Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Brisbane - Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget; Cost of Living






SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget; Cost of Living; Renewable Energy Target; Abbott Government’s Mini-Budget.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great to be here at Davies Park Market in West End with our Federal Member of Parliament for the Southside, Terri Butler and hard-working State Member of Parliament, Jackie Trad. Walking here, talking to people who are balancing the family budget who are looking for quality of life, you realise that a lot of Australians are really worried about where this nation is heading this Christmas. We see the Renewable Energy Target under attack by the Abbott Government; we see 150 jobs being lost in North Queensland because of the uncertainty created by the Abbott Government. We saw in recent days that unemployment in Queensland is at 6.9 per cent, nationally unemployment is at 6.3 per cent and perhaps worst of all at Christmas time, youth unemployment has jumped to 14.5 per cent – which is the highest it has been in 13 or 14 years.


There are real concerns about confidence in Australia and about where we are going on climate change, on jobs and on cost-of-living. The mini-Budget that the Government is bring down on Monday must correct the unfair Budget which has stalled confidence. Now is the time in Australia not to slow Australia down but to speed Australia up. And the Government on Monday should use the opportunity to drop its unfair measures and start again to give Australia a better Christmas and new year that we are currently expecting.


Happy to take any questions people have.


JOURNALIST: What about news that they might be cutting 175 agencies?
SHORTEN: The Australian economy is slowing down – it is slowing down too much. It is in danger of stalling. Now is not the time for the Abbott Government to be applying the brakes to a stalling economy. Now is not the time for Tony Abbott to get rid of jobs. This drop which has been selectively leaked, in anticipation of bad news on Monday shows that there will be damaging cuts to, including positions such as infrastructure coordination in Australia and infrastructure is really important. We see quality standards in aged care under threat because of these agency cuts that are being flagged. The only jobs plan Tony Abbott has is a plan for his own job, not a plan for Australia’s jobs.


JOURNALIST: How many jobs do you think will go from these agencies?


SHORTEN: I think that the Federal Government is in danger of stifling the confidence of hundreds, if not thousands of jobs. Queensland has seen under Campbell Newman, the damage that is caused when you just cut and cut and cut. Australia doesn’t need Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman on a unity ticket of cutting jobs, especially before Christmas. Australia is at a cross roads; a crunch point.  We are narrowly reliant on our minerals sales globally to sustain Australia. The price of our minerals is falling. The last thing Australia needs now if we want to have growth in the future, if we want to have confidence in the high street in the future, is for Tony Abbott to be killing jobs and killing confidence which is what it seems like will be the case on Monday.


JOURNALIST: The Abbott Government is saying they have to cut jobs, or they have to make these adjustments because the oil prices are falling and they were left with a bloated bureaucracy?


SHORTEN: The Abbott Government is quick to blame everyone else. They have been in Government for nearly 500 days now. When will Tony Abbott stop blaming everyone else and start accepting responsibility? Everyone knows that if the Australian economy, if it was a heart monitor, flat-lined about 3 weeks before the Federal Budget and it hasn’t recovered since then. What Tony Abbott doesn’t get is that Australia, if it is to be confident and to grow needs fairness in the country. You can’t eliminate fairness and still hope to grow jobs and grow the economy.


JOURNALIST: The Finance Minister says he wants the public sector as big as it needs to be but as small as it can be. Do you think the public sector is too big?


SHORTEN: The Finance Minister is just talking gobbledygook; it is just a cliché masquerading as an economic policy. All the smart economist around the world say that when you’ve got an economy which is in danger of contracting, it is not the role of Government to speed up the contraction. To go back to what I said in my opening remarks, the Australian economy needs to acquire speed and to grow. It is now not the time to stall the Australian economy by killing confidence and killing jobs. Unemployment is now well up from what it was when the Liberal’s came into power. It is now well up since the Budget. Tens of thousands of extra people have sadly joined the unemployment queue since the last Budget. The Government’s got a test on Monday; is it going to build confidence or is it going to kill confidence? And what they need to do is to unequivocally is drop their rotten GP Tax, their higher fees for going to University - $100,000 degrees, they need to stop messing with pension cuts and perhaps they should give our defence force personnel a proper pay rise before Christmas. This is a Government who’s only plan is to save their own job not the jobs of Australians.


JOURNALIST:  So if you don’t think the public sector is too big, do we need the taskforce for the national uniform status of the voluntary micro chipping of horses?


SHORTEN: We all know the Government’s tactics. They have no plan for Australia. They are a Government adrift – they’ve got no plan for climate change internationally, they’ve got a Budget which is a mess and now what they do, as all bullies and cowards do when backed into a corner of their own making, they are now blaming everyone else. They want to blame the public servants. When I think of public servants, I think of nurses, I think of fire-fighters, I think of people who work at Centrelink by looking after the disadvantaged in our society.


This Government should stop dividing Australia, it should start uniting Australia. In 2015, Australians want a Government who talks about bringing people together, who talks about fairness, who talks about growing the economy. The high street retail traders upon whom so much in Australia depends, our small businesses, they don’t want the Finance Minister or the Prime Minister or the Treasurer, they don’t want them killing confidence and talking this country down. All we have seen in the last few weeks since Parliament has risen is in-fighting in the Government - a Government which can’t govern itself. A Government who doesn’t really know what to do with Australia’s future and instead, they are just cutting, cutting, cutting and killing jobs which is a terrible shame at Christmas.


JOURNALIST: A surplus seems to be a little bit further off then we thought, Mr Hockey has sited many of the same external factors that Mr Swan did during his time as Treasurer. Do you have any sympathy for Mr Hockey at the moment?


SHORTEN: Do you every think Joe Hockey will say to Wayne Swan ‘Sorry, I gave you a whole lot of grief and now I want to use the same excuses that I gave you grief about’? Joe Hockey can’t keep blaming everyone else. Joe Hockey said when he got to power, and Tony Abbott, that they would be in surplus within the first year and then within the first term. These guys are writing new dictionaries of excuses. I’m surprised they haven’t said ‘the cat at my homework’ before Monday’s mini-Budget. These are people who don’t know what they are doing and the nation is paying the price. Unemployment is up, business confidence is down and now what they are looking to do is cut more jobs and create more unfairness in Australia. This is a terrible policy for 2015.


Thanks everyone. Have a lovely day and get some bargains at the market as well.