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Doorstop: Melbourne - Captain Chaos Tony Abbott; Liberal infighting

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP

MELBOURNE

FRIDAY, 30 JANUARY 2015

 

SUBJECT/S: Captain Chaos Tony Abbott; Liberal infighting; Queensland State Election

 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks for coming.  Australians have had a gutful of Tony Abbott and this Government. On the one hand we see Tony Abbott and his Government engaging in a circus of undermining each other, and on the other hand Australians are feeling pain because of the policies of Tony Abbott and his Government. Australians are concerned that this Government is forcing up their cost of living, be it cuts to the pension, $100,000 university degrees or putting a GP Tax on the sick when they go to see the doctor.

 

Tony Abbott says that he’s a good captain; frankly it’s not just who the captain of this ship is, it’s the direction this Government is taking the Australian nation in. Australians want to see a government who is fighting for them, not fighting for themselves.

 

Happy to take questions.

 

JOURNALIST: So what do you make of Mr Abbott’s assertion that his team has a good captain which helps them to excel?

 

SHORTEN: Frankly, the captain of the Titanic would look good standing next to Tony Abbott.  But the real truth of the matter, the real core problem of this Government is not just who would be the captain, it’s the fact that this is a Government of people who don’t fight for Australians, they’re out of touch with ordinary Australians.

 

The core problem is not whether or not they’re unhappy about Prince Phillip getting a Knighthood and that they’re against that.  Were the other Ministers in this Government against cutting the pension? Were the other Ministers in this Government against putting a GP tax on the sick? Were the other Ministers in this Government against increasing the cost of going to university? This Government has got a captain who is not up to the job but even worse, a Government who is taking us in all the wrong direction.

 

JOURNALIST: You made reference to infighting, aren’t they just following the example set by Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government?

 

SHORTEN: Well first of all Tony Abbott and his Government got elected over 500 days ago and in that time we’ve seen Australia go backwards. We see a Budget which no one likes, we see a Government who is committed to the Budget, they’re just not committed to their own captain. We see a Government who wants to put a tax on the sick, a GP Tax, even though they don’t want their captain. We see a Government who’s committed to decreasing the opportunity for kids from working class backgrounds to go to university, and it wants to increase the cost of going to university.

 

This is a circus at the moment and I think Australian’s have had a gutful of Tony Abbott and his Government.

 

REPORTER: Well Joe Hockey has said that he doesn’t want his colleagues to become a carbon copy of the Rudd/Gillard Government – does he have a point?

 

SHORTEN: Joe Hockey is fighting hard to keep his own job, the problem is he’s not fighting to keep other peoples’ jobs. We’ve seen unemployment go up since Joe Hockey became Treasurer of Australia. Joe Hockey, Tony Abbott and his Government have been unanimous in supporting cutting the rate of increase in pensions, they’ve been unanimous in increasing the cost of going to university, they’ve been unanimous about bringing in a GP Tax. This is a Government and a captain who are out of touch with what Australia wants.
REPORTER: So when will you start outlining Labor’s detailed plans for things like budget repair?
SHORTEN: First of all, what we need to see is this Government start putting up a budget to begin with: they were elected to Government over 500 days ago, we’re still arguing about their first hopeless Budget, with their extreme measures and broken promises. We stand very clearly against a GP Tax, we stand for Medicare.  We stand very clearly against increasing the cost of going to university with fewer places for kids from modest backgrounds, we stand for everyone being able to get ahead in life based on how hard they work and the merit of their academic scholarship. We stand very clearly for making sure that pensioners don’t have to have a cut in their real income. That’s what Labor stands for and we will put more policies in place as we approach the next election, but in the meantime, we start 2015 – with Tony Abbott and his Government, the way we ended in 2014 which is a Government in chaos and disarray and undermining each other. A Government who can’t govern themselves can’t govern the nation.
REPORTER: You’ve just mentioned some things that you stand against – what about some of the things Labor will stand for – some of your own ideas?
SHORTEN: We stand for a well-funded Medicare, we stand for universal healthcare.  We stand for a nation where it’s your Medicare card which determines the quality of your healthcare, not your credit card. We stand for the idea that students whether or not they live in the country or the city, whatever postcode they live in, whatever wealth their parents have, have the opportunity to go to university. We stand for pensions keeping pace with the cost of living, and not falling behind.

 

In the meantime, what we know is that the Government Ministers do not stand behind Tony Abbott – they are undermining him.  And the problem with these people is that they will background to the newspapers why they don’t like Tony Abbott, but they won’t background to the newspapers why they’re opposed to a GP Tax, increase in the cost of higher education, and other negative measures like cutting the pension.
REPORTER: Just on Queensland, does Labor have a realistic chance of winning tomorrow?
SHORTEN: Labor’s climb is a steep one in Queensland. What I think has been revealing in terms of national politics is Tony Abbott’s complete refusal to go anywhere near Queensland. He’s popped up in Geelong today, but we won’t see him in Gladstone before the election. It is remarkable and unprecedented that we have a Prime Minister of Australia afraid to go to one of his states at any time during a state election for fear of contaminating - with his box-office poison - the chance of his political party in Queensland. This is a sorry state of affairs and I think it reflects Tony Abbott and his Government’s recognition that Queenslanders don’t want the Government’s policies. That’s the last question?
JOURNALIST: Just on Labor’s chances then, how many seats do you think they can realistically win?
SHORTEN: I’m not in the business of commentating; we’ll let the voters of Queensland determine what happens. Annastasia Palaszczuk though I think has exceeded expectations - Labor has come back and its got policy based around better health care, supporting jobs and better education, and there’re no doubt that Queensland wants a Premier that will stand up to Tony Abbott and his Government, rather than simply being a rubber stamp for Tony Abbott and his Government’s unfair cuts.

 

Thanks.

ENDS

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