Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to increase the GST; Nauru;





SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to increase the GST; Nauru; Liberals possibly preferencing the Greens

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks everyone for coming today. Labor is completely opposed to a 15 per cent Goods and Services Tax which will mean people will pay more for things they need most in life.


Happy to take any questions.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you walked in with John Brumby. He says lifting the GST was a no brainer. (Inaudible) put out a model that doesn’t need to be regressive. Are there any circumstances at all that would see Labor support a change to the GST?


SHORTEN: Labor doesn’t believe that asking working people living on modest income to pay more for the things they need most in life is a good idea. Labor knows where we stand; we stand on the side of middle and low income earners. I think it is really lazy of the Liberals that the only solution they have had is to increase the GST. They’ve been flirting with this idea for two years, they’ve asked it out on a date, they have hinted they would like to have a GST. I think they need to come clean on their plans. People know what we think, I do not believe people on low and middle incomes should pay more for the things they need most in life is a good idea. It is a bad idea and Labor does oppose it.


JOURNALIST: Angus Taylor this morning was talking about targeting Government waste. Do you think this is an area where would be more open to?


SHORTEN: Labor is absolutely up for the task of reducing wasteful spending in Government. Under the current Liberal Government the deficient has doubled. I do believe there are measures. We will have more to say about this in coming weeks and months, but yes, I agree that Australian taxpayers don’t like to see money being wasted, nor does Labor.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, I guess one of the issues with the tax debates is that the Government has been quiet on high marginal rates I suppose for high salary earners (inaudible) and the average wage earner will be the second highest taxpayer next year. Is that something Labor thinks is a problem and will target in the tax debate and how would you do that?


SHORTEN: Income tax payments are an issue for Australians – there’s no doubt about that. But let’s not forget, Sid, it’s our friends in the Liberal Government who brought on the levy and increased income taxes in this country. It has been the Liberals who increased income tax. What I think we need to have a debate about is fairness in our system. There are a lot of people who go to work that don’t have a lot of money but they are doing miraculous things. They are raising their families, they are good members of their community. That’s why today I’ve said that any tax debate has to be about fairness. Just having a blanket increase on the tax of everything people pay – that’s just outrageous, it’s lazy, it is trickledown economics. Why is it that this government is driving past multinationals not paying their fair share in this country but they have got a view on what mum and dad should be paying in regards to paying more for extra services? Why is it that when they look at superannuation tax concessions for people who have already got millions of dollars – they are happy to have income from that tax free yet for people going to go to work every day earning income far less than that, they want them to pay a big income tax? This government has to start walking the walk and it shouldn’t be the case that middle income and low income earners are the people the Liberals target first in tax reform. They should start looking a little closer to the people they represent, the vested interests in the top end of town. They should take a good look at this system they currently are opposing – multinational taxation, superannuation tax concessions rather than just lazily flicking millions of people with tax increases.


JOURNALIST: Will we get a comprehensive package from Labor on tax reform at the next election? Given it seems like the Government's going to go to the next election with one. Will Labor match that and will punters have a choice as to what they're voting for?

SHORTEN: There will be an absolute choice at the next election. Tax will be one issue which Labor will have comprehensive policies on. But we've already broken the political mould. We've already put our policies before the last Budget. We've put out more ideas as an opposition than any opposition has in a generation. I think though the nation, we've had two months now of the new Liberal Prime Minister. I think we want to see some detail. It's not enough to say, you know, everything theoretically is on the table. Why is it that this government is addicted in any conversation about any change in this country to lifting the GST to 15 per cent? It's a bad idea. And I can tell you one policy right now, one clear choice, as you put it, for the voters is if you vote Labor you won't be getting an increase in the GST. If you vote Liberal will you get an increase in the GST.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that elder Australians are selfish because they are not selling their homes? Which is what's been suggested?

SHORTEN: I don't think older Australians are selfish at all.

JOURNALIST: We can take the heat out of the GST debate and you look at the economics, a lot of economists say that it is one of the more efficient taxes to raise. So would you say a circumstance where inefficient State taxes could be abolished in return for a rise on the GST and do you fear that you might be on the wrong side of this debate?

SHORTEN: Catalina there's an old saying about economists. That if you have one foot in boiling hot water and the other foot in icy cold water, that your temperature is actually average. It's good theoretical work. I live in the real world. I tell you what, putting a tax, a new tax (interruption) That's an economist's coffee machine. That's going to cost more under a Liberal government too.
No, the point is that I get economic theories. What I said in my speech is the economy is not left ring or right wing, it's all about what works for people. It's very plain for me, I don't want people going into the supermarket having to pay an extra 5 per cent on the goods that already have 10 per cent, paying 15 per cent and on fresh food paying 15 per cent when they pay nothing now. I don't want people having to pay 15 per cent on the school fees, the hospital costs, the costs of going to the doctor. I don't want them having to pay 15 per cent on top of the price of a house.

This is a bad idea. The government is also with the GST, it's saying: ‘well if we raise the GST, we're going to cut income tax, we're going to cut deficit, we're going to give more money to schools and hospitals, we're going to compensate the less well off’. This GST is being spent in a million different ways. I remember when John Howard introduced the GST, another Liberal Prime Minister, they said this was it, it would only ever be a at 10 per cent, that was it, final, no more.

Now they're back again, they're back again the Liberals just trying to chuck a lazy tax, the dead hand of a 15 per cent tax on the things that people need most in life.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask about this pregnant woman on Nauru? Doctors are suggesting that she needs to come back to Australia because she facing a difficult birth. Would you support her coming back here to give birth to her baby?

SHORTEN: Labor will follow the medical advice in terms of the safety of people. The medical advice is what matters here, nothing else. If the doctors say it's safe to be in one place, or it's better to be in another place, we will back the medical treatment, the priorities of that and the advice of the doctors. Last question, thanks.

JOURNALIST: Can I also ask you about this story suggesting that Tanya Plibersek and Anthony Albanese could lose their seats to the Greens because the Greens may give their preferences - the Liberals may give their preferences to the Greens? You could be losing two of your star performers and a potential leadership rival.

SHORTEN: My money is on Tanya Plibersek and Anthony Albanese to win the seats they contest. They work hard locally. They're outstanding contributors to my leadership team, and furthermore, if the Greens preference the Liberals, that speaks volumes and I think the Greens will suffer a backlash in they would pick the policies of Tony Abbott on climate change over Labor. Thanks, everyone. See you a bit later.