MONDAY, 15 MAY 2017
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan to boost skills, training and apprenticeships; Malcolm Turnbull's Budget for millionaires and multinationals; polls; ADF deployment
DOUG CAMERON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS: Good morning everyone. It's really great to be here at Holmesglen TAFE. It's fantastic to be here with my leader, Bill Shorten, who understands unequivocally how important the TAFE system is in Australia.
Labor understands that the TAFE system is an institution in this country, and it's an institution that needs some support, and it is an institution that does so much good. We are determined to make sure that young people in this country can get access to quality training, quality apprenticeships, through the TAFE system.
We also thank Mary Faraone and Anne for looking after us while we've been here. This is a great TAFE and congratulations on the work that you have been doing here.
What you need to understand about apprenticeships and TAFE, under the Turnbull and previously the Abbott Government, is that they continually cut money out of the TAFE system. The last Budget cut $600 million out of apprenticeships and training across all of the budget areas that skills are engaged in. This is a real problem. At a time when other countries around the world are actually investing in the skills of their community, we are cutting back. And it's an absolute disgrace that young people will not be getting an opportunity under the Turnbull Government to actually complete apprenticeships, because they don't have a clue about how to actually deliver real apprenticeships.
For those that know me, I’m an apprentice, I was an apprentice many years ago. I came here as a tradesperson, and the trades gave you an opportunity to do anything in any area, because it gives you such a good basis of education and training.
We are determined that more people will get access to that type of support. And what we want to do is make sure that people that are losing jobs, where the industries are changing, that older apprentices - adult apprentices - get support. And we want another 20,000 adult apprentices around the country to get access to quality training, and we want to do that through TAFE. And that's why we're saying that two-thirds of all investment in skills from Labor will be into the TAFE system.
At the other end of the adult apprenticeship area, you've got pre-apprenticeships, and we want to put money in. We've met many young people here who are looking forward to their strong career in pre-apprenticeships and in their apprenticeship, and these are fantastic young people who are really at the cusp of having a good, high-quality training through the TAFE system.
So we are putting money into the TAFE system, we are putting money into skills and trades, we are opposing the $600 million that the Government is cutting out of skills and apprenticeships. We are determined that the TAFE system is the institution that it should be and can be, and through Bill Shorten and Labor, that's where we'll end up. Building jobs for Australian workers, getting high-quality skills and having a skills system that is the envy of the world.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody and welcome to Holmesglen TAFE.
This is an excellent TAFE. It reflects all that is good about technical training in this country. It has 3,800 apprentices and pre-apprentices training here. And I've had the chance this morning to walk around and talk to young people, who are rolling up their sleeves, they want to be tradies in the future, and they're putting the time in now to do it.
This is an excellent TAFE and this is why Labor intends to put TAFE at the very centre of our strategies for vocational education.
Now Mr Turnbull and his Budget on Tuesday night, he could have done something about TAFE, he could have done something about skills and education and training, but he chose not to.
He is going ahead with $22 billion worth of cuts to schools funding over the next 10 years. He is cutting $3.8 billion from universities and, of course, in amongst his announcements on Tuesday night, he sneakily hid $600 million of further cuts to training on top of the billions which he and his predecessor Tony Abbott have taken out of training.
Australia needs to train our young people for the future. The best thing that this nation can do is give our young people, and indeed mature age workers, the opportunity to skill and re-skill so they can take control of their own lives and contribute and build families and build our society.
Labor said on Thursday night in my reply, we will reverse cuts. We won't make it more expensive to go to university. We don't support cutting money to TAFE and of course, we don't support cutting schools funding.
We have also said that we want to find $100 million to help rebuild TAFE campuses in regional and outer suburban Australia, so that apprentices don't have to travel vast distances to be able to do their training.
And we have also said, most importantly I think, that if every $3 at the Commonwealth that the taxpayer pays the Commonwealth for vocational education, we want $2 in every $3 going to TAFE.
We will put TAFE at the centre of our vocational education strategy. We have also introduced the one in 10 rule. What that means is that nationally, when the Commonwealth spends scarce and precious taxpayer money, that one in every 10 people employed and money spent by the Commonwealth Government, one in every 10 should be an apprentice.
Labor has got concrete, real world plans to make it easier for young people to do apprenticeships. My message to parents and young people working out what they want to do in coming years - do an apprenticeship, do a trade. It is a passport to life. It's a great way to earn good money. It's a great way to earn skills and they will serve you in good stead throughout your life.
