real world. He keeps boasting what a clever fellow he is because he’s going to use taxpayer money to replace employer obligations to employees. Labor came up with a perfectly reasonable safety net paid parental leave scheme, good scheme, everyone gave it the tick, but now what Tony Abbott’s doing is because he has talked about this idea for some years he can’t admit he’s now wrong.

The idea that taxpayers should pay workplace entitlements, why doesn't Tony Abbott, if he thinks that it's wrong for some people who currently get paid parental leave and therefore says the taxpayer should give it to everyone else. Tony Abbott gets defined benefit superannuation, other people get 15 per cent superannuation. Is Tony Abbott saying that all the women in Australia should therefore get the taxpayer to pay their extra superannuation as well? Tony Abbott is so at sea on workplace relations, it's no wonder that he dropped, he’s trying to hide his crazy agenda with workplace relations today.


JOURNALIST:
Mr Palmer’s says he is going to offer hope to mankind when he announces his stances on key budget measures tonight, does that worry you?

 

SHORTEN: I’d heard nearly all your question except the bit after ‘Mr Palmer hopes’.

 

JOURNALIST: He says he offers hope for mankind when he’ll announce his stance on key budget measures tonight.

 

SHORTEN: What Tony Abbott should do is offer hope to Australia's seniors by not cutting the supplement and before the matter gets resolved in the Senate, changing his mind. What Tony Abbott should do is offer hope to millions of Australians that he will drop his GP tax, that he will drop his petrol tax, that he will drop his cuts to pensions, that he will drop his attack on the legitimate aspirations of working class kids to go to university.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just on the paid parental leave scheme then can you explain to Australians why if you work in the public service you are entitled to a more generous scheme while the rest of us don’t get it?

SHORTEN: I am not going to fall for Tony Abbott's trick of trying to divide Australia into goodies and baddies. First of all, there are a range of Australians in the private sector and in the public sector in some circumstances who receive certain sets of conditions they've negotiated with their employer in trade-off for wage rises.

 

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible question]

 

SHORTEN: Yes but I’m just explaining, what happens in workplace relations is employers and employees negotiate certain conditions. What Tony Abbott is trying to do is vilify some people in Australia who currently receive certain conditions and use that as the rationale for taxpayers to fill the gap which hasn't been delivered between employers and employees in terms of parental leave. I am trying to put it as straight as I can. Tony Abbott says that paid parental leave is a workplace entitlement. That is a good point. But where he is wrong is he says therefore taxpayers should pay that entitlement. That is his mistake. Workplace entitlements are paid for by employers, not by taxpayers.

 

If Tony Abbott really believed that every workplace entitlement which some Australians get and other Australians don't, that the gap between the haves the and the have-nots should be purely be paid taxpayers, why doesn't he make superannuation paid up to 15 per cent for all Australians like his Coalition backbenchers? Tony Abbott is a hypocrite. He doesn't know what he is talking about with workplace relations. His paid parental leave is Titanic Mark II, it's a slow motion disaster and he should drop it rather than do over pensioners in Australia.

 

JOURNALIST: On the topic of Australians fighting with ISIS in Iraq, Tony Abbott has called on senior members of the Islamic community to speak out in favour of what he calls decency and fair mindedness, do you agree?

 

SHORTEN: I believe that senior members of Islamic communities and all faith-based communities in Australia already stand for decency and fair mindedness and tolerance. I do not believe that the vast bulk, the vast, vast bulk, of the Muslim Australian community or any other community support these acts of violence and barbarity in the Middle East.

 

We will work with the Government to make sure any Australians who have got these misguided views that somehow their faith demands that they commit acts of savagery and barbarity in Iraq or Syria, is anything other than completely wrong and illegal and reprehensible. But I do believe that our Muslim community in Australia just, like all other Aussies, deplore these acts of violence and this crazy behaviour that we see in the Middle East.

 

JOURNALIST: Just on the fuel excise, this is seen as a structural reform in addressing that problem. If Labor is not going to reconsider supporting that measure, what is your plan to tackle structural reform?

 

SHORTEN: First of all, Tony Abbott is no John Howard. John Howard froze the excise, we recognise, and Labor cannot in good conscience put greater cost of living pressures on Australians through increasing fuel tax. That is not the way you make Australia get ahead. Tony Abbott should not turn every petrol station into Australia into a new tax collection agency for his rotten budget. The way that we move forward is by more productive work places, by a greater skilled work force, by having better infrastructure and by having sensible budgets. There is no sense in helping Australia by a GP tax, by slugging motorists with extra fuel taxes –

 

JOURNALIST: It’s 60 cents a tank extra.

 

SHORTEN: Tony Abbott hasn't even modelled the impact on country Australia. Tony Abbott is not interested in the needs for instance in regional Australia with the much greater distances. This petrol tax is a great big new tax on everything. Every business that runs motor cars, everyone taking their kids to school. Tony Abbott lied before the last election. He said, we didn't make him say it, he just said it all on his own, he said ‘no new taxes’, he doesn't believe in it, he wants to reduce taxes. He lied before the election and now he is even lying about lying. This is a petrol tax. He didn't tell people about it. Labor is not going to reward Tony Abbott's bad behaviour by simply and meekly acquiescing to his own rotten budget. His own government Senators know it, the crossbench knows it and most importantly Australia knows that when it comes to new taxes Tony Abbott can't be trusted.

 

JOURNALIST: Are you disappointed to see a review into workplace laws being put on hold?

 

SHORTEN: We all know that the Government has got bad things in mind for Australian workplaces and Australian employees. I think that it is telling that this government knows that they have spent so much of their political goodwill on this rotten budget that they have just even run out of ticker. But I’ve got no doubt this is just like delaying the second horror film of this government. The first one called ‘The Budget’, that is a horror film which is still wreaking its problems across Australia. What we know is they have delayed the release of their next horror film, which is an attack on working conditions. But it is coming. It is in the can, they’ve written the script, they want to produce it, they just won't release it yet. Thanks everyone.
ENDS

 

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