FRIDAY, 12 MAY 2017
SUBJECT/S: 2017 Budget; Afghanistan.
DR MIKE KELLY, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: Good morning everybody welcome to another beautiful autumn day in Eden-Monaro. We are very privileged to have with us here this morning my very good friend, Catherine King who is doing such great work developing Labor's health policy, and of course, Bill Shorten, who is no stranger to Eden-Monaro. In fact when Bill was here talking with my families with disabled children, it was really that motivation that began the story of the creation of the NDIS, which is a magnificent tribute to Bill's work in government.
When I became the Member, here the surveys we did of our community really indicated that health was the number one issue, and that was for a very good reason. Our facilities, our situation with a very poor standard of bulk billing were causing great grief right around the region. Labor's health policies really help to address those issues with the new regional hospital, the wonderful Queanbeyan super clinic we've been visiting this morning. The super clinic in Jindabyne and all of the primary health facilities right around the region.
But since then with the tearing up of the health and hospitals agreement and the attacks by the state government to try and shore up city facilities in Sydney at the expense of the bush, we are back really almost where we started. And that bulk billing problem has been made much worse by the freezing of the Medicare situation. So we are very grateful to Bill and Catherine for committing to getting that freeze lifted, and to also help our kids in this region with the education and TAFE announcements that were made last night. Rural and regional areas really depend on good, solid TAFE, and the education policies that delivered our regional loadings, Indigenous kids loadings and the like were so important to us. So very inspiring to see that commitment to assisting young people and families in Eden-Monaro. So thank you for being here, both of you, and I will hand over to Bill, thanks very much Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much and hello everybody. Malcolm Turnbull brought down a Budget which is unfair because it means that millionaires will pay less and everyone else will pay more. Malcolm Turnbull has a test today. He can side with the millionaires as he usually does or he can side with Labor and everybody else.
Labor is committed to making sure that everyone does their fair share, but we don't believe that a person who earns $50,000 or $60,000 should have their income taxes pushed up while Mr Turnbull and his group are cutting the taxes for millionaires. I mean, what is crazy about the Government's Budget is that on 1 July, a millionaire, someone who earns a million dollars in a year in this country, will pay $16,500 less. But someone on $50,000 or $60,000, or $70,000 will pay more income tax.
Malcolm Turnbull has a test. Will he side, as he usually does, with millionaires, or will he side with Labor and everyone else so that 10 million people don't pay more, but millionaires don't get less. Happy to take any questions.
I have got Catherine here and I would like her to talk about Medicare as well in particular.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE: Well, far from Malcolm Turnbull learning his lesson when it came to health, his Budget continues to lock in billions of dollars of cuts to Medicare. Far from meeting the test of lifting the Medicare Benefit Schedule freeze immediately, he has fallen far short.
There is not a single MBS item freezing that is lifted immediately. We know for people continuing to see GPs and specialists, it is another year until any of those items are unfrozen. And particularly, for allied health professionals, not until 2019 will we see that rebate unfrozen, they are the dietitians, the psychologists, the exercise physiologists, people who are keeping people out of hospital in integrated practices such as this today.
That is why, last night, I was so proud that Bill recommitted to lifting the Medicare Benefit Schedule freeze immediately. We have been fighting this government every single day for its cuts to Medicare. We are going to continue to do that. It was great to be here today with Mike and Bill in one of Labor's GP super clinics which is providing such great, important primary care to this community. You can only trust one party when it comes to Medicare and that is the Labor Party.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, on the Medicare levy and the deficit levy, have you had those policies costed? And will we get to see those costings?
SHORTEN: As I said earlier today, our proposal, we think is fairer. In the forward estimates over the next four years, our proposal is broadly neutral to the Government, in other words, it raises about the same money. And in fact, I am pleased to say that our fairer propositions will raise, actually, more money over the medium term. In terms of the information, we will do the same as the Government –
JOURNALIST: Just on those costings, you had a bit of trouble this morning on radio explaining the four year cost, can you tell us now?
SHORTEN: Our proposal will raise $7.8 billion over four years and it will raise approximately $50 billion over the medium term.
JOURNALIST: What is the outcome if you keep the deficit levy in place?
SHORTEN: That is all part of the figure I just quoted.
JOURNALIST: Just on the deficit levy, your Budget is about fairness, is what you are saying, is it fair to ask people to pay nearly 50 per cent of their wages in tax?
