SATURDAY, 14 MAY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Family violence; Labor’s ‘Your Child, Our Future’ policy, People’s forum; Asylum seekers; Election 2016; Mr Turnbull’s attack on Medicare
TERRI BUTLER, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR CHILD SAFETY AND PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE: Well, Hi everyone, welcome to South Brisbane in my electorate of Griffith, it's wonderful to see so many people here interested in the 'fight for Queensland' rally, in support of better schools in this country. I'm about to introduce Bill Shorten to you, the Leader of the Opposition, but before I do I want to talk about something a little bit different, which is family violence and the announcement which we have made today in relation to family violence. In Government, Labor introduced the national plan to reduce violence against women and their children, 2010 - 2022. Today we've announced that we'll fund the three organisations that really underpin that plan, to the end of the national plan. At the moment, they don't have that funding certainty to the end of the national plan, so we've committed $65 million to counselling for people that have been affected by family violence, for advocacy work through 'Our Watch' the foundation and for the building of the evidence base, which the National Research Organisation for Women's Safety does every day in relation to better inform public policy on family violence. Of course, front line services are what really matter when it comes to family violence as does changing the culture and making sure that we do everything that we can to prevent family violence in the first place. That's why it's so important to make sure that we fund all three of those organisations that do those very different and equally important parts of the work that we do in relation to family violence. Particularly, though, what we expected when we brought in the national plan to reduce violence against women and their children was that as people became more aware of family violence, they would seek more help. More women would seek more help. Our policy is all about making sure that the women that are seeking help can get the help that they've been encouraged to seek. That's what that policy is for. We're here of course today in a wonderful rally that we've just had here in South Brisbane with the Leader of the Opposition. I can't wait for him to be the next Prime Minister. I want to introduce to you now, my friend, Bill Shorten.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Terri and good morning everybody, it's great to be here with Terri Butler and indeed, my shadow education spokesperson, Kate Ellis. Today, Labor again is making education, and making sure every child gets a quality education, an election issue. This election is a referendum about the future of our schools. When Australians go to vote in the schools across the nation on July 2, they will actually be voting on the future of the schools that they're voting in. We want to make sure that every child, in every post code, gets every opportunity.
Putting money and investing in schools, and providing our kids with the best start in life, is a marvellous economic plan to ensure that our nation is smarter and more prosperous in the future. We are committed with our fully funded policies to make sure that the bright kids get the extension classes they require. To make sure children with special needs don't get forgotten and isolated and they have the opportunity to enjoy a quality education. We want to make sure that if a child lives in the marvellous Queensland cities along the coast from Rockhampton and Mackay to Townsville and Cairns, that they get the same chance as a child going to school in inner city Brisbane or inner city Sydney. Labor's committed to making sure that it's not your parents wealth that determines the quality of your education, it's the fact that you're attending a well-resourced school. Now, one other announcement which Terri has just made, which I want to reiterate is our ongoing commitment to tackle the scourge, the national scourge, of family violence. Labor is choosing to prioritise scarce tax payer funds to tackle family violence. We're going to fund the '1800 RESPECT line', ‘Anrows’ and 'Our Watch' to continue the work that they do helping the survivors of family violence and also making sure that we've got the best evidence base to ensure that in the future we can eliminate the scourge of family violence. The Labor Party is making this election about the needs of everyday people. From dealing with the scourge of family violence on one hand with our $65 million announcement over the next six years to tackling a 10 year profile to make sure that every school and every child gets everyone opportunity because Labor puts people first. Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Wayne Swan describes you as having smashed it last night. Are you accepting yourself or describing yourself as the winner?
SHORTEN: What I liked about last night was the chance to engage with voters, people and hear their issues. What I think was telling last night is that the Liberal Party is talking to itself and the Labor Party is listening to Australia. You heard me articulate policies about needs based funding, which means that every child, regardless of their parents background gets access to quality education. You heard me make it perfectly clear that only Labor can be trusted to defend bulk-billing, not to privatise key parts of Medicare. You heard last night the reaction of every day people saying they do want to see a Royal Commission into the banking sector and they don't understand why in the Budget of two weeks ago, Mr Turnbull and his Liberal Coalition have prioritised giving tax cuts to multi-nationals and people who earn $1 million a year and forgetting people under $80,000. I thought last night was telling, because Mr Turnbull was defending vested interests, the multi-nationals, the high-net worth individuals with a tax cut, the real estate industry, defending their business model which relies, in part, upon tax payer funded subsidies. We heard Mr Turnbull say last night, that he will lecture the banks and nothing else really needs to happen. The vested interest club are cheering Malcolm Turnbull every day between now right up until July 2. Whereas, we've got the backs of the patients who want timely care, the kids who deserve a quality education and customers, families and small businesses who want a better banking industry.
JOURNALIST: But tell us, who do you think won?
SHORTEN: Well, we'll find out on July 2, but in the meantime, I promise Australians we'll keep putting forward our positive policies; Medicare, schools, action on climate change, a fair taxation system. We'll back the first home buyers of Australia and the parents of Australia.