Most generally about this Budget before we take questions, I want to make this one observation. Malcolm Turnbull is trying to bully the Labor Party into accepting his mean proposals to increase the income tax paid by Australians on $50,000 and $60,000 a year.
Well I have got a message for Malcolm Turnbull: you can't and you won't bully Labor away from doing what we think is in the national interest. We do not think it is in the national interest for millionaires to pay less and for people on $80,000 and $70,000 to pay more.
We do not think it is in the national interest that millionaires pay less and that 10 million Australians pay more. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: How is he trying to bully you?
SHORTEN: Mr Turnbull is trying to be out there and say that the Labor Party should support income tax increases for people under $87,000 a year, because otherwise he won't fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Labor knows that the money is there to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I have a great free tip for Malcolm Turnbull: don't give $65 billion away to the largest companies in Australia. Use some of that money which you are robbing from the Budget, to actually pay for the NDIS.
We do not support millionaires paying less and 10 million people paying more.
JOURNALIST: Will you repeal the company tax cuts for businesses with a turnover of up to $10 million?
SHORTEN: We have made it clear, at this point, that we will support the vast bulk of small businesses with an under $2 million turnover. We are not going to rush into making final announcements about the bottom line of the Budget and what we do for the economy this far out from an election -
JOURNALIST: And will you make it -
SHORTEN: Let me just answer your first question.
So what we will do, is that we will back in small businesses with turnovers under $2 million. But would anyone believe Malcolm Turnbull on his Budget numbers at the moment? We had to flush out of him last Thursday that the business tax cut wasn't $50 billion it was $65 billion.
This is a Government who has made a train wreck of the Budget. The deficit has increased ten times, every man woman and child has to pay $4,000 more dollars in the Budget in terms of our net debt.
This is a Government who is now lifting borrowing for this country, the debt we are in, it's going to peak at around $725 billion in the next decade. So excuse me for not immediately just leaping on wherever Malcolm Turnbull is taking the country because it's not the right direction.
JOURNALIST: The latest Newspoll does say that the majority of people do support an increase in the Medicare levy, doesn't that change your opinion or?
SHORTEN: I had a look at that question. What I actually think is that most people think that this is a Budget that is unfair because it's allowing millionaires to pay less and 10 million people to pay more.
I think if you asked most Australians, do they want to pay more income tax or would you rather see large corporations not get a massive $65 billion hand out, I know what Australians think.
JOURNALIST: Some disability groups have said that they do support the Government’s plan to increase the Medicare levy, saying it is a pretty fair way of funding the NDIS. What do you say to those groups? Those disability groups who are worried this issue will become a football and that nothing will actually happen?
SHORTEN: Well I've worked with these disability groups and many others ever since we helped create the National Disability Insurance Scheme. What I say to Malcolm Turnbull, and to reassure everyone else, is that the money is there to pay for the scheme but why should someone on $50,000 pay an increase in income tax when Malcolm Turnbull is giving a millionaire a $16,500 thousand dollar tax cut from July 1.
Merely because Malcolm Turnbull is trying to bully Labor and say there is only one way to pay for something, I've got three or four sources of where Malcolm Turnbull can pay for this: get rid of negative gearing in the future for existing houses that's $37 billion dollars. Clamp down on tax havens in the Cayman Islands and clamp down on multinationals, there's another $5 billion. Clamp down on the ability of millionaires to get back multi-million dollar tax deductions for the cost of doing their accounting so that they don't have to pay tax in the first place, and get rid of the $65 billion corporate hand out.
There are so many ways that this nation can deal with the needs we've got without unfairly taxing people on $50,000 and $60,000 it's just not funny. But this is a Government who don't want you to look at their real priorities. How on earth do we have such an out of touch Prime Minister, who is saying that he would rather see 10 million people paying more tax and millionaires pay less from July 1? We're not buying that.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, 54 per cent of Australians have actually supported the Liberal approach towards funding the NDIS. Will you actually change your tact moving forward?
SHORTEN: Lets be very straight here, I think that millionaires in Australia shouldn't be getting a tax cut when 10 million Australians are paying more income tax increase, full stop.
I'm always going to pick 10 million battlers that go to work every day. The people I'm talking about are the people who drove the buses on the roads this morning, taking your kids to school. The people I’m talking about are some of the people who are training the apprentices here. The people I'm talking about are nurses working in hospitals.
