WEDNESDAY, 17 FEBRUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s ‘Your child. Our future’ plan for Australian education; 2016 Election; Scott Morrison’s Press Club waffle.
TAMMY SOLONEC, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR SWAN: Hi everybody, I'll start with the acknowledgment of the traditional owners, the Nyungar people. My name is Tammy Solonec, I am the Labor candidate for the seat of Swan, and I've got a close association with this university, my mother and sister both worked here, and I've been doing guest lecturing here for a while, and I live just around the corner. It's a fantastic university. It's an absolute pleasure for me to be able to introduce our leader Bill Shorten to Perth, to talk about our education policies right from pre-primary all the way up to tertiary education which is so important for our future.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It's great to be here at Curtin University and I acknowledge the cooperation of the university, showing us this fabulous facility that we're in. I’m accompanied by Tammy Solonec, our candidate for the seat of Swan and Senator Sue Lines. We're here today because West Australians deserve a better deal in education than they are receiving from the Turnbull Liberal Government. Specifically Labor has outlined within the last month a commitment to 'Your child.Our Future', properly funding all schools in Western Australia. In addition, we are very committed to seeing the TAFE sector properly funded. We've had enough of the rampant privatisation and some of the scandals we've seen from some of the private providers and we will re-invest in TAFE which is a trusted brand over 130 years and of course universities. We will commit to a student funding guarantee which will mean that universities don't have to charge higher and higher prices for students to attend this university to do the marvellous ground breaking research such as what we've been privileged to see this morning.
Labor is committed to education. In the early years of childcare, in the early years learning there, in the school system in TAFE and universities. You can tell a government by the priorities of what they decide is the most important to do. We believe that a good education policy and properly funding education is the key building block to an economic plan for the future of Australia, and the future of jobs in Australia. We want to make sure that Australia successfully competes with the rest of the world. Only Labor has a fully funded plan to promote education from the early years right through schools to TAFE and university, and we are very committed to making sure that Australia can compete with the rest of the world for the jobs of the future, so our young people get the best chance in life. Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Gary Gray said this morning that Labor can't win this year's election. Is he right?
SHORTEN: Well, let me just record my appreciation and the appreciation of the whole Labor Party for Gary's 42 years in the service of the party. Now, Gary has worked behind the scenes as a party official and not many party officials then take the next step and offer themselves for the public presentation of policies. He has manfully fought hard for Labor values for his state, for his party and for the nation over the last 9 years. Now Gary is correct in saying that Labor's the underdogs, but he did also rather generously say that if anyone could, he thought I could. But I wish Gary Gray all the best and let me say I haven't been to the West since the announcements of Melissa Parke and Alannah MacTiernan. These three MPs have worked hard for their state. Anyone who knows them either on the west coast or the east coast of Australia knows that they are true sons and daughters of Western Australia and they're very committed to getting the best deal possible. Now I'm very excited at this opportunity to bring in new blood, and fresh blood, new candidates in a range of our seats, just as we've seen with Tammy speaking here, with Matt Keogh in Burt and of course we've got Anne Aly running in Cowan, so we've got good candidates and this is a good chance to rejuvenate our offerings to the people of Western Australia to back up the excellent policies we're offering Western Australia.
JOURNALIST: So Gary Gray did say you will not - he doesn't believe you will win the next election and that's a pragmatic, realist approach. Why isn't he right?
SHORTEN: First of all, you'd appreciate that Labor's always the underdog. There's very few elections, very few elections in the history of Federation where Labor starts the election as the favourite. But I, like Gary Gray, like Sue Lines and Tammy here and many other Labor candidates, we didn't join the Labor Party to be honourable losers. We're in this to win it. Now I acknowledge it's a hard election, but what I also acknowledge is millions of Australians need a strong Labor Party offering the policies which help the middle class and the working class. It is only Labor who's got a policy to fund the schools of Western Australia. It's only the Labor Party committed to properly funding TAFE in the West, and it's only the Labor Party committed to properly funding our universities. I want to make sure that Australia is a country where it's your deep thinking and not the deep pockets of your parents which gets you ahead in education. There's millions of Australians who fundamentally want to see a universal health care system, Medicare, where it is your Medicare card not your credit card which determines the level of care you get. Australians needs Labor to stand up for the opportunities for our young people, to make sure that Australia can successfully compete in the globe for the jobs of the future and that we've got the best health care system possible. When you combine that with our fair ideas on taxation, our absolute commitment to renewable energy and the equal treatment of women in our society, millions of Australians are looking forward to Labor providing the proper policy platform as the alternative government.
