Bill's Speeches

Doorstop: Perth - Canning by-election; Ice addiction; The Abbott-proof fence around Canning






SUBJECT/S: Canning by-election; Ice addiction; The Abbott-proof fence around Canning; Australia Post; Medibank private sell off; ChAFTA; Australia’s lack of trust in the Abbott Government; Australian Border Force


MATT KEOGH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CANNING: It is great to be here in Armadale today with Bill and with Mark as part of the Canning campaign.


The late Don Randall was a passionate advocate for his local community. He went around, listened to what people wanted. That’s how I have been spending this campaign and if I am fortunate enough to be the Member for Canning, I am going to be spending that time listening to what people want and advocating those issues that are important to them. As part of that, for the last two years, Don Randall had been working with our State Labor member, Tony Buti to push for the opening of public access to the Armadale police station on a 24-hour basis. As I’ve gone around speaking to people in the Armadale area and beyond, this is one of the issues they have been raising with me as well.


That’s why I am really happy to be here today after I’ve spoken to Bill and I have spoken with Mark about the importance of that issue, that they are able to come here to respond to those local issues in the same way that Don was trying to raise them. I have raised this issue with them and I am really pleased that Mark McGowan is here to announce that Labor will be pushing for the Armadale Police Station being open to the public on a 24-hour basis.


I’ll hand over to Mark to say a few more things about that.


MARK MCGOWAN, WEST AUSTRALIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: As you would all know, the issue of amphetamines and crime in the South-Eastern corridor and in Armadale has been very significant. Tony Buti and Don Randall called on the State Government on a number of occasions to have a 24 hour public access police station in Armadale and I am pleased to say today that if Labor is elected at a state level, we will make sure that Armadale is 24 hours a day open.


The reason for that is this; a lot of police stations across the metropolitan area are open on a 24-hour basis. There are six of them in the metropolitan area that you can go to the police station after 4 o’clock, at any time during the night or on a weekend and you can get access to the police station, and get seen and assisted. Unfortunately, Armadale isn’t one of those police stations. I think most people would be amazed and shocked that Armadale is not a 24 hour police station. That is why today, I am committing State Labor, if elected at the next election, having a 24 hour open police station in Armadale. That means public access. That means you can go in and you can see someone with your concern, with your issue.


Tony Buti advises me that there has been terrible cases of people trying to get access to the police after 4 o’clock on a weekday, not able to get access. They have had to bundle into the car drive up to Cannington to the nearest 24 hour police station. That’s not good enough and I think the people of Armadale deserve better and I think considering some of the crime statistics that have emerged over the last seven years of the Liberal Government here in the South-Eastern corridor, more needs to be done.


JOURNALIST: How is this pledge going to help Matt?


MCGOWAN: It is about helping the people of Armadale. It is about showing that State Labor cares about the people of Armadale and has listened. Matt has heard the concerns, he has raised them with me. We have been working through our policy process anyway and have listened to Tony Buti as well and we want to help the people here with that significant law and order issue. It is no good just talking about law and order – what you have to do is do something about it and this is doing something about it here in Armadale.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Matt Keogh has already scored the first win for his local community. I have no doubt today that because of Mark McGowan’s leadership, respecting the efforts of the late Don Randall and also Tony Buti, the hard-working local member and Matt's advocacy, now one of the high jump bars for the Liberal Party is they're going to have to match this promise and the sooner they do, the better for everyone.


Mark McGowan has made it very clear that Labor if elected at the State level will deliver a 24-hour police station and that's because Matt Keogh, the local boy, is pushing hard for these things. I make this point more generally about community safety. A lot of Australians are worried about the scourge of ice. Ice is a real disaster for families, for addicts and for the people who come into contact with ice addicts when they're on the rampage. A 24-hour police station is a no-brainer and Mark McGowan, Matt Keogh and Tony Buti are making sure this happens as a result of the by-election.


