Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Parkville



FRIDAY, 30 MAY 2014



SUBJECT/S: Cuts to pensioners; GP Tax; Cuts to education and science; Abbott Government’s budget of broken promises; Flight MH370; Senate; government advertising; hospital waiting times; Cuts to the Refugee Council, Paul Keating.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Today we've seen some of Australia's brightest 15 and 16-year-olds deepening their love of science. This is a great school with great teachers and fantastic students, supported by parents who want to see their kids get the best start in life. But the unfair budget of Tony Abbott, full of broken promises, based upon lies and lies and lies before the last election, means that these great kids are going to face far greater crippling debts and fees to go to universities.


Not every child in Australia comes from a very privileged background. Parents make big sacrifices to send their kids to primary and secondary school. One of the dreams every parent has in Australia for their children, is that their kids can go on to have a successful and secure and stable adult life. Part of the dream of Australian life is the opportunity to get a trade, to learn a trade or to go to university. Tony Abbott's unfair budget will mean that these students, if they want to study science and follow their passion at university, instead of it being capped at $34,000, these children and their parents are going to face debts of up to $100,000 just to study science. The Abbott Government is making life hard for our young people and their families. Young Australians should not have to choose between being able to pay a mortgage or to pay to go to university. That is an unfair choice by Tony Abbott's unfair budget.


But it's not just the students studying science, the future generation of scientists in Australia that are in jeopardy. We've seen cruel and heartless job cuts to the CSIRO, to the Australian Institute of Marine Research, to the Australian Research Council, to the DSTO and other science organisations. Tony Abbott's recipe for the future of Australia is to sack scientists, is to decrease funding to science and to make it harder for the future generation of Australian scientists to invent the next fantastic invention which will make Australia a more successful country. Labor will oppose cuts to science. Labor will oppose increasing university fees and making it hard for children from all backgrounds to go to university. And I'd now like to hand over to my shadow spokesperson to talk further about some of these really important issues.


SENATOR KIM CARR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH, INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY: Well under Mr Abbott's ruthless, callous budget, over 1,000 scientists are being taken off the public pay roll. We have cuts to our scientific institutions and our commercialisation programs of $1.4 billion, so students will be faced with massive debts, crippling debts, their parents may well have to take out a second mortgage to assist them and you will have less employment opportunities in the Commonwealth as a direct result of this government's budget cuts.


On top of that, if you're a scientist working in industry there will be less opportunity because this government has taken away the incentives to encourage our business to change the way they do their business, by applying the very best of Australian scientific knowledge. So this is a job-destroying budget, a budget that will cripple Australian families and will cripple the hopes and aspirations of a generation of Australian students seeking to do what I think every Australian expects them to do and serve this nation.


SHORTEN: We're happy to take questions. Thank you.


JOURNALIST: Did the Prime Minister jump the gun on MH370?


SHORTEN: Well, like every person in the world who flies, we've all been touched by the tragedy and the disappearance of MH370. What I think we need to do is have less running commentary and more letting the professionals get on with the job of trying to answer this terrible question. There can be disasters around the world which are tragedies, but this disaster has touched people in Australia, not just because of Australians being on MH370, but every person who flies in an airplane can feel the concern about why did this plane disappear. This is a tragedy which has touched everyone in the world and Labor's position is that we continue to support efforts to try and answer these terrible questions to bring some comfort to the family and to everyone else who flies.


JOURNALIST: Do you think he tried to gain political advantage from that situation?


SHORTEN: It's not for me to speculate on the motives of the Prime Minister.


JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott is meeting with Senate crossbenchers. Will you be doing the same?


SHORTEN: I don't know if Tony Abbott is meeting with Clive Palmer over a meal of duck but in terms of Labor's approach, we know what we stand for. We do not believe in $100,000 university degrees to study science. We do not believe that the way that Australia becomes a smart country is to sack scientists. We will apply our principles and values. There is nothing that Tony Abbott can say or can do, no amount of finger wagging or foot stamping or shouting will divert Labor from opposing the new GP Tax, from standing up for pensioners, from standing up for bright kids from modest backgrounds to be able to go to university, and standing up against a new tax on petrol.


JOURNALIST: Will you be meeting with Senate crossbenchers?


SHORTEN: We meet with Senate crossbenchers on a regular basis, but what I'm also stating here is when we meet with crossbenchers, what will we talk about? We will talk about, Labor is on the side of pensioners, we're on the side of people who want to see their kids go to university, we're on the side of sick people who shouldn't have to pay tax to go to see the doctor. We don't need to sit behind closed doors with Clive Palmer and Malcolm Turnbull to tell Australians what we think. People know what Labor stands for, it’s for a fair go for all.


JOURNALIST: Will you speak to Senators to convince them to vote for Labor?


