Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Canberra - Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberals’ plan for a 15 per cent GST; National Security legislation






SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberals’ plan for a 15 per cent GST; National Security legislation; Superannuation tax concessions; Australian republic




Another day and another lack of detail about the Liberals’ GST plans. I call upon Malcolm Turnbull and the Government to outline what you are actually planning for Australians in terms of a 15 per cent GST. If it is such a good idea and there is going to be compensation for everyone, I would like the Government to outline it’s plans. I understand that Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t want to rule out particular ideas but when he was Opposition Leader, he asked Kevin Rudd who was Prime Minister to outline exactly what are your plans?. Today, I channel Malcolm Turnbull the Opposition Leader and I ask Malcolm Turnbull the Prime Minister to outline his plans for a 15 per cent GST.


Happy to take any questions.


JOURNALIST: Are you planning to raise the tax on tobacco?


SHORTEN: In terms of options for funding in the future, we are looking at different measures but we haven’t arrived at a final landing.


JOURNALIST: Is that just lazy?


SHORTEN: What? Not finalising a position?


JOURNALIST: Well if you keep increasing the tax on tobacco, it’s going to become a declining tax revenue base because less people will smoke and it’s just a very easy economic thing to do as opposed to looking at serious tax reform.


SHORTEN: Well it’s clear to me that you’ve got a position about tobacco excises. For myself, smoking is disastrous, it has terrible tax consequences and previous governments of all persuasions have seen good public policy for raising excise there. But as I said, we haven’t come to a final decision. And in terms of laziness – it is policy lazy of this Government to allow a debate about the GST to just go on and not even put any parameters around it.  Australians are concerned that a 15 per cent price hike on fresh food, on the school fees at the local catholic school, on the cost of going to the doctor. This has got people worried and it is the Government that is allowing this damaging debate to roll on with no trust in the Australian people to outline what their plans are.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, will Labor support proposed changes to citizenship laws now that the Government has accepted the amendments from the committee?


SHORTEN: Labor has always taken a bipartisan approach to national security in my time as Opposition Leader. There was an initial set of citizenship legislation proposed by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in June. Labor was concerned by some of the outline of that legislation and we pushed to be examined by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. In September, this committee made 27 recommendations to amend the initial proposed legislation and that was in large part due to the hard work of Labor. Eight weeks later since the Committee has made these recommendations, the Government notified us yesterday afternoon, late yesterday afternoon, that today it would put legislation into the Parliament. We have been partially briefed and we will continue getting the information today. We will seek to understand whether the 27 recommendations, which were supported by both the parties, actually have been implemented, the spirit of recommendations have been implemented in the detail of the amendments.


JOURNALIST: The Minister has said that it is vital that this gets done before Christmas or during the next sitting week. Is that likely?


SHORTEN: Well if the Government has kept its word and if the 27 amendments reflect what was dealt with on a bipartisan basis in the parliamentary joint committee then it would be entirely possible to achieve that timetable. But Labor has it’s processes and we’ve been given the information for the first time late yesterday and we will do the right thing by the Australian people – we will thoroughly examine it.


JOURNALIST: Are you confident that the amendments that have been put forward that some Labor MPs helped to negotiate in that joint committee, that with those changes that the laws would hold up to any High Court challenge?


SHORTEN: Well the Government assures us of the constitutionality of what has been proposed – we will have to examine the detail to see if that stacks up.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, if I could just on superannuation – what your view on a suggestion of a lifetime cap on super? And how do you think this debate is going , because it does appear we’ve got some government movement towards Labor held positions haven’t we?


SHORTEN: For about a year, Labor has said that the superannuation tax concession system at the high end is unstainable. In other words, there are people with millions of dollars in superannuation who still receive tax concessions which is subsidised by ordinary people. We think that loophole is too generous. It has only been around since Peter Costello and John Howard just got rid of the reasonable benefits limit in terms of what was a reasonable limit in terms of superannuation but ever since Labor has proposed these sensible changes to superannuation, we have been pilloried up hill and down dale. The Government said that they won’t do anything on superannuation and they have been giving Labor a very hard time for having the temerity to suggest that some of the tax concessions are unsustainable. I am pleased if the Liberals are reversing their position and recognising the truth of what Labor has been saying but in terms of a specific proposal, there is already one on the table from Labor and it seems that the Liberals are desperate to not do any that Labor actually suggests. I say to Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals that Labor has a good idea and you’re welcome to take it up, we won’t charge for it.


JOURNALIST: Just a quick one on the republic. Malcolm Turnbull is a republican with the future king in town today, what should his approach be towards Charles and Camilla?


SHORTEN: Polite and curious to the future King. I won’t give Malcolm Turnbull etiquette lessons in terms of how he deals with Prince Charles. What I believe is that Australia is ready to become a republic. What I believe is that we should have a discussion about the republic. I congratulate Malcolm Turnbull’s record being an avowed republican. Now at last he has his hand on the lever of power, he has the position he has always wanted. I sincerely hope he pursues an agenda which he was willing to pursue before he had power.


Thanks everyone.