Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Moonee Ponds



SUBJECT / S: Tony Abbott’s Budget of broken promises; Increase in university fees.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: This is an unfair Budget built upon lies that Tony Abbott told before the last election. Again today, almost three weeks after this bad Budget was presented to the people of Australia, we see ministers who do not know the details of their own policies. We have a Prime Minister who cannot control what his minsters are saying. We have a Prime Minister who has lost control of this Budget. I think all Australians are appalled that this government can’t maintain the same position for 24 hours without something changing. Tony Abbott knows that Australians do not like his Budget. Australians will not like his Budget, they will never like his Budget. If Tony Abbott had any courage he would revisit substantial parts of this Budget. Fiddling around the margins doesn’t cut it with the Australian people. The Government needs to decide that it will take pressure off Australian families not put pressure on Australian families. There are large parts of this Budget which the Labor Party that I lead will never vote for. We will never vote for large parts of this Budget, we can never vote for large parts of this Budget and that will never change. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: What are some of those parts of the Budget that you will never vote for?

SHORTEN: Making it impossible, or certainly a lot harder, for kids from middle and lower income backgrounds to be able to go to university, pricing Australian kids out of universities, the dream of a university degree, Labor will never back that in. Wrecking Medicare, putting new taxes on the sick and the vulnerable, Labor will never, ever vote for. Putting a new price on petrol, a new tax on petrol, so that millions of Australian’s have got increased pressure, millions of small businesses have got increased pressure on their businesses, Labor will never vote for that. Making it such that people on Newstart don’t get any money at all for six months, Labor will not support this. Attacking families who are getting some modest family benefits, Labor is not up for wrecking the Budgets of families doing it hard, battling to make ends meet.

JOURNALIST: Melbourne University says fees could increase by up to 61 per cent. Do you see that as possible?

SHORTEN: The Melbourne University report is incredibly concerning for millions of families. There are parents now around Australia as their children are doing secondary school who are wondering how earth they’re going to be able to support their kids at university. Once upon a time in Australia families if they worked hard, paid their taxes, could make sure they looked after their kids in primary and secondary school, they had half a chance, with some modest support from the family at the university level or doing a trade, that the kids would be able to set themselves up. The Melbourne University report saying that fees for degrees will double send shock waves through every family living room around Australia and what’s more is this Government so out of touch with real families and real people, that they are basically laying down a challenge to the next generation of Australian adults. You can go to university or you can have enough money to pay for the mortgage for your house but you can’t have both.

JOURNALIST: Christopher Pyne says competition will keep fees down. What makes you think that’s not the case?

SHORTEN: Christopher Pyne and the Prime Minister have time and time and time again refused to guarantee that we won’t see the rise of $100,000 science degrees, that we won’t see university degrees doubling in cost. They can’t guarantee that prices won’t go up. The reason they can’t is they know prices will go up for kids hoping to go to university in Australia. But this Government doesn’t have a firm grip on their higher education policies. Last week they were going to have a student death debt tax where the estates of deceased students could be taxed. Joe Hockey says something at nine o’clock and Tony Abbott rushes out at nine-thirty and says something different. Today, again, Christopher Pyne has blundered, he said that any changes they make will only affect students in the future, yet his own departments website says that if you already have a student debt the rate of interest you’ve got to pay it back of is going to go up.

JOURNALIST: Have you met with any Senate cross-benchers lately to convince them to vote with Labor?

SHORTEN: We talk with cross-bench Senators on a regular basis. The people I’ve been meeting with in the last three weeks since this terrible, unfair Budget was brought down full of broken promises, based upon lies told by the Prime Minster to Australians before the last election, the people I’m meeting with are families, ordinary people. Pensioners are scared of this Government proposing to interfere with the rate of increase in the pension in this country. You’ve got parents now, and kids, weighing up at secondary school, do they think that they can actually go to university, will they be able to afford all the university fees that Tony Abbott wants to inflict upon them. There are people who are dreadfully concerned about the impact of a GP tax, discouraging sick people form going to the doctor. You don’t need to talk to politicians to work out this is a bad Budget, Tony Abbott should spend more time talking to the Australian people. They don’t like his Budget, they will never like his Budget, Labor doesn’t like his Budget and there will be huge parts of it that Labor will not vote for because we will stand up for Australians against Tony Abbott’s mean vision for Australia.

JOURNALIST: From your discussions can you see that large parts of this Budget may actually be blocked in the Senate?

SHORTEN: That will be up to the consciences of the cross-bench Senators, depending on what sort of Australia they want to create. But it is not a secret that Tony Abbott’s lost control of the Budget process. It is not a secret that Australians have given the big thumbs down to Tony Abbott’s Budget. It’s not a secret that his own backbench are deeply unhappy. It’s not a secret that in the last few days you’ve got Joe Hockey going one way, you’ve got Tony Abbott going another. You’ve got Kevin Andrews raising thought bubbles, being slapped down today by Tony Abbott. This is a government who doesn’t know the detail of their own Budget. This is a government, of the Prime Minister of which has lost control of the Budget debate because it’s a bad Budget for Australia.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, what did you pay for university?

SHORTEN: I started when there were no fees then I paid my HCES as I finished my courses. And I want to thank my parents for helping.

JOURNALIST: Did you take part in any student protests against cuts, like, as we saw with Joe Hockey which emerged last week?

SHORTEN: I don’t think I was as famous at student politics as Joe Hockey was but I can promise one thing to Australians; doesn’t matter that I’m in my mid-forties now, I’ll stand up for uni students and I’ll stand up for their families. I and Labor have not forgotten that there is a generation of Australians who got to university because the prospect of university was affordable and I will not be part of the generation in parliament who tells the future that you can’t have the same opportunities that this Abbott Government got when they were young men and women. Thanks everyone.