A lot of Australians do not earn $200,0000 and $300,000 a year. So why is Mr Turnbull making it easier for the people, the top two per cent of wealthiest Australians to pay less tax and he wants some sort of medal for fairness and sainthood by making 10 million people pay more? I don't buy that. This country doesn't need to give a $65 billion tax cut to large corporations. This country does not need to give millionaires a $16,500 tax cut starting from the July 1 this year. He's got the wrong priorities because he's out of touch and his Government are fundamentally unfair in the way that they are trying to make decisions.
JOURNALIST: So we can't fund the NDIS unless he adopts every one of your policies is that correct?
SHORTEN: I've just said what Mr Turnbull does is up to him, but I'm the Labor guy and the Labor Party has a history of standing up for people on middle and lower incomes. I make no apology if making a decision which says that if you've got to find money to help look after people that are less well-off, why does it have to come from other people who aren't doing so well rather than the millionaires and the top end of town? Look if Malcolm Turnbull wants to have a tug of war over do we look after 10 million Australians or do we look after people who will earn a million dollars at the next financial year, I don't see anything wrong with people who will earn million dollars next year paying a little bit more tax while we've got a deficit, indeed worsened by the Government, than asking ten million Australians who aren't earning very much to begin with to pay more tax.
JOURNALIST: What did you make of the Newspoll today showed the party's standing went up but your personal standing went down. Can you comment on both of those points (inaudible)
SHORTEN: Well I don't need an opinion poll to tell me that Australians think that It’s unfair of Mr Turnbull's Budget that millionaires will pay less next year in tax than 10 million people. Mr Turnbull should stop worrying about the day to day and start thinking about the future of this country. The reality is that this country will only get ahead by investing in our people.
He spends a lot of time worrying about the banks, he spends a lot of time worrying about reducing the taxes the large companies have to pay, he spends a lot of time worrying about protecting negative gearing, he spends a lot of time worrying about making sure that millionaires pay less tax.
What I spend my time worrying about is how does this country survive in the future. India and China are growing at a scale that we've never ever seen before, totally unprecedented. The only way this country will compete and flourish in the world is if we are the best. And if we are the best at education, skills and training, if we are the best at TAFE, if we are the best at encouraging and retaining our apprentices, then we've got a fighting chance in the future.
Mr Turnbull should spend less time worrying about the top end of town and he should spend more time worrying about the 10 or 15 million people who go to work every day, who don't earn a lot of money who just want to make sure they do the best for their kids in the future, and we do that through investing in TAFE.
I'm here because I'm backing the future. Mr Turnbull's running around the country backing in millionaires and multinationals.
JOURNALIST: Then why do you think you continue to trail him in the polls for preferred Prime Minister?
SHORTEN: Listen, I'm very straightforward about all of these matters. My job is to worry about the future of this country and the jobs of everyday Australians. I'll back my policies: standing up for jobs, education, healthcare, standing up for first home buyers having a level competition when they bid on a Saturday. I'll back our policies making sure that millionaires should pay a little bit more and 10 million Australians should pay a little bit less.
We are on the right side of where this country's got to go because we understand that if you invest in TAFE, if you have a one in ten rule that one in every ten employees on a Commonwealth project is an apprentice, if you have a rule which says that most of your vocational tax payer dollars should go to TAFE - not some of the shonky private providers, some of them are good, but some of them are shonks - I want to back TAFE. There's 3,800 students here who, if given a bit of support, are going to build the houses that Australians are going to live in, they've got the skills that we need for our future.
You've got the TAFE teachers here, a lot of them retired tradies giving back again. They've worked hard their whole lives, they're giving back again to train a new generation of tradies. I'm on their side.
I just don't think that 10 million Australians should pay more tax merely because Mr Turnbull wants to give $65 billion to large companies or help millionaires.
I'll just make on final point about his mistaken priorities before I go. It's about the banks. Mr Turnbull has got no plan, it would appear, to stop the banks passing on his $6 billion tax to ordinary customers.
Mr Turnbull has either fooled himself or he is fooling Australians if he thinks that he can pressure the banks. The banks are out there today saying, without any hesitation without any fear of Turnbull, that they're going to pass it on. Nothing less than a banking royal commission to look at the excessive economic power of banks is going to change the direction that they are going in at the moment.
JOURNALIST: What's Labor's policy on the request from NATO for increased resources in Afghanistan?
SHORTEN: Well the Government haven't spoken to us about that. Let me be very straight on this final issue. When it comes to national security we've got a track record of working with the Government. The Government will come and talk to us at the right time and we will consider what's in our national interest.