FRIDAY, 1 JULY 2016
SUBJECTS: Labor’s positive plans for Australia; Labor’s positive plans for Medicare; Liberal attacks on Medicare; Budget repair that is fair
DAVID KOCH: Listening to the final pitch from Malcolm Turnbull was Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. He joins me at the desk. Bill, good morning to you. We are going to give you the same opportunity as we gave Malcolm Turnbull. 60 second pitch to the Australian voters. Why should they vote for you? Look down the barrel right there. 60 seconds starts now.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Labor has positive plans for jobs, education and Medicare. We are most committed to Australian jobs and advanced manufacturing. Providing more apprenticeships for young people, rebuilding TAFE. We are most committed to school funding, making sure that every school in every postcode, regardless of the wealth of the parent, has proper resources. We are determined to protect Medicare from the savage cuts of the Turnbull government. We are committed to making sure that Australians get first rate NBN not the second rate NBN currently rolled out by this Government. We are determined to take real action on climate change, focusing on renewable energy. We want to make sure that first homeowners can compete on a level playing ground with investment and property speculators so we can keep the dream of buying your own Australian home alive.
KOCH: OK, 15 seconds short like the Prime Minister. Short and sweet.
SHORTEN: Like the name.
KOCH: You have got your cheer squad here behind you. Malcolm Turnbull just a couple of minutes ago said that he would guarantee there would be no changes to Medicare. Are you calling him a liar?
SHORTEN: His policies contradict him. It's not me calling him a liar. His policies are what calls him that, he is not telling the truth here.
KOCH: So you are calling him a liar.
SHORTEN: You can pick the name. The point is he is not telling the Australians the truth about his plans on Medicare. These are simple facts. The Royal College of Australian GPs has said that Mr Turnbull's policies will mean patients, 14.5 million of them, will pay more to see the doctor. Bulk billing numbers are -
KOCH: Only 60 cents or something? Didn't he say there it was tiny?
SHORTEN: Well, let's call this straight here, the doctors have said that it's something like $412 extra per year for a family of two with two teenage kids. What has happened is that the Government pays a rebate - Australians pay their taxes to Canberra. The Government pays a rebate when a doctor sees a patient. The Government is now freezing the rebate or the money they give the doctor for six years. What that will mean is that if GPs get no increase from the Government for seeing patients for six years, their costs are going up, they are going to have to ask for more from the patients. That will cost $12 billion over the next 10 years out of the system.
KOCH: Are they are your figures or the doctors?
SHORTEN: The $12 billion figure is the figures from the budget. In terms of medicine, Mr Turnbull is intending to increase the price of prescription medicine for both concession holders and for general citizens. That will take another $3.6 billion out of the system.
KOCH: So that guarantee is false, you are calling him a liar, aren't you? Just say it, why?
SHORTEN: Mr Turnbull's policies are bad for Australians' healthcare. His policies aren't truthful, he is not guaranteeing Medicare. I'm going to take another example, he is getting rid of the bulk billing incentives.
KOCH: He just said he was going to guarantee it.
SHORTEN: Mr Turnbull is a very clever man and he picks his words carefully. The fact of the matter is he is taking billions of dollars out of Medicare. At the same time as he is proposing in the budget to take billions of dollars out of the budget and give it back in tax cuts for large businesses. He's got the wrong priorities for Australia. If you make bulk billing hard to get, you are making a two-tier health system. I'll finish on this little point on bulk billing and Medicare because the Government has tried to say we are exaggerating the issues. Mr Turnbull says that bulk billing has never been higher. Yet a survey done by the Royal Australian College of GPs this week reveals that only 43 per cent of doctors are providing bulk billing for between 80 and 100 per cent of their patients. Bulk billing is on the critical list, if Mr Turnbull's changes go through it will get even harder for people to afford to see the doctor.
KOCH: Let's talk the economy. It has been your Achilles heel all along. Voters don't think you will be a good economic manager but you have been on a spending spree in this campaign. The budget deficit will be blown out by $16 billion. That just seemed to be a stupid strategy by you. If voters don't believe you why go out pork barrelling?
SHORTEN: First of all, the Government announced all their official spending four days before the official election was called in their budget. The biggest single give away in this budget isn't our defence of Medicare or properly funding schools and TAFE, the biggest single spending item in this budget is Mr Turnbull handing away $50 billion in corporate tax cuts including $7.4 billion to the banks.
KOCH: The question was you will put the budget $16 billion deeper into deficit?
SHORTEN: You're right..
KOCH: That's not good economic management.
SHORTEN: You’re right, that was the question. But you also said that we were spending more than the Liberals. I was correcting that fact. When it comes to our plan for budget repair that's fair, the Government is saying they can do slightly better than us in the first four years. We get to surplus at the same year. But the way they do slightly -
KOCH: But you're from further back?
SHORTEN: Yes but the reason they can say their numbers are better is because they are relying on zombie measures such as -
KOCH: What is a zombie measure?
SHORTEN: It's a measure which will never pass the parliament. So they are banking some sort of fictional save to the bottom line of the budget by a measure such as increasing the working age to 70. That's never going to pass. I tell you the big difference. It's a big difference between us and the Liberals, we will repair the budget. What we won't do is jeopardise investment in jobs, education and Medicare and specifically infrastructure, education and Medicare. That's the difference.
KOCH: OK. Eight week campaign, the eve of the election, every newspaper is editorialising to their readers, do not vote for Bill Shorten. The polls are showing you are going to lose. Are you depressed about this?
SHORTEN: Not at all. One, because I know what is really happening out in the suburbs and regions of Australia. I have spent all my adult life talking to people, listening to people. People are concerned about the issues that Labor is talking about. The Government like to say that -
KOCH: You think you can win?
SHORTEN: Absolutely I do.
KOCH: If you lose, will you step down?
SHORTEN: Did you ask Mr Turnbull what he will do if he loses?
KOCH: I didn't interview him.
SHORTEN: I am setting myself the same standard as the other Prime Minister, I am in this to win it. What I say to Australians is that you can either have Malcolm Turnbull or you can have Medicare, but you can't have both. That message is resonating with people. Our message about jobs. Our message about properly funding schools and TAFE.
KOCH: So you are calling him a liar on Medicare?
SHORTEN: He is definitely wrong on Medicare, no question. I wouldn't want to trust the health system to three more years of the Liberals.
KOCH: Thanks for joining us. Good luck tomorrow.
SHORTEN: Thanks Kochie.