Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Adelaide




MONDAY, 5 MAY 2014

SUBJECT/S: Budget; Tony Abbott’s new tax; Tony Abbott’s broken promises and twisted priorities; School funding; Political donations.



BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great to be here at Roma Mitchell College with the remarkable students, principal and teaching staff of a school which is delivering great outcomes for our teenagers and helping them become the best adults they can in terms of education and opportunity. I’m here with our Shadow Spokesperson for Education, Kate Ellis, who is clearly carrying an injury but nonetheless is here today, so I appreciate that devotion to duty. And I’m also with Tony Zappia, Member for Makin, Parliamentary Secretary and the local member for this school.


It is eight days until Tony Abbott's first Budget. Tony Abbott's Budget is shaping up to be a Budget of broken promises and twisted priorities. New, increased income taxes on working Australians, a new GP tax for the sick, cost of living pressure on families going up, not down. And yet Tony Abbott has said today that Australians should be thanking him for these problems. For the extra pressure on families, the extra taxes, the extra fears which pensioners now have. Prime Minister, Australians will not be thanking you for your broken promises.


We see now a Prime Minister who when he was Leader of the Opposition, perhaps more than any other Prime Minister in Australia, staking his reputation on not breaking election pledges. Now we see a Prime Minister who never before - no Prime Minister before him ever in Australian history has so brazenly, so shamelessly, so quickly started breaking election promises. Australians will mark Tony Abbott down if he increases their cost of living, if he imposes new taxes for going to the doctor, new taxes for going to work, and he continues to ensure that pensioners are concerned about what's going to happen to them in the future.


I might just ask my colleague Kate Ellis to make some comments about education.


KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Thank you so much to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for being with us here in Adelaide, to my friend and colleague and the local member Tony Zappia, but can I also thank Sandy Richardson, the wonderful principal here at Roma Mitchell and all of the amazing teachers and staff who work day in and day out to make sure that every child here has the best possible education and the best hope for their future.


Now, in eight days’ time, we will see in the Federal Budget whether every student, every parent and every teacher is going to be forced to pay the price for Tony Abbott's broken promises and twisted priorities. We saw in the Commission of Audit report last week that this Government being urged to throw away every promise, every pledge they made the Australian public about the future of school reform and about the future of education in this country, to throw away those promises that they were on a unity ticket, and scrap the Gonski reforms in full.


Now, this is an issue that does affect every school because we know that here in South Australia, over $400 million is dependent on the Abbott Government sticking to their word and implementing the Gonski reforms in full. We know that around Australia there is $7 billion which should be flowing to schools right across the country which are at risk as a result of this twisted priority Government. We will see in eight days' time whether it is students, whether it is Australia's future, who will pay the cost of this Government's dishonesty and this Government's lies in the lead-up to the last election.


SHORTEN: Any questions?


REPORTER: Mr Shorten, will you stand in the way of this deficit tax? You talk about broken promises but will you actually block it?


SHORTEN:  Labor will not support increasing income taxes on Australians –


REPORTER: Even for the very rich?


SHORTEN: Tony Abbott said before the election any number of times, if you voted for him he was a Prime Minister you could trust. No political leader in the history of Australia has staked so much of their reputation on being someone who keeps their election pledges. No Prime Minister in Australia has so brazenly, so shamelessly, so quickly said they’re going to break their promises. Tony Abbott, Australians should not thank you for breaking your promises, and Labor will stand up for the pensioners, we will protect them. We will make sure the people who go to work do not have to carry a bigger burden than they already do for working hard.


REPORTER: So you won’t support it as a Budget bill in any form.


SHORTEN: We do not support increasing income taxes. Remember, Tony Abbott is calling this a deficit levy. Remember the weasel words he used on radio in Melbourne last week? He said, ‘Um, ah, er, it’s only temporary. You will only have to pay extra tax for 4 years.’


There are Australians who are battling every fortnight. By the time they get to the close of the fortnight, they're counting the money in their bank account. If there is less money in their bank account after Tony Abbott has taxed them, well that's a tax increase, any way you cut it. Labor will not reward Tony Abbott in terms of breaking his promises to the Australian people.


REPORTER: So can we make it quite clear, in any form, as a Budget bill, you will reject it?


SHORTEN: First of all a deficit levy is not going to be in the form which you are putting forward, and secondly Labor does not support taxing millions of Australians who go to work. How out of touch is Tony Abbott? I mean last week I thought he set the gold medal in being out of touch by saying someone on $80,000 can afford to pay more tax. But this morning Tony Abbott said that Australians should be thanking him in the future for what he is doing now. Tony Abbott, no-one is going to thank you for breaking your election promises to the Australian people.


REPORTER: Will Labor still have a problem with high income earners though paying the levy, people above $180,000. That shouldn’t be a problem for the Labor party?


SHORTEN: Labor has got a problem when Tony Abbott breaks his promises . We are not going to let Tony Abbott off the hook. He is the one who put himself up on a podium and said ‘Look at me, look at me. I am going to be the Prime Minister if you vote for me who doesn’t break their promises.’  No leader in Australian politics has staked so much of their reputation on being a person you can trust if you vote for them. No-one can trust Tony Abbott if he increases taxes on people who go to work. No-one can trust Tony Abbott if he puts extra taxes on you if you need to go to the doctor or take your kids to the doctor. No-one is going to trust Tony Abbott if he has a long two-year debate before the next election about how he’s going to make life harder for aged pensioners. Labor is not going to reward the bad faith of Tony Abbott.


