BILL SHORTEN MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
TUESDAY, 2 APRIL 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan for better schools; income tax cuts; Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan; Budget 2019-20.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thank you very much for coming out this morning and thank you for the Australian Education Union and to the principal's organisations from around Australia for putting on this wonderful display of the difference between Labor's education policy for schools and the Liberals and Nationals cuts to public schools. Every parent knows that one of the most important things we can do as parents is invest in our children education. Make sure that they get every opportunity to meet their full potential. And as a nation, that's what we should be doing too.
We're here today with teachers and principals because they feel it so deeply. When they're in their schools and they are starved of resources and they can't give kids the individual teaching they need; the extra support if they're falling behind, the extra extension activities if they're gifted and talented, the languages, the sports, the music, the arts, a first grade teaching of coding and STEM subjects. Teachers feel that and principals feel it and that's what's brought them to Canberra today, on budget day, to show in this visual representation of every school in Australia, the difference between Labor's fair funding commitment - an extra $14 billion over the decade - and the Liberals and Nationals cuts to every school in Australia, every public school in Australia.
Now, I'm delighted to be here with Bill Shorten and with many of my Labor colleagues because Bill and my Labor colleagues know that investing in education is one of the most important things that we can do. And tonight, in tonight's budget, you'll see once again a last minute effort to repair years of damage from the Liberals and Nationals. Well, let's see what they do for public education because this is one of the areas with the largest cut and the biggest damage.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, everybody. I'd just add to Tanya's comments, the education cuts of the last six years are an election issue in the next six weeks. We understand that tonight's budget is much more a political leaflet than it is an economic plan for the future. But one thing which the Government could do is reverse their $14 billion cuts to public education. Because after all, what could be more important than giving our kids the best possible education?
I believe in better schools not bigger tax loopholes. I believe in better schools not short-term political budget statements like we will see tonight.
Happy to take some questions.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, will you match the increase to the offset to $1,000? I know you're on $920 at the moment but will you then extend that to $1,000?
SHORTEN: Thank you for reminding everyone that last year, the Government said they could only find $500 for a working person on perhaps $90,000 a year. But because of our economic reforms, we said we would increase the refund available to working Australians to $928. The Government's now realised that they have a problem, that Labor has bigger, better, fairer tax cuts for nearly 10 million working people.
We will study what they offer tonight. The point about it is really, and your question neatly captures it, this is a Government who's run out of time. All that is left to them is to play catch up. They're playing catch up on our better, fairer tax policies. But what they should also do is play catch up on having a wages policy, having a renewable energy policy, reversing the cuts to hospitals. They should play catch up on our 3 year old universal kindergarten commitment. They should play catch up about putting back the $14 billion that they promised and never delivered for Australian schoolchildren.
So we'll see what happens and you know, the beauty of Labor's position is we've made the hard economic decisions. I think all of you who are seasoned observers understand that because we're cracking down on loopholes, we have options to reduce the debt, look after working families and also, reverse the cuts to schools and hospitals.
JOURNALIST: The government claims that your energy policy will effectively devastate Australian jobs. What modelling, if any, do you have which can be delivered to reassure the public that that is not the case?
SHORTEN: First of all, don't we all owe it to lift the level of journalism in this country and not simply repeat unsubstantiated Government attacks? What we've done - and I'll give you three or four proof points to help reassure you because I actually think Australian people want action on climate change. I think there are over a Prime Minister bringing in a piece of coal like a pet rock and brandishing it as some sort of lucky charm in Parliament.
The fact of the matter is that the Liberal Party can't get energy policy right. The fact of the matter is that if they were fair dinkum on climate change and energy policy, Malcolm Turnbull would still be Prime Minister. But let's go to some of the proof points. First of all, McKibbin's modelling shows that a 45 per cent emissions reduction will have the same impact as 26 per cent because we will include international credits.
First of all, another proof point, our commitment to investing in renewable energy will see the generation of 70,000 new jobs. These are good quality, new jobs in a growth industry which we can help export.
Let's have a look also at Malcolm Turnbull's work. The Government can't have it both ways. We've borrowed their safeguards mechanism to help reduce emissions in heavy industrial polluters. We've borrowed their mechanism. So if they don't like what we're doing, they're actually saying their own mechanism doesn't work. Or to put another way, last year or just before they got rid of poor old Malcolm, they were proposing a National Energy Guarantee which would help power bills come down by about $500.
So we've taken up the National Energy Guarantee, they haven't. So when you look at it, we're using their logic, we're using the best science and evidence, we're focusing on increasing jobs and now the Government - even the current leaders of the Government voted for Mr Turnbull's plans last year. We've borrowed them and now because we've borrowed the framework, all of a sudden they don't like them.
People are over that day to day partisan-political rubbish. But if you really want to look at the cost of climate change, have a look at the cost of inaction. Do you really want to face your kids and your grand-kids and say 'well, we had the chance in 2019 to take real action on climate change and we did nothing'.
The cost of natural disasters last year was $18 billion. Talk to the Insurance Council of Australia and they'll say they want to see action on climate change. And most of industry actually accept what we're saying. We've put aside $300 million to help work with the emissions intensive trade exposed sector. So when the Government runs a scare campaign, you've got to ask yourself why are they still running the same scare campaign for 10 years when in fact, we've gone backwards on climate change and power bills have gone up. They've had six years to prove their scare campaigns work, they've had six years to prove that under a Coalition Government they can get energy prices down - they've failed every test they've ever set.
Sorry, I think you were informed beforehand that I didn't have much time but maybe one question.
JOURNALIST: I've just got one back on the offsets, if I may. It sounds like the Coalition wants to get those tax offsets through Parliament this week before it breaks ahead of the election. Will Labor work with the Government to make that happen?
SHORTEN: Well, we'll have to see what the proposals are. We don't give them a blank cheque. If it's as it has been outlined, you know, we'll have to see. I mean, the Government don't always drop everything, do they? I imagine there should be something new in the Budget, so we'll have to wait and see. But in terms of working with the Government, we've always been pragmatic about good ideas but it does highlight this sudden rush.
Why is it that they are now saying they want to do in the next six weeks, what they haven't done in the last six years? Why is it that they only scheduled 10 days of Parliament in eight months? So I understand the Government wants to rush, rush, rush - they've got this new found sense of urgency. You got to ask yourself: why did they only schedule so few days of Parliament if what they're doing is so important for the Australian people? It's a lot more con than it is substance.
Very last, Jennifer.
JOURNALIST: Just on the surplus, please. Do you not consider this a mark of good economic management that we are back in the black and will you offer bigger and better surpluses?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, let's see the final numbers and I want to thank the coal and the iron ore industry. Because it's that quantity of coal and iron ore going to North Asia which has done the heavy lifting. But of course, you've got to be careful of relying on commodities to sustain. I mean, there's a couple of reasons why we will have a good economic surplus if that is the case. One is the level of income taxes that people are paying has gone up. So if we have a surplus, I'm not going to thank the Government, I thank the Australian people and we thank our export resources industry. But let's see and you know we'll be constructive.
But let's just call it what it is people. This Government's had six years. What is it that they say they can do in the next six weeks than the previous six years they didn't do. There's been too much instability; three Liberal Prime Ministers, 13 energy policies, 22 reshuffles. Now they want at five minutes to midnight to get you to forget all the chaos, all of the division, all of the argy-bargy between the Nationals and the Liberals and the One Nation people - and they all want to say it'll all be better and none of that ever happened. I don't think Australians are that easily fooled.
And when it comes to public education, they should just put the $14 billion back that they always promised they'd deliver but they've let the kids and families and teachers of Australia down.