Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Labor’s ‘Your child. Our future’ plan for Australian education; NSW Preselection

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
MELBOURNE


THURSDAY, 28 JANUARY 2016

 

SUBJECT/S: Labor’s ‘Your child. Our future’ plan for Australian education; NSW Preselection; Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals 15 per cent GST on everything
JOANNE RYAN, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LALOR: Obviously I'd like to welcome everybody to the electorate of Lalor today to Iramoo Primary School, a fabulous school doing a wonderful job with the students here. I'd like to welcome Bill, I'd like to welcome Kate and I'm incredibly excited to be here to make the announcement that Bill and Kate will make today in this particular school, and in this particular electorate. Of course the work, the education work that began under former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who was our local member here. So it's an important place for us to be today, to honour that work to see that work go forward. And to be at this particular school today, which is a school where students have a lot to overcome and where through national partnerships and through needs based funding this school has done extraordinary work to bring every child on, to make sure that every child is learning and to measure and monitor that growth in a meaningful way. So it's a great place to be, thank you.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Joanne and it's great to be here with my Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis and of course Joanne Ryan, Member for Lalor. Joanne was a distinguished school principal over many years before she ran for Parliament for the Labor Party, and she certainly wears her education heart on her sleeve. And to that end, today I am pleased to announce on behalf of the Labor Party that a Shorten Labor Government will make the most significant improvement to school education in 2 generations. Our plan is called Your Child. Our Future.

It will ensure a strong focus on the needs of every individual child. It will ensure that we have better supported teachers, better resourced classrooms. That we have more support for our teachers going forward, that we have more individual attention for our students. It'll also importantly ensure that we have stronger support for children with special needs throughout Australia.

With Labor's policy every school and every child will benefit, because after all there is nothing more important to a country's economic prosperity then making investments in education. It's sad to say but recent reports show that Australia's educational outcomes are going backwards internationally, and that's just not good enough for the future of our kids. We are running for instance, in mathematics now 17th in the world. Imagine if you will, if Australia was coming 17th in the medal tally at the Olympics, the Government would certainly do everything it could to fix it. And there is nothing more important than the future of our children.

You know today and this week, millions of Australian parents, including Chloe and myself sent their children off for the first day of school, and like every parent Chloe and I want to see our 3 children get the very best outcomes in education that they can.

But that's in fact the big difference between Labor and Liberal. Labor wants to see everyone's children get the best possible start in life, to set them up with the skills and resilience, to be able to compete in the world of tomorrow, for the jobs of tomorrow. So my message today in particular is to the parents of Australia, from one parent to another; it is only Labor who will put your children's future first.

When you think about it, in our cities and our suburbs, in our country towns and along our coast, in state schools, Catholic schools, in private schools, wherever you live, we want to make sure that every child in every school gets every chance to be the best they can be in their educational opportunities.

A Shorten Labor Government will fully fund the Gonski recommendations in education, funded in full and on time. Labor is able to make this promise because we've already explained how we would provide funds from the Budget through the improvements that we suggested last year to be able to do this.

There's a lot of talk about innovation in Australia. But unless you are prepared to fully invest in our school system, in the education of our young people, talk about innovation is just simply talk.

So therefore, at the next election, Australians have a very clear choice; we can choose to invest in our education system and in our future with Labor, or we can choose Mr Turnbull and his Liberal team's cuts to education. I'd like to hand over to Kate Ellis my Shadow Minister to talk further about the detail of this fantastic announcement today.

KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Well, thank you very much to Bill, thank you also to Joanne for hosting us here, and for Moira for welcoming us to your school at such a busy time of year. It is a great pleasure to talk a little bit more about this policy announcement. And I want to make a couple of things very clear; there is focus on the fact that we are today recommitting to funding in full and on time years 5 and 6 of the current school funding agreements. That's very important, but today's announcement is also about more than that. This is about a permanent shift to ensure that Australia's schools and Australian students have the resources and the support that they need to get the education that they deserve.

