WEDNESDAY, 9 MAY 2018
SUBJECTS: 2018 Budget
DAVID KOCH, HOST: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten joins me now from Canberra. Welcome to the program.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning.
KOCH: Tax cuts are a welcome relief for working Aussies. Will you be supporting that?
SHORTEN: Yes, we'll support the first round of tax cuts. Labor supported downward pressure on taxes by opposing the Medicare levy increases last year. So we're the party that always backs in tax cuts for low and middle income earners.
KOCH: And getting rid of that tax bracket in the middle, for middle income earners down the track?
SHORTEN: You are referring to something that Mr Turnbull is promising to deliver in seven years. I don't even think he's going to be around in seven years, so listen, we're up for something which helps people on 1 July, but we are not immediately going to start throwing bunches of flowers at the government for making a promise in seven years time. The real problem in this budget, Kochie, is that even though it was only one line in Mr Morrison's speech last night, he's giving away $80 billion to the top end of town and in the meantime, cuts to schools and hospitals and pensioners are being baked into the budget. So actually, they're pretty out of touch and I thought last night was pretty uninspiring from the Government -
SHORTEN: What they're basically saying is, let us give $80 billion away to the top end of town and in the meantime, we might give you $10 a week.
KOCH: Explain that $80 billion you're talking about, that's the total as the tax thresholds change over that seven years is it? To top tax brackets?
SHORTEN: Well no I'm talking about the corporate tax cuts -
KOCH: The corporate, right, okay, the company tax cuts right.
SHORTEN: This is something the Government wants to do, and in terms of the rest of their proposals, I mean I noticed you were saying that there was some good things for older people. What they're doing actually is giving us one of the world's oldest retirement ages before you can access the pension. They're taking away an energy supplement, which is pretty modest, about $350 a year for people on fixed incomes with rising power bills, that is the last thing you should be doing. And also, we're trying to get to the bottom of this, and Kochie your help would probably be good here. They say that they are giving some extra places for aged care, 3500 a year, even though the number has grown by 20,000 -
KOCH: Yes, but they are cutting back elsewhere -
SHORTEN: They are actually robbing Peter to pay Peter. With this government, it's never the headline of what they say, it's the detail, and at the end of the day, the people who are best off under a Liberal Government are people who are already best off.
KOCH: Also, I put to the Prime Minister, even conservative economists this morning, like Chris Richardson, are saying we're getting too stingy with unemployment benefits. Yes, we don't want to provide a hammock for someone to bludge on the economy, but the safety net is dwindling away. Should we focus more on that? It is easy for us to be grumpy and say well go and get a job, but there are people in real need of these safety nets.
SHORTEN: I think there is a problem. I mean some Liberal MPs have said they could live off $40 a day, as if. So we've said that if we get elected we want to review the adequacy of the payments, because clearly there is a challenge there as you identify. But when we talk about the safety net dwindling, I'll tell you about a couple of other ropes in the safety net which are getting pretty threadbare. One is there's $715 million worth of cuts to hospitals in the next three years. That's going to put pressure on emergency departments. The other I think, threadbare feature of the safety net is workers wages are going backwards. One of the heroic predictions in the fine print of the budget is it says that wages are going to go up 3.5 per cent next year, well you know 3-3.5 per cent. Well that's not happening Kochie and you can just imagine how a nurse or an aged care worker goes along to their employer and says oh Mr Turnbull says my wages should be 3- 3.5 per cent next year. Good luck if you're going to get that out of the employer.
KOCH: The economy is looking strong, so they're banking on that I suppose. Bill Shorten, thanks for joining us.
SHORTEN: The economy is looking strong, you are spot on, but the problem is that the results are not being shared fairly amongst people. Corporate profits are up, wages are down. That's the real trouble. It's not fair.
KOCH: Okay. Bill Shorten, thanks for joining us.
SHORTEN: Thank you mate.