Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Hughes



MONDAY, 26 MAY 2014



SUBJECT / S: Tony Abbott’s Budget of Broken Promises; Cuts to education; University fee increases; Families in public life; GP Tax; Senator Bill Heffernan; Impartiality of Speaker Bronwyn Bishop; Immigration.   


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great to be at a remarkable Canberra primary school, led by great teachers, full of great students, great kids who are optimistic about the future. Today in Canberra, in Parliament, the future of education isn’t as bright as it should be. We have a Budget of broken promises based upon lies before the last election. Tony Abbott lied to Australians before the election about education funding. He lied to Australians about health care funding. He lied to Australians about not increasing taxes. He lied to all Australians about not cutting or hurting pensions. Millions of Australians this week face the very real prospect that Tony Abbott's Budget is going to hurt them and their families. We see reports emerging in the last fortnight since the Budget was brought down that many of Tony Abbott's own members of his government are feeling very concerned and very unhappy about this dreadful Budget of broken promises. Many members of Tony Abbot’s own government are telling journalists they're unhappy with the Budget. They're certainly telling, having conversations amongst themselves in the halls and corridors and rooms of Parliament that they don't like Tony Abbott's budget. Today, Labor is asking all those Coalition members of Parliament, don't be brave in the privacy of your own room where no-one can hear you speak. There's millions of Australians who want you to tell the Prime Minister how dreadfully unfair his Budget is. Coalition MPs need to put politics back and put the nation's interests forward. Members of the Government need to tell the Prime Minister that this is an unfair Budget of broken promises, based upon lies before the last election. Australia deserves no less from its Members of Parliament that they'll put the interests of families, pensioners, sick people and kids ahead of their own political interests. I might ask my colleague Kate Ellis to talk about the bill that we've put into Parliament to fight the dreadful education cuts, which will give the marvellous children we've met here a better future than they'll have if Tony Abbott gets his way.


KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Well thank you very much. It is fantastic to see the commitment of Bill Shorten once again to Australia's schools and also that of our local member Gai Brodtmann. It's great to be here at Hughes Primary School and I'd like to thank principal Kate Smith for having us here today. We are here today though because it is now very apparent that Tony Abbott lied when he told the Australian public before the election that no school would be worse off and what we in fact see is that every school and every student will be directly worse off as a result of his government's budget. What we have seen is that Tony Abbott has thrown aside the Gonski agreements, which means that State Governments have now been given a green light to start cutting education funding, and cutting school funding hard. But not content with that damage, we also learn that this Federal Government has in store themselves the biggest ever cut to school funding with the $30 billion in cuts to Australian schools that they themselves are implementing. Now the Australian people believed that they could vote Liberal or Labor and there would be a plan to improve our schools. They believe that we would now be working on making sure that every student in every school across Australia was getting a great education, not that principals across the country would now be scratching their heads trying to work out where they will cut funding. And this is not what the Australian people were told. It was a blatant lie, and it is no surprise that Coalition backbenchers are now themselves recognising just how harmful this Budget is, but there is no use in speaking quietly about it to each other in the corridors of Parliament House. Every member of the Coalition now has to make sure that they speak up to this Prime Minister and this Education Minister. Every member of the Coalition has to make sure that they put these lies aside and start supporting Australian schools and start supporting the promises that they made to the Australian public. Thank you.


SHORTEN: Are there any questions?


JOURNALIST: If Labor is so strongly opposed to broken promises why is it supporting the deficit tax?


SHORTEN: The deficit tax is a broken promise. Tony Abbott promised before the last election, in order to get people to vote for Tony Abbott, Tony Abbott lied to them and said there would no increases in taxes. So it's the new income tax increases but it's also the new taxes on petrol, the new taxes on going to the doctor and of course the cuts to pensions. Labor has to make decisions about what are our priorities amongst this Budget of broken promises. We have made a decision that low income Australians, middle income Australians need to be the people who Labor fights for in terms of opposing the Budget nasties that have been outlined in Tony Abbott's unfair Budget. Make no mistake about it, Tony Abbott has lied to high income earners, just like he's lied to everyone else.


JOURNALIST: Is Labor prepared to negotiate on the $7 co-payment? It looks like the Coalition is at least leaving the door open for negotiations in Parliament?


SHORTEN: Never. Labor will never surrender the principle of Medicare being universally accessible. Labor with fight with every ounce of breath in our bodies to stand up for universal health care in this country. We think it is a dreadful and unfair and divisive idea, the idea that you tax the sick in order to try to make the health care system better. The function of the national Budget is to help family budgets, it's not to punish family budgets. We will never compromise in defending Medicare - that's who Labor is.


JOURNALIST: Not even if there are exemptions for pensioners or concession card holders?


SHORTEN: A bad idea is a bad idea, a broken promise is a broken promise, a lie is a lie. Taxing the sick as some way to reduce your health care costs does not make sense. We're always up for trying to improve the costs in the health care system but the idea that you have Joe Hockey's Budget acting as a bouncer in front of GP clinics, denying entry to the sick by a new tax is only going to make sick people sicker, it's not going to make them better.


JOURNALIST: What about the higher education changes? Christopher Pyne seems to be indicating that he wants – that he is willing to negotiate on that as well?


SHORTEN: Oh well, you look at Christopher Pyne and the way they want to trash Australian higher education. They are engaging in a 20 per cent cut out of university funding, $5 billion. There are millions of families right now who are sending their kids to school, who are trying to make ends meet every fortnight. It's a difficult battle, and they are being discouraged from the dream of sending their children to university. I do not understand how this Abbott Government thinks, when many of the frontbench were the beneficiaries of a free education, now they want to pull up the ladder after they've climbed up the ladder and deny the opportunity for a better life to other Australians. They are a selfish mob, this Abbott Government, and they'd wreck our higher education system. And Labor will have no part of their vandalism of the dreams and hopes of millions of Australians for a better future for their kids.


JOURNALIST: Should action be taken against Senator Bill Heffernan given his stunts in Budget Estimates today?


SHORTEN: Bill Heffernan's made his point in a particularly unusual and unconventional sense about security at Parliament House. I have to say, though, for me today it's about the security of Australian pensioners, it's the security of Australian income earners against unfair taxes of the Abbott Government. I wish that the Federal Government would pay as much attention to the economic security of families as they are to this debate about Parliament House.


JOURNALIST: Do you have any concerns about security at Parliament House?


SHORTEN: You'd have to ask the security experts about that. My concern is the security of Australian families to be able to make ends meet every fortnight. If we want to talk about security, what about the security being denied to parents who currently receive Family Tax Benefit B whose children are older than six now? What about the security of Australians to be able to get an affordable health care system? What about the security of pensioners that they can make ends meet each fortnight, each week, rather than having their concessions cut by this mean and nasty Abbott Government. Security comes in many shapes and forms. The Abbott Government should think about the economic and social security of Australian communities.


JOURNALIST: How about the security of Bronwyn Bishop's job? We've got Tony Burke asking for her resignation over these fundraising activities. Should she go?


SHORTEN: The Speaker of the Parliament should be independent. I think there’s quite a few questions to be answered about are the Liberal Party turning Parliament House into a fundraising machine for the Liberal Party? On Budget night, where Tony Abbott is preparing to make life harder for pensioners on $20,000, he calmly attends a dinner raising $50,000. This is an out-of-touch Government. But again what Australians want us to focus on is not just the antics in terms of the Liberal fundraising efforts. What they want us to focus on is this unfair Budget of broken promises built upon lies before the election.


This is a Government who lie in the morning, they lie at lunchtime and they lie at night-time and what they need to do is stop the lies. Government MPs need to stand up on behalf of their constituents, they should stop picking Tony Abbott over the best interests of millions of Australian families.


JOURNALIST: Should she stand down though do you think?


SHORTEN: There's questions to be answered here. I don't know if we've seen all the facts come out here. I don't think anyone wants to see the Speaker's position being politicised. I'm sure there's more questions to be answered here. But what I would say is today and this week, even if the Liberals are shooting themselves in the foot by their own antics, Labor will not be distracted from standing up for ordinary Australians. What ordinary Australians want out of their Parliament is not a fundraising machine for one political party, they want to know that they've got a Government who's in touch with paying the bills, paying the cost of living pressures, paying for their kids to be able to go to university. They want a Government who understands that putting a tax on sick people is a bad idea. That's what people want out of their Government of Australia, not what we're seeing in this current rabble.


JOURNALIST: Has Tony Burke got egg on his face given the letter he wrote to the Minister about this Nigerian fellow that's on the front papers in Sydney?


SHORTEN: Tony Burke has already explained all of these matters very clearly earlier this morning. The only people with egg on their face today is an Abbott Government who's in denial to what the damage they're doing to Australians. A new tax on Medicare, a new tax on petrol. New cuts to pensions. And not even listening to their own members of their Government who are privately concerned. I would again just ask those backbenchers in the Government who are happy to criticise Tony Abbott privately off the record: you need to actually stand up for Australians, do the right thing by Australia, and dump this awful Budget. Because it's a bad idea, and bad news for the future of Australia.


JOURNALIST: Tim Mathieson's comments criticising the Prime Minister's wife, are they out of line? Is he right to say to question whether she does enough for community?


SHORTEN: Tim Mathieson was the victim of unfair attacks when Prime Minister Gillard was in power. And I also believe that Margie Abbott is the subject of unfair attacks and I would just say to all Australians that what people want to see is an honest and tough debate about the issues and direction of Australia. Going after families is wrong. And again, Labor will make sure that this week and in coming weeks, the focus is 100 per cent holding the Abbott Government to account for their unfair Budget of broken promises, built upon systemic and wilful lies to the Australian electorate and we will stand up for ordinary Australians, we will stand up for Medicare, we will stand up for the pension, we will stand up for the aspiration of kids to be able to go to university no matter what postcode they come from, we'll stand up for ordinary Australians against an unfair budget. Thanks everyone.