Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Labor’s plan for small business; Scott Morrison’s hypocrisy on superannuation






SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan for small business; Scott Morrison’s hypocrisy on superannuation; Interest rate hikes; Nuclear energy; Xavier College.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Today, Labor has outlined to Victoria’s peak business group it’s plans to make it easier for small and medium sized businesses to incorporate.


We are proposing a new stream-lined corporation registration which declutters red tape for small businesses and it will see small businesses gaining the limited liability in corporate structures which makes the opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in Australia to grow faster and better.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of Scott Morrison's suggestion that there be changes to the superannuation taxation system - especially the transition to retirement?

The Liberal Government is now thought-bubble central for Australia. Scott Morrison has been attacking Labor for tackling the excessive tax concessions system for the very few top-end people with millions of dollars in superannuation. If Scott Morrison wants to be taken seriously superannuation, he should: one, wind-back the excessively generous tax concessions which people with millions of dollars have that are being subsidised by ordinary taxpayers; two, they should unfreeze superannuation increases - currently it's stalled at 9.5 per cent of people's pay. If Scott Morrison wants to help Australians, he and his government should agree to lift the mandatory superannuation contribution from 9.5 per cent. And three, Scott Morrison should not be taking away money from low-income earners through the abolition of the low-income superannuation [concession]. This is a specific measure where if you earn less than $37,000, the several of hundred dollars you pay on your tax on your superannuation gets returned. Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull are putting their hand in the pocket of three and half million low paid Australians asking them to pay more tax on their superannuation than if it were in their take home pay. These are three steps Scott Morrison could do to help improve the fairness of Australia's retirement savings for all Australians.
JOURNALIST: You'd would completely oppose any changes to the taxation regimes around superannuation at present?
SHORTEN: No, we are proposing changes ourselves in terms of superannuation tax concessions. But really, for the last two years, Scott Morrison has been part of the witch-hunt against Labor's changes to superannuation. Now he is in charge of the Budget, he realises he has got a problem and now he is desperately scrambling for ideas. Superannuation deserves certainty in this country. I think he has been really irresponsible - every day you open the newspaper and you've got a new Malcolm Turnbull Minister coming up with some thought-bubble but we never see any detail. Australia's superannuants deserve certainty. They deserve considered, long-term thinking. They deserve Labor's ideas, not these thought bubbles from an L-plate Treasurer.
JOURNALIST: Do you agree with Amnesty International that there should be an Royal Commission style inquiry into the claims that people smugglers were paid to turn boats around?
SHORTEN: Labor has strongly argued against the culture of secrecy with covers Australia's Asylum Seeker policies. We've also argued in regards to the Amnesty report which has been released today that we should see independent oversight  of Australian funded facilities. We also believe there should be mandatory reporting of child-abuse. Liberals should just end the shout of secrecy over the policies so Australians can see what's really going on and we can get to the bottom of important matters including the one you just described.
JOURNALIST: What about a royal commission?
SHORTEN: Well, I think the first step is for the government to remove the shout of secrecy. I think the wall of secrecy, the way they treat Australia's journalists and won't reveal what's going on. I think it insults Australian media, and insults Australian people.
JOURNALIST: Would a Shorten Labor Government ever explicitly paying people smugglers to turn boats back?
SHORTEN: I am not aware of Labor ever doing this. The reports that on the oceans that there are tens of thousands of dollar being handed to people smugglers is repugnant and I just certainly want to say we wouldn't be doing that at sea and I am not aware of any other matters.
JOURNALIST: During your speech Mr Shorten, you mentioned the Trade Union Royal Commission as a bit of 'a joke apart from a few matters'. I am wondering if you could expand on that and tell us which bits are a joke and which bits should be taken seriously?
SHORTEN: Josh, time doesn't give me the majesty it deserves but I will make these points. $80 million dollars, barristers being paid millions of dollars, that is a joke - it is a waste of taxpayer money. Labor has zero tolerance of corruption - doesn't matter if it is in the boardroom by someone wearing a very nice suit or someone claiming to represent workers. There already are police authorities who can chase these matters down. The royal commission has missed the whole saga in the Health Services Union; they've driven past the HSU scandal and busied themselves on other matters which are nowhere near the seriousness of that matter. So in terms of the process, I have no doubt the Liberal Government set up a royal commission into trade unions because they learnt the lessons of Workchoices. The last time the Liberals were in power they came in the front door and took conditions off millions of people; this time round they've decided to come in the back door of Australia's workplace safety net and go after trade unions and try and discredit them. You're all students of history in this media, you know that the rule book is whenever a Liberal government gets in, have a royal commission into the unions. Every time a Liberal government gets in they don't have many other ideas so go after the people who look after working conditions in this country. The 7-Eleven wages scandal has happened at the same time that we've had overpaid royal commission barristers investigating the minutiae of industrial arrangements. Now let's be straight here; thousands of people at 7-Elevens across Australia not being paid properly - we don't hear a word out of the royal commission on that, but they're all over industrial arrangements and other matter and I just think fundamentally it's a misdirected use of resources.


