Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Heidelberg



FRIDAY, 2 MAY 2014


Subjects: Commission of Audit Report Release; The Abbott Government’s Broken Promises and Twisted Priorities.

This morning it's fantastic to be in Heidelberg talking to remarkable pensioners from the West Heidelberg village. I am here with Jenny Macklin, our Shadow spokesperson on matters to do with social security in her electorate of Jagajaga. There is real concern in all the suburbs and towns of Australia that the Commission of Audit, prepared by big business for big business, has outlined Tony Abbott's blueprint for Budget broken promises. Before the last election, there was some suspicion that Tony Abbott, if elected, would not do what he promised to do. But now all Australians, through the Commission of Audit, report have seen Tony Abbott’s vision for this Budget, future Budgets and for Australia. Tony Abbott's Budget will put more pressure on people's budget. There are families now who struggle from one pay packet to the next. By the couple of days before the next pay is due in, families are really watching every cent. These are the families who are threatened by Tony Abbott's Budget. There are families who this weekend will be making decisions about what they can afford to take the kids to and what they can't. There are families now in Australia, millions of families, who are working out which bills they have to pay and which bills they can put off until the next pay period. Tony Abbott's Budget of broken promises, outlined by the Commission of Audit, is bad news for everyone who is struggling to make ends meet. And we've got pensioners in this community who've worked hard their whole lives, they and their families have paid their taxes and they have at least saved enough to own their own home. And today we have heard more from Joe Hockey about the Abbott Government's cruel plans for pensioners in the future with broken promises.

I might ask my colleague Jenny Macklin to talk a bit more about this important area.

JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES & PAYMENTS & DISABILITY REFORM: Thanks very much, Bill. Joe Hockey has confirmed today that in the Budget in a fortnight's time, he is going to announce an increase to the age pension age. So Joe Hockey has confirmed today that Tony Abbott is going to break the promise that he made to the Australian people before the election, that there would be no change to pensions. ‘No change to pensions’ is what Tony Abbott said to all Australians before the election. And now we hear today that Joe Hockey is going to announce that the age pension age will go up to 70 by 2035. That’s been announced by Joe Hockey today. A confirmation of a broken promise that Tony Abbott made to the Australian people. So Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are saying to Australian pensioners that you're going to have to work longer, no matter what the promise was they made before the election. So now that Joe Hockey has come out and confirmed that he is going to put up the age pension age, he should also make clear what other changes he is going to make as a result of the Commission of Audit. He's prepared to announce the age pension age change, he should now come clean and tell Australians what other changes he is going to make. We have age pensioners here in this community who are very worried about what is going to happen. Is the family home going to be counted for the assets test? Is the indexation arrangement for the age pension going to see less money in the pockets of pensioners? Are pensioners going to have to pay more to go to the doctor? Are pensioners going to have to pay more for their medicines? These are the problems that people in my community are worried about, and Joe Hockey needs to come clean and tell the Australian people what he has planned.


SHORTEN: Happy to take questions, thank you.


JOURNALIST: If you don't support lifting the retirement age, how would Labor deal with the Budget problem that the pension poses?

SHORTEN: Labor doesn't support the Abbott Liberal Government breaking promises. Labor doesn't support Tony Abbott's bleak vision for the future of Australia. We do not believe the way to deal with getting the budget doing better is by attacking the vulnerable, the poor and the sick. We have seen the Abbott Government so bereft of ideas, they spent three years banging on when in Opposition saying they had all the answers and then we find out when they get into government that the Abbott Government has such a bleak and bankrupt view of Australia that the only ideas they've got are to make people of modest income work longer, to attack Medicare and not make it universally accessible, and to slap a new income tax on every Australian who goes to work. In terms of Labor 's strategy for the Budget, our strategy would be that in the medium term we do make sure that we get the Budget functioning better but Australia has a triple A credit rating. We are amongst eight or nine countries in the world who has a triple A credit rating. There is no Budget emergency which would justify going after carers, which would justify scaring older Australians, which would justify a new income tax to be paid by all Australians who go to work.