SHORTEN: Is it fair to ask millionaires to pay a little bit more. Is it fair to give millionaires a tax cut? I actually think it's fair to ask people with a lot of money to pay a little bit more. The Government introduced and raised the top tax bracket by two per cent and their case for doing it is, they said that we need to do it for three years because there is a deficit. But now Mr Turnbull doesn't want to renew this tax proposition because he's decided that he wants to give a tax cut to millionaires.
The Budget on Tuesday night will go down in history as a Budget where Malcolm Turnbull friend of millionaires, and a Budget which means that millionaires will pay less and everyone else will pay more. That's not fair.
JOURNALIST: Will this spark a class war here?
SHORTEN: I'll tell you what a class war looks like. It's when you increase the fees of going to university for working class kids. What a class war looks like is when you cut money for apprenticeships. What a class war looks like is when you do nothing to help first home buyers fulfil the great Australian dream of being able to acquire your first home. Class war is when you don't unfreeze the patients rebates immediately.
Mr Turnbull says that it's a Budget to realise dreams. Unless you want to buy your first home, then Mr Turnbull is missing in action. Unless you want to have the aspiration of going to university, then Mr Turnbull will increase the cost of going to university. Unless you want an apprenticeship in Australia, then this government has presided over 140,000 apprenticeship places going.
No, this government is only interested in the top end of town. Everything they're doing is cosmetic. They don't understand fairness. This is not a 'Labor lite' Budget. Labor values are where you make sure that middle and working class families get ahead. Only Malcolm Turnbull, the most out of touch prime minister in living memory could think it's a good thing to ask people on $50,000 and $60,000 a year to pay more income tax, and yet give millionaires a $16,500 reduction in what they pay.
It's not fair, it never was, never is, never will be.
JOURNALIST: Just on the temporary deficit levy. Is it costed over 10 years and if so is that temporary, I mean are you hoping to be in deficit in 10 years if you get into power?
SHORTEN: Let me be clear, when there is a sustainable surplus we will re-examine all of the tax brackets, it shouldn't just be the people at the top who Mr Turnbull is focused on. But the fact is this nation has a deficit problem. And under the Liberals it has got 10 times worse. I think we all remember the farcical scenes - it was almost a circus act yesterday, every time we got up in Question Time to ask Mr Turnbull what the cost of his horribly bad idea of giving anyway a lot of taxes to large corporations, the number changed half a dozen times. Labor has been consistent. We believe it's a bad idea to provide massive corporate tax handouts when there is so much else that needs to be done with the Budget.
But when we heard that figure of $65 billion over the next ten years, this bloke Turnbull is going to send the nation broke. We can’t afford this. This idea is ridiculous and dangerous to our AAA credit rating. We cannot afford to give $65 billion away to the top end of town, and Mr Turnbull needs to reconsider. He needs to swallow his pride, frankly, get down off his high horse, and actually think about the nation rather than just keeping the top end of town happy.
JOURNALIST: How is it consistent for you to slug everybody with the Medicare levy when you were in government?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, we weren’t giving away $65 billion. It’s all about choices and priorities. Mr Turnbull is asking for battlers on $50,000 and $60,000 a year to increase their income taxes, but yet he wants to give away a tax cut to millionaires, and he wants to give away $65 billion to large corporations. We would never do that. It’s a matter of priorities.
And you know what? Our plan will save 10 million Australians from paying more income tax. In the case of priorities, I think that 10 million ordinary Australians, most of whom haven’t had a pay rise, most of whom face higher costs of living – you know, the only thing in this Budget for ordinary Australians from Mr Turnbull was an increase in their tax.
JOURNALIST: Has the Government briefed you on NATO calling for more troops in Afghanistan? Is that something that Labor will support?
SHORTEN: Not yet, they haven't briefed us. Let me just say, when it comes to national security we've got a good track record of working with both Tony Abbott and currently Malcolm Turnbull. These matters are very important. I expect the Government will brief us at the appropriate time.
JOURNALIST: Dare I ask, Chloe just tweeted, apologising for causing so much trouble with her necklace. What happened there and what do you think of the reaction to it all?
SHORTEN: Listen, I think those Liberal politicians who are attacking my wife should hang their head in shame. You know, I just think that's grubby politics. My wife, I'm so proud of her. I think some of the Liberals misunderstand the fact that she may look a million bucks, but she's a good shopper.
I think the Liberals should move on from talking about what my wife wears and instead focus on the Budget. Quite frankly, I think the Liberals are more interested in what my wife wears because put simply, they don't want to talk about their Budget, where millionaires pay less and everyone else pays more.