THURSDAY, 30 JUNE 2016
SUBJECTS: Labor’s positive plans for Medicare; Election 2016; CFA; Asylum seekers; National Broadband Network; Marriage equality; United Nations
DES HARDMAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR FORDE: Good morning everybody thank you for coming along. I'm Des Hardman, the Labor Candidate for Forde in the upcoming Federal Election just two days away. It's time for Australia to make a very important decision about who is going to run the country and we all know only Labor will put people first and has the policies that support our community. Today we are here with Bill Shorten, Bill has been visiting people and talking with people here in Forde with me today at Logan Hospital and at the Logan Hyperdome. As part of every conversation, people keep on raising with us the importance of public healthcare and Medicare and how important it is to every part of our health services here in Australia. People have also been talking to us about the importance of education and how that will establish the future for all of our children and their families here in Forde into the future. So we're here with Bill today and he's come along to talk to you also about the importance of what we're taking to the election and why we need a Labor Government here in Australia.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Des. Good afternoon everybody. I started early this morning at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. I had the privilege to talk to oncology nurses and staff who work in the emergency ward at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. Subsequently I've been to Logan hospital, again speaking to the nurses who work in the children's ward. The common argument, the common concern the people at the front line of our healthcare system have, is they are worried about the cuts which Malcolm Turnbull is making to Medicare, the cuts he's making to hospitals. In fact, talking to the oncology nurses made me realise the cuts to pathology and diagnostic imaging bulk billing start tomorrow on July 1. The cuts start tomorrow. Australians have a chance to stop these cuts by voting Labor on Saturday. The case is pretty clear, the choice is very clear: You can either have Malcolm Turnbull or you can have well-funded Medicare but you can't have both.
Indeed, choices are the key issues in this election. What we said, what we saw in this election at the start, was choices between funding Medicare or giving corporate tax cuts of $50 billion. In fact, in the journey to this election, which comes to its close in two days' time, started three years ago. Three years ago I set out to unite the Labor Party. I set out to formulate a social and economic program for both the short-term and the long-term future of Australia. Eight weeks ago, I determined to explain our policy agenda to the people of Australia. To explain our policy agenda with clarity, with transparency and in great detail. Today, when we get to the end of this campaign, I can say with complete honesty and confidence: Labor is ready to govern, ready to implement our policy agenda, ready to serve Australia. I want to say to the people of this great nation: Labor will serve the interests of all Australians. I want to make it very clear to Australians: we are ready to govern. I hope we've done enough to earn the votes of Australians on Saturday and I want to make one more promise: If you vote Labor on July 2, we won't let you down. Happy to take questions.
REPORTER: Mr Shorten, how many seats do you think you have to win to ward off a challenge from Anthony Albanese and do you still trust Sam Dastyari after he told people he would support Mr Albanese in a challenge?
SHORTEN: Silly question I'm afraid. I'm in this election to win it. What Labor is doing to win this election is put forward a positive policy agenda. Since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, he has disappointed people. He has become a small target Government with more to say about us than himself. By contrast, the Labor Party I lead has been united for the last three years and we are more united now than ever. What unites us, is our vision for the future of this country, both in the short-term and the long-term. We are ready to govern. We are ready to implement our policy agenda and we are ready to serve this country. We hope we've done enough to earn the votes of Australians.
REPORTER: The firies union is upping its presence at polling booths, has said it will be doing that. Does that lend to any concerns for you or for Labor candidates, given the CFA issue has blown up in Victoria?
SHORTEN: Well, as a Victorian, I'm very conscious that what really matters is the safety of Victoria and Victorians. The integral and irreplaceable elements to the safety of Victorians from bushfire and fire, are our volunteers, they are the heart of the CFA, and our career firefighters. I'm incredibly disappointed this state issue has rolled on. I'm incredibly disappointed the national Liberals are seeking to inject opportunism in what is always going to be resolved at the state level. I know the parties can resolve this, but I would be less than candid if I didn't say I wasn't incredibly disappointed this issue rolls on and on.
REPORTER: Are you worried this whole dispute is going to be affecting Labor's chances in Victoria given it's so closely tied to the state Government, Dan Andrews?
SHORTEN: Neither Mr Turnbull or I are running for Premier of Victoria. I think Victorians know it's a state issue at its core. I think the issues important to Australians in this election, are who's going to fight for jobs? Who’s going to fight for Australian jobs? Who's going to make sure we have our school systems and universities and TAFEs properly funded? Perhaps most importantly, who is going to save Medicare?
REPORTER: You didn't answer the last part of Alicia's question regarding if you trust Sam Dastyari to back you. Is it frustrating you these are the questions you are getting at press conferences instead of the focus on what you want to talk about?
SHORTEN: No, to be fair you're allowed to ask whatever questions you want. I'm not fustrated about what you ask. What I know, is what I've experienced in the last eight weeks on this campaign trail. Australians know we're united. If you want to look at leadership tensions, you've got the gold standard down the road in the Liberal camp, haven't you? I mean, Mr Turnbull is talking about unity today. Goodness me, that's ironic. He can't even unite his own party. He can't even unite the Liberal Party. I mean if there is going to be real unity in the Liberal Party, is he going to put Tony Abbott back into the Cabinet? A man of his experience or going to keep punishing him? That's the leadership tension.
REPORTER: Mr Shorten, the Prime Minister this morning said on radio that your plans for the NBN to fix it will actually cost $30 billion more. If that is the case, is that the sort of money that will need to be spent to get the system running properly?
