Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Maribyrnong






BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Today, the Abbott-Liberal Government is at it again. Another day, another idea floating out about the future of pensions. There is only one thing certain about pensions, the Abbott-Liberal Government want to cut the pension.


Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: When you say they want to cut pensions – why don’t they just come out and say they aren’t going to cut the pension? Wouldn’t that just nip-it-in-bud?


SHORTEN: For 10 and a half months, since the last budget, Australia’s millions of pensioners have had the daily anxiety of the Liberal Government intending to cut pensions. I think, for the sake of the pensioners of Australia, the Abbott Government should just say they aren’t going to touch people’s pensions. Enough is enough.


JOURNALIST: I was going to say, is it something they should have had a plan on before this? It seems there is a different idea every couple of weeks or so. Does that mean there is no plan at all?


SHORTEN: The Abbott Government have got the economy wrong, they have got the job security wrong of Australians and they have the pensions wrong. They should just stick to their election promises. Tony Abbott should just take his hands off the pensions – that is the best news that this Budget could bring for millions of pensioners.


JOURNALIST: Should the seniors heath card be de-coupled from the aged pension?


SHORTEN: No there they go again. The Abbott Government trying to take away health concessions for pensioners. I think the Abbott Government needs to be very careful about reducing people’s access to affordable medicine. They want to cut people’s pensions and now they are talking about taking away pensioner’s ability access most effective medications. This is a government with no plan for Australia’s pensioners. They just want to cut, cut and cut.


JOURNALIST: Are wealthy Australians rorting the seniors health card?


SHORTEN: First of all, let’s establish what this government is really on about. They said there would be no change to pensions, no cuts to health, no cuts to education. This government has broken its election promises time and time again. The first thing that the Abbott Government should do, in the lead up to this Budget is just promise Australians that Tony Abbott won’t be touching people’s pensions.


JOURNALIST: Just on Iranian asylum seekers, should they be sent back home?


SHORTEN: In terms of asylum seekers, it is appropriate that once people have had their case properly assessed, and in the event that they are found not to be refugees, that they are supported to go home as soon as possible. But, this must be consistent with our international obligations.


JOURNALIST: Do you think there is any serious chance that Iran will accept those people?


SHORTEN: We will wait and see what Julie Bishop produces in her talks with Iran. We would want to see the detail. Labor believes that we need to make sure that whatever arrangements are struck, are consistent with international obligations, that people are afforded due process, their claims are properly assessed but in the event they are found not to be refugees, then they should be supported to go home as soon as possible.


JOURNALIST: If they return to the country, then are they at risk of being subject to persecution should they go back?


SHORTEN: This goes to the international obligations I was referring to. Again, I think we need to wait and see the detail of what the Abbott Government produces in its discussions with Iran.


JOURNALIST: The Greens believe it is a death sentence if they were to go back to Iran. What do you make of that?


SHORTEN: Again, all these matters go to individual circumstances. It could be very serious, as your question suggests, or it may not be. We need to see a lot more detail on the table and I just caution people against people leaping to conclusions, either one way or the other. What Labor believes is that people should have their claims properly accessed as to whether or not they are refugees or not. If they are found, after proper assessment and due-process, not to be refugees then it is appropriate they are supported to return home. But this has to be consistent with international obligations. We need to see a lot more detail before we have a definitive view on his matter.


JOURNALIST: A question without notice, this is a retail area, a strong retail area, it is a beautiful day here in Melbourne, it isn’t exactly thriving. Is that a sign that economy isn’t going well?


SHORTEN: Ever since about three weeks before the last budget, in 2014, when the Abbott Government released its harsh Commission of Audit Report, confidence has taken a nose dive and never recovered. Australians are concerned with their economic well-being. Unemployment is up, the iron ore prices are well down, and indeed the Australian dollar is heading lower than the New Zealand dollar. No wonder why Australians are worried about their economic confidence.


Thanks everyone.