Budget reply speech bill shorten says labor will double coalition’s tax offset plan – as it happened australia news the guardian electricity origin

Shorten: Yes, but what you also said is what I said was not right. The fact of the matter is that the best legal advice we had said that our people would survive what we thought to be the existing law. I’m very sorry that things have got to where they are, no question. I wish I could have pre-empted or guessed the decision of the high court. I know Australians don’t want to have to vote if they don’t have to. I’m sorry about that. The court did set a different standard and plenty of independent experts, maybe not the government ministers, but plenty of independent experts, maybe not Liberal ads on TV, but independent experts have made it clear.

Question: If you look at the judgment, the high court makes it clear it is not a new interpretation, it is upholding its previously stated position, which is showing that you have taken reasonable steps to renounce your citizenship is not necessarily enough to meet the constitutional requirement?

Shorten: I go on the best advice I can get and I’m sorry that things have got to where they have got. I understand people’s frustration and annoyance. I think that this section 44 has been quite a tricky section of the constitution. If I had known then what I know now, then of course we would have said something different. I didn’t.

Question: On your point about insecure employment, since budget night, a number of senators have raised concerns about the fact the government didn’t raise the Newstart allowance from $40 a day. Even John Howard said Newstart should be raised. Why is Labor hiding behind a review instead of saying we will do a $10 a week lift immediately and a review?

Shorten: We are not the government. We need to review the payment system to work out what is adequate. But I certainly agree with a lot of the people who are saying it is an issue and you might, you probably didn’t notice in my speech I deliberately sent a message that jobseekers living in poverty is unacceptable.

Shorten: I’m not about to start spending billions of dollars on your show, even though I’m defending the ABC in another forum against your cuts. I do think it is an issue. What we are going to do is get the evidence and there is plenty there and look at what we can do and let’s be straight up, I like that John Howard says he cares about Newstart now. He had a chance for 12 years, didn’t he?

Shorten: Someone on $60,000 is not saving a lot of money. This is not a competition about who has got a harder luck story. In government, you have to make choices. Mr Turnbull wants to reduce taxes for the top end, I want to do a better deal for ten million Australians.

Shorten: Nearly 9% of Australia are underemployed. When we talk about unemployment, that number only catches part of the picture. We’ve got 700,000 plus people on the disability support pension, very few get the chance to work. We’ve got job searches and seekers who have given up. We have 9% of people underemployed and we have 4 million Australians in casual or are part-time work. This idea that somehow everyone’s on Easy Street pulling down $200,000, that is not the real world. There is insecure employment and people need to retrain. There is a lot of people doing jobs that won’t exist in ten years. Tafe is the educational institute for older Australians to get that second chance and I can’t believe the cuts this government have made to Tafe.

Question: Your plan wouldn’t benefit people who earn more than $120,000 a year. Let’s take the example of a teacher. You might be a teacher, a senior teacher, a head of department and a principal. You might hope that through your own hard work and some lucky opportunities that one day you might earn $120,000 a year. You said in your speech your plan is a fair go for everyone. Why is somebody in the position I have outlined not as worthy of a tax cut as a first-year teacher?

Shorten: Your question presupposes we are not doing anything else for people. That principal also lives in a community where they want to have well-funded schools and well-funded hospitals. And the reality is there is only so much money you’ve got. I form the view and my Labor team forms the view that if we can look after 10 million taxpayers – and let’s be straight – what happened is I have almost doubled the tax cut offered by the government. This government said we, Labor, doesn’t support lower taxes. I’ve got the better offer for 10 million Australians.

Shorten: High-income earners need our support less than low-income earners. The fact of the matter is that if you are someone on a good salary, I’m not going to say $120,000 is an amazing salary, if you are someone on $1m, this government has reduced your taxes by $16,000. At the end of the day, you have to make choices. The deal I’m offering Australia is we will reduce the national debt more quickly because we are not giving a lot of money away to the top end of town. We will restore funding to schools, we will make sure hospitals and schools are properly funded. This is a clear choice. This government is saying to people we will give you $10 and forgive us our cuts and decisions, we are saying we will give you more but it is on the basis we can fund our other schools and hospitals and essential services. That is the difference. It is a priorities game.