THURSDAY, 12 JULY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s $17 million investment to build an urgent care clinic on Bribie Island; ACCC report into Energy
SUSAN LAMB, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LONGMAN: Well thank you and welcome everybody. Firstly I'd like to acknowledge and thank of course, the wonderful staff here of Queensland Ambulance at the Bribie Station. Also of course to thank and acknowledge the Queensland Government of course for their commitment to Queenslanders and people on Bribie for their help and safety, care whether you live on Bribie or you live on the other side of the highway thank you to them.
For many years I've been hearing from residents, I've been hearing from aged-care facilities and of course visitors to beautiful Bribie about healthcare services, what they have and what they need, what is available and what isn't available. We've got a wonderful community of GPs that exist on the Island here as part of our healthcare services but there are always those times when the unexpected happens and sometimes that happens on weekends and at nights when their GPs are just are not available.
Last year alone approximately 5000 people presented to the Caboolture Hospital for emergency. Around 4000 of those people we know, were category 4 and 5. We know if there was a facility on Bribie Island, they could have been treated somewhere close to home instead of making nearly half an hour to an hour trip over the highway to Caboolture. Well a Bribie Island facility, of course, would save that time, would save that stress of having that trip, would, of course, reduce the need for ambulances to be on the road and reduce the pressure on our emergency departments.
So today I'm more than pleased, actually ecstatic to have Bill Shorten here with me with the Health Minister Steven Miles to make a wonderful announcement of a $17 million acute care facility right here on Bribie Island. Now this will mean not just a boost to jobs - which are so needed in the area of course, but a service that people on Bribie need. A service that Bribie aged care providers, residents, visitors all need and of course a significant saving. We know that it costs around $400 for a service and emergency department that we could deliver right here on Bribie.
I want to thank the community for joining with me, they've been campaigning with me for years on this issue, on filling that gap between their GP and the Caboolture Hospital and I really thank them for their efforts in campaigning with me and being part of this wonderful announcement today and I'd like to ask Bill to talk to us around the details of this wonderful announcement today.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Susan and it's great to be here on Bribie Island at this ambulance centre and I'd like to acknowledge first of all, the paramedics and the staff of the Queensland Ambulance Service, they do a great job and no doubt they are amongst some of the most dearly loved and respected members of this community. And that's why it's so good following the extensive work by Susan Lamb standing up for her community working closely with the Queensland Government and we're joined here by Steven Miles the Queensland Health Minister. But I am pleased to announce that Labor will invest in an urgent care clinic right here on Bribie Island. We estimate that this will cost about $17 million to buy the land and to build the clinic. What this clinic means is that about 75 per cent to 80 per cent of the emergency department admissions at Caboolture which come from here, thousands of people will be able to get their important, but not life threatening matters dealt with urgently right here on Bribie Island.
This is really good news, you know health is a number one issue for all Australians but sometimes we talk about healthcare, we talk about the very big numbers, the very big costs, the very big matters but when it comes to the crunch sometimes it's these practical decisions. This $17 million which is - whilst it's a significant amount of money - is not sort of you know, eye wateringly large, it's a practical contribution to improve the community. And what I'm really pleased about with Susan's passionate advocacy, understanding the importance is, what this means is this isn't being paid for by a cut somewhere else in the health system. This is not a reduction somewhere else to pay for this promise. This is not a band aid, it's not a reduction somewhere else, it's a go forward, it's an investment, it's something additional to improve timely care. We were very lucky talking to Brian one of the paramedics here, very committed to his job but also what he made the point really clearly to me, as only someone who is on the front line can understand. This means more timely care. It means less waiting time, it means less cost. It also means that emergency departments won't be burdened by these matters and instead they can deal with the life threatening matters, but people who are ill and need urgent care can get it right here, right now.
So what's really good about Susan Lamb and her advocacy is she's advocating for extra money to go into health care. Her opposite number Mr Ruthenberg, he was a member of Campbell Newman's LNP Government, which is famous perhaps only for cutting health care in this State. So we've got on one hand Susan Lamb advocating $70 million - it will make a material difference to health outcomes for people on Bribie Island. It will relieve the pressure on the ED, the Emergency Department Ward at Caboolture Hospital. So we've got Susan Lamb, and she can afford to pay for these promises because we're not cutting the health system elsewhere as the current Turnbull Government is. We can afford to pay for this because we're not giving $17 billion for the big banks. So this is exactly what the community deserves. It's exactly what the community needs. It's exactly what the local frontline medical services are telling us is required. And Susan Lamb is delivering on it. I'd now like to hand over to Steve Miles to talk a bit further.
