Bill's Transcripts



SUBJECT/S: International Women’s Day; Dysfunction and division in the Liberal Party; National security leaks; Scott Morrison’s shrinking credibility; Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals $80 billion cuts to health and education funding. 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Chloe and I are pleased to be here at UN International Women's Day breakfast, lending our support to Australia both at home and abroad, supporting equal treatment of women in society. It's a very good morning for that and Labor has good policies to make sure that we can do more to stamp out the scourge of family violence and do more to support the equal treatment of women in the workplace. From everything from superannuation to equal pay and to also making sure that women occupy more positions on boards and positions of influence in our society. So that is good. 

What is not so good though today is that the Liberal Party is at war with itself. It is unprecedented to see the Liberals calling the police to investigate other Liberals. What's wrong with the Liberal Party that they have this born to rule mentality where they think that their civil war is more important than the issues effecting the nation? We haven't seen an economic plan from Mr Turnbull after 6 months. We haven't seen a tax plan for Mr Turnbull after 6 months. What we have seen though is dysfunction and division at the heart of the Liberal Party. They need to stop worrying about themselves and start getting on with the job of providing a vision and an alternative for Australians.  

Happy to take questions. 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, your shadow ministers this morning have spent the day rubbishing BIS Shrapnel report. Is it time for Labor to release its own modelling to refute today's findings? 

SHORTEN: Let's talk about this BIS Shrapnel report. This report is a joke.The report was done and researched before Labor released it's policies. The report doesn't model Labor's policies, it models a set of fantasy assumptions and then draws it's own conclusions. What is even more laughable is that the Treasurer has nailed his credibility to a report with no credibility. For instance, when I say this report is not credible, leave aside the fact that it was done and prepared before Labor had announced it's policies, so its dealing with a whole lot of straw men issues. But the report says that our GDP is something like $190 billion - they have forgotten $1.4 trillion of the Australian economy. The report assumes that every Australian, every Australian who buys a house does not live in the house that they buy, that they are all for investment. So there are clear flaws in that report.  

In terms of the economic debate about negative gearing and our sensible changes which will guarantee by the way, that no Australian who currently has invested under the negative gearing laws has any change in their status and will still provide negative gearing for new houses. Our policy is all about ensuring that first home buyers have a level playing field when competing with property speculators. I don't understand why the Liberal Party think that the great Australian dream is to be able to buy your 7th house to help minimise other sorts of taxation. I know the great Australian dream is to be able to buy your first house. I know that every Saturday at auctions and when people look at outcomes of auctions, parents and grandparents, Sydney, Melbourne, everywhere, shake their heads and wonder how their kids will get into the housing market. Labor has got a very sensible policy with no retrospectivity. So in other words, anyone who has invested under the existing taxation laws - we're not changing the goal posts. Now plenty of economist have looked at what has been said. You've got the McKell Institute, you've got Saul Eslake, you've got ANU, and so they have definitely demonstrated and they are definitely satisfied that Labor's policy is a sensible policy. And indeed, I think you'll all remember Joe Hockey, when he gave his valedictory, just called for exactly the policy which Labor is outlining. And even I was presently surprised when Jeff Kennett, who doesn't always agree with the Labor Party, has give Labor's policy the tick. 

JOURNALIST: When are you going to release the modelling? Will you wait for the Budget reply or will we see it before then?

SHORTEN: There is already plenty of work. This issue has been modeled to death. But one thing is for sure - 

JOURNALIST: But we haven't seen Labor modelling - 

SHORTEN: Well, first of all. We have got a Treasurer who is sinking without trace, desperately grasping at the straw of a report that which was done before Labor's policy - without modelling Labor's assumptions, without even looking at Labor's policy. So what this Treasurer is doing is he is running a scare campaign based on no evidence. I think eminent economist, John Daley has said that this report doesn't even pass the giggle test.  

JOURNALIST: Who do you think commissioned this report? 

