SUBJECTS: Batman By-election; Dividend imputation reform; Catholic schools funding.
KIERAN GILBERT: Now to Labor frontbencher Michelle Rowland, joining us live from the Sky News Centre. Michelle Rowland, should Bill Shorten feel emboldened in terms of his dividend tax plan for investors, given the result in Batman?
MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Firstly Kieran, huge congratulations to Ged Kearney on her win on the weekend. It is truly historic and we were written off by very many people and she proved them wrong, so congratulations to her. She will be an asset to our Parliament.
What we are emboldened - taking away from this result over the weekend - to do, we are emboldened to continue an intelligent conversation with the Australian people and be upfront with them about policy. And this is something that Malcolm Turnbull promised he would do but certainly has not delivered on. People concentrate on the number of Newspolls that he quoted when he rolled Tony Abbott, but I think the bigger issue is that he promised an intelligent conversation with the Australian people about economic leadership and he has completely failed to provide that. In contrast, Labor is being upfront with these policies. And yes, it is complex and yes, it is challenging, but what we take away from this result at the weekend is that we should keep going with it. We should keep being upfront with people.
GILBERT: Is there room to tweak it though in your view? Given, if you look at the analysis done by former treasury officials by Industry Super, for that organisation, it suggests that if you capped the amount that people could receive in cash refunds at $1000 for example, you would help inoculate some 350,000 investors in this sense. That makes a bit of political sense surely?
ROWLAND: Kieran, I note some of that analysis. We have been very clear that we will be the party that protects pensioners. We will be the party that looks after people on low incomes and all Australians by ensuring that we're not only addressing the issue of the budget and bringing forward budget repair, but also being able to fund things that we need in terms of health and education and so forth.
GILBERT: So it will be tweaked?
ROWLAND: Kieran, we are looking at a range of things for people in the pensioner bracket and Bill Shorten and Jenny Macklin have also made that very clear. We'll have much more to say on that. But what's more important is that this is not a means to an end. This is about $8 billion approaching each year, which is simply unsustainable. We need to ensure that the budget is brought under control, that we have budget repair. And even people within the Coalition, their usual friends in this area, have commented that it appears that the government has given up on that aim. So we will certainly continue to prosecute this, Kieran, and this is about growth: growth not as a slogan, but actually putting in place the Australian Investment Guarantee to enable growth.
GILBERT: The Education Minister played down the impact of the Catholic School campaign. Was it potent in your view? Does it have transferability beyond Victoria, where obviously the Catholic Education Office is very much active in this political sense?
ROWLAND: Well, let's be very clear here Kieran. It's clear from the reports that the Catholic Education Office in Melbourne made a very informed decision when it decided to contact certain electors. It made a very informed decision based on their discussions with Bill Shorten and their discussions with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education and they made that decision and decided to advocate. Now, I think it is the role for these sorts of groups, where they think it is proper, to advocate a certain way. They're advocating for increased funding that the government would otherwise take away from them.
GILBERT: Yeah, well the government still says the funding's increasing. Maybe not as much as Labor is promising. We're out of time Michelle Rowland. I appreciate your time this morning. Sorry it's a bit shorter due to the coverage of the fires this morning.