SHORTEN: Well we believe that, it's not about Labor, it's about what's in the best interests of the future of Australia. We need in Australian politics a government who doesn't think about their own political skin but thinks about the future of Australia. It is not good for the future of Australia to go down the Margaret Thatcher path of cutting and slashing. It is not good for Australia to have new taxes put on sick people. It is not good for Australia to have pensioners worried about whether or not their income will keep up with the cost of living. It is not good for Australia to have the bright fantastic kids we've just met at University High in Melbourne, we've got future scientists, engineers, who knows, Nobel prize winners. Tony Abbott does not have a right to wreck this country with his unfair budget and broken promises.


JOURNALIST: Who's doing that for Labor? Who's negotiating with the crossbenchers?


SHORTEN: We've got a Senate Leadership team and a leadership team of the parliamentary party. But also it's not just a matter of talking to the Senators. In the next two months Labor will go out and talk to Australians. Everyone knows that this budget is sinking and is in disarray. Everyone knows that we've got Coalition backbenchers who lack the intestinal fortitude, lack the guts to stand up to Tony Abbott, but privately they're shocked by this budget.


A budget is not about itself. A budget should be brought down to make sure that Australia is a better place. Australia is not a better, fairer destination if our kids can't get to university without crippling debts, if our sick can't see the doctor without paying more taxes, if our pensioners who have worked hard their whole life to contribute, have to worry about paying, you know, getting caught up in cost-of-living pressures because this Government doesn't know, is out of touch with pensioners.


JOURNALIST: Is there any form of compromise that you're going to accept in terms of changes to university fees?


SHORTEN: Labor has a very straightforward principle. With Labor what you see is what you get. We want to make sure that children, regardless of what postcode, regardless of how much money their parents have got, we want kids to have the chance to go to university.


JOURNALIST: Can I ask you what you made of the surgery waiting list stories this morning and the fact that the Liberal Party is saying that Labor's made up those figures?


SHORTEN: The Liberal Party, every day at their office of factory lying, they make up a new lie. The issue here is that this Abbott Government is so arrogant that they've already got the Medicare telephone line saying to people that people will be paying a new $7 tax. Tony Abbott shouldn't get ahead of himself, he needs to wake up to himself. The GP Tax is a bad idea and Labor will fight it with every breath in our body.


JOURNALIST: There was cuts to the Refugee Council revealed today that weren't outlined in the budget. What do you make of that?


SHORTEN: This is a government who I think has got hard explaining to do around the way it's handling people and the regional settlement centres. There's no doubt that this government's addicted to secrecy. This government wants to cut off its critics. Everything from Legal Aid funding to the disability discrimination commissioner. This is a government who will punish its critics. It's not the right way in the Australian democracy. The Abbott Government should get out and talk to the real people, the people who are filling their cars with petrol, paying for it themselves this morning, the pensioners worrying about how they're going to keep pace with the cost of living. Research shows that pensioners are going to lose, courtesy of this budget and its future decisions, $160 a fortnight over the next number of years.


These are crazy priorities. On one hand this is a government who will pay a millionaire $2,000 a week in terms of their – a fortnight in terms of what they pay them for a parental leave and yet they're going to cut money off pensioners. This is a Government with crazy priorities which are out of touch.


JOURNALIST: Why did the Labor Government abuse government advertising in its final days?


SHORTEN: I'm not even going to that. This is just, again, the government trying to point the finger at everyone else. I have never seen a government so ready to run the Opposition. This is a government who throws mud at everyone. They don't like the scientists, they don't like the critics, they don't like people who criticise their budget, they don't like their backbench when they criticise their budget. This Government knows it's got an unfair budget based on broken promises, systemic lies before the last election.


Australia will never forget that Tony Abbott was the Opposition Leader who said if you vote for Tony Abbott you'll get a Prime Minister who won't break his promises. But then he said, no cuts to health, well that was a lie. No cuts to education, that was a lie. He said no changes to pensions, that was a lie. He says that Medicare, he's their best friend, well that's clearly a lie. So this is a Prime Minister who cannot be trusted with the finances of this country.


JOURNALIST: You're not really in a position to be able to criticise government advertising spending though, are you?


SHORTEN: If this government wastes taxpayers' money selling this unfair budget, I think that is a disgrace and yes we will criticise them, and merely because Tony Abbott doesn't like being criticised, well if he wants to fix up his budget he should buy a mirror and look at the problem.


JOURNALIST: Was your budget reply speech written by Paul Keating?


SHORTEN: The budget reply speech was a statement of Labor values. I was very grateful for the great reception it had and I’m very grateful for the ongoing advice of many in my Caucus and many former great Labor people including Bill Kelty and Paul Keating.


JOURNALIST: Is he wittier than you?


SHORTEN: I beg your pardon?


JOURNALIST: Is he wittier than you?


SHORTEN: I think that Paul Keating was a great Prime Minister and one thing’s for sure, when he was Treasurer I think he was much better than Joe Hockey will ever be. I'm a big fan of Paul's. Thanks.