SUNDAY, 18 MAY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Budget lies; rebuilding Labor.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone. It’s great to be at Moonee Valley racecourse in the home of my federal electorate of Maribyrnong. Great to be with hundreds of true believers at the Victorian Labor Party conference. The mood in this ALP Conference reflects the mood in every household across the nation. People believe that this Budget is the worst Budget they’ve seen in living memory. This has been a Budget this week bringing terrible news to millions of Australians. It is a Budget built on lies.
Today the Labor Party reaffirmed its commitment to stand up for the pensioners and not let Tony Abbott get his hands on their meagre, modest pensions. This Labor Party conference is resolved to stand up for Medicare and the central principle of universal, accessible healthcare for all. This ALP conference has also resolved that Labor will stand up for the young people who are facing six months without a cent, or indeed not even able to get to university because of crippling debts. Again this ALP conference has again reaffirmed the importance of fighting cost of living increases. The job of a Federal Government's Budget is not to put pressure on eight million family budgets.
There's one other thing which has been discussed today. It's when, I understand that the Prime Minister said specifically today when it was put to him, the Prime Minister, didn't you promise no tax increases, no changes to health and education, what the Prime Minister said today, I understand, is Tony Abbott said ‘people hear different things’. What a cheeky, presumptuous statement by the Prime Minister of Australia. It is true people heard Tony Abbott say one thing before an election and another thing after an election. But Prime Minister, Australians know a lie when they hear one, and you have been the national championship liar of election promises and Australians aren’t going to forget any time soon, no matter how many weasel words you come up with. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Are you happy with the level of support you're getting on party reform from the state leader Daniel Andrews, Mr Shorten?
SHORTEN: Absolutely. The Labor Party is focused on the main game in Australia. It’s about rebuilding Labor, it’s about making sure that we are a strong voice in Australia against the excesses of the Abbott Government. The Labor Party has given 100 per cent support to stopping Tony Abbott creating a permanent underclass in Australian society and Daniel Andrews is doing a great job in Victoria.
JOURNALIST: He has been pretty lukewarm on the idea of reducing union input into party processes and pre-selections [inaudible]?
SHORTEN: I said in my speech today that the Labor Party has to be a membership-based party, not a faction-based party. We need to modernise our relationship with the unions, we need to ensure that we're a democratic party. Labor is up for rebuilding, Labor is changing. But one thing's for sure. This Budget by Tony Abbott has helped Labor find its voice. Everyone in Australia now knows that the Labor Party stands for standing up for the pensioners, standing up for Medicare, standing up against Abbott Government attacks on the cost of living, standing up against the petrol tax.
JOURNALIST: [inaudible question]
SHORTEN: The Labor Party’s got to continue to change, that's inevitable. The path of rebuilding, it can't be done in one day or one weekend, but today the Labor Party's endorsed bringing thousands more people into the Labor Party. It’s endorsed an even better deal for women who want to represent the Labor Party. And it's adopted a timetable to deal with rebuilding the Labor Party. And the Labor Party today, most importantly for all Australians, has found its voice. We will not let Tony Abbott get at the pensioners unless they come through us. We will not let Tony Abbott attack Medicare, except they've got to come through me and the Labor Party. So we’re standing up and doing what all Australians want us to do, which is be a voice for all Australians against the Abbott Government's mean, nasty Budget.
JOURNALIST: [inaudible question]
SHORTEN: I'm up for changing the status quo with the Labor Party. I will continue that process. I've made that clear in today's speech. We've made some positive changes today and the train has left the station. The Labor Party is committed to rebuilding, but we're rebuilding for a purpose, keeping the Abbott Government honest. The Abbott Government lied and lied and lied before the last election. They promised no new taxes, taxes are going up. They promised no cut to hospitals and education, cuts to hospital and education. They promised that they would stand up for the pension and in fact they've got a plan to undercut the pension. So we are doing the job which Australians want us to do. Even people who vote Liberal or for other parties I think want to see the Labor Party be the strongest voice possible to hold the Government to account
JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott also said this morning that everyone was on notice before the election that the Liberals were going to cut spending, do you think that’s fair?
