Bill's Transcripts

Press Conference: Adelaide





SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Budget; Cost of Living; Tony Abbott’s Broken Promises and Twisted Priorities; Newspoll; Tax increases; GP Tax; Cuts to pensions; Cuts to education.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone, it’s great to be here with Kate Ellis, our Shadow Minister for Education, and Nick Champion, our hard-working local Member of Parliament for Wakefield. It is uplifting to visit Hope Central. Everybody knows that some of the suburbs around here have been hard hit by decisions to finish manufacturing for the car industry and a lot of people here are battling to make ends meet. But here we have, in a renovated set of shops, hope literally springing up. It is uplifting to talk to young mums raising their kids, making sure their kids get the best start in life. It is uplifting, it is good news to talk to carers of children and young adults who are diagnosed with Aspergers or with autism, they are doing their best to make sure their children are raised in homes full of love and care.


But, of course, whilst there is good news is at Hope Central, it is the bad news of the budget for millions of Australians which is making these hard-working carers, these hard-working mums concerned about what will happen to their kids, what will happen to themselves. The Abbott budget is proving to be bad news for millions of Australians. The Abbott budget is proving to be a budget of broken promises and twisted priorities. Broken promises of talking about increasing people's tax that they pay, pressure on the carers pension, costing these mums and these carers more money to take their sick kids to the doctor with a new GP tax.


Labor will stand by carers in Australia, Labor will stand by the families who are battling to make ends meet. Even though Tony Abbott has a bad news budget for millions of Australians, Labor will fight Tony Abbott's broken promises and twisted priorities with every inch of effort next week. We'll make sure that carers and young mums don't get slugged with increased costs of living because Tony Abbott is breaking his promises to Australians.


We’re happy to take questions.


REPORTER: Mr Shorten, this morning's Newspoll show that people are turning off the Coalition but not necessarily onto Labor. Is there an explanation for that?


SHORTEN: Well the numbers which matter to me are not the Newspoll numbers. What matters to me is not the bad news for Tony Abbott in these polls. What matters to me is the bad news that Tony Abbott's budget has for Australians.


There are millions of Australians who are trying to make ends meet between one fortnightly pay period and the next. There are carers here at Hope Central in the northern suburbs of Adelaide who are prioritising their budget emergencies, which is which bills they have to pay and which bills can they put off to the following week. There is no case made by Tony Abbott to justify putting a new GP tax on these carers and these mums to take their sick kids to the doctor. There has been no case made for Tony Abbott to break his promises and slug millions of Australians with new taxes merely because they go to work. They're the numbers that matter.


REPORTER: The fact there’s disenchantment with this budget policy, and there's no corresponding bump in the Labor vote, does that not strike you as curious or is this just a passing phase of anger towards the Government?


SHORTEN: There will be no just mere passing phase if Tony Abbott breaks his promises to the Australian people. This budget is scaring the daylights out of carers and pensioners, it's frustrating Australians who go to work every day who cannot believe that this Prime Minister, when he was Opposition Leader, made himself the moral paragon, he made himself the Mother Teresa of Opposition Leaders. Tony Abbott staked his reputation on not breaking election promises. Now we see Tony Abbott conflating a false budget emergency and it is the sick, it is the elderly, it is the vulnerable, it is the carers, it is the people who go to work every day who are paying for Tony Abbott's twisted priorities and broken promises.

REPORTER: Mr Shorten, will be you be offering any of your own savings in your Budget reply speech?


SHORTEN: We will have to wait and see what the Government says in their Budget speech. So far all we have seen from this Government is the creation of alibis, the creation of false emergencies to justify breaking promises to the Australian people. The carers of Australia deserve to be thanked, not have promises broken where they have got to wonder if the rate of increase of the carers pension is in the gun. People with disabilities would gladly give away their disability rather than keep their pension. The problem is this is a Government who can't get rid of their disability - but intends to break their promise and go after their pension.


REPORTER: Would Labor support a debt tax if it only hit high income earners?

SHORTEN: Labor will not support Tony Abbott breaking promises to increase taxes in this country. We didn’t write Tony Abbott’s script before the last election. We didn’t make him make himself a hero and say ‘I'm Tony Abbott, I will never break a promise that is a special issue.’ We did not make Tony Abbott say ‘I won't touch taxes and I won't touch pensions.’ Nonetheless, Prime Minister Abbott has given promises to the Australian people, they are not promises to Labor, these are promises to the hundreds of thousands of carers, to the hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities, to the millions of people who go to work every day.

