Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Canberra - Labor’s ‘Your child. Our future’ plan for Australian education; Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals’ 15 per cent GST on everything

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP
CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 4 FEBRUARY 2016


SUBJECT/S: Labor’s ‘Your child. Our future’ plan for Australian education; Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals’ 15 per cent GST on everything; High Court decision on Offshore processing; UN

 

GAI BRODTMANN, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR CANBERRA: Well thank you everyone for coming to the Narrabundah Early Childhood School, and I want to thank particularly Bernadette and Shannon and her team for welcoming us here today, we’ve had a lovely warm welcome, and this is a really exceptional school. It’s one of five here in the ACT that has adopted an integrated model of childcare as well as education. It’s integrated with health services, with community services, with counselling services, with a range of services to provide services to the wider community. This school has 28 per cent Indigenous students and they’ve got a special Koori class which is an exceptional model and I congratulate Bernadette and Shannon and her team for educating Canberra’s future. Now, as you know, Labor takes education very seriously. Labor understands that you need to invest in education for Australia’s future – for the success of our future - and it also understands that education transforms lives, which is why we’ve come up with our Your Child.  Our Future policy which is why we have made a significant investment in education in future years, particularly reducing cuts or reversing the cuts that the Government has made in education and I particularly welcome the fact that this policy has invested $30 million in the ACT in 2018-19, so I just want to hand over to Bill to take you through a few other issues.

 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Gai, and it’s lovely to be here at this early childhood teaching facility. I congratulate the staff and the parents. I visit a lot of schools, and this place has a wonderful atmosphere and it has got a very large number of students too. But I’m also very concerned that we are falling behind in the global education race because we’re not adequately investing in our children and schools so they can compete for the jobs of the future. There is nothing more important than making sure our kids get the best start in life. My wife Chloe and I want the best for our three kids, but what Labor wants is not just the best for our own children, but for everyone’s children. I say as one parent to all the parents of Australia: Labor wants to make sure that your child gets the best chance of their schooling experience by properly resourcing their school.

 

Our policies which we’ve announced will address the problems that Australia’s slipping behind the rest of the world. Did you know that in the last 15 years Australia has gone down the educational rankings in the basics - maths and science and reading. Under our policy, Your Child. Our Future, our educational plan for every child in every school to get every opportunity means that by 2020, we will see 95 per cent of students completing year 12. We’ll see that by 2025, Australia again will be in the top 5 countries in the world. And that’s what people expect from us. Our education plan is actually an economic plan. The best thing we can do in life is making sure our kids finishing their school lives resilient, with a core set of skills, which means that they can compete for the jobs in the future. What I’d like to do now is hand over to Kate Ellis, but in closing I’d like to make a very simple point for Australians: if you want to see the best investment in your children’s education in the school where you send your children, and in the future of your children, vote Labor at the next election. If you want devastating cuts to education, vote for Mr.Turnbull and the Liberals.

 

KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Well thank you very much, Bill and thank you, Gai for having us here and can I also acknowledge Bernadette Hayes and the amazing team for the great work they are doing at this wonderful school. Bill has just outlined the importance of the Your Child. Our Future policy to every school, to every child and to Australia's future. We have learnt this week that the Government are just not destructive when it comes to education policy but they are also deceitful. In recent days, we have seen senior cabinet ministers from the Turnbull Government coming out with totally contradictory policies, trying to fool the Australian public about the impact that their cuts will have.

 

In recent days, we've seen the Education Minister, and we've learnt from their leaked talking points, that he is going around trying to calm down stakeholders and trying to tell them  that the $30 billion in cuts in the Budget, it's only indicative and it is something they will look at. But of course that position has been completely shown up to be a falsehood by their own Financial Minister who has made clear that they have no plans to reduce their $30 billion in cuts. And yesterday in Question Time, the Prime Minister was unable to say which one of his  Ministers is telling the truth. The Australian public deserve a great education policy. Australian children deserve to have every opportunity to succeed in life. But at the very least, Australians deserve some degree of honesty out of this Prime Minister who has taken a two-faced approach to the future of school funding. This is yet another example of this Prime Minister trying to be all things to all people but you can not have it both ways. Malcolm Turnbull needs to clarify today, does he seriously believe that Australia can have the skills for the jobs of the future whilst also having his $30 billion worth of cuts - or is that why the Education Minister, himself, is conceding that it's just not sustainable.

 

JOURNALIST: Just on childcare, a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers today suggests that the Government's proposed subsides (inaudible). Does this change Labor’s stance on the issue?

 

ELLIS: Certainly Labor has always and will always support positive reform to child care and real initiative to boost workforce participation. It is interesting that this report today says that there will be 29,000 families who will reenter the workforce full time by 2050. That stands in pretty stark contrast to the Government's own claims that there would be 240,000 families who would be boosted in workforce participation as a result of the package. That is some degree of error. Almost 10 times the estimates the Government are making which do not line up with this report. But I would say a couple of other things about the importance of child care to our future economic growth. What we do know is modelling clearly shows that the greatest economic benefits from early childhood education actually come from giving vulnerable and disadvantage children the best early childhood education possible. What I would like to see is the economic modelling on what the impact to Australia's future will be of this Government driving thousands of vulnerable people children out of the child care sector. There are serious unanswered questions when it comes to the Government's childcare package but what we do know is that all the modelling suggest that 1 in 4 Australian families will be worse off as a result of this package and there are serious questions about what the long term economic impact of that will be.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Paul Keating this morning again has talked about his proposal for the GST, he's saying a 1 per cent increase to 11 per cent, with the $7 billion dollars going directly to hospitals. Is this something Labor would consider in terms of the rising cost of health care?

 

SHORTEN: There's no question that there is a health funding crisis in Australia triggered by the Liberal Government. We belled the cat back in 2014 when Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison were then part of the Tony Abbott cheer squad, where we identified $50 billion of cuts to States and Territories. In 2014, I predicted, and in my Budget Reply speech, that this was a cowardly Federal Liberal government. What they were doing was essentially black mailing the States by massive cuts to schools and hospitals and I predicted then that it was just a stalking horse to justify increasing the GST. So, I agree with my friend Paul Keating that there is a health funding crisis, and indeed we need to pay more attention to it as Australia grows older. But what I do not agree is that ordinary families, ordinary people, working-class people, middle-class people, have to pay an increased tax on everything because the Liberal Government has the wrong priorities. Labor has broken the mould in Opposition, we've identified over $70 billion of extra revenue and savings which in many cases obviate the need for a 15 per cent GST.

 

You know, really, the nonsense has got to stop, Malcolm Turnbull. The nonsense has got to stop, Scott Morrison. It is about time that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister were straight with the Australian people. Are they going to increase the GST to 15 per cent or not? It's a yes or no answer. Remember on the day that Malcolm Turnbull rolled Tony Abbott, he said there must be new and mature economic leadership. Well, it's now been 142 days. Everything's on the table. This is an indecisive government. They can't seem to take anything off the table because the only plan they have, the only plan they have is for a 15 per cent GST. Labor will not reward the Liberal Government by supporting a 15 per cent GST on everything. That's not the way that we're going to get this country going, putting a new tax on everything.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, in that same interview, Paul Keating also said that when he was the Treasurer, he went through the Budget, him and Mr Hawke went through the budget line by line and identified spending cuts. Would this be something that the Government and maybe Labor should consider going through the Budget papers line by line and considering where further cuts can be made?

 

SHORTEN: Let's tell it as it is. Joe Hockey was a lazy Treasurer and now we have a P-plate driver as the Treasurer – that’s the problem. Of course they should be looking at where they saving in spending. And again, Labor has been positive and constructive, we've offered Mr Turnbull our ideas - he can take 'em. You know, if you want to do something about increasing tobacco excise, we said you should. We said if you want to be fair dinkum about taxing multinationals you most definitely should. They should tackle the superannuation tax concessions at the very high end. They should drop this plebiscite. Remember the plebiscite for $160 million that these guys want to do? We know that's not about marriage equality. It's certainly not about taxpayer money being saved. It's just Malcolm Turnbull implementing Tony Abbott's agenda to kick that issue down the track, there's a lazy $160 million Malcolm Turnbull could save straightaway. You've got that deal they've done with the Nationals where they sort of invented this baby bonus, which no-one's been asking for, and it's going to cost a lot of money. So this is a Government who can make clear choices but what are they thinking of? They've just thought 15 per cent GST on everything, and now we see that Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison want to mess around and interfere with the superannuation contributions of nine and a half million Australians. What is it about this Government? They just sit there as you've got big companies gaming the system. We saw the story of McDonald's yesterday, you know, where they were able to minimise their tax and put their receipts through Singapore. Malcolm Turnbull doesn't have a plan for that, but he's got a plan for putting up the price of every Maccas customer who goes into McDonald's.

