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Transcript of interview with Michael Rowland: ABC News: 25 June 2018: Labor's Ads; Corporate Tax Cuts; Shadow Ministry Vacancy

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MONDAY, 25 JUNE 2018

SUBJECTS: Labor’s Ads; Corporate Tax Cuts; Shadow Ministry Vacancy.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Let's hear from the Shadow Minister for Employment and

Workplace Relations Brendan O'Connor. Mr O’Connor, good morning to you.


WORKPLACE RELATIONS: Good morning, Michael.

ROWLAND: Firstly these attack ads released by the Labor Party last night are

highlighting the Prime Minister's personal investments. Are you worried they might

backfire on the Labor Party?

O’CONNOR: I think it is important that the public understand exactly what's at

stake here, and also understand what motivates the Prime Minister. His definition

of success is personal wealth. He stands to be the biggest beneficiary of the

corporate tax cuts in the Parliament. I think it's absolutely fair and reasonable that

that's understood by the Australian people.

ROWLAND: Are you worried it might trigger similar personal attacks from the


O’CONNOR: Well, in fact the Government has - from the beginning of the Abbott

Government, and since then under the Turnbull Government - spent every day in

Parliament attacking the Opposition and indeed, making personal attacks against

Opposition members. Fine, but the Prime Minister should stand up to scrutiny and

not have such a glass jaw.

He is the richest man in Parliament. He stands to be the biggest beneficiary of the

corporate tax cuts in the Parliament. He just made a $7,000 tax cut for his income

last week by voting with Pauline Hanson. I think this is absolutely reasonable, and I

think the Australian public needs to understand more what values and what

priorities the Prime Minister has.

Clearly, he thinks that, you know, that giving $80 billion to the big end of town is

good for the economy. We say it's not good for the economy. To give $17 billion to

banks and cut $17 billion to education is wrong headed and unfair. Indeed, the

$224 billion in total of income and corporate tax cuts is unaffordable, and

unreasonable, and unbelievable, frankly, because you know, for much of it, it is in

seven years’ time.

ROWLAND: What do you say to the Government's argument on company tax

cuts, that if passed, will help stimulate economic activity, which will, in turn,

according to the Government, create new jobs?

O’CONNOR: Well, firstly, I understand that the Prime Minister was at a cafeteria

this morning. Well, those tax cuts have already passed for small business, and

Labor supports tax cuts for small business.

I wonder if he asked a worker at that cafeteria, do they support cuts to penalty

rates which will happen on the 1st of July? Further to that Michael, we are

investing in businesses by providing a tax depreciation on assets over $20,000.

We support tax relief where it leads to the investment in businesses in Australia -

not tax relief to multinationals which will go off-shore, or indeed to banks which are

highly profitable.

We don't think that's right, and I think it’s absolutely fair that the Prime Minister

stand up to this scrutiny, and I think it is fair also that people fully understand what

motivates the Prime Minister.

ROWLAND: You're clearly unhappy with big business getting, as you say, an

unwanted tax cut. What do you say to Anthony Albanese - your colleague - saying

that the Labor Party should work more closely with big business?

O’CONNOR: We do work with big business, and we do work with medium and

small enterprises. In fact, in my portfolio-

ROWLAND: Clearly not enough according to Anthony Albanese?

O’CONNOR: Well no, I think he was making the point that of course you reach out

and engage. You don't have to agree with stakeholders to engage. What you do,

Michael, is to seek to find common ground. I meet with the small, medium and

large enterprises in every sector of our economy, and I do seek to find common


That doesn't mean we should be providing or impoverishing our services to provide

tax relief to the big end of town when it's not affordable. And frankly, that's what

Anthony also said - that we should be working with business, but not working for

big business, and I think that was also said by the Leader of the Opposition.

I think you can engage with people, but it doesn’t mean you should be their


Clearly, Malcolm Turnbull acts as an agent and a servant of big business in their

Parliament, and quite frankly, that’s not in the national interest.

ROWLAND: At the same time, Anthony Albanese claims that the Labor Party

needed to reach out beyond the unionised workforce and appeal more to workers

who aren’t necessarily union members.

What do you say to that?

O’CONNOR: Firstly, that’s my concern. The reason why you need a Labor

Government is to make laws fair for union and non-union members. The fact is that

the people who are suffering cuts to penalty rates are union and non-union

members. But today, the Leader of the Opposition is introducing a Private

Members Bill to stop the cuts to penalty rates - but will it be supported by Malcolm

Turnbull? No. He wants to give tax relief and tax largesse to big the big end of

town. He’ll oppose our Private Members Bill, I imagine, and this means that

worker’s wages are falling in real terms.

We're going to have an impoverished situation where we will not be able to afford

the services dedicated to health and education, and no - we’ve not seen anywhere

where the Government has actually costed these corporate tax cuts.

Now, the Senate has an opportunity here to stand up against the efforts by the

Government to hand over, to multinationals and big banks, enormous amounts of

money which should be dedicated to education, health, and other services.

ROWLAND: Finally before we go, the Labor Party Caucus meets I think over the

next couple of days to amongst other things fill a Shadow Ministry vacancy. As you

know, lots of internal debate over who should get that. Should a woman be

appointed to this spot?

O’CONNOR: Well, Labor has a proud record of obviously having a high

participation of women, both in the Caucus and the Shadow Ministry. It's important

that we continue to ensure that our Caucus reflects modern Australia. By way of

comparison, the Government has one of the lowest proportions of women in the

Parliament for the Liberal Party for many a year, and so we're very proud of that.

As for who would fill the Shadow Ministry position, that's entirely up to the Caucus.

That will be determined by the Caucus, and whoever it is - we have so many

talented people that will be putting their hand up or may seek to put their hand up -

we know it will actually add value to our frontbench.

ROWLAND: Okay Brendan O’Connor, a very big week ahead. Thank you so much

for joining us on News Breakfast this morning.

O’CONNOR: Thanks Michael.



Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra