Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Yass - Impact of Liberals’ 15 per cent GST on small business; Stuart Robert


SUBJECT/S: Impact of Liberals’ 15 per cent GST on small business; Stuart Robert


MIKE KELLY, FEDERAL LABOR CANDIDATE FOR EDEN-MONARO: Well good morning everyone, welcome to beautiful Yass, one of the jewels in the crown of our region here, a wonderful country town. And it’s great to have Bill Shorten with us here today. We’ve been talking a lot about the impact of the Coalition’s GST plans on the 11,00 small businesses in Eden-Monaro. We’re here today at the Kaffeine Café talking to Emma and Carrie-Ann – great wonderful local business of the many great purveyors of fine coffee in Yass, and all of them are deeply concerned about the impact of GST. They’ve said far and wide to us, butchers have said, you know ‘we’re absorbing the high cost of meat’, another increase in the GST would just be the straw that broke the camel’s back for them. So they’ve been screaming out to me, and to us, to fight that battle on their behalf. Now we know the Coalition lied to us before the last election – said they wouldn’t do all sorts of things and went ahead and did them. At the Griffith by-election, they said there would be no GP co-payment and they went ahead and did that as well and lied to us. So we know we can't trust them. We know that if they are not going to rule this out specifically, that there are still plans afoot to get it done, either before or after this next election. So we need a strong Labor team to fight for the small businesses, for the pensioners, for all of the lower and middle income earners in Eden-Monaro who would suffer from the impact of a 15 per cent GST. Luckily with Bill Shorten we have a man who fights for what he believes in. Unlike Malcolm Turnbull who never had a principle or cause that he didn't betray, Bill Shorten stands up for working men and women, stands up for our kids who need a decent education, stands up for the small businesses of Australia who refuse to be slugged by a 15 per cent GST. Thanks for coming today, Bill.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks, Mike, and good morning everyone. Now is the time, after five months, for Malcolm Turnbull to rule out once and for all no 15 per cent GST on everything. For the last five months, Malcolm Turnbull has led Australia up hill and down dale on a fruitless discussion about raising the GST to 15 per cent. Mr Turnbull said to justify rolling Tony Abbott as leader that he would bring new economic leadership. Five months down the track, all Australia is left with is more talk and no action from Malcolm Turnbull. Five months after Mr Turnbull justified rolling Tony Abbott on the basis of new economic leadership, the situation's gone from bad to worse. Debt and deficit are up. The stock market is in turmoil, and we’ve got a Liberal Government talking about tax reform but not being up front with the Australian people. By contrast, the Labor Party from day one has said that we know that lifting the GST to 15 per cent is plainly a bad idea. Speaking to these remarkable businesswomen who have started up a very successful small business in the last four years, they just nailed it today when they said the problem with putting the GST to 15 per cent is it’s not good for working and middle income Australians who will have less money to spend, it will be a greater cost for small business, it will discourage confidence, it is the last thing that Australians need. So Labor on behalf of small businesses, people on fixed income pensions, the independent retirees and superannuants and of course working people as well have said a Labor government will never increase the GST, nor will we extend the GST to items that currently don't attract that extra tax.


Malcolm Turnbull has waffled up and down and all around the bush for the last five months. At last he may be waking up to himself before an election. It has been the panic of Liberal backbenchers worried about losing their jobs, not the best interests of families which has motivated this latest temporary retreat from a GST. Mr Turnbull needs today to rule it off the table once and for all, he needs to pull his Treasurer into line, who is clearly attracted to a GST. But the real problem is if it's not this form of electoral and family and cost of living poison to the Australian people that Malcolm Turnbull's administering, what other poison do they have? They need to rule out the $100,000 university degrees. They need the make very clear that they are not going to launch a raid on 9.5 million people's superannuation by mucking around with the rate of taxation, the money going into superannuation. Malcolm Turnbull needs to outline what he really intends for the Australian people because five months down the track, he has just been all talk and no action. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Malcolm Turnbull has never said that a 15 per cent GST was going to be part of his tax plan. It's only ever been Labor who have maintained that this is the only proposal there. Given that we have now seen senior Ministers tell the ABC that the GST increase doesn't appear to be part of the tax plan, does that make Labor's attack here seem fruitless?


