SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

SENATOR ANNE URQUHART

CHIEF OPPOSITION WHIP IN THE SENATE

SENATOR FOR TASMANIA

JUSTINE KEAY

LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BRADDON

TRANSCRIPT

22 June 2018

DOORSTOP – BURNIE

TOPICS: BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION, BRADDON BY-ELECTION, TAX REFORM

E&OE - PROOF ONLY

SENATOR ANNE URQUHART, SENATOR FOR TASMANIA: Welcome everyone. It’s fabulous to be here in Burnie with Penny Wong, our Opposition Leader in the Senate and Justine Keay, the Labor candidate for Braddon. So, I’m going to hand over to Justine.

JUSTINE KEAY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BRADDON: Thank you Anne, thank you Penny for coming to Braddon. We’re here with Brian (Tipler). Brian came to my office some time ago because he realised that one of the banks had lost his money. He had some money put in to public trustee through an estate some 20 years ago, and he’s been fighting the banks for the last couple of years to find out where that money has gone.

Now he wants the banks to do the right thing. We’ve got the Royal Commission into Banking. They’re not coming to Tasmania and Tasmanians have not been immune from the misconduct and bad behaviour of the banks. We’d like them to come here and talk to Tasmanians about their experience, but we know what Brian’s experience has been and the banks have not done the right thing by him.

PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: It’s great to be here. I’ll just talk about the Banking Royal Commission and Brian first, and then after that I’ll take some questions, including on the tax package that isn’t good for Tasmania, and that was passed yesterday by the Senate.

One of the things we know about Mr Whiteley, the candidate for the Liberal Party is that he is a former banker, and another thing we know about him is that he voted six times against the Banking Royal Commission.

Now, as you know, Justine, the whole Labor Party fought for a very long time along with the community to get a royal commission into the banks. And we did so because too many of us had heard too many appalling stories about what our banks had been doing. And what we have seen since the royal commission began, unfortunately, is even worse than people anticipated. Stories of people getting ripped off, ordinary Australians being treated badly, arrogantly by Australia’s banks. So it is a great thing that the royal commission is doing its work. What is not great is that Malcolm Turnbull and Brett Whiteley voted against one six times.

Unfortunately it doesn’t appear at the moment that the commission is coming to Tasmania. But what we do know is that there are Tasmanians who deserve to have their stories heard. And one of them is here with me, a very brave man, Brian Tipler, whose story is pretty extraordinary. Someone whose mother, after she passed away, her estate deposited money in an account for him, he was overseas working and now, many years later, the National Australia Bank says they can’t find it. He’s got a deposit stub, he’s got evidence that it was deposited but they have told him it was too long ago and the statute of limitations means he can’t get it.

Well, I don’t think that is good enough and I think that Brian deserves to get what his mother left him, and I think the banks should do better. I hope the royal commission will do something about this, and we’d certainly encourage them to do so, and if they aren’t able to come to Tasmania, what we will be doing, as Justine said, is having a Braddon Banking Forum to enable people like Brian to tell their story and make sure, on behalf of the Labor Opposition, that we forward that to the Banking Royal Commission with the imprimatur of Members of Parliament.

I’m going to hand over to Brian. He is not as happy about talking in front of a camera as some of us, so, be nice to him.

BRIAN TIPLER: Today, I have come on a long, long journey. It started in about the mid-90s and it wasn’t until about then I suddenly realised this money should be around somewhere. I have approached the banks and the banks have chosen to hide behind the statute of limitations. So, I am still struggling to get the money from the bank, or from any source that can find the money I’ll be happy to take it.

What I need to say, I suppose, is to the banks, please do the right thing and find my money for me. And, as for the Royal Commission into Banking, it’s a great thing and I hope that they too can come to the party and help me find my money.

JOURNALIST: When did you write to the Royal Commission?

TIPLER: I’ve recently put in a submission – Monday this week I put in a submission to the Banking Royal Commission online. And I’ve been talking to a variety of people – the Banking Ombudsman, the banks, anybody that I thought could have an influence.

But then because I wasn’t getting anywhere, somebody said “why don’t you try your local Member of Parliament?”. My local Member of Parliament was Justine at the time, so I’ve contacted her office and I’ve had tremendous support from her and her staff. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today because I wouldn’t have found the proof that I’ve needed to say where the money was.

JOURNALIST: What have the banks told you? How this could’ve happened? Have they given you any explanation or context?

TIPLER: No they haven’t because what they’ve done is they’ve said they don’t keep their records for any longer than seven years; or they’re not required to. I find that hard to believe because when it suits them they can drag up facts from the past. So all I can say is: I tried and tried and tried to do the right thing and get the information wherever possible but it didn’t work. So I’ve relied on Justine and her staff and they’ve come up trumps. They’ve found me the proof I’ve needed and so that’s why I’m here today.

JOURNALIST: When did you start talking to the banks? How protracted is this issue with the banks?

TIPLER: Look, I didn’t speak to the banks until a couple of years ago because of personal problems with health and so on.

WONG: But you were dealing with the Public Trustee before.

TIPLER: But I’ve been dealing with the Public Trustee for the last seven or eight years I suppose. I’ve always been confident that the money was there somewhere but the final letter I wrote to the National Australia Bank was to Andrew Thorburn the CEO and he’s not chosen to come to the party either.

JOURNALIST: Brian, what’s your message for the bank?

TIPLER: Oh, please do the right thing, by me and by anyone else that’s caught in the same position. There are lots of them, I know, but if you read the papers, particularly at the weekend, there are always stories of people losing money and complaining about treatment from the banks and so on. I’m not the only one.

JOURNALIST: Are you optimistic that you’ll actually see the money or are you just doing this to highlight that other people might be in a similar position?

TIPLER: Look, I’d love to get the money. That would be fine. But if I don’t – it’s all in God’s hands, put it that way. But If I get the money then other people will get their money too I’m sure and if that helps other people then I’m fine with that.

JOURNALIST: Did they close your account?

TIPLER: They did. That’s one of the things they managed to drag out from the old records which they’ve said don’t follow. They say that they closed my account in 1998 and it was closed without my authority or my knowledge.

JOURNALIST: So they did not inform you that they were taking that action on your money.

TIPLER: No, they didn’t. No, didn’t tell me a thing.

JOURNALIST: You said you’ve got evidence. Would you be open to providing that evidence to us so that we can follow that up with the bank? Because banks don’t like talking about individual cases, and if we were to follow this up we probably would need to view that evidence.

TIPLER: Look at this stage I’d prefer to leave it with Justine’s office. We still have a bit more information we need to find and I don’t want to upset anybody or anything that might impede our current investigations.

But, time will tell and when it happens, it happens. I hope it happens soon but if it doesn’t, I’m patient. I’ve been patient for 20 years (laughs).

JOURNALISTS: Thanks Brian.

WONG: Last night, as you know, the Parliament passed the Turnbull Government’s tax cuts, and what I’d say is this. Why is it that the Liberals keep putting Sydney and Melbourne ahead of Tasmania? There is no state that does worse out of Malcolm Turnbull’s tax cuts than Tasmania.

If you did a list of the electorates in Australia from those who benefit most to those who benefit least, guess who’s at the top? Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull’s own electorate. Guess where Braddon is? I think it is 147th, is that right? So fourth from the bottom. That gives you an indication of the priorities that Malcolm Turnbull has.

So when Senator Cash, who I think is also here in Braddon today, stands up later today, maybe you should ask her why it is that Braddon only deserves to be 147th out of 150 and why the tax cuts are so geared to wealthy suburbs in Melbourne and Sydney because that is the reality.

JOURNALIST: Well they’ve in the past said that Braddon would benefit from these tax cuts. Do you disagree?

WONG: Mr Whiteley has also supported the GP Tax, supported cuts to hospitals including North-West Hospital, he’s supported cuts to penalty rates, so he’s supported a lot of things.

Let’s just say this about the tax cuts. The Prime Minister was asked in the Parliament,Mr Turnbull was asked in the Parliament why he thought an investment banker should get a tax cut of seven grand and an aged care worker should get a much smaller tax cut, and what was his answer? Well, they can get a better job.

Well, you know what I just think a 60-year old aged care worker in Burnie deserves a better tax cut now. They deserve a better tax cut now. They don’t need the Prime Minister giving them a lecture about getting a better job. You elect Justine, you elect a Labor government, they will get a better tax cut now because Labor will prioritise people earning on lower and middle incomes, everyone under $125,000, if Labor is elected, will be better off than under Malcolm Turnbull.

JOURNALIST: Just back on the Banking Royal Commission, has Labor formally asked the Commission to sit here in Tasmania?

WONG: I think that is an option. I don’t know what my Tasmanian colleagues have done, but I think, particularly, if we hold the forum and it is quite demonstrable that there are other stories including Brian’s, for there to be a formal request. Obviously where hearings are held is ultimately a matter for the Commission. It would be much more preferable if they would actually hold hearings here in Tasmania.

JOURNALIST: But that’s what you’re asking for today, for the Commission…

WONG: Absolutely. Our preference would be that the Commission came to Tasmania and heard the stories. We’ve met Brian, obviously through Justine. I would imagine there are other people in Tasmania who have their story to tell and this is a national Banking Royal Commission and they should come to Tassie.

JOURNALIST: If they don’t come to Tassie, do you think that there should be days or times set aside when the Commission meets in other locations formally to discuss Tasmanian specific issues.

WONG: I hope that the Commission will make sure that stories like Brian’s, from all over the country, but including from Tasmania, are properly heard. The first and best way to deal with that is to make sure we have hearings here. As I said, what we’ll do, as the Labor Party that has supported and fought for this Royal Commission, is to make sure we have a public forum where people can tell their story.

JOURNALIST: With the tax cuts, clearly there is a large amount of money out of the government revenue stream. What sort of taxes are going to be put on other things to make up for that or is that not going to happen and are they going to make up the revenue from other places?

WONG: This is a federal government that has talked about previously increasing the GST. I think I saw Mr Whiteley’s previous comments that he supported increases to the GST. The reality is this was a fiscally reckless tax cut, $144 billion, most of which goes to higher income earners.

So when Ministers come here, when the Prime Minister comes here – if he does- and tells you that these are tax cuts for working Australians, well the majority of his tax cuts go to the top twenty per cent of earners. I know this state and this electorate, Justine is a very good local member, that these are not tax cuts which advantage the local community.

JOURNALIST: But higher income earners pay most of the tax according to what the Government says.

WONG: I just don’t think someone on $200,000 should be paying the same rate of tax as someone on $40,000. That is Labor’s view. We believe in progressive taxation and we think that is what helps us support schools and hospitals and infrastructure, and roads and aged care and pensions for aged pensioners. That is important. It is important to this community.

Mr Whiteley and Mr Turnbull think that they should give a $17 billion tax cut to the banks. Well we would rather put that into our schools because we think investing in young Tasmanians, investing in young Australians, and making sure their skills are good is the best way to ensure they get jobs.

Thank you very much.

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra.