Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Retirement of Chris Judd; Tony Abbott’s cuts to Family Tax Benefit payments Dependent Spouse Offset






SUBJECT/S: Retirement of Chris Judd; Tony Abbott’s cuts to Family Tax Benefit payments Dependent Spouse Offset; Tony Abbott’s royal commission


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone, it’s great to be here at a really remarkable school. I’m here will our candidate for the seat of Deakin Tony Clark, and also Jenny Macklin, to talk about family payments. But before I do, I’d just like to express on behalf of the Labor Party our utmost congratulations and respect for the career of Christopher Judd. Chris Judd has played for two clubs, he’s been an outstanding performer, I really think he’s one of the gentleman of the great game of the AFL, and he leaves the game on top.


In terms of family payments though, again we will see next week in Canberra, the Labor Party determined to stand up for working families against the cruel cuts of Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott has said that he wants on one hand to provide some extra childcare funding but what he hasn’t explained to people is it will come at the cost of hundreds and thousands of Australian families. His government’s out of touch, they don’t understand that taking thousands of dollars away from single income or single parent households who are working, will put great pressure on the cost of living of families. Labor will oppose the cuts to the Family Tax Benefit payments that the Abbott Government’s making, because hundreds of thousands of hard working Australians and their children, don’t deserve Tony Abbott’s broken promises. I’d like to ask Jenny Macklin to talk further about the Family Tax Benefit cuts that are planned by Tony Abbott.


JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES & PAYMENTS: Thanks very much Bill and as Bill said, I’m also very very pleased to be here with Tony Clark our terrific candidate for the seat of Deakin, and I also want to thank the staff here at this school, primary school and preschool playgroup for having us here today. This is a really innovative centre, it’s a great place where children can come to primary school, also get their preschool education, and parents can come along with their very little children to participate in a playgroup. Great model and one that we just love to be part of. As Bill Shorten has just outlined, Labor is very concerned about the cuts that Tony Abbott wants to impose on hundreds of thousands of families right around Australia. Tony Abbott is saying to parents that once their youngest child turns six, parents will not be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part B, and for those families, that cut alone will mean a loss of around $3000 per family, per year - that’s an enormous cut for those families. We’ve had some independent modelling done of the impact of all the Government’s Family Tax Benefit cuts, and the cuts to the Schoolkids Bonus – what it means for an average family earning $65,000 a year, if they’ve got two children at school – that family if they’re a single income family will lose $6000 a year, $6000 a year is what Tony Abbott wants to take out of the pockets of families, and Labor will do everything in our power to stop those cuts. Thanks Bill.


SHORTEN: Thanks Jenny, we’re happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: It was reported in the Fin Review this morning that the - Labor was supporting the Government in terms of the dependence, getting rid of the dependent spouse rebate, does that show you agree that the Budget needs repair?


SHORTEN: Labor’s always been up for constructive change. I’m a very different person to Tony Abbott. Remember when he was Opposition Leader, he was negative about everything. Australians want to see constructive debate in the Parliament, they want politics and their parliamentarians to explain where the future is. Labor is up for the task of trying to restrain spending and the Dependent Spouse Tax Offset has outlived its usefulness so Labor will be constructive. But what we ask Tony Abbott is just as Labor’s willing to be constructive on ideas, we wish that he would not be so arrogant and out of touch when it comes to Family Tax Benefit cuts, cuts of family payments going to families whose children turn six. Tony Abbott has not made the case to Australian families, those who go to work and try to raise their kids, once they turn six why they should be the people who carry Tony Abbott’s Budget repair job out for Tony Abbott. If Tony Abbott wants to fix up the Budget he should take up Labor’s sensible ideas about making sure that multinationals pay their fair share. He should shut down the excessively generous tax concessions to multimillionaires who are receiving tax concessions on their superannuation in retirement, but instead, he’s taken the lazy low road of going after hundreds of thousands of Australian families. Families as Jenny Macklin said who earn $65,000 a year are going to lose up to $6000 a year because of Tony Abbott’s cuts.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you’re standing here today talking about how hard it is for families, and you want to help families, but on the other hand you’re talking about taking away nearly $3000 to families who’ve only got one person working, how can you justify that?


SHORTEN: Well to begin with we’re talking about the Family Tax Benefit payments. The Government’s doubled the deficit in the last 12 months So that means hard choices have to be made. We’ve formed the view that we draw the line in the sand over these Family Tax Benefit payments. We’ve drawn the line in the sand because the Labor Party stands up for families who are working on low incomes. We’ve draw the line in the sand to stand up for families against broken promises of the Abbott Government. Hard choices still have to be made. Our trouble with the Abbott Government is they always choose the wrong priorities. Why don’t they go after foreign multinationals who are using Australia’s tax laws as a sort of low tax jurisdiction and they’re playing Australian small businesses and families for mugs. Why is it that Tony Abbott won’t go after the excessive tax concessions and superannuation at the very top end? Why does Tony Abbott believe it is more important to allow multimillionaires to pay no tax at all on any money they earn yet they make families on $60,000, $65,000 a year loose up to $6,000 in benefits? This is this is the wrong priorities form an out of touch government.


JOURNALIST: That’s all very well to say, but you’re still saying you’re going to take away up to $3,000 from families on one income?


SHORTEN: Well, what we’re saying is that the Labor Party won’t allow Tony Abbott to touch the Family Tax Benefit payments. What we are saying very clearly, very clearly, is that Tony Abbott’s out of touch, he just wants the people on the lowest incomes to lose a lot and the people on the very highest incomes not to be affected at all. We think for Australia’s future everyone has to do their fair share. That’s why Labor believes in multinationals paying more tax, that’s why we believe the excessive tax concessions at the top end of superannuation where you’ve got multimillionaires, they no longer need to get a massive tax concession, that should be the priority of the Government as opposed to going after working families. Now if the Government hadn’t doubled the deficit in the last 12 months maybe some of the other hard choices we’ve got to make wouldn’t have to be made. Tony Abbott last year had a deficit number at one number, and in the intervening 12 months of this budget he’s doubled the debt and deficit of this country. Tony Abbott and his team are not competent of managing the Australian Budget.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten has the AWU turned its back on Cesar Melham?


SHORTEN: Labor has a very strong view on having zero tolerance for corruption in the workplace, be it from employers or unions. We have no time for that, I have no time for that. Having said that, we don’t want to run a running commentary on every bit of evidence which comes out of the royal commission.


JOURNALIST: Do you think he’s done anything wrong based on the evidence that has come out of the royal commission? I mean he is resigning from Government Whip.


SHORTEN: It does sound like, in all fairness, a question to make a running commentary on the royal commission, so again I’d refer you to the answers I’ve given since the start of the royal commission. But again, just to underline the seriousness which Labor takes all of the matters to do with integrity, we believe fundamentally that there is no time in Australia’s workplaces or anywhere else for corruption, whether it’s employer inspired or if there’s union representatives involved. There should be no tolerance for it.


JOURNALIST: Are you disappointed in his behaviour?


SHORTEN: He’s stood aside from his position, there’s nothing more I can add to the matter, thanks.


JOURNALIST: If he is found, I guess, to be guilty of what the royal commission has exposed, should he be standing down from parliament?


SHORTEN: Well you started the question with a hypothetical, again you are inviting me very politely to make a running commentary on the royal commission. I won’t do that. But I will reiterate again, Labor has no time for breaches of this sort of integrity of corruption that some people are say is going on in the workplace. So we are very clear, be it employer or union representative, Labor has zero tolerance for that.


JOURNALIST: We’re not talking about the royal commission, we’re talking about the behaviour of an individual person who you were quite close to. Surely you have got some opinion on his actual behaviour?


SHORTEN: Well in all fairness its evidence coming out of the royal commission. I’m not going to make a running commentary, he’s stood aside from his position as government whip. Again, Labor has no time, no time whatsoever for corruption of any sort be it in business or in the union movement or anywhere else.


JOURNALIST: Did you know about these allegations during your time at the AWU?

SHORTEN: Again you’re asking me to make a running commentary. As for my own record, I stand by my service towards making workplaces productive, standing up for workers’ rights and that’s all I’ve ever been committed to and indeed that is the role of the Labor Party now, to stand up for the rights of Australians. That’s why we’re here speaking on Family Tax Benefit payments because we do not believe that the Abbott Government’s cuts to working families are justified or a good idea for the future of families or Australia.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten the question was did you know?


SHORTEN: We’ll first of all you have asked me to make a running commentary –


JOURNALIST: No, no, the question was did you know, that’s was the question, not a running commentary on the royal commission, did you know about his individual behaviour, that was the question?


SHORTEN: As I said yesterday and as I’ve said in the past and as I say again today, I will stand by my record of what I’ve done standing up for the rights of working people over 14 years in the union movement, full stop.


Any other questions?


JOURNALIST: Just one more, the concession on the tax breaks for dependant spouses, does this, is this an indication by Labor that there is a need for some kind of Budget repair?


SHORTEN: It’s a recognition by Labor that we will work constructively in Australians long term interests. But what we ask the Abbot Government to do is drop your broken promises and lies about the cuts to Family Tax Benefit payments. Tony Abbott made clear before he got elected that we wouldn’t be doing the sorts of things he’s now trying to do. We’re willing to work with the Government constructively on some measures because that the sort of constructive Opposition we are. But when it comes to ripping thousands of dollars off working families we say to Tony Abbott there’s a line in the sand and we will not cross it, nor should you.


Thanks everyone, cheers.