CHANNEL 7 WEEKEND SUNRISE
SUNDAY, 8 MAY 2016
SUBJECT/S: 2016 Election; Labor’s plan to protect paid parental leave, Malcolm Turnbull’s Budget for big business over battlers.
ANDREW O’KEEFE, PRESENTER: Now you may have heard that an election is just hours away from being called. Bill Shorten has been Opposition Leader for 2.5 years and will be trying to lead Labor back to power in eight weeks time. He joins us now from Melbourne. Good morning to you, Mr Shorten. Lovely to have your company. Now on the show yesterday we had two crossbench Senators, Xenophon and Lazarus, both saying that they believe you won't win the election. You've never been the preferred prime minister in any poll and you're still a fair way behind Mr Turnbull in that regard. Do you really think you can be PM?
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, first things first, just that I promised my wife, I just want to wish all the mothers of Australia a happy Mother's Day.
O'KEEFE: Thanks Bill.
SHORTEN: And on the issue that you've asked, I think this election will be about issues, not personalities. It's not about Malcolm Turnbull or myself. It's about the people of Australia. And I think that when Australians look at our positive plans in jobs, in Medicare and education, a fair taxation system, housing affordability for first homebuyers and real action on climate change, I think we are very competitive. But I do recognise at the start of this election, we are the underdogs.
ANGELA COX, PRESENTER: With respect I can understand why you say you want this to be about policies rather than personalities when Malcolm Turnbull does seem to be more popular with voters. Do you think you've got an image problem?
SHORTEN: Well I think that this election isn’t about me or him in particular. What I do think it's about is the people of Australia. What we want to do in Labor is put people first. Today we've made an announcement about ensuring that working mums aren't penalised by the cuts which Mr Turnbull is making to paid parental leave. Our policies are grounded in the everyday experiences of people. That's why, for instance, we're going to make sure that every child in every school gets the proper needs-based funding, because the best thing you can do to grow our economy and have a brighter future is give our kids the best possible start in life, with all the skills and education that they need.
O'KEEFE: So we’re going to hear a lot more about these individual policies as we go over the next eight weeks, Bill. The Government pitch is very clear from their budget - they're saying it's all about growing the economy. On the point of growing the economy, you know, what is the Labor plan there?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, the Government's pitch is about growing the economy through trickle-down economics. What I mean by that is they're going to give the largest companies in Australia and multinationals a tax cut. Under their Budget on Tuesday night, if you earn $1 million in Australia, you are going to get a $17,000 tax cut. But a parent on $65,000 a year, raising two kids, teenagers at high school, is actually losing $4,500 plus. So I don't think their recipe to grow the economy is a particularly successful way. By contrast, the way we will grow the economy, is we'll make sure that we have highly skilled workers in the future - that's our kids, making sure they get the best education. You grow the economy by making sure that when people are sick, they can get to a doctor without having to pay a big co-payment fee up the front. We're going to fight to keep bulk billing, because if you've got an efficient healthcare system where people get the treatment when they need it; if our schools and TAFEs and universities are generating people, middle class kids and working class kids and adults re-training, if they get the chance to have the skills then they will compete for the jobs of the future.
O'KEEFE: Righto. So it's about creating, you know, the playing field in which people, therefore, can bolster the economy through their own efforts?
COX: Mr Shorten, you say you don't want this to be about personalities. Does that mean Malcolm Turnbull's wealth is off limits? Because you seem to already be trying to paint him as this arrogant toff, who's out of touch, looking after the big end of town. Shouldn't that be off limits if you don't want personalities to be at play?
SHORTEN: His personal wealth is no business of mine, you're quite right. But he did say on radio this week, and I think listeners were astounded, that when he was asked about the difficulty that younger people have getting into the housing market he just made a joke of it and said, 'well, they should have rich parents'. I mean is that really a housing affordability strategy? Just get rich parents? Also, we speak about education. He made a comment barely a month ago where he said that in a perfect world a Government he led at the Commonwealth wouldn't be putting our Commonwealth money into the funding of government schools at the state level. I think these comments are out of touch. And I think that when he says as the centrepiece of his Budget, and his plan for all Australians in the next ten years, is to give a $50 billion tax cut to the richest companies in Australia over the next ten years and a lot of that money will go to - that tax cut benefit will go to foreign shareholders. I think he is a seriously out of touch Prime Minister and his government have seriously out of touch policies. By contrast we'll stand up for penalty rates. That's what people need to be able to make ends meet. So I think that we have a far better grip of how people really live their lives.
O'KEEFE: Well I mean, it's kind of nice to see that the two parties are going head-to-head on these issues and no one is trying to make small targets of themselves or dodge. We see that you are off to Beaconsfield to mark the ten years since the mine rescue today. A defining moment for you in your political career obviously, and the start of a big eight weeks for you. Bill Shorten. thank you very much for joining us this morning. Happy birthday for next Thursday.
SHORTEN: Very good research! I turn 49, one off the big 5-0.
O'FEEFE: Wowee. Well you don't want two shocks in the one year, so it's probably a good thing it's still a year away. Alright, thanks for that and good luck today.