Bill's Transcripts

Radio Interview - HOBART - Malcolm Turnbull’s 15 per cent GST on everything; Foreign ownership




SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s 15 per cent GST on everything; Foreign ownership; Liberal Government’s cuts to Medicare, NSW ALP; Indonesia terror attacks

LEON COMPTON: Bill Shorten, good morning to you.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning Leon, Happy New Year.

COMPTON: And Happy New Year to you too. On local issues, I'm sure people have been talking to you about the possible sale of the Van Diemen's Land Company, the biggest diary in Australasia, to a Chinese investor, some this week coming out and saying that shouldn't be allowed to happen. Are you comfortable with VDL being sold to the Chinese?

SHORTEN: In a perfect world I would like to see Australian businesses owed by Australians but that isn't what happens all the time and this particular farm is being operated by a foreign owner already. What matters to me even more than Australia ownership, and Australian ownership is important to me and the Labor Party, is keeping jobs in Australia. I think the dairy industry is really important to the future of Australia, and I think the jobs it creates and the value add we can do, that to me is the principle driver of how I look me things - will it keep more jobs in Australia. Now we've always had foreign investment in Australia ever since Captain Cook arrived, so foreign investment in and of itself shouldn't just be sneered at, it's an important part of what we do. Also Australia invests in a lot of other parts of the world, so I'm not automatically suspicious of foreign investment. Do I have a preference for Australian ownership, yes but I also happen to have a greater preference for creating more jobs in Australia for Australians.

COMPTON: The reason that you're here is to campaign against a possible rise in the goods and services tax that's currently at 10 per cent, education and health are two of Tasmanian's biggest challenges, we desperately need better outcomes in both. Why not pay for them with a lift in the GST?

SHORTEN: Well first of all what's that problem we're trying to solve here, the problem which we want to do is make sure that states and territories have enough resources to provide good health care and good education. But you don't solve the problem caused by the Federal Liberal Government over the last two and a half years, who've cut literally tens of billions of dollars from schools and hospitals by just putting a new 15 per cent tax on everything. You don't solve the problems of education and health by increasing the cost of living on families and individuals. Labor's proposed alternative means to raise important resources for education and health - making multinationals pay their fair share of taxation in Australia. Just before Christmas Leon there was a report which came out of the Australian Tax Office, which showered that 579 large Australian companies paid no tax at all. Now that can be perfectly legal, but something's not quite right when your mums and your dads, your individual people are paying all of, you know, the pay as you go brigade, number at 11 million people, they're paying their taxes but you've got large corporations and high net worth individuals who can use their personal resources to minimise their tax. We've got a two class tax system in Australia, where if you're really well off you can utilise the advantages of the Tax Act to minimise your tax and everyone else just has to pay their tax as they go.

COMPTON: If you went after those entities, how much of that would cover the $37 billion deficit that's forecast for this financial year in Australia?

SHORTEN: Well you're not going to sort out the deficit this year by any form of taxation. I think in the long term what you want to do is generate economic growth, quality economic growth and you've got to make it fair. The best solution to sort out the deficit over the cycle is to make sure you've got policies which inspire growth. But you don't inspire growth and confidence by putting a 15 per cent tax on everything. You know I was in the supermarkets in Devonport yesterday, people are shocked at the idea that fresh food could cost an extra 15 per cent, we want our kids to eat healthily. There are parents right now with their kids on holidays who are battling to make ends meet, they definitely don't want to, with all respect to our fast food industry, take their kids down to the fast food burger bar to get their food. But we shouldn't price fresh food out of business by making sure that a 15 per cent tax gets put on.

COMPTON: Did you ask if they would accept that if the outcome was more money for education and health in Tasmania?

SHORTEN: I didn't because it's a false choice. Labor will unveil policies in the course of the year as we were doing last year which explained how we can have quality health care, how we can have excellent schools  which make sure that we are, every school is a great school, every child gets to fulfil their potential and the standards in Australian schools go up. But you don't have to do that by putting a 15 per cent tax on everything including education and health care costs.

COMPTON: Bill Shorten a survey by the Australia Institute said 60 per cent of Tasmanians might support an increase if it went to government services in the state.

SHORTEN: It all depends on the question you ask there and I tell you the question I ask people is do you really believe that you'll get compensated when a 15 per cent GST gets implemented - people say no. See people have got long memories, John Howard said when he introduced - another Liberal prime minister said when he introduced the 10 per cent GST, that was it. But I tell you what people don't think they're going to get compensated, and furthermore no one trusts this Liberal Government nationally to prioritise education and health because before the last federal election they said there'd be no cuts to health, no cuts to pensions, no cut to education. In fact they even said Leon no cuts to the ABC and SBS. All those promises got broken so why on earth would we be foolish enough to believe the Liberals again when they say that they're going to increase the price of everything and yet they say it'll all go to education and health care; we know that's just a lie, I don't trust the Liberals when it comes to quality education and health care. In fact I’m visiting a pathology laboratory after this interview in Launceston where we're seeing cuts to Medicare by slashing bulk-billing for diagnostic imaging and pathology, that's going to hurt patients.

COMPTON: Okay, Bill Shorten is our guest this morning talking to us out of our Launceston studios. Your New South Wales branch in turmoil this morning, its general secretary was forced to resign last night over allegations of sexual harassment. Bill Shorten, he's protesting his innocence, did you directly intervene in this matter?

SHORTEN: I did say yesterday morning that I wanted a report. It's been a NSW matter but I'm the national leader of the Labor Party, yesterday I asked for the matter to be resolved, I wanted a report from the president of the Labor Party in New South Wales, and in the course of the day the matter has been resolved and let me go to the bigger point here. The Labor Party has zero tolerance for harassment in the workplace. We are proud of the fact that 44 per cent of our MPs are women, that's double the Liberals. We want to increase that, we want women involved in all aspects of Australian political life. I fundamentally believe that only when women have an equal go in Australian society can this country fulfil its potential. The Labor Party is very proud of its track record, I'm pleased that the matters have been resolved yesterday.

COMPTON: Did you directly intervene in this matter to get the outcome that you wanted?

SHORTEN: I certainly asked for the matter to be resolved, and then the people of New South Wales did that.

COMPTON: Did you tell the Secretary to resign, that you wanted his resignation?

SHORTEN: I'm not going to go blow by blow into every conversation I had.

COMPTON: It's a simple question, did you ask the Secretary for his resignation?

SHORTEN: I've given you an answer, I'm not going to go blow by blow, it's a fair enough question but I'm not going to get into every procedural matter -

COMPTON: It's also a question that goes to your control of your party as leader, a question that people, you know, or an issue that people have questions about. Did you directly intervene in this matter to make the point and to uphold the values that you espoused earlier in the interview.

SHORTEN: Yes, without going into each conversation, and I'll respect the privacy of those conversations, I made my view very clear yesterday.

COMPTON: And that was that the Secretary needed to resign yesterday?

SHORTEN: The situation needed to be resolved, and I did say because I fundamentally believe that when women are treated equally in this society we will see this society be a much more prosperous, successful country. We could be the best in the world. If Australia does nothing else in the next 15 years but treats women equally, well, you know, the futures unbelievable for us, it's great.

COMPTON: Bill Shorten, just before we leave you this morning, your reaction to the Indonesia attacks. Are you worried for security in our nearest neighbour?

SHORTEN: It's dreadful what happened yesterday. Indonesia is a thriving democracy, it is an incredibly booming country, it has made a lot of progress in a very short time. It's the largest Muslim nation in the world, and it's one of the largest democracies in the world. I deplore what the terrorists are trying to do to upset that society, Indonesia has been very successful. They are working incredibly hard in counter-terrorism and I know that they are, work with the Australian authorities, and I know that Australian authorities will again be of assistance to our Indonesian friends because the point about terrorism is it's not a Islam versus Christianity argument as some choose to believe, it's about extremists in societies trying to disrupt the lives of everyone else, and most people who die from this form of extreme terrorism are Muslims. And so Indonesia's doing everything it can and Australia should and would and does work with them.

COMPTON: Good to talk to you this morning.

SHORTEN: Thank you.