MACKLIN: I'd also add that Tony Abbott is still determined to deliver his gold-plated paid parental leave scheme. Tony Abbott wants to cut the conditions for age pensioners and at the same time pay wealthy women $50,000 to a have a baby. That is what I call twisted priorities.


JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten do you see any benefits in delaying the rollout of the NDIS?


SHORTEN: No, I don't. People with disabilities right now are sitting in their wheelchairs – you’ve got carers working to the bone to give some love and attention to the people with disabilities who are in their families. Merely because Joe Hockey has got the wrong priorities, when we're already a triple A rated country, when they are proposing billions of dollars for a gold-plated paid parental leave scheme to wealthy Australians who don't need $50,000, people with disabilities and their disabilities won't go away. This is a complete betrayal of the promises before the last election. The Government should be capable of making sure that they can run the nation without doing over people with disabilities and their carers.


JOURNALIST: But was Labor's NDIS plan strong enough to implement straight away or does it need work, as the Coalition suggested?


SHORTEN:  The Coalition would like to pretend that if they didn't spend money on disability there would be no need to look after people with disabilities now. The truth of the matter is the current system of people with disabilities and their carers is broken. It's already costing the taxpayers a lot of money, we just believe it should be done in a more fair and more efficient manner. This Government is creating a false budget emergency to justify its twisted priorities, to justify their broken promises. This is a Government whose only plan for Australia is for the people to go to work to make them pay more tax. Is for the people on the pension to make them do it harder. That is not a plan for the future. Tony Abbott's Commission of Audit has revealed how extreme his Government is, and how weak their vision is for Australians. The function of Tony Abbott's Budget is not to make life harder for the Budget of everyone else.

JOURNALIST: Do you support the gold pass for politicians or should it be abolished?
SHORTEN: I can foresee no set of circumstances in the future where I will ever get the gold pass. I don't believe it is the key issue. On the other hand I am always keen to see if Tony Abbott wants to reform perks to retired politicians. Mr Abbott will be better looking at the gold pass he is going to give wealthy people to have $50,000 for paid parental leave. I do not believe that the Abbott Government's priorities are correct when they say you should be paying extra money to go and see a doctor, when they say that people who go to work every day should pay more income tax just to subsidise Mr Abbott's twisted priorities of a ridiculously expensive paid parental leave scheme.


MACKLIN: Can I just add something on the NDIS - Tony Abbott is at the Council of Australian Governments today and he has been told very clearly by the vast majority of the States and Territories that there must be no delay to the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Labor was very pleased to have signed agreements with each of the States and Territories for the full delivery of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. By 2018-19, exactly as recommended by the Productivity Commission. People with disability and carers have already waited long enough for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. My message to Mr Abbott is no cuts, no delay to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, people have waited long enough.


JOURNALIST: What are your thoughts, Bill Shorten on Joe Hockey’s comments on wind farms today? He has described them as utterly offensive.

SHORTEN: The Treasurer of Australia should be focussed on trying to bring down a Budget which helps all Australians and which ensures people can find work and our economy can grow. The Joe Hockey comments which concern me most of all is that he is prepared to countenance and not immediately rule out an attack on Medicare, increasing the cost of medicines for ordinary people, that people who go to work every day and pay their taxes on $80,000 and $100,000 a year would have to pay more income tax because the Abbott Liberal Government has no idea how to run a budget. They are the most offensive things that Mr Hockey is doing.


JOURNALIST: Aren’t they dealing with the Budget problem that Labor's created?


SHORTEN: Australia has a triple A credit rating. There are less than 10 countries in the world who have got a triple A credit rating. There is no budget emergency of such dire urgency that requires the Abbott Government to break their promises, to implement twisted priorities, to go after the pensioners, to go after people who go to the doctor and to go after people who go to work and make them pay more income tax.