THE HON. BILL SHORTEN
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
THE HON. JASON CLARE MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR BLAXLAND
TUESDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2014
SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s broken promise on the ABC; Tony Abbott’s unfair ADF pay deal; Tony Abbott’s unfair changes to higher education.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Great to be here with Jason Clare, our shadow spokesperson for communications. The Abbott Government has severely underestimated the backlash over massive swinging cuts to the ABC. Furthermore, we saw the ridiculous scenes in Parliament yesterday where Prime Minister Abbott tried to pretend that he never promised there would be no cuts to the ABC and SBS. The cuts to the ABC are drastic and unnecessary and the fact that the Prime Minister’s now lying about breaking his election promises creates a real cloud of uncertainty about whether or not you can trust this Prime Minister. What he said before the election is not what he is doing now. Labor is very committed to the ongoing maintenance of our ABC. Under Labor, we provided the largest increase in funding to the ABC in 25 years. Goodness only knows what damage this desperate Government, with its out of control unfair Budget, will do to the ABC by 2016. But I can certainly give the commitment that under Labor, we will increase the funding of the ABC. Of course we’re going to need to see quite how much damage gets done and I sincerely hope that the Government listens to the people of Australia, maybe even Christopher Pyne's petition and decides not to go hard with their cuts but Labor will increase the funding to the ABC and we will run hard on this campaign because this is a broken promise which damages the access of all Australians to the public broadcaster. I might ask my colleague Jason Clare to say a few words.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATION: Thanks Bill. This is not just about the ABC, this is about trust. The Prime Minister has now broken so many promises that people wonder if they can trust him anymore. He's broken more promises than most people have had hot dinners. This broken promise, the broken promise that there will be no cuts to the ABS or SBS, this is the straw that breaks the camel's back. Not only have they lied about these cuts, but yesterday we saw they're now lying about lying. The Prime Minister refuses to admit he's broken a promise. Senator Mathias Cormann is still saying there are no cuts and Senator Eric Abetz yesterday said that no-one has been sacked. I don't know what world they're living on. They've now cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the ABC and 400 people are going to get the sack. You've got backbenchers in the National Party admitting this is a broken promise. There's no-one outside the Liberal Party or the National Party that thinks this is not a broken promise. The Prime Minister can at least do one honest thing and admit that he's lied.
SHORTEN: Thanks Jason, are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: When you say you'll increase the ABC funding, is that a commitment to fully restore the cuts?
SHORTEN: Mark, you've been around politics probably longer than I have. We don't know what damage Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are doing to the Australian Budget. They've got an out of control deficit which they are increasing. They’ve got a Budget that no-one wants. It's an orphan in the Parliament, but we are committed to increase funding to the ABC, because we have no doubt that Tony Abbott will cut too hard and cause too much damage. 400 people have lost their job. It is not the job of Tony Abbott to make other people lose their jobs. We see five different regional networks of offices being shut down. Yet again, Tony Abbott's intervention in the Victorian election has been to cut back services to country Victoria, so we will improve the funding, but we'll need to see the bottom line of the damage these vandals create in the meantime.
JOURNALIST: So are you saying reducing the ABC's budget on the basis of the Budget is at least in some part justified?
SHORTEN: No, we're not. This is a Government who said before the last election that there'd be no cuts to the ABC or SBS. It is important, Australians feel a disconnect from their political process when they see politicians say one thing before an election and do something after. Labor paid a price for that, but now Tony Abbott who made his reputation on being a different sort of politician. The only thing he is, he's setting a world record for breaking his election promises. I do not believe and I don't think any fair-minded observer thinks that this Government, be it Malcolm Turnbull, Joe Hockey or Tony Abbott, have handled these ABC cuts in any manner approaching honesty.
JOURNALIST: When you say Tony Abbott’s cut too hard, does that mean you think there's a cut that's not too hard?
SHORTEN: What's wrong with just expecting Tony Abbott to keep his promises? When did that go out of fashion? Has Tony Abbott so lowered the expectations of Australian public life that we don't even expect him to keep his word anymore? We know and you remember, you all reported Tony Abbott when he was Opposition Leader, he was going to be different. He was a man you could trust. Ever since he's got in, it doesn't mean if it's make it harder for kids to go to university by doubling or tripling degrees, a GP Tax on the sick, cutting the indexation rate of pensions or now cutting the ABC; Tony Abbott has not delivered what he said before the election. He's got a rotten Budget. He doesn't know how to handle being in government and now he's attacking the independent public broadcaster.
JOURNALIST: Jacqui Lambie is meeting with Tony Abbott in the next couple of days and she's now talking about agreeing to cut the RET in return for an increase in defence pay. What would your advice to be to her on doing that on those issues?
SHORTEN: Well I think it’s a shame if Tony Abbott is using Defence Force pay as a form of blackmail to wreak his particular brand of bizarre climate change denialism. I think it will be outrageous if Tony Abbott is willing to increase the pay if he gets a political kickback from the crossbench in the Senate. Tony Abbott should stand with our men and women. He loves a photo opportunity with people in our Defence Forces. How about he makes sure that their wives and husbands at home, when they’re serving overseas, can afford to pay for shopping next week? Tony Abbott should not be bartering about Defence Force pay. If he thinks it should be increased he should just increase it. It would be a new low for Tony Abbott if the only way that he will increase the pay of our Defence Forces is if he can get political favours from other people. That would be shameful. Last question.
JOURNALIST: Are you confident that the crossbench in the Senate still is strongly opposed to the higher education reforms?
SHORTEN: I'm confident that the Government's higher education changes are a disaster for Australia. 20 per cent of the funding of universities is going to be taken away by this book-burning government. This is an appalling act against allowing ordinary people to be able to send their kids to university. I'm confident that doubling the interest rate on the HECS debt is a massive assault on good faith and it's going to cost up to a million Australians a lot more in retrospective debts and I'm confident that Tony Abbott's bad ideas are falling flat on the Australian people and the Senate will stand up for the Australian people against the Government. Thanks everyone, see you in Question Time.
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