JOURNALIST: (inaudible) the banks in that speech. Do you think they're exploiting customers by raising interest rates?


SHORTEN:  I get that banks have to make a profit for shareholders, no one's against that. But really when is enough enough? I don't agree that when we've got the interest rates - the official interest rates going down, our big banks are going in the opposite direction. My problem is that Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison are soft on banks, hard on families. We know - and any customers frustrated by the fact that in a time of historically low cost levels for capital through the RBA rates, all of a sudden we've seen the banks decide to go for broke and increase the fees. The real opportunity that was missed here is when Westpac moved, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison said nothing, they shrugged their shoulders and said what can they do? They're only the government. Now they've woken up and realised that every bank's followed through that hole in the net and now they're sort of belatedly playing catch-up. Australians know when they're being treated as mugs and I have to say that I think the banks here have been treating Australians as mugs, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison didn't jump on it when they should've, now we're all paying more on our mortgages.
JOURNALIST: Just on nuclear energy, do you think Australia should at least consider having an industry where we make fuel rods and they we bring them back and store them when they're spent? Should we at least consider having that industry in Australia?

SHORTEN:  Well I think what's caused this latest debate about the nuclear industry in Australia was that Malcolm Turnbull did an interview on radio in South Australia yesterday.  He was talking to a cook downstairs and he was having a discussion about nuclear power. I don't know if it's a Malcolm Turnbull thought bubble or if the Liberal Government's serious. I want to know what the process is when we discuss such important matters. The problem with Tony Abbott was he used to indulge in Captain's Picks. Is this a Malcolm Turnbull Captain's Pick in terms of nuclear industry and energy in Australia.


We've got a royal commission underway in South Australia; what we need is evidence, we don't need rhetorical flourishes from the captain of the Australian Parliament.  What we need is well thought-through, sound evidence. In the meantime we're having a Captain's Pick about nuclear energy in Australia with very poor process, I don't know if the Liberal Cabinet's been consulted. We have a whole renewable energy industry right underneath our noses, right in front of our faces. Do people know that it's been forecast in the Asia Pacific Region by the year 2030 there's $2.5 trillion due to be invested in renewables? I want Australia to be part of the future of renewable energy. We've got more sunlight on this continent that any other continent, what we should be doing is when we've got clear advantages and there's clear international market enthusiasm for investment, I'd like to know what the Government's doing about capturing the renewable energy wave rather than these thought bubbles which  they seem to be addicted to. Last question thanks.


JOURNALIST: You're old school Xavier, what's your thoughts on reports today about the student's calling public school kids 'povo'?


SHORTEN:  What's happened today?


JOURNALIST: So reports this morning in the Herald Sun that a student from Xavier called kids from state schools 'povo' on Facebook and made some misogynistic comments as well.


SHORTEN: Well that's just stupid; that's silly, no room for misogyny, no room for that analysis. The Jesuits who taught me taught us to be a man for others, they taught us about social justice, helping people, that's what I believe. Thanks everyone.