WEDNESDAY, 24 MAY 2017
SUBJECTS: Manchester terror attack, National Security, Adani, Medicare Levy, Budget.
BILL SHORTEN: I've got time for two or three questions but before I do I just want to talk about Manchester. Again, as both the Prime Minister and I said yesterday, I want to repeat, the Australian people share the pain of the British people and we share their shock and anger at this despicable act of evil.
As a parent I am deeply conscious of how parents whose kids would have been at this concert must be feeling. A concert in a stadium is not a battlefield, and we clearly deplore casualties in a battlefield, but we know that in a civilised society children and young people listening to music at a concert, it is a terrible crime against humanity to conduct this sort of violence. We absolutely will work with the Government in terms of their briefings. I would also say to Australians though, we should never accept that this sort of violence and evil is the normal state of affairs. I believe that government will always work to keep people safe. You can't ever give a 100 per cent guarantee but we should have some comfort and confidence in the quality of Australia's security services, and people should keep going to sporting events and concerts, and I think we shouldn't let those who are evil discourage us from living our lives.
JOURNALIST: The Lindt cafe siege report is underway, it’s obviously not complete at this stage, but what lessons do you think need to be learned from this and do you think it will increase calls for a new homeland security department in some ways it might pull together some of the Attorney General’s and other provisions into one portfolio?
SHORTEN: As you would be aware Sam, that coroner’s report has just come out, I haven't seen anything other than the top line. I understand that the coroner is saying that Man Monis was responsible for those terrible events, full stop. Beyond that and the lessons, I'll have to read the report before I can comment further.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, I just want to ask you about Adani, it's causing problems for Queensland Labor, what's federal Labor's advice to the Palaszczuk Government? What would you like to see happen up there with that mine?
SHORTEN: I'm running for Prime Minister, not for Premier. Federal Labor's position is completely clear. We would not use a dollar of Commonwealth taxpayer money. If the Adani mine is a commercial success then it doesn't need the taxpayers to underwrite a billion dollar loan to a multi-billion dollar coal company. That's our position, what Queensland does is ultimately a matter for them.
JOURNALIST: What’s your advice to members of your shadow cabinet who are leaking in relation to this Medicare levy and these reports that we've had that there was a majority of speakers in the earlier shadow cabinet that didn't agree that it should cut in only at $87,000?
SHORTEN: I've read about that, I'm genuinely not concerned. I actually think that my shadow cabinet and my party has given me the sort of support over the last four years which I think that the Liberals could only wish for. In terms of how we form our views, we do have debate and discussion. One thing's for sure though, if it comes down to the best way to pay for our social safety net, Medicare, the pension, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Labor does not believe that you should increase the taxes on working and middle class people at the same time as you're giving away tax cuts for millionaires.
My proposition is very straight forward. Why should millionaires pay less and millions of taxpayers on less than $87,000 pay more? The smart way, the better way, the fairer and better way to fund disability and other social services in this country is not to hand away 65 billion dollars to corporate Australia, not to hand away billions of dollars in lower taxes to millionaires, at the same time forcing up the cost of living for millions of Australians who haven't had a pay rise for years.
JOURNALIST: In terms of that Medicare levy, is that a view shared by your Treasurer, Chris Bowen, and what was your motivating decision in why to overturn the advice of some of your colleagues? Were you concerned for example about high effective marginal tax rates for women?
SHORTEN: There is no doubt in my mind that when it comes to the best way to fund vital social services in this country, the best plan is to ask millionaires to pay a little bit more and millions of Australians not to have to pay an increase in income taxes. This government is making room in the budget to hand away 65 billion dollars to large corporations –
JOURNALIST: It's a fair question –
SHORTEN: And I'm giving you a fair answer, it's a very forward, priority choice. Do you want millions of Australians who earn less than $87,000 to pay more income tax, and do you want millionaires to pay more? Well, for me, it's a question which has a very straightforward answer. I believe that millionaires should pay a little bit more, big business should pay a little bit more, and millions of taxpayers who earn less than $87,000, they shouldn't have to pay more to support Malcolm Turnbull's foolish crusade to give away 65 billion dollars to big business. You and I both know the nation can't afford that and we're not going to support it.
JOURNALIST: Sure, but I’m trying to understand whether, if you've overturned the advice of your opposition treasury spokesperson on this –
SHORTEN: We are all on the same page.
JOURNALIST: What's the reason, is it, are you concerned about the effective marginal tax rates on certain groups of the community? What's the reason for deciding to overturn –
SHORTEN: I don't accept your characterisation that we're not on the same page, we are. And furthermore, it's a straightforward values proposition. Malcolm Turnbull's got an economic strategy that says he will give away 65 billion dollars to large companies, he'll give a tax reduction to millionaires, yet at the same time he wants ordinary pay-as-you-go taxpayers to pay more tax, when they've had no wage rises in years.
So there's no question that if you want to have a measure which is fair, Labor's got a fairer and better way. And for the record, our proposal delivers more money to the bottom line of the budget which allows us to not only deliver our promises, but to help tackle the out of control debt and deficit of the Turnbull Government.
I’m going to share my questions. Jonathon.
JOURNALIST: We've learnt today that this terrorist was the son of two refugees who were given respite in England. What more can we do to stop home-grown terrorists in Australia, and does that concern you?
SHORTEN: Well first of all I’m not going to start working out the, without proper information, all of the circumstances that have led to this horrific crime. In terms of defeating any individuals here who might be attracted to the same path of evil, I believe that we are going down the right track to counter radicalisation, to make sure that we reach out to isolated people in communities who might be attracted to this siren song of evil. I think our security forces are doing a good job, I’m not going to alarm the Australian people when I think that our agencies are absolutely doing their very best. What we will do is talk to the security officials who have the best information, and if more needs to be done, and that's their advice, then we will do more.
I want to say to Australians, parents and kids, trying to work out how can this act of evil happen? This is not the normal state of affairs, this is a very evil person who has committed a great crime against innocent victims. I believe our security agencies are doing their level best. They get the cooperation of the Government and the Opposition.
When it comes to fighting terrorism, Australians should be reassured that Liberal and Labor are in this together, and we regard no issue to be any more important than the security of our Australians. This is an evil crime, this is a shocking crime, and we will work together with the Government to make sure that we can prevent that happening here. But in the most immediate aftermath, my thoughts are with the parents, with the families of victims, and of course hoping that the British authorities can find out what has gone wrong here as quickly as possible.