WEDNESDAY, 13 MAY 2015
KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: We now go live to the Labor Leader, Bill Shorten. I want to start with the big ticket item in the Budget, the small business package. It would be hard for you to knock that back for the small businesses around the country.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITON: When we talk about the big ticket item in the Budget, I actually think the big ticket item in the Budget is the fact that under Tony Abbott taxes are up, debt’s up and unemployment is up.
In terms of small business, we will certainly keep a very open mind. Of course, the problem for small business is that for the best part of the last two years, the Abbott Government has done its best to do a demolition derby on business confidence. Belatedly, they have realised that the Government has got a role not to destroy confidence like they did in the 2014 Budget, but to do something about helping the High St of Australia. So, we will look pretty carefully and pretty positively at the small business propositions. But again, this is remedial action from a government who in 2014, wrecked confidence and unfortunately, when you look at the fine print of what they have said, there is still a lot of harm and a lot of hurt which I think will undermine confidence in the medium term, and Australia, just at the time we need to feel better about the future.
GILBERT: They may have had a change of heart, but they have not only matched your instant asset write-off for small business, they have tripled it and on a multiple basis. Businesses can do and access that on serval times if they have the wear-with-all to do that. Instinctively, do you welcome that idea given you talk so much about the High St of our towns and suburbs?
SHORTEN: It does make you wonder why when Labor had the idea the Liberal Party wanted to stomp all over it with size 10 boots. Now a couple of years on, when they are in trouble in the polls, they’ve discovered that maybe not every idea that they use to oppose was a bad idea. I am a different person to Tony Abbott. I am not going to make the mistake that he made of mindlessly opposing everything. What we will do is test will help the Budget over the medium term? Is it fair? And does it help the future? So we are very open-minded about support for small business, very open-minded because it is important.
But what I recognise is that fundamentally this Budget is still taking Australia in all the wrong directions. I am not going to let the Government off the hook over their $80 billion worth of cuts to schools and hospitals. What this practically means is that they have passed all their problems to the states and we will see people going to hospitals over the next 10 years and parents sending their kids to schools over the next 10 years, are going to see a massive axe being taken by Tony Abbott to these services. And of course, cost-of-living still remains a real problem. Wages growth has stalled, productivity is low -
GILBERT: Mr Shorten, you say the debt problem still remains. I put to you that it is a fraction of what it would have been on the trajectory that Labor would have left the debt, government national debt for Tony Abbott’s Government.
SHORTEN: Oh Kieran, you shouldn’t buy that proposition. I certainly don’t and Australians certainly don’t. A year ago today, Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott were almost hysterical about debt. Now, they are almost hysterical about the excuses for not dealing with debt. When you look at the Budget papers in detail – and you’re a pretty trained observer of Canberra politics and balance sheets –you and I both know that this Government is spending more than it is raising, we see very poor projections for the future of unemployment. We know that this country needs to raise its growth and what we see is some handouts to small business and not a lot else. This nation needs a plan for the future not just a plan to keep Tony Abbott’s job until Christmas. You’ve observed, or Sky has observed in the last 12 hours that this is all about the next election and there isn’t a lot about the future. Some of the programs which the Government are patting themselves on the back – I think that they are too smart to be caught smoking cigars in public this year – that they are chuffed about finish in two years, the funding. They say that they’re going to see that every pre-school child who is four gets a certain guaranteed number of hours, the fine print for that says they are only going to pay for that for the next two years. This Government is not dealing with debt. It won’t take up Labor’s sensible suggestions about tackling high-end superannuation tax havens – that’s too hard to go after the big end of town. But when it comes to schools and hospitals, and family payments, than these people are very enthusiastic to cut, cut, cut.
GILBERT: It is hard to see Labor blocking the small business measures. You’ve already said that you were going to look at those positively –
GILBERT: The other one that looks very hard to see Labor opposing is the spend on child care. As you know, this is the big outlay for families on low-to-middle incomes, an enormous part of their out of pocket spend. You will obviously be looking at a commensurate save surely to make sure that gets through the Parliament.
SHORTEN: There the Government go again. Part of their problem is they are addicted to trickery. They are addicted to trickery. On one hand, you’ve got Scott Morrison running around making a job application for Joe Hockey’s job saying ‘look at me, I am going to do something about child care for some working mums’. But on the other hand, this Government forgets or ignores, or just hopes we forget or ignore, that children at the age of 6 still have to be fee, still have to be clothed and are most definitely are loved but what we also see, is they are cutting family benefit payments. In plain English, what they are doing is saying they are going to reallocate money from working parents who aren’t making a lot; $60,000 for instance here - that is not a lot and they are going to take thousands of dollars in support payments for these people to participate in the workforce and just move it to child care. Now, that is not going to see a better system. What we see is tens of thousands –
GILBERT: So will you look for other savings to make sure that gets through?
SHORTEN: Kieran, you know I’m not going to fall for the Government’s first rush of 24 hour propaganda, that somehow these guys have done something miraculous, what they are doing is paying for changes in child care by demanding last year’s Tony Abbott cuts to family payments. Their child care proposition in some fashion is almost taking hostage families of children who are older, you and I both know that’s not a plan for the future, that’s a plan for an election. And if we want to talk about all is not what it seems, let’s look at the mess that they’ve made about paid parental leave. You know, two, three years ago, you couldn’t get Tony Abbott off our television screens patting himself on the back saying he’s the man, he’s the man, he’s changed all his views. Remember he famously once said paid parental leave over his dead body, then he’s going to be the best friend women have ever had, now he’s reverted 360 degrees back to where he was and now he and Scott Morrison are saying that women who’ve negotiated workplace conditions, working women who’ve negotiated workplace conditions for paid parental leave, that their rorters, that they’re double dippers. These guys do not respect the working women of Australia, in terms of parental leave they’ve led them up the hill, they’ve led them over the hill, they’ve led them in all the wrong ways, and we see trickery – this Budget really let’s Australian’s down.
GILBERT: This Budget is being seen as an election year Budget, many people believe that you remain undefined really in the minds of voters. Are you ready for an election within months?
SHORTEN: We’re ready for the election whenever it’s called. Doesn’t your question just show the real failure of this Budget? They’ve done this Budget for an election, they haven’t done it for life in the 2020s. They’ve done this Budget to save Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s job, they haven’t done it to look at the jobs of other Australians. We see unemployment rising, we see unemployment with a six in front of it, that’s the task. We see massive changes in our economy with the move away from mining and we don’t see them fundamentally driving and building confidence across Australia. This is a Government who is more interested in themselves. Remember they’ve wasted a year and they’ve been on your show so many times, saying that their pension cuts weren’t pension cuts, saying the GP Tax wasn’t a bad idea, now they’ve dropped those shocking ideas for the time being, but I don’t think any Australian thinks they’ve changed their mind, they’ve just changed their tactics. And they’re still putting forward $100,000 degrees, they’re still cutting states hospitals and schools by $80 billion. This is a Government who’s learnt nothing from last year and no plan for the future, just for themselves.
GILBERT: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, appreciate your time this morning, thank you for that.
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