WEDNESDAY, 6 JUNE 2018
SUBJECTS: Labor’s $1.1 million commitment for IT hardware and tools at Chisholm TAFE; TAFE funding; Qantas; income tax cuts; Banking Royal Commission; State of Origin.
PETA MURPHY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR DUNKLEY: Hi everyone my name is Peta Murphy, and I'm the Labor candidate for Dunkley. It's been my absolute pleasure today to have Bill Shorten here with me at Chisholm Institute in the heart of our beautiful Frankston. This institute is not just physically in the heart of Frankston, it is very much at the heart of the future and the future for Dunkley. Labor as everyone knows, supports TAFE and supports public TAFE, and that's why Bill's here with me today so that we can talk about our support for Chisholm Institute and the Centre for Innovative Design, which will be part of the $76 million redevelopment that's occurring at this place.
Of course, that's a redevelopment totally funded by a State Labor Government and Chisholm Institute, because this is a precinct that sadly the Federal Government has ignored. The Liberal Government doesn't want to be a part of the amazing things that are happening in this part of town. When I walk here from my house and see what's happening at the Frankston train station and what's happening here at Chisholm TAFE, I can see the future, and it's exciting, and it's something that a Federal Labor Government will be committed to and will be part of.
This institute provides the opportunities for local jobs for local people. It provides the opportunities for training, for trades which are so fundamental, and the Centre for Innovative Design, that a Federal Labor Government will contribute to, will give young people skills for now and skills that they need for the future, and that's very exciting. I'm always grateful to Chisholm Institute because when my husband dropped out of High School he came back here to this very place to do his VCE and that gave him the future that he's now lucky enough to enjoy. And I want to be part of making sure that every young person in Dunkley, and every slightly older person in Dunkley that wants to get an education and training has the opportunity to come to Chisholm Institute and to get the future that they deserve.
So, thank you so much for being here today Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Peta. Hello everyone, it's great to be at Chisholm Institute. This is a great TAFE, it has 10 different campuses right around South East and Melbourne, and it provides an invaluable service. But I'm particularly pleased to be here today because I want to speak directly to the mums and dads of kids who are in secondary school. I want to give you a promise today. I want to promise you that if you want your kids to get an apprenticeship and to do an apprenticeship, they'll be able to do it.
Australia is a tradie nation - 1.6 million of our fellow Australians have got trades qualifications. But in recent years, in particular the last five years, we've been going backwards. We used to have 420,000 apprentices, now we're down to about 280,000. This isn't good enough. I want Australia to be a tradie nation, and to make sure that we are able to offer apprenticeships to our young people, and indeed to older Australians who want to reskill, but we've got to have a strong TAFE.
So I'm pleased today to announce that Labor would invest $1.1 million in a Centre for Innovative Design, right here in the Frankston campus of Chisholm Institute, because we want to make sure that we're giving the best possible resources to the apprentices and the tradespeople of the future. And this promise comes on top of our other promises in TAFE, and I want to go back to those parents, the mums and the dads who are wondering if their sons and daughters will be able to find an apprenticeship. If you vote for Labor at the next election, you'll be able to make sure your kids can find that apprenticeship, and what we're going to do is, in our first term of government, we're going to fund the upfront fees for 100,000 apprenticeship places. If you've got a child who is finishing secondary school and they decide that being an apprentice is what they want to do, we're going to take that cost of that first decision - which in some cases is up to $3000, and we're going to use valuable taxpayer money to reinvest in the wellbeing and the future of your kids. I know there's a lot of parents who want to see their kids have an opportunity to do an apprenticeship, just like they did in the past. Labor's going to do this because we will restore the 100,000 places by paying the upfront fees, we're going to invest in the infrastructure of TAFE, and we're going to stop the privatisation of TAFE.
You can't be a strong tradie nation without having lots of apprenticeships, and you can't have lots of quality apprenticeships without a strong TAFE. We think the pendulum towards the privatisation of vocational education swung far too far to some of the shonky private providers. So we're going to put TAFE right back in the centre of becoming a tradie nation. And so, we are very committed to making sure that for adults who want to retrain, and for young people who would like to try their hand at an apprenticeship, Labor's on your side, because we want you to have the chance to be a tradesperson.
We're happy to take any questions that people might have.
JOURNALIST: Richard Marles has said on the QANTAS/China issue that it's not an issue of big principle. Do you agree?
SHORTEN: Well, certainly it's ultimately a decision for QANTAS. I said yesterday that in an ideal world maybe they wouldn't have had to do this, but I'm not going to start running the QANTAS airline business from the opposition seats of Parliament.
