SUNDAY, 15 MAY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to help our kids swim and survive; Labor’s plan to fully fund GonskiGreens; Liberals’ failed nanny trail; George Brandis; Mr Turnbull’s attack on Medicare.
JUSTINE ELLIOT, MEMBER FOR RICHMOND: Well, good morning everyone. I'm Justine Elliot, I'm the Federal Member for Richmond which of course includes beautiful Kingscliff. Indeed, this is one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, so I welcome you all here today. It's fantastic to have our Leader, Bill Shorten, here and also our Shadow Sports Minister, Jim Chalmers. Thank you both for coming down here today for this really important announcement about kids and Swim Safe. We know in this area how important it is in this area to make sure that our kids get all the training they need in terms of being safe in our waterways, whether it's the beach or in local pools. So it's great to have this announcement being made right here today in beautiful Kingscliff.
I'm really excited that we've got our Leader, Bill Shorten, here today. And can I tell you Bill really understands regional areas and regional families and the issues that are important to us, and I've asked him to come down here and I'm so pleased he can be here today to make a really important local and indeed national announcement, because keeping our kids safe in the water is an absolute priority for our community and indeed right throughout the nation. So it's now my pleasure to introduce to you and to everyone here at the wonderful Cudgen Surf Club, our Leader Bill Shorten.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody. It's great to be here at Cudgen and I have to say that when you see the fantastic club here, and you see the community contribution it makes, this is a splendid place for Labor to make today's announcement today during the election campaign, that a Labor Government will make sure that every Australian child of primary school age learns to swim, learns to be safe and secure around the water. The beach and water are so much a part of Australia's identity. We know across summer, from the beaches to the rivers, to the backyard swimming pools which dot our suburbs, Australians and Australian kids love the water. But it's really important, not only that they learn how to swim, but that they be confident around the water.
Each year we see too many tragedies, especially amongst our young ones. 270 people lost their lives on Australian waterways last year, 35 of them were children. We want to make sure that Aussie kids, wherever they are, whatever their circumstances, get the chance to learn to swim and be familiar and secure around the water. Being confident around the water is part of, I think, what makes it great to grow up an Aussie kid. We just want to make sure that every child in every state gets the same opportunity to learn to swim and be confident. I'm really looking forward to this policy being implemented by a Labor Government after July 2nd. We think it will deliver wonderful things for everyone.
Thanks everybody, any questions?
JOURNALIST: How would this program operate?
SHORTEN: Well varies states and territories already have programs, but it's a patchwork. What we look at doing is making sure that there's a national approach to water safety. We want to make sure that it's the same standard around the nation. We've been working with Surf Lifesaving and the lifesaving authorities to develop this policy. I think this will be one of the best policies in terms of value for money that we'll see in this election campaign. Every Aussie kid should learn to be able to swim and we want to make sure that happens.
SHORTEN: Well, states and territories, to varying extents, are already providing lessons but the curriculum is not consistent across Australia. Kids in Queensland get far more access to learning to swim then kids in other jurisdictions. What we're doing is we're providing a national fund to work with states. So, we'll sit down with the states and see where the gaps are, see what's not happening and we'll work with states to inspire them to do more. I can get Jim Chalmers, my Shadow Sports Minister, to talk a little further about this.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR SPORT: Thanks Bill. As Bill said, right around the country there's very different arrangements for kids learning how to swim, whether it's up the road in Queensland or in New South Wales. States approach it very differently. We want a national approach to teaching kids how to swim and teaching them to be safe around the water, but that will mean different things in different places. So, the $40.9 million will go into a fund, and we will work very closely with each of the jurisdictions around the country to get everybody up to standard, so that we can do what we can to make being around the water a fun experience, a safe experience and not a risky experience.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, can I ask about, Richard Di Natale said on Sky this morning that he doesn't buy - he simply doesn't buy yours and Chris Bowen's comments about forming minority governments. They think - you've said in the past that you're not going to sit down with the Greens. Can you rule this out?