JOURNALIST: Liberal Senator Cory Bernadi has written to the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop urging her not to support Kevin Rudd in his bid to become the UN Chief, saying that his own colleagues, his own Labor colleagues describe him as dysfunctional, vengeful, unstable, megalomaniac. In that case is it sensible for Labor to support this bid for Kevin Rudd to become UN Chief?

SHORTEN: What's Cory Bernadi said about Malcolm Turnbull this week, I mean I'll come and address your question directly. But I understand that Senator Bernadi is going to join with Labor and fight the increase of GST, so I do agree with Cory Bernadi on that, and I say to Cory Bernadi if you want to vote against increasing taxes unnecessarily which hurt ordinary people, take the Labor argument because we are on the right side, we're on the side of working people. In terms of the United Nations bid, Mr Rudd hasn't made any formal declaration of his own intent, he's a distinguished Australian. My default position is always to back Australians, and that's what I think we should do. That's been a bipartisan approach over a long time, you know we cheer for the Aussie.

But in terms of Senator Bernardi, let me return to what he's done about the GST. There are more fault lines here in the Liberal Party than you can; you know shake a stick at frankly. You've got the backbenchers, they're panicking. The Liberal backbenchers have seen through the Malcolm Turnbull rhetoric and they'd said oh my goodness, we've got Morrison and Turnbull driving us towards a cliff with a tax that no-one wants. They know that increasing the GST is electoral poison because increasing the GST is bad for the country and Senator Bernardi's just saying what a lot of other divided Liberals are saying. I mean, 142 days on, what have we got? A divided Liberal government; they said the rationale for the change from Abbott was economic leadership - we're no clearer to knowing their intentions and we just now see these outbreaks of division.

JOURNALIST: Do you have any sympathy with Melissa Parke's view on offshore processing; she had some comments after the High Court decision yesterday?

SHORTEN: I haven't seen Melissa's comments. What I do know is that we need to stop people smugglers. There is nothing humane about people drowning at sea, and offshore regional processing is an important part of defeating the crime gangs. But it is also the case that it is long overdue time for compassion. It is a disgrace that the processing times for these people has blown out to 445 days. I want Malcolm Turnbull to turn some of his self-described agility and nimbleness to getting this inordinate, unfair and inhumane waiting time down. Now, if we won't or can't do it, if and when Labor is elected at the next election, we will. We'll put in independent oversight. Australia has a responsibility for the safety of people in our care.

JOURNALIST: Do you accept that there is anger within the ALP about this, Melissa Parke who's just one voice who's called out against this. Is it time for Labor to reconsider its policy given what we've seen with the High Court challenge?

 

SHORTEN: I don't think I could've been any clearer in what I said in my previous answer, but what I will again make absolutely clear: we support regional processing. But there is legitimate anger and it's not just within parts of the Labor Party, I am very, very distressed and frustrated that Malcolm Turnbull's sitting on his hands. Under his leadership, the time it takes to process people is now at 445 days. That is a disgrace. Australia does have a responsibility to ensure the safety of people in our care.

 

 

JOURNALIST: What do you make of the churches who've come out and said they'd be prepared to offer sanctuary to these 267 asylum seekers?

 

SHORTEN: I'm not running for Bishop, I'm not running for Pope. What the churches do is a matter for them. But what I again say is I'd refer you to my earlier answers. What we also need in this country is we need to make sure that we've got a Government who actually gets on and does business, gets things done.  And you know, we all acknowledge, the media's been very good, they're acknowledging the extreme delays and that is unacceptable, moving away from that point, just to wrap up, we've got a Government led by Malcolm Turnbull, he and Morrison promised, they promised that they would have a new economic leadership. Remember the day of the rolling of Tony Abbott, the case to roll Tony Abbott was there'd be new economic leadership. Well, it's been 142 days now. I think the Australian people have been generous in their reactions, that sigh of collective relief that Mr Abbott was gone. But Australians are now asking this question: why are we talking about a 15 per cent GST on everything? Australians don't want it. Labor won't allow it. Even some of the Liberal backbenchers are putting their own self-interest ahead of group think and saying, hey, we better stop here. Today we see reports in The Australian of nine and a half million people who are receiving superannuation, the Government's thinking about doing something to diminish their savings. This Government needs to make some decisions, but in the meantime, front up to the multinationals, front up to the ridiculously unsustainable superannuation tax concessions. Do something on tobacco excise. And while you're at it, properly fund our schools, don't have a 15 per cent GST on everything, and for goodness' sakes, don't muck around with people's super.

 

Thanks everyone. See you in Parliament.

 

ENDS

 

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