STEVEN MILES, QUEENSLAND MINISTER FOR HEALTH: Thanks so much, Bill. You'll have to bear with me, I spent some of last night providing advice to the referees and that's why I'm a little bit hoarse.
The population here on Bribie Island is growing - it's growing with retirees as well as young families - and all of those new locals need quality health care services. What you will have seen if you've just done the drive from Caboolture is it's a bit of a hike and that's why this announcement is so appropriate; a new urgent care clinic right here on Bribie Island so that locals can get care closer to home when they need it. I've been saying many of you will have heard me saying over the past six months or so, that as Queensland's Health Minister, what I really need is a federal government that will work with us to deliver better health care for Queenslanders and that's not what we have right now.
Malcolm Turnbull has cut $2.9 million from Caboolture Hospital. He is withholding nearly $130 million of activity funding from Metro North HHS - dollars that are owed to Queensland for operations performed more than 12 months ago.
This also goes to the difference between the choice that locals here in Longman have between Susan Lamb, who has spent years working with the community to campaign for initiatives like this one, and Trevor Ruthenburg who spent three years as Campbell Newman yes man; saying yes to his health cuts then and now he wants to be Malcolm Turnbull's yes man saying yes to his health cuts for this community into the future.
This urgent care clinic will deliver more and better health care for Bribie Island locals. It will deliver it to them faster. It will deliver it to them cheaper. It will take pressure off the Caboolture Hospital and perhaps most importantly, it will get our paramedics back out on the road quicker. Every minute saved not spent driving from here to Caboolture and back again, is a minute that can be spent on that next job, saving that next life. This is a great announcement.
SHORTEN: Thanks, Steve. Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, are you open to a government-underwritten scheme for baseload power stations?
SHORTEN: Well the ACCC report has just come out in recent days so we're going to study the detail. I always find with this Government, the devil is always in the detail. But one thing the ACCC report has made very clear is that under this Government, even in the last year alone, families are paying an average of an extra $630 - that comes from the AEMO report. So what we have is we have a situation where last year, over 12 months ago, Mr Turnbull promised that he would reduce power prices and in the last 12 months, they've gone up. Mr Turnbull promised to reduce power prices. Families are paying increased power prices. Families are paying increased power prices because of Malcolm Turnbull's failure.
In terms of their proposals to give taxpayer money to new coal fired power generators, I think the Government should be investing instead and encouraging renewable energy. A lot of people here on Bribie Island have to turned to solar power; solar panels on their roofs and more and more installing batteries. The problem with coal, new coal is that it is more expensive energy at the same time we have renewable power which is getting cheaper every day.
It's as simple as this: Malcolm Turnbull promised to decrease power prices. Families are paying higher power prices. Families are paying for Malcolm Turnbull's failures.
JOURNALIST: I know you're saying you are still studying the ACCC report but just on the principle of using government money to underwrite baseload power. Is it something you're open to?
SHORTEN: Well the big problem in Australia is that families and businesses are paying bigger power prices to the big power companies. Mr Turnbull's answer is to give more taxpayer money to big power companies - doesn't really make sense, does it?
JOURNALIST: But as to the question, the ACCC says if the recommendations are implimented, consumers could save up to $750 a year. You're not being specific as to whether you'd support it, are you not wanting to save consumers money?
SHORTEN: No, I didn't say that at all. What I said is that we'll study the detail of a report which came out two days ago. You'd be a mug if you just decided yes or no on everything within 24 hours, wouldn't you? But I tell you what, Mr Turnbull is treating Australians as mugs.
Back in April last year, he came out and declared victory over higher gas prices. Back in July of last year, he came over and said because of all of his marvellous wonderful manoeuvrings, people would pay lower power prices. Yet what we've seen by the market analysts is that in the last 12 months, when Mr Turnbull lied to the Australian people and said lower power prices, they've paid on average an extra $630 more. And now the latest sort of stunt from the Government is to say, maybe we'll look at paying for new coal fired power stations. I'm saying to Mr Turnbull, please, stop your war on renewable energy. The people on Bribie Island, and right across Australia, they're moving towards renewable energy because it's more affordable.
Stop offering people false hope and mirage policies and instead just get on with the fact that renewable energy deserves greater support because it is going to become the most affordable form of energy. And in the mean time, whilst Mr Turnbull's having a look at some sort of unusual ideas, how on earth is the LNP in Queensland recommending a feasibility study into nuclear power? Studies have said in the past that they're relying on - that they should build a nuclear power plant somewhere on the Queensland Coast, even Bribie Island. This is a Government who is going all the wrong direction, from talking about nuclear power to spending billions of dollars on new coal fired power stations, when the solution is in front of the Government - just back renewables.
