SUBJECTS: Turnbull’s $80 billion corporate tax handout; Newspoll; Barnaby Joyce.  


KIERAN GILBERT: With me now, Labor frontbencher Michelle Rowland, and is there is a risk here that Bill Shorten has put too many eggs in this basket? To say ‘we're opposing the big end of town tax cuts’ but actually they're not that unpopular?

MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Well the fact is Kieran, we've made it very clear that these tax cuts, as proposed, are actually a model of trickle-down economics that aren't going to reap the benefits that this government has been spruiking. And it's quite clear that, for example, where we have stagnant wages growth and we've had that for quite some time, the business community hasn't even committed to addressing that as an issue. And I think people realise, and will come to realise even more, that every dollar that is spent on this $80 billion dollar tax cut, including $17 billion to the big banks, that is actually money that is coming out of schools, hospitals, training. These are essential services on which people rely. Budgets are about priorities.

GILBERT: Mr Shorten yesterday said that you'd won the fight, but clearly, this was at the Victorian Labor Party Conference yesterday, in terms of this fight, it looks like it's very much one that's ongoing with more than 60% favouring the corporate tax plan.

ROWLAND: Well let's be clear, this polling was about the timing, not whether you agree with it or not, and I can tell you Kieran as you go out into the community, people aren't putting up their hands and saying my number one priority is an $80 billion corporate tax cut. People are quite sick and tired of this notion that trickle-down economics will end up delivering for them and I think people will come to understand even more as we offer this alternative policy agenda; will come to realise that this is better for them in the long run. 

GILBERT: Well there was an option ‘not at all’, so if someone didn't want it, I mean it was about the timing you're right, but they were also given the option of saying 'not at all'.

ROWLAND: Well, when you add it up I think that it's quite inflated the way that the government and the business interests are putting this but look, feel free to go out into the community, feel free to go to these by-elections, feel free to go to the next election pushing this. And I'll make this point also: that not only does this government have problems selling this in the community, when you actually speak and listen to real people, you've also got people within the government itself saying 'oh we need to re-look at this,' the Nationals for example. Who knows what position Pauline Hanson and some of the crossbench will take tomorrow. 

GILBERT: Some within Labor are a little bit cautious about the way that Bill Shorten has put so much focus on this, is there a risk you've put, as I say, all the eggs in one basket on this?

ROWLAND: Look we've made it very clear Kieran, that you're going to get a clear choice, voters are going to get a clear choice, at the next election, and I think that's an important one to point out. And as for the Australian Investment Guarantee, this is one where we listened to the community; we actually modelled something based on 'you get benefits once you invest', that notion of getting benefits from investment so you can increase employment. You can have a look at wages for example, as a result of that investment. That is what we're focused on.

GILBERT: On the broader poll, Bill Shorten now behind Anthony Albanese as preferred Labor Leader. Is that a worry for Mr Shorten?

ROWLAND: Look, we are a unified team and I've said this before Kieran. I think one of the great weaknesses of this government, and the bubble here in Canberra, is the way in which people under-estimate Bill Shorten. He's kept the show together for the last 5 years or so. The level of collegiality in our caucus is enormous. And I think that the one thing I take away from this poll is that the next election is going to be very close. And that's not surprising and I didn't need a poll to tell me that. I mean, I think we've only changed government something like 7 times since the Second World War.

GILBERT: So Mr Shorten's not a drag on the Labor vote?      

ROWLAND: Well have a look, our Labor vote has gone up, so there's your answer. And I think that the more Bill Shorten gets out into the community, which he does, I think the more people recognise, firstly that he's authentic, he listens to people, he's got an alternative policy agenda, and we are all prosecuting that as a team.

GILBERT: Finally, Barnaby Joyce has complained to the Press Council about the Daily Telegraph's reporting of his personal situation. What do you make of that, vis a vis, now this Channel 7 interview for $150,000? 

ROWLAND: I take the view that this is a personal one which I don't have very many opinions. But I'm sure there are opinions within the National Party and the government who would like to share some.

GILBERT: But to take the money for the interview, do you think that's a viable option for a politician? 

ROWLAND: Well look, that's a matter for him. It's not something that I would do but I'm sure that there are members of the government who have much more to say on that than me. 

GILBERT: Michelle Rowland, thanks so much.

ROWLAND: Pleasure.

GILBERT: We'll talk to you soon.