Bill Shorten's call to arms
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten slams the government's cuts to health, welfare and education in his budget reply speech and says Labor is ready for an election.PT7M36S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-38d37 620 349 May 15, 2014
Bill Shorten’s blunt message for Tony Abbott is that he intends to be every bit as negative as the man whose negativity tore down two prime ministers and a government.
The vow that underpins the budget reply delivered on Thursday night is that Shorten will make Abbott pay for the broken promises.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Branding the budget one that will divide the nation, the Labor leader’s proimise is that it will divide the Parliament until the next election.
Shorten’s antidote for a “cooler, meaner and narrower” Australia is to oppose the Medicare co-payment, the fuel excise increase, the cuts to benefits and reduced school, hospital and university funding.
Branding the changes that will force young jobless to wait six months before getting welfare “perhaps the single most heartless measure in this brutal budget”, Shorten vows to oppose them. “Labor will have no part of this,” he says.
Treasurer Joe Hockey and Government frontbench listen to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten delivering the Budget reply. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Silent for now of the deficit levy on high income earners, he argues that Abbott’s budget emergency is confected and that Labor left the Coalition an economy that is fundamentally strong.
But while declaring that Australians are up for “hard decisions”, he dances around the challenge that demands hard choices – the need for structural reform to rein in spending and find new funding sources to meet the needs of an ageing population.
There is no grudging credit to the Coalition for promising most pain when reform is most needed, immediately before and after the next election - only a steely resolve to fight the changes that will kick in around that time.
And there is no recognition that indexing fuel excise is an important revenue stream that was cut off by a panicked John Howard in 2001. Will Labor go to the next election promising to abandon it?
The commitment is to an Australia that includes everyone, lets everyone be their best and leaves no-one behind.
One question left hanging is whether can Shorten be as effective as Abbott in just saying no and holding government to account. Another is how he will find the money to deliver on his vision for a fairer nation.