Bill's Transcripts

TV: The Project - Tony Abbott’s broken promises on pension cuts

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

THE PROJECT

THURSDAY, 7 MAY 2015

 

SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s broken promises on pension cuts

 

GORGI COGHLAN, HOST: We asked the Prime Minister and the Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison to chat to us. They both said no. Labor Leader, Bill Shorten was on our show a few of days ago and he had so much fun that he is back here today. Welcome Bill.

 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Nice to be here.

 

COGHLAN: Thanks for joining us. This plan is going to save $600 million a year by cutting unnecessary pension payments but you opposed this today - why?

 

SHORTEN: What we said was we want to look at the fine detail. It was only last year that Tony Abbott said there would be no changes to pensions and then in the last Budget he proposed cutting pensions by up to $80 a week. So I think it is in the interests of Australia's pensions that we don't rush in and agree with every headline. Let's study the detail.

 

WALEED ALY, HOST: But as a matter of principle though it is a good idea, isn't it? You send more money to pensioners at the lower end of the assets scale, so they get more money and people don't need it don't get it at all or get less. Isn't that exactly what you have been asking for the past year?

 

SHORTEN: Certainly we are interested in fairness. People want to hear about what Australia will be like in the next 10-15 years and the alternative views. As we get closer to the next election, I think that's where we want to see politics go, what’s the best idea. Doesn't mean we are all going to start group hugging each other.

 

COGHLAN: Lord no!

 

SHORTEN: I saw that awkward photo between Tony and Joe so politics isn't moving into the hug zone yet.  But I do get that people want to see a better debate, so we will look at these proposals but we want to say if 320,000 part pensioners are becoming worse off, I think we owe it to them to at least check the detail.

 

PETER HELLIAR, HOST: You met with some of those pensioners today and let’s just have a look. It wasn't an awkward photo opportunity today, just a natural conversation here.

 

[CLIP]

         

SHORTEN: And they want to make part-pensioners this sort of an endangered species in Australia, which is not, I don’t think it’s sensible.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

HELLIAR: Now, not exactly a bedtime story, was it?

 

COGHLAN: But, Bill, at the top end of the scale, pensioners are still getting welfare despite having more than $1 million in assets. Surely that is unnecessary.

 

SHORTEN: That's why we've got the tougher approach on superannuation tax concessions. This is where I get a bit -

 

COGHLAN: Sure, tackling super tax concessions for the rich is a good idea but this is a good idea, isn’t it?

 

SHORTEN: It's valid to look at ideas about how to make the system better. Whilst this may ultimately be what parliament decides, I want to understand, when governments make laws that affect pensioners, we just need to make sure we understand the consequences of what we are doing.

 

What good would we be as an opposition if we said so Tony Abbott last year, you want to cut the pension, no worries. So we need to watch what we're doing. This is a favourite tactic of governments of all political persuasions, sort of dribble out the best possible spin, and I think it would be foolish of the Opposition just to say, based on the headlines, we'll rush into this. But having said that, two days after Budget and the less-watched Budget Reply night - I'm putting a plug in -

 

ALY: You are worried about the ratings aren't you?

 

COGHLAN: We'll watch, Bill, we will watch.

 

HELLIAR: I have to say you haven't strayed too far from your message today. This is what you had to say earlier today.

 

[CLIP]

 

SHORTEN: If he won't come out and admit he has been lying to Australians about pension cuts, that means these pension cuts may be off the table.

 

HELLIAR: Do you stand by that?

 

SHORTEN: It certainly sounded like pension cuts. [Laughter] We are pleased the Government has done that.

 

HELLIAR: I wanted to make sure you are standing by it!

 

SHORTEN: It's that forensic detail that makes this such a top-rating show.

 

COGHLAN: Thank you so much, Bill.

 

ENDS

 

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