Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Canberra - Tony Abbott’s Budget to save his job; Scott Morrison wants Joe Hockey’s job




MONDAY, 11 MAY 2015


SUBJECT/S:  Tony Abbott’s Budget to save his job; Scott Morrison wants Joe Hockey’s job; Abbott Government’s dishonesty and incompetence; Child care; Cuts to Family Payments; Abbott Government cutting jobs; Australian Rail Track Corporation; The invisible Treasurer.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everyone. It’s Budget eve and it’s fantastic to be at Intelledox which is a great success story, a great success story of people, the founders who had a vision, now are employing people, some of the brightest minds in Australia and what we see here are the jobs of the future and we see the people working today to create more jobs for other Australians. What we’d also say is that because Intelledox is here talking about jobs of the future, we hope that the initiative and optimism and hard work of the people working here is matched by tomorrow night's Budget.


There is mounting concern in Australia that tomorrow night's Budget won't be about the jobs of Australia's future but it will just be about saving the jobs of the Treasurer and the Prime Minister. That won't cut it for Australians. We need a boost in confidence, we don't need a prolonging of Tony Abbott's job security. Youth unemployment is nearly 14 per cent, nearly 14 in every 100 young people without a job. That’s almost double, it’s more than double the unemployment in Australia which in of itself is 6.2 per cent and too high for Australia. What we need to see in tomorrow night's Budget is a plan for the jobs of the future, the same sort of courage and vision and hard work and effort and intellect that we see here at Intelledox, we need to see Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey exhibit tomorrow night. I might just ask Chris to add some further comments about the upcoming Budget.


CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: Thanks very much, Bill. It's great to be here with Bill and Gai at this wonderful company and we know that Australia needs to innovate to create jobs. The majority of jobs to be created in Australia over the next decade may well come from companies which don't even currently exist. Embracing the jobs for the future has been a focus for Bill and the Labor team and of course we want to see the same focus from the Government and the Budget. Of course, today and all week and tomorrow night we’re seeing the Government walking away as fast as they can from everything they’ve said for the last 12 months. Debt and deficit disaster, Budget emergency, all out the window as the Government runs up the white flag on the Budget. We told the Government to come up with a fair plan to deal with the Budget. Instead they’ve come up with no plan at all. But what is most concerning is the impact of their chaos and dysfunction. Not only did they get the last Budget wrong but it's had a terrible effect.


For over a year they’ve smashed economic confidence, they’ve made the transition from the mining boom harder, they’ve quelled investment. We see confidence down, unemployment up. We see Joe Hockey pulling the wrong levers at every opportunity and it's quite clear that the Government has lost confidence in Joe Hockey as its primary economic spokesperson. Why should the Australian people have confidence in Joe Hockey if his own Government does not. He's been sidelined in one of the most important weeks for the Government. Australia has a Treasurer and a Shadow Treasurer and a phantom Treasurer within the Government's own ranks. What concerns me most is not the soap opera of the Government's dysfunction and the sidelining of Joe Hockey, but it's the impact this will have yet again on confidence. Again the Australian people, markets, investors saying well if the Government doesn't have confidence in the Treasurer, how can we have confidence in the economy? So Tony Abbott has got to stop the soap opera and start governing in the best interests of all Australians and doing so in tomorrow night's Budget.


SHORTEN: Thanks, Chris. Are there any questions?


JOURNALIST: Many of the people here have families and would probably like to know a simple answer, do you want to help the Government pass its child care package?


SHORTEN: Well I think that people with families in Australia, not just here but all over Australia, they want to know is Tony Abbott proceeding with his cuts to family payments? This is the basis upon which we understand that Tony Abbott’s promising his changes in childcare. Labor’s been very clear and very up front about child care in Australia. We believe in quality, affordable child care, affordable for parents and quality for children. We notice in some of the selected leaks and drops to the media by the Government this week and the last few days, that they’re proposing that tens of thousands of parents will lose childcare all together because they don't work enough hours. We also notice that they’re not proposing to make any changes to improving childcare for some Australian families until 2017. And most importantly of all, what we see is Tony Abbott is proposing that he will fund these changes to child care by cutting literally thousands of dollars from the family benefits of other people who go to work every day and are raising families. It's just not good enough. We need to see the detail. But what I would say to the Government is simply calling something fair, using the word doesn't actually make it fair, it's the detail that counts.


JOURNALIST: Is there any part of those benefits that you’d be willing to negotiate on, perhaps the limit of, you know, six years to say ten years or so?

Well let’s look at the detail that we see tomorrow night from the Government about child care. But again, Labor set out its principles very clearly for a very long time. We believe in affordable child care; we believe in quality child care which promotes the interests of the children. What we also believe in, is that we don't want to see an unfair system which would see people who are working a few hours missing out altogether by some arbitrary test of a Government who’s simply trying to sure up their vote. But underpinning all of that is how will the Government pay for these proposals. And if the Government’s proposing to rob some parents of their family payments to pay other parents a smaller amount in childcare, that’s not a very good equation. I do note, that it’s not just Labor expressing concerns. The Coalition's junior member, the National Party who we don't often hear a lot about, they voted for these unfair family payments last year in the House of Representatives, are now discovering a spine and they’re standing up against Tony Abbott’s cuts to child care. I think that the Government has got a lot of disunity in its own ranks, long before it gets to talking to us.


JOURNALIST: How would Labor pay for greater investment in child care?


