Bill's Transcripts

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW MELBOURNE

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
MELBOURNE
WEDNESDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2013

SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Broken Promise on Schools Funding; Indonesia.

SHORTEN: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to Albion North Primary School, a great little school doing great big things for students. Today, Tony Abbott has confirmed that they have broken a promise to every Australian school student, to every Australian school parent, to all of the states of Australia. Today, Tony Abbott has broken a promise that he made to states, to schools and to students that they would not be worse off if the Coalition was elected.
What we see today is that the Abbott Government has said that they will not guarantee that students and schools won’t be worse off under their Coalition promises. Everyone remembers - and the Coalition said it on TV, they said it on radio, they said it to newspapers, they said it to Australian parents, they said to Australian school kids - that there is no difference: you can vote for the Coalition and you will get the same education arrangements with better money for school students in New South Wales, in Tasmania, in Victoria, in Catholic schools. Now we are seeing the Abbott Government breaking a promise to every Australian family who’s got a child at school, breaking a promise to every teacher in an Australian school, and breaking their promise to all of the states. Today is the day that the Abbott Government needs to recommit, to say it will keep its promise from the election, that it can be trusted to make sure that every child in Australian schools gets the best start in life. Education should not be a political football for broken promises by the Abbott government. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Are you saying that Tony Abbott lied to the parents and students of Australia?

SHORTEN: I’m saying that Tony Abbott before the election made a promise, and he has broken his promise.
This is not even just about schools and kids: this is ten weeks since the election and you can’t trust Tony Abbott because he’s broken his election promise. No one made Christopher Pyne, Tony Abbott or the Coalition make a promise before the election. We all know that they wanted to desperately look like Labor so that they didn’t get people not voting for them because they had a bad schools policy. Now they are at war with the O’Farrell Government, with state governments. They have broken a promise to look after kids in Australian schools and they have broken a promise to parents and to teachers all around Australia.

JOURNALIST: So it is a lie then?

SHORTEN: This is Tony Abbott breaking a promise. This is not the Government that they told Australians they would be before the election.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Greens want Labor to do [inaudible] would you consider accepting their offer and joining with them in doing that?

SHORTEN: First of all, the issue is to do with Tony Abbott. He can clear up all the issues to do with schools funding in Australia. Before the election when Tony Abbott wanted peoples’ votes, he would say anything to them. Now that he has their votes, now he’s walking away from his own promise. That is the issue here. The issue here is that Tony Abbott and his spokesperson Christopher Pyne made a promise to every Australian before the election that you could vote Liberal or Labor and you would get the same deal on education. The Coalition Government has broken its promise and can’t be trusted on education. And it is very clear that the Coalition is going to try and blame Labor now. It is their promise they made it they should keep it.
Yesterday they were blaming Labor, this morning in Adelaide they were blaming the media. Who are they going to blame tomorrow? Are they going to blame the parents or the kids for the fact that the Coalition is breaking its promise on an issue as important as the education of three and a half million Australian school kids?

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] .. given that Gonski is now seemingly up in the air, will you join with the Greens in reinstating that money to higher ed?

SHORTEN: Whilst I’m happy to talk about schools, briefly on higher education. When Labor got elected there was $8 billion dollars spent on higher education, when we went out of office there was $14 billion dollars. More kids than ever were going to university under Labor. And Labor absolutely - in any measure - absolutely increased higher education funding.
The issue today though, is do not let Tony Abbott off the hook. Labor lost the election, we’re not the Government. But what we will do is say to the Coalition and Tony Abbott: don’t break your promises. Do not break your promises to the Australian people. These school kids at Albion North Primary School do not deserve to be the victims of Tony Abbott’s election promise breaking.

JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott’s claiming that the Coalition is spending more money on school funding than Labor would have given he’s adding more than $230 million. He’s right isn’t he?

SHORTEN: Well if he’s right why is Barry O’Farrell unhappy? If he’s right why are is Victorian Government unhappy? If he’s right, why are the teacher representatives unhappy? If he’s right, why are parent associations so shocked? Not even a crocodile will swallow Tony Abbott’s election promise breaking. He promised before the election they would do the same things as Labor. Yesterday, his education spokesperson on his own, no Tony Abbott present, had to go out and say ‘actually, we’re going to do something different to the promise we made before the election’. The issue is, before the election Australians though they were getting one thing from the Coalition, after the election Australians are discovering this is not the government they were told at the election the government would be.

JOURNALIST: The argument that the Coalition’s putting forward is that Labor cut the funding because of the $1.2 billion that went into consolidated revenue. Is that disingenuous to say that Labor dumped and axed that funding?

SHORTEN: The Coalition are like a bunch of B-team magicians trying to make you look everywhere except where the magic tricks actually happening so you can’t work out what’s going on. This is just spin from the Coalition.
Just be straight with the Australian people Tony Abbott. You promised that you’d do the same thing as Labor before the election. You promised that no school would be worse off, no student would be worse off. It was the same funding envelope in the same way. You have broken your word, you can’t be trusted on education.
This is a breach of trust between Tony Abbott - in the early days of his Government - and every parent of a school child in Australia. That’s the story, black and white. Keep your promise then there’s no issue or debate. No one believes they’re keeping their promise.