JOURNALIST: The WA Police Commissioner has said he doesn't want Armidale open 24 hours he says that would take officers off the beat, so wouldn't promising this fly in the face of what the Police Commissioner wants? Isn't he best placed?


SHORTEN: First of all, I'll ask Mark to talk about the State Police Commissioner's comments, but I'll just say this, families, not only in Western Australia but throughout Australia, are concerned about their safety. Any family who's had a member who is addicted to ice knows the dreadful consequences. People who are the victims of crime know the consequences and police also know the consequences of this terrible scourge of ice addiction. Communities do want to see greater community safety. I do believe that this proposal put forward, it was put forward I might add on a bipartisan basis by the late Don Randall and Tony Buti who is here today, put forward by Matt Keogh to Mark McGowan is definitely a step in the right direction. But of course when we talk about the scourge of ice we understand it's not just a law and order or justice issue, it's also a health issue. So we'll have more to say in coming weeks about how we tackle the problem of rehabilitation, because it's important that addicts are able to break the habit.


JOURNALIST: Just on that issue, Tony Abbott today said that its being considers that ice addicts could have benefits docked or forced into rehab by the Abbott Government, do you support that plan, or is it going to force them into more crime?


SHORTEN: First of all, we believe the national task force which has been set up, we want to look at what they propose in terms of not just law and order, but in terms of how you treat addicts. But there's no doubt the families who have a member of their family who's addicted to ice, police trying to keep us safe, victims of crime have had to deal with ice addicts, know that you have to look at really serious steps to tackle this and there is no doubt in my mind that there is an insufficient amount of rehabilitation available. Now beyond that we'll look carefully at what Mr Abbott said today.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you expect to see Tony Abbott here in Canning again before the by-election?


SHORTEN: I think Mr Abbott will have to come. You'll see the fingernail marks as he's dragged across the Nullarbor to be here. We all know that the last thing that the Liberals in West Australia want to do is remind people that Mr Abbott's the leader of the Liberal Party in Canberra. Mr Abbott if he comes to Canning should explain what his policy is to properly fund health care in Western Australia in the light of massive cuts. He should explain why he's not providing greater funding for schools when schools are desperate for resources and most importantly, Mr Abbott and his Liberals need to explain why on earth since Mr Abbott's been elected there's an extra 30,000 people who are now unemployed in West Australia. We need to see from Mr Abbott a plan for jobs, a plan for infrastructure, a plan for schools and a plan for hospitals and I don't think we've seen a lot of that so far.


JOURNALIST: $1 postage stamps are proposed today, can seniors afford that?


SHORTEN: It is a real challenge about how do you on the one hand maintain the effectiveness of Australia Post in terms of its costs and being able to pay for expenditure, but on the other hand making sure that pensioners are not priced out of being able to send mail. There's no doubt on one hand that Australia Post is having to change its business models because of the impact of technology change. The truth of the matter is Australians are sending far less letters than they ever used to - they all send it by email. But of course the parcels business that Australia Post has is picking up. We'll look carefully at the proposal they've put forward today and we'll make sure that whatever happens pensioners who are already doing it tough under the Abbott Government don't do it any tougher. It's not a simple blanket yes-no issue, because Australia Post is confronting changes of technology which do affect the structure of the business they have.


JOURNALIST: So a price rise of some sort is necessary?


SHORTEN: A change in the business model for Australia Post is necessary. I don't think anyone can argue against that, but what we want to make sure is that the way it's implemented. I firmly believe we want to keep posties on their rounds. We want to make sure that the people working at Australia Post have reasonable conditions. We also want to make sure that people who are less well off in our community aren't priced out of the market. We'll work through issues with Australia Post.


JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about Medibank Private's plans to reduce the number of fees it covers at private hospitals? The AMA says it's Americanising our health system, do you agree?