SHORTEN: I'm just glad you were able to get Malcolm Turnbull to talk about the NBN. I've got to concede, I was a bit surprised, within the launch, the showcasing of Malcolm Turnbull's case for re-election, he didn't mention the NBN once. When you cut it, slice and dice it any which way, Mr Turnbull's major contribution in public life has been to be the Minister for Communications. What's he done? He's slowed the internet speed from 30th in the world to 60th. Australia's fallen. He's doubled the cost of the NBN. He promised we'd have the NBN rolled out by the end of 2016. There is no chance. So when Mr Turnbull talks about faulty NBN policy, I do acknowledge he's qualified to talk about it, but what he is, basically, he is envious of Labor's policy. The truth of the matter is, he's given Australia a second rate technology. What Labor is going to do is go back after the current contracts are rolled out for the copper and we are going to go back to doing the job properly the first time. That's fibre to the home.
REPORTER: Mr Shorten, there are 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia registered with the UNHCR. The Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, frequently warns they could jump on boats tomorrow. Since 2014, the Federal Government has banned accepting refugees for resettlement who are registered with the UN in Indonesia. Specifically, would Labor lift that ban to avoid those people falling prey to people smugglers and drowning at sea?
SHORTEN: Labor's got a very strong policy on deterring the people smugglers. The fact of the matter is, on July 3, if Labor wins the election, the people smugglers will face a Government just as determined as the one we replace. We will not see a situation where vulnerable people are exploited by unscrupulous criminal syndicates to get on unsafe boats and drown at sea. In terms of our general approach on refugees, we've said we are a nation which will have refugees as part of our mix. But what we are not going to do is have them come by water across that dangerous stretch of ocean. I have said I will send Richard Marles, on the day we are sworn in, and he's sworn in, immediately to talk to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to look at the question you've raised and all the other matters involved.
REPORTER: Two questions, just following up Stephanie and Alicia's question, are you confident Sam Dastyari still supports you? Hypothetical I know, but if the vote doesn't go your way on Saturday, will you support a plebiscite enabling legislation to legalise same-sex marriage?
SHORTEN: Thank you for the first part of that question. It gives me an opportunity to say something, which whilst I've said a little bit in this campaign, I'm really pleased to say again today. The Labor Party entrusted me with a great privilege when I was elected leader of the Labor Party. We've probably exceeded the expectations of the people who wrote us off, but we are still going with every inch of energy right down to the wire. Every vote is important to Labor. I have to say, the only reason we are in the competitive position we are in and that we can win is because of my entire Labor team. I won't name the whole of my frontbench and whole of my backbench, but you can take it from that, there is not a single member of my team I would swap. I have been very well served by my united team. Really, the fact we've got a strong policy offering and a united approach, the fact voters can go into the polling booths on Saturday and know when they vote Labor, they are voting for jobs, education, Medicare, first grade NBN, standing up for housing affordability for young home buyers and real action on climate change. That is a credit to my whole team and I will not hear one word about me, critical of my team because they have helped put us in the position where we are fulfilling the trust of millions of Australians. What was the second part of your question?
REPORTER: The hypothetical, if you don't win on Saturday, would you support a plebiscite to legalise same-sex marriage?
SHORTEN: Just as Mr Turnbull refuses to answer the hypothetical situation if he loses, I'm going to set myself the same standard. I know the best approach for marriage equality in this country is to legislate it within 100 days. We all know community attitudes have moved on. Mr Turnbull himself has said the majority of Australians want it. If he knows the majority of Australians support marriage equality, why are we spending $160 million of scarce taxpayer money for any other reason than this is what he has to do to negotiate his fragile control of the Liberal Party. Why on earth is Malcolm Turnbull so determined to have a plebiscite which will unleash, beyond doubt, some very ugly arguments when he knows there is a quicker, cheaper, more effective way of doing it, which doesn't involve the whole nation paying for his deal with some of the Tony Abbott supporters who then deserted Tony Abbott.
REPORTER: Mr Shorten, you just asked whether Tony Abbott should be put back into Cabinet. Does that mean you think Mr Turnbull will still have a Cabinet next week?
SHORTEN: No, what it means is it's clear there are leadership tensions within the Liberal Party. I don't mind if Malcolm puts him in Shadow Cabinet. It doesn't worry me in the slightest. The point about it is we know the Liberal Party is not united. Mr Turnbull's talking about unity today. He says ‘give me another chance because I will unite the nation.’ It's ironic because of the tensions in the Liberal Party, but more importantly than that, the issues which affect working class and middle class people in Australia, the issues which affect them, will not be solved by Mr Turnbull. You cannot unite Australia whilst you are cutting school funding. You cannot unite Australia when your only policy for housing affordability is get rich parents. You cannot unite Australia when you won't take real action on climate change. You cannot unite Australia when your only economic plan is t o give tax cuts for millionaires and corporate tax giveaways for the big end of town. You cannot unite Australia when you are seeing a collapse in apprenticeships and you don't see TAFE being treated with the respect it deserves. You most certainly cannot unite Australia if you're not prepared to fund and save Medicare. One last question.
REPORTER: After the election, you talked about you don't want to hypothesise, but would Labor support Kevin Rudd in a bid for the United Nations or Tony Abbott going to the UK as a High Commissioner?
SHORTEN: I've already answered the question about Kevin Rudd. I am supportive of Australians when they make their bids on the international stage. It's not a hypothetical for me I support the Australian team in Rio for instance. When it comes to the issues of this election, let me be perfectly clear. For the last three years the Labor Party has worked on policies and strategies, ideas and values and vision for this country. I'm very proud we have got the most cogent policy agenda in a generation from opposition. We have put forward our plans and argued them in the greater part of the last eight weeks. I am very confident, and I can say with complete honesty: we're ready. We're ready to implement our policy agenda. We're ready to serve Australia. I hope we have done enough to earn the votes of Australians. I make one more promise to Australians: If you vote Labor, we won't l et you down. Thank you everybody.