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Posted April 27, 2014


CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: (Recording starts)…This will be Tony Abbott’s deceit tax.

Now Tony Abbott went to the last election with clear commitments to the Australian people which he is breaching and this will be the biggest breach of all.

We see the $6 Sick Tax to go to the doctor, again, another new tax, and again, figures out today confirming what the Labor Party has said about this. That it will hit low and middle income earners most of all. Joe Hockey getting his facts wrong when it comes to his own electorate just shows how out of touch this government is, when it comes to the changes to the Budget that they will be making, asking the Australian people to pay for their doubling of the deficit, and the $68 billion they’ve added to the deficits.

Happy to take some questions.

JOURNALIST: Mr Bowen your government imposed levies for emergencies like the Queensland floods, why not a budget emergency?

BOWEN: Well thank you for raising the Queensland flood. Here you have an example of where billions of dollars were required and the government took a decision, with the then opposition opposing that all the way. I would invite you to look at Mr Abbott’s comments when the flood levy was implemented, calling it ‘dumb policy’ saying that the government ‘goes straight to tax increases’. Well, the thing is, when you have a genuine emergency like the Brisbane floods, governments make difficult decisions, but when you have a conflated budget emergency, which Joe Hockey has attempted to create by adding $68 billion to the budget deficit, doubling the budget deficits, then that is not an excuse for a new tax.

JOURNALIST: But would a levy built onto existing tax scales constitute a new tax?

BOWEN: Well of course, if you are introducing a new tax onto Australian families then it’s a breach of Tony Abbott’s promise of no new taxes. If Tony Abbott wants to allege that a levy or a tax on Australian families is not a new tax, I would like to see him do that.

JOURNALIST: The deficit levy, if we can call it that…

BOWEN: Or a deceit levy, take your pick.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] could be targeted at high income earners. Aren’t they the best to pay for this?

BOWEN: This is a Government that is effecting low and middle income earners all of the way. You see the $6 tax on going to the doctor which will hit people here in Western Sydney and in suburbs right across Australia. You have seen the Government take away, or attempt to take away, through legislation in the parliament, low and middle income earners’ superannuation tax breaks at the same time as increasing the tax breaks for high income earners. And Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott are giving $75,000 to millionaires to have babies. I mean this is a government that has all of the wrong priorities, twisted priorities. We will see this deceit levy and its detail, but clearly they are attempting to effect ordinary Australian families - low and middle income earners - to pay for their budget deceit.

JOURNALIST: We’ve seen reports of changes to family tax payments. What will this mean in real terms?

BOWEN: Well the reports in regard to family tax payments are also concerning. Now we will need to see the detail, as the Australian people will need to see the detail, but this again would constitute a clear breach by Tony Abbott. We’ve got Australian families doing it tough around the nation, seeing this constant speculation from the Treasurer in particular. This lecturing from the Treasurer about the need to tighten belts; he’s lecturing to Australian families. No doubt that would be causing concern to Australian families right across the board.

JOURNALIST: Wouldn’t Australia reap a big benefit from this in terms of a reduction in the interest bill, if there was a short and determined effort to bring down the deficit?

BOWEN: Well we aren’t seeing any short and determined effort to bring down the deficit. What we are seeing is an effort to double the deficit. That’s what Joe Hockey has done since becoming Treasurer. Doubling the deficit by adding over $68 billion in new government spending and changes to government assumptions, not even the Treasury’s or Department of Finance’s assumptions; his personal forecasts as the Treasurer of Australia, so he’s not trying to reduce the deficit, he’s doubled the deficit.

JOURNALIST: Yes, but there would be an interest benefit if there was a levy introduced to pay down the deficit.


BOWEN: Of course if you have less debt you pay less interest, but that doesn’t justify a tax on Australian families who would pay the cost for this breach of promise by Tony Abbott.

JOURNALIST: Have you asked for or will you get a lock-up reading of the Commission of Audit report before it is released at 2pm on Thursday?

BOWEN: Yes, we have asked for that and my understanding is that the Government has agreed to that in accordance with normal standards and procedures, that lock-up would be provided to the Opposition as it is to the media. We have requested that and the Government has agreed.

JOURNALIST: Lawyer Gary Rumble…(Inaudible)…has come out this morning saying that not enough has been done to punish the perpetrators and to look after the victims, and has called for a Royal Commission. What is your reaction to that, do you think the Government should call a Royal Commission?

BOWEN: The previous government, of course, started the process of these very important and serious inquiries into Defence Force handling of very serious allegations, and in some cases, more than allegations. Of course, they should be allowed to run their course. Now I’m not going to comment on Mr Rumble’s request in detail, I will leave Stephen Conroy and others to that, other than to say, a very serious process was begun by the previous government, and I would expect the current government to continue that process.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

BOWEN: Well the seriousness of this problem was why the former government instituted these inquiries. We need to see those inquiries report and report in an open and transparent way, as would be appropriate, in circumstances which are very sensitive for individuals, victims in particular. I would say, I just saw the Prime Minister say, that the vast majority of individuals in the Defence Force are good and upstanding people, and he’s right about that. Of course these allegations needed to be treated seriously, as they were under the former government, and I would expect them to be by this Government.

JOURNALIST: Mr Bowen, what do you make of the three former Country Liberal MPs in the Northern Territory moving to join the Palmer United Party?

BOWEN: Well I’ve seen that report and of course one of those MPs has joined the Labor Party, then the Country Liberal Party, and now apparently the Palmer United Party. So, if this report is right, she is doing a Billy Hughes and moving around the political spectrum. What’s important is that the people of the Northern Territory get good and stable government and the person who can deliver that is Delia Lawrie and the Labor Party. It is quite clear that the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory has lost control of his Government. Delia Lawrie is running a united team in the NT and she would make a very good Chief Minister when she has the opportunity to do so.

Okay, thank you.

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