Bill's Transcripts

Radio: LA FM Launceston - Pensions; GST; Renewable Energy;






SUBJECT/S: Pensions; GST; Renewable Energy; Multinational Tax; the 80s; AFL


FAIRSY: I’ve got Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in the house, Bill welcome to Tasmania.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: G’day Fairsy, nice to be here.


FAIRSY: Now, firstly welcome, and why are you here then, at the moment?


SHORTEN: Well Tasmania’s an important part of the Commonwealth, and today in particular we’re going to have a look – we’re talking to pensioners about their concerns with the Abbott Government cutting pension increase rates, and also we’ll be talking about renewable energy. I’ll be going to a factory which makes windmill machinery and wind turbine machinery. And there’s been a real cloud, the Abbott Government’s refusing to commit to a decent renewable energy target and now investment’s dried up and people aren’t building renewable energy and solar power and wind power. They’re part of our energy future in Australia.


FAIRSY: Yeah well they are aren’t they I mean, it’s not just the Labor Party that’s flagging that, I mean I know the Federal Member for Bass, Andrew Nikolic has been pushing this area for some time and renewable energy is the future, and jobs, lots of jobs.


SHORTEN: It is the future, the problem is at the last election, before the last election Tony Abbott said that they would keep the existing target, a commitment to a certain amount of renewable energy to be produced as part of our total energy. Now what’s important about having a target is that if people know there’s a target then you’ll get investment and jobs in research, because they’re guaranteed there’s a separate portion of the energy mix which will come from renewable energy. Now the Government’s walked away and proposed halving the renewable energy target, it’s thrown everything into confusion and disarray and there’s been a drought now of investment. Renewable energy in Australia currently employs thousands of people and it’s worth billions of dollars in investment. We were the 4th most attractive investment destination in the world, now we’re down to 10th and sinking fast, so we want to just put a bit of pressure back on Tony Abbott to say that we need a proper renewable energy target and we need the uncertainty to be dealt with.


FAIRSY: What about – I mean there’s lots of issues, we could spend all day, but I want to touch on a few briefly. Internet privacy, a land mark ruling with iinet forced to be, well been ruled to give away customer details to the studios that make certain movies. What’s your view on this, is this just the start of things to come?


SHORTEN: It sounds pretty dramatic, the decision, but the truth is video piracy is theft, so the question is when you’ve got people downloading films free, repeatedly, that is taking someone else’s hard work and not paying for it. But of course the industry, and I’ve said this directly to the film studios, I say I see their point about video piracy being theft, but too often in Australia we get the latest films later than the United States, and sometimes they’re more expensive than they should be.  So I think there’s a balance here. I don’t think the court was wrong, I think the court was correct when it said that it should, before studios start writing to people, the court needs to see what’s being written - you don’t want everyone getting a fright. On the other hand, I want to make sure that we have a film industry in Australia and elsewhere and therefore with new companies like Netflix coming on the scene, we’re not paying much for our films. But I think people should probably pay a little bit, and the studios should of course lift their game and make sure that films are out here more quickly than they previously are, and cheaper than what they’ve currently been.


FAIRSY: Bill I asked a lot of people to put a question up on our Facebook page while you’re here, just to see what we’re, what they’re thinking because they’re your voters potentially that could put you in office at the next Federal Election. One of the questions from Deb is why hasn’t Bass Strait been declared a national highway?


SHORTEN: Well I think, I don’t know if you have to call it a national highway but Deb’s point is right that it’s important that Tasmanian business and freight doesn’t suffer a disadvantage because it’s not on the mainland of Australia. So Labor is committed to Freight Equalisation and I do believe that it is important that Tasmanian industry has a benefit and support from the Commonwealth to make sure it can compete on a level playing field with the rest of Australia.


FAIRSY: Now, here’s a question from Marcia, why are huge multinational companies being left to get away without paying their correct amount of taxation when working Australians are hit, and schools, hospital and police infrastructure could do so much for the extra taxation funds?


SHORTEN: Marcia’s spot on, we’ve been pressuring the Government to stop the job cuts in the tax office. What the Abbott Government’s done is taken out a lot of the experts who can hunt down the multinational taxation and they’ve just sacked the people who would chase the multinationals. We think this is wrong. Labor’s proposed some new reforms to make sure that multinationals pay their fair share in Australia. I don’t like the idea that Australian tax laws are seen as a soft touch by some multinationals, who can basically go forum shopping to pick small islands in the Caribbean, whose – would never appear big enough to park the Tasmanian ferry and yet they’ve got tax activity there which is enormous because they have low tax rates. So I think it is important that Australia police their tax laws better. I think we need to tighten up loopholes as well, because what’s happening at the moment is that the Abbott Government says they want to increase the GST on items and put it on to school fees and food which currently doesn’t pay it. That hurts ordinary people, but when it comes to multinationals I think that was probably a more productive area and billions of dollars can be raised from that rather than slugging pensioners or people with a GST.


FAIRSY: So with the GST though, how are health reform, I mean the health system is in dire straits and it needs money, now the only way that personally I can see it, is by either raising the GST or the Medicare rebate, I mean where can you, where can the Government find the money for it otherwise?


