SUNDAY, 14 MAY 2017
SUBJECT/S: Maribyrnong Defence land; Malcolm Turnbull's Budget for millionaires and multinationals.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well I'd like to wish all the mums in Australia a happy Mother's day. I hope the kids brought you in a home-made card and a cup of tea. It's a really great day just to remember the importance of family.
I also just want to address briefly Mr Turnbull's proposals to redevelop the Defence land at Maribyrnong. It's a block of land about 8-10 kilometres from the city, it's in the electorate I represent. It was an ammunition factory from the First World War onwards. It's also a site of great significance to the first Australians and it was one of the first race tracks in Victoria before it became on an arms dump.
The problem is that this land is greatly contaminated. So Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull want to make heroes of themselves and pretend they are doing something about first home affordability, but what they've done is they've said that people can go and live on contaminated land and they didn't put any money in the Budget, any new money in the Budget that we can see to clean up the land. This is a government who is so desperate to be seen to do something, that everything they do, they rush and they stuff up.
If you plonk 6,000 houses with about 15,000 people in the middle of existing suburbs, you guarantee grid-lock. There is no money for extra public transport, no money to help with the schools and all of the amenities. The Federal Government under Mr Turnbull have decided to bypass the State Government and relevant planning authorities, and they are just going to do a big privatisation of this land for the highest dollar which will force profiteering and the community; no consultation, no adequate cost for clean-up and contamination, no plan for gridlock.
Yet again, Mr Turnbull is trying to pretend he cares about the lives of ordinary Australians. Yet again, he is going to get this one horribly wrong. A bit like the way he is handling the taxes of ordinary Australians by pushing them to be increased.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: I was just at that announcement, so you are saying that land is contaminated and not safe for anyone?
SHORTEN: Well, if you've been an ammunition facility where they've been making bullets and weapons from 1914-1915, the residence want to be satisfied that the area is going to be cleaned up - that is not a small procedure. I think ultimately, you can decontaminate the land but that will come at a big price. And I just want to see what the Government's plans are, and the Defence Department's plans, to make sure that the best quality work is done.
It may be the Western suburbs of Melbourne; it may be fly-over country for Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, but it's where a lot of us live. So I want a first class, world-class job on decontamination.
This is a government who are rushing a proposition because they've got no plan to create the Australian dream of first home ownership, and I just don't trust them to do anything right at the moment.
JOURNALIST: You're saying they have bypassed the State Labor Government as well?
SHORTEN: Well, we were told by the Victorian Government Tuesday night that they received a phone call after the Budget announcement saying that they don't want to work with the Victorians, they want to privately develop themselves.
I love this area and I think it is good if we can build some more houses so that people don't have to travel a long way to live in Melbourne. But do it properly. No one up until Tuesday night has seriously suggested 6,000 houses. No one up until Tuesday night has seriously said it shouldn't be a co-operative effort between council, the State Government and the Federal Government. If you plonk 6,000 new houses, what does that mean for the carpark which is Maribyrnong Road?
The Highpoint Shopping Centre which is nearby already means there is massive congestion. If you just put 15,000 extra people into a confined area, it is a recipe for gridlock and congestion, loss of amenity. You see behind me the Maribyrnong River - it's a fantastic river. I want to make sure that there is a green-belt along the Maribyrnong and that it's not over developed. If Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull are so keen to do deals with property developers, I am worried that we will lose some of the environmental amenities which makes the Maribyrnong one of the hidden treasures of Melbourne.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just briefly on the Medicare levy increase - the Treasurer said this morning that he has already met in the middle. Presumably met Parliament in the middle by coming up with this 2019 Medicare levy increase. Is Labor's proposal to put it on the top two income brackets negotiable or not?
SHORTEN: Oh, there's poor old Scott Morrison. His Budget is sinking without trace. The fact of the matter here is that this is a government who is making sure that millionaires pay less from 1 July, and that 10 million ordinary Australians pay higher income tax.
The Government doesn't need to increase the tax burden on 10 million Australians. Instead, they can not go ahead with the $65 billion corporate tax cut. Why is it that Mr Morrison wants 10 million Australians to pay $15 billion more but he wants millionaires in this country and the top wealthiest two per cent pay $19 billion less? Mr Morrison is addicted to increasing the cost of living for everyday Australians. And he and Turnbull are the best friend that Australian millionaires have ever had and this Budget confirms it.
Under Mr Turnbull's budget on Tuesday night, millionaires pay less and everyone pays more - and that's not fair.
JOURNALIST: So, Mr Shorten, is that a no? Is it negotiable, please?
SHORTEN: We made clear our position and we hope the government sees sense.