JOURNALIST: Sorry, does that mean you and Richard Marles aren't on the same page then if he says it’s not a big issue?
SHORTEN: We're on the same page as the government. We have a one China policy, but what we also recognise is that it's important we maintain people to people and economic ties with Taiwan as well.
JOURNALIST: So Labor's now pledging to fight the income tax cut on gender, while the gender pay gap exists, isn't all tax relief going to be unfair in your eyes?
SHORTEN: I think what you're talking about is the new report today, which shows that for every dollar of tax relief that working women in Australia will get, men will get $3. I think the point is that this doesn't seem particularly fair. But this goes to I think, a deeper point about the government's tax cuts on the never, never. I mean, they're making promises in seven years, when it's highly unlikely either the Treasurer or the current Prime Minister will be there to implement it. But what the new report also shows today, is that 62 per cent of tens of billions of dollars of income tax cuts, is going to go to the top 20 per cent.
Labor has a better plan and it's a more immediate plan. What we're promising Australians, is because of the tough economic decisions we are making we can promise someone working on $65,000 a year, that across the course of the first three years of a Labor government, they'll be about $3000 better off. So we've made a decision to focus on the near term. We've made a decision that cost of living pressures on working class people who earn perhaps less than $100,000 a year, their bills are going up now. They can't be made promises in seven years’ time, they've got to pay their electricity bills, their private health insurance bills right now. So Labor's got a better plan - and we're able to give away a refund to people of about $1000 a year, because we're not giving away $17 billion to the big banks. Now the government is saying that they've got a better plan at some point in the future. But the more you scratch the surface of this government's so called better plan in seven years’ time, which they won’t be in a position to deliver, we've discovered that 62 per cent of the benefit is going to the top 20 per cent. I don't think many people think that's very fair.
JOURNALIST: So if you're connecting these issues of tax relief with gender equality, does that mean that tax equality can't be achieved until the gender equality wages is?
SHORTEN: No I think we're capable as nation of doing more than one thing at a time. Labor is saying, that what we want to do is look after 10 million people who go to work right now, we want to look after these people with a tax cut of up to $1000 a year. Of course it is the harsh fact that women preponderantly are in lower paid occupations. So our fairer tax plan, because we are looking after 10 million people and not the top end of town, does have the benefit of being more supportive of women. I think that what this report today - because it's been very hard I think you'll concede, to get details out of the government about their plan in seven years, in 10 years’ time. The more that the detail emerges the more it sort of, starts to look like a thread - the more you pull on it, it starts to unwind doesn't it. The fact of the matter is they're going to give billions of dollars away and 62 per cent of their total tax cut in the next 10 years is going to go to the top 20 per cent, and when you add that on top of their $80 billion giveaway which proportionately goes to big corporations, I think we're left with a conclusion that Mr Turnbull and the government will always choose the top end of town over everybody else, and Labor will look after working and middle class people as our first priority.
JOURNALIST: Just on tax, has the release of the year by year costing figures on personal income tax helped you make up your mind on the legislation?
SHORTEN: We'll make up our mind through consultation with my united team but I think that it is interesting isn't it, that the government has been very reluctant to tell Australians the fine print of their plan. And I think that the more that we examine the fine print, the more questions the government has to answer. How is it fair that this is a government who wants to give $17 billion away to the big banks in the next 10 years. It wants to give 62 per cent of all of its income tax relief to the top 20 per cent of income earners. This is a government who's addicted to looking after the top end rather than middle and working class people. We on the other hand, think that as a first priority let’s look after the 10 million Aussies who earn less than $125,000 a year.
JOURNALIST: With these charges that the ACCC has levelled against a number of top bankers, there's a lot of commentary today saying that the ACCC is overstepping the mark, overreaching it's boundaries, that it shouldn't be pursuing criminal charges. What do you think?
SHORTEN: Well I think it would be very unwise of me to be commenting about a matter that's before the courts. I think the broader question here is that - and Labor has been leading this debate for over two years now, is that there is growing concern that the big banks have behaved in a way which hasn't benefitted consumers. That's why we think this is exactly the wrong time for the government and Mr Turnbull to be looking after the big banks and investment banks when there's so much community concern. But on the specifics of the cartel prosecution, I think that we should let the court process run its race without commentary from the politicians.
JOURNALIST: Going back to the tax, will you be supporting the stage two of the plan?