SHORTEN: Well Labor’s broken the political mould, we’ve put forward policies well in advance of the next election, half way out from the next election. What we’ve proposed is don't go soft on foreign multinationals, who are gaming the Australian taxation system. Why is it that the Abbott Government can get out a microscope and discover cutting some part pensioners – some part pensioners, or indeed look at families earning $60,000 a year and take money off them, but they put foreign multinationals in the too hard basket. It shows all the priorities of this Government. In addition we’ve proposed going after an unfair system of superannuation concessions, introduced by John Howard in 2006 where he handed out a 45 cent tax concessions to people who already have tens of millions of dollars in superannuation. We believe that superannuation should provide a comfortable destination and retirement for all Australians, but we don't believe it should be a tax haven for a few fortunate tens of thousands of people who’ve already amassed tens of millions of dollars and who don't need the high level of concessions they currently receive. This would raise north of $20 billion over the next ten years, yet this Government is only about being unfair to families.


JOURNALIST: I have a question for Chris Bowen. What is the economic rationale for continuing with the current Family Tax Benefit arrangements versus spending the money on child care?


BOWEN: Well the rationale is that these are payments put in place and they’ve had bipartisan support to help families with cost of living pressure and the Government seems to think that children miraculously become so much cheaper when they turn six. It's not a position that we support and it’s not something the Government sought or received a mandate for at the last election. Now as Bill has said obviously anything which helps participation in the workforce and cost of living pressures is welcome. For the Government to trumpet this as a cost of living reform when on the other hand they are taking thousands of dollars away from families and holding them ransom to these outrageous cuts is nothing short of dishonest and cruel.


JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten, will you pass the changes to double dipping on paid parental leave?


SHORTEN: Tony Abbott’s done a full 360 degrees on paid parental leave hasn’t he? Remember once upon a time Tony Abbott said that there’d be paid parental leave over his dead body. Then he became a born again convert to paid parental leave where he proposed that millionaires would be able to access taxpayer-funded paid parental leave. Gradually, he’s retreated back from that extreme moment and now we see him actually saying that people who enjoy a workplace condition shouldn't be eligible for any of his government assistance. Tony Abbott’s returned to where he’s always started from, which is for paid parental leave scheme, he doesn't see that as an ultimately good measure and he’s now walking away from what he’s said in the past.


JOURNALIST: But what will you do? Will you vote for this change?


SHORTEN: Well first all, again you’re asking us to vote on detail we haven't seen. See let’s be straight about how -


JOURNALIST: What’s your instinct now?


BOWEN: Well my instinct is finish my answer to your previous question. What I would say to you very straight here is, paid parental leave and maybe some of the journalists even here get it, has been negotiated as a work place entitlement, it’s been an offset against wage increases in the past. So now what we see is Tony Abbott, remember once upon a time he was going to be the best friend that working women ever had when it came to having children, he’s walked away from the promise he said was his signature policy. He’s got to the point where he said now, that if you already have it as a workplace condition for which you’ve already offset foregone wage rises, what he’ll now do is penalise you again. So we’ll look at the fine print, but what is clear is that 80,000 mums are going to be worse off because of Tony Abbott's latest thought bubble.


JOURNALIST: What do you make of news of the sale of the Australian Rail Track Corporation and the merging of other agencies in tomorrow’s Budget?


SHORTEN: I’ll get Chris to answer that.


BOWEN: Well of course we’re seeing speculation in the newspaper again, as Bill has indicated, we’d look at the fine detail.  When it comes to jobs, we don't believe that the way to deal with unemployment is to create more unemployment when it comes to government jobs. In relation to the Australian Rail Track Corporation, we’ll look at the economic case, we’ll look at the proposed sale price compared to the economic benefit and we’ll make a final analysis based on whether it's a good deal for the Australian taxpayer. As we’ve said previously when it comes to these decisions there’s two threshold questions - os it a function which can only be conducted by the Government and two, is it a good deal for the taxpayer. We we’ll look at it in that light.


JOURNALIST: Gai just on a Canberra issue, is there much more fat that can be trimmed from the public service here?


GAI BRODTMANN: You are talking about the comments, that we heard the Minister for Finance –




BRODTMANN: Yes. I was concerned to hear those comments this morning because just a month ago, the Treasurer made an assurance to the ACT Chief Minister that the worst on the public service cuts would be over. So I'm greatly concerned by these reports today that eight Government agencies are going to be targeted. I mean we have already seen 16,500 public service jobs go since 2013,  8,500 of them in Canberra. Very concerned about what the reports that we hear today and I will be watching it very closely. They have already targeted a thousand plus jobs in Defence through the first principles review. This, on top of that news, I'm very concerned and again it just represents another broken promise. A promise that was made to the ACT Chief Minister less than a month ago.


JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten, would Scott Morrison be more successful in the role as Treasurer than Joe Hockey has been in terms of negotiating reform and selling the Government's message?


SHORTEN: There is no doubt that Scott Morrison holds Joe Hockey in contempt. He's been doing Joe Hockey's day job for the last few weeks in a burst of impatience. But clearly today's contemptuous remarks comparing Joe Hockey to Greg Bird just show that Scott Morrison wants Joe Hockey benched and permanently.


And I might add in terms of what Gai said, it's not just a question of Canberra in terms of jobs. What we see is the Government is flagging that its only plan to deal with unemployment is to create more unemployment. What we see about the Government saying its only plan to create a million new jobs is by contradicting itself and cutting thousands of public service jobs. This is not a plan for the future, but we sincerely hope that the Federal Government has a plan for the future tomorrow night, not just to save Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott's jobs. Thanks everyone.