JOURNALIST: We heard from an Adrian Skerritt there, an educator who says we need to do better on refugee policy. This is now the fifth, sixth day that you've had asylum seeker policy over shadow your main education message. Is it time to re-think your policy?
SHORTEN: I think the education message is a message which Australians are hearing loud and clear. So, I don't quite accept that Australians are not interested in quality schools. There are millions of kids going to school, we've got millions of parents who pay their taxes to Canberra who expect a national government to properly invest in schools. The education debate, the Liberal's best rebuttal or best attack that they've tried to come up with is, somehow more money won't solve problems. But, why is it that the people that say more money won't solve problems in schools are so willing to spend so much money on their own kids but are not on everyone else’s kids?
JOURNALIST: What about your asylum seeker policy?
SHORTEN: I will come to that but the first part of your question was straight about education. In terms of ah...so we, we're determined, that we will fight this election as a referendum on education. In terms of asylum seekers and refugees, this is a tough issue. This is an issue which we've seen be a toxic matter in Australian politics for a long time. But, Labor will stop the people smugglers, we won't see the criminal gangs of South East Asia put vulnerable people in vessels which sink at sea and exploit their desire to come to Australia. We will not re-open the sea way between Java and Christmas Island, and my party knows, and every candidate knows, that if we form a government after July 2, we will be resolute against defeating that evil trade. That should never be used, of course, as an excuse to create this problem of indefinite detention that the Liberals have allowed to fester and grow on their watch. I promise that we will make sure that we process these people and get them into nations in our region, but we will not re open the sea ways, and we will not be deterred from defeating the people smugglers and protecting life.
JOURNALIST: Was it a mistake to advertise this event online?
SHORTEN: Not at all. This is the difference between me and Mr Turnbull. I understand that people have different views. I want to engage with Australians. Our policies reflect that we are listening to Australians. Last night at the debate, Mr Turnbull didn't want to talk about a banking Royal Commission, he didn't want to talk about needs based funding of schools, he misled Australia last night over implying that somehow he's fixed up the cuts they're making to bulk-billing, nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to getting pathology tests, they've deferred some of their cuts until after the election and when it comes to diagnostic imaging, well to put it in plain language, the X-ray's you need when dealing with serious matters like spinal injury or cancer. This Government is getting rid and discouraging of bulk billing for vital medical services and Mr Turnbull last night tried to pretend that it wasn't the case. He was not up front with the Australian people. I really enjoy hearing what people have to say, and if some people say things that they don't like about some of our policies, it's a free country. What I will do is make sure that our policies and the united Labor team that I lead will have positive plans for Australia's future.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you've spent most of this week campaigning in Queensland and yet the latest Galaxy poll shows that the LNP is eight points ahead of Labor after preferences. Why is that, and are you concerned?
SHORTEN: I think that Queenslanders are responding very positively to our policies. You're right, I have spent most of this week in Queensland. And there's nowhere else I would have rather have spent the first week of this election than in regional Australia and in Queensland. I'm really pleased that we were in Cairns on Monday announcing our policies to create scholarships for Indigenous teachers. I'm really pleased this week that in Rockhampton we were able to talk about Labor becoming the real country party of Australia because we're actually genuinely going to fund $1.8 billion in extra funding for the schools outside our capital cities, which means that one and a half million Aussie kids not living in the capital cities of Australia can get that opportunity and I'm really wrapped to be finishing my week in Brisbane because what we're doing here in Brisbane is we're making it clear that a child in Brisbane going to a Government school in Brisbane or a non-Government school in Brisbane will get needs based funding so that the bright kids can be stretched so that the kids that are falling behind can catch up. I think importantly so that kids with special needs can get the sort of attention they deserve in a classroom without their parents feeling like they've got to become bullies and tyrants just to make sure their kids get a fair crack.
JOURNALIST: The policy Mr Turnbull announced last night - the deal with pathologists - will you back legislation to cap (inaudible).
SHORTEN: We saw Mr Turnbull under pressure in terms of their plans to make it harder for sick people to go to and see the doctor. The Labor Party is the party of Medicare. We understand that it's actually bad for taxpayers to discourage sick people from going to the GP, because what happens is they can't afford to under Mr Turnbull's policies, they get sicker, and the hospital system becomes overstretched and also, it's just poor patient care. I don't trust the Liberals when it comes to defending Medicare. We know they've set up a $5 million taskforce in the Department of Health to look at how they'd privatise the crucial payment system. Last night, Mr Turnbull has been dragged kicking and screaming to a band aid fix on pathology. We've heard the speeches that the Government gave in Parliament just before the Parliament rose, where on one hand Labor said we want to keep the bulk-billing incentives so that Australians can get the vital medical treatment they need, and be able to use bulk billing so that they're not discouraged by high costs, and as recently as the last week of Parliament, the Liberal Party were folding their arms and saying we don't care and now what's happened is that they've forgotten the X-ray's, the MRI's, the CAT scans, the PET scans - this is a Government that cannot be trusted with the health of the nation.