JOURNALIST: But in the short term then do consumers have to put up with higher prices while the price of renewables come down? Because in the short term, they're not going to come down enough.
SHORTEN: How long do you think it takes to build a new coal power station? Mr Turnbull's offering solutions which are expensive and will take many years.
JOURNALIST: They're not -
SHORTEN: Hang on. I was a union organiser on Loy Yang B. You don't just go down to Kmart and just get a coal fired power station off the shelf. It takes years. So what we've got, is we've got a debate which is about placating the knuckle draggers of the cave dwelling right of the Liberal Party, promising mirage coal fired power stations, which cost billions of dollars, all because Mr Turnbull hasn't got the intestinal fortitude to back in renewable energy as part of the energy mix. And by the way, if you want to talk about how long we have to live with higher prices, the Liberals have been in power for five years. Tony Abbott said that he would reduce power prices by over $500 - he's gone but the bills have gone up.
Mr Turnbull's done more press conferences announcing victory - mission accomplished - on lower power prices, than most people have had hot dinners, and every day, do you know - people don't need an ACCC report to tell them about power prices. Do you know how they find out? Every time they get a bill.
JOURNALIST: Who should pay then, for a write down of poles and wires?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, I do think you're going to some of the bigger questions. Has privatisation worked? When will Mr Turnbull admit that perhaps the privatisation of some of the power assets in this country hasn't been quite the nirvana for lower power prices that we were promised? Listen, the ACCC report has come out, it's a valuable edition, it's got to be studied very carefully.
JOURNALIST: Have you read the report?
SHORTEN: No, I haven't yet read the report.
JOURNALIST: Do you plan on reading it?
SHORTEN: Yes, listen, somehow I think that the questions that you're getting at are saying should we just grasp at this straw as we face higher power prices? I mean, the problem is that Abbott and Barnaby Joyce and the right wing of the Liberal Party are throwing bricks to the drowning man of Turnbull on energy prices trying rescue him. Why can't we just actually deal with the facts?
The facts are, Labor doesn't support nuclear power in Queensland or on Bribie Island. The fact is we're not convinced that a promise of building coal fired power stations - which will take years to come online - is going to actually be a cheaper solution. And another fact I think we should work with is that renewable energy is becoming cheaper every day. And for me, I don't need an ACCC report to tell me, I just look rooftops of over a million Australians who have put solar panels on their roofs, including the Prime Minister, and obviously that's a good way to go.
JOURNALIST: You said you haven't read the report - have you read the executive summary, have you read the recommendations?
SHORTEN: I've read some of the recommendations and we'll study it. I tell you what I won't do, I'm not going to just sort of run around and distract Australians and tell them everything is fine about energy prices.
The ACCC report has made it crystal clear - energy prices are going up under the Government.
How many press conferences has the Prime Minister held in the last three years where he says, I've got this energy price problem lipped. The only time we ever seen energy prices is when we get the bills and they go up and up and up.
We're on the side of ordinary consumers and what we're not going to do is pretend to them that there's some miracle solution which is very expensive.
JOURNALIST: Just on another matter, Anthony Albanese now says the Coalition's boat turn back policy has been successful. Are you hoping he doesn't vote against the policy at the National Conference?
SHORTEN: Listen, it doesn't matter who is in power, Liberal or Labor, we're going to stop boats, and I've made it very clear my view on that - that we will stop boats - and we'll send a message to the people smugglers you're not getting back in business supplying your dangerous trade.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese seems to be getting a fair bit of air time at the moment, and Longman's on a knife-edge, are you worried that if you don't win the by-election that your leadership will be challenged?
SHORTEN: No, not at all. I tell you what does worry me - whether or not we get an urgent care clinic in Bribie Island. I tell you what worries me, whether or not cancer patients have to travel all the way to Redcliffe or to Brisbane, Royal Brisbane, to get proper treatment.
I tell you what worries me, people getting their penalty rates cut.
I tell you what worries me, that we have a lack of investment in aged care in this country. These are the things that worry me and my whole team.
The cost of living, under this Government is out of control, wages are flat-lining, and the benefits of growth in Australia are not being equally distributed.
What worries me is that Mr Turnbull wants to give $17 billion away to the big banks, but can't find $17 million for an urgent care clinic in Bribie Island.
Thanks everybody - have a lovely day.