SHORTEN: Tony Abbott’s talking through his hat. You know, even a crocodile wouldn't swallow what Tony Abbott’s dishing up at the moment. Tony Abbott said no new taxes, that was a lie, there are new taxes. Tony Abbott said no cuts to health and education, there are cuts to health and education. Tony Abbott lied. Tony Abbott said that he wouldn't cut the pension, Tony Abbott has plans to cut the pension. Tony Abbott lied. Tony Abbott keeps pretending that Australians somehow are stupid, that people hear different things. It is not the hearing of Australians voters which is the problem Tony Abbott. It's the fact that you're lying to them and Australians have a good memory.
JOURNALIST: Isn’t part of rebuilding the Labor Party be able to articulate what you stand for and as well as what your against, you're more or less saying bring on a double dissolution election Tony Abbott. Everyone’s heard what you're opposed to [inaudible], but we don't know how Labor under Bill Shorten, were it to win a double dissolution election or any election and become the governing party, would bring long-term Budgets back into balance, and everyone acknowledges that has to happen.
SHORTEN: First of all, I don't think Tony Abbott will bring on an election, but he floated that thought bubble. I think that thought bubble’s disappearing pretty quickly. But Labor is prepared to stand up for what it believes in. We are for Medicare, it’s Tony Abbott who is against Medicare. We are for pensioners, it is Tony Abbott who is against pensioners. We are for dealing with cost of living, Tony Abbott is against dealing with the cost of living because he's introducing a petrol tax. It’s actually Tony Abbott who’s got the negative views of this country, and if Tony Abbott needs some Budget housekeeping tips, here's one, drop your ridiculous, egotistical paid parental leave scheme which everyone in Australia knows is a clunker, because you're going to give $50,000 to millionaires who don't need it. Tony Abbott, if you really care about pensioners, if you really care about families, if you really care about kids going to university, if you really care about cost of living, if you really care about Medicare, there's $22 billion you can save in one sentence by saying that you will drop this paid parental leave scheme for multi-millionaires.
JOURNALIST: What do you think of Campbell Newman's idea for a share income taxes with the states?
SHORTEN: Campbell Newman is a slogan looking for some substance. Everyone knows that Tony Abbott has declared war on the states. He's cutting hospital and school funds by $80 thousand million. Unprecedented. Tony Abbott is using cutbacks to states as a form of blackmail to force the states to introduce a bigger GST.
JOURNALIST: But what do you think of the idea?
SHORTEN: I think that Campbell Newman need to focus on running Queensland. But the real issue here for me is Tony Abbott. Let's not mince words. Tony Abbott said no changes to pensions, no increases to taxes, no touching Medicare, no touching health, no touching education. Tony Abbott has lied and lied and lied on pensions, on taxes, on cost of living, on education and healthcare, and the Australian population, I don't believe take kindly to Tony Abbott having a mean and nasty Budget of broken promises and lies which hurts millions of ordinary Australians. Tony Abbott needs to go back to the drawing board.
JOURNALIST: Just to clarify briefly an earlier question, has there been a tension between you and Daniel Andrews [inaudible] because of your different stages in the electoral cycle [inaudible]?
SHORTEN: What matters to Daniel Andrews is the best interests of Victoria. What matters to me is the best interests of Victoria and indeed the nation. I'm a parent, my kids go to schools, I know that Tony Abbott’s going to cut funding to schools –
JOURNALIST: Sure, but I'm not asking about Tony Abbott, I'm asking about what has been going on with you and Daniel Andrews. Had has there been an tension between you on this question of internal party reform?
SHORTEN: As much as some people would seek to divert my attention from holding Tony Abbott to account, the days of Labor disunity are behind us. What matters to Australians and what matters to Victorians is that Labor’s got a good strong message of standing up for ordinary people. Daniel Andrews and I are doing just fine in terms of standing up for Victorians and standing up for Australians. We'll continue to do that. Labor’s the party who won't forget people on family payments, Labor won't forget the pensioners, Labor won't forget the sick, Labor won't forget the people who want to send their kids to university, who are worried that Tony Abbott’s going to force working class kids, country kids, kids from modest means, deny them the chance to ever go to university. Thanks everyone, have a lovely afternoon.
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