SHORTEN: Well we're studying stage two of the plan. We haven't got to a final position on it, but I think it is fair to say that the more the detail emerges - the government's basic proposition at the budget was for 10 million people, they'll give you $10 a week. But in return for people just accepting that $10 a week, the government wanted the rest of us and the Labor Party to turn a blind eye to the fact that tens of billions of dollars are going to be paid over time to the very wealthy. Now, it's not a question of whether or not we want to see people in this first stage get tax relief, we do. But we’ve had a good look at the government’s policy and we said two days later to the government, why don't they reconsider their plan and almost double the offer to 10 million people.
If Labor gets elected what we will do in our first year is provide a $928 refund to everyone who earns less than $90,000 a year and above $50,000 a year, that's almost double what the government is offering. Now we are able to make that promise because we're making decisions to wind back unsustainable tax concessions at the top end, and we're not up for giving $17 billion to the big banks. What the government has really tried to do is, for $10 a week, get everyone to ignore the fact that they're looking after one group in society, a smaller, more wealthy group and ignore everyone else. I think the other proposition we have to look at when we look at the tax promises from the government, is they're a long way in the future. Their plan is for - to give tax reductions in seven years’ time, but the problem is in Australia that we're getting cuts to hospitals right now, we're getting cuts to schools right now, we're getting cuts to TAFE right now.
The Labor Party's economic plan for Australia is to make sure that you can afford to go and see a doctor when you're sick. To make sure that the kids, wherever they live in Australia are getting a quality education. To make sure that we're encouraging 100,000 extra apprenticeships. My view is and talking to the people I meet every day is, that if you look after working and middle class people then the economy looks after itself.
JOURNALIST: On the issue of encryption, do you support the government's task to give law enforcement agencies more powers?
SHORTEN: We haven't seen the final report from the government but we have been in constructive dialogue with the government. When it comes to national security the record has been that Labor and the conservatives have worked quite well together in the national interest. But where we've seen measures which we think go too far, or been rushed, or haven't been sufficiently well thought out, we've been prepared to make amendments, to make suggestions. It's that constructive approach which we intend to keep taking. We'll see their legislation, there's a report due to be released in the very near future, let's have a look at that. But certainly, the Labor Party's default position is to be constructive, to make sure that we get the detail right, that we don't rush it but we do prioritise making sure that Australians are safe. I think that's what people expect of us.
JOURNALIST: Where are you at with talks on foreign interference and espionage laws. Have you reached a deal with the government?
SHORTEN: Well there's two different sets of laws. The discussions have very well progressed on one of them and that's probably our immediate focus, but again, I just refer you to my earlier answer. Our intention is to be constructive, not to be a rubber stamp but to work constructively with the government, because I think Australians expect our parliamentarians not to have Labor versus Liberal arguments when it comes to national security, but to really focus on keeping Australians safe, but maintaining the Australian way of life.
JOURNALIST: Treasurer Scott Morrison has said that they've already responded to a lot of what has come out of the Banking Royal Commission by introducing harsher penalties that ASIC can hand out. They also say that they had to delay the starting of the Banking Royal Commission because they needed to get reforms through and they couldn't do that at the same time. Do you think he's catching himself out in a contradiction there?
SHORTEN: Oh yes, poor old Scott Morrison doesn't know whether he's Arthur or Martha when it comes to the Banking Royal Commission. The fact of the matter is that on 263 occasions, government ministers including the Treasurer and the Prime Minister argued very vociferously, very strongly against having a Banking Royal Commission. This government is out of touch when it comes to our big banks and our financial services sector. They've done everything they can to avoid having a Banking Royal Commission, in the meantime consumers were getting ripped off, and now we're seeing the Banking Royal Commission and the stories which are emerging. I think it's even worse than a lot of people thought it was. This is a government who got it wrong. They're just the shop stewards, the representatives of the big banks in Parliament, and now they can't admit that they got it wrong.
JOURNALIST: Most important question of the day, who are you barracking for in Origin tonight?
SHORTEN: I've got to go for Queensland because that's where my wife's family come from. At the end of the day, I mean I'm an AFL guy but at the end of the day you've got to keep the peace at home, don't you?
JOURNALIST: Any picks for top player?
SHORTEN: No I don't have a pick on that. But I hope Queensland win because I've backed them.
JOURNALIST: Can I just ask if you have decided which seat you'll contest?
SHORTEN: Let's wait to see what the final maps are, but definitely going to be running for Parliament again. An Altogether unsurprising announcement. Alright, thanks everybody, thanks Peta.