News Election 2019 ‘I am not a messiah’: Bill Shorten saves Q&A best for last

‘I am not a messiah’: Bill Shorten saves Q&A best for last

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on the ABC's Q&A on Monday night. Photo: AAP
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Bill Shorten left his best answer for the last question on the ABC’s Q&A when he was asked about the leadership style he will bring if he is elected prime minister.

After a night pitching for the youth vote with claims of an Australian “intergenerational tax scam”, and opening the door to increasing Newstart and the pay of aged care workers, the Labor leader was in a reflective mood.

Asked what his leadership style would be if he is elected, he delivered a genuine insight into what motivates him in politics.

“That’s a fantastic question. My style of leadership is not that of ‘I know best and everyone else must do as I say’,” Mr Shorten said.

“I’m not a lone ranger. I’m not going to be a messiah. Don’t believe in the ‘authoritarian strong man’ that I’ll do this and everyone will follow.

“I would rather say my leadership style is one of the coach. I want to get the best out of the team.”

Inspired by ‘brilliant’ mum

Mr Shorten said his mother, Ann, was a huge influence on his desire to open up universities and promote women.

“My mum came from a working-class family. She was the first in our family to ever go to university – ever. No one ever thought (it possible). My English grandmother was a cleaner and a barmaid,” he said.

“[Mum] wanted to be a lawyer … but she was the eldest in the family and needed to take the teacher scholarship to look after the rest of the kids.

“My mum was a brilliant woman. She wasn’t bitter … but she worked here [Melbourne’s Monash University] for 35 years. But I know if she had other opportunities, she could have done anything.

“I can’t make it right for my mum. And she wouldn’t want me to. But my point is this, what motivates me, if you really want to know who Bill Shorten is, I can’t make it right for my mum but I can make it right for everyone else.”

Intergenerational tax scam

Mr Shorten denied his policies on negative gearing and capital gains tax of dividends imputations reforms represented a “generational square-up”.

But with thousands of millennials now on the voter roll after the same-sex marriage vote, the youth vote could provide crucial.

“In Australia, if you have a lot of capital, you’re taxed far more lightly than if you make your money from income. If you own a lot of property and assets you’re doing quite well since the GFC. If you don’t, you’re falling behind,” he said.

“That’s not just young people. That’s the pensioners, the wage earners.”

But he went on to say an “intergenerational tax scam” did exist.

“In this country, there is a bit of an intergenerational scam in our tax laws,” he said.

“We will give you subsidies to own a lot of shares. We will give you subsidies to invest in a lot of properties. But what we don’t do is provide enough other support for younger people. So there is reform needed in this country. Real change is needed.”

Earlier, speaking on 7.30, Prime Minister Morrison conceded that Australia’s budget was still in deficit.

“So having got the budget back into surplus for next year, then we can move to the second phase of the plan and that is to pay down the debt,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Shorten also revealed that if he is elected he plans to continue his practice of town hall meetings with constituents.

“So if I’m elected PM, we’re going to do the public meetings and go out and listen to people. So my style of leadership is to listen,” he said.

Door open to Newstart increase

Earlier, as he was asked a question by an unemployed 61-year-old woman Mr Shorten opened the door to an increase for Newstart.

“I don’t know the number we’ll come up with,” Mr Shorten said.

“Common sense says that a review is going to conclude that amount is too low. I won’t pre-empt it, but I’m not having a review to cut it.”

Aged care pay rise floated – again

The Labor leader also again raised expectations that a deal for taxpayers to fund better pay for childcare could be extended to aged care workers – despite his front bench shutting down the idea last week.

“The fact that we look after early childhood educators now does not mean that we won’t work to help aged care work force in the future,” he said.

“The Liberals say, ‘We can’t afford that’. I say, ‘Why should working women in this country go to work or two-income families and one of the people’s income be eaten up by childcare?’ This is madness.”

Interest rates

As the Reserve Bank considers lowering interest rates, Mr Shorten was asked what that would signal about the state of the economy.

Host Tony Jones asked if Labor’s big spending promises could push the country into recession.

“Short answer to that scare campaign is no,” Mr Shorten replied.

Earlier, Mr Morrison told 7.30 that the risks in the economy underlined that now was not the time for Labor’s big spending agenda.

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