SUNDAY, 3 APRIL 2016
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s disastrous COAG meeting; the Government’s cuts to health and education; Labor’s savings measures to improve the Budget bottom line; Labor’s plans for schools, health and jobs.
LIBBY COKER, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CORANGAMITE: It's my great pleasure to welcome Bill Shorten to Corangamite. It's been a fantastic Q & A session. We had some really heartfelt questions about education, about health care and people struggling to actually get in line for their care, and it was a great opportunity for people to hear from Bill. His willingness to come here today and put directly to people about the things that matter to them shows somebody who is honest, who is intelligent and in touch. I'm really proud that Bill was here and I'd like to introduce him.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Libby and can I just say to the media who've been here, it's been a long meeting and I appreciate your forbearance and patience, but it really was a great meeting and a good example of direct democracy. I'm here with Richard Marles, my Shadow Spokesperson for Immigration and Libby Coker our dynamic candidate in Corangamite. Today I've heard the message loud and clear from people of Geelong and Corangamite. They've said 'Bill, it's all about jobs, education and health care'. I think there wasn't a person in the room of three hundred who wasn't shocked to hear the story of Lindsay, who's had to wait over two years for a knee reconstruction. Elective surgery waiting lists are too long. And other people came up to me afterwards and spoke about the time, the years they've had to wait for cataract surgery and other matters which in our first world society shouldn't be a matter of year upon year delay. And it's all about jobs. The Labor Party outlined today a positive plan for the future of Australia: jobs, properly funded health care, excellent schools, real action on climate change through renewable energy, and of course a fairer tax system where first home owners are not disadvantaged and discriminated against a person who's buying their tenth investment property. And NBN, Mr Turnbull's own NBN, remains an anchor around his neck with people deeply dissatisfied about the slow rollout and cost.
And today also we've seen Mr Turnbull trying to justify his failed experiment in federation reform. I speak of course of his proposals for double-taxation. Mr Turnbull just doesn't get it. Mr Turnbull's out there explaining that everyone else is at fault because they won't agree with his plan for double-taxation. I give Mr Turnbull points for one thing, at least he's made it clear that he'll be back pushing double-taxation day after day. Mr Turnbull doesn't like to admit he was wrong. He sees this as a setback but not the end of his war to have double-taxation implemented on Australia. Well, Labor's happy to fight the next election on Mr Turnbull's outlandish ideas for double-taxation in Australia. I think out of his own mouth, Mr Turnbull's explained to Australians how Mr Turnbull sees the world. He says that states can't fix schools and hospitals, and Mr Turnbull says he won't fix state hospitals or schools unless they have double-taxation.
So there we have it, people of Geelong and Corangamite, they're interested in jobs, schools, proper health care, renewable energy, fair taxation. Mr Turnbull, he's interested in making people pay more and receive less. Pay more in taxation and receive less in the way of schools and hospitals. Only Labor has a positive plan, for not just Corangamite and Corio, but for the people of Australia. We're happy to take any questions that people might have.
JOURNALIST: Minister, in Tanya Plibersek's press conference, she said that 'Labor has improved the budget bottom line by $100 billion and that they've more than covered every spending proposal that they've made', can you just expand on that for us?
SHORTEN: Absolutely. My great Deputy, Tanya Plibersek, is spelling out how Labor has changed the politics of Australia. In Australia, oppositions are meant to be small target and the government actually outlines their policies, after all they are the government. But we've reversed the cycle. Mr Turnbull's been slowly, slowly, shrinking into his job, coming up with his 15 per cent GST idea and discarding it for the time being. He won't do anything on negative gearing even though his Treasurer says there are excesses, and then he came up with his Wednesday special last week where he proposes double-taxation, allowing states to increase taxes on all working Australians. By contrast, as Tanya said, Labor has changed the game. We've got positive plans for Australians. We've got a plan for jobs, we've got a plan to make multinationals pay their fair share. We've got a plan to reign back the excessive tax concessions in negative gearing and also superannuation. We've got a plan to give first home buyers a chance in the market. And all our policies are costed. We've got a plan to cut wasteful government spending, some of those schemes of Tony Abbott and now Malcolm Turnbull where you pay big polluters taxpayer millions, for poor environmental outcomes. So Tanya's exactly right, every policy that we've announced we can fund. Our policy to give working-class and middle-class kids the chance to go to university, our policies to make sure that every child and every school gets every opportunity, where it's not your parents wealth or your postcode which determines your childrens' best start in life. We've got policies which are funded and costed, everything we've announced. Mr Turnbull has a series of thought bubbles of ever-diminishing credibility. But Mr Turnbull has made it clear, that whilst he may have taken off the table his plans for a 15 per cent GST, or double-taxation, just under the table we all know that if Mr Turnbull wasn't facing an election he'd be pushing these schemes of his at a rate of knots. He's got an election so he's trying to make people forget it, but we won't let Australians forget that there's a stark choice. Only a Labor government can help with the crisis in our hospitals. Only a Labor government will fight for Australian jobs. Only a Labor government will make sure that our schools are properly funded, that our kids get the chance to go to university and be the best they can be. Only a Labor government will stand up for renewable energy, and most importantly, only a Labor government will fight for Australian jobs.
