MONDAY, 30 APRIL 2018
SUBJECT/S: Turnbull’s corporate tax handout; Royal Commission and AMP; Sugar Tax; Liddell Power Station; National Security Leak.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everyone. Right to go? Listen, I 've just given my speech so I won't give a long preamble. Suffice to say, Labor believes that the next federal election will be a referendum on whether or not the Australian people want to give a massive corporate tax cut to the big end of town - to multinationals and the big banks.
It is expected that on budget night, some $80 billion is forecast by this Government to be handed out in corporate tax cuts, much of which will go to the big end of town, to multinationals, to foreign shareholders, and of course the big banks.
It is predicted that about $17 billion in taxpayer money will be handed - in the form of tax concessions and reductions - to the big banks over the next 10 years.
The next election will be a referendum on whether or not Australians want to see an $80 billion corporate tax handout and a $17 billion corporate tax handout to Australia's big banks.
The next budget will be about choices. Labor will choose to properly fund our schools, our hospitals, to make sure our pensioners are doing okay. Mr Turnbull will choose to look after big banks and big corporations.
JOURNALIST: Do you think thst Catherine Brenner, Chair of the AMP took too long to quit, and should other executives similarly, with similar problems, follow her example?
SHORTEN: Well, I think it would be a scandal if the people at the top end of AMP leave with millions of dollars in shareholder money in the form of golden handshakes.
I'm calling upon Mr Turnbull to exert some moral leadership. There’s no way after what we've heard in the Royal Commission that millions of dollars of shareholder money should be handed out in the form of golden handshakes to disgraced executives leaving as a result of these scandals.
JOURNALIST: What should Mr Turnbull do about that?
SHORTEN: I think he should show some moral leadership and set the tone like I am. The fact of the matter is that Mr Turnbull didn't want this Royal Commission. A survey of Coalition Government ministers shows that on no less than 263 occasions after Labor proposed having a Royal Commission into banks and AMP and the rest of that gang, then on 263 occasions Coalition Ministers argued and fought against having a Royal Commission.
The very least that Mr Turnbull should do now is say to the big banks and to AMP and others, that it is not a good look to see senior executives leaving as a result of these scandals the exposé of terrible information revealed at the Royal Commission, that they shouldn't walk out with millions of dollars of shareholder money in the form of golden handshakes.
JOURNALIST: Has Labor been in the ear of the likes of Senator Tim Storer for example, to try and convince them not to support company tax cuts in the hope that the Government doesn't pursue this?
SHORTEN: I think it's self-evident these corporate tax cuts are a bad idea. When 60 cents in every dollar of these corporate tax cuts will go to foreign shareholders, or CEOs of multinationals, it's a bad idea.
For me, you don't need Labor to explain to a crossbench Senator the following truth. You just choose. It's a choice between more money for hospitals and schools, or more money for big banks and multinationals.
That doesn't take a lot of science or a PhD to work out what one should do when confronted by that choice.
JOURNALIST: What do you think about the issue of sugar tax, which is being raised on Four Corners tonight. Is it a good idea?
SHORTEN: Well I'll wait to see Four Corners. There's no doubt that no one can move on issues to do with a sugar tax unless both sides of politics agree. I don't see that debate happening in the near future but let's go and see what's revealed on Four Corners. There's no doubt that will add to Australians’ knowledge.
Like every parent though, everyone's concerned about what our kids are eating and we're concerned about obesity in Australian children. So I'm certainly got to watch Four Corners tonight.
JOURNALIST: You say you're expecting a cash splash next Tuesday next to a revenue windfall, wouldn't you do the same if you came across an extra bag full of money in the last Budget before a federal election?
SHORTEN: There are a lot of differences between what Mr Turnbull will do and what I will do. I tell you how I would utilise taxpayer money. I'd pay down the debt. I'd pay down the deficit.
If I had other money to pay, I'd pay it in our schools and our TAFE and our universities. I'd pay it in our hospitals and I'd help reverse some of the freezes in Medicare. I'd make sure that as Aussie kids can get apprenticeships and I'd make sure that we were building the public transport and the roads we need both in the cities and the roads we need in the bush. That's what I'd do with the money and one thing I absolutely wouldn't do - give $80 billion dollars away to multinationals and the big end of town, and our big banks.
I wouldn't give $17 billion away to our big banks over the next 10 years in the form of corporate tax cuts.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of Alinta's offer to buy the Liddell power station?
SHORTEN: What ultimately happens in a commercial negotiation between two energy companies is up to them. But what I promise is not a penny of taxpayer money should be used to subsidise that deal. No way and Mr Turnbull should rule out straight away, no taxpayer money used to sweeten up a deal for one company to buy another company's assets.
No taxpayer money, not now, not ever, on that deal.
JOURNALIST: What about the latest Gonski findings? Prime Minister Turnbull came out with David Gonski this morning with new recommendations and said they’re looking for bipartisan support. What would you do come the election? Would you - he said, in principle they would follow (inaudible)?
SHORTEN: One thing consistent about this Government is that they talk a great game when it comes to education but they don't play well in education.
They want to have Australia at the frontline of educational outcomes for our kids compared to the rest of the world, but then they go around and cut resources. You can't take Liberals seriously on education funding when they are actually cutting $17 billion dollars from our government schools and our Catholic parish schools.
Don't take them seriously – if they want to be taken seriously on education then they should first of all reverse the cuts to schools which 2.5 million of our kids attend.
JOURNALIST: Mark Dreyfus has written to the Prime Minister asking for an investigation into the leak yesterday into the national security proposal for the Minister for Home Affairs, has Labor received any response from the Prime Minister on that?
SHORTEN: I'm not aware that we've received a response yet but let's go to this most serious breach of security information.
The simple summary is that Malcolm Turnbull's lost control and Peter Dutton's out of control. I mean this is breathtaking, that a national security briefing, Australian eyes only, it's a very highly ranked security document, has made its way to, been leaked, made its way to the public.
Yet again it's the same old, same old with the Coalition Government. They're putting national security second and their Liberal internal infighting first. But I think there's an even bigger issue than just the amazing breach of security. I mean, if they can lose documents in a cabinet and a second hand furniture shop in Canberra, now to have these national security documents floating around, it just shows you that Malcolm Turnbull has lost control. But it also shows potentially Peter Dutton is out of control.
Now Australians and all political parties periodically have been willing to compromise some of the freedoms which we hold dear in order to fight terrorism and terrible drug crimes and other forms of crime. But whenever we do this we always make sure there are safeguards for Australians.
Now we see a pretty radical proposition clearly dividing the Government which would have the Government using its best spy agencies to potentially spy on Australian citizens in Australia.
There is a very serious development, the idea that the Government might have an agency spying on its own people, with just bureaucrats or a politician’s signature, without a whole lot of detail and debate. I think Mr Turnbull needs to spell out does he support the proposal? Is the proposal dead in the water? And what's gone behind the leaking of these secure national security documents into the public domain. Thanks everybody.