SHORTEN: Labor was right on day one when we said we were opposed to an increase. It was Mr Turnbull and his Liberals who said it was on the table. And Australians in the last five months have seen reports from big business pushing for a GST, from some State Premiers pushing for a GST, and there have been plenty of Liberals pushing for a GST. We didn't come down in the last shower. If the Liberals think they can get away with a 15 per cent GST on everything, they will do it. Clearly Liberal backbench MPs have been sufficiently concerned by the prospect of a 15 per cent GST that they, too, have joined the cry against a 15 per cent GST. I know what a Liberal Government will do if they were re-elected at the next election. The 15 per cent GST will be back on the table. If you want to stop a 15 per cent GST on everything, you can't trust the Liberals, vote Labor at the next election to stop a 15 per cent GST. We have been the one consistent voice in this whole debate.


JOURNALIST: What do you make of discussion that now the Government might turn its attention to cutting superannuation tax concessions and potentially giving the States a share of income tax revenue in exchange for part of their GST revenue? Is that a better approach?


SHORTEN: Malcolm Turnbull is running a thought bubble factory but he's certainly not showing economic leadership. Let's be very clear here. Malcolm Turnbull does have to explain how he will pay for the swinging cuts to schools and hospitals. In the 2014 Budget, re-enforced in the 2015 Budget, the Liberals have made massive cuts to the funding of the education of our children throughout all schools in Australia, to the treatment of sick people throughout Australia by massive cuts to hospitals. But now he is proposing that having realised that his 15 per cent GST idea is deeply unpopular within the Australian electorate, he's now turning his attention to the superannuation payments of 9.5 million people who go to work every day. I keep seeing proposals that it's on the table that they will increase the taxes paid by people who receive superannuation. So, what he's looking at is a massive attack on the payments going into superannuation by increasing the rate of taxation on the money which you pay into your superannuation. Malcolm Turnbull could easily pick up our very sensible ideas. We think that you should look at the high net worth individuals, we think you should look at multinationals and make them pay their fair share, we think that you should look at tobacco excise and on the reducing expenditure side we think that the Government should stop wasting literally billions of dollars to prop up Tony Abbott's failed plans on climate change and he should drop his $160 million taxpayer-funded plebiscite and just let the Members of Parliament do their day job and vote according to their conscience on the issue of marriage equality. There are alternatives for Malcolm Turnbull's attack on the working and middle class Australian hip pocket.


JOURNALIST: On a slightly different issue, we've seen some reports that Stuart Robert, a member of Malcolm Turnbull's front bench made a trip to China and there's been some discussion about whether or not his conduct over there was not becoming of a Minister. What do you make of those reports and where do you think this matter should go further?


SHORTEN: I think these are very serious matters. Malcolm Turnbull's judgment is under question now. Minister Robert has to explain what he's done, when he's done, what have been his transactions. Has there been any conflict between his private relationships and his public role as a Minister? This is a most serious matter.


JOURNALIST: Mr Robert maintains he wasn't there representing the then Abbott Government. Is that not enough?


SHORTEN: Well, we'll have to get to the bottom of the matter. Clearly the media have identified concerns and I do think it is not going to be enough to fob off the concerns with a simple glib one-liner. And I think Malcolm Turnbull needs to explain what he knows and does he still have confidence in Minister Roberts?


JOURNALIST: Should he be sacked?


SHORTEN: We need to get to the bottom of the matter but there is clearly more questions here than answers. This is the whole challenge of the Turnbull Government. We know that Malcolm Turnbull had a bitter leadership struggle with Tony Abbott. He did so on the basis of backing in that he would provide new economic leadership. This tax reform debate, which Malcolm Turnbull's promised Australians, has just gone one way and the other, up a lot of dead ends. At the same time, Malcolm Turnbull leads a deeply divided Government and it is not good enough to have some of his ministers, who he has promoted and rewarded, for reasons we don't know, not able to fully explain their actions. Labor will make sure the questions we seek to be answered are answered. Thanks everyone, I hope you enjoy a cup of coffee in Yass and the good news is it's still GST 15 per cent free. Thanks.