Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Malcolm Turnbull’s 15 per cent GST on everything; Senate voting reform




SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s 15 per cent GST on everything; Senate voting reform; media reform; immigration detention; Essendon Football Club; MV Portland

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone and welcome to Big Sam's Market in St Albans. I've started this year determined to campaign against the 15 per cent GST on everything. Today I have been talking to shoppers and to shop keepers about their thoughts on Malcolm Turnbull wanting to have a debate about a 15 per cent GST on everything. Shoppers are appalled at the idea that Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison want to have a national discussion about a 15 per cent GST on everything. Shoppers are telling me that they want their kids to eat fresh fruit. Shoppers tell me that on top of utility and power bills, the idea that their grocery bill or their health costs or their education costs could go up through a 15 per cent tax is a shocking idea for families battling to make ends meet. Equally important with the shoppers, are the remarkable small businesses and stallholders of this market and indeed right across Australia. Small business absolutely does not want a 15 per cent tax on all the items they sell. Talking to the greengrocers and the butchers and the people who sell fresh produce, they think it will discourage parents and discourage people from buying the fresh food they need. They also say that at the moment with a shaky start to the new year and the stock market, with pensioners battling hard to make ends meet, that they don't want to see their customers lose confidence. Small business has also said to me today, as they say elsewhere on previous days, that they get worried that there will be fewer people spending money, they'll close their wallets and purses, which will lead to job losses in small business. Now I'm happy to come to every market and to every small business in Australia and talk about why Labor is against a 15 per cent GST. I do not understand why Malcolm Turnbull won't come to this market and if he won't debate me on a GST. At least come and explain to these sensible shoppers and these hard-working small businesses, why he thinks it's a good idea to have a 15 per cent GST. And by the way, none of the people here are buying the argument that they will be compensated adequately for a GST. So Labor is absolutely against the dumb idea of a 15 per cent GST on everything and the people here want Labor to stand up for them and that's what I'm going to do. Happy to take any questions people have on the GST or indeed anything else.


JOURNALIST: (Inaudible question)


SHORTEN: We're going to oppose, we'll fight the GST increase of 15 per cent every day to the election and we will win that argument. Either Malcolm Turnbull drops this bad the idea now or he's straight with the Australian people and will debate me and debate Labor. But I can promise the shoppers and the everyday Australians who are working hard to make ends meet, that Labor is on their side. We're on the side of the consumer and small business against a 15 per cent GST. It's a bad idea and we will defeat it.


JOURNALIST: If you don't get in the next election will you block it in opposition or will you get in and be ready to repeal it?


SHORTEN: Phil, we will win this argument. The only people who want a GST of 15 per cent are the big end of town, are the people who are already able to claim tax concessions for everything. Real people, ordinary people, the people who Labor represents and values, I know what they think. They don't want a 15 per cent GST. We will win this argument and we will do everything we can to be the representative of the people against the big end of town and Malcolm Turnbull who are pushing a 15 per cent GST, rather than clamping down on multinationals paying their fair share, rather than clamping down on some of the superannuation tax concessions that the super wealthy enjoy. I don't understand why Malcolm Turnbull is soft on multinationals yet he's hard on every day Australians with his 15 per cent GST.


JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop says you've been too negative on the GST issue and to be more positive, is there something you can help her out with?


SHORTEN: No, Julie Bishop wants 15 per cent GST. The reason why we're against is it's a bad idea. No amount of Malcolm Turnbull or Julie Bishop double speak about saying we should just be nice about bad ideas makes a bad idea anything other than just a bad idea. A 15 per cent GST is not a good idea for Australians, it's a lazy tax, it increases the price of everything that Australians need. We're starting 2016 in January, families doing the shopping, they're buying the school books and the school shoes right now, they've got to pay the Christmas bills, imagine if we had a 15 per cent GST on everything, how much more that would absolutely devastate people coming through January when they've got so many expenses to pay.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten just on Senate voting reforms, will Labor support the Senate voting reforms suggested along the lines of the bipartisan committee on election matters?


SHORTEN: We are always interested in improving how the Senate performs. What I'm not interested in doing, though, is automatically trying to put out of business the crossbench. You know, there's a role to play in Australia for a Senate which is a house of review. So we're interested in making sure that people's voices are heard and the Senate crossbench perform an important role. So, we'll look at all proposals and we've done a lot of work ourselves. Labor has always been the party of reform. But we're very wary, of course, of the Liberal Party trying to just punish the crossbench because they won't vote for bad ideas like a GST, like getting rid of penalty rates, like protecting companies from tax transparency.


JOURNALIST: Mitch Fifield is introducing media reform laws, what will Labor support, will you back the scrapping 2 out of 3 rule?


SHORTEN: We'll look carefully at the final legislation but what I believe in is diversity of media. The media performs an important role in Australian democracy and more generally just through Australian society about the provision of information. The Australian media industry should be diverse and we want to make sure that diversity is maintained. Another criteria we'll look at with these proposed changes is making sure that regional Australia gets the services it deserves. I do not want to see Australian media being run out of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and destroying and reducing and diminishing the voice of regional Australia. So diversity, regional Australia, of course we've got to also make sure we keep up with technological changes and the regulation is reflecting the reality of technology. But I've got a very good shadow spokesperson, Jason Clare, who has been working very hard on these measures. We will take a constructive attitude but we stand for diversity of media voice in Australian democracy, we stand for strong, regional voice in Australian media and of course we recognise that technology, as you ladies and gentlemen also know very well, is changing rapidly in the media. We've got to make sure our regulation describes the available technology and isn't describing life 20 or 30 years ago when there's been so much change in between.