SHORTEN: Labor warned Finance Minister Cormann and Mr Abbott that if they were to privatise Medibank the consequences could be drastic for fund members. Everything that Labor is being concerned about appears to be coming true. The Government, in their rush to sell off Medibank, I don't think has paid conditions to the conditions and the health service that Medibank Private provides. I think it is alarming that reports that the benefits which people used to receive as members of Medibank and the services which hospitals could provide that Medibank has now withdrawn support for, I think the Government has broken its promise when it said it would privatise Medibank - it said there would be no untoward consequences. Clearly this is another broken promise when it comes to the health care of Australians by Mr Abbott and his Liberals


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Bob Hawke has warned today that opposing the China free trade agreement wouldn’t be in Australia’s best interest. Can you now confirm Labor’s unconditional support for that agreement?


SHORTEN: First of all, Labor isn’t unconditionally opposing it. What we do believe is that a free trade agreement should be a good deal for Australians. Just because there is a deal, doesn’t mean it is a good deal. I think you understand that Adrian. Our concern is that a trade agreement should deliver jobs and better outcomes for Australians. There are slack loop-holes in the free trade agreement that no amount of wishy it away removes these loop-holes. So Labor will negotiate with the Government in the best interest of Australian jobs. We do not believe that the safeguards, which Mr. Abbott and his Liberals say exist, actually have the ‘t’s crossed and the ‘I’s dotted. Labor is committed to having better trade with China but we don’t want to do it at the expense of Australian jobs. I am sure that if there is goodwill from the government, we will work this issue through, but it takes two to negotiate and if Mr Abbott and Mr Robb simply say the Parliament just has to agree with everything they say well, the Parliament wouldn't be doing its job.

JOURNALIST: Have you put specific changes to the government yet?


SHORTEN: We will, absolutely. We've raised our concerns. And again, you don't have to take Labor's word for it - Independent experts have reviewed the concerns and the claims made about the Free Trade Agreement and a lot of the experts have said there actually are problems here. Mr Robb and Mr Abbott, if they could climb off their high horse and not be their standard arrogant as usual approach with negotiations with the opposition, we can get a win/win deal for Australians but at the moment, I can't in good conscience, agree that there are aren't problems with this agreement when it comes to protecting labour standards in Australia.


JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott said this morning that the deal can’t be changed or reopened. Do you think that’s right?


SHORTEN: There he goes again, Mr Abbott. As soon as the opposition offer a different opinion to his own, he is just out there trying to bully us into submission. Imagine if we had simply said on the 2014 budget that everything Mr Abbott said had to be accepted take it or leave it. We'd have a GP tax, we'd have unemployed people not getting any money at all for six months. We'd have $100,000 priced degrees at university. Just because Mr Abbott says at first plush that it's his way or the highway, Mr Abbott needs to recognise that the country's bigger than him. And what Labor's motivated about is to make sure that as we achieve a trade agreement with China, we make sure that we don't sell out Australian jobs and Australian labour standards in the process. Now, it is not beyond the wit and wisdom of the government to negotiate and to work with Labor, but what they have to do is get out of their negative mind set of simply saying that Mr Abbott knows best, because clearly, so many times, his captain's picks are not the right calls.


JOURNALIST: Do you believe that most Australians are being betrayed by the Abbott Government?


SHORTEN: I believe that Mr Abbott and his Liberals have proved to be a significant disappointment from the election. The simple fact, the numbers are in. Our economy is wallowing in mediocrity. We have over 800,000 people unemployed, the largest number since 1994. There's 30,000 extra West Australians who are on the unemployment queues since Mr Abbott got elected. Real wages growth has slumped to its lowest level in a long time. We see real concerns about business and consumer confidence. We see the government trying to introduce new taxes all the time from GST to GP taxes. I think Australians feel that under Mr Abbott, his Liberal government is taking news the wrong direction.


JOURNALIST: Australian Border Force officers are joining other agencies to target crime in Melbourne. Does Labor agree with this use of the Border Force?


SHORTEN: Labor obviously believes in targeting crime. I do hope that any of these actions are done to try and protect Australian laws, to make sure that people are not overstaying their visas, to make sure that temporary guest workers are not being exploited. Labor's said for a while we're concerned that under this government our employment visas, our temporary workers, are becoming too slackly regulated. To that extent we're interested in what's happening. On the other hand, if you're going to do a blitz I don't know why you'd necessarily telegraph it to the media first. We'll wait to see if the government is fair dinkum or if this is just a press release to try to draw some positive attention to themselves.

JOURNALIST: Is it going to damage Melbourne's reputation internationally?


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten what's your measure of success here in Canning? Are you looking for a strong swing or is it victory? What are you looking for?

SHORTEN: My measure of success in Canning is that more people here can find work. My measure of success in Canning is that the schools in this electorate are properly funded. My measure of success is that pensioners aren't having their pensions cut. My measure of success is making sure that our hospitals are properly funded. These are the questions that Mr Abbott needs to answer. These are the issues which matter to voters in Canning. My measure of success is the fact that Matt Keogh and Mark McGowan and Tony Buti have already upped the ante to make sure that the police station here is 24 hours in terms of public access. This is my measure of success; it's what makes the lives of people in Canning better off.

JOURNALIST: Is Tony Abbott's leadership at stake in Canning?

SHORTEN: I think that - I'll be interested to see how much Mr Abbott's photo appears on Liberal Party material in the upcoming by-election and all of you are welcome to see if there's a sort of, Mr Abbott bingo test, you know when you see his photo on material you can go bingo. I don't think that you'll be calling that out too often. I think Mr Abbott is something that the Liberal Party want to keep in witness protection. So I think that this is effectively a view on whether or not Mr Abbott's taking the country in the right direction.

JOURNALIST: Your photo doesn't appear on the Labor election material, I see?

SHORTEN: I don't think it's over yet and this is my second visit within six days.

JOURNALIST: Matt, can we ask you about keeping Armidale police station open 24 hours? The Canning by-election can't achieve that, so is it an empty promise?

KEOGH: It's not an empty promise at all. We've got a by-election that's come up in really unfortunate circumstances with Don's death but this is an issue that he was passionately fighting for with Tony Buti as the state Labor member, and it's -

JOURNALIST: But Don couldn't achieve it with his party in office, so how can you achieve it in opposition?

KEOGH: That might be the strong message of this by-election. This is a by-election that provides an opportunity to the people not only in Armidale but throughout Canning to send a very strong message to the Federal Government about their views that the Government is going in the wrong direction. This is a sign that Labor is committed to taking things in the right direction. And that's why we're out here today, talking about making Armidale police station 24 hour public access.

JOURNALIST: It is a state issue, though. Are you misleading voters by promising that you can change it in a federal by-election?

KEOGH: The key thing about being a local member is listening to what people want. People aren't sitting out there and saying I'm not going to talk about this at this time because there's a federal by-election. They're talking to me about all of the issues that are important to them, just like they talked to Don Randall about all of the issues that were important to them when he was the member here. That's why Don was advocating for this issue, because he saw it as important in the community, the community saw it as important, and as a local member I'd be an advocate for all things that are important to the community.

JOURNALIST: You've gained a lot of mileage out of the fact that you grew up here and that you're a local candidate, but you actually live in Mount Orlie don't you?

KEOGH: I've just got a house back in Kelmscott, we've moved back into the electorate near my family.

JOURNALIST: Just now for the by-election, why did you move out of the electorate?

KEOGH: My wife and I were both working in the city, it made sense for us to be close to where we worked at that time.

JOURNALIST: So you maintain you're a better local profile candidate than your opponent?

KEOGH: The way I look at it is I grew up here, I went to school here, my family has been here for three generations now. I know this place like the back of my hand and I have friends from school and from the community living throughout the electorate. I understand what's going on. I've been talking to everyone through the electorate and I've got the history of what's happened through here. So I understand how these issues have developed.

JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop has tagged you a hipster Labor lawyer. What do you say to that?

KEOGH: I have never been described that cool before and I'm not really sure what Julie's getting at but I think the key thing is as a lawyer I've been advocating on behalf of people all my life and that's what I want to do as the Member for Canning.

JOURNALIST: Mark, can I just ask you on the Armidale police station issue as well, there has been a spark in crime statistics. Police admitted that last month and they said they don't know why. What do you put it down to?

MCGOWAN: Well, first of all I just want to make this plain: a 24-hour police station that's open in Armidale is a State Labor commitment for the next election. We'll do it. I support a 24-hour police station here. We had a plan to announce in any event in the course of the next 18 months. I'm pleased to be able to announce it today. Look, in this part of the world, amphetamines has run rife. It's run rife and the government, over the last 7 years, has done very little about it. It seems to me that Mr Barnett has only just discovered it as an issue. We have twice the rate of national usage of amphetamines in Western Australia compared to any other State. We have very little action on the part of the Government to do something about it and what I have called for is a whole of government response. In December last year, Mick Murray and I released a consultation paper on the issue and we said you need a whole of government response. It needs to have health initiative, prevention initiatives, enforcement initiatives. But the most important of those are preventing people from taking amphetamines in the first place. We need a massive campaign in schools, TAFE colleges, across the community, on television, on the internet, you name it, to stop people from taking amphetamines in the first place. If they are on amphetamines, give them the rehab options to get off when they're ready to get off. That's the way of tackling this issue at the base.

JOURNALIST: The Police Commissioner has said he doesn't want Armidale police station open 24/7, he would rather officers on the beat than in the station. Isn't he best placed to make the call?

MCGOWAN: I disagree with him, I disagree with him. There will be a 24-hour publicly available police station in Armidale if Labor is elected. There's currently 6 24-hour police stations across the Perth metropolitan area. Armidale will be a 7th if Labor's elected.

JOURNALIST: How much will it cost to man the Armidale police station 24/7?

MCGOWAN: It's a reallocation of resources.

JOURNALIST: So you'll be taking officers off the street to man it?

MCGOWAN: No, no. Look, at present there's lots of police stations around the community. They have police inside the station, it's just it's not open. So the Armidale station closes at 4 o'clock of an afternoon. So if you roll up at the door, it's very difficult to get access and get access to a police officer. So Tony Buti and I think it's been publicly explained, explained to me about a case where a young woman was sexually assaulted, rolled up at the door, couldn't get access to a police officer with her father. They had to bundle into the car and drive off somewhere else. That's not good enough. That station in a major metropolitan community like Armidale should be open to the public 24 hours a day and I will do it if elected.

JOURNALIST: But to open the door, you will have to have officers in that station moved from somewhere or you'll have to hire new officers.

MCGOWAN: We will have the front desk staffed.

JOURNALIST: Where will those officers come from?

MCGOWAN: It doesn't have to be police officers it can be civilian staff with access to the offices at the back of the station. It's a reallocation of resources, we already do it at 6 police stations across the metropolitan area, Armidale will be the 7th and under my leadership they'll be more.

JOURNALIST: So would the net cost be (inaudible)?

MCGOWAN: It's a small additional cost or a reallocation of resources, but I think the people of Armidale deserve it.

JOURNALIST: The Premier says he'll allow shops to open at 9am on a Sunday if re-elected, will you match that promise?

MCGOWAN:  As I said on Sunday I'm going to do a consultation process and in fact I'm signing the letters today to community groups, business groups, the workforce organisations and the like across Western Australia to seek the views of those groups. We'll announce our position on that later this year or perhaps early next year but before I announce our position I'm not going to be so arrogant as to ignore community concerns. So I'll be asking the churches, I'll be asking the sporting groups, I'll be asking the retailers, I'll be asking the workforce what do you think, and then we'll announce our position later this year or early next year. There's plenty of time, there's 18 months till the next election.

Thanks everyone.