JOURNALIST: What will happen with that $1.2 billion dollars, what was going to happen with it?

SHORTEN: Again, what I would say to you, it’s very straight forward. Labor made an issue of making sure that our kids get the best start in life. Schools like this deserve to get the same sort of funding and support as schools in the very richest suburbs in Australia because every child’s precious, every child’s got a future if we back them in. What we said is you should fund children according to their needs. We offered a great deal to states. Two or three states didn’t take it but every other state did including Liberal states. The private sector, the non-government schools, the Catholic schools signed up to our arrangements.
What the Abbott Government is saying is before the election you could vote comfortably Coalition and you would get the same deal for your child as if you voted Labor. What we heard yesterday is that that was not true, that this is a broken promise on a pretty big scale to three and a half million kids and their families. They promised before the election ‘you can rest easy you can sleep easy you vote Coalition, you vote for Tony Abbott you get the same deal on education’. You are not getting the same deal from Tony Abbott after the election as he promised before the election full stop.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Government is saying that the system is unworkable that David Gonski put in place, he’s a brilliant man in investment banking and one of the best minds in the game, it’s not possible that he over engineered the system [inaudible] and when produced something that when comes to the implementation is too difficult.

SHORTEN: The Coalition is assuming that the whole of Australia has amnesia between before the election and now. Before the election the Abbott Government said they would sign up to Labor’s education reforms, they said that they would commit the same funding in the same way, with the same assumptions. Now they’ve had the election, now they’re saying ‘actually, a Liberal promise before the election isn’t worth the paper it’s written on now’ and three and a half million school kids are having their educational futures thrown up in the air.
Parents are outraged, teachers are outraged, states are outraged, the Opposition is outraged that the Coalition would break its promise on education. This is not them breaking their promise to Labor; this is the Coalition and Tony Abbott breaking a promise to 3.5 million school kids and their families, to a quarter of a million teachers, to school communities – 9,000 school communities in Australia. The Coalition can’t be trusted on education, they are demonstrating that they will break their word at the first available opportunity.

JOURNALIST: On to another topic, Indonesia has called for a set of rules and behaviours to be established between the two governments, what rules do you think need to be established going forward?

SHORTEN: First of all, let me just say that I am pleased that after a week plus of disarray that we are getting the first signs that there may the possibility in the future of repairing the relationship. Labor has offered support for the Government in terms of restoring the relationship. We haven’t seen the letter that Mr Abbott send to the President of Indonesia, we’ve seen media reports. We will get a briefing from the Government about the latest. We want the repair job, which is necessary for our relationship with our most important nearest neighbour to the north to be fixed up. I’m not going to start second guessing the details of negotiations until we’ve had a proper briefing from the Government, but we are pleased that Indonesia is providing some initial signs of wanting to work with us, that’s what matters here, Australia’s interests – not Liberal or Labor.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible]

SHORTEN: I think what has happened is that our nation, for a very long time, regardless of whether Liberal or Labor, has pursued its national security interests. The convention is that in politics either side don’t comment about national security matters. There is no doubt that this hacker, Snowden from America, has penetrated American security, he’s caused a world of pain for a whole lot of nations all around the world. He’s in Russia, providing material, leaking material. It is a problem and it would be difficult for any government. What Labor is committed to now is understanding that in government you will get problems, they will arise. It’s how you handle the problem that’s the mark of the Government, and I am pleased that there is now some initial thawing it would appear from very early reports, as I say I haven’t been briefed by the Government so I really don’t want to say anymore than that.

JOURNALIST: Do you think a code of conduct generally is a good idea, and if so would you like that in place so that the suspension on cooperation can be lifted?

SHORTEN: Again, that sounds like a pretty well reworded question of the one I just got about what do I think about protocols and codes. We want a briefing from the Government, we’re pleased at any good news of what’s been a disastrous ten days in Australian-Indonesian relationships. We want things back on track.
We will fight the Government on breaking their education promise, we will fight the Government in terms of practically wanting to double the national debt. But what we won’t do is seek to make hay out of an issue which goes to our long-term relationship with Indonesia. It’s an important relationship. Labor’s been very unequivocal, we’ve been completely clear, we believe the timely personal diplomatic requirement recognising that Indonesia had been offended, we need to get the relationship back on track, that’s what matters to us and we are not interested in trying to play games about the national interest.
But when we come back to where we started this press conference, the Government shouldn’t play games with Australian school parents. Don’t break your promise, don’t say one thing before the election, don’t tell the Australian people one thing before the election, then after the election just simply say ‘well that was then, this is now’ and everyone’s got to accept the Coalition breaking their promise. They are in for a big fight if they think that they can be tricky and interfere and change arrangements which Australian schools legitimately except and the Australian states and the Australian non-government sector expect for their kids at their schools.
Thanks very much everyone.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADERS OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053