MONDAY, 14 MAY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to boost the number of MRI machines; Turnbull’s cuts to hospitals; Newspoll; Longman by-election; citizenship; Jane Prentice and the lack of women in the Coalition
DES HARDMAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR FORDE: Good morning everybody, my name is Des Hardman, I'm Labor's Candidate for Forde for the next Federal election. I'm also a radiographer here at Logan Hospital, and I have Bill Shorten here with me today and Jim Chalmers, and I've had the opportunity to take Bill and Jim for a wander around Logan Hospital and talk to them about the importance of the work that we do here, and also to show them some of our equipment, our medical equipment that he have here.
We had a tour of the Medical Imaging Department - that's where I work. I run the MRI scanner at Logan and every day we do MRI scans on patients that will change the treatment that patients get while they're here, sick in our hospitals. At times we do MRI scans that are life saving for these people when we have unexpected findings. So you can only imagine how excited I was on Thursday night when in Bill's Budget Reply speech he announced 20 MRI scanners under a Labor Government for regional areas and outlying suburbs. That was really exciting for me and I believe that these types of announcements and these types of commitments are what people in our community expect from governments.
Thank you very much, I'll hand you over to Jim.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: G'day everybody, thanks for coming back out to Logan Hospital and it's a real pleasure to be here with Des Hardman. There wouldn't be a candidate for public office in Australia at the next election who knows more about medical imaging than Des Hardman, and it's a real privilege to stand with him for Labor in our community once again. And Bill Shorten is back here in Logan again. I've lived in Logan City for most of the last 40 years and there hasn't been a leader of any party who has shown a deeper or more abiding commitment to Logan City and the surrounding areas than Bill Shorten has. So thank you Bill for being back here again.
And the contrast really couldn't be clearer between Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull. When it comes to funding local hospitals like this one, Malcolm Turnbull is the problem, not the solution. We've got terrific staff here, doing their best to make sure they can treat as many people in this growing community as possible. We've got the State Government putting hundreds of millions of dollars into infrastructure upgrades, so that they can get behind the doctors and nurses and staff here at Logan Hospital. At the same time as Malcolm Turnbull is pulling $6.1 billion out of here, and $3.1 billion out of QEII up the road. Malcolm Turnbull is so spectacularly out of touch that he would rather prioritise a tax cut, a tax handout for the top end of town, than funding hospitals like this hospital that we're at here today again.
Now unfortunately he's not alone, Malcolm Turnbull, when it comes to cutting services and giving big tax handouts to the top end of town. Every single time that Malcolm Turnbull wants to cut local services in health and education, and cut pensions, and give a big tax handout to foreign multinationals and the big banks, Pauline Hanson is with him every single step of the way. When Malcolm Turnbull says jump, Pauline Hanson and One Nation say how high. It's getting harder and harder to work out where the Liberal Party ends and One Nation begins. We are talking about a One Nation party which votes for Malcolm Turnbull's cuts to services, and tax handouts for the top end of town 90 per cent of the time in the Australian Senate. So a vote for One Nation is a vote for more cuts to health and education services, a vote for One Nation is a vote for a Liberal Party which is so out of touch with our community that they'd rather prioritise a $17 billion hand out to the big banks, than properly funding hospitals like the one that we are here at today.
Now the choice couldn't be clearer between a Labor Party which wants to invest in hospitals and MRIs, and schools and unis and TAFE, and pensioners, and a bigger, fairer tax cuts for 10 million workers, versus a Liberal Party who wants to cut local services and give that bit tax handout to the top end of town, supported every single step of the way by Pauline Hanson and One Nation. Pauline Hanson always puts workers and pensioners and families last and I'm really pleased that that's where we'll be putting One Nation in the by-elections around the country in the coming weeks.
Over to you, Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Jim, and good morning everybody. It's great to be back at Logan Hospital. Queensland and Logan Hospital are my first stop after the budget to promote Labor's positive alternative budget, and the choice really couldn't be clearer. Labor will put money back in to Queensland hospitals which is being cut by the Turnbull Government, whereas Mr Turnbull wants to cut funding to Queensland hospitals and instead put that money into the big banks. It's a very clear choice for Queenslanders. Do we want to see waiting lists reduced, more nurses, more doctors and more technology available to cure people who are sick, or do we want to see the big banks get an extra $17 billion?
