Bill's Transcripts

Interview - The Project - Tobacco excise; opinion polls






SUBECT/S: Tobacco excise; opinion polls


WALEED ALY, HOST: We're joined by the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten. Thank you very much for joining us. More poor people than wealthy people smoke. You've opposed the GST on the grounds it targets the poor. Doesn't this tax do the same this thing?


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well Waleed, 2.5 million Australians smoke and we would like to get that number down. But the real issue – and quite often big tobacco have run the argument against Labor saying ‘you shouldn't increase the excise or the tax on cigarettes because that disproportionately affects the less well-off people’ – my answer is that smoking disproportion naturally hurts less well-off people.


PETER HELLIAR, HOST: Now Bill, we need to talk about the polls. I know you don't read the polls but -


SHORTEN: People read them to me.


HELLIAR: So your approval is 15 per cent and I know you say you never give up. You don't and you won't. But at 15 per cent, surely you've considered it?


SHORTEN: No, I think what's happened is we know why Malcolm Turnbull is doing well, he's not Tony Abbott. To be honest I'm happy to see Tony Abbott gone too. But Malcolm hasn't faced a real economic test yet. The real test will be the Budget next year, how he handles the economic challenge. A real test will be if he’d just explain why he's introducing a GST increase on everything.


HELLIAR: But Bill, 15 per cent is not good. Is the only chance of Labor winning the next election Tony Abbott returning to the Lodge?


SHORTEN: No, I don't think Abbott has got any chance of coming back, though I don't know if anyone has told him that. No, I think the election will be fought on five issues. Who has the best policy on climate change? Who is going to properly fund our education and schools and universities? Who will make sure we have a good health care and hospital system? Who has the best plan for jobs? And there will be that tax issue, too. I think people will look at the issues at the next election.


ALY: Geez, you reeled that off word-perfect. Did you memorise that or is there like an autocue in front of you where you can just read that?


SHORTEN: I don't use autocues, do you guys? Anyway, what we talk about in Canberra is important and all of that, but the fact of the matter is that more Australians find out their politics from watching The Project than from listening to Question Time in Parliament.


CARRIE BICKMORE, HOST: You're good at sucking up, Bill, I will give you that. Can I just say, though, I mean everyone wants to be popular, though. You wouldn't be human if you didn't look at 15 per cent and feel gutted. Like, surely you do see that and go, argh. You know, you'd be giving every part of yourself to everything you do every day. It must be disappointing for you.


SHORTEN: I'm born an optimist. My view is the more people I can meet, the better we’ll do. The more we outline our policies, the more people will listen. When you're the Opposition Leader, it's like having the midnight to dawn slot on television, not that many people are necessarily focused compared to what the Prime Minister is saying.


ALY: Alright Bill, thank you very much for your time.


SHORTEN: Thanks - have a nice evening everybody.