Bill's Transcripts

ABC Radio National - Tony Abbott’s broken promise on the Petrol Tax; National security legislation;



SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s broken promise on the Petrol Tax; National security legislation; Senator Nova Peris; Immigration.


FRAN KELLY: Bill Shorten is in our Parliament House studios. Bill Shorten, good morning.




KELLY: Bill Shorten, the Budget has a structural problem, you knew that when you were in Government. Wayne Swan and Chris Bowen told us that a number of times, there was a revenue problem. Isn't the reindexation of petrol excise a reform that is long overdue?


SHORTEN: Tony Abbott's ambushed the Australian people. He's bypassing the Parliament even when he tries to advance his ideas.


KELLY: But is it a good idea to raise petrol –


SHORTEN: We don't support it, no.


KELLY: But why not? Why not? Let me put this to you –


SHORTEN: Cost of living, Fran.


KELLY: Yeah, cost of living. At the moment when it's introduced initially this will, according to estimates, increase the cost of a tank of petrol about 40 cents. The price of petrol can jump 15 cents a litre in a week, on any week, on any day, from a Tuesday to a Friday.


SHORTEN: First of all, they’re the Government's initial proposition to defend this attack on cost of living. But motoring groups, and they know what they're talking about, they're involved in these issues inside out, have said in the Herald Sun today that it’s $325 over the next four years, that's what's going to be the increase. People who don't have to pay their petrol bills are capable of having an argument about saying this is just a minor matter, but when you add the increase of cost of living of petrol, on top of the GP Tax, on top of the prospect of higher university fees, on top of the fact that they're freezing, or decreasing the rate of indexation of pensions - this is a Government who is out of touch. No one thinks they're doing this for any other reason than they've got an unfair Budget and having convinced Australians about a lot of the other rotten proposals.


KELLY: I think there's a lot of people who think the only reason you're opposing it is for political gain. Because as I say, the cost of petrol jumps around as much as 15 cents a litre in any given week, nothing to do with government taxes. $35 billion has been lost to the Budget since John Howard, because John Howard froze the petrol indexation back in 2001. That sort of money would go a long way to helping with funding university. We might not need deregulation of universities, for instance, if we had that extra money in the Budget.


SHORTEN: Fran, petrol, unleaded, I think it's about $1.52 at the moment, it's real money. I know that people say this is only a small increase but over time it compounds. People need their cars to get to work, to pick up the kids. When you increase transport costs it flows onto every aspect of the economy. It's sneaky, this measure. They won't take it through the Parliament. It does affect cost of living. The other thing about the way they're doing it is that if they're unable to convince Labor or the Greens then what happens is - because they're doing it by regulation rather than legislation,  that if they're unable to convince us to change our principles in the next 12 months, which they're not going to be able to do of Labor, under the way they're constructing their sneaky manoeuver all this money will go back to petrol companies. It's very ill thought out.


KELLY: Okay, it might be sneaky, but wasn’t Labor equally sneaky then in Government then when you used a similar technique to push up the tax on alcopops?


SHORTEN: The alcopops legislation was always going to pass the Parliament. We make it very clear to the Government, before they embark on this cost of living attack, that we are not committed, we are not committed to supporting this legislation when it comes to the Parliament. They haven’t even tried to test their fuel excise in the Parliament. They have such a lack of conviction about the merit of their own proposals that they’re not even trying to convince the Parliament, put the legislation, and debate the matter. But this does go to cost of living – Australians are feeling that the cost of living is going up, they’re feeling that it’s harder to make ends meet each fortnight. And Labor isn’t going to be part of a regressive tax which hits ordinary Australians.


KELLY: What is Labor going to be part of on the tax front? The Prime Minister issued last night a rallying cry to you to join his “Team Australia” on tax reform, and yet Labor has opposed this move, it’s a strident opponent of any changes to the GST in particular, but at some stage we do need a discussion in Australia about the way our federation works and the disconnect between who provides the services and who pays for them. That’s hardly a radical idea.


SHORTEN: Fran, the Prime Minister’s so-called ‘rallying cry’ is just a call for help because he can’t run his Government and run his Budget. He’s come up with an unfair Budget, the burden of the Budget falls on ordinary Australians: middle-income Australians, lower-income Australians, fixed-income pensioners. This is a Government who didn’t do any homework in Opposition, they sleep-walked their way to the Budget, they came down with a series of measures that they hadn’t argued and tested with the Australian people. Why on earth should Labor let the Prime Minister get off breaking promises? He went to the polls and got people to vote for him saying that there’d be no new or increased taxes. Why do you think that we should just allow him to lie his way into office, and then sit there and say ‘oh well, fair enough, you’re allowed to treat us all as stupid and we’ll just sign off on it’?


