WEDNESDAY, 9 MAY 2018
SUBJECT/S: 2018 Budget; Turnbull’s tax hand out to the top end of town; High Court decision; Labor’s Budget Reply.
MICHEAL ROWLAND, HOST: I'm joined now from the lawns of Parliament House by the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Mr Shorten, good morning to you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, Michael.
ROWLAND: Will you match these seven years’ worth of tax cuts?
SHORTEN: Well first things first, for the $10 a week tax cuts, which are possible from the first of July, we're up for that because we are the party who stands up for working and middle class families. But as for this seven year mirage that the government demands we just sign up to, well we want to understand it and see the detail. But one tax cut which is there which the government is not talking about it much this morning but I will, is there's $80 billion for big business. So this is a budget which is giving $80 billion to the big banks and big business but $5 or $10 to working people in this country. The priorities are all wrong.
ROWLAND: We'll get to company tax in a moment, but the goal of this essentially flat tax rate of 32.5 per cent by 2024 from incomes from $41,000 all the way up to $200,000. That's surely going to be attractive to lots of Australian taxpayers?
SHORTEN: The Government is up to the same tricky business in this very uninspired budget which favours big business, not battlers. They want us to have a debate about a possible tax cut in the year 2024. That's two or three elections down the track. We all know Malcolm Turnbull will not be around to have to face up to whether or not he keeps his promise. But in the meantime, you've got corporate tax cuts right now flowing through, and we're seeing cuts baked in to schools, to hospitals, pensioners aren’t going to get an energy supplement. I mean this is a government who can find billions of dollars for the Commonwealth Bank as a reward, but can't find $360 a year for pensioners grappling with power bills. It's the wrong priorities for Australia.
ROWLAND: You mention the $80 billion worth of company tax cuts, that's the entire figure across all the businesses affected. So do I take it from that, a future Labor Government will wind back the tax cuts already legislated for companies earning up to $50 million?
SHORTEN: No, we've made it clear already, that if you run a small business, a genuine small business under $2 million turn over a year, well we'll give that the tick and that's 83 per cent of all businesses. But Michael what is the case being made to prioritise giving the four big banks $17 billion over the next ten years, yet at the same time we're seeing hospital cuts baked in, we're seeing cuts to school funding baked in. The great irony of this mirage, this hoax, this political con job of a seven year waiting period to get tax cuts is, there's kids who won't have started secondary school, who will be trying to go to university before we see the tax cuts, but we see our schools and our hospitals going backwards. This government is out of touch. There's no national strategy, except the discredited approach of looking after the big end of town.
ROWLAND: The government will achieve a budget surplus next year. It's something a Labor Government hasn't managed to achieved since way back in 1989. So do you give the government credit for that?
SHORTEN: Michael this government has been in for five years and every year they've always said that they're the sort of supermen of economic management. They haven't managed to deliver a surplus yet.
ROWLAND: They got one, though.
SHORTEN: Well, next year we'll see, won't we. But the point about it is, and you understand that you're a student of economics, if China decided not to buy all of our minerals tomorrow, there goes the surplus. The reality is this government has no plan to pay down debt. Debt is north of half a trillion dollars. Put in plain English, this government has run up a debt bill for every man, woman and child in Australia of $20,000. These people aren't economic managers, they just lurch from crisis to crisis, and in the meantime, the only thing they do is their DNA hard-wired reaction, look after the top end of town and just feed crumbs to other people.
ROWLAND: Just before we go, the entire political conversation could change of course, in the next few hours, just a kilometre down the hill here. The High Court will decide whether Katy Gallagher, Labor Senator, is a dual citizen and is therefore disqualified from Federal Parliament. How confident are you of her chances this morning?
SHORTEN: Well what I've learned to do is I'm not going to predict what is going to happen in five hours. But let me say this if the High Court sets a new precedent, the Labor Party will deal with it. If there's a new precedent set, we'll deal with that but in the meantime, I just want to reassure Australians who are wondering can they trust this government to give a tax rise in seven years, probably not.
ROWLAND: Okay but just going back to the High Court, a precedent means sending the other three Labor MPs with question marks over their head to by-elections as well?
SHORTEN: No, what I meant by new precedent is if the law, the interpretation of the current law changes then we will consider what we've got to do. But also I think Australians are tired of this Constitutional melodrama. I think a lot of people think that the main game is what is going to be up for them and their families and I just want to make a promise on this television that people tune in tomorrow night to the Budget Reply, Labor's statement. We've got the trifecta worked out; we want to have a better financial position, we want to look after the schools and hospitals, and we want to see some tax relief for low and middle-income people. Don't worry about the top end of town they can normally look after themselves, can't they.
ROWLAND: We'll hear what you have to say tomorrow night. Bill Shorten, Labor leader thank you very much for joining news breakfast this morning.