REPORTER: So you will stand up to protect high income earners from a debt levy?


SHORTEN: We stand up to make sure that people - Prime Ministers keep their promises. I don't have a short memory. I remember before the last election how much Tony Abbott said to the voters of Australia that with him, you can trust Tony Abbott. This is Tony Abbott who said before the election he would be a Prime Minister who didn't break his promise. What we're seeing since the election is the same old phony Tony when it comes to keeping promises. He is the one who said that he will increase taxes on Australians who go to work. He is the one who has said that there should be a co-contribution for going to the doctor, a new GP tax for going to the doctor. Labor will stand up for working class and middle class people. We are not going to allow pensioners to be slammed by Tony Abbott. We are not going to support people who go to work, who work hard, having to pay even more taxes. There is no Budget emergency in the short term which would justify Tony Abbott breaking his election promises in 8 days' time, and Labor will hold them to account and we will fight by hook or by crook to stop Tony Abbott from breaking his promises. That's the job of a good Opposition.


REPORTER: Mr Shorten do you have any problems with the way the Liberal party has been selling access for money, and just be aware that there are lawyers involved apparently now. But obviously you would have seen that about Joe Hockey this morning?


SHORTEN: Well, Labor has very clear principles about matters such as this. First of all, we have zero tolerance for corruption. Secondly, we believe that when it comes to matters of election funding, they should be transparent. Nothing to hide, everything to see. Furthermore, we believe that the law of the land must be upheld. I make this invitation to Tony Abbott, that if you want to improve transparency of political donations, so does Labor. We will work with you, Tony Abbott, to make sure that Australian’s can have even greater confidence in federal politics and transparency.


REPORTER: Do you think there’s a case for a shift in taxpayer funding of campaigns, is this something you support?


SHORTEN: Well, we do support public funding of elections. What I also recognise though is that Christopher Pyne for instance, yesterday said that only individuals should donate. What I would say here is if the Liberal party has got a clear plan for greater transparency, Labor’s up for it, we’ll work with it. It was the Liberals who knocked back our electoral funding reforms before the last election. Labor believes in transparency, we believe in the rule of law, and we certainly would be up for working with the Liberal party to further improve confidence in the transparency of election funding in this country.


REPORTER: So as long as it’s transparent, anything goes?


SHORTEN: No, it’s got to be in accordance with the law, and certainly the Parliament of Australia should constantly be seeking to improve election funding rules in this country. So let me be really crystal clear. Labor will work with Tony Abbott to improve the transparency of funding laws in this country and improve the administration of electoral funding full stop. We are up for improvement, the question is whether Tony Abbott is willing to work with us on this.


REPORTER: Labor in Government had similar fundraising techniques in South Australia. It still does with Progressive Business SA, which is very opportunistic and not at all transparent. If you were again in Government would you commit to not raising funds through similar means?


SHORTEN: Well first of all, I go back to what I said earlier. We do believe in transparency, I’m not sure that I agree with your characterization that Labor doesn’t support transparency. Furthermore, we believe in the rule of law. We believe that the election laws and funding disclosure laws need to be adhered to. I think, like every other Australian, that we’ve been very nauseated by the toxic revelations out of ICAC about New South Wales politics. Again, I issue the invitation to Tony Abbott – we will work with you to improve the transparency and functioning of Australia’s electoral funding laws, so Australians can have complete confidence that what is going on is what should be going on.


REPORTER: Mr Shorten, Jay Weatherill today, before Parliament even resumes, the new Parliament resumes, looks like he might be merging departments or getting rid of public servants here. Do you think he’s on a hiding to nothing with this?


SHORTEN: I didn’t run for state politics in South Australia –


REPORTER: So you don’t care?


SHORTEN: No, I’m just saying that the person best suited to answer your question about what’s happening in state government in South Australia is South Australian politicians.


REPORTER: Can I ask you another topic - what do you make of James Packer and David Gyngell slugging it out on a footpath?


SHORTEN: I’ve just started to see the breaking news on that. I have no idea what’s happened there.


REPORTER: Do you think it’s a little bit unedifying for two such prominent people if it’s true, which it appears to be. Would you take a dim view of it?


SHORTEN: I have no idea what has happened. I’m better off -


REPORTER: Don’t even have a prurient interest in what it is all about? Everyone else does.


SHORTEN: Well gossip is gossip. I’m interested in what Tony Abbott is going to do in terms of breaking promises in eight days’ time. I’m interested in making sure that when you take your elderly parent or your child to the doctor, you’re not being slugged with an extra tax. I think the people who are going to work every day in Adelaide, South Australia and Australia shouldn’t be paying extra income tax above the existing rates, and I certainly don’t support Tony Abbott breaking election promises to the Australian people. Last question thank you.


REPORTER: Former federal Labor Government ministers have attended Progressive Business SA fundraising events. We don’t know who paid to attend those events. Do you think that should be made public?


SHORTEN: Well there are election disclosure laws –


REPORTER: But Progressive Business SA is not subject to those disclosure laws.


SHORTEN: First of all, it’s a matter for party administration. But what I would say, and what I expect our Labor party to do, state branches or national, is to adhere to the proper funding disclosure laws. And I would refer everyone here to before the last election Labor was committed to improving transparency. We were unsuccessful on that occasion to convince the Government to go down that path with us. I hope now perhaps Tony Abbott’s interested to take up Labor’s invitation to consider ways of further improving transparency and confidence in electoral disclosure laws. Thank you very much. Have a lovely day.