KELLY: We’ve just heard the Finance Minister say that any of these moves and changes of taxation they’ll be taking to an election. I’m just really going to the issue of –


SHORTEN: Let’s just –


KELLY: Having a mature debate on how our federation works or doesn’t work, more like it?


SHORTEN: Well first of all let’s just grab that point that the Finance Minister said. I think it was remarkable yesterday that the Finance Minister went out to announce a new tax and the Treasurer didn’t even turn up to the party. But apart from what he’s doing yesterday when they say they’re going to take new taxes to the next election they should. But in the meantime don’t introduce them. In terms of the mature debate point, Fran you’re a seasoned political observer, you’ve been around Canberra watching it much longer even than I have. You know what Tony Abbott’s form guide’s like, he’s always been, I mean, his strength such as it is being negative, being a pugilist. If he wants to have a mature debate he’s certainly going the wrong way about it. On Sunday he has a thought bubble, says I want to have a mature debate and then by Tuesday he just says by the way we don’t trust the Australian Parliament at all so were going to bypass it. That’s hardly mature is it?


KELLY: You’re listening to RN Breakfast it’s five to eight, our guest is the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Bill Shorten can I ask you about the foreign fighters bill, which has now passed through the processes and is coming into the Parliament. The West Australian newspaper today is reporting that the Federal Government proposed at the last minute to alter the foreign fighters act governing the operations of our security agencies allow ASIS to quote “ provide assistance to the Defence Force in support of military operations and to cooperate with the Defence Force on intelligence matters.” Now the paper draws the inference on that that it was the Government seeking emergency powers to target and possibly kill Australian jihadists fighting overseas with IS. Did you draw the same inference? Did you have concerns about that proposed amendment?


SHORTEN: There will be further amendments I believe to our national security laws, they’re not in the current matters which are being debated before the Parliament.


KELLY: Is that something Labor would support though, to change it to give ASIS the capacity to give information directly to the ADF on operation in cases like Iraq?

SHORTEN: Labor’s approach to national security has been on the one hand we’re absolutely committed to the primary importance on strong national security laws, listing carefully to our security agencies. We also want to balance that against the freedoms of this country. We’re bipartisan about national security because we want to protest the freedoms and lifestyles of this country. We will, we believe that amendments should go through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security Matters, I think that’s the appropriate forum to test ideas –


KELLY: But what do you think of this idea?


SHORTEN: Well I’m going to let the Parliamentary Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security examine the measure. In terms of the first two sets or bills of national security legislation, by going through that process Labor’s been able to make considerable improvements, considerable improvements to the legislation. That process is the right way to go, and I think that’s far better than having a hot house debate about particular measures which have been unexamined in the calm, rational parliamentary process which has served this nation so well for over a 110 years.


KELLY: It’s three minutes to eight on Breakfast. Bill Shorten can I ask you an issue in the paper, the front page of some of the News Limited today refers to some emails, correspondence in 2010 by Labor Senator Nova Peris, she was not in the Parliament then and some of the elements of these emails I guess are unsavoury I guess. It’s correspondence between Senator Peris, or Nova Peris at the time, and Olympian Ato Boldon. In your view does Senator Peris have questions to answer, are you concerned about this?


SHORTEN: I’ve seen the report, I don’t have any comments to make. Senator Peris has denied any wrong doing.


KELLY: Are you going to satisfy yourself that there was no wrong doing? Are you concerned by the tone of the emails?


SHORTEN: Well I’m not commenting on the report, these are matters that are deeply personal to Senator Peris and pre-date her time in Parliament and I certainly shan't be commenting on the personal nature of these matters.


KELLY: Okay in the time we have left Bill Shorten can I ask you about Labor’s position about turning back the boats because earlier in the week your immigration spokesperson Richard Marles said, you know, we’re be prepared to look at this policy, it’s working, we’ll have a look at it with these conditions. Now yesterday you’ve told the Caucus that there is no change in Labor’s policy so do you accept that turn backs, do you agree with Richard Marles, that turn backs have stopped people drowning? Have worked in that sense?


SHORTEN: I don’t think that’s quite what Richard Marles said on Sky on Sunday, but certainly you’re right in recounting what I said to the Labor Caucus yesterday.  Labor’s policy hasn’t changed.


KELLY: So Labor is opposed to turning back boats?


SHORTEN: Labor’s policy hasn’t changed, we haven’t seen the case made out for it.


KELLY: Just to be clear then, what is your position on boat turn backs, can you articulate it?


SHORTEN: Labor does not support Tony Abbott’s secret turn back boats policy, full stop.


KELLY: Do you accept it’s worked?


SHORTEN: I believe that the core of success for people smugglers has been regional resettlement which was started under Labor and continued by this Government.


KELLY: Alright Bill Shorten, thank you very much for joining us.


SHORTEN: Have a lovely morning Fran, bye.