Tony Abbott does not have a case for breaking his promises, increasing taxes, increasing the cost of helping sick kids and sick family, or in any fashion going after pensioners. Mr Abbott, don't pick on the pensioners, don't pick on the disabled, don’t pick on the carers, don’t pick on people who go to work. Instead dump your ridiculous crazy paid parental leave scheme which no-one wants and no-one needs.

REPORTER: Should the Government heed the advice of John Hewson and Peter Costello about the tax arrangements mooted in this Budget, particularly the debt levy?

SHORTEN: Mr Abbott should heed his own advice and not break his promises. There should be no deficit tax and no deficit of promises broken by Tony Abbott.

REPORTER: Mr Shorten, there is a report today’s Financial Review that Mr Abbott is considering cutting military super. Do you support that?

SHORTEN: There we go. Mr Abbott wakes up every morning and wants to break new promise. It’s the only thing he has done since being elected. Where did he say before the last election, as he is turning up at soldier parades, as he wraps himself in the flag, says that he is the best friend anyone has had in Australia, where did he say he was going to cut military superannuation? Tony Abbott before the election was the man who said he would never break promises. He has staked his reputation on being the Prime Minister who will set the best standard for not breaking promises. I've never seen a Prime Minister in Australian history so brazenly, so shamelessly, so quickly break so many promises.

REPORTER: You don't support that, then?

SHORTEN: We don't support Mr Abbott breaking promises full stop. Mr Abbott is the one who said he was special; he got people to vote for him because he said he wouldn't break promises. How can trust Mr Abbott again when this is a bloke that will break promises so causally, so easily? Where did he say he was going to tackle military pensions? Never did. How does he create a set of circumstances where Australian service people in the future be serving alongside each other in war zones and someone has a different payment scheme to someone else. It's the same enemy bullets that our soldiers face. Mr Abbott should not be breaking promises.

REPORTER: Do you find it telling that four conservative leaders and treasurers have weighed into this debate and advised against a deficit levy?

SHORTEN: Well Mr. Abbott doesn't look like he is taking advice from anyone. My advice to Mr Abbott, Australians will not thank you for breaking promises on the Budget, they will not thank you for making it more expensive to take sick kids to the doctor, and the carers will not be thanking you for making their lives harder and more uncertain than it already is.

REPORTER: If the polls stay the same and Labor regains power, [inaudible] the Productivity Commission report today says it’s not easy to shove people around in industries. Can you give some details about what you would do there [inaudible]?

SHORTEN: The Abbott Government lives in a fantasy land, where anyone can just simply – I mean, one, the Government did not fight for any jobs. The Abbott Government has no plan for transition. The Abbott Government thinks that people are nothing more than chess pieces to be moved around on a board. That someone living in Elizabeth can simply up sticks with their family and go somewhere else. That's not the way the world works. Mr Abbott should have a policy that supports advanced manufacturing in this country. The people who live in Elizabeth have got skills. The question is, does the Federal Government have the skills to get the best out of the Australian people?

REPORTER: If it ends up being up to you, what sort country of jobs could you find here in Elizabeth?

SHORTEN: We are a country that can still make things. We are a country that can do advanced manufacturing. The skill sets of car workers in Elizabeth and other manufacturing workers are remarkable. They can work in teams. They are capable of making quality decisions. We can compete with the best in the world in manufacturing. What we need though is a Government who will provide adult education, proper infrastructure, provide greater education opportunities for our young so that the jobs of the future don't bypass the northern suburbs of Adelaide.

REPORTER: The fact there is no bump in primary vote in the Newspoll, does that tell you the electorate is still disinterested in Labor at best? You have got a bit of ground to make up, despite all this apparent heat against Government.

SHORTEN: I don't think it’s apparent heat against the Government, it’s real heat against the Government. The only numbers I'm concerned about are the numbers which will see carers not getting done over by Tony Abbott . The only numbers I care about is are the kids who go to our schools in Adelaide and throughout Australia, going to get a proper education, properly resourced. The numbers I care about is Tony Abbott going to break a promise and increase the income tax paid by Australians who go to work. The numbers that matter aren’t the day to day argument between Tony Abbott and the Opposition; they are the bills Australians have to pay. It is not the job of the Federal Government and the Federal Budget to put more pressure on family budgets. The job of Federal Budget is to help family budgets, not to make family budgets harder. Thanks everyone.