TUESDAY, 23 MAY 2017
SUBJECT/S: Bringing Them Home Report; bank levy.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody. I've got time for a couple of questions.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, would you support a national redress scheme for the Stolen Generations?
SHORTEN: What happened to three and four generations of our First Australians is that children were forcibly removed from their parents. This was a gross violation of human rights. I think it is time for this Parliament to discuss reconnection, recovery and reparations.
JOURNALIST: What about making the National Anthem more inclusive to recognise Indigenous Australians, is that something you would support?
SHORTEN: I think that the discussion about reparations is probably more relevant to the lives of our First Australians.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, can I ask on the bank levy. The banks seem to be suggesting that the money that is raised won't hit that $6 billion mark. Is this the sort of stuff you would expect from the banks to be saying?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, Labor has said that we have no objection to the banks paying a levy, but clearly Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison have rushed this. There is now a clear discrepancy between what the Government is telling Australians they'll raise and what the banks say they will raise.
Yesterday in Parliament, on three separate occasions, Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison wouldn't confirm how much money the banks were able to claim back in tax deductions.
Only this weak Liberal Government could come up with a scheme, which on one hand says they're going to tax the banks, and on the other hand is going to let banks claim the cost of paying the tax in the form of a deduction.
The only thing these banks will respect in a government is when they have a government who is prepared to give them a Royal Commission. I'll give the banks a Royal Commission to look at their excessive economic power.
Perhaps one more question.
JOURNALIST: Are you concerned that Catholic schools are funnelling more of their allocated funding into richer areas rather than schools in struggling ones?
SHORTEN: Mr Turnbull's not fair dinkum about schools funding in this country. He's cutting $22 billion, much of it from government schools. It seems to me that when Mr Turnbull's talking about Catholic parish schools, he and the Liberal Party are under the mistaken belief that all parents who send their children to Catholic parish schools are wealthy - they are not.
Parents who send their kids to school, be it government schools or Catholic parish schools, have the legitimate expectation that some of the taxes they pay to Canberra will be reinvested in their children's education. Mr Turnbull should stop attacking the funding of schools and he should stop asserting that parents who choose to send their kids to the local Catholic parish school are wealthy - they're simply not in many cases.
One last question.
JOURNALIST: On reparations, how would you propose to pay for that in a cash-strapped government.
SHORTEN: Well first of all Jonathan, let's just have the conversation about whether or not there's a legitimate case. I think that this is something which should be above politics. Clearly there was a great damage done over generations and we need to actually have the conversation - it was a gross violation of human rights.
This Parliament is capable of having a rancour and blame-free conversation about reparations, recovery and re-connection. I think our First Australians deserve nothing less than the Parliament, this generation, having the discussion, and I'm really pleased that both Malcolm Turnbull and I, when it comes to a better deal for our First Australians, we're on the same page.
Thank you and good morning.