MONDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s ‘Your child. Our future’ plan for Australian education; Labor’s plan to fund health & education – and balance the Budget; $100,000 degrees; Senate reform; Polls; Multinational tax; Regional resettlement
AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EDUCTAION: The Labor team has just gone on a very interesting tour at the Research School of Chemistry here at the ANU. We’ve spoken with young researchers that are doing inspirational work looking at some of the biological chemical markers of aging, and how we might tackle diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Really what’s been inspirational here is seeing that these young people actually have pursued a university degree and have gone on to study and to further contribute to the scientific knowledge of this country. Labor when it comes to higher education has a very, very strong message, and this message we are sending out at O Week’s right around the country – we are 100 per cent against $100,000 degrees. Alternatively, we have a strong policy, a policy that will put downward pressure on university fees, have a student funding guarantee and actually support completions. In addition, we have a strong policy when it comes to schools. Labor is the party of education, the Liberal Party is just the party of cuts to schools and $100,000 degrees. And I’ll hand over to Bill now.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Amanda, and good morning everyone. I’m here at ANU with our shadow spokespeople on higher education, Senator Carr and Amanda Rishworth, and we’re accompanied by Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh who represents this part of ANU. There is no more important contributor to the economic growth of Australia’s future than what we do in education – from our schools, to TAFE, to university. Now Malcolm Turnbull has walked away for the time being from a 15 per cent GST, it is now time for Mr Turnbull’s Liberals to walk away from $100,000 degrees. I believe in an Australia where it’s your deep thinking, not the deep pockets of your parents that determines your opportunities in higher education. We fundamentally believe that when it comes to schools funding it should be based upon needs, it should be based upon the needs of the students, rather than any other postcode or the wealth of the parents. So it doesn’t matter if it’s school funding or higher education funding, Labor’s committed to properly funding both higher education, TAFE and schools, because we understand that if we can get our education system right, if we can make it world class, in the top five, then what’ll happen is that Australia’s economic future will be a lot brighter. We are the only party who have fully funded our policies on higher education, we’ve outlined our policies which will include a student funding guarantee and will include having at least an extra 20,000 graduates supported from 2020 onwards. Labor stands solidly in support of higher education, and what I’ll do is I’ll ask Kim Carr to further expand upon the details of our great policies.
KIM CARR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH, INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY: Well thank you very much Bill, it’s a great pleasure to be here at this Research School of Chemistry – a building which was commissioned under the Labor Government, a building that was funded under the Education Investment Fund. $60 million for a $90 million project was put forward by the Labor Government and we see here world class facilities which allow one of Australia’s leading universities to be able to contribute to the forward knowledge that can help our people prosper into the future. An investment program under the Labor Government that saw an increase of investment of 45 per cent. And that could not be more sharply contrasted from what we see with the Liberal Government, which has remained committed to a 20 per cent reduction in university funding, a commitment to $100,000 degrees, commitments to increasing research costs for students of 10 per cent. Now, Labor has said that we will ensure that we can not only fund our university systems fully, adequately, properly and we can do so without imposing the $100,000 degrees upon students. We can do so by ensuring that universities are able to work more closely with Government to ensure that we meet the needs of the labour market. that we can combined both social justice and economic prosperity in such a way to ensure that this country is able to take full advantage of the enormous potential of our universities of our TAFE colleges, of our schools and that we can truly build an innovative Australia, not one that's based on a whole series of slogans.
SHORTEN: Thanks everyone. Are there questions on higher education or any other matters of today?
JOURNALIST: On Senate reform is there concerns within Labor, is there a split within Labor about whether or not to support the report handed down a couple of years ago looking into Senate voting?
SHORTEN: We haven’t seen the final legislation from the Government, when we do we will discuss it.
JOURNALIST: Is there a split in Labor, are there concerns within Labor about whether or not you should support at least the recommendations?
SHORTEN: We will consider the matter when we see the final legislation. I'm not going to get a head of ourselves. When we see the final legislation then we can talk about it.
