Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Abbott Government’s broken promise on pensions; Abbott Government’s broken promise on the Renewable Energy Target






SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government’s broken promise on pensions; Abbott Government’s broken promise on the Renewable Energy Target; Newspoll; Four Corners’ story on Visa Exploitation


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great be here at this Plumbing Action Centre where they’re training tomorrow’s plumbers today. What we see is the intersection of employers and unions working together to train a future generation of Australia’s plumbers.


This is all about the jobs of the future, it’s about a high skilled economy, it’s about training young Indigenous people to become plumbers in their communities, it’s about catching the wave of renewable energy. If Tony Abbott wants to have a look at the jobs of the future and what this country needs in ten years’ time, he should come to Brunswick and see the future being organised right now.


But instead today we see Tony Abbott launching into breaking yet again another promise, another time. Tony Abbott said before the last election, he said there’d be ‘no changes to pensions’, yet he’s up to his old tricks again. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have learnt nothing from the last Budget. In the last Budget, they cut the pensions of over two million Age Pensioners, and they’re at it again.  They’ve spent the last 12 months denying they ever cut the pension.


It is time for them, Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott, to stop being the worst enemy pensioners have ever had and stop breaking these promises. Today we see them at it yet again - thought bubbles, all about this Budget trying to protect Tony Abbott’s job by the end of the year; not look after the pensioners over the next ten years. Tony Abbott should make it clear he’s not touching pensions. Happy to take any questions people might have.


JOURNALIST: So would Labor support any measures to sort of tighten the assets test for the part pension at all?

SHORTEN: Pensioners don’t trust Tony Abbott with their pension - this is the real problem in Australia. Tony Abbott’s treatment of pensioners in the last 12 months has been nothing short of a national disgrace. The first thing they need to do, the Government, rather than simply having another thought bubble and a selected leak and a bit more government propaganda machine, they just need to come clean. Drop the cuts to the pension. There’s only one detailed proposal on the table, this is Tony Abbott cutting the indexation rate of pensions. For 12 months Tony Abbott has misled Australia, misled Australian pensioners, they said there’s no cuts to pensioners, well the truth of the matter is Australians know that Tony Abbott’s lying and that he broke his promise. First thing to do today is drop the cuts to the pension.


JOURNALIST: Would you support returning the pension taper rate to pre-2006 levels?


SHORTEN: Well first of all I would support Tony Abbott keeping his election promises. When did keeping your election promises go out of fashion? Tony Abbott’s been a disgrace to Australia’s pensioners, let’s - it’s time for straight talking, we’ve had 605 days of the Abbott Government, enough is enough. Tony Abbott should drop his cuts to the pensions. If he’s got a detailed proposal he needs to put it on the table rather than having pensioners, and the Opposition and everyone else trying to second guess what’s in the minds of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey. But I believe they’ve only got one proposal in their Budget, that’s to try and protect their day jobs.


JOURNALIST: But back to the question, would you support returning the pension taper rates?


SHORTEN: I don’t deal with the hypotheticals, I do know based on the track record, if Tony Abbott says he coming to help a pensioner, you’d want to start running in the opposite direction.


JOURNALIST: Wouldn’t that pass your fairness test?


SHORTEN: Well first of all, there is nothing on the table. You’re asking me to do the Government’s work for them, they haven’t put a detailed proposal on the table. We don’t know where they’re going to set these tests and what they’re going to do. What I can refer you to is what I said yesterday. I said that the Budget has to be about the future. Do something on renewable energy and training the skills of our young people. We also said it has to be fair - drop the pension cuts. We also said that it has to be responsible and honest – honest means you keep your election promises. Tony Abbott more than any other politician in modern Australia staked his reputation in opposition about being a politician who keeps his promises. He hasn’t kept hardly any of his promises since he got elected. Leave the pensioners alone Tony Abbott.


JOURNALIST: Do you think it would be fairer then to lower the assets test threshold than changing indexation?