JOURNALIST: But your sitting three incumbents have all quit in an election year. Is that just a massive coincidence or perhaps a lack of confidence in yourself and your party?
SHORTEN: First of all, I think these three individuals do deserve a lot of credit. You know as media from Western Australia, that the toll for West Australian federal MPs to be able to represent their state in the nation's capital is a very demanding one. I think that Labor has been fortunate to have people of this calibre represent Labor both as elected federal Members of Parliament, but also in the case of Alannah and Gary, with distinguished careers before coming into politics. So I do respect their choices and it is an exciting proposition for us to be able to bring in new blood. Again, let me just repeat some of the names which will become household names in the future. Anne Aly, who is a very, very respected academic, a respected national and international commentator on how to combat the scourge of radicalisation. We've got Matt Keogh, I think impressed all of you in the recent by-election and now as our candidate again for the seat of Burt. And you are going to hear a lot more from Tammy Solonec among others. The Labor Party is the party of renewal. We are offering fresh new candidates for consideration by West Australian people and I have got no doubt that in the next month as we go through our processes, you will see more talented people emerge to take up the challenge of representing Western Australia in the nation’s capital.
REPORTER: With due respect, you haven't answered the question. You may be underdogs but according to Gary Gray, your underdogs that are going to lose. Why is he not right.
SHORTEN: No, I think he is making the point, and of course I've spoken with him, is that it is a hard battle for a first-term opposition. You know the electoral records indicate that. I don't think Gary is telling you something that you couldn't have found by Googling in terms of electoral history. But also what Gary has said is that he understands that this is a big fight. And he understands that Labor needs the opportunity to present candidates who are going to be going around this time and next time and the next time. They say about Parliament that actually it's harder to leave than to get there. I respect the choices of my colleagues, they've done great work and today, I want to pay particular tribute to them. But what I also can promise Australians and West Australians, is that we know that the mining boom has come to a crunching halt. We know that the Turnbull Government, and before that the Abbott Liberal Government, did very little to help transition the economy from the mining boom to the post-mining boom. We see Premier Barnett floundering and I don't think that's a secret. So what we have to do is see at the next election who has the best policies to get Western Australia going again. We are the only party offering to properly fund schools and hospitals. We are the only party with a clear plan towards repairing the Budget. We are dealing with the 30 year too-hard basket of negative gearing. And indeed, the Treasurer Scott Morrison gave a very waffly, long-winded talk at the National Press Club. It takes real skill to speak for an hour and say nothing. Scott Morrison - he doesn't know where he's going, he doesn't know what he is going to do with the Budget and Australians are rightfully concerned that this is a government in disarray. Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison, they justified rolling Tony Abbott by saying there would be new economic leadership. It is turning out that new economic leadership is just another 3-word slogan.
REPORTER: The retirement of three at once - is this a vote of no confidence in your leadership. Surely they wouldn’t be retiring if they thought there was a prospect of you winning the election?
SHORTEN: Well then how do you deduce all the Liberal MPs who are retiring? Do you take from that same question, all the Liberal MPs who have announced that they are retiring, they don't think their guy can win -
REPORTER: Not one of them have said they will not win the next election as -
SHORTEN: Why don't we do one question at a time. I am going to answer your colleague's question first because I've answered three of yours.
On this, you say it is unusual to have sitting MPs step down. It is not actually. Every cycle, you get MPs who retire and other candidates emerge. I know this next election is a difficult election for Labor, I understand that, you understand that. But what I can promise Australians is that we will have a clean slate of new candidates running in the House of Representatives in Western Australia and this means that we will be able to attract some of the best and brightest to replace those who are going. And indeed at the next election, today we are reminding West Australians that if you are a parent with a child at school, you stand to see your child get far more resources to help them be the adult that they deserve to be because of a Labor government and our policies. Just as if you are a someone who has got a family member who needs a hospital at the moment in Western Australia, you would be hoping that Labor would win the next election because we are the only Party who can be trusted to look after Medicare and the health care of Australians.
