Transcript ABC New England

11 May 2018

Budget Reply,TAFE, Labor’s tax cuts, MRIs for regional hospitals





FRIDAY, 11 MAY 2018

SUBJECT/S: Budget Reply, TAFE, Labor’s tax cuts, MRIs for regional hospitals


KELLY FULLER: Well if Tuesday night was designed to warm people up for an election, then the Budget reply was certainly designed to do the same thing, speaking directly to the Labor base. The Opposition Leader Bill Shorten last night promised lots for TAFE, it was a really big focus on TAFE, tax cuts for workers, and MRI scanners for regional hospitals.  But whether or not much of the promises are cutting through is unclear, after the Party now battles its own citizenship scandal and five by-elections

Just to be clear after the run we have had in the New England North West, I’m sure you’re glad to know that we are absolutely not one of the regions heading to a by-election.

Senator Doug Cameron is the ALP Duty Officer (Senator) for the New England.

Good morning to you Senator.


SENATOR DOUG CAMERON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS, TAFE AND APPRENTICESHIPS:  Good morning Kelly. And please forgive my throat, but I’ve been in Canberra all week and its pretty bad.


FULLER: Oh dear! Thank you for talking to us we appreciate it. Labor is promising to effectively double the government’s tax cut to middle and low income families for those earning up to $125000 instead of the government’s $530, how will you fund this?

CAMERON: Well we funded it because we won’t be handing $17 billion to the banks, we won’t be handing over $80 billion of taxpayers money to big business. We’ve got capital gains tax and negative gearing savings, we’ve got dividend imputation savings, we’ve got savings we’re making through trusts. This is all about ensuring that there is fairness and equality in this country


FULLER: The plan looks like it costs about $19 billion over four years, how much over ten years though?


CAMERON: I don’t have that figure in front of me, what our position is that our funding is well and truly covered by the savings we are making. We are not doing what Malcolm Turnbull is doing, and that is to simply trying to gain the international uptake in the economy and spend that without savings. So we are funding all of our spending through savings.


FULLER: What do you think this big promise for TAFE will be, like, basically was it 100,000 free TAFE places for the first year of TAFE study?


CAMERON: Yes, that was an important one for us. We think TAFE is an iconic institution in this country, we think that privatisation and competition policy has devastated TAFE. We want to rebuild TAFE. So we will pay the upfront fees for 100,000 students and give young people across the country - women, workers that are re-training – an opportunity to actually get in and get the skills for the emerging economy.


FULLER: Bill Shorten promised MRIs for regional hospitals, Tamworth has only just got one, which is a big win for our biggest base hospital in the region, which I think came from state government funding, can you guarantee that any of those other MRIs will make their way to the New England.


CAMERON: No I can’t guarantee that but what I can say is that under Labor we fully understand the need to improve the health system, instead of cutting the health system we are investing in health system. We just think it’s absolutely crazy not to make sure that rural and regional Australia have got a fair go. It’s terrible having to travel from Tamworth or Armidale down into east Sydney to get treatment. So we want to try to fix that problem.


FULLER: There was no mention of the drought from Bill Shorten, which possibly I imagine a lot of regional Australia was wondering would he pay any attention to. The government didn’t do it on Tuesday night either but has the ALP failed to realise what the biggest issue is in regional Australia at the moment is somehow responding to the drought?


CAMERON: We fully understand that farmers are under pressure. What we will do, by the tax cut that we are putting in, that will mean that there will be more money in local communities. That means local shops will be able to access more funds from the local community. We will stop the penalty rate cuts. That means again more funding into local communities for local business. We will always look after farmers when they’re in trouble. We did that in government and we will continue to do that.


FULLER: Do you think Bill Shorten is a bit damaged at the moment, after he gave his rolled gold guarantee that no Labor citizens were going to be caught up in the citizenship saga there, has he been proven wrong here, is this message now dominating the Budget reply?


CAMERON: I don’t think it’s dominating the Budget reply. I think people are more interested now in looking at getting their opportunity to get their kids into TAFE, getting their kids an apprenticeship, making sure the local hospitals are properly funded, making sure the education system is properly funded, these are the issues that last. What someone says about the High Court decision is not important to most people, and if you look at what Malcolm Turnbull said…


FULLER: It’s important to the people who have to go to a by-election.


CAMERON: Oh yeah, yeah. And we regret that people have to go to a by-election. You’ve just gone through one, when Barnaby Joyce failed to get his citizenship done properly, so we understand that’s a problem. But we think when it comes to the crunch, people will look at what’s going to be in their pockets, how they can make sure they can put food on the table, and put school shoes on their kids, making sure the local economy is strong, making sure there is a decent health system, a decent education system and that the TAFE system is reinstated to its iconic position. We think these are all excellent things to get done.


FULLER: Just briefly, if Malcolm Turnbull gets a bump off this Budget, do you think we are headed to a poll before the end of the year?


CAMERON: Well you know there’s all sorts of speculation about that. I think when you look at this dispassionately, when you see what the Turnbull government Budget did, that is to cut more out of hospitals, to cut more money out of TAFE... to give $80 billion to the banks and big business. I think people will go ‘we don’t want this we want a fair society, we want a fair go’, and that’s what Australia is about.


FULLER: Senator we appreciate your time this morning, thank you especially with your sore throat, so thank you for talking with us.


CAMERON: Sorry about that, I’ve been told I’ve been unintelligible in the past, so I don’t know what it was like this morning.


FULLER:  Thank you for your time. Senator Doug Cameron there, Labor Duty Officer for the New England.

Authorised Noah Carroll, ALP Canberra