TUESDAY, 29 JULY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Unfair Budget; Tony Abbott’s GP Tax; Cuts to Aged Care; Peter Slipper; Work for the Dole; Victorian Politics; Greg Combet; Joe Hockey’s Biography; Asylum Seekers.
BILL SHORTEN – LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone. It’s great to be in my own electorate of Maribyrnong in Avondale Heights at the Doutta Galla Age care services. Today with me is the Chairman of Doutta Galla services, Bruce Mildenhall also local Member of Parliament, Ben Carroll. It is a privilege to see how hard Australians are working to look after each other in age care services. There is 108 people resident here served by great staff. But there is real anxiety in Doutta Galla age services and thousands of other places like this across Australia because tomorrow the Abbott Government is cutting services for residents with dementia. Tony Abbott thinks or perhaps hopes people have forgotten his unfair Budget. But tomorrow we are going to see at this place alone, 35 age care residents diagnosed with dementia, lose a $16 a day supplement. This is a disaster for age care, Doutta Galla services and throughout Australia. For pensioners who rely upon the $16 a day supplement with dementia, services which provide them cognitive support so that they can at least try and arrest or live with dementia in a more comfortable fashion than they otherwise would; this is not the only unfair feature of the Budget.
Aged care residents are losing the dementia supplement of $16 a day. You also have got the pension which is going to be cut. You have petrol going up with new taxes. You have got a dreadful GP tax. How on earth are doctors expected, when they do visits here, to ask a patient with dementia for $7 extra in a Tony Abbott GP Tax. It is a stupid, obscene idea. Then of course, Scripts are going to cost more, there you have it. For this aged care centre, petrol up, pensions down, dementia supplement gone, more to pay an extra $5 for your script, up to $5 and a GP tax.
This is an unfair Budget and Australians know that Tony Abbott lied before the last election. The message I’ve got loud and clear today from staff and families and residents is that no-one wants Tony Abbott's unfair GP Tax. It is time for Tony Abbott to run up the white flag, declare defeat. It was a stupid idea and axe his unfair GP Tax. I might ask the Chairman of the Doutta Galla aged services board, Bruce Mildenhall to talk about the real world impact of Tony Abbott's rotten and unfair Budget on older Australians.
BRUCE MILDENHALL – CHAIRMAN OF DOUTTA GALLA AGED CARE SERVICES: Thanks Bill. This is a dreadful attack on some of the most vulnerable and helpless people in our community. We run a network of community-based aged care facilities and as of tomorrow, $800,000 is being ripped out of our annual Budget. These services, these therapies that help provide a decent and a reasonable quality of life for people who are severely affected by dementia are going to disappear unless severe cuts are made to other operating parts of our Budget.
It is a real problem for us and it is a problem right throughout Australia in aged care facilities. The Federal Government has said this is - that dementia is one of the top 10 health issues facing the nation. But they have decided to bury their heads in the sand, withdraw the money and perhaps hope that the problem goes away. Our message is the problem is here today, it is here tomorrow and we have got far less money, far fewer resources and far less access to the specialist services to look after people who are severely affected by dementia in our community.
SHORTEN: Thanks. Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: If elected would you continue with the Coalition's expanding work for the dole scheme?
SHORTEN: In terms of this work for the dole scheme that the Government is proposing, this is window dressing. What we see is a Government talking about how to punish unemployed people or talking about how unemployed people need to do 40 job interviews. The real missing link in Tony Abbott's plan for unemployed people is where are the jobs Tony Abbott? He is not proposing to create any new jobs. He won't stand up for existing jobs in Australia. He ships them off all overseas. What is point of asking people to apply for jobs when they are not there to be filled?
JOURNALIST: Would you continue an expanded version of that scheme?
SHORTEN: We believe in empowering people to find work. The way you solve unemployment or reduce unemployment in Australia is you create jobs and you keep existing jobs. You also make sure people have the best skills and training. This is a Government who is taking the tools away from apprentices and putting them into debt. This is a Government who will make it harder for people to go to university by doubling or increasing the price of going to university. This is a Government who has sold out the car industry, sold out the ship building industry. They are about to sell out the submarine building industry. This Government sees its only real job is to create jobs in other countries.
JOURNALIST: How realistic is it to expect people to apply for 40 jobs a month?
SHORTEN: The people who dreamed up this scheme have never been in the position of the long term unemployed. Let’s recap what they are doing. The Abbott Government says if you're under 30 and unemployed you get no money for six months, but in the meantime, you have to apply for 40 jobs. There is five working days in every week. People will apply for two jobs a day. They will be preparing their resumes. This may be in Abbott-land where you have a theoretical situation where mum and dad are out there printing on the finest word processors your job applications; maybe they think it is possible. In the real world where you are battling to put a roof over your head where you have no money and you can't afford the train ticket to the job interview, this Abbott Government doesn't care about the unemployed or jobs, they are all talk and no action.
JOURNALIST: Peter Slipper has been found guilty of dishonesty charges. Was it a mistake for Labor to back him so strongly?
SHORTEN: I think all Australians are saddened and disappointed when they see elected representatives conducting themselves in the way that Peter Slipper has been found. Having said that, he still has to be sentenced, the matter is still before the court. But I completely and Labor completely deplores the set of circumstances and we completely deplore what has happened here.
JOURNALIST: Greg Combet is launching his book today. Were you aware that Julia Gillard offered to hand him the Prime Ministership last year?
SHORTEN: I welcome Greg Combet publishing a book. He is a distinguished Australian over decades of service. There is a real contrast isn’t there? Greg Combet at the end of a distinguished career talking about the things he has done. Joe Hockey, when he should be preparing a Budget is co-working on his biography. There is a world of difference between Greg Combet’s biography and Joe Hockey's job application for Tony Abbott's position. In terms of what happened before the last election, as far as I am concerned that is all water under the bridge and I’m not adding anymore commentary to that matter.
JOURNALIST: Did you know of the offer though?
SHORTEN: I’m not going to engage in past history. But I do say, Greg Combet is a distinguished Australian and I hope his book does well and about Joe Hockey's book, it’s remarkable, you would think that when someone is the Treasurer of Australia, it is a full-time job. Obviously Joe Hockey sees being Treasurer as a part-time job and selling his biography is also a priority. Look at this Budget; it is such an unfair Budget. Joe Hockey says in his biography it didn't go far enough. When Tony Abbott has to pull you up and say you're going too far in your cuts, you have got to wonder how far Joe Hockey wants to wreak unfairness in Australia. Joe Hockey has a dreadful few months, he comes up with a Budget no-one likes. His own colleagues are clearly concerned about his judgement. I think that the lesson here is when you're Treasurer of Australia, stick to your day job and leave the literary flights of fancy to people who are not as busy as you.
JOURNALIST: Are you satisfied with the way Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews has handled himself in the tapes scandal in recent weeks here in Victoria?
SHORTEN: As the Federal leader, I’m not providing a running commentary on State politics. Daniel Andrews has taken responsibility for a series of events that occurred. These events should not have occurred. But Daniel Andrews has taken responsibility for it. When will Denis Napthine take responsibility for the complete atrocities which are occurring in the aged care and health system in Victoria?
This is an unfair Budget. The GP Tax is an unfair tax. What we have is millions of Australians and hundreds of thousands of Victorians will be hurt by this unfair tax. It is time for Tony Abbott to axe his unfair GP Tax. He should run up the white flag, recognise that it is a bad idea and go back to the drawing board.
JOURNALIST: Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee signed cricket bats for Indian officials reportedly to help Australia secure the asylum seeker deal, is that appropriate?
SHORTEN: At least Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee can play a straight line and length, all Scott Morrison can do is engage in spin.
JOURNALIST: Do you think it is appropriate though that they had a part in this?
SHORTEN: The question is not about the qualities of Glenn McGrath or Brett Lee but it is that dreadful spinner of the Abbott Government, Scott Morrison. This is just a debacle. Scott Morrison, if there was a good news story where he could be sounding tough, you can't open your door of the morning before you trip over Scott Morrison announcing victory, but where has he been in last few weeks when we have had this debacle of 157 people detained on the high seas?
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