SHORTEN: Someone who is probably speculating on a lot of property and wouldn't want to see any changes. Let's be clear, there are some people who don't want to change the existing policy. They are the people with millions and millions of dollars who are just able to offset their income. The Prime Minister loves to say that negative gearing is some sort of Robin Hood tax which taxes the rich and gives to the poor - we've seen some pretty incredible stuff in Question Time, haven't we? Where the Prime Minister has actually said that negative gearing is a sort of re-distributive mechanism and that somehow it helps working class and middle class people. We all know that isn't the case. What is remarkable is that this Government loves to quote, saying looking at the post-negative gearing income of Australians and say 'see, that means a lot of less well off people are negatively gearing'. The truth of the matter is the absurdity of is this is highlighted by the fact that there is 64,000 Australians who report no income after negatively gearing. Could you please find me a single bank in Australia who's willing to lend money to buy a house to people who have no income. The truth of the matter is that negative gearing, and the Government in its more honest moments recognises, provides excesses and distortions in the system. Joe Hockey said that, Jeff Kennett has said that, even the remarkable disappearing Treasurer of Australia Scott Morrison, when they let him out of witness protection periodically to put his foot in his mouth, he said in an answer in Question Time there are excesses in the system. And every day since he's said that, every day since he's said that we've said what are the excesses Treasurer, and this Treasurer looks for everywhere to hide because he can't admit the truth, there are excesses in the system.

JOURNALIST: So why not fight the scare campaign by releasing the modelling?

SHORTEN: We are fighting the scare campaign every day and I'm glad you recognise it's a scare campaign. Saul Estlake is a very respected economist, he's an independent thinker, he doesn't march to the beat of the drum of the Liberal Party, of the Labor Party or any other party. The Grattan Institute, the McKell Institute, we've seen ANU do the modelling and do work. So please by all means, just don't take our word for it, talk to the economists, talk to the experts, in fact talk to the parents and grandparents who are worried that their children will not be able to enter the housing market.

JOURNALIST: Have you already done modelling that your just not releasing because of what it says?

SHORTEN: No there's plenty of modelling already out there and we look forward to this debate going all the way to 6pm on election night. It is only Labor who's got a plan for the future. Labor's released costed plans; we've ripped up the rule book. You know, traditionally the smart politics of Opposition would be to say and do nothing and hope the Government put their foot in it. Well certainly the Government are putting their foot in it, you know, leaked national security documents from one faction of the Liberal Party to embarrass another faction of the Liberal Party. Once upon a time on national security, it used to be important to ensure that the Labor Party and the Liberal Party were on the same page. Well Labor's on the same page on national security, the problem is two parts of the Liberal Party are not on the same page on national security. But my point though is even more than the division and dysfunction in the Liberal Party and their lack of action after 6 months. My point is that Labor has released costed policies, we've done the unexpected. It shouldn't be unexpected but we have done it. We can explain how we pay to make sure that we don't have $100,000 degrees. We can explain why Medicare should be a system where it's your health care card not your credit card which determines the level of care. We can explain how we fund our promises by making sure that multinationals pay their fair share of taxation, that we deal with some of the excessively generous tax concessions at the top end of superannuation and yes we are talking about tackling negative gearing to make it more effective the long term interests of Budget repair that is fair, that young Australians can hope to get into their first house and not be priced out of the market. And that of course we can pay for important policies in education and health care. So we will talk about this issue, we will talk about jobs for Australians, we will talk about education and health care and renewable energy to be fair dinkum on climate change right to 6pm on election night whenever that is. Last question thank you.

JOURNALIST: On education, there are reports this morning that the Prime Minister has contacted state leaders to arrange short term education funding. Will this take away a line of attack for you in this election year and do you think it's just effectively a bribe to shut them up?

SHORTEN: Clearly, the Prime Minister's desperately running around to stitch up short term bribes to try and get the Liberal Party past the next election, to cover their lack of policy. The Liberal Party has got form when it comes to breaking promises in education. Before the last election Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott said ‘oh we're on a unity ticket with Labor’. They knew that Labor had better education policies before the last election, so they said you know we better get the damage control, we better just say whatever we can to agree with the Labor Party, so that people will not regard education as an issue where there's a difference between the parties. Then we saw in the 2014 Budget, the 2015 Budget and indeed this year, the Liberals have said they're not going to properly fund the future of our schools and therefore the future of our kids and the future of our economy. Now as they get to an election, they're in their usual panic mode say and do anything, bribe, you know any state government and let's hope that people will forget that we can't be trusted on education. Nothing less than the proper funding of our schools over the next 10 years will suffice. You know we're here on International Women's Day, we recognise that we need to treat women equally in society, the best policy to drive equality in our society, and indeed to drive economic growth in our society, to drive fairness and a brighter future is to properly fund our schools. Thanks everyone, see you a bit later.


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