JOURNALIST: On the trade union royal commission, will you support a recommendation to stop unions from paying the fines of their officials?

SHORTEN: In terms of the - all of the trade union recommendations and I won't cherry pick individual ones, Brendan O'Connor and my team are examining them but let me state very clearly: this royal commission has produced some examples of corruption and theft from members by some union officials. I have no time for that; I despise that sort of conduct. I believe in a clean union movement and I believe in an honest union movement. But let me also make it perfectly clear - the Australian trade union movement absolutely by and large does the right thing and stands up for members. I believe if you didn't have the Australian trade union movement we'd have a totally different workplace. We wouldn't have proper workplace entitlements, we wouldn't have the health and safety we've got, we wouldn't have all the sort of conditions which people now take for granted like the four weeks annual holiday, redundancy, penalty rates, shift loadings. So we will look constructively at whatever's proposed to improve the governance of trade unions, but what I'm not going to do is engage in some sort of witch hunt against Australian trade unions who stand up for working people.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten the MV Portland has been docked illegally for the last couple of months, security guards forcibly removed Australian crews this morning, foreign crews took over, the ship sailed out this morning, what's your reaction to that?

SHORTEN: I'm deeply disturbed that we're seeing Australian seafarers being marched off ships, replaced by foreign seafarers. If nothing else, a government in Australia should stand up for Australian jobs. Now the Parliament's been debating the licences which ships which sail around the Australian coastline operate under. The Parliament of Australia made it clear that we want vessels who are doing a lot of work on the Australian coastline carrying bulk cargos around Australia, that they should be crewed by Australian ships. Now what's happened to get around this is the Liberals were very unhappy that Labor and the crossbench successfully stood up for Australian shipping. Now what's happened is that the Government's given the green light to the use of temporary licences to circumvent the will of the Parliament.

So I think there's a big issue here. Do we want Australian ships sailing around the Australian coastline crewed by Australian crews? And it's not just a matter of Australian jobs. What we see here is WorkChoices on water being introduced by the back door with a nod and a wink from Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberals, and furthermore, Australian shipping has a high standard of safety. So if we want to make sure that our pristine Australian coastal environment is best protected, if we want to make sure that we've got Australian ships crewed by Australian seafarers maintaining the highest of standards and of course there is always a national security angle where we want to make sure that Australian crewed ships coming into Australian ports are getting this sort of support and public policy which will see that from the environmental view, from the defence view, from the Australian jobs point of view and from the Australian economic view.

JOURNALIST: What about the effects the industrial action's having on the local economy and tourism by stopping cruise ships going there?

SHORTEN: Well I think to be technically accurate, the ship was moved so where the dispute's going on and a cruise ship was able to tie up in Portland Harbour so in fact there was no problem in terms of that cruise ship coming in and that happened over the Christmas break. But let me be clear, there's an industrial dispute but that's the tip of the iceberg. What we see is Australian seafarers, Australian jobs being replaced by foreign seafarers, foreign jobs on our coastline. The Parliament has got a clear view and what the Government has done is they've made it easy to get rid of Australian seafarers and I think there'll be bad long-term consequences for the Australian economy, for the Australian environment. It's WorkChoices on water so I feel for the seafarers involved.

JOURNALIST: Just on detention, the latest figures show there's been a blowout on the length of people held in detention. What's your reaction to that and also the Immigration Department says it's partly because of Parliament's delay in approving safe haven (inaudible) visas, does Labor take some of the blame for that?

SHORTEN: This Government never want to take the blame for any bad news on their watch. We all know that Peter Dutton is a gaffe-prone minister and we see this unacceptable blowout in delays in immigration processing times. Labor supports regional processing but the idea that we have got people languishing in Australian facilities, or facilities partly funded by Australia for periods of 450 days on average, is too long. Women and children should not be languishing indefinitely in these facilities and Peter Dutton, the Minister, and the Malcolm Turnbull Government have got a lot of explaining to do why it's taking this long to process people.

JOURNALIST: Jamie Clements, he's agreed to a court order to stay away from a staffer, should he step aside?

SHORTEN: This is a matter for the NSW branch. Last question, thank you.

JOURNALIST: Just on ASADA, you were a lawyer once in a previous life, what would you advise the Essendon players?

SHORTEN: Well, I'd advise the Essendon players to consider all their rights. Let's be really straight here: there's no place for doping in Australian sport but I feel that the Essendon players have been very hard done by. These are young men who put their trust in the club administration and the club in terms of their training regimes. Now what's happened is because they've trusted the club and the club has said that there have been systemic problems at a more senior level in the club, now these young men have been scrubbed for a season, they've had to put up with the last three years of uncertainty, in many cases not knowing what it is that they were even taking. I feel that the players have been unjustly treated. I feel that the fans have been unjustly treated. Essendon has got a proud tradition. This is a very tough start to their year, but most importantly, you've got to remember the fans, you've got to remember the players. I do not believe that scrubbing all these players is a fair outcome when all that they were doing was really trusting the people in the organisation which is understandable and now they're paying the consequences of this decision.

JOURNALIST: Just finally you mentioned the term tip of the iceberg earlier, what's your favourite type of lettuce?

SHORTEN: I like all sorts of varieties of lettuce but what I do know is I like the lettuce which doesn't come with a 15 per cent GST. Thanks, everyone.