TRANSCRIPT OF MINISTER SHORTEN
ST BERNARD’S SECONDARY COLLEGE, ESSENDON
23 AUGUST 2013
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
Subjects: Paid Parental Leave; Workplace Relations; Cash for Sea-going Clunkers; Newspoll.
BILL SHORTEN: It’s great to be here at St Bernard’s College, one of Victoria’s pre-eminent Catholic boys’ schools on St Bernard’s Day. As we know the community of St Bernard’s suffered a tragic loss in recent days with the senseless murder of St Bernard’s old boy, Chris Lane in America. But this is a good school and this is a stong community and they really care about their students both past and present.
It’s also important today we start to see the complete implosion and division within the ranks of the Abbott Liberals over their unaffordable and unfair paid parental leave scheme. Indeed not only are the cracks beginning to appear but they’ve really burst wide open with the references today in the Financial Review where an unnamed senior National Party source has said that they were already unhappy with Mr Abbott’s $5.5 billion paid parental leave scheme which an anonymous senior National Party member has called a heap of poo. He actually used words worse than that, but a heap of poo which they believe will undermine the value of their company tax cut. So today we see Mr Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme being ridiculed in the newspaper by a senior member of his own team as rubbish.
But it’s not only that where the problems start for the Coalition today. We also see that the third most senior Liberal in the Coalition ranks Senator Eric Abetz, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, has been effectively put into witness protection, along with the workplace relations policy of the Coalition. When Senator Abetz, to the surprise of his colleagues, outlined honestly for the first time the intention of the Coalition to interfere and review all 24,000 enterprise agreements in Australia covering 3 million workers. The Coalition is now concerned that workers may be getting paid too much money in Australia; they want to review every agreement, they want to limit agreements to inflation or less. At the same time they want to hand out to multimillionaires extravagantly generous, gold plated paid parental leave schemes.
But the third problem the Coalition has today, along with their industrial relations spokesperson who has been mysteriously dropped from the team, along with their paid parental leave scheme which the National Party are calling a heap of excrement. The third problem they’ve now got, is that you’ve got what can only be called the maritime version of cash for clunkers where we’re going to have a three star millitary general writing cheques for every leaky boat in Southeast Asia. This is crazy. We all know that the regional resettlement agreement has started to have an impact on people smugglers. The Opposition are getting desperate but they have invented a sea-going version of cash for clunkers. And wait till the news gets out throughout Southeast Asia that if you’ve got a leaky, unsafe boat that the Australian taxpayers going to buy it off you? I don’t know who dreamed up that idea but they should go into the Liberal witness protection with Senator Abetz, with their IR policy as well.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: The Bank of America Merrill Lynch says there is only a $30 billion costings hole for the Coalition and you’ve been saying it’s $70 billion. Isn’t that embarassing for you?
SHORTEN: Goodness me. How have the Coalition got everyone with such low expectations that when a third party says that the Coalition has a $30 billion hole, we all go oh well at least it’s not a bigger hole. Just how big of a hole do you need in your policies before someone says, you actually don’t know what you’re doing. A $30 billion hole and all we hear from the Opposition is, oh yeah we’ll announce it before the election. We’ve known ever since the last election in 2010, there will be another election. How is it that the Coalition have had 1,000 days to tell people how they pay for some of their crazy promises like cash for sea-going clunkers, like the paid parental leave scheme for multimillionaires. Not only do they have bad ideas, they can’t even explain how they pay for them. We’re running out of time in Australia, 14 days before an election and the Coalition still won’t tell us their costings. And you’ve got a bank saying that there is at least a $30 billion black hole and they won’t even tell us how they’re paying for things?
JOURNALIST: But $40 billion is a huge difference. Isn’t it embarassing for you for getting it so bad?
