TUESDAY, 26 APRIL 2016
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s attack on Medicare and cuts to pathology; Negative Gearing; Deloitte report; 2016 Election campaign; Labor’s positive plans that put people first; Budget repair that’s fair; Queensland Nickel.
JACQUI PEDERSEN, LABOR’S CANDIDATE FOR PETRIE: My name is Jacqui Pedersen and I'm the Labor candidate for the seat of Petrie. I'm really pleased today to welcome Bill Shorten to our electorate and to have a chat to QML Medical Pathology about the cuts to Medicare.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION Thanks Jacqui. Good morning everybody and I'd like to thank QML and the people who work here for showing me how important the work they do is, and how important it is that the Labor Party keeps opposing the cuts to bulk-billing.
Pathology tests are now part of modern medicine in Australia. 100 per cent of all people who suffer from cancer need pathology tests. In fact, 70 per cent or seven in every 10 people who go to the doctor need a pathology test to help with clinical diagnosis and successful treatment of whatever that's making them sick. But Mr Turnbull still seems determined to cut the bulk-billing incentives, to cut Medicare by $650 million a year.
The Labor Party is completely opposed to undermining bulk-billing in Australia. The Labor Party does not support these ruthless cuts which will mean that sick people will get sicker before they go to the doctor. Which will mean that sick people have to pay more to be able to go and see the doctor, which is effectively cutting Medicare itself. At the next election, it is a referendum on the future of Medicare. The next election is a referendum on the privatisation and dismantling of Medicare. A vote for Mr Turnbull and the Liberal Party is a vote to cut Medicare, a vote for Labor will be a vote for a strong Medicare where it's your Medicare card, not your credit card which determines the level of health care you get in this country.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Government's announcing a submarine deal today, will you stand by that decision given it's gone through a competitive evaluation process?
SHORTEN: The Labor Party has stood alongside the Australian Defence manufacturing industry for the last three years. We've made it clear that nothing less than building all of the 12 future submarines for Australia, they need to be built, maintained and sustained in Australia. It was the resolute opposition of the Labor Party which has forced the Liberal Party back to the table to stand up for Australian jobs and Australian-built submarines. Now the devil will be in the detail. We wait to hear what Mr Turnbull's announcement is later in the morning but he will have questions to answer. Will the submarines start from being built day one in Australia? What are the implications for the Australian steel industry and also, what sort of proportion of the submarines of the build will be built in Australia or will things be made elsewhere? Mr Turnbull will have to answer the detail of the questions. Labor absolutely is committed to building, maintaining and sustaining our submarines in Australia.
JOURNALIST: On negative gearing, Malcolm Turnbull has blogged this morning that house prices will rise under Labor's plan and he said the Grattan Institute's recent research is wrong, what do you say to those?
SHORTEN: I'm pretty keen to talk about our reforms to negative gearing but if you could just repeat the question, Mr Turnbull blogged that the -
JOURNALIST: He's blogged this morning in response to the Grattan Institute's research which largely backs Labor's plan on negative gearing. He says that while he respects what the Grattan Institute does, he says that he thinks the analysis is incorrect in this case and he has insisted that house prices would rise under Labor's plan. So do you stick by your policy?
SHORTEN: So Mr Turnbull, you say, is blogging that house prices will rise under Labor?
SHORTEN: Ok, well Labor certainly believes that house prices are not going to collapse under our policies at all. The Grattan report, by the Grattan Institute is, I think, demonstrates how nonsensical and silly the scare campaign that Mr Turnbull is trying to organise against our sensible reforms to negative gearing. The Grattan Institute's highly respected, it's independent of party politics. It's researched the question. It has pulled the rug from underneath Mr Turnbull's nonsense scare campaign. And the reason why it's pulled the rug under Mr Turnbull's nonsense scare campaign is that in Australia we need to keep alive the dream that first homeowners can actually - buyers of their first home can compete on a level playing field with property speculators. At the next election the choice is clear with housing affordability. You can vote for Labor and make sure that a future generation of Australians is able to buy their first house or you could vote for Mr Turnbull and the Liberal Party who want to support a property speculator being able to buy their 7th or 10th house. Mr Turnbull's scare campaign has been exposed as a charade of lies and the Grattan Institute has certainly put the nail into the coffin of Mr Turnbull's scare campaign on housing affordability.
JOURNALIST: Are you worried about Deloitte's analysis that the Budget could be in effect $21 billion worse off over the next four years?
