Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Canberra - Chaos and dysfunction of the Liberal-National Government; Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget and broken promises






SUBJECT/S: Chaos and dysfunction of the Liberal-National Government; Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget and broken promises; GST.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: This morning, the last day of Parliament before the Abbott Liberal-National Government returns in May to bring down whatever Budget they are going to bring down.  We finish on the last day with more chaos and dysfunction from the Abbott Liberal-National Government. Today we’ve got yet again another Joe Hockey thought bubble taking $200 million from New South Wales to Western Australia. This caps off a bad week for the Government. Yesterday we had Julie Bishop saying it’s an interesting idea to cap iron ore production, the formation of a cartel. We see chaos and dysfunction and we’ve seen Tony Abbott’s two top economic advisors Tony Shepherd and Maurice Newman come out and tell Tony Abbott that they’ve got to go even further than their unfair Budget last year. You’ve got the Treasurer going one way, the Foreign Minister going another way and the Prime Ministers’ key advisors going in a third direction. The Liberal National Government in Canberra, less than two months before the next Budget, is a bundle of chaos and confusion. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Why not re-look at GST distribution? WA’s been complaining about it for a while now.


SHORTEN: I understand that people from particular regions of Australia want to make sure they get a square deal. I can respect that. We have an independent grants commission process. What we've got to do in this country – and this is something which the Abbott Government really has failed the test of in the last 18 months, is we’ve got to get above the day-to-day political nonsense and get on with the future of this country. That’s why yesterday I said to the Government, they’ve got themselves in a horrible mess on submarines. This is a $20 billion initial build. Billions of dollars more over the life cycle of our future submarine fleet. This Government's got itself in a horrible mess because they said before the election they'd build it in Australia, then there seems to have been some shady deal done by Tony Abbott and Japan, which they won't tell people what's actually happened.


We’ve offered them a way through that. If the Japanese submarines are the best deal, well then have a competitive tender with other large submarine-building countries like France, Sweden and Germany and make sure that it’s built, maintained and sustained in Australia. Labor is willing to work with the Government, that's what Australians want to hear and I can say that here and now, we are. But when you get this chaos and confusion, we give them a rescue yesterday, or a life-line on the submarines and they just say "no" within about five seconds, no thought, all knee jerk.


And yet today we see Tony Abbott's key economic advisers saying Maurice Newman and Tony Shepherd saying “get the axe out and go harder". We’ve got Julie Bishop with her thought bubbles about capping iron ore production and then being slapped down by Joe Hockey and the Prime Minister. But then we’ve got the Treasurer himself, a man prone to thought bubbles, now again talking about interfering in a political way in the GST when there should be independent processes. The nation’s sick and tired of Tony Abbott's broken promises.


JOURNALIST: Shouldn't WA's GST be calculated on a five-year average when it comes to iron ore prices?


SHORTEN: Well, we’ve got an independent process to evaluate how the GST is allocated. I’ve got no doubt there are legitimate arguments in Western Australia for them to demand reviewing what happens. But every state has, we’re a federation and what we should do here is not have the politics of the day determining the long-term future of  Federal-State relations. The Federal Government, the Abbott-Liberal-National Government, their Treasurer, should stop playing politics and start playing policy. That way this country would be a better place.


JOURNALIST: Your colleague Alannah MacTiernan thinks it is encouraging this idea and may result in more cash for her State. Will you have a chat to her?


SHORTEN: Well I think you probably heard my answer two questions ago where I said that it is important, I respect that politicians from particular regions in Australia insisting upon what they perceive to be a square deal. But it is not just raising the issue that matters, it is how we solve it. The chief economic officer of Australia is Joe Hockey. He doesn't have plan for Australia. We know that he doesn't have a Budget plan, he doesn't have a clear view on what he wants to do with the GST. I think on the last day of Parliament before we rise and come back and reconvene to deal with the Budget, the Abbott Government desperately needs an economic plan and a vision for Australia. Less politics, more policy, Mr Abbott. That's what Australia wants.


Thanks everyone, see you in Question Time.