SHORTEN: How big of a hole do you think the Coalition should have before it’s an acceptable hole or an unacceptable hole? $30 billion, even according to someone else, is a giant gaping hole. The Titanic had a smaller hole than the Coalition have got in their costings. We say $70 billion because that is what Andrew Robb and Joe Hockey have said in the past. Someone else has said there is a $30 billion hole. What we do know is we’ve got the war of the dualing unfunded promises of the Coalition. And front page of today’s Age, they’re making it very clear the Coalition cannot pay for their promises. They’re going to have a wharf in Darwin where you can bring your sea-going clunkers, flog them off to poor old Australian taxpayer and they go back and find a another – a bounty scheme for dodgy boats, I don’t know who dreamed it up but I’m sure the Liberal Party must be taking that person and putting them in witness protection.
JOURNALIST: If you believe the bank, will you be adjusting your ads and your rhetoric to remove references to a $70 billion black hole and if not why not?
SHORTEN: I’ll tell you what should happen here. It is not Labor’s challenge in terms of trying to explain how the Liberals will fund unfunded promises. That’s the Liberal challenge. It is the responsibility of the Abbott Liberals to explain how they pay for their promises. It’s not Labor’s job to explain how Tony Abbott will run this country in terms of his costings, we know what he’ll do. I’ll tell you what Tony Abbott will do – he will start interfering with wage rises for workers, he will start cutting back the education funding of schools such a St Bernard’s where I am today, because they won’t guarantee six years funding. They will cut and cut and cut. And in the meantime, they won’t be honest with the Australian people. Australian politics, this election is not a game of hide-and-seek where the Liberal Party hide their policies, we seek them out, the Australian people seek them out and the prize for the Coalition if no one can find their costings, is the government of Australia.
JOURNALIST: The polls are dire and suggest Labor could lose dozens of seats, does that raise questions in your mind of the wisdom of turning to Kevin Rudd?
SHORTEN: The biggest questions I have in my mind are the costings of the Liberal Party. The biggest questions that I have in my mind is how are they going to pay for their unfunded promises. The biggest question I have in my mind is how on earth can you justify it’s fair to say to some parents, that their child is worth $70,000 in six months, and for other children they’re not. The biggest question I have in my mind is why the Liberal Party of Australia want to put a new 15 per cent tax on people’s superannuation. The biggest questions in my mind is what will they really do on workplace relations if they get elected. Because I am sure about one thing: Senator Abetz, the missing Senator Abetz, the witness protection Senator Abetz has now said that they will start interfering with agreements in the future and you’ll have Tony Abbott saying, well I don’t like the wage rise that ordinary workers are getting, yet Tony Abbott never says anything about CEO wages in this country.
JOURNALIST: Isn’t it clear though that Kevin Rudd is failing to deliver on the hopes that you vested in him?
SHORTEN: I will tell you who is failing to deliver, it’s Tony Abbott and the costings in this election. How dare they come up with an idea and make elaborate promises which unfairly reward a few at the expense of the many, and then not even tell us how they’re going to pay for their promises? The Coalition have got major gaps in terms of their presentation. When you have, when you have National Party, senior representatives saying in black and white, that they think that Tony Abbott’s flagship idea, his signature reform is a heap of excrement – if even Tony Abbott’s own people don’t believe in his promises, why should Australians vote for them?
JOURNALIST: Do you blame Rupert Murdoch the lastest Newspoll?
SHORTEN: I believe that, there is no doubt in my mind that we need to have more scrutiny of the Liberal costings. If you want to run this country, if you want to make promises to Australians, I think you do have an obligation to tell them the truth about how you pay for them. They haven’t explained how they pay for them so it is reasonable to assume that there are public servants going to work today who will lose their job after September the 7th, there are currently people using health and hospital services in Australia that if the Liberals, who have not explained their costings, get elected on September the 7th will lose those services. Every school in Australia is not guaranteed six years of funding, as they are if Labor is returned after September the 7th.
JOURNALIST: Do you blame Rupert Murdoch the latest Newspoll?
SHORTEN: I blame the Coalition for not being honest with the Australian people about their costings. I blame the Coalition for favouring mining companies and some people over the rest of ordinary Australians. Thanks very much.
Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111 www.alp.org.au