JOURNALIST: We've finished the first week of campaigning rather. How are you feeling - is your confidence growing after this week that you might be Prime Minister come July?
SHORTEN: What I know and what I've learnt this week is that the story that Labor has, is the story that Australians have for their own families. I want to make a practical difference. As Prime Minister, a practical difference in the lives of families and small businesses in Australia. I want to make sure that their kids get a proper education so that they can compete for the jobs of the future. I want first home buyers this week and every week to be able to compete on a level playing field with people who are being subsidised by taxpayers to buy their tenth property. I want to make sure that when someone is sick, it is their Medicare card not their credit card, which determines the level of care. I want to see this nation, not pass to future generations the challenge of climate change, but help deal with it now. I want to make sure that the banking industry finally deals with its issues through the public transparency of a Royal Commission. I want to make sure that Australian families and households and businesses have access to NBN. I want a fair deal by putting people first. Our economic plan is as straight forward as putting people first.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just on pathology, we've had a Grattan Institute report that said that the Government cuts don't actually go far enough, and we should be getting hundreds of millions of dollars a year from pathology. There's two publicly listed companies that dominate the industry - they make millions in profits, how do you justify giving those companies more government funding?
SHORTEN: What I understand is that blood tests or pathology tests are now required in 70 per cent of all clinical treatment decisions. That when we deal with cancer, these pathology tests are involved in 100 per cent of the treatment. There's a right way and a wrong day to do reform in this country. Sit down with industry, they understand that if you sit down and you talk about ensuring the most efficient and effective use of taxpayer money then people are up for the change. But this Government always takes the sledgehammer to healthcare. When they think hospitals, when they think healthcare, when they think Medicare, they think cut. When they look at the issue of bulk-billing, they don't really understand why we don't have a more Americanised system. I will fight day in, day out, to make sure we don't create a two-class health system in this country. Where you have the very basic system for the very poor, and everyone else has to pay premiums to privatised health systems which see shareholders getting the money and the focus not being on the care of patients.
JOURNALIST: On pathology, just one more question, can you definitely say you wouldn't go ahead that cut that Malcolm Turnbull has planned?
SHORTEN: We'll be revealing our healthcare policies in the very near future. But you wouldn't need to be a Rhodes scholar to realise how much I dislike the attack on bulk billing. I don't understand the Liberal Government - when they look at trying to do budget repair and deal with the deficit they have tripled - the Liberals have tripled the deficit since they've been elected - they've got low growth numbers, and low wage growth numbers - their only solution is trickle down economist. They're willing to give a company with $1 billion turnover, a multinational company, they're willing to give that company in the future a company tax cut, which sees the profits and the tax cut going to foreign shareholders, but then they will do nothing to protect bulk billing. We've got the GP's, we've got the frontline of our medical system in Australia who do most of the medical care in Australia - many of these are small businesses these GPs - and you've got a Government who is freezing their rebate will into the future, and what that effectively means is that the doctors are getting no increase in the rebate from the Medicare system, that sooner or later as they face rising costs, the patient pays. I'm very committed to health care system. I did say one last question.
JOURNALIST: Just about the Candidate for Dunkley, is this an embarrassment for your campaign to try and win that seat from Bruce Bilson from those comments that she has made about jihadists and the national security laws?
SHORTEN: Not at all, Labor has a great programme for Dunkley, and she's doing a good job. The comments which have been attributed to her were several years ago, and it was in a cover letter of an organisation which she was a member of. I've spoken with Peta - she's very committed to our policies to defeat terrorism. In her own career, she's been a public defender. She's a good advocate, and I think that when it comes to the issues in Dunkley, making sure they've got proper public transport, making sure we're doing something to tackle the scourge of ice, when it comes to issues like making sure the schools are properly funded, and that working people have access to proper bulk billing, well I would be voting for the Labor candidate - for Peta -much rather than a Liberal who is an apologist for Mr Turnbull's priorities of tax cuts for multinationals, inaction on climate change, giving millionaires who earn a million dollars a year a $17,000 tax cut. Thank you everyone, I'll see you all later. I did say last question.
JOURNALIST: Just quickly, you did say you want to resettle refugees quickly, New Zealand has offered to take some, would you do that deal with them?
SHORTEN: Well the whole issue of indefinite detention is that the deal in Australia shouldn't be beat the people smugglers but as a consequence people directly or indirectly in our care are in indefinite detention. I don't understand why the Government hasn't tried harder with nations in our region. I can't say how we would wrap up every negotiation if we form a Government, but I can promise people who recognise that we want to stop the people smugglers getting back into business, we want to make sure there are no drownings at sea, but a Labor Government will be more humane. Remember, we'll give protection to whistle-blowers, we'll give protection to make sure there's independent oversight of these facilities, and we will work every day to keep our promises. Thank you everybody, see you a bit later.