Bill's Transcripts

Television: Sunrise - Higher education, Tony Abbott’s broken promises,






SUBJECT/S: Higher education, Tony Abbott’s broken promises, Phillip Hughes.


DAVID KOCH: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten joins me now from Canberra. Good morning to you. What is your response to Mr Abbott branding the Labor Party as 'feral'?


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, I think that the Government's put up unfair ideas which will make it harder for kids to go to university; cut pensions; a new GP Tax on the sick. These were things which before the election Tony Abbott and his team said they weren't going to do, and now they have got into power they have broken a lot of promises. So we have got to stand up for ordinary people.


KOCH: Okay. The Labor Party did leave the Budget in a bit of a shambles, according to the Government, a ‘Budget emergency’. Why are you blocking things to make it worse? Surely they were elected under a mandate to get the Budget back into surplus?


SHORTEN: Fair question, Kochie, but I really think it goes to the heart of the issue here. Tony Abbott and his team, in order to get Australians to vote for them before the last election, said that there would be no cuts to health and no cuts to education. They said that there would be no changes to the pension and no new taxes. Now what has happened is that they have thrown all of those arguments overboard. We think that there is a way to help run the nation, prepare us for the future without making it hard on people with low and middle incomes.


KOCH: Okay, but they are saying $5 billion of the cuts being blocked by you were suggested by the Labor Party – Labor Party reforms previously and you've gone to block them.


SHORTEN: Well first of all, a lot of the cuts they’re making were cuts they promised they wouldn't do. And we think that the cuts they are making are unfair. Putting a new tax on the sick and the vulnerable doesn't help anyone, anywhere, any time. In terms of the some of the changes they want to make, when Labor was proposing changes to the Budget, we would make sure that the money that was being reallocated from one area to another was going to go into helping support new jobs. This Government hasn't proposed supporting new jobs of any specific measures. What they just want to do is cut, cut and cut.


There is no question that in the medium term, we have got to make sure that our Budget is working out properly. But there's a right way and wrong way to do it. I think, for instance, the Government should drop their paid parental leave scheme for millionaires. That would save billions of dollars, and that would also help the bottom line.


KOCH: So do you reckon you could get the Budget back into surplus?


SHORTEN: There is no doubt that it's hard work. What I do know is that the way to help improve the nation – and remember, Budget is not an ends in itself, it's a means to an end -  you don't make the Budget bottom line or indeed the nation in the next five and 10 and 15 years better by creating $100,000 university degrees, by taxing the sick to go to the doctor, by reducing the indexation rate of pension increases. There are a lot of people in Australia who need Government to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And this Government has, as hard as it is – it may sound harsh, but they have broken a lot of pre-election promises.


KOCH: Sure. You are just not being pig-headed about it though?


SHORTEN: No, we have supported some of their measures. We have supported changes in social security. We have supported some of their savings measures and some of their other ideas. We haven't opposed everything, but we will look at an issue on its merits. At the end of the day, what direction do we want this country to go in? I want to make sure that everyone's kids can get the chance to go to university, and the predictor for going to university shouldn't depend on how rich your parents are.


KOCH: Alright, just finally, you are planning on attending Philip Hughes' funeral in Macksville today. Have you been surprised at just the massive response throughout the whole community to the death of this young man?


SHORTEN: It has been an amazing response. It goes to show you what sort of fellow Philip was, in that obviously his attributes have cut through the national consciousness and people are really upset by what has happened. For me what it also shows is that life is too fickle, and we can't afford to take anything for granted. So for me, today will also be a reflection of how important people are, rather than some of the arguments we have every day.


KOCH: Absolutely.


SHORTEN: Can I also just very briefly say our thoughts are also with Sean Abbott. I really respect the role that Michael Clarke has played when he said he would pad up and take the first ball from Sean Abbott. This is just an unbelievable tragedy and I just think we all do need to reflect on what is really important.


KOCH: Hear, hear. Alright Bill Shorten, thank you for that. Here’s Sam.


SHORTEN: Thanks.