Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Blackburn

SUBJECT/S: Paid parental leave shambles; GP tax; Tony Abbott’s backward views on climate change; Royal Commission; GrainCorp.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everyone, it’s lovely to be here with my Shadow Ministerial colleague for Families, Jenny Macklin, visiting Taralye, which is a remarkable centre which helps young children with hearing impairments get the best start in life. And indeed, this Abbott Budget reminds us again of how unfair the priorities of this Government are.

This Budget takes away family payments, it puts a new tax on going to the doctor, it makes life harder for families trying to make ends meet. But when you’re a family raising a beautiful unique child who happens to have a disability or a special need, this Budget is particularly unfair. If you want to take your child to the doctor, and you do when your child has special needs, when you want to make sure you can make ends meet - let's face it, your budget's always more stretched if you have got a child with a disability. This Budget is horrendously unfair.

Tony Abbott, on his grand tour overseas, should be reconsidering this Budget. It's unfair to families, it's unfair to people battling to deal with the costs of living, it's particularly unfair to hundreds of thousands of families who are raising children with special needs and disabilities.

While Mr Abbott's reflecting on his unfair Budget based on lies before the last election, he should also reconsider his paid parental leave scheme. Labor doesn't support providing multimillionaires with tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money when families are battling to make ends meet. Clearly nor does the nation, and now [Mr Abbott’s] allies in the National Party of Australia have come out and said to Mr Abbott, this paid parental leave scheme is a massive ego trip.

It’s not right that when pensioners are battling to make ends meet, when families raising children with disabilities are battling to make ends meet, that $22 billion in taxpayers money is being paid for millionaires so that they can have extra parental cash, when in fact ordinary Australians need their money to go to the priority, the right priorities, which is the families of Australia.

I will ask my colleague, Jenny Macklin, to talk about the paid parental leave scheme.

JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES & PAYMENTS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR DISABILITY REFORM: Thanks very much, Bill. I'd just like to join with Bill in thanking everyone here at Taralye for having us. This is a wonderful place, doing an outstanding job for children who need support at that very, very critical time when they are small. And we know that for children who have hearing impairments, early intervention works. So my congratulations to everyone here at Taralye.

Just to add to Bill's remarks in relation to this Budget, and its impact on families - for an average family earning $65,000, a single income family earning $65,000 with two school-aged children, Tony Abbott is going to take $6,000 a year off that family. How warped are Tony Abbott's priorities? He wants to take $6,000 off an ordinary family in his cuts through the Budget, and at the same time, Tony Abbott wants to give $50,000 to wealthy women to have six months off to have a baby.

Now, we can see that the Government is totally divided on this issue, and understandably so. Mr Abbott is saying to ordinary Australian families that he's going to take money off them. Mr Abbott is saying to pensioners, you are going to have your pension cut and, at the same time, he's proposing to give $50,000 to wealthy women to have a baby. No wonder the Government is split.

SHORTEN: Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you believe Australians are embarrassed by any of the statements that the Prime Minister's made overseas, particularly in relation to climate change?

SHORTEN: It is clear that while the rest of the world is moving forwards to deal with climate change, Tony Abbott's taking Australia backwards. It must be embarrassing for the Prime Minister, as he meets other world leaders and they rub shoulders, that the rest of them are talking about what they are doing about climate change and in their midst, Tony Abbott - a climate change sceptic – is taking Australia backwards.

JOURNALIST: What reasons have you given Australians though for thinking the ALP might be any different? I mean, you haven't really gone out and prosecuted the case to a great extent.

SHORTEN: Labor has a strong track record about fighting to deal with the challenges of climate change. It is the Abbott Government who are seeking to roll back measures to deal with climate change. Labor believes in the science of climate change. We believe in taking effective action on climate change. All the Abbott Government wants to do is to pay big polluters for putting more carbon emissions into the environment.

JOURNALIST: Is the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr Harper, a climate change denier?

SHORTEN: I'm the Opposition Leader in Australia. What interests me is the future of Australia. With regard to climate change, it is wrong to simply pass on to the next generation of Australians the legacy of not dealing with climate change because the current Abbott Government refuses to deal with climate change. Climate change is real, the rest of the world is taking action about dealing with climate change, it's about time that Tony Abbott got over his flat earth theory of the world and started dealing with climate change effectively.

JOURNALIST: I don't know if you had a chance to listen to 774 this morning, but Jon Faine read out allegations regarding Bruce Wilson where he claims that he was offered $200,000 to change his story on Julia Gillard's home renovations. What do you make of those allegations?

SHORTEN: I haven't had a chance to hear the interview, but the Abbott Royal Commission into Trade Unions is now under way. It will be a platform where people will try and settle old scores. There will be plenty of people pursuing their own agendas. It is a matter for the Royal Commission to deal with all these matters. I shall not be providing a running commentary on every day's evidence which emerges, or may or may not emerge.

JOURNALIST: This is slightly different though, it’s apparently not within the terms of reference of the commission and it's, this Bruce Wilson, alleging he was actually paid or offered to be paid $200,000 to change his evidence. As a principle, does that concern you, that there might be allegations of that nature?

SHORTEN: The Abbott Royal Commission into trade unions is a serious matter. There will be plenty of people settling old scores, there will be plenty of people pursuing their own agendas. I cannot and I won't provide a running commentary on everything he said/she said, twist and turn of the Abbott Royal Commission into trade unions. We'll leave that for the Royal Commission to determine. My focus is squarely on battling this unfair budget. I think Tony Abbott thinks that because he's gone overseas everyone will have an attack of amnesia and forget about his horrible budget and his broken promises and his lies before the election. I put Mr Abbott on notice that the Labor Party will be a conscientious Opposition, we will fight this unfair budget and the terrible effect it's having on Australian families who don't deserve to be treated this way by this unfair budget from this Government with the wrong priorities.

JOURNALIST: And just on the matter of GrainCorp, the Chairman of the Foreign Investment Review Board says it was a political decision to block the sale of GrainCorp. Is that appropriate?

SHORTEN: No, I think it's scandalous that we have politics determining the foreign investment decisions of the Government. This government needs to prioritise jobs first, and politics second. It just seems to me that the Abbott Government is very good at fighting for their own jobs but not so good at fighting for anyone else's jobs. It's not just the GrainCorp decision based on politics, it’s the demise of naval ship building, it’s the death of the car industry, it is the sacking or retrenchment of thousands of public sector workers. This is a Government who’s in love with their own job, they’re just not in love with anyone else's jobs.

JOURNALIST: Hundreds of Australian Post workers will find out this week if they’re losing their jobs. Is that just simply natural attrition in the progress that we are no longer using letters?

SHORTEN: I think the advent of technology and the impact of the Internet has effects across the whole Australian economy. Obviously Australia Post is not immune. But we’ve seen a rise in parcel delivery. I am most concerned to make sure that Australia Post is prioritising keeping both jobs and also the services which Australians expect. Australia Post is part of the national contract that the Australian Government has, I believe, with the Australian people. Technological changes have been encountered in the past. I think it's important that we maintain the highest possible service delivery to Australians. It is what Australians expect from their Government.

Thanks, everyone.