SHORTEN: Yes, I rule it out. The Greens are suffering from relevant deprivation syndrome. The real issues in this nation are going to be determined only upon the election of a Labor Government, if we get the votes. The truth of the matter is, what matters in this election is not what the Greens think in the Senate. What matters is what Australian families think, what Australian small businesses think. Today we're proposing that we ensure that we make sure that all Australian kids get the chance to learn to swim. During this week we've been talking about making sure that every Australian child gets the opportunity to have a quality education wherever they live. In coming weeks we're going to talk about jobs, we're going to talk about small businesses, we're going to talk about making sure that every day, Australian families are able to get a great start in life, and that's what we want to do after July 2nd, make a practical difference.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, we're hearing today that the Government's nanny trail is unaffordable, what would you do to make child care more affordable and will your plan guarantee that no one is worse off?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, only Malcolm Turnbull could be so out of touch that he thinks families should be able to pay $90 an hour for child care. Their nanny scheme is just not going to work. It was overhyped, and it hasn't delivered and it's shown that people are paying up to $90 an hour. That's just ridiculous.
In terms of our positives measures, we'll have more to say in coming days and weeks, but our focus is to make sure that we do something about affordability. The reality is that for a lot of women in particular, they've got to choose between going back to work and paying for child care. And the truth of the matter is, that child care prices are so high, it's a disincentive to woman to go back work. We intend to focus on these people, women trying to go back to work on modest incomes, and not make the cost of child care so prohibitive that in fact it's cheaper than to stay at home.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask about Peta Murphy, George Brandis had a go at the candidate for Dunkley on TV this morning, she called into question the need for tougher terror laws back in 2009 about the time that Al Shabaab [inaudible]. He's called on you to dis-endorse her, will you?
SHORTEN: George Brandis, if he wants to start talking about this dis-endorsing candidates, how about Tim Wilson, the Liberal candidate for Goldstein who questioned Mr Brandis’ security laws last year. Specifically, Tim Wilson, Liberal candidate for Goldstein, criticised security laws of George Brandis. Our capable candidate in Dunkley, Peta Murphy, is a member of Liberty Victoria. The overall organisation sent a letter about matters, they weren't her personal views. George Brandis is trying to distract from the fact that they've got no policy on schools, they've got no policy on healthcare, they've got no policy on climate change, they've got no policy to protect Australian jobs.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, what do you make of the AMA's campaign against the extension of the Medicare rebate freeze?
SHORTEN: The AMA, representing Australian doctors, and Royal College of General Practitioners, representing Australian general practitioners, make a very strong point. What the AMA and what the doctors are saying generally is that Mr Turnbull's cuts to healthcare are going to force GPs, frontline of our medical system, small businesses indeed, to have to charge extra fees for patients coming to see the doctor. This is a disaster for patient care.
You cannot trust Mr Turnbull's Coalition on Medicare. They want to freeze the rebate, which is the money which is sent to doctors to compensate for rising healthcare costs, well into the future, and the doctors are saying that is going to force them to introduce a tax by the back door, that's what the Government’s trying to do. We are very, very critical of that measure that the Government's trying to do.
But that's not the only thing they're doing to undermine healthcare in Australia. What this Government's doing is cutting the bulk billing incentives for pathology laboratories and for diagnostic imaging businesses, x-rays, CAT-scans, PET-scans, MRIs. Now Mr Turnbull on Friday night, deliberately set out to create a false impression in the mind of Australian voters that this pathology issue is over. He should be ashamed of what he said. This issue is only delayed, it is not fixed and the cuts to bulk billing have been banked by a ruthless Coalition Government who have no love or support for Medicare, certainly not by their policies.
The truth of the matter is, and this is a really important issues, and just as we think that education is a key issue in this election, defending Medicare against the cuts of Mr Turnbull's conservative Coalition is another headline issue in this election. What has happened is that Mr Turnbull, on Friday night, says this pathology issue is over, we have an agreement. No, they don't. What they've actually done is resolve another matter of tension with pathology labs about the cost of rents, but they have not dealt with bulk billing issue, all they've done is delayed it by three months.
Mr Turnbull left an impression in the minds of Australians who watched the debate on Friday night that there was nothing any further to see here. What Mr Turnbull actually wants to do, is he wants the cuts to Medicare and he wants the votes of Australians. I don't believe he can have either of them and in fact, as they are continuing with cuts to GPs, such as the AMA are talking about, as they continue with cuts to pathology and as they continue with cuts and not even delaying the cuts to bulk billing for diagnostic imaging, Mr Turnbull will find out that not only will he not get the cuts after July 2nd, but he won't even get the votes, because Labor will stop and fight these retrograde measures with every breath in our body.
JOURNALIST: The Liberal candidate for Mackellar, Jason Falinski, has in the past written about advocating for freer borders and a more liberal immigration program. Do you think the attack from the Government on your candidates is therefore [inaudible]?
SHORTEN: Well there you go, you’ve got George Brandis trying to distract from all the key issues in this election. George Brandis has now got a breakout. He’s got Mr Falinski, who rolled Bronwyn Bishop in that preselection, calling for a policy quite different to what Mr Brandis espouses. He’s got Tim Wilson of the libertarian right running around there, complaining about anti-terror laws.
This Government wants to distract Australians from the real issues. The real issue is, are our kids getting a good go at school? Are they adequately resourced? Are the teachers being backed up? The real issues are do we have a Medicare system where you’ll still be able to get bulk billing and not face the cuts that doctors are facing? The real issues are that we have real action on climate change, and only Labor’s offering those propositions. The real issues are the affordability of people to enter the housing market as first home buyers. The real issues are a Royal Commission into the banks rather than a lecture from Mr Turnbull. The real issue about creating jobs and confidence for families and everyday Australians, not by giving tax cuts to multinationals, not by giving tax cuts to people who earn a million dollars a year, a tax cut of $17,000, but it’s the working people of Australia earning 50, 60, 70, $80,000, the y’re the people that we’re backing and we’re not going to fall for George Brandis or any other Coalition Minister’s sort of distraction tactics.
JOURNALIST: You’ve criticised the Government for Medicare cuts, but will you guarantee here now that Labor will reverse that freeze on GP, on the Medicare levy.
SHORTEN: As I’ve said in a number of previous press conferences in the first week of this election, we will have a lot more to say about this very issue. We won’t be finalising our Medicare rebate policy today, but I cannot be any clearer I believe, that the GPs of Australia are the frontline of our medical system. When you create the economic pressures that force medical practices in Kingscliff and right throughout regional and suburban Australia, where you start telling GPs that they basically will not get compensated at all in Medicare for the rising costs of healthcare in this country, you are creating a disaster and you are undermining Medicare.
What Mr Turnbull thinks is that this is okay. What Labor thinks is we want to create a practical difference in the lives of Australians. Where people are able to afford to see a doctor when they’re sick, that its best for their patient care, but it’s also ultimately best for the taxpayer.
JOURNALIST: [inaudible] election day, there’s speculation that Anthony Albanese will replace you [inaudible]?
SHORTEN: Jess, it’s a bit early for me to be calling the election but what I can say is that Labor are the underdogs in this election but we are giving it a red hot go. We are giving it red hot go for everything from providing, making sure Aussie kids get the chance to learn to swim, to standing up for our schools, to standing up for Medicare, to standing up for Australian advanced manufacturing, to standing up for first home buyers.
We are making a very clear choice, offering a clear choice this election. You can go with Team Turnbull, which is a big tick for the big multinationals to get a tax cut, for people on a million dollars a year income to get a tax cut of $17,000, for big banks who don’t want the scrutiny of a Royal Commission.
Or you can go for Team Labor. Team Labor will make sure your kids get a proper education with well-resourced schools, that you’re able to afford to go and see the doctor when you need to, that we’ll actually prioritise maximising of Australian content in expenditure, so that we have more manufacturing jobs in this country. The choice will be clear, and we are going to try our heart out every day between now and the election because we want to put people first.
Last question thank you Jarred.
JOURNALIST: Is Labor still committed to change fringe benefits tax in the way that was outlined by Chris Bowen when he was Treasurer?
SHORTEN: Which specific measure are you talking about?
JOURNALIST: In relation to novated leases, cars, log-books, that sort of thing.
SHORTEN: No, that’s not on our radar.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten –
SHORTEN: Sorry, I did say last question, but you were trying to ask one for a while.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten would you, would Australians have to go back to the poll if you decline a Greens minority deal.
SHORTEN: Oh listen, Labor is in this election to win it and I think everyone will agree that on a lovely Sunday on the North Coast of New South Wales, when we hear Labor outlining a common sense promise for Australian kids, that we want every child at primary school to be able to have the chance to learn how to swim and to be safe around the water, you know, I think that this is the sort of policy which speaks to the lives of everyday Australians. I’m really wrapped with this policy, I’m wrapped with the work that Justine has done, and Matthew Thistlethwaite, my Parliamentary Secretary on this area whose been working on this policy, and Jim Chalmers.
The good news for today is that for Australians on July 2nd, when they vote Liberal or Labor, Labor will make sure that every Aussie kid gets the chance to learn how to swim.