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Transcript of press conference: Sydney : 26 August 2013: Coalition costings; Tony Abbott's PPL scheme; McMahon candidate; Second Sydney airport; and Newspoll.

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Campaign Transcript


E & O E - PROOF ONLY _____________________________________________________________

Subjects: Coalition costings; Tony Abbott’s PPL scheme; McMahon candidate; Second Sydney airport; Newspoll _____________________________________________________________

CHRIS BOWEN: Thanks for coming everybody. Yesterday of course, we saw Tony Abbott launch his election campaign. He could have taken the opportunity to be honest and upfront with the Australian people. He could have taken the opportunity to outline how much his policies are costing, how much his promises are costing and how he’ll pay for it and what he would cut.

Of course, he didn’t take that opportunity.

Just under two weeks ago we saw the release of the pre-election economic outlook; that is what he said he was waiting for before being upfront with the Australian people about what he would cut and the impact on the budget of his promises. Two weeks have gone by and not a word. He hopes to be Prime Minister in two weeks’ time, he wants the keys to the country without showing us the fine print until the last minute - and it’s simply not on.

It’s actually worse than that. Yesterday, Tony Abbott confirmed his expensive and unfair paid parental leave scheme, costing $22 billion. He confirmed his policy of reversing Labor’s changes to Private Health Insurance Rebate to make it fairer and more sustainable, costing $8 billion. He announced more than $300 million of new promises, new policies, and not one word about where the cuts were going to come from.

And as well as that, he promised that he would take defence spending to two per cent of GDP, which is a significant increase, and return the budget to surplus at

one per cent of GDP over ten years, and he said he would reduce the size of the budget every year.

Now without the magic pudding, without fairy dust, there’s only one way all those things can be true - and that is real and significant cuts.

Real and significant cuts to health, and to education. Real and significant cuts to family payments. Real and significant cuts across the board. And of course, yesterday Tony Abbott chose to tell us nothing about those cuts but to keep them hidden. He says he is a conviction politician - that means he know what he wants to do, but means he’s not going to tell you about it until it’s all far too late.

Yesterday of course, again, we saw him confirming his paid parental leave scheme. And the people who are going to pay for this scheme are the people who can least afford it. Not only self-funded retirees and investors, but Australia’s almost one million part pensioners. Part pensioners will be hit because the levy on big business is being passed on to shareholders by up to $800 a year. These are people who are on a part pension, have a small investment put aside for their future.

And Mr Abbott is promising this tax, with no franking credit for shareholders, for mum and dad investors and importantly for the part pensioners of Australia. Around 40 per cent of Australia’s aged pensioners are part pensioners - it means they have some small investments put aside to see them through in their retirement. Why is Mr Abbott hitting these people to pay for his scheme, which is expensive and unfair?

Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Mr Bowen, Mr Abbott did promise that one per cent budget surplus of GDP as you mentioned and the two per cent of defence. Do you have an estimate on how much those costs will cost to the budget?

BOWEN: Well one per cent of GDP surplus, he says, in ten years. Interestingly this is another change, because he previously said he would provide a surplus year one, then it changed to sometime over the next four years, and then it changed to before Labor and now its apparently one per cent in ten years’ time with no other detail. In relation to defence, it’s currently 1.6 per cent of GDP so it’s a substantial increase that he’ll have to fund with cuts elsewhere.

JOURNALIST: Will that create a structural problem for the budget and the deficit?

BOWEN: Well it would, unless he cuts. So this is the problem, he’ll cut, he says he’ll get to surplus, he says he’ll increase defence spending, he says he’ll have an expensive paid parental leave scheme, he’s announced other promises yesterday over $300 million and the only way these things can be funded is cuts - cuts to health, cuts to education, cuts to family payments.

JOURNALIST: Mr Bowen what are you specific allegations about Ray King’s conduct as a policemen and what’s your evidence to back up those claims?

BOWEN: Well there’s been reports about the Royal Commission, about the incidents that he was called to account for, both about his relationship with Mr Lapa and about the Marconi Club - it’s up to him to justify it and explain his position. Now there’s a contrast here.

When the Prime Minister was informed about a Labor candidate ten years ago or more than ten years ago as I recall, being rude to a lady in a wheelchair, he ordered an investigation, ordered the full information, the full facts, asked what had been disclosed prior to the pre-selection, and within 24 hours had sacked that candidate. Mr Abbott shrugs his shoulders and says ‘Nah - nothing to see here’.

JOURNALIST: He was completely exonerated by the Wood Royal Commission, there were no finding about him at all and just being called before a Royal Commission doesn’t mean that you’re not fit to be a candidate.

BOWEN: Well as I understand, the Royal Commission found an inappropriate relationship between clubs and the police in relation to certain payments and free meals, and he was questioned very closely about that. Mr King can hold a press conference like this and answer all your questions; he’s choosing not to do that. And Mr Abbott’s choosing not to hold him to account either.

JOURNALIST: He’s given his version of events on the record though - to Mr Hadley.

BOWEN: To Mr Hadley? He can hold a press conference with you and he can answer all the questions.

JOURNALIST: The Coalition says they’ll release all their costings before Labor. Have you released all your costings?

BOWEN: Yes. Every policy we have announced has been accompanied by a costing and by a funding mechanism and has all been funded through the economic statement.

JOURNALIST: Do you support a second airport at Badgerys’s Creek?

BOWEN: My position on this has been clear and long standing and particularly transparent. That’s why I support the Governments position on of exploring the option of an airport at Wilton.

JOURNALIST: Latest Newspoll shows you have had a small increase in the primary vote but only 12 days to go in the election do you still think you can win?

BOWEN: Yes, I do. I believe this election is competitive, I believe it’s tight and I believe it’s neck and neck. And I believe Kevin Rudd has a remarkable ability to

campaign across the country and put out the case and has come back from behind before and I believe he can come back from behind again.

But we’ll do so if we do by being clear and upfront with the Australian people about our positive plans for the future and pointing out Mr Abbott is not being honest with the Australian people.

JOURNALIST: In the latest polling out in your own electorate against Mr Ray King it was a bit - probably a bit problematic for you, are you still confident about winning your local electorate and are you planning for maybe a career post-politics?

BOWEN: Question one - I’ve never taken any vote in this electorate for granted. In the nine years I’ve represented it and nine years before that on local council and as my time as mayor here, I’ve never taken one single vote for granted. I’ve worked to earn every single vote, every single vote. And that’s the same approach I’ll take into this election, working hard and earning the votes of the people of McMahon.

In relation to your second question - no.

JOURNALIST: On the Insiders program yesterday Kevin Rudd admitted that the carbon tax - there was no mandate to introduce the carbon tax. Do you think that’s just another stick to bash the Government with?

BOWEN: Well again, he’s being honest, he’s being upfront, he’s calling it as he sees it. He takes mandates very seriously - that’s why he’s out asking for a mandate in this election campaign for our plans for the future. You can’t get a mandate if you’re not honest with people about the future. If you’re not honest with people about what you’ll cut then you don’t have a mandate. That’s the difference of approaches here.

Thanks very much.


Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111

Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton, ACT, 2600