We've just come off a weekend where it's been Mother's Day, and I think on Mother's Day, we're all reminded of the importance of family, and of health. And that's really what matters, not just in Queensland but everywhere in Australia; is your family OK, and do you have access to decent healthcare services. I got to speak to a couple of the patients here, who are going to do the medical imaging. You know, we take our health for granted until it's under threat, and that's why when you're doing it hard, and when you're coming to hospital and you need a hand when you're sick, the last thing you want to find out is that there are cuts to hospital funding.
There's a very clear choice arising out of the Government's budget and Labor's positive alternative last week. Do you want to see your money going to fund hospitals, or to give $17 billion to big banks as part of an $80 billion corporate give away to the top end of town. Labor has got a very clear point of view, we want to make sure that we've got your back when you're sick, not giving more money to the banks.
Happy to take any questions that people might have.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten are you guaranteeing that one of those 20 MRI machines will be installed here at Logan Hospital?
SHORTEN: What I'm saying is that we need to have 20 extra MRI machines around Australia, and obviously that goes to Queensland.
JOURNALIST: Will it go to Logan Hospital?
SHORTEN: I'm coming to that. What we want to do is make sure that the process for allocating scarce and lifesaving technology is done with some sort of independent transparent criteria. I have no doubt there will be more MRI machines for Brisbane and for regional Queensland, and that's what matters. One thing I can guarantee as well, is we've got the money to pay for extra MRI machines because we're not giving it to large corporations, we're not giving it to multinationals or to big banks. That's the difference. We can pay for bigger, better, fairer tax cuts for 10 million workers - almost double that which Mr Turnbull is offering 10 million Aussies. But we can also reverse the sneaky cuts hidden in the fine print of Mr Turnbull's budget last Tuesday night.
I don't think that most Australians realise that hidden in his budget is a commitment to cut $715 million from hospitals, and indeed when it comes to the education of our kids - $17 billion. And we didn't hear last Tuesday night, the Government a shining light on the fact that they want Queenslanders to work to the age of 70 before they can retire, and indeed that they're cutting funding, $14 a fortnight to pensioners. The detail matters. Labor has got a clear alternative.
JOURNALIST: Is today just an election stunt then if you're not actually guaranteeing one here for Logan Hospital?
SHORTEN: I didn't get stuck in a traffic jam of white Liberal limousines coming here to this hospital, it’s not my first visit either. I tell you what, do you know what an election stunt us? Promising some people a tax cut in seven years’ time. We all know that Malcolm Turnbull won't even be there to be forced to keep his promise then. That's an election stunt. I tell you what is another election stunt - it is trying to pretend that for $10 a week, that you can make people forget the cuts to hospitals. I'm here with Des who works in the hospital, a qualified radiographer because we understand that the health of any one of us affects all of us.
JOURNALIST: Newspoll suggests the Government's tactic is working then, does that concern you?
SHORTEN: I think you'd appreciate, and you can look through my comments while I've been Leader of the Opposition, I don't comment on the polls. They can be good, bad or indifferent, I'm not going to be distracted. I mean if we were to believe polls, about the last 100 polls, Labor would have won an election if it was held last Saturday. But obviously you take that with a grain of salt. There was no election last Saturday. But what is clear is that whenever the election is held, there is going to be a very clear choice. You can vote for my plan, Labor's plan, which will see 10 million Aussies get a fair dinkum tax cut, and reversing Mr Turnbull's sneaky cuts to hospitals and to schools and to pensioners, or you can vote for Mr Turnbull's plan which involves you contributing $17 billion to the four big banks and about $80 billion to the top end of town.
JOURNALIST: You asked Anne Aly to provide information about her citizenship status, she's provided a letter but it doesn't provide the date of her renunciation. Are you satisfied there was enough information to show she renounced prior to nominating?
SHORTEN: She contacted the Egyptian Embassy and the Egyptian Embassy confirmed that she renounced her citizenship before she ran for Parliament.
JOURNALIST: Can Labor win the Longman by-election without One Nation preferences?
SHORTEN: It's a very tough contest, but yes we can. It's a tough contest, but as Jim Chalmers said I think what Pauline Hanson says in Queensland is different to how she votes in Canberra. Here she's the friend of the battlers, but down there, Mr Turnbull says listen Pauline, we need you to back in a corporate tax cut. No worries, Malcolm - $80 billion. Pauline has to work out who's side she's on? Are you on the side of the people who need hospital funding or are you on the side of the Prime Minister who is cutting hospital funding. Are you on the side of the kids who deserve a fair dinkum education regardless of what postcode they live in or are you on the side of the LNP who are cutting $17 billion from schools. But the fact that the One Nation political party would vote to give banks $17 billion, the big four banks $17 billion, well what about the victims? Why on earth are the banks getting rewarded by Mr Turnbull or Senator Hanson with $17 billion when the Banking Royal Commission just shows you how the banks have been ripping off ordinary people for so long?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you think the PM could call a snap election and is Labor ready to fight an election?
SHORTEN: The Prime Minister can call an election when he wants. I think the issue here is who has the better plan for Australians. I get that people get annoyed by the constant attacking, the negative. The government goes negative on us, we criticise the government. What really matters is when politics is serving the interests of the people. A lot of people hate politics because they think the politicians are not serving their interests. That's why I'm so pleased with our promises that we made last Thursday night. If
you vote for Labor, we've got bigger, better, fairer tax cuts. If you earn between, for example, $50,000 and $90,000, which would be a lot of the good staff we've seen here. They will get $928 extra each year. So if you're a married couple working at this hospital, someone is on $50,000 and someone else on $90,000, these aren't rich people at all. Courtesy of Labor in our first term, we will be able to give them $6,000 back in tax cuts. That's right, $6,000.
Now, the government is only offering them $10 a week or about half of what we're offering. But when people say, well how can Labor offer a better deal to ten million Aussies. One it's because of our political values. We choose to spend scarce taxpayer
money giving it back to the people rather than than giving it to the big banks and big corporations. And two, we've made serious, rational and overdue economic reforms to our tax system which allow us to reallocate resources in the interest of working people.
One question which really hasn't emerged from the government, is not only is it a bad idea to give $80 billion away to big business, $17 billion away to those four big banks. But where is the money coming from, Malcolm? The money is actually coming from everyone else, because once you reduce the amount of tax that the big corporations have to pay, the burden of taxation falls increasingly on working class and middle class Aussies. That's why I think that whenever Malcolm Turnbull calls an election, we're ready because we have a better vision. And one thing we don't have to do is cut money out of hospitals, cut money out of schools just so that you can look after Mr Turnbull's friends at big end of town.
JOURNALIST: A few questions. On Dr Aly, are you now saying that you are confident she was validly elected. And secondly on Susan Lamb, it has been five days since she announced she was resigning. How come we haven't seen her yet? How come she hasn't come to the media?
SHORTEN: First of all on Dr Aly, she's answered these questions. On Susan Lamb, she'll be our candidate running for Longman, you'll see a lot of her. And for instance, what we're doing is I'm going to have a meeting in Caboolture tonight and unlike the government, we don't need to have invitation only events. We want to hear from people and talk to them. We've got a good offering for the people of the northern suburbs of Brisbane just like we have for the southern suburbs of Brisbane. If you want to make sure that you can reduce the waiting lists at a hospital, if you want to make sure for that elective surgery; for knee or hip replacements or arthroscopies, then you'd look pretty seriously at Labor because we are making room in our budget to prioritise health care and hospitals, and reverse Mr Turnbull's sneaky cuts in the fine print of the budget. If you want to see the big four banks get $17 billion, if you want to see big corporations and multinationals get billions of dollars in tax cuts, well you better vote for Mr Turnbull or Senator Hanson. The only party fair dinkum for Australians at the moment is the Labor Party.
JOURNALIST: Just to clarify, you're saying that it's your understanding and you are confident that Dr Aly was validly elected?
SHORTEN: It's my understanding that Dr Aly did all of the things required of her under the new test as well as the old test and she has provided documentation. Sorry I might share some of the questions. You, then you.
REPORTER: Have you written to the Prime Minister offering to negotiate on personal income tax cuts?
SHORTEN: Listen, you're writing to Mr Turnbull to ask him to negotiate on a mirage, on a hoax. We've already said that we'll vote for the first round of tax cuts and then I've said we'll do better than them. Mr Turnbull hasn't responded to our offer to look after 10 million Aussies, he's just saying no way. He's just happy with his $10 a week offer and forgive and forget everything else that they've done bad to this country. But we'll vote for the first share, no problems. But you know, Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison, they're basically selling you a blank cheque - they want a blank cheque. They can't tell you how much their tax cut over seven or ten years costs each year because they haven't got the detail worked out. It's another political hoax from the charlatans in the government about tax reform. The reason why we can offer almost double what Mr Turnbull is offering almost 10 million Aussies, is because we've done the hard work already. We're proposing serious, sensible and overdue reforms, economic reforms to our system, and we're not proposing to give $80 billion away to corporate Australia. So I can back up our commitments to working families and to working people in this country. Mr Turnbull's offer of giving you something in seven years’ time, well I don't think that even his people believe it, do they?
