TRANSCRIPT OF MINISTER BILL SHORTEN
24 AUGUST 2013
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
Subjects: Better Schools; Industrial Relations.
BILL SHORTEN: It’s great to be here at the Queensland Teacher’s Union Council meeting. There’s hundreds of teachers and some parents here as well, who are greatly interested in making sure that their children at Government schools in Queensland get the best start in life. Clearly, there is great support for Labor’s positive plans on education. Everyone knows that one of the things you get with a Labor Government, and a re-elected Rudd Labor Government, is better support for our schools so every child can achieve their individual potential.
TEACHERS: Hear, hear.
SHORTEN: Very popular here, our education changes. And everyone clearly recognises that if you’re a teacher or parent of school children in Queensland, and you think education’s an important political issue, you would vote Labor.
Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: You would’ve seen the polls out today. What’s going wrong with Labor’s campaign?
SHORTEN: There’s 14 days to go. Labor’s got the positive message. We believe, fundamentally though, that the Opposition needs to stop playing hide and seek, where they hide their costings, the Australian people have to seek out whether or not the Opposition can pay for their promises, and the prize if you never get found is the Government of Australia. So I think the Opposition’s got a good deal of explaining to do. We’re seeing some cracks emerge. They’ve flagged that they want to start interfering in people’s wage rises, if it doesn’t suit the Coalition – if they think workers are getting paid too much, they’ll step in and stop that. We see that the Opposition’s proposing an unaffordable, unsustainable parental leave scheme. And we’ve also seen, most recently, the proposition that the Opposition, if elected, would start handing out money to fishermen in South East Asia so they could upgrade their fishing boats.
JOURNALIST: But Mr Rudd could lose his own seat – surely that’s an indication that Labor’s campaign is in dire straits?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, Kevin Rudd, I believe, will be re-elected as the Member for Griffith, and I believe stands a reasonable chance of becoming the next Prime Minister of Australia. This election, for people in his electorate, and throughout Queensland, and throughout Australia, should be about good jobs which are reasonably remunerated in enterprises that are doing well.
This election should be about better schools so every child gets the best start in life. This election should be about making sure that we have more funding for healthcare, not less, as the Coalition would do. This election should be all about making sure that people have more money to retire on, more money in retirement, and not less, which would be the consequence of the Opposition’s policies putting more taxes onto superannuation.
JOURNALIST: Minister, Tony Abbott says he doesn’t believe the polls – does Labor believe the polls? Do you believe the polls?
SHORTEN: I believe in the Australian people. I believe the Australian people do care about the quality of the schools that they send their kids to. I do believe that Australian self-funded retirees are concerned about the impact of Tony Abbott’s new tax on corporations affecting their superannuation. I believe Australians fundamentally don’t like this idea that if the Coalition were elected they’d send a three star general to the end of a jetty to buy second hand boats from people in South East Asia.
JOURNALIST: Given the polls, do you think it was worth changing leaders?
SHORTEN: The electorate has responded positively to Kevin Rudd as Leader. All that we can expect, I think, from the Labor Party, is that we are competitive in this election and we make our case to the people. This election will not be decided by newspapers or by opinion polls. It will be decided by the will of 15 million people voting in this election on September 7th.
JOURNALIST: The Financial Review is reporting that you had discussions with Mr Rudd a week before Gillard lost – Ms Gillard lost the leadership. Is that true?
SHORTEN: Oh listen, I’m not going to rake over those issues. They were canvassed at the time. It’s a matter of record that I supported Prime Minister Rudd, that I supported Kevin Rudd to return. And the reason why Labor is supporting Kevin Rudd is that we want the future of Australia to be a positive one. We understand that interest rates have fallen significantly under Labor, which has meant that a family with a mortgage of $300,000 is $6000 a year better off now than they were previously, under the Howard Government. We understand that our schools and the education of our young children cannot be left or taken for granted – the best way to help our kids to reach adult life with some resilience and life skills and the opportunity for a good job is to put in more resources to provide them with personalised support. It is the positive agenda which Kevin Rudd represents which is why Labor is now competitive at this election.
JOURNALIST: I think what the newspaper report is suggesting is that your support fell from Ms Gillard a lot sooner than you publicly supported Mr Rudd – is that true?
SHORTEN: Guys, I’m not going to rehash over the leadership change. What I am going to do is just say to all Australians that Labor has a positive plan for your schools. We know that. That’s why the Liberals are at sixes and sevens about whether they support it or don’t they support it. We know that we’ve got a positive plan for healthcare. And we know Australians are concerned about the inability of the Opposition to spell out their costings. And I also know that Australians are concerned at this election about why the Opposition’s proposing to review the whole industrial relations system, and not rule out attacking penalty rates. And why is the Opposition proposing to review our taxation system, potentially increasing our GST, and not ruling that out?
JOURNALIST: Minister, last night former Prime Minister Paul Keating described the Coalition as mean little people with no heart. Would you use that description yourself?
SHORTEN: I’d use a different – I would use a different description of the Opposition. I’d say dump the three word slogans. Offer us what your positive vision of Australia is. Rule out increasing the GST. Rule out attacking people’s working conditions. And agree to fund education for six years, in the same way Labor has.
TEACHERS: Hear, hear.
SHORTEN: The Opposition have no organising principle for this election, other than to hand back the mining tax to the richest companies in the world, to do nothing on climate change, and to just simply talk about boats. That isn’t enough to justify running Australia.
Thanks everyone- have a lovely day.
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