Bill's Transcripts







SUBJECT/S: Lone Pine memorial service; 2016 Budget


ALAN JONES, HOST: Mr Shorten is on the line from Adelaide. Bill Shorten, good morning.




JONES: Did someone talk to you about this before the decision was taken?


SHORTEN: No, they didn't talk to us. It is miserly - the only set of circumstances I could understand they could legitimately contemplate not supporting the Lone Pine services is if they had security threat but the Government has said that is not the case. They just think it’s a logistical nightmare and they are worried about the weather.


JONES: I have been to Lone Pine. I understand you were there last year for the Lone Pine ceremony. Just explain to our listeners what you saw.


SHORTEN: As people would know, Lone Pine was up the cliffs and the hills from the beach, from ANZAC Cove. I went there last year for the 100 year anniversary. There is a beautiful long wall were the names of thousands of Australian young men are inscribed - these were the men who were killed in the battles of Lone Pine and in the surrounding gullies and cliffs and the conflicts that happened. The service last year, it was like coming onto a Rugby pitch. There were giant banks of temporary seating. Last year, there were thousands of Australians. You walk on, Tony Abbott was there, I was there. You lay wreaths, there is readings. It is an appropriate service -


JONES:  Very moving, very moving. I congratulate you. You did write a piece about this and you outlined some of the history because the ANZAC troops, as listeners may not know, but Bill Shorten has said this week 'landed at Gallipoli on April 25 but part of the strategy to capture - it was part of the strategy to capture Constantinople  and knock the Ottoman empire out of the great war but by early August the campaign was mired in a stalemate. Now you rightly said the battle of Lone Pine was a sort of diversion - a strategic maneuverer intended to draw the Turkish forces away from the larger ANZAC offensive on Hill 971 and in less than 4 days, this was 100 years ago, 2,000 lives were lost. There's a fair bit to commemorate.


SHORTEN: There is. And when you see how close - it was a diversion but it was full of heroism. When you see how close the Australian trenches were to the Turks', it was Australian men throwing themselves as a wall of humanity against machine gun bullets. And our guys were incredibly brave. And in fact, a personal note was that I found a family relative, by marriage, two of the brothers died at Gallipoli and one of them was up, I think he was in the 16th battalion, it was a West Australian battalion - he is up on the wall there. I don't understand why the Government -


JONES: Seven Australians won a Victoria Cross in those four days. I mean, you quoted one NSW private, quote "Many men preformed feats of utter fearless bravery sufficient to issue VCs all round but there was no one of high enough military rank to see them". And you quoted C.E.W Bean, the official historian of the campaign said "every man assumed that death" - this is Lone Pine - "was certain and each in the secret places of his mind debated how he would go to it". Veterans are writing to me, I am sure they are writing to you, they are absolutely outraged about this.


SHORTEN: It beggars belief. On the morning of ANZAC Day with all the Australians that visit there is an incredibility moving service just as the sun rises and then what happens is people walk up -


JONES: Up the Hill, sure.


SHORTEN: It is a hill -


JONES: A bit of a steep -


SHORTEN: It's a steep hill but -


JONES: But there are buses to take you up if you need transport -


SHORTEN: But our ancestors were in the face of enemy fire and somewhere along the line the Government said 'well due to inclement weather, maybe our people -


JONES: It is amazing. You quoted Patsy Adam-Smith. I've read that book of the ANZACs. Patsy Adams-Smith AO OBE. She is an Australian author, a historian. She has written a major work on the ANZACs and Australian women at war and prisoners of war. And she said the name of Lone Pine was whispered for decades in many families as if speaking of the tomb of the living dead of mystery and horror and the dark engulfing of young noisy boys.


SHORTEN: Patsy Adam-Smith writes beautifully. What I found, the week before I went ANZAC Cove last year, I was at a baptism and there was an older chap in the family, a distant relative. He was explaining to me that he had two uncles who were killed at Gallipoli and his mum and another aunt and what he said is that his grandparents – he said that ANZAC wrecked their family for two generations. Because what happened is the two boys never returned. He's grandparents never got over that, the pressure became too much in the family and they split apart. The two aunts were - sorry, his mum and another aunt were put out for care and he said what happened at Gallipoli and indeed, where Private Burgess is marked on the stone wall at Lone Pine, he said reverberated around his family for two generations.


JONES: And yet the reason I am speaking to the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten is the Turnbull Government decided only a week ago to abandon the Lone Pine ANZAC day service and abandon the funding that makes it possible. I have had veterans write in to me in absolute anger and as you said, that such a decision flies in the face of the promise we make that ‘at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Lest we forget’. I don't think the public expect their government to forget, do they?