JOURNALIST: Minister, can we break down the numbers there, because where is the $100 billion of savings coming from if Labor plans to invest $23 billion in education, there's talk of $57 billion in health as well as additional promises, you know, where are we going to see those savings?
SHORTEN: Well, just to correct slightly, we're making our $105 billion of repair to the budget bottom line through a range of measures: tobacco excise, reigning in excessively generous and unsustainable concessions to superannuation. We're cutting wasteful, Liberal government spending. We've also got plans to reform negative gearing and provide first home buyers with an equal opportunity, and I think very importantly, and very topical, we've got plans to make multinationals pay their fair share, and I might just add as an aside, the growing concern, community outrage, over the idea that Australians or Australian companies may be involved in global tax avoidance and bribery. This is something Mr Turnbull needs to act on. He's always got a lot to say about unions and working people and penalty rates, how about he stands up to corruption at the big end of town? So in terms of all those measures that I've outlined, that comes to $105 billion in terms of savings and improvements to the bottom line. Now we haven't outlined all our health policies yet, but we certainly have outlined our schools and our higher education funding and costings. The action that we would take on family violence - the unacceptable scourge in Australia. When it comes to our health and hospitals policies, we will have more to say between now and the election, but one thing I can say to Australians, we will do a better job to reduce the waiting lists of emergency wards, the unacceptable situation where people have got to wait years for knee reconstructions or hip replacements. We will do a better job of helping our GPs cope with the cost of providing the incredible frontline medical support they provide millions of Australians, and we're certainly not interested in the Turnbull Government's privatisation of Medicare, or indeed their plans to remove bulk-billing incentives, so people with chronic type 1 diabetes have to pay an upfront fee just to get a blood test.
JOURNALIST: And minister, Malcolm Turnbull says states must stop asking the Commonwealth for money after we rejecting his income tax plan, do you agree that states should stop asking for more money?
SHORTEN: Oh, Mr Turnbull should stop blaming everyone else for his bad ideas. If he's not blaming Scott Morrison, he's blaming the states. If he's not attacking the unions, he's allowing the CSIRO to sack it's scientists. Mr Turnbull lives in a house where he just needs to actually take responsibility for his day job. There's one thing that Australians have learnt about Malcolm Turnbull in the last seven months they didn't know before he replaced Tony Abbott. They've learnt that Malcolm Turnbull runs away from a fight, that Malcolm Turnbull doesn't have the courage of his own convictions. That he will change what he thinks depending on whether or not it impacts upon his all so precious popularity. Mr Turnbull's not the leader I thought he would be. I thought that politics would change when he was put in charge. I thought at least we'd see a higher level of debate, a debate of ideas. Malcolm Turnbull was once a champion of acting on climate change, now he's at the back of the pack, rehearsing Tony Abbott's tired lines. Malcolm Turnbull was once a champion of marriage equality, now he won't even stand up for Safe Schools. Malcolm Turnbull knows that there are problems with negative gearing, but he won't do anything about it, he'd rather run a tawdry scare campaign. Malcolm Turnbull knows there's a problem with federation, but there problems that the Liberal Government's making. I don't blame the Premiers for asking the Turnbull Government to reverse cuts in education and hospitals, because it's Mr Turnbull's government who's made the cuts. The real problem is that we've got a Prime Minister who only cares about the date of the election and his own personal popularity, and he'll do anything to save his own job, but down here in Geelong he's doing nothing to save the jobs of seafarers or smelter workers, nothing to do anything to help the refinery workers or the auto-workers. He's doing nothing to help build the necessary infrastructure that Geelong and Corangamite need. He's not going to fund the schools. He's given up on schools. Whenever the going gets tough, Malcolm Turnbull gets going. Last question.
JOURNALIST: I'm from Bay 93.9 here in Geelong, we're just wondering how important is Corangamite to Labor winning government?
SHORTEN: What's important to me is the people who live in Corangamite. What's important to me are the patients who are not getting the health care they need. What's important to me are the young unemployed people not getting a start. What's important to me are the small businesses and the families who are investing in tourism and the food industry, not getting the support that they need. What's important to me is that this is a marvellous community in Corangamite. People live here for work and for quality of life. What's important to me is that we're not seeing any action on climate change which will ultimately increase the insurance premiums people pay because of extreme weather events. What's important to me is that we've got pensioners on fixed-incomes who are genuinely scared about what this Liberal Government will do next. What's important to me is that a bloke called Lindsay has had to wait two and a half years to have knee reconstruction. That's too long. This country can do better than that. Labor will be better. Thanks everybody.