WEDNESDAY, 4 MAY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s Budget for big business over battlers
KARL STEFANOVIC: Tomorrow night Opposition Leader Bill Shorten gets his chance to attack the Treasurer's economic plan. He joins us now as you've just seen, the papers have been kind so far to this Budget, the analysis is pretty kind. Is that game over for you?
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: This is a Budget which favours the millionaires over the battlers; the high income earners over the families. I actually think it's quite a mediocre Budget with a lot of unfairness hidden in its pages.
STEFANOVIC: You were irritated during that interview with the Treasurer, why?
SHORTEN: Well not irritated with the Treasurer personally, but I think they've missed a big opportunity here. The clearest example I can think of, of why this Budget doesn't favour most people, is that when you look at the winners and the losers, if you earn a million dollars in Australia under this Government you're going to get nearly $17,000 in a tax cut. But if you're an average family on $65,000 with three kids you're going to lose over $3,000 in payments.
STEFANOVIC: But you're going to approve those tax cuts.
SHORTEN: Well no, we're not. In terms of the high end tax cuts we don't think this is the time to do it. Everyone loves to talk about helping lower taxes but you've got to do it when the nation can afford it. We've got a deficit that has tripled. This Government has increased the deficit and debt of every Australian, and what we want to do is - we'll support the tax cut, the $315 per year tax cut which is about $6 a week for about half a million people on $80,000. But did you know Karl that 75 per cent of all Australians are getting no tax cut? Or put another way, the top 10 per cent are getting the vast bulk of tax cuts. We think that's the wrong priority when they're cutting education and hospitals.
STEFANOVIC: The Treasurer has stolen some of your ideas, I mean the cheek of it.
SHORTEN: Oh well, I don't mind, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We've said that multinationals have been getting away with not paying their proper taxes; we've said that you do need to do something about tobacco taxes and we've said that superannuation at the high end - the tax concessions are unsustainable. But they've done half the job and they haven't gone the whole way. We certainly don't believe they should be cutting family payments; the pensioners are losing money, the schools, the hospitals. No, this Budget doesn't do anything about setting Australia up for the future, it's just looking after the big end of town.
STEFANOVIC: I mean you're talking about measures there that are going to require a whole lot of spending and that's only going to get us into more deep trouble with the deficit.
SHORTEN: Well this Government's tripled the deficit, let’s be clear and we've already -
STEFANOVIC: But you're not providing with respect, you're not providing answers to breaking down that deficit.
SHORTEN: Oh no, that's not fair either. We've outlined for instance reform of negative gearing. It will keep it for people with existing investments, but that’s going to add $32 billion over the next ten years. We'll be announcing more changes to reduce government spending. I think this Government's actually by proposing massive tax cuts for very big corporations and offering nothing, if you - this morning if you earn less than $80,000 and you flick through your local paper to see what's in it for you, there's nothing except your schools are being cut, you're Medicare bulk billing is under threat and if you're a pensioner they've even gone after you there.
STEFANOVIC: You've got a problem there with that $20 billion block hole in your budget.
SHORTEN: No again, we've done our costing by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, and indeed -
STEFANOVIC: But its $20 billion short, though isn't it.
SHORTEN: Well no there's a difference between what the Government is saying and what our independent report says.
STEFANOVIC: So it's based on Treasury figures though.
SHORTEN: But again our modelling is done by independent Parliamentary Budget Office.
STEFANOVIC: You don't trust Treasury figures?
SHORTEN: Well what I have to say to you is that the Parliamentary Budget Office which is equally impressive, have come up with a different conclusion and Senator Leyonhjelm -
STEFANOVIC: Are they more impressive than Treasury?
SHORTEN: Well Senator Leyonhjelm the independent third party Senator has come up with numbers like us, but let's be clear there is no real difference from the Government to us in terms of tobacco excise. But what amazes me is that this Government's decided to define a small business as a company up to $1 billion, it's decided in a beauty parade between schools and hospitals and the pensioners and universities to prioritise big companies. Again the story of this Budget is in this simple example; if you earn $1 million you will get a $17,000 tax cut but if you are a family on $65,000 a year, you get nothing except cuts to family payments.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, the Prime Minister will more than likely announce that we're heading to the polls. When do you expect that to be, Friday or Saturday?
SHORTEN: Well we've been in an election campaign with this Prime Minister for some time. I imagine Friday or Saturday.
STEFANOVIC: Okay so you're ready for that, two years ago I remember Joe Hockey delivered his Budget and you were finished. Do you believe you're in the hunt now, you're in the race, can you win?
SHORTEN: I think this Budget was meant to be Malcolm Turnbull's big justification for rolling Tony Abbott, at the end of listening to Scott Morrison last night I thought is that what all the fuss has been about? A $6 a week tax cut for one in five people, nothing for anyone else, and I have to say that this Government's missed an opportunity and it's going to cause unfairness. It is not nation-building, it is nation-shrinking.
STEFANOVIC: You're going to have to start answer the question though, can you win? That's a very easy question to answer.
SHORTEN: Yes, we can win.
STEFANOVIC: And you can be Prime Minister?
SHORTEN: We can win, I can be Prime Minister, absolutely.
STEFANOVIC: Alright good to talk to you.
SHORTEN: Thanks Karl.