SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
TUESDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Liberal leadership chaos; Abbott Government’s unfair budget; Abbott Government’s GP Tax; Bali Nine.
KIERAN GILBERT: First though this hour I’m joined by the Labor leader Bill Shorten, Mr Shorten, thanks very much for your time.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning Kieran.
GILBERT: Now, Tony Abbott yesterday in Question Time his attack on you would resonate with many people when he said he’s not going to take advice from someone who stabbed two Prime Ministers in the back?
SHORTEN: Tony Abbott unfortunately doesn’t appear to be a man who is capable of taking advice from anyone. I mean, just to deal briefly with his point, the Labor Party has new rules. What we saw of the Liberal Government plunge us into yesterday can’t be done under the Labor Party because of our new rules, we’ve learnt our lesson. But I think one of the biggest broken promises, and there has been many in the last 18 months, was when the Liberal Government promised us that they would have strong and stable Government, yesterday makes a lie of that. 39 of his own team want him gone and the question really is can the Government stop worrying about who the salesmen is and start worrying about what they’re selling Australia because it’s their unfair Budget which is at the heart of their problems.
GILBERT: But given the events of the recent times within Labor, very recent times, it feels like yesterday really, isn’t this just the latest episode in a bad time, in a bad period for Australian politics that will probably just have a broader effect on the electorate, that they’ll lose faith in government altogether?
SHORTEN: Well I think sometimes we try to overcomplicate politics in Australia. I think it’s about a covenant of trust between a political party and the voters and what we need to do is establish the trust and keep our word. This Government is not trusted by the voters, that’s at the heart of their problems. I said in my answer to your earlier question it was their unfair Budget, you know, cutting pensions, $100,000 university degrees, a GP Tax, none of that was told to Australians before the election. Now what we’ve got is a Government who is just not trusted and the people are pretty unforgiving when they don’t trust you. So if this Government hopes to do anything in the remainder of its term, it needs to demonstrate that its heard the people and it’ll change its ways not just its personalities.
GILBERT: Well in terms of the personalities Tony Abbott has proven a lot of people wrong over the years, he is a fighter there’s no doubt about that, do you accept, that you’re targeting Malcolm Turnbull clearly yesterday in Question Time, but is that a bit premature give Tony Abbott has beaten two Labor leaders, he’s beaten a number of his opponents internally to get the job. You’d be mad to underestimate him wouldn’t you?
SHORTEN: I don’t underestimate him at all, I think he’s a formidable fighter especially when it’s for his own job. He’s superglued to that chair at the Prime Ministers table. Now Malcolm Turnbull I think has got a bit of explaining to do to his colleagues. It’s no secret that he wants the job and thinks that he’s better at the job than Tony Abbott but he’s injured his Prime Minister and he wouldn’t even put his hand up. He wants to, he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty, he doesn’t want to be seen messily seeking the job, he wants to be drafted. But if you want to run this country –
GILBERT: But isn’t that loyalty?
SHORTEN: Well, I think, you’d probably agree too, he wants the job and the truth of the matter is that Turnbull and Abbott are going to have to sort this issue out. One of them is going to have to accept the other is there for the duration of this term and I’m not sure that either has accepted each other’s right to think what they do. It is a very febrile, divisive atmosphere in the Parliament and observers like yourself, participants like myself can see it and in the meantime we’ve got unemployment which is a problem. We’ve got real wage growth which is low, you’ve got the RBA dropping the official cash rate because there is a lack of confidence in business. There are big issues out there and this Government is absorbed about itself. I mean –
GILBERT: There are big issues, there was a revenue problem which you recognise, what would Labor do? In terms of, would you raise taxes, super concessions, would they go? What are the concrete things Labor would do to deal with the revenue problem because you clearly don’t like the Governments agenda, you’re blocking that. Given the context you’ve said, what will you do?
SHORTEN: Let’s talk about why we don’t like it and then what are some of our propositions. I don’t believe this county will advance or grow or have a bright future if we start picking on the vulnerable and the poor. It is not economically sensible to increase the price of going to university and have fewer kids able to go to university. It is not economically sensible to discourage sick people from going to the doctor and then they subsequently get sicker and when they have to use the medical system its more expensive. It’s not sensible to cut the pension and discourage pensioners from spending money. So we’ve said to the Government, and the Government has finally listened to one of our propositions, drop their paid parental leave scheme so they’re finally doing that –
GILBERT: The Medicare rebate will be going as well, the GP co-payment that will go.
SHORTEN: Yes, but the expenditure item which we thought the Government was silly on was spending billions of dollars on a paid parental leave scheme, they finally dropped it, but it’s taken us 520 days to convince the Government to do that. Tony Abbott’s wasted a lot of the nation’s time.
GILBERT: Okay, so talk about your view on where to find the solutions? Is it super?
SHORTEN: Another proposition has to be around multinational taxation. This Government came in and they cut the compliance campaigns around multinationals so were doing a lot of work around that question. We also proposed in superannuation some very modest changes at the top end and the Government dropped them. So I think this is a government who always go to the ideas draw which is marked go after low income, fixed income, people. See –
GILBERT: Would you reverse the business tax cut?
SHORTEN: Well I think the Government’s in a world of pain. They’ve introduced an extra 1.5 per cent tax and yet at the same time the purposes that was nominally done for has gone. Now we’ll just have to see what the Governments doing, we’re getting more mixed messages out of them than one can easily interpret. The question here is do we go down the path of extreme austerity, which is what they want to do, or do we try and encourage growth. If you want to encourage growth you’ve got a few moving parts, productivity, better infrastructure, better education which is both higher education and TAFE, sorting out the childcare blockage where there’s prohibitive fees discouraging women from working. You know, in our Australia of the future that Labor believes in and we’ll articulate this year, it’s about increasing real growth, that’s the challenge, what are the leavers for that and that’s what we’re working on.
GILBERT: I want to ask you finally about the Bali Nine, the two on death row do you support the measures which have been undertaken by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, is that a bipartisan position, have they done enough? It seems almost inevitable, sadly, that these two individuals will face the firing squad.
SHORTEN: It’s a dreadful prospect and wherever there’s life there’s hope. In terms of what the Governments done, I am satisfied that in a very difficult set of circumstances the work, the unseen work of DFAT and people who’ve got lots of connections into Indonesia and the Government, they are doing what they can. We’re regularly briefed, we’re supportive of what’s happening. I’ve spoken to lawyers for the family, we shouldn’t give up but it’s an extremely grim situation. I mean the death penalty never solves anything in any circumstances and is demeans as all as human beings when it takes place. For people who say well it’s a different system, a different country and different people broke the law, I never support the death penalty, anywhere.
GILBERT: And for the family its unimaginable.
SHORTEN: Yes, that’s exactly right.
GILBERT: Bill Shorten, thanks for your time this morning, appreciate it.
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