Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Acacia Ridge



SUBJECT / S: Abbott Government’s Unfair Budget; Tony Abbott’s Broken Promises; GP Tax; Royal Commission.

Good afternoon, everyone. Great to be here in the seat of Moreton with hard-working local Member of Parliament Graham Perrett and we've just been visiting Dr Bruce Chadfield and the hard working staff here who are helping service our community. Today it is very clear that people who suffer chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, are going to be terribly affected by the unfair budget cuts of the Prime Minister. People who have diabetes need to go to the doctor on a regular basis. They will be paying extra money to go to the doctor for a condition which means that they have no choice but to go to the doctor. Furthermore, their medicines are going to cost more, and the alternative is that they’ll have to go and deal with a hospital system which will be even more expensive for them and the tax payer. Joe Hockey, last night, lashed out at critics of the Budget for calling it unfair. Joe Hockey, this is not class warfare, this is open warfare by the Abbott Government against the Australian people. This is warfare against sick people who’ve got diabetes who are going to pay more taxes just to go to the doctor, just so they can have a decent life. Labor is determined to stand up for all Australians who have chronic medical conditions. These people are not the leaners in Australian society, they’re the lifters. They have to make good lives every day even though they have diabetes. There are plenty of people with diabetes who go to work every day and are contributing to Australia. They shouldn’t be attacked by Joe Hockey. This GP tax is mean and cruel to people with diabetes and other chronic medical conditions. Labor will fight for these people. I might just ask Graham Perrett to say some more words from the local perspective.

GRAHAM PERRETT, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR MORETON: Thanks, Bill. Speaking to Patricia in there and Fred, Fred’s a Korean war veteran, Patricia working but also with some chronic illnesses, and as Bill said, terrified of what this will mean, what Joe Hockey’s Budget, what Tony Abbott's Budget will mean for them. People that are doing the hard yards and done the hard yards for the nation, upset, scared, worried sick about where they will be able to find the money so they can meet the co-payments and continue going to work. Or someone like Fred, a Korean war veteran, worried sick - within two or three months he’ll tip over into the spot where he can't find the money to pay his medical bills. So this is the front line where the Budget disaster that’s been handed down by Joe Hockey is creating victims and they’re my constituents in this electorate, but obviously all around Australia we’re going to have people that are being damaged by this cruel, evil Budget.

SHORTEN: We're happy to take questions, thank you.


JOURNALIST: Bill, what do you think of last night’s budget, Treasurer Joe Hockey's speech on the Budget?


SHORTEN: Joe Hockey had a Mitt Romney moment in Australian politics where he says that half of the Australians who are receiving payments from the Government, support from the Government, he very clearly accused them of being the leaners, not the lifters. Joe Hockey is out of touch. He accuses Labor and critics of the unfair Budget of engaging in class warfare. Joe Hockey is committing open-warfare against the families of Australia, with cost of living pressures and new taxes on the sick and vulnerable in the Australian society.


JOURNALIST: Earlier, staying on the Budget, earlier, you told ACOSS that Labor would, and I think the words were ‘stand fast against great slabs of this Budget’. Does that mean that there are going to be other slabs that you are letting through?


SHORTEN: Labor has been really upfront with the Australian people. We will oppose the GP tax, we will oppose a tax on the pension, we will oppose making it harder for people, for kids from working class and middle class backgrounds being prevented from going to university.  We will oppose the petrol tax. Labor is on the side of middle and lower income Australia. We will stand up for the Australian families in all conscience we cannot, we cannot support this unfair Budget and its attack on the wallets and lifestyles of Australian families.


JOURNALIST: Do you think the current welfare system is fair?


SHORTEN: What I think is fair is that you don't have to pay an extra tax to go to doctor. The big story in Australia is that this Government says that somehow people are getting medical care for free. No, they're not. They already pay for their healthcare through their Medicare system and through our taxes. Australians shouldn't be double-dipped with new taxes on health care high. The diabetes sufferers, the diabetes patients we met war veterans, people who go to work every day, they shouldn’t be slugged extra taxes because this unfair budget has no other idea about the future of Australia.


JOURNALIST: Did you suggest to former union official Bob Kernohan that the allegations of fraud about the slush fund Bruce Wilson set up not be not be pursued?

SHORTEN: The Abbott Royal Commission into unions is under way. We’re going to hear, as I’ve said previously, people with all sorts of agendas and scores to settle. I’m not going to comment about every wild claim which emerges; I’m not going to give a running comment on the Royal Commission.


JOURNALIST: But your name was brought up, I mean, did you tell him to think about his political future?

No, that's untrue, the claim is untrue. As I said, this Royal Commission by Tony Abbott into trade unions, we’ll hear all sorts of stories and all sorts of people with agendas to run. I'm not going to give a running commentary on what is said in the Royal Commission. It is up to the Royal Commission to distinguish between fact and fiction.


JOURNALIST: So you say he lied?


SHORTEN: Well, I refer you to the answers I've given last year and I’ve given to other previous media outlets. The claims are not true. I am not going respond to every wild claim. The Royal Commission is a source, is an opportunity for people to provide all sorts of things and I will not provide a running commentary.


JOURNALIST: What does Kernohan have to gain if you didn’t say that?


SHORTEN: I would have to refer you again to my last three answers to that same question.


JOURNALIST: Did he give any indication that he was going to mention this?


SHORTEN: I would refer you to the last four answers I've given on this. The Royal Commission has been established by Tony Abbott. There will be people with all sorts of agenda. It's up to the Royal Commission to work out what is fact and what is fiction, and I won't provide a running commentary as I've said in the past, on matters I've dealt with in the past.

JOURNALIST: These are very serious allegations though, don't you want to actually clear your name in the public?


SHORTEN: Well, I've said it's untrue.


JOURNALIST: Do you think it will put extra pressure on the former Prime Minister to actually appear before the Royal Commission?


SHORTEN: I’m just not going to give a day-by-day running commentary on statements in the Royal Commission.


JOURNALIST: With the Budget, Joe Hockey said he won't stop the sell of the Budget. Do you think there is any chance, any room for negotiations before the Senate sits next week?


SHORTEN: I don't think the Government has even tried to sell this Budget. It's an unfair Budget and it’s sinking fast. How on earth do you sell to sick people that they have to pay taxes to go to the doctor? How on earth can Joe Hockey complain about the critics of the Budget and complain about class warfare when the Abbott Government is at open warfare with the families of Australia and the sick people of Australia with new taxes?

JOURNALIST: Can you tell us about exactly what you did tell Kernohan [inaudible] allegations?


SHORTEN: Again I would just say that the Abbott Royal Commission into Trade Unions is going to hear all sorts of stories and all sorts of statements and I will simply not provide a running commentary on all the evidence and on all the matters that are raised there. It is up to the Royal Commission to sort out what is fact and fiction.


JOURNALIST: Doesn't the Australian public deserve to know your version of events?


SHORTEN: I've said that it’s completely untrue, I’ve said it before it before on a number of occasions it is completely untrue.


JOURNALIST: Do you think you’ll be called before the Commission?


SHORTEN: The Royal Commission is a platform for people to settle scores, to work out all their issues, to give their stories. It's up to the Royal Commission to sort out what is fact and fiction. I'm focused on opposing this dreadful Budget. I'm focused on standing up for ordinary Australians with a GP tax and opposing that. What matters here is what this Government is trying to do to wreck the Medicare system. And again I can reassure Australians that Labor is on the side of defending Medicare and standing up for people with chronic illnesses in the country.


JOURNALIST: Are you worried these allegations will end up putting you before the Commission yourself?

SHORTEN: Again, I would just simply say to you that this story has been raised in the past. I've denied it absolutely in the past. The Royal Commission will hear all sorts of stories. What I would say is that it's up to the Royal Commission to sort out what is fact, what is fiction, and again, I’m not going to provide a running commentary on each twist and turn of evidence.


JOURNALIST: Are you tired of these questions?




JOURNALIST: Is it a matter of sour grapes, do you think?


SHORTEN: No, again what I think Australians are tired of and what I think Australians are unhappy with is this Government's Budget. Before the last election the Abbott Government said there would be no cuts to schools and hospitals, there’d be no new taxes, and what we’re seeing since the election is broken promises. This unfair Budget is picking on people who have chronic illnesses. Why should someone’s mum or dad who has diabetes have to be paying brand new taxes to go to the doctor, discouraged from going to the doctor, or forced into the hospital system which is not only harder for the patient, but also harder for the Australian taxpayer. It’s an unfair Budget and Labor will oppose it, and we will stand up for the patients coming to this frontline GP clinic which is designed to try and make sure that Australians have better lives. Thanks everyone.


JOURNALIST: Just one last question - you've said that there are knives being sharpened and scores being settled. Is this proof that the Labor Party is the best haters in the business?

SHORTEN: No, the Royal Commission is under way, I’m not going to provide a running commentary. It's up to the Royal Commission to work out what is fact, what is fiction. I've talked about these matters in the past. What I think is important is why does the Abbott Government, so antagonistic to sick people in Australia, why are they sharpening their knives, their Budget knives against sick people with chronic illnesses? That's the issue which is of great concern to me. Thanks, everyone. Have a lovely afternoon.