TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 4 APRIL 2019
SUBJECTS: Budget 2019; Newstart; Bill Shorten’s united and disciplined Labor team.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning. Tonight you will see Bill Shorten's Budget Reply speech. And what you will see tonight could not contrast more sharply with what you saw a couple of months ago from the Liberals. Tonight, Bill Shorten will talk about his plan for Australia's future.
Bill leads a united and disciplined team, focused on jobs and living conditions of ordinary Australians. So tonight you'll hear about our plan for bigger, fairer tax cuts. Of course, we support the government's tax cut proposal for the 1st of July. These tax cuts follow what Labor suggested a year ago. In fact, we proposed bigger, fairer tax cuts last year. The government voted against them. This year, they've copied those bigger, fairer tax cuts. Fine. We'll support those. But this government has forgotten people earning less than $40,000 a year. There are almost three million Australians earning less than $40,000 a year, who will get a bigger tax cut under Labor.
It's also about the services that people rely on - making sure our health, our education system, aged care, disability services - are good enough for our community. We've seen years of cuts and chaos from the Liberals. We've seen cuts to health, cuts to education, cuts to aged care, cuts to TAFE, cuts to disability services. We've seen cuts and chaos from the Liberals. And we've seen a chaotic Budget where, just a little more than twelve hours after the Budget was released, they were already changing major measures in that Budget, because they had forgotten people. On widows' pensions, orphans' pensions, veterans, Newstart, and so on, with their energy payments.
What you'll see tonight from Bill Shorten is a classic Labor Budget, because it will focus on fairness. What you saw from the Liberals a couple of nights ago, well it's classic them - cuts and chaos.
JOURNALIST: What will those tax cuts for people earning under $40,000 look like? Are you able to go into that further?
PLIBERSEK: Well, it will depend obviously on what people are earning, but you're talking about tax cuts that might be as high as 30 per cent larger than what the government is proposing. But it is really only the Liberals and the Nationals that would think it's fair that someone earning $35,000 a year should get a tax cut of 250 bucks a year. And someone who's earning $200,000 a year gets an $11,000 tax cut. It's only the Liberals and the Nationals that would think that's fair.
JOURNALIST: How do you propose to deliver that? Would it be in, say, in a similar mechanism in the tax offset or is it in growing the tax brackets?
PLIBERSEK: You'll see all of the details tonight that are coming out in Bill's Budget Reply speech and over the next few days, Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen will be detailing all of those tax announcements.
JOURNALIST: Can you give an assurance that some of the most vulnerable Australians that the Newstart allowance would be higher under a Labor government?
PLIBERSEK: We've already committed to reviewing Newstart. It's not just Labor and social welfare groups that are concerned about the rate of Newstart. You see many business organisations, including the Business Council of Australia, saying that Newstart is too low. It's so low that people can find it hard to afford the public transport to get to the job interview or to buy a clean shirt for a job interview. It's something that we have to look at methodically in Government.
JOURNALIST: If it's so low though why not commit to increasing it before the election?
PLIBERSEK: Because we need to get it right. We need to make sure that we set Newstart at a level that is fair to Newstart recipients, that is a boost to them getting a job, it helps them get a job, it doesn't hinder them from getting a job, and is affordable for the national budget.
JOURNALIST: Will Labor make a surplus in 2019 and 2020?
PLIBERSEK: We will.
JOURNALIST: How will it compare to the government's forecasts?
PLIBERSEK: Well you'll see all of that tonight. But we can afford bigger and better surpluses than the government because we are not committed to giving huge tax concessions to big companies, multinationals, and the top end of town. We've done a lot of hard work to bring unaffordable tax concessions under control and that means that we are able to invest in health and education, in our commitment, for example, to make preschool for four year olds permanent rather than just roll it out for one more year like this government has done and to also make preschool for three year olds permanent. We've made some important decisions on our investments. We've done it by doing hard work to rein in unaffordable tax concessions.
JOURNALIST: Well is Labor seeking to revive the 'Mediscare' campaign?
PLIBERSEK: Well what this government's done to Medicare is scary. You don't need a scare campaign when the truth is as frightening as it is. We've seen almost the whole period, right up until now, this government has had a freeze on Medicare which has meant greater out of pocket expenses for many Australians. You've seen hundreds of millions of dollars cut from our hospitals which means that waiting times in emergency, waiting times for elective surgery, have increased. It's not a scare campaign. It's a very scary reality.
JOURNALIST: Is Labor ready to campaign as of this weekend?
PLIBERSEK: We've been very ready to take on the Liberals, the Nationals, on issues of fairness, on our vision for the country. We've been doing that, I think it's fair to say, for years now. We are a united and disciplined team with a clear plan for Australia's future. Bill Shorten is leading a team that is ready to govern. Of course, there's no guarantees in politics, so we'll be fighting every day to make sure that Australians understand our vision for Australia. Thanks.