ABC NEWS BREAKFAST
WEDNESDAY, 10 MAY 2017
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s unfair Budget for millionaires and multinationals.
MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: Lots of issues to be tossed around with my next guest, a special guest. The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten. Mr Shorten, welcome to News Breakfast.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, Michael.
ROWLAND: Let's pick up with the welfare crackdown I was just speaking to Cassandra Goldie about. Where does Labor stand on the move to randomly drug test 5,000 new welfare recipients?
SHORTEN: We'll look at the detail. We believe in mutual obligation but we are not into kicking the unemployed. The Government really needs to explain what it thinks it will achieve, so we will look at their measures. We're into mutual obligation but we are not about punishing the most vulnerable. The best thing we can do for unemployed is get them a job but the problem in this budget is this is a budget which is hard on the unemployed and everyday taxpayers and good for millionaires and multinationals.
ROWLAND: It has been widely billed as a 'Labor-lite' Budget. Is this a Budget you would have liked to have delivered under a Labor Government?
SHORTEN: That is complete rubbish. Even a crocodile wouldn't swallow that this is a Labor budget. A Labor budget wouldn't have given a millionaires, last night, a $16,500 tax cut. A Labor budget wouldn't give the largest companies in Australia and multinationals a tax cut, and Labor doesn't believe in just hiking up the cost of living. We would have fixed Medicare, we would make sure that there weren't cuts to schools and we wouldn't be increasing the cost of going to university and we wouldn't be cutting TAFE funding.
ROWLAND: Medicare's been fixed. We have this Medicare guarantee legislation now which the Government argues should put to rest now and forever any suggestion from Labor that Medicare is under any threat.
SHORTEN: Medicare is not fixed. There has been a freeze on the rebates for patients. In other words, when you go and see a doctor, you get a part of that back or you get bulk billed. It is a rebate. The Liberal Government under Abbott froze it for a number of years. We campaigned at the last election - Mr Turnbull said we were making it up. Last night we've watched the Liberals recant and say well they have a credibility and a trust problem with Medicare, but the devil is in the detail. They are not unfreezing the rebates which ordinary patients gets across the board until the next three years. So this is a government who wants to look like they are doing something but the truth of the matter is, if they cared about Medicare they would have fixed it all last night and they simply haven't, have they?
ROWLAND: They certainly talked about the Medicare levy in that it is going up or they want to raise the levy by half a per cent to help fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Will Labor support that move?
SHORTEN: We are going to have a look at this. The Budget was brought down last night -
ROWLAND: In principle, though, do you agree with it?
SHORTEN: Well, there are a couple of sentences which I want to look at in what you said. You said to help fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme - the National Disability Insurance Scheme was funded. This is a government who is looking to find money in the Budget for other purposes. The fact of the matter is that if you want to fully fund schools or going to university or Medicare or the Disability Insurance Scheme, don't give a $50 billion plus corporate tax cut. This is a government who is increasing everyone's taxes so they can give tax cuts to millionaires and proceed with a $50 billion corporate tax cut. Mr Morrison, last year said that the corporate tax cut was the centrepiece of their economic plan. And it is still there, he just chose not to talk about it last night. It's there. This country can't afford to give multinationals $50 billion especially when they are not in a timely fashion fixing Medicare, or school funding or a range of other measures.
ROWLAND: The Government - sorry, the Labor Party has said you will support the bank tax of $6 billion over four years. Should this blunt any move now for a banking royal commission?
SHORTEN: Absolutely not. I mean, this is a government who want to look like they are doing something but they are not really, are they? On one hand, they have got a bank levy and we are up for that. We're not going to get in the way of that, but on the other hand, they're still going to give these same banks, whose levy they are putting on, a corporate tax cut.
ROWLAND: That is their plan, they haven't got support for the fully funded corporate tax cut.
SHORTEN: But if you are telling me that you don't believe they are actually going to do the corporate tax cut, then you don't actually believe their Budget.
ROWLAND: There is no support for the full tax cut yet.
SHORTEN: Then if there is no support, why is the government insisting that it be in the Budget papers? That's the real point of this. We know this Budget is about Malcolm Turnbull's job and his survival, but it is not a Budget for the future. The basic inequality at the heart of the Turnbull Government is still there. If you look at who the real winners were last night, if you earn half a million dollars; you get a tax cut. If you a large multinational; you are on track to get a tax. But if you're everyone else, the Medicare rebates are being resolved too slowly, school funding is being cut, university fees are going up and of course, we see a whole lot of measures which just don't deal with the real future of this country.
ROWLAND: Finally, these measures like the bank levy increase, which Labor is supporting and even arguably the half a per cent increase in the Medicare levy would potentially have widespread public support. Are you going to struggle to get any political traction on that front, particularly when we are talking about the disability scheme?
SHORTEN: Well, your opening question was is the Government imitating Labor, now you're saying is Labor - how will we go getting public support? The fact of the matter is you have got to believe in what you do, you've got to be authentic. We do believe in taking proper action on climate change; we do believe in taking proper action on housing affordability. We would sort out Medicare - we would have sorted it out last night. We do think that our kids, regardless of the circumstance, deserve the best education, TAFE and university in the world. We don't think this is the time to give a $50 billion corporate tax cut. At the end of the day, Malcolm Turnbull thinks if you look after the top end of town, then the crumbs off that table will help everyone else. We don't buy that, we never did, we still don't and we’re going to keep fighting for real fairness. Malcolm Turnbull thinks fairness is something that if you can repeat it enough it makes an unfair budget fairer. It doesn't. It is what's in your heart and it's what you really stand for. We know and this government doesn't.
ROWLAND: Ok, well leave it there. Bill Shorten, thank you very much for your time this morning.
SHORTEN: Thanks, Michael.