Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Canberra - Budget 2015; Budget in Reply,






SUBJECT/S: Budget 2015; Budget in Reply, Paid parental leave


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone and welcome to a really great primary school with marvellous teachers and parents and really inspirational and great kids. And what we see in this primary school is being repeated all around the towns and cities of Australia. The parents of these marvellous children we met today want to know where the jobs of the future will be for their children. The truth is that the jobs of the future are being formed in the classrooms of today. The truth is that for many of these children the last career manager they will have will be the last teacher they have in school and after that we need to have made sure that we've given our children the best start in life. That's why Tuesday night's Budget was such a missed opportunity. There was no vision in that Budget. There was no plan for the next decade and the 2020s. There was no plan for the future. It was a plan for Tony Abbott's future and no-one else. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Tonight's Budget in Reply speech, will there be a policy announcement of any kind there?


SHORTEN: Well, I'd like you to listen to tonight's Budget speech when I give it, but what I can say is that Australians expect a Budget to be about their priorities. Most importantly, it's about the future. You know, we can make politics too complicated in this country sometimes. What Australians want to know is, is there a plan for the future and how do we get there? That's what I'm focused on. But of course this Budget, the 2015 Budget, is simply the 2014 Budget repackaged. Some of that same meanness just keeps creeping back in. Cuts to family payments, a new $2 billion set of cuts to health and aged care hidden in the fine print. This is a repackaged Budget of last year's meanness and no vision for the future, no confidence for the next number of years and decades ahead.


JOURNALIST: What is Labor's vision especially when it comes to child care? Can you outline, are you going to set in a concrete plan for tonight?


SHORTEN: Well Labor is the party of child care and we have a very good record and we understand and we've set out our principles for child care and unlike the Government we haven't just discovered child care after a series of opinion polls. For us, child care should be affordable. It should also be quality and of course we want to make sure that there are enough places for children and it is all of these principles which we'll apply to what the Government's doing. But the Government is addicted to trickiness. On one hand they make a great splash of what they're trying to do in childcare and we'll have a look at that objectively. But they want to fund it by cutting family payments of up to $6,000 to families whose incomes are about $60,000 a year. Now who could have dreamed up cutting $6,000 from families who earn $60,000 because their children are 6, 7 and 8, and reallocating that to parents, some parents whose children are 3 and 4?


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, inside the classroom you just visited was a sign that says, "Say something positive." Will you be doing that tonight?


SHORTEN: Of course. The Labor Party I lead is a party which is interested in the future. Where we see propositions that the Government advances, I will not be like Tony Abbott. Let's not forget history. Tony Abbott was the most negative Opposition Leader in history. He hectored and lectured his way up the streets and byways and highways of Australia. There was never anything good that the then-government did which he would support. When it comes to our response to the Budget I made perfectly clear on television yesterday when I saw Tony Abbott in one of those hallway meetings you sometimes get the chance to do to rub shoulders with Tony, and I said to him, I like the look of your small business stuff, I do like it, but when it comes to health and education we are not going to see $2 billion in sneaky cuts in health care and aged care and we're not going to allow the future of our children to be damaged by Tony Abbott's billions of dollars of cuts to schools across Australia.


JOURNALIST: What do you make of some of the rhetoric around PPL, are women double-dippers and rorters?


SHORTEN: I completely repudiate the language of the Abbott Government Ministers describing women who've negotiated additional top-up parental leave on top of the basic minimum that they get from the Government and describing that as a rort. You know, there was an earlier question that said can you be positive? Can any of us be positive about the attack on working women which we've just seen? Can any of us say anything good about the fact that you've got Scott Morrison describing women who are able to top up their Government minimum with negotiated employment conditions, freely entered into, a contract between employee and employer, and then they've got to go through the gauntlet of the bully pulpit of Scott Morrison and Joe Hockey.


Remember a couple of years ago Tony Abbott was defending that signature paid parental leave scheme? He described himself as Nixon going to China. Remember that sort of puffed-up rhetoric from the Prime Minister that he'd learned his lesson about the important role that women play in our society and in the workforce? Now of course he's dropped that. They've got 30,000 to 80,000 women being cut from the conditions they've negotiated. Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison weren't in the boardroom, the factory or shopping centre or the hospital ward when these women negotiated with their employers this additional leave but you've got old Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison putting on the bovver boy boots. What happened to the women of calibre, Tony Abbott? Now they're called rorters.


JOURNALIST: Do you consider this misogyny?


SHORTEN: Listen, the worst thing we can start doing is start getting into every name calling. That's the trap the Government have fallen into but I can tell you I know the difference between right and wrong and I know it's right that if a nurse has negotiated 10 weeks extra with their employer or a person working at Woolworths or someone working at Myer has negotiated 6 or 8 weeks of extra parental leave, between the employer and employee, a commercial contract entered into and that they also receive the minimum payment, I don't think it is right for the Government to start trashing those arrangements so I do know the difference between right and wrong.


JOURNALIST: Yesterday you said that you were ready if an election came early. Surely that requires policies. Do you have any more than the ones you've already released?


SHORTEN: Well first of all, Tony Abbott is allowing this confusion to run about will there be or won't there be an election. The last thing the people of Australia want is 12 months of election speculation. I think the reason why there’s been any speculation about an election is everyone knows that the Government has squibbed the issues of the long-term future. Debt's up. Taxes are up. Unemployment is forecast to stay well north of 6 per cent for the foreseeable future. We’ve got big changes going on in this country and no one thinks that the short-term fixes of this Government combined with the hidden meanness which they still put forward in their Budget, no one think that's a good prescription.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Prime Minister catch phrase yesterday was Tony's tradies. What’s your catch phrase going to be tonight?


SHORTEN: Well I actually think this nation needs more than a catch phrase. Aren't we sick of the slogans? There is a great hunger in the people of Australia for substance not spin. There is a desire and a frustration by Australians to see politics get beyond the three word slogans or the 15 second grabs. What I promise Australians is that Labor now and in the future will start the process of talking about what the future looks like, and that's why we've picked Hughes Primary School because the test I set for myself is those marvellous year six school leaders today, what are the jobs they're going to be doing? Will they be able to afford a house in the future? What sort of education are we going to give them? How are we coping with the transition from the mining boom? I want Government and Parliament to be as brave and optimistic as those children that were escorting us around the school today.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you say that the Government is pitching for an early election with this Budget.


SHORTEN: Well I don’t know, I actually, I don't know what the Government’s doing. They're just trying to cover up, they’re actually trying to cover up last year's shocking Budget, I think.


JOURNALIST: That said, are you prepared that there may be, as a result of this Budget a bit of a boost in the Government's popularity and Mr Abbott's popularity?


SHORTEN: I think that everything this Government does is motivated around Tony Abbott's job security. I think you know that. I think we all really know that. When we scratch the surface of this Budget, this was a Tony Abbott job plan and it wasn't a plan for the future of Australian jobs. So when they talk about elections we're ready, but the point I make and I think is implicit in your question is that Tony Abbott's just tried to save his own job for the short-term, and what we say is that this Budget is last year's meanness wrapped up in new trickery and we say it is not a plan for the decades to come, it's a very short-term plan and it still has a lot of the unfairness from last year.


Thanks, everyone. I did say it was the last question. I will see you in the rest of the day. We've got Question Time, Budget Reply speech. Happy to talk to you later, thank you.