REPORTER: Did either Gary, Melissa or Alannah discuss with you the decision to quit before they made it public?
SHORTEN: All of them spoke to me before they made the public announcements.
REPORTER: I understand that Alannah certainly did not –
SHORTEN: Well, if you are asking me a question, Alannah made it clear her concerns and what she wanted to do and the best contribution she can make. The question of her timing is entirely up to her.
REPORTER: Were you listening to the West Australian MPs? Alannah's complaint seems to be that she had very little or no influence in the Federal Labor Party. Were you using her talents properly, do you think?
SHORTEN: She was a member of our Executive. Again, I'm not going to say a bad word about Alannah. She is a formidable West Australian, she served in the state Parliament, and perhaps you can correct me, but I think from 1993, she made the decision late in her political career to come to Canberra and she has been excellent and that's all I can say about her.
REPORTER: Can Labor retain the three seats. Do you think Labor is in crisis in WA?
SHORTEN: Labor is going to win seats at the next election, we will not just retain, we will expand. And we will do that on the basis of offering Australians a clear set of plans and alternative policies. For the last two and a half years, I think we have ticked the box of being a strong Opposition. If you had of said to me two and a half years ago, that at the start of my time as Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott would be gone, Joe Hockey would be gone, Bronwyn Bishop would be gone, that the 2014 Budget would be stopped because of the rotten nature of the broken promises, you would have probably thought I was being a bold person to say we'll accomplish all of that. We've done that. And there is no doubt that once Malcolm Turnbull and his team rolled Tony Abbott and his team, that the nation breathed a sigh of relief to see the back of Mr Abbott. But now what Labor has shown in the last 6 months is we didn't want the 15 per cent GST on everything and we've opposed it and now is seems the Government in the last 24 hours has panicked because they are worried about the electoral fortunes of their own jobs and dropped the GST. So we've been a strong Opposition but now we intend to tick the boxes for Australian voters about being a strong alternative government. That's why if you believe in Australian jobs, if you believe in renewable energy to tackle climate change, if you believe in universal Medicare which is properly funded and you believe in well funded schools and education system and you believe in a fair taxation system, well Labor is the choice for you.
REPORTER: On the Treasurer's speech, do you agree with him that it will take multiple budgets to fix the fiscal situation?
SHORTEN: I don't think Scott Morrison will ever fix the Budget. Let's be candid about this here. We've seen him for the last 6 months show the depth of division in the Liberal Party. There’s no doubt that Scott Morrison was sniffing around the GST tree and he wanted to make a go of a 15 per cent GST. Malcolm Turnbull said everything was on the table but Labor forced him, through the strength of our opposition in the last 5 and a half months to drop that lazy, bloated tax of putting a 15 per cent tax on everything. Today was D-Day for Mr Morrison. You don't turn up at the National Press Club with just the same old same old. Australia rightfully expects after 5 and a half months of Turnbull Government leadership - what are their plans? Mr Turnbull justified rolling Tony Abbott on the basis he would give new economic leadership. Well, new economic leadership hasn't emerged. It turns out new economic leadership is just another 3-word slogan from the Liberal Party. Scott Morrison failed a test today. Australians are no clearer at the end of his one hour of talk and waffle than they were at the start about what he intends to do. This is a major issue for Australia. Australians want better from their political leadership. At least with Labor you can see what our policies are on climate change, what they are on education, what they are on health care, what they are on Australian jobs, what they are on a properly funded NBN and what they are on fair taxation. Labor can be counted on to be upfront with the Australian people and I look forward to seeing a new Member for Swan at the next election, I look forward to seeing a new Member for Cowan at the next election and a new Member for Burt, along with Labor presenting excellent candidates in the three seats which we have just been discussing today.
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Doorstop: Perth - Labor’s ‘Your child. Our future’ plan for Australian education; 2016 Election;