ABC FAR NORTH
WEDNESDAY, 20 JANUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals’ 15 per cent GST; Jobs; Labor’s positive plan to advance Australia
PAUL STANLEY, HOST: Mr. Shorten, welcome to the Far North – and what brings you here?
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Great to be here – I’m a frequent visitor to Cairns and the Far North. On this visit, I’m touring around regional Australia, in particular Northern Australia, listening and talking about the Liberal ideas, Malcolm Turnbull’s ideas for a 15 per cent GST on everything. I’m against it – I think it’s a bad idea and it will damage confidence and small business. It’ll increase the cost of living on ordinary Australians, and I think there’s far better ideas, such as making multi-nationals pay their fair share of tax before you start reaching into the pockets of everyday Australians.
STANLEY: Obviously an issue that’s being talked around Queensland as a whole is whether the Queensland Government will give money to resupply things like roads and all sorts of infrastructure. On that argument, could the GST be the answer?
SHORTEN: Well, there are challenges in terms of the job that Premier Palaszczuk has to do, and I think she’s doing a good job in terms of paying for schools, and hospitals and infrastructure. But Labor has proposed alternative ways of funding the necessary money to help deliver quality schools – every school being a great school, quality healthcare and keeping Medicare intact, and also infrastructure. If I’ve got 30 seconds, I’ll try and knock over how we would do it. We’ve made clear that we think multinationals don’t pay their fair share of taxation, and we think there’s, to be honest, and the numbers will be billions of dollars to be collected in the future by just getting multinationals not to treat the Australian tax system as a game. Before Christmas, 579 Australian companies, large companies, were revealed not to pay any tax. Now, I don’t know about you, but that sends me and a lot of small businesses basically off their brains. They think, we pay taxes every day – the cleaner pays more taxes than some multinationals, so the system’s not right, and we think that’s where the work needs to be done, rather than making everyday Australians pay 15 per cent for fresh fruit at the grocers or 15 per cent for medical and healthcare costs. We would also pay for helping our healthcare system and our school system by clamping down on some of the excessively generous superannuation tax concessions. We’re not talking about superannuation amounts of everyday people, what we’re saying is that if you’ve got $2,3,4 million dollars already in superannuation, which is not many people I know, the income you earn from that, currently, is tax-free, so it’s not even the lump sum. But the incomes – see you get $75,000 in interest and pay no tax. Yet everyone else who’s listening to this show and going to work has to pay your ordinary marginal rate of taxation. Now, the problem in Australia is that you’ve got two rules: one rule for the very lucky, and one rule for everyone else. And Labor is the side of everyone else so that’s why we don’t think you need a GST to pay for schools, hospitals and infrastructure.
STANLEY: Bill Shorten, my guest, Bill Shorten I suspect we’ll see you a few times in 2016 in the Far North – there’s more than likely going to be an election called – and it’s odd. If you talk state politics, they’ll tell you this is a Labor heartland over about 100 years, Labor not holding the seat of Cairns for about 4-5 years totally in the 100 years. However, Federal Politics, Warren Entcsh, the LNP holds the seat and has done for a while now, do you see it as one of your biggest challenges?
SHORTEN: Yes, but I don’t take Cairns for granted. Warren’s a strong candidate – I’m not the sort of political leader that wants to say bad things about other people, that’s poor and it turns people off, and it’s not who I am. No, for me, what’s important in Cairns are the issues and the number one issue, in fact the number two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten issue us jobs. You know, Cairns is a great place to live. You’ve got great strengths from food to tourism. You’ve got that marvellous reef just off your beach. It should be about jobs. Cairns in many ways is the major city of Far-North Queensland. You’ve got a great university here, but somehow all the pieces of the puzzle, when put together, aren’t delivering the sort of solid jobs growth which I think people in Cairns expect. So what they’ll get from a Shorten Labor Government is a commitment to do real work on infrastructure because that gives real jobs; a commitment to properly fund our schools – because you don’t want to have kids having to go elsewhere for their education, and that includes a proper commitment on funding JCU as well; a proper health system, we’re living longer – population in Cairns is aging like everywhere else, but also what we would do is have a fair tax system and we’ll be fair dinkum on climate change. You know one of the things we’ve got to do is preserve the reef. And with global warming, with warmer temperatures, we are leading to more erratic weather, and we’re certainly leading to greater pressure on the reef, which is the largest living organism in the world.
STANLEY: Bill Shorten, I am right aren’t I – we’ll see you a lot this year?
SHORTEN: Yeah, I’ll say one of the problems when you’re the opposition is that I was here last year too, and the year before, but this year, it’s about the future: and it’s a matter of competing ideas for the future. What I want to see is a debate about who’s got the best ideas for Cairns and the region, who’s got the best ideas for Australia, and if people give it good, honest contemplation, and we present our ideas in a fair dinkum fashion, both sides of politics, then I think that’s what our democracy is meant to do.
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