JOURNALIST: Is there any merit in going to the same approach that Victoria takes?
SHORTEN: In terms of the Legislative Council?
SHORTEN: No, the Senate is set out in our constitution, it's a house of review. I'm familiar with the Victorian Legislative Council. No, I don’t' want to turn the Senate of Australia into the Victorian Legislative Council.
JOURNALIST: The latest Newspoll has the Coalition and Labor 50/50. Do you believe the numbers?
SHORTEN: I've always said when the polls are released and I've always been consistent that it's not my job to be distracted by opinion polls. it is my job to get on with the job of designing a policy program which is good for Australia. This remains my attitude today. I think it is fair to say that increasing over the last 161 days Australians are becoming painfully aware though that Mr Turnbull's all talk and no action.
JOURNALIST: The Turnbull Government has been saying repeatedly over recent days that your negative gearing policy would cost existing home owners money, that they would lose money on their homes. How do you know that is not that the case?
SHORTEN: Even a crocodile wouldn't swallow that. Under our policies, as a result of our policies housing prices will keep going up. You don't have to take my word for it, independent experts from diverse sources as Jeff Kennett through to ANU here, through to Saul Eslake have all concurred with that view.
JOURNALIST: So did you have a look before you released it?
SHORTEN: Well, we've seen independent experts come out and analyse it and did Mr Turnbull model his ridiculous scare campaign on - I'm answering your question Jim, I'm going to answer your questions one at a time - did Mr Turnbull when he made his ludicrous outing late Friday afternoon trying to scare every Australian, has he provided any research to back that up? Of course not. Now, the truth of the matter is that Labor wants to see an Australia where the Australian dream of young people being able to get their first house is a reality. It is not right that Mr Turnbull will fight for the right for someone who has six houses to get a taxpayers subsidy to by his seventh, yet there is not help at all for people who are trying to get into the housing market. Labor is the only party in this election, in this year who has outlined how we will get the Budget repaired, how we will make sure we make sure we can pay for higher education, education and healthcare. And of course we want to make sure Australian home ownership is affordable. I know that Australian dream is for parents to see their children be able to buy their first home. Mr Turnbull thinks the Australian dream is for very wealthy investors to be able to get taxpayer support to acquire their fifth and sixth and seventh houses.
JOURNALIST: If you want credibility on this, obviously you want more credibility than Mr Turnbull. Is there modelling of your negative gearing policy. And if there is, can we see it?
SHORTEN: ANU has already released work or they announced work that they'd done over the weekend. Again, I will back up our approach about housing affordability, Budget repair, than a government who doesn't know what they're doing. You know, the truth of the matter is in the last few weeks, we've seen the Government talk about a 15 per cent GST. Labor didn't need to spend 5 months analysing its own navel to understand it was just a bad idea. We've seen splits in the government. I think you all saw Scott Morrison call a National Press Club speech and say nothing for 46 minutes. Labor has got fully funded policies. We're going to be able at the election to explain to Australians what our vision is not only on housing affordability, and Budget repair, but how we make sure that we've got quality health care in this country where it's your Medicare care not your credit card which determines the level of health care. I can promise every parent in Australia of the 3.2 million plus kids who are going to school this year that if you vote for Labor you're going to see greater resources for every child in every school with every opportunity. We've seen Malcolm Turnbull turn his back on all he has ever believed on climate change. Labor's the only party who's trusting the market to work through an Emissions Trading Scheme to prioritise renewable energy as part of our energy mix going forward.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you believe that the latest measures that the Government has announced on multinationals paying tax will recoup as much or more than Labor's?
SHORTEN: Again, multinational tax is something which the Liberals have only arrived very belatedly. You can see the fingernail marks on the concrete as they're forced to you know, support tax transparency for large companies. I'm going to get Andrew to talk in a little more detail in a moment about our propositions but let me say this; the Labor Party, if we were in government, would not be a soft touch for multinationals who are treating our tax system as a doormat upon which they rub their tax boots as they head off to other places to pay tax and minimise the taxation they pay in Australia. If you want real action on companies paying their fair share you'd vote Labor at the next election. I'll just ask Andrew to talk further about the merits of competing proposals.
JOURNALIST: Mr Leigh is this real action announced today by the Treasurer?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Well Paul, thanks for the question. We're seeing again from the Coalition another uncosted measure on multinational tax. They're fond of saying things on multinational tax that don't add to the Budget bottom line. At the last Budget they had a package which just had asterisks’ where the revenue estimate should be. Today again we're seeing a package where there's no indication as to how many firms it would apply to, no indication as to how much revenue it would raise. There's one serious policy proposal on the table on multinational tax, and that's Labor's costed $7.2 billion plan. That closes debt deduction loopholes, adds to the Budget bottom line, and by the way, it's the economically sensible way of dealing with debt deductions. So the test is to Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott [Malcolm Turnbull] on multinational tax, if they're actually serious, they'll adopt Labor's plan. If they're not they'll keep floating uncosted thought bubbles like the one we've seen today.
JOURNALIST: Is there any merit in this thought bubble?
LEIGH: We'll look at the details if and when they finally emerge. There aren’t sufficient details there to assess it, and we don't even know how many firms it would apply to.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just back on the polls, Peter Dutton this morning said that the prospect of Bill Shorten leading the country is now in play. Do you think the honeymoon is over for Malcolm Turnbull?
SHORTEN: Well first of all let me just repeat what I said earlier because it's really important; I have been consistent, when polls are released it is not my job to be distracted by them. It is my job to design a good policy program for the best interests of the nation and I remain consistent in that attitude. I think that the truth of the matter is that we've got a government who's all talk and no action. I think another factor's rapidly emerging - the Prime Minister must be wondering if he should keep Scott Morrison as his Treasurer. This is a government which is bitterly divided. It's not my job to commentate about their internals, but clearly, there is a great degree of dysfunction at the heart of this Government. Their whole plan was for a 15 per cent GST, Labor's stood up. We've done the job as a strong opposition, and now we see the Government retreating to its inner Tony Abbott, where they just talk about cutting the Budget in 2016 like they did in 2014. At the same time, Labor's now starting to tick the boxes of being an alternative government. We can tell you how we pay for our policies. We can tell you how we conduct the important task of reducing government waste and reducing unnecessary government spending. We can talk to you about how we want to have renewable energy at the centre of our climate change policy, that we will be trusted to maintain and defend Medicare against the Government cuts, that we can make sure that every child in every school gets every opportunity. And of course higher education; we will make sure that we put a floor under the price and support for funding universities and students so that kids don't have to pay $100,000 degrees.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has today said that baby Asha will be sent to Nauru at some point or other, eventually. Do you think that's appropriate?
SHORTEN: What guides Labor are the following principles; when it comes to this little child, we want to make sure that the medical staff and the people who've been treating this child, their view should be paramount. The safety of the child has to be paramount. Now, Labor does support regional offshore processing because we don't want to see a repetition of cruel people smugglers suborning and seducing desperate people to come onto unsafe boats and then drowning at sea. But having said that we support regional processing the Government must deal with the unacceptable indefinite detention which is occurring to some of the people on Nauru and Manus. They must take up Labor's policies of proper oversight. I respect that Papua New Guinea and Nauru are sovereign nations but these people are indirectly in Australia's care, so we need to make sure they get the highest standard of care. I'm very supportive on a bipartisan basis of this Government if it's having negotiations with New Zealand or Canada or Philippines or Indonesia, or importantly, Malaysia, if the Government can do more to help the regional processing, we will support them 100 per cent. I just wish that the Liberals when they were in opposition had supported Labor's Malaysia solution, because I've got no doubt if they had done that then, there'd be more people alive today. Thanks everyone, see you in Parliament.
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Doorstop: Canberra - Labor’s ‘Your child. Our future’ plan for Australian education; Labor’s plan to fund health & education – and balance the Budget; $100,000 degrees; Senate reform