JOURNALIST: On waiting times, Queensland health figures earlier this year showed that this hospital was one of the worst across Queensland. What sort of reflection on the Queensland Government do you think that has?
SHORTEN: Well, I think the fact that there is problems with the waiting times just shows that this is exactly the wrong time for Mr Turnbull to be cutting funding to hospitals, doesn't it? The real issue here is if there's delays in waiting times, why is Mr Turnbull making life harder for the Queensland Government by taking money out of the health care system. See, if I get elected, the first couple of weeks, I'll be on the phone to Premier Palaszczuk. We want to reduce waiting times, we want to work together. But it's very hard for the Queensland Government to do everything when you have Mr Turnbull taking money out of Queensland hospitals.
JOURNALIST: If you win the next election, will you increase the Newstart allowance?
SHORTEN: What we've said on this, is that we'll review the Newstart allowance. Unlike the Liberal MPs, I'm not going to pretend that $40 a day is easy to live on or in fact, that you could live on it, I certainly couldn't. But we've got to make sure that when we review our payments system, we review all of them and see how it works, together.
JOURNALIST: Do you think Jason Falinski still has questions to answer over his dual citizenship?
SHORTEN: Well, the government applies one standard to us and one standard to themselves, don't they? What's new with that.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, it's coming up to the anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, in less than two weeks time. What is your position on the truth telling commission and will that be part of Labor's platform going into an election?
SHORTEN: We do think that our First Australians are not getting an equal deal in this country. The fact that they've got a lower life expectancy and less health opportunities shows there's a lot more that needs to be done. One of those things which is important is to recognise our First Australians in the Constitution. If we were all gathered together today writing the Constitution, we would have included our First Australians - they're not even mentioned. So we take the Uluru Statement of the Heart very seriously and we are working through with our Indigenous Members of Parliament and non-Indigenous in terms of our policy for the next election. But we take it very seriously and we think that the government was wrong to rule it out, you know silly really.
JOURNALIST: So no decision yet on a truth telling commission?
SHORTEN: We think there is a role for a commission to talk to Aboriginal Australians about their history and what really happened, and we'll do that sensibly. But what we're not going to do is ignore the voice of the First Australians.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you've just heard from Val in there, one of the ladies you met, one of the patients you've met. She's just had to wait a week to get an MRI. You've come in here to say to her - she's told you we need more equipment and you've said yes. Will Logan get another MRI?
SHORTEN: We'll allocate the MRI machines based upon the best medical evidence. That's what you and that's what people would expect us to do. But I'll tell you the other thing that I was able say to Val, which Mr Turnbull can't, we'll repair all the cuts that he made. All Mr Turnbull could tell Val is good news, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and ANZ are going to get $17 billion. That doesn't help Val or any other of the millions of Australians in our health care system.
JOURNALIST: Your preferred Prime Minister rating has dropped again to 32 per cent while the Prime Minister's has increased quite considerably. What can you do to catch up and does this concern you?
SHORTEN: As I made clear in an answer to an earlier question, I've set for myself not to comment on polls when they're good, bad or indifferent. It's the other fellow who is obsessed by polls. Whenever the election is, I promise that we will present a plan to the Australian people which puts working and middle class Australians first. I can promise that we will be able to give you a $928 a year tax cut. I can promise that we do so, not by cutting hospitals and schools or going after pensioners. I can promise that we'll reduce the out of control national debt of this nation, which is currently $21,000 for every man, woman and child in Australia. I can make these promises because we've made the hard economic decisions and we're not giving $80 billion away to the big end of town or to big banks. All Mr Turnbull can do is promise that if you vote for him, $17 billion of your money, out of your pocket will go to the big banks. I think that the choice is clear.
Thank you, everybody -
JOURNALIST: Jane Prentice -
SHORTEN: You'll get plenty of chances to speak to Des but there was just one on Prentice.
JOURNALIST: Just on Jane Prentice. Would you, I mean she was obviously rolled by her branch members. Would you ever step in to save a Shadow Assistant Minister from being rolled by their own branch members in your party?
SHORTEN: Listen, how the Queensland LNP conduct their affairs is ultimately a matter for them. But what I don't understand is why do the Queensland LNP and Malcolm Turnbull not want to pre-select Liberal Queensland women to run for Parliament? A political party that's only picking two Queensland women for the 21 winnable seats that the LNP currently hold, is a political party which doesn't seem to take the contribution of women in politics very seriously.
Truly, that's it. Thank you very much.