SHORTEN: It is a very serious issue, the Deloitte report which has come out and been reported this morning. It demonstrates that the Liberal Government has added $43 billion to the deficit since they got elected. This Government has no plan for the future of Australia, for nation building, for a fair go, for opportunity for all. This Government only has a plan for vested interests and keeping their own jobs. Otherwise, how could you explain the fact that Mr Turnbull keeps dropping hints that he wants to cut the corporate tax rate of large multinationals and the banks. That he wants to give a tax cut to the wealthiest Australians. That he will die in a ditch over the right of property speculators to get a taxpayer subsidy from the mums and dads of Australia so they can buy their 10th house. Yet on the other hand, Mr Turnbull wants to cut bulk-billing at pathology laboratories. He wants to privatise significant parts of Medicare. That he won't commit to funding every school in every postcode to make sure every child gets every opportunity. This next election is all about choices. Labor's committed to Budget repair but we are committed to Budget repair that is fair. We aren't interested in passing the burden of Mr Turnbull's mistakes onto the budgets of every household in Australia. Labor has a plan to improve the Budget bottom line to tackle the deficit. But it means making multinationals pay their fair share, it means winding back some of the unsustainable tax concessions in superannuation. It means prioritising first home buyers over people getting a taxpayer subsidy from every other taxpayer so they can buy their 10th property subsidised by the taxpayer.
JOURNALIST: You have been in Queensland a lot more this year than Mr Turnbull has -
SHORTEN: Thank you.
JOURNALIST: How do you see the next couple of months playing out and what impact do you think your presence will have on voting intentions where there is a lot of swing seats?
SHORTEN: It is a fact that I married a Queenslander so of course, I love coming to Queensland. Queenslanders though have a right to ensure they get their fair share of support from Canberra. In saying that, I guess there is two or three arguments I put forward about this. One, young Queenslanders deserve the chance to be able to enter the housing market and not have to compete unfairly against some people, some property investors who are supported by taxpayer subsidies for their 10th house. Queenslanders deserve the best chance for their kids to get a quality education based according to need. Queenslanders deserve a chance to see real action on climate change. Queenslanders deserve a chance to be able access bulk-billing and a Medicare which suits and serves everyone, not just some people. Queensland deserves it's fair share of infrastructure investment. I am up here because I am interested in what happens up Brisbane and in the south-east of Queensland and I am interested in what happens in the regions of Queensland. That's why we have made commitments from the Bruce Highway, right through to investing in the Townsville stadium. That's why we have stood staunch with the people who lost their jobs at Queensland Nickel and ask that the Government actually fast tracks their entitlements. But when it is all said and done, Queenslanders actually want many of the same things that all other Australians want - good quality education. The ability to get a medical test without having to pay a big fee to start off before you get even the test. They want to make sure that their kids get the chance to go to university, that we have a well funded TAFE. They want to see real action on climate change which means that the kids of the future, the future generation of Australians aren't paying for the price of inaction under this current Government. And, they want to see a fair tax system.
JOURNALIST: Is there a case for personal income tax cuts from peoples' tax burdens being increased due to bracket creep?
SHORTEN: Labor would love to see people do better in terms of the taxation system. But the fact of the matter is that the Turnbull Government's contemplating corporate tax cuts for large multinationals. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to paying taxes in Australia, Mr Turnbull isn't interested in winding back the taxpayer concessions that a special few people get in superannuation who are already very wealthy. I don't understand Mr Turnbull's priorities. This nation pays less money from the Federal Government to support its secondary and primary Government schools than it does on negative gearing, taxpayer concessions. Mr Turnbull's priorities are all wrong. Labor wants to see a fair go for the middle class and for the working class and we do that through making sure you have got a quality health care system, you've got real action on climate change, by making sure that our schools, TAFEs and universities are properly funded. That we have a fair taxation system. That we promote Australian jobs and that we do this through repairing the Budget in a manner which is fair to people and doesn't cause more harm.
JOURNALIST: On Queensland Nickel, Michaelia Cash wants to appoint a special purpose liquidator to help recoup some of the FEG monies that are going to be paid out to workers who have lost entitlements. Do you support that? Some of the creditors are concerned that it will be a double up of expenses.
SHORTEN: I think the administrator in the QNI matter is doing a pretty good job, FTI. And it has been a difficult process dealing with Mr Palmer and some of the senior managers there. I just hope this isn't the Federal Government grandstanding in terms of wanting to do something after the horse has bolted. I think that people, creditors do have legitimate concerns about where the money's gone, what have been the actions of senior management. I would just ask the Commonwealth Government to work with the administrator, to work with all the creditors to make sure that we get justice for the people at QNI and as much money as possible can be recovered.
