THURSDAY, 28 APRIL 2016
SUBJECT/S: Port Arthur Twentieth Anniversary Commemoration; Malcolm Turnbull’s attack on Medicare and cuts to pathology; Manus Island Detention Centre; Labor’s Your Child, Our Future schools policy; Election; Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan.
JANE AUSTIN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR DENISON: Thanks very much for coming today to Radiology Tasmania and it's my absolute pleasure to welcome the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten who's with us today, and also Senator Carol Brown and Brian Mitchell our candidate for the seat of Lyons.
We've got some tough work to do as a Labor Government. We've got the Turnbull Government that is considering making significant health cuts; he's already made significant cuts to hospital funding. Labor is the party that created Medicare, we will continue to support Medicare and we will fight to protect Medicare. I'd like to welcome Bill Shorten to talk further about these cuts today.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Jane and good morning everybody. Before I get on to the issues of Medicare I think it is appropriate that I make some comments about the terrible anniversary which we're celebrating.
Twenty years ago was a day which was a tragedy for Australia. But also out of that tragedy we produced the very best of the Australian spirit. We came together as a nation and from our unity we produced gun laws which have served Australians well ever since. For this we all owe John Howard.
Now I'd like to briefly talk about our Medicare concerns and campaign. I'm here with Jane Austin and Brian Mitchell and Senator Carol Brown because the Labor Party will never support the privatisation of Medicare. Medicare is a community standard whereby which Australians judge ourselves. We will not support the partial privatisation of Medicare; we will not support the destruction of bulk-billing for people seeking blood tests and x-rays. We will not support the GP's being slugged further and further by a Turnbull Government who has shown no interest in supporting our frontline medical services.
This federal election will be a referendum about the privatisation of Medicare. About the defence of bulk-billing in Australia and about making sure that in Australia it's your Medicare card not your credit card that determines the level of health care you get. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, if the Government needs to the offer PNG more money to keep Manus Island open will you support that?
SHORTEN: For three years the Turnbull Government and his predecessors have been ignoring the train wreck we see right now on Manus Island. This Government has incompetently handled the regional processing of refugees and asylum seekers. Labor is resolute against the people smugglers. It doesn't matter about Liberal or Labor we have the same position on opposing the people smugglers. But Minister Dutton and Prime Minister Turnbull have created a situation, an almost unworkable situation of semi-permanent, indefinite detention. Minister Dutton said this morning that for months he's expected this outcome. Minister Dutton said this morning that Prime Minister Turnbull's been aware of this looming disaster for months. What is it that they should've done then, which they're now going to do now, this is a mess of the Government's making and I absolutely expect Minister Dutton to be in PNG sorting this mess out, and I think it speaks volumes for Prime Minister Turnbull that his own Minister has said that Prime Minister Turnbull's known this problem's coming and yesterday he said that there was no roadmap to deal with it. It's a shambles.
JOURNALIST: Should they now be moved back to Australian soil for further processing?
SHORTEN: Labor supports regional processing. We do not want to see the people smugglers back in business. Australians should know and even more importantly people smugglers should know that after the next election whether or not Labor is successful or Liberal, there is a unity ticket to defeat the people smugglers. But our commitment to defeating the people smugglers shouldn't give the green light for a lazy Liberal Government to maintain a situation of indefinite detention. Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Dutton need to make this a first order priority.
JOURNALIST: Do you support more money for the PNG Government though? I mean if that's what they're going to ask for to keep the centre open, will Labor support that?
SHORTEN: Well first of all we need to get a proper briefing from the Government. We all know that this Government's got a mess and all they want to do is blame Labor - back in 2013. It's not good enough. These guys in the Government have been pulling down big wages for the last three years to do their day job and now all they can do is run around like headless chooks and blame the Labor Party. Minister Dutton let the cat out of the bag this morning, he said he expected this and was aware of this for months. They need to do their day job and sort out this mess. Labor will not be unreasonable in terms of working with people to sort this mess out. But the Government needs to do their day job, they've been in charge of Australia for nearly three years and they've said on television they expected this result, now they're running around without a plan and it's not good enough.
JOURNALIST: There is speculation that the Government could try and more the asylum seekers to Christmas Island, is that something you'd support?
SHORTEN: I'm not going to deal in rumours and innuendo. What amazes me though is this -
JOURNALIST: Surely that's a live option?
SHORTEN: Well, sorry but the Government may be briefing you but they’re not briefing us of that. It is not our job to do the Government’s job. But we have worked every step of the way to defeat the people smugglers. I've got a couple of priorities here, to defeat the people smugglers and keep them out of business and to make sure that people are not kept in indefinite detention. This Government is risking both.
JOURNALIST: State Labor in Tasmania has called for the reopening of the Pontville Detention Centre down here. Is that something that Federal Labor would entertain?
JOURNALIST: Do you anticipate the Government will reveal any gun reform laws in light of the 20th anniversary today?
SHORTEN: Well, I do want to give acknowledgement to John Howard, I think perhaps this was the signature achievement of his time in Government. As I said today is a terrible tragedy. 20 years ago unthinkable things happened, people, families, survivors, the victims remain in our thoughts. I think most Australians probably remember where they were as the news came through, the horrible news of the Port Arthur massacres. The anniversary no doubt brings back really unpleasant, difficult memories for survivors and for people who lost loved ones there. That's my first thought about today. But we must recognise that out of the tragedy twenty years ago this nation came together, we saw the best of Australia in the aftermath of Port Arthur. We worked together with a unity of purpose to secure gun laws which I believe have served Australians well ever since. And for that I do acknowledge John Howard's work.
In terms of gun laws and gun law reforms, there are debates going on about pump action shot guns at the moment. We will work constructively with the Government on matters when it comes to the safety of Australians there is complete bipartisanship and I think that's what Australians deserve to hear. With both Liberal and Labor, it doesn’t matter if Mr Turnbull's in charge or I'm in charge, we have the same view of the world in terms of the safety of our fellow Australians.
JOURNALIST: Would a Labor Government support and funded the relocation of the Burnie and Launceston university campuses into the cities?
SHORTEN: Good question. We are very committed to properly funding the University of Tasmania. Tasmanians are lucky having the University of Tasmania. It is a premier institution of higher education learning throughout Australia. It's been Labor who’s been standing up against the ruthless cuts of Mr Abbott and now Mr Turnbull to higher education. People shouldn't forget that the Liberals still have these zombie cuts lurking in the Senate, where they want to cut funding which would put Burnie and Launceston campuses under pressure. Making it harder for Tasmanian kids to get the same deal that mainland kids get. We'll have more to say in the very near future about additional support for the University of Tasmania. But what I have to again stress is if you care about Tasmanian kids having the same quality access to higher education, to needs based school funding and the secondary and primary system, to properly funded public TAFE education, vote Labor at the next election. My outstanding candidates here are all committed to improving funding for TAFE, primary, secondary schools and universities and the way we're going to do it, because Labor's got fully funded policies, is we're to make multi-nationals pay their fair share. We're going to crackdown on unsustainable tax concessions for people who have millions in superannuation. We're not going to waste $160 million on a plebiscite on marriage equality, when the politicians are already paid to make decisions like that. And we're also going to make sure we stop wasteful Government spending such as Tony Abbott and now Malcolm Turnbull's fraudulent policies on climate change, which are paying billions of dollars to large polluters. So, Tasmanians can know, if you care about the education of your kids, if you care about the future of higher education, if you care about TAFE education, vote Labor at the next election.
JOURNALIST: There is a double d election on the horizon. Is this a good chance to move Lisa Singh up the ticket and into a winnable position?
SHORTEN: The Tasmanian Labor Party will finalise its Senate ticket. We've got good candidates running, both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. I have to say the most remarkable story which perhaps the mainland hasn't noticed is that the Eric Abetz conservatives have dumped the most senior Tasmanian Minister, Richard Colbeck, and now there's all this carry-on about can a Turnbull supporter be somewhere higher than fifth on the ticket. It just shows you the chaos of the Liberal Party and the deep divisions in the Tasmanian Liberal division.
JOURNALIST: Does Lisa Singh deserve to be in a winnable position?
SHORTEN: Lisa Singh is a very good performer, but I'm also going to say that our Tasmanian Labor Party will decide our Senate preselection and again, what I would say is we've got very good candidates including Lisa. And Labor's aiming to do as well as we possibly can at the next election. So we're chasing every vote, that's why we've got good policies on jobs, schools, Medicare, renewable energy and fair taxation, and prioritising first home buyers over property speculators. Last question thanks.
JOURNALIST: Greg Hunt yesterday labelled that your climate change plan a tax on electricity, can you guarantee that Tasmanians won't be paying more if you're successful at the election?
SHORTEN: Greg Hunt's got a PhD I think in climate change, I don't know how, you know, the point about it is that the Liberals are pushing a fraudulent policy. Climate change is a real challenge to the future of Australia's standard of living. The fact that we've got global warming leads to more extreme weather events which leads to less reliable food supplies, it leads to greater insurance costs. Climate change is a real threat to the cost of living of Australian families and to Australia's economy. Yesterday Labor was pleased, I was pleased on behalf of Labor, to announce policies which are science based, which will work and which will make sure that we're doing our bit, not leading the world but not following the world, in terms of tackling the harmful effects of climate change. It's grossly irresponsible and fraudulent of the Liberal Party, and Mr Turnbull himself should know better, to offer policies which are going to take Australia to the back of the pack. Tasmania's got a very good history in terms of renewable energy. We want to see Australia grab the renewable energy jobs revolution which is happening all around the world. It's a little known fact that the rest of the world in the last two years has added two million jobs, white collar and blue collar jobs very importantly, in terms of renewable energy.
One country has gone backwards, I'm afraid to say that's Australia under the Liberals. We've actually lost over 2,500 jobs. Tasmania is well placed to be a hub of renewable energy development, and under Labor Tasmania can fulfil its jobs future and gain much needed investment. And in terms of Mr Hunt and his scare campaigns on electricity, even the Business Council of Australia, who aren't well known for endorsing the Labor Party's policies, and even a lot of the industries who cover the electrical industry, have said at last Labor's offering a platform for bipartisan growth in climate change policy. And indeed, I would invite Mr Turnbull, take my hand of friendship, let's take climate change off the table as an election issue, let the new Malcolm Turnbull be like the old Malcolm Turnbull who said he never wanted to lead a party which wasn't committed to climate change. I invite the old Malcolm Turnbull to come back, step up the centre stage, work with me, work with the environment, work with the economy, work with Australian families, and let's take climate change out of the realm of petty partisan right wing politics and let's put Australia back on the map again when it comes to taking action.