MONDAY, 21 MARCH 2016
SUBJECT: Malcolm Turnbull puts his own future ahead of Australia's future
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everybody.
Today, Mr Turnbull has decided to put his own future ahead of Australia's future.
Today Australians have seen a Prime Minister in full panic mode.
There can be no better demonstration of the chaos at the heart of this dysfunctional and divided Government than the fact that the Treasurer of Australia thought that the Budget was going to be on a different day to his Prime Minister, only an hour earlier than when the Prime Minister told Australia of the new date.
Now Mr Turnbull promised new economic leadership, but he has failed to deliver. Mr Turnbull promised fairness, and he has failed to deliver. And Mr Turnbull promised unity and he has monumentally failed to deliver.
The only things that Mr Turnbull is delivering are big tax cuts for large corporations and tax cuts for people already earning over $180,000, including himself.
This is the Liberal Party looking after their own, but in the process, everyone else pays for it: cuts to Medicare, cuts to the pension, cuts to education, cuts to family support.
In today's speech, Mr Turnbull outlined his priorities for the election. Not one mention of Medicare, not one mention of schools, not one mention of universities, not one mention of child care, not one mention of TAFEs and apprenticeships, and there was no mention at all of renewable energy.
The difference for Australians approaching this election between Liberal and Labor could not be starker. We are ready for this election and Australians are ready for this election. Australians are sick of the political games. They are sick of the incompetence. They just want to see policies which put people at the centre of what government does.
We are not going to play the game that Mr Turnbull wants us to. We will not be distracted from the issues that Australians have been telling us are most important to them.
Labor will back the Australian people with our positive plans for Australia following this election. We will make sure that it is your Medicare card, no your credit card which determines the level of health care you receive in this country. We will make sure that every child, in every school, gets every opportunity to have the best education possible. We will reinforce and go back to supporting a strong public TAFE, rather than the dodgy private providers. We will make sure there is real action on climate change by putting renewable energy, and the future jobs that come with it, at the centre of how we tackle climate change. We will ensure that there is a fair taxation system in this country and that will also allow first home owners, the people seeking to become first home owners, the chance of fulfilling the great Australian dream.
The choice facing Australians in this election is clear. More jobs under Labor or more cuts under the Liberals. A Labor Party putting people first or a Liberal-National Coalition putting large corporations ahead of families and small business.
Labor has positive plans for the future and we undertake that over the next 15 weeks we will keep doing what we have done for the last two and a half years. We will put people at the centre of every policy we offer the Australian electorate at the next election.
Happy to take any questions.
REPORTER: Were you consulted at all by the Government or the Governor-General about proroguing Parliament?
SHORTEN: No, Labor wasn't consulted but let me make it clear, we are not afraid of a double dissolution election. Australians are not afraid of a double dissolution election either. They just want people to get on with their interests, rather than playing political games. We are ready to fight the election and we will fight it on the basis of Australian jobs, we will fight it on the basis of a fair taxation system which prioritises a level playing field for first home buyers against property speculators. We will fight the election on critical issues of Budget repair, critical issues important to Australians such as a properly funded school system and a Medicare system where it is your Medicare card not your credit card that determines the level of care you get, and we will fight it on climate change and real action to help tackle climate change through prioritising renewable energy.
REPORTER: Are you going to an election promising tax increases when the Government is promising tax cuts?
SHORTEN: Well, these tax cuts that the Government is proposing are certainly phantom tax cuts when it comes to individuals. Remember when Mr Turnbull justified rolling Mr Abbott? It was for new economic leadership. Remember the good old days when Mr Turnbull was the champion of reform? We have seen Malcolm Turnbull shrink into the job. Remember the Treasurer said that he was passionate about income tax cuts? Now he doesn't even know the date that he is meant to bring down the [Budget]. Labor has got fully funded policies. We are committed to Budget repair. We will stop wasteful government spending. We will stop the waste of billions of dollars on Tony Abbott-Malcolm Turnbull's ineffective emissions reduction fund, which is paying large polluters for poor environmental results. We certainly won't waste taxpayer money on a baby bonus negotiated between the National Party in return for supporting Mr Turnbull to become the Prime Minister. But what we will also do on taxation is make sure that the system, the scarce taxpayer dollars are used in the best interests of all Australians. Why does Mr Turnbull think that the great Australian dream is to minimise your taxable income by acquiring your tenth investment property when I think, and millions like me think, that the great Australian dream is for our kids one day to be able to afford to buy their first home.
Are there any other questions?.
REPORTER: The Government says your negative gearing plans will wreck the property market.
SHORTEN: The Government says a lot of things but none of them happen to be true. The real issue here about negative gearing is that it's not sustainable. We’ve made it perfectly clear that if you currently have investment properties under the current laws, nothing will change. In other words, there will be no retrospectivity. We have also said that if elected we will support negative gearing continuing for new housing, but something has got to be done about making sure that first home owners can at least have a level playing field with property speculators. Why is it that Mr Turnbull will fight to the death for the right of a property investor, a speculator to have taxpayer support to offset their losses to buy their tenth house, but he has no plan for housing affordability for Australians currently locked out of the housing market?
It is not altogether surprising that Mr Turnbull thinks that. He thinks tax reform is giving large corporations a tax cut, rather than prioritising individuals. My view is very straightforward on these sorts of matters. If I have to make a choice between properly funding our schools and hospital system, properly funding our childcare or TAFE apprenticeship network or giving large corporations a tax cut, well, it's clear, Labor always picks people first. Mr Turnbull is addicted to this economic strategy which has been discredited for the last 200 years: trickle-down economics. He believes that somehow the crumbs from the very well-off's table in society will help generate jobs in growth. No it won't. Mr Turnbull's business tax cut plans are a boon for foreign shareholders but they're not going to support a whole lot of self-funded retirees in Australia. So when he talks about tax reform, it is a much diminished proposition from his first bold but yet, unfulfilled promise he made to justify the disunity of getting rid of Tony Abbott.
REPORTER: The royal commission exposed a culture of lawlessness and corruption in the union movement. Why are you stopping legislation to address that?
SHORTEN: We are definitely up for making sure there is good regulation of unions and employers in the workplace. And you're right, the royal commission did expose unacceptable examples of practices and malfeasance, but what I'm not going to do is to throw out the whole workplace relations system and create two sets of rules for different types of workers. Why should workers in one industry be governed by different rules to workers in another? What is the overwhelming case to create a second industrial bureaucracy? We are absolutely committed to doubling the penalties, we are absolutely committed to giving ASIC the ability to regulate corporate governance in unions as well as employers. But what I won't do is start engaging in a general union-bashing campaign which is indeed the only thing the right wing of the Liberal Party will let Mr Turnbull talk about.
And furthermore this talk of the ABCC legislation, if it was so important to Mr Turnbull, why didn't he raise it when we've just had Parliament for the last 5 weeks? And furthermore, what he also should have done is just to get the Greens not to do a deal with him, but if he really wanted to deal with this legislation, he should have dealt with it.
We are up for sensible reform, but the truth of the matter is whilst Labor is anti-corruption, Mr Turnbull is just simply anti-union. Furthermore, we are not going to allow this legislation to be a camouflage from the real issues. Mr Turnbull does not want Australia, does not want the Parliament of Australia, to talk about Medicare, about properly funding our schools. He does not want Australia talking about real action on climate change through genuine efforts to lift renewable energy. Mr Turnbull is shy of having a debate about fair taxation or Australian jobs.
That is why Labor will not get distracted by Mr Turnbull's games. If he wants Parliament to sit on April 18th, we will turn up, of course we will, but we won't be distracted on behalf of the interests of the Australian people by Mr Turnbull's games. Mr Turnbull has a plan for his re-election, he just doesn't have a plan for Australia.