JOURNALIST: Are you confident of picking up the seat of Petrie that you're in?
SHORTEN: Well we've got a fantastic candidate. Jacqui's doing a great job. The issues in Petrie though need attention which only a Labor Government can give them. From properly funded infrastructure, making sure that the medical care of people in Petrie is first-class, making sure that the schools are first-class and that the kids from here get the same chance as any child anywhere else. Also we want to make sure that the Australian dream for parents and kids trying to buy into the housing market for the first time is one which is a reality rather than preferring taxpayer subsidies to property speculators. I think Jacqui is running a great campaign and I think the policies, the positive policies which Labor stands for; climate change, education, health care, jobs, fair taxation, well I think that's a good recipe for the people of Petrie.
JOURNALIST: Labor's locked in a lot of increased spending compared to the Government. Will we see an improved Budget bottom line?
SHORTEN: Well when Mr Turnbull says he won't reform negative gearing, he's locking in taxpayer subsidies going to the lucky few. Let's be really straight here, Mr Turnbull's locking in spending whereby he gives preferential treatment to some people who can engage in capital gains transactions. When Mr Turnbull defends taxpayer subsidies to the high end of superannuants, to the high end of negative gearing, to people who are seeking to benefit from capital gains tax, Mr Turnbull is making a choice to spend the taxes paid by all Australians just on some people. Labor by contrast wants to make sure that scarce taxpayer money is spent wisely. That's why we want to see the scarce dollars being spent protecting bulk-billing for pensioners, protecting bulk-billing for people who are sick. That's why we want to make sure money is spent to make sure that the schools in this electorate and throughout Queensland and Australia are properly funded. Elections are all about choices; governments are all about choices. We choose to put people first; Mr Turnbull chooses to put vested interests first. One more question.
JOURNALIST: Why do you think Malcolm Turnbull hasn't been in Queensland very much this year?
SHORTEN: Either Mr Turnbull takes Queensland for granted, and also I think that basically they've been trying to work out what they do. He spent a lot of time organising to replace Mr Abbott, but ever since then we haven't seen a coherent set of policies pursued on a day by day basis. Remember when Mr Turnbull replaced Mr Abbott he said he would offer new economic leadership. Initially new economic leadership for Mr Turnbull was a 15 per cent GST, and we still know if he was to win the next election and get control of the Senate, you can count on a 15 per cent GST being part of Mr Turnbull's new economic leadership. More recently he had a frolic with double taxation, the proposal to offer state governments the ability to levy income taxes on working Australians on top of Federal Government taxes. We've seen Mr Turnbull have a thought bubble about getting out of any funding of Government schools and just leaving that all to the States. And now we see Mr Turnbull pursuing, I think in a very arrogant fashion, the proposition that we should remove bulk-billing incentives for pathology and diagnostic imaging tests. Mr Turnbull doesn't understand how every day Australians organise their lives. He doesn't understand that parents pay their taxes to Canberra and they expect to see some of it come back in the form of funding to Government schools. He doesn't understand the challenges of fixed income pensioners who desperately may need medical treatment, they may need the sort of lifesaving work that's done by QML and other pathology laboratories. But if you've got to pay a co-payment fee up front, if you've got to pay a larger fee to get a basic test, people being people with scarce income, may delay necessary medical treatment so they can pay the power bills and pay the food bills. Mr Turnbull may not be coming to Queensland, because I don't really think he understands what is going on in the real world of every day Australians.
JOURNALIST: Are you implying that he doesn't understand because he is personally wealthy?
SHORTEN: No, I'm implying that he doesn't understand, because for the last seven and a half months he's given no clue that he does understand. I'm implying that Mr Turnbull doesn't understand every day Australians because there he was theorising how a 15 per cent GST could be good for people on fixed incomes or the self-funded retirees. I'm saying Mr Turnbull doesn't understand everyday Australians because he thinks it's more important to defend the right of a property speculator, to get a taxpayer subsidy from the mums and dads of Australia, from the small businesses of Australia to buy their 10th tax minimising house when the reality is that most Australians, most Australians, want to see their kids grow up to be able to afford their first house. The choice between Liberal and Labor couldn't be starker. We'll put people first for our positive policies, for jobs, health, education, renewable energy and a fair taxation system. Mr Turnbull's just got a plan to look after the vested interests and his own job. Thank you.