SHORTEN: Well first of all, I’m not sure I completely agree Fairsy that our health system is in crisis. It’s always got to have, be sustainable in terms of its costs but when you compare us to the United States for instance, we spend far less on our health than they do because we’ve got Medicare. The strength of our health system isn’t making sick people at the door of the GP surgery pay more tax, or the strength of our financial system doesn’t involve asking less well-off Australians to pay more in their GST. What we do with our health system is that you have better preventative care and better primary care. It’s far cheaper to make sure we’ve got a good GP system and community health care system than having people go to hospital, that’s where I believe we can make some serious improvements, by having a health care policy focused on primary care not leaving until people have got to get to hospital. But in the meantime, you know the point about taxation is this; surely this country is more imaginative than simply cutting the rate of pension increase or asking poorer people to pay more on the food they buy when in fact, it’s clear that less well-off Australians have to spend all their income and they don’t have a lot of money to save, so I just – Labor believes in reform, but it’s got to be fair reform. Reform which is fair to all not just going soft on the top end of town.


FAIRSY: It’s 13 past 8, my special guest is Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, we’ll be back with Bill in a moment.


Commercial break  


FAIRSY: Special guest Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, you’d remember Brian Adams going back wouldn’t you, you’re an 80s boy?


SHORTEN: Yeah I’m an 80s boy, yep, I like your choice in music Fairsy. The 80s were unarguably the best decade for music.


FAIRSY: They were great weren’t they? What was your favourite 80s moment? What sticks out from the 80s, did you have long hair, did you have a mullet or anything like that?


SHORTEN: I finished the HSC in 1984 and then I went to university. I just remember the 80s as being a constant period of just embarrassment and working stuff out.


FAIRSY: Like a lot of us, and some of us still are believe it or not. Ok so we’ve had the serious side, lets have a bit of fun before we let you go because I know you’re flat chat. What is the best thing about being a politician, the best thing?


SHORTEN: Meeting people, helping people. You meet a lot of interesting people in my job and I like people and all over Australia there’s just everyone’s having a go, it’s good.


FAIRSY: What’s the worst thing about being one?


SHORTEN: Being away from my family, there’s a lot of travel. It’s an occupational hazard, but I’ve got a young family, a 5 year old, a 12, 13 year old and I tell you, for the 5 year old she’s worked me out, she said listen if you’ve got to go away I don’t like that daddy, but you know you better hopefully bring some lego back and we’re now being overrun by lego.


FAIRSY: That takes me back, now your wife’s Chloe the daughter of former Governor-General of Australia, Dame Quentin Bryce. When you go for barbeques or a catch up, what do you call her? Do you say hello mummy or what do you say?


SHORTEN: Well she’s no longer technically my boss, but there was a period of time where I was a Federal Executive Councillor and she was the Governor-General, so I have said to her children and her other sons and daughters in-law I’m the only one whose had her directly as my boss, I call her Quentin. I don’t – she’s instructed me not to call her Dame, Dame Quentin.


FAIRSY: Oh really.


SHORTEN: No, just Quentin.


FAIRSY: What’s your favourite movie, and remember you can win points here, this is crucial.


SHORTEN: Oh pressure time, I tend to, well I went to see a film on Sunday with my 5 year old and a little friend of hers called Cinderella. I would recommend it to all adults, and what was really cute, this was at High Point in Maribyrnong, is that my wife and my daughter and her little friend, all dressed up as princesses and unfortunately I squibbed it and just turned up in a pair of jeans.


FAIRSY: Well done. 2 more – what’s your favourite band or song from the 80’s?


SHORTEN: I like Icehouse, Great Southern Land.  You’ve got to go and see them, they’ve been appearing lately on tour and I’ve been to see them a couple of times, Great Southern Land, Icehouse.


FAIRSY: Now this is the one, you can take the money from the till. What is your favourite sport? And remember where you are.


SHORTEN: Watching or playing?


FAIRSY: Either.


SHORTEN: Watching AFL, playing – running, long distance running.


FAIRSY: Ok, and who do you barrack for in the AFL?


SHORTEN: Collingwood.


FAIRSY: Well it was fabulous having you here.


SHORTEN: That’s a nasty bronchial infection you’ve got there Fairsy.


FAIRSY: Yeah, oh God.


SHORTEN: Hey, I was here, it was during the Beaconsfield rescue and the men hadn’t been found alive but I went with the families of the trapped miners to York Park, the day the siren didn’t work.


FAIRSY: Oh yeah, that caused a bit of a stink didn’t it?


SHORTEN: I remember thinking no one knows what’s going on anywhere, didn’t know who’d won the football, didn’t know where the blokes were.


FAIRSY: No, Fremantle were involved, and Hawthorn.


SHORTEN: And St Kilda.


FAIRSY: St Kilda, that’s right.


SHORTEN: St Kilda.


FAIRSY: They were here too, playing it, but yeah, it’s Hawk territory now.


SHORTEN: Oh no, the Hawks have done well with their games here, it’s been a good initiative.


FAIRSY: How’d the pies go on the weekend?


SHORTEN: They won, so that’s all very good.


FAIRSY: Well yeah, just, just, just, just.


SHORTEN: How did you go in the tipping Fairsy?


FAIRSY: Not good. How’d you know that? Bit of research. I had a shocker, I had a shocker. We’ve got to talk, someone in there is spying on me. Bill Shorten, thank you so much for coming and having some fun, really appreciate your time.


SHORTEN: No worries, it’s my pleasure.


FAIRSY: Anytime, we’d love to have you back.