This is not just about money, this is about the difference that can be achieved in our classrooms through new programs and through evidence based policy to make sure that every child in every school gets the attention that they need and deserve. This is about each and every child and each and every school, but it's also about more than that too. This is about our economy; this is about Australia's future. This is about jobs and making sure that young Australians have the skills for the jobs of the future, and this is about innovation.

Let's make one thing very clear; Malcolm Turnbull can talk as much as he likes about innovation, but if he continues to rip funding out of Australia's classrooms, that is absolutely all it is; it is talk. If you want to innovate for Australia's future, there is no one more important way to do that than to ensure that we have Australia's school system right. We need to make the change now, or our children will be left behind.

Now, we also know that today is about backing our teachers and our principals and those people who work so hard in the classroom. We want to make sure that they have the resources and the support that they need. We want to make sure that they have the evidence base and the data that they require to give our children the best education, and we also want to make sure that we lift teaching quality in this nation so that every child is receiving the teaching support that they need.

We want to make sure that our entire school system is built around evidence and is built around improvement, not about covering over from the cracks and the cuts that Liberal governments continue to inflict upon them.

And I want to particularly talk about one group of students today, and that is, students with a disability. It is incredibly important that by ensuring that we are providing the funding for the sector blind needs-based funding model that our schools need and deserve, that every child will receive the support that they deserve. We know that the Liberal Government have walked away from students with disability and then cut the interim funding that was put in place in order to paper over that. We stand here today saying that we will work with states and territories to ensure that when the data is received, we work to roll out the disability loading to every school across Australia.

But more than that, we today commit that we will immediately return the money that the Abbott and Turnbull Governments ripped from students with disability and put in place $320 million in interim funding immediately upfront.

And finally, I want to say that I have no doubt that the Government will say this is about money, this is about Labor throwing money at our schools. I want to make very clear; this is about restoring accountability and transparency that Christopher Pyne ripped away when he was Education Minister. It was the current Liberal Government who said that they believed in no strings attached funding to our schools. That will not continue under Labor. We are providing substantial funds. We're talking about $4.5 billion over the forward estimates, and we are talking about reversing all of the Government's cuts over the next 10 years and providing some $37 billion in 10-year provisions, but that does not come with no strings attached. That comes with the agreement that we expect the State Governments to keep to their side of the deal and that we expect that that money will be used in a transparent and accountable fashion on the programs that our students need the most. Thank you very much.

SHORTEN: Thanks, Kate and we'd be pleased to take questions about this announcement.

JOURNALIST: Bill you said you will fully fund it. How are you getting that money? Where's it coming from?

SHORTEN: Last year, my Labor team worked very hard to outline where we could stop wasteful government spending and where we could take other initiatives to be able to afford important, economy-shifting, life-changing propositions such as properly funding our schools in Australia. So specifically, Labor has said we will make multinationals pay their fair share, and I will come back to that, but Labor, and only Labor, can be really trusted to chase down the multinationals to make them pay their fair share. Secondly, we're going to go after the unsustainable and excessively generous superannuation tax concessions that high net wealth individuals currently enjoy. Thirdly, we've made it very clear that we will have an excise on tobacco products increase over the next three years, but it isn't just those measures. We've also said that we will stop wasting taxpayer money on the folly of Tony Abbott's failed emissions reduction fund schemes and we've also made it really, really clear that we're not going to indulge the National Party of Australia with some Malcolm Turnbull buy-off for the leadership by a baby bonus which no-one has asked for and this nation simply can't afford. So we're actually breaking the mould of an opposition. Not only are we announcing our policies well ahead of the election in August and September, but we can already explain how we pay for them all. But I did mention this point about multinationals. I don't know about you, but I know late last year many Australians were staggered to find out that 579 Australian companies paid no tax. That made people boiling mad just before Christmas. Australians go and pay their tax, small businesses pay their taxes, the tradies and the contractors have got to pay their taxes. We find that the top end of town aren't paying taxes and today, Apple, which is a household name, $8 billion of [revenue] in Australia, that's right, $8 billion of profit in Australia paid no tax.

JOURNALIST: So Bill, that's one of those measures that you'll be funding this with. How many other policies are being funded by those measures though?

 

SHORTEN: We've fully explained and we can cost - we are in the black in terms of what we've promised and we have made some promises on higher education, only Labor can be trusted to make sure that -

 

JOURNALIST: There are other measures -

 

SHORTEN: Let me be clear, let me be clear. You've asked a question and I will come to any question you have. And we're not going to get the Liberals try and just smear this campaign. We're very clear. We've announced more savings to the bottom line, more resolutions of tax rorts and loopholes than any opposition has previously. You know, we are happy in terms of what we've said. We've got funded policies. It's because of our hard work last year that we're able to get behind the millions of parents and their kids and promise them a better future, better ability to compete with the world, and by the way, you know, the Liberals when they attack us for properly funding education, isn't that really the problem at the core of Mr Turnbull and his Liberals? They see the education of Australia's children as a cost. We see it as an investment.

 

JOURNALIST: But Bill, those measures, so there's multinational tax avoidance scrapping the emission reduction fund, have they been promised to other policies?

 

SHORTEN: No, this all, overall, we've promised over the next 10 years more than $70 billion. Let me repeat that number, because it's a big number - we've promised over $70 billion worth of reductions to the budget bottom line and that is why we are able to pay for the promises which we're making.

 

JOURNALIST: So it's not magic pudding economics to say it's fully funded?

 

SHORTEN: No, if fact this is - the reverse is true. Only Labor's got costed policies for the next election.

 

JOURNALIST: And Mr Shorten tis hat more than promised under the Gonski reforms?

 

SHORTEN: Our changes go further. And by that, what the school system want, the poor old State Education Departments want, what the Catholic Education Commission want, what the non-government, the independent schools want, is they want funding certainty. Kate said it before. Our approach is breaking the age-old argument of state versus private. You know, we want to consign that argument to the past. We believe in a sector-neutral approach. We believe in an approach which is needs-based funding. Our policy, every school, every child, will get the extra resources they need to get every chance to succeed in the future. Our education policy is an economic policy.

 

JOURNALIST: Just on the Budget broadly though, do you believe in balancing the Budget and if so, when will Labor get to that point?

 

SHORTEN: We certainly believe in fiscal responsibility. That's why we've worked so hard last year, and we'll have more to say in coming weeks and months. The job's not over for us. We are working very hard. But what I'd say is, we do believe of course in fiscal responsibility. But what I get is that life doesn't boil down to this sort of bleak choice where Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and the Liberal team say: if you want any improvements in your education or hospitals you got over 15 per cent GST. Today is also a shot across the bows of the Federal Government's absolute hunger to put a 15 per cent tax on the price of everything. We can properly fund our schools, without making the cost of living an intolerable burden for middle class and working-class people in this country.

 

JOURNALIST: So you haven't put a time frame on returning to surplus?

 

SHORTEN: Our aim is over the cycle, over the 10 years.

 

JOURNALIST: Just on New South Wales Labor, if i may, do you support moves from -

 

SHORTEN: Just before we get to that issue of New South Wales Labor, are there other questions for my colleagues and I on education, because you know this week -

 

ELLIS: Could I add to that schools question? I just want make clear, the question was: are we delivering more than what was in the promised in the agreements and I think we need to be really upfront about that. Today what we are delivering is funding for the last two years of the agreements but we are going beyond that. Today we are delivering a complete reversal of the current government's $30 billion cuts to our schools over the next 10 years. That's what we're promising here today. It's not about just the last two years of the agreement. It's about making sure that we have the provision so that we can adequately fund our schools permanently moving forward and so that we will be on the right footing to then be able to negotiate the next agreements, and ensure that we continue to drive reform in our schools beyond the current agreements, but certainly, first of all, by finishing the existing agreements.

 

JOURNALIST: Do you support the ban on MPs travelling to Israel while the settlements are still being built in the contested areas?

 

SHORTEN: There is no ban in place. I trust my MPs to be able to exercise judgment in terms of their overseas trips.

 

JOURNALIST: Do you support a potential ban?

 

SHORTEN: I support my MPs exercising their own common sense and views. I trust Labor's representatives, I don't see the need to start giving them travel instructions.

 

JOURNALIST: On Anthony Albanese, he's announced that he'll recontest Grayndler, with some other MPs it's still unclear what's happening in the Central Coast. Does Jill Hall have a future in the Parliament?

 

SHORTEN: Our Labor team will sort out their preselection’s in New South Wales. When you look at it, Labor is the picture of harmony compared to what's going on in New South Wales in the Liberal Party. I mean, does Craig Kelly - is he getting challenged? Is Philip Ruddock going around for the 20th time? Bronwyn Bishop -  is she on the team or is she off the team or is she being thrown overboard? You've Tony Abbott overseas being the alternative to the Prime Minister. There a great deal of divisions between the New South Wales Liberal Party. I'm very confident that Labor will sort out its preselection’s. These are never easy things but we're doing pretty well, I think, compared to the Liberal Party. I think any fair observer would agree on that.

 

JOURNALIST: You still have to sure up your own side. Would you like to see Jill Hall alongside you in Parliament?

 

SHORTEN: Jill does an excellent job, so sure she does a great job. I speak to all my team. Again, Let me be really clear, the Labor Party is far more united than the Liberal Party. Australians don't want political parties just talking about themselves. Unfortunately for Malcolm Turnbull, whilst he's the front man, who's really pulling the strings in the Liberal Party? While he was away in America, we saw numerous stories about dissension and concern and different parts of the Liberal Party trying to mug other parts. In the meantime, Australians this January as they approach the return to school want to know from Malcolm Turnbull - why do you want to put a 15 per cent tax on everything? Why won't you properly fund our schools?

 

Today, Labor is making a permanent shift. This is a big announcement. It's a funded announcement and what it means is we want every parent's child to get the best resources, we want every school to be a great school, because we know that if we are going to give our kids the best chance to compete in the jobs market of the future, if we want a system of fairness in this country where it's not the school you went to or our postcode or how much money your parents have which determines your future, it should be the access you get to quality schooling everywhere. The OECD, this year or last year, just said that one of the best predictors of a wealth of a nation is the investment in education. And it's a very clear choice at the next election. You can have investment in education and our future with Labor or you can have cuts with Mr Turnbull and his Liberal team.

 

JOURNALIST: Bill, could I just confirm, does this funding cover WA and the Northern Territory, which didn't sign up to Gonski?

 

SHORTEN: Yes, we've made provision for that. The truth of the matter is that we're more than happy to negotiate with all of the States and Territories, whatever the political complexion of the State. I mean, really, it's a no-brainer for State Governments. What path do they go down? A 15 per cent GST on all their citizens with no guarantee that the money is going to go back into the schools anyway. Let's face it, with the Liberal track record in 2013, a promising to be identical to Labor then they lied and broke that promise, or they can have our costed, funded policies which put schools, teachers, parents and most importantly the kids at the centre of our plans for the future of this country.

 

JOURNALIST: Bill, it's not a binary choice, though is it? Not a binary choice between GST and Labor's policies on the other hand, though?

 

SHORTEN: Well, you'd think so if you listen to the Liberals. You know, they keep talking about how a 15 per cent GST is going to solve everything. Our objection to the GST is pretty straightforward. Why should middle-class people, why should working-class people have to pay a 15 per cent tax on everything, so that tax cuts can be given to the very wealthy companies. It's basically robbing the working and middle-class people of Australia to give very rich companies who don't need these changes . I mean, Apple's not even paying tax - and at the same time we're willing to fund our schools properly, with costed policies. See, we understand, the most important thing that parents try to do for their kids - I learnt from from my own mum, we all learn it. If you give your children the best education possible, you give them the best chance in life as adults. The difference is that Labor doesn't just want it for some children, we want it for every kid, every school, every postcode in Australia. Thanks everyone.

 

ENDS

 

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