SHORTEN: No and taxpayer money should be treated carefully and judiciously but we are already paying for the ANZAC Cove service. It seems to me of little cost. I do not believe if you had a referendum of Australians that there would be 1 in 100 who would object to having a service at Lone Pine.


JONES: Dan Tegan is the new Veterans Affairs Minister - has he spoken to you or have you spoken to him?


SHORTEN: He hasn't spoken to us. I corresponded directly with the Prime Minister -


JONES: Have you had a response?


SHORTEN: Not yet. I am sure that they will have to give way, by the way. Can I just say to the Veterans who are listening - someone once said 'Maintain your rage'. This is wrong. I am sure that once enough people become aware of this particular short-sightedness -


JONES: Yes, this is nonsense. This is nonsense. The Battle of Lone Pine by the way, occurred on the 6th of August, not in April but it has become one of the most sacred sights because of the bloody battle which resulted in a rare win for the ANZACs.


Just in the time that's available, Mr Shorten - I'm not going to talk about this whole expenditure tax thing at the moment but you have actually built up a bit of a war chest here. You've said that you are going to crack down on negative gearing for $25 billion, tighten capital gains tax discounting $48billion, tighten Superannuation tax concession - $14billion and you reckon you'll get $7 billion from the Multinational tax changes. That's $100billion - but in your Budget Reply speech last year, you said you'd offer a 5 per cent tax cut for small business - that's $3.5billion a year. You said you were going to scrap the HECs debts of 100,000 Maths, Technology, Engineering and Science students - that's another $3 billion. And you would increase research and development to 3 per cent of GDP - that's $4 billion. In the current climate, can we afford this kind of expenditure?


SHORTEN: You're quiet right - Labor has been calmly working through an alternative policy so we could become the government of Australia and we can explain how we fund things. But with the small business tax cuts, it would be nice to give small business more tax relief but we can only do that in a bipartisan nature and we can only do that over the life of more than one Parliament. I don't see any prospects of this Government coming up with that. In terms of what we are proposing for getting younger people to do Maths and Science, we're proposing this would be over 5 years but I do want to see more kids learning and encouraged to do Engineering and Mathematics at University. We need to be a country that makes things. That means we need to have more engineers and we need to have more scientist and also more people qualified to teach maths to our kids. But everything we do has to be measured against also repairing the Budget.


JONES: That said, there are people listening to you now who have got up very early and rolled up their sleeves and got into it - and yet, as things now stand and neither the Government or the Opposition have provided for them any relief - once they get to $37,001, they are paying 34.5 cents in every dollar back to the tax man. That means they are working all January, all February, all March and part of April - then if they get to $80,000 and many people are out to $80,000, it's 39cents in the dollar. What relief can you provide for them?


SHORTEN: What I can do is put downward pressure on the Budget expenditure - that's the first step, getting the Budget repaired. What I can do is make sure that other people, in particular multinationals are paying their fair share of taxation. That is the first step. I can't make a promise which isn't funded what I can do though is not put the treatment of multinationals in the too hard basket. You were speaking about this before I came on. It isn't right that people going to work every day, the people you speak of this morning, rolling up their sleeves, driving to work, working in factories or working in offices, working in small businesses, they're paying the tax that they are obligated to pay but you have got the tech giants and other companies who I think treat Australia as a soft touch.


JONES: But where are you going to cut expenditure? I mean we had that report last week where the combined health of Australian Federal and State Budgets has dithered since they were published last year. The total projected deficits have widened from $88 billion to $122 billion. That's over the next 4 years. $34 billion more and the bulk of it is Federal - the growth in Federal expenditure. Where? Where will it be the big ticket item that you will cut expenditure.


SHORTEN: Three areas I can nominate straight away. The Government has what's called an Emissions Reduction Fund. This is money paid to companies to encourage them not to put out more Carbon pollution. We will cut some of those payments - that will add to billions of dollars to the bottom line. We've also said that we will cut the baby bonus. The Government has said that they want to reintroduce a payment for babies that are born. We think in the current climate, that can't be justified. We've also said we want to cut expenditure on tax subsidies in negative gearing. These are all matters where taxpayers are paying and we don't think that the case is made to keep doing them in these ways.


JONES: We don't have time - I've let you say that but I don't have time to challenge any of that because we have run out of time but when you've got Budget coming down in a couple of weeks, nine weeks or it's going to be printed in about seven and the gap between expenditure and revenue is $40 billion, we have got a big problem haven't we?


SHORTEN: We do and anyone that says to Australians that it's just about taxes -


JONES: Yes, it's about expenditure


SHORTEN: It has to be about expenditure.


JONES: We've got to go. Let's talk again about that specific issue.


SHORTEN: Alright and thanks again for the chance to talk about Lone Pine.


JONES: You're most welcome, Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition.