SUNDAY, 19 APRIL 2015
SUBJECT/S: Commemorative services for the Centenary of ANZAC; Operation Rising; Increasing immunisation rates; Multinationals to pay fair share under Labor; Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget; Tony Abbott’s broken promises.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: All across Australia, Australians are turning up for commemorative services in advance of ANZAC Day. This is a great opportunity for the young ones and the not so young to remember the sacrifice of ANZAC 100 years ago. I don’t think there’s any of us who’s ever travelled through country Australia, who when we pass a cenotaph of memorial to the ANZAC’s don’t just wonder in these country towns at the long, impossibly long list of young men who gave their lives 100 years ago, and I think that any of us who look at the honour boards and shake our heads and realise that it’s just not one surname on the honour board of the dead, but indeed two or three of the same family. There is no doubt that World War One and Gallipoli was the biggest event in Australia’s history up to that point, and indeed since. So today, Australians everywhere are remembering ANZAC and indeed perhaps reflecting on our Australian servicemen and women serving overseas right now, and of course their families back here in Australia and our thoughts are with them. Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, your reactions to the terrorism raids yesterday, particularly with ANZAC Day only one week away?
SHORTEN: I’m very pleased at the professionalism of the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police and all the other security agencies involved here. People shouldn’t be discouraged from attending ANZAC Day events. What yesterday tells me is that whilst our security forces can never give 100 per cent guarantee, I’m confident based on what I know, that we have amongst the most professional security people in the world making sure that Australians are safe, and I would encourage people not to be deterred by these raids yesterday, but rather demonstrate together, side by side, what we can do and that we will not be deterred by a fear of terrorism.
JOURNALIST: What are your reactions to the removal of religious freedoms for the vaccination refusals?
SHORTEN: Well I’m pleased to see that the heads of religious organisations sitting down with government, with public policy health experts, working issues through. When it’s all said and done at the end of the day, I’m a parent, I understand that we all have obligations to keep our children safe, the little ones we love, and also we expect that other parents will make similar decisions in terms of keeping children safe. So I do support the push to make sure that the anti-vaccination brigade, are not receiving family payments and I think we just need to work it through with religious organisations because the public health and safety of our children has to come first.
JOURNALIST: The Treasurer has announced that Australia will join forces with the United Kingdom in order to stamp out tax avoidance by multinationals corporations. Do you welcome this agreement?
SHORTEN: Well Joe Hockey’s answer to everything is to set up another discussion group, issue another paper. Labor’s put a proposition on the table which the Government can take up right now. On one hand in the Budget, Joe Hockey’s cutting the pension but on the other hand Labor’s said there’s $7, $8 billion over the next 10 years to be collected from foreign multinationals to make sure they don’t use legal loopholes. I don’t know why Joe Hockey needs another committee, another enquiry, another mirror to look into, to work out what to do. Labor will work with the Government to crack down on foreign multinationals who are using legal loopholes in Australia, that way we can take pressure off the pension cuts which Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott seem hell bent on delivering to all Australian pensioners.
JOURNALIST: The Treasurer says the Government is now on a ‘quality trajectory’ towards Budget surplus. Do you think that’s the case?
SHORTEN: This is more weasel words from Tony Abbott. Before they got into Government they said that they would be back in surplus in one year, then they’d stretch it out to three years, now it’s stretched out to 10 years. The Treasury Department said not in 40 years would this Government, and now we’re just talking about weasel words like ‘quality trajectory’. Clearly the Government’s lost control of the Budget, and it’s through their own incompetence and chaos. The answer to Australia’s future though, and to dealing with the medium term issues of the Budget doesn’t rely upon taxing sick people at the door of the GP surgery, it doesn’t involve cutting pensions by $80 a week, it certainly doesn’t involve $100,000 degrees. If the Government was fair dinkum about dealing with Budget problems, they’d look seriously at tackling multinational taxation not going after pensioners with a budget axe.
JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott has joined a long list of prime ministers famous for knocking back a beer with vision of him skolling a beer at a bowling club function? Do you think this is a wise move?
SHORTEN: I’m just pleased that Tony Abbott’s learning to drink beer without adding lemonade to it.
Of course if you start laughing it’s even harder for me to keep a straight face.
JOURNALIST: When it comes to alcohol taxes, should they be streamlined?
SHORTEN: Again, the Government’s sending up thought bubbles out of the thought bubble factory which the Abbott Government’s become. I think that the Government needs to in this next Budget, they need to do two or three things very quickly. One, they need to drop pension cuts, they need to stop cutting the pension of all aged pensioners in Australia. They need to drop that straight away. Two, Tony Abbott’s sending out all sorts of thought bubbles that he’s going to look after Australian families. He needs to guarantee that families will not be worse off because of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s second Budget, their first Budget was a horror Budget for families, for pensions, for just about everyone in Australia, except for multinationals. In this second Budget, Tony Abbott needs to make sure that he actually keeps one promise in his political career in terms of families – to make sure families are not worse off.
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