TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Canberra, Thursday, 5 May




SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull's budget for big business over battlers.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:  Well I wanted to start by saying a few words about the budget that we had from the Government a couple of nights ago. This is a budget that is for millionaires, not for battlers. This is a budget that enshrines the unfairness of the 2014 budget and continues down a path that will make Australia less equal, more unfair. This is a budget that does nothing for three quarters of Australians – they receive no tax relief in this budget. But if you’re on $1 million a year, you get a $17,000 a year tax cut. This is a budget that really hits families in the middle because all of the cuts from the 2014 budget are still there. If you look in this budget you’ll see there are $13 billion worth of measures from 2014 that Labor will never pass because they’re so unfair. They are measures that take Family Tax Benefit away from families, they’ve obviously cut the School Kids Bonus, health cuts, education cuts, and so on. If you look at an ordinary family, say a working mum on $87,000 a year, even with the $6 a week tax cut that Scott Morrison has so generously given her, she’ll be about $4,500 a year worse off because of this budget and the measures that continue from 2014. On top of that there are families that have been waiting for years for the childcare package that the Government has been talking so much about but has never delivered. This budget pushes that childcare package out to 2018, so families will be waiting another two years for any relief when it comes to the very high costs of childcare and the difficulty of finding a place. This is a budget that, of course, adopts some of Labor’s measures and as far as that goes we are happy that the Government has adopted some of the measures around the tobacco excise and some of our measures around superannuation for example. But at its heart it has a 10 year tax plan that has a 4 year costing. I frankly have never seen a government put out a 10 year plan and then refuse to tell Australia what that 10 year plan will cost over 10 years. The Government is saying “oh look, just look in the budget papers, you can find all the information there.” There’s information about what this tax plan will cost for the first 4 years, but of course the plan continues well after that period with the costs only growing. We don’t know whether Scott Morrison is refusing to say or doesn’t know, but he’s either misleading the Australian people or he is incompetent. If he doesn’t know what his 10 year plan costs then shame on him. If he does know and he’s not prepared to tell us, shame on him. I just want to turn very quickly to one other measure that is confirmed in this budget. As a former health minister, I was passionate about children’s oral health because I know that if you start life with good teeth, you’re much more likely to have good teeth as an adult. The best investment we can make in the dental health of Australians is to make sure they develop good oral hygiene habits as children. That’s why we introduced the kids' dental scheme, Grow Up Smiling, and 3.4 million children were able to go to their local dentist, their family dentist, and get $1,000 worth of work every 2 years. Cleaning, fluoride treatment, scaling, fillings - all of the basic work you need to look after your teeth as a child. This Government has abolished this scheme. So far, more than a million children have taken advantage of the scheme. But that means that there are still 2 million kids who have got 2 months to get to the dentist before this scheme ends for good - Ii this Government is re-elected we will not see a children's dental scheme. So this is my message to parents this morning: if you are getting Family Tax Benefit A and you have a child between the ages of 2 and 17 and you have not taken advantage of this kids' dental scheme, get to the dentist. You’ve got 2 months to get to the dentist, make sure you take advantage of this because if Malcolm Turnbull is re-elected, you will never have this opportunity again. Thanks, any questions?

JOURNALIST: Just regards to the 10 year plan. What we saw in the budget wasn't the first time that we've seen a 10 year plan. We saw a 10 year plan with the NDIS, with Gonski -

PLIBERSEK: Yeah and they were all fully funded.

JOURNALIST: This is not the first time that we’ve seen funding over, beyond the forward estimates. It happened under the Labor Government, why is this different?

PLIBERSEK: Because it doesn’t have a costing. We did 10 year plans and we explained exactly how that we were going to pay for them and exactly how much they were going to cost.

JOURNALIST: Well the Coalition's also explained how it’s going to pay for it, we just don’t know the figures. We were under the same situation under the Labor [inaudible]?

PLIBERSEK: No, they haven’t explained how they’re going to pay for it and they haven’t provided any figures. We have, in every instance when we’ve had a 10 year plan, said, "this is what it will cost over 10 years and this is how we’re going to pay for it," including with the NDIS - changing the Medicare levy and a number of other measures. So I think it is quite right that budgets, that governments try and project what their decisions will cost over 10 years. But they can’t keep that a secret then. They can’t go out and keep it a secret from the Australian people. Did the Treasurer really think that no-one would notice that his 10 year “Enterprise Tax Plan,” as he calls it, has no 10 year costing? This is bizarre.

JOURNALIST: Just in regards to foreign aid, the Finance Minister was out here just before saying that you'd promised that you would reverse the cuts to foreign aid that have been in this budget. If Labor does win power how is it going to pay for that?

PLIBERSEK: Well in fact I’ve never said that. It is impossible for us to restore $11.3 billion worth of cuts that this Government -

JOURNALIST: I think it was part of the cuts, just…

PLIBERSEK: Well, you might let me finish. We have never said that we will restore $11.3 billion of cuts in one go. It is impossible. The Government has cut the guts out of the aid budget. This budget confirms those cuts. There’s a further $224 million drop between this year and next year. That means countries like Timor-Leste – one of the poorest countries in the world, and our neighbour – will lose more funding from Australia. Indonesia, Samoa, countries right across our region will lose help from Australians. This takes Australian aid to its lowest level in recorded history at 23 cents in every $100 of our national wealth. I know that most Australians if they had $100 in their pocket and they were told they could spend 23 cents to save a life would do that. Would they spend 50 cents? Yes, they would. Our objective is to get to 50 cents in every $100 over time. We were almost there when we were in Government, but we certainly can’t afford to do that overnight should we be re-elected in July this year.

JOURNALIST: But any of the cuts. Sure there’s $11 billion dollars of cuts [inaudible]. But the $220 million that was announced on Tuesday, would you restore that?

PLIBERSEK:  Well, we’ve already said that we would provide an extra $450 million to the UNHCR. We’ve already said that we’d give an extra $40 million a year to the partnership with non-government organisations. We’ll have more to say about this area in coming weeks. But Mathias Cormann makes stuff up. Ok, thanks everyone.