SATURDAY, 7 MAY 2016
SUBJECT/S: 2016 Election; Malcolm Turnbull’s Budget for big business over battlers.
DEBORAH KNIGHT, HOST: We are joined now by the man who wants to be our next PM, Labor leader Bill Shorten. Good morning to you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSTION: Good morning.
KNIGHT: It really is a marathon campaign that we are heading into, eight weeks of it. I'm not sure if voters are really ready but are you confident you are going to claim line honours?
SHORTEN: Well, Labor is offering a clear choice at this election. We've got positive plans on jobs, Medicare, schools, fair taxation and home affordability. And by contrast, we see Mr Turnbull offering a choice where you get big tax cuts for large multi-nationals and very high worth of individuals. This Budget I think highlights the choice at this election; people on $1 million a year are going to get a $17,000 tax cut, but a working mum with two kids at high school earning $65,000, well she's going to lose $4,500 plus in payments.
KNIGHT: It seems that your message is resonating; Labor is now neck and neck with the Government on a two-party basis on the latest Reach Tell poll out today. But you personally, you're very much the underdog. Your approval rating is well behind the PMs. Why do you think voters prefer Malcolm Turnbull over you?
SHORTEN: Well I think as they get to see the policies that my united Labor team are offering Australians compared to Mr Turnbull's Liberal team, I think the more that they look at the policies, not the personalities, and they see our positive plans, I'm optimistic that despite our underdog status people will realise that a Labor Government will put people first. Whereas Mr Turnbull, he's going to put big business and people who are already very well off first.
KNIGHT: But you've had a long time now as Opposition Leader to win that support. Give us some insight into what you will reveal in the next eight weeks to try to convince more people that you have what it takes to be PM.
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, the Labor Party is united. We've learnt the lesson, the hard lesson of the past, and I've got a great experienced team who are united. Secondly, and I think even more importantly, we think this election should be a real choice between who has got the best ideas for the future of this country. What's important to me and my team is making sure that young people can enter the housing market, that they don't face a life-time of debt through higher education fees and $100,000 degrees. I think what is really important to Australians is having a Medicare system where it is your Medicare card, not your credit card, that determines the quality of the healthcare that you get. We will make sure that Medicare always stays in public hands and we will defend bulk billing, the things which everyday people take for granted and which keep downward pressure on their cost of living.
KNIGHT: We know that the nation's finances will be very much a key election battle ground this time around. A lot of debate from both sides about the accuracy of Budget costings. Are you still committed to deliver first class broadband which you mentioned in your Budget Reply despite reports today of a potential of $8.5 billion Budget blow-out.
SHORTEN: The only thing that has happened with broadband in the last three years is that it has doubled in cost and that it's slower than was promised. There are many -
KNIGHT: But can you afford to deliver this first class service that you are promising?
SHORTEN: We will, and we'll outline our policies for a 21st century broadband in coming weeks. But the scoreboard is already up there for everyone to see. This was Mr Turnbull's own ministry. This was his own signature infrastructure project. At the 2013 election 1,000 days ago the Liberals said please vote for us, give us a chance because we will roll out broadband more cheaply and more effectively. And now what's happened is there's hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of Australians who were promised broadband in the last three years; they haven't got it. So I really think that the broadband and the failure of this Government to deliver 21st century broadband is one of the black marks against them and why they shouldn't be given another chance to again delay slower broadband.
KNIGHT: One of the taxes that we did see revealed in the Budget was that of the tobacco tax. Did you get the sums wrong on that as the Government claims?
SHORTEN: No. What's happened is that the Government and I suppose it is flattering really. The Government has taken our policy, and that's fair enough, because I think when you've got a good idea they should be bipartisan. In terms of the cost of this we stand by our independent Parliamentary Budget Office; that's an organisation who assess the policies of Oppositions and cost their ideas. We stand by our propositions there. And what's most important with this tobacco excise increase is that on balance it's going to deliver improvements to the Budget bottom line and it's going to deliver a healthier Australia in the long run. Even the people who smoke don't want their kids to take up smoking, and the cost of not dealing with smoking in the long run is far more expensive to the bottom line and taxpayers than increasing the excise.
KNIGHT: Well we can see that you're at the airport this morning, you're about to catch a flight. Give us your best 30 seconds salesman bid on why people should trust you over Malcolm Turnbull.
SHORTEN: Labor has positive plans for the future of Australia. We'll put Aussie jobs first; we'll defend Medicare and bulk billing and reduce the waiting lists for elective surgery. We'll make sure that every child in every school, in every postcode gets every gets opportunity. We'll make sure that working and middle-class kids can afford to go to university and TAFE, and we'll make sure that first home buyers compete on a level playing field with the property investment speculators. That's why Labor has positive plans for all Australians; we'll put people first.
KNIGHT: Great pitch. We'll see how voters respond to it, eight weeks to go. July 2 will be the date revealed tomorrow. Bill Shorten thanks for your time.
SHORTEN: Look forward to catching up again, thank you.