SHORTEN: Look, there goes the Government again, they’ve got a half-baked idea. What is fair is making multinationals pay their fair share, what is fair is stop multi-millionaires being able to turn superannuation tax concessions that the rest of us pay for, into a tax haven for the very lucky few who have multiple millions of dollars.


JOURNALIST: Would you support any changes to pensions in this term of Parliament even if they didn’t kick in until the next term?


SHORTEN: Well let’s see what Tony Abbott’s actually proposing, again how unfair is it of this Government, a week out from the Budget, they’re playing join the dots and they’re asking Australians to join the dots that the Government put out. Budgets and nations can’t be run in the sort of desperate electoral cycle way that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are doing. They’re saying they want to keep a ‘dull’ Budget, they don’t want to have any surprises, well what on earth are they doing, what on earth are they doing with pensions? What they need to do is drop the pensions cuts, drop the pension cuts. Tony Abbott’s treatment of Australia’s pensioners has been a disgrace, what he should do is drop the pension cuts and keep his promises.


JOURNALIST: Do you still, do you think wealthy Australians should still receive 50 per cent rebate for child care?


SHORTEN: What I believe is that people who have multiple millions in superannuation shouldn’t receive a 45 cents tax concession. Yet when it comes to dealing with that issue – when it actually comes to a detailed plan, Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott go missing. We’ve got a detailed plan to tackle the richest, largest, foreign multinationals in the world, to stop treating Australia as some sort of regime where they can sort of put all their debt into Australia and dodge their tax. What we need is a Government who’s on the side of Australians, not just backing in some of the richest companies in the world.


JOURNALIST: On the issue of renewable energy targets, has Labor had any discussions at all with the Government about a 33,000 Gigawatt Hour target?


SHORTEN: Well it’s been in the media but this Government’s remarkable. Both parties went to the last election supporting a renewable energy target of 41,000 Gigawatt Hours. Tony Abbott doesn’t believe in renewable energy, he doesn’t see the science of climate change, he should come to this plumbing centre to see the future. The Liberals have broken their promise - what’s new about that - they just break their promises.  What we’ve said is because industry, the Clean Energy Council, have said ‘please can Labor help resolve this by compromise’?  We’ve done a practical compromise. Yet the Liberal Party is just at 6s and 7s, they don’t know what to do. The simple issue here is, there’s billions of dollars of investment at stake, there’s thousands of jobs. Why can’t Tony Abbott put aside his extreme ideology and just do a deal in the national interest. We’re compromising, why is it that everyone except Tony Abbott is willing to compromise. Is he being strong, or is he just being mindlessly stubborn?


JOURNALIST:  What message do you take from today’s opinion poll?


SHORTEN: In terms of the polls, the message I get when I talk to people out on the high street is they’re very unhappy with the way Tony Abbott’s running Australia. Business confidence is down, unemployment’s up, pensioners have had their pensions cut. This is a bad Government and that’s what Australians think.


JOURNALIST: Just last night the ABC’s Four Corner’s program had a program on people being exploited within the exploited labour, and it’s highlighted that. What do you make of the story last night and I guess what would Labor do to try and improve those sorts of conditions for workers?


SHORTEN: I’m very concerned at the reports that the visa programs are being exploited and that we’ve got guests from other nations being ripped off in Australia. We all know that the Abbott Government can’t be trusted when it comes to the safety net and minimum conditions of workers. Labor’s very concerned that aspects of our visa program are being deregulated by the current government, making it easier for people to be ripped off, and we want the Government to stand up for people to go to work every day not turn a blind eye to those problems which you raise, which you refer to from last night. Last question thank you.


JOURNALIST: So what then I guess does it say then about our super – the way that the big supermarkets are actually operating?


SHORTEN: Well first things first, people shouldn’t be allowed to come into this country on visas and be exploited, so I think that if we’ve got a system where anything goes, which this Government has helped create, well then I think that they need to explain to Australians what they’re doing to protect Australian jobs and to make sure that foreign guest workers or holiday makers who come into Australia are not getting ripped off. This is a Government who never takes the side of workers and in this matter, I think they need to stand up, the evidence is incontrovertible.


Thanks everyone.