JOURNALIST: If there is no agreement on this, are you prepared to potentially see the NDIS with a shortfall, leaving aside the debate over fully-funding - if there is a shortfall, according to the government, can you live with that?
SHORTEN: Complete rubbish. The issue here is that we wouldn't go ahead with all of the $65 billion worth of cuts. Why is it that Mr Morrison is so unimaginative that the only way he thinks he can look after people with disabilities is by taxing people on $50,000 a year and increasing their income tax.
I've got a really good idea for Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull - don't give millionaires a tax cut from 1 July. Don't give large banks and large corporations a reduction in what they pay. This is a government who is taking people with disabilities hostage in saying there is only one way to fund it. On Thursday night in my reply, I found over the next 10 years, $128 billion worth of savings and not one cent would come from charging people on $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000 any more in their tax.
Why is it that Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull’s default position is always to go after the workers and look after their top end of town mates?
JOURNALIST: Just briefly on tax, why is it incorrect to say that under your plan that every dollar earnt above $180,000 would be taxed at 49.5 cents in the dollar. Isn't that an accurate summation of Labor's current position?
SHORTEN: We have a marginal rate of taxation, that’s right what you said. But I'll tell you what's also accurate, that we've got a choice in this Parliament - do we increase the income tax paid by 10 million Australians or do we retain and renew the Deficit Levy which would see millionaires pay - not get a $16,500 reduction in their tax.
Running the nation and running the Budget is all about choices. I will make no apology for not increasing the income tax burden on 10 million Australians, and therefore not allowing millionaires to pay less after 1 July then they paid for the last three years.
I also have to say, I notice Mr Morrison today had no explanation, unable to guarantee that his new $6 billion bank tax won't be passed on to customers. I think a lot of Australians were startled to hear that for all the fanfare of Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison's new tax on banks, they could not guarantee that it won't be passed on to customers. And when Mr Morrison was pressed all he had to say was that people can change banks. Listen Scott Morrison, what world do you live in? It's not that easy just to change your bank. Where you've got the four big banks, just telling Australians to change from one bank who has increased the fees and charges on customers to another bank who has increased to fees and charges on customers is not a plan.
If Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison want to reassure Australians that they're not going to be the people who pay for Mr Turnbull's bank tax, then what we need to do is see the government be stronger on the banks. And the best way you demonstrate being strong on the banks is a royal commission. If the government doesn't want to be beaten down by the banks and see Australians pay more in their fees and charges, they need to stand up to the banks and institute Labor's royal commission.
If the banks can't or won't do as Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull are promising Australians they will, that to me is a very strong question which should be addressed at a banking royal commission.
JOURNALIST: Just on that in your Budget Reply speech on Thursday you said the Treasurer will have to resign if the banks pass on one cent. Clearly he hasn't been able to do that this morning. Is that enough for you to withdraw support for the tax then?
SHORTEN: I don't believe it should be beyond the wit of man to make the banks pay without slugging ordinary account holders. But clearly this is a government who've rushed the notion of this bank tax. Now we're not being obstructionist here; we want to see them do their best to repair the nation. And we do believe that the banks need to pay their fair share.
But the government cannot guarantee this morning, that Australians won’t be paying the $6 billion bank tax which Turnbull and Morrison say they're putting on the banks. I'll tell you another fact which has emerged - bank CEO's because of Mr Turnbull's Budget will pay $171,000 less in tax next year. This is a government who talks tough on banks but acts soft towards banks. Nothing less than a royal commission will convince the banks that they're not the top dog. The excessive economic power of banks needs to be addressed by a royal commission. All Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison appear to be doing, is demonstrating they have no plan to stop the banks from passing a $6 billion tax onto average customers.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just finally, on tax again, Paul Keating has told the Financial Review that the 49.5 per cent top marginal rate was quote 'too punitive'. What's your response to his assessment?
SHORTEN: In life, there are things that you'd like to do and there are things that you need to do. Lowering all the marginal tax rates is something that I would like to do eventually. But I need to renew the Deficit levy so that we can actually do Budget repair that is fair. If it comes down to a beauty parade between backing 10 million Australians who earn up to $87,000 - I don't want them paying more income tax just because Mr Morrison wants to find space in his Budget to give millionaires a reduction in what they pay and to give large companies and multinationals a $65 billion present over the next 10 years.
Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull have got to start backing working people who go to work every day, they haven’t had a pay rise, cost of living and energy prices have gone up, everything is going up and the best thing that Turnbull and Morrison can do for people who earn up to $87,000 is increase their taxes? This government is not trying hard enough to look after all Australians. This is a Budget where millionaires pay less, multinationals pay less and 10 million Australians will pay more.