WEDNESDAY, 6 JULY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s success in Tasmania; Medicare; Marriage Equality; Labor’s positive policies
ROSS HART, MEMBER-ELECT FOR BASS: It's my very great pleasure to welcome to Launceston, Bill Shorten the Leader of the Opposition. We've just been in Launceston mall and the fantastic feedback that we've had from this community towards Bill and towards the Labor team is absolutely fantastic. Bill, welcome to Tasmania, welcome to Bass, welcome to Launceston.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everybody, it's fantastic to be here in Tasmania. It's great to be here with successful Labor candidates. It's great to be here with people who have worked hard putting people first and they've been rewarded for their positive policies with the confidence to become members of Parliament. Mr Turnbull made an appearance yesterday and he said that Australians don't trust him with Medicare. He's right. What he also doesn't understand is that Australians know that actions speak louder than words. So yesterday when Mr Turnbull was talking all about health care, he refused to rescind or reverse any of his harsh and harmful cuts to Medicare and to hospitals. Malcolm Turnbull is still out of touch. Malcolm Turnbull still doesn't get it. Today his Treasurer Scott Morrison popped up and he said that the voters, he was blaming the voters, they got it wrong. The voters today I met in the mall here and through the conversation I had with our Tasmanian Labor representatives, the voters do want to see Medicare protected. They don't want the harsh cuts. If Mr Turnbull wants to be trusted on Medicare he needs to understand that Australians believe that actions speak louder than words and yet yesterday he didn't commit to reverse a single one of his cuts. Labor will keep fights to protect Medicare against the harsh cuts of Mr Turnbull and his Liberal team. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Do you concede that you've fallen short based on the current polling at the moment and Labor won't be able to form Government?
SHORTEN: Well if Mr Turnbull does scrape home, his problems have only just begun. In the House of Representatives, he'll be hostage to Mr Abbott and the right wing of the Liberal Party. And in the Senate he'll be hostage to Senator Hanson elect and other right wing senators in the Senate. We see talk about splits in the Liberal Party ranks. Every day we see backgrounding against Mr Turnbull, expressions of a lack of confidence in his leadership. Labor will persist, win lose or draw with our positive agenda. Our positive agenda to protect Medicare against the savage cuts to the Government, and to stand up for Gonski education principles, of needs-based funding and of course to take real action on climate change and prioritise Australian jobs.
JOURNALIST: So you're not conceding defeat yet are you?
SHORTEN: The count is not over to the best of my knowledge. What we say to Australians who put their trust in large numbers to Labor since the last election, is we will stick to our positive policies and our positive platform. We're determined to make the 45th Parliament work. We're very committed of course to our platform of saving and defending Medicare against harsh and unreasonable cuts, to prioritising the funding for our hospitals, to making sure our schools and TAFE and universities are properly funded, to standing up for Australian jobs and cracking down on rorts and the visa system. Labor has a positive platform and we've been given a mandate by an increased amount of Australian support to stand up for our positive policies. I'm very lucky to be doing it with our three new House of Representatives members from Tasmania.
JOURNALIST: When do you believe Mr Turnbull will call the snap election that you warned of yesterday?
SHORTEN: Mr Turnbull will say and do anything to keep in power. If he scrapes home with a one-seat majority, let's see how he goes governing. The problem is he has a mandate for absolutely nothing. Australians don't support his Budget and his cuts to health care. Australians don't support his corporate tax cuts and indeed it would appear that quite a lot of the Liberal Party don't even support their leader.
JOURNALIST: How significant was the Labor vote in Tasmania for Labor's comeback?
SHORTEN: The vote in Tasmania was very influential I think in the national mood. Tasmanians I think reflect a whole lot of dissatisfaction across Australia with politics as usual and they responded well to my hard working candidates, propositions around properly funding schools, defending Medicare, real action on Australian jobs, making sure that we have renewable energy as part of our policies on climate change. There's no question in my mind, Tasmanians gave Labor a vote of confidence in this election. It's why I'm here to acknowledge that and I'm here to congratulate our successful candidates. I have no doubt that on the Saturday night just passed, as the results came in from Tasmanian polling booths the whole nation sat up and thought maybe, just maybe, Mr Turnbull's confidence was misplaced that he had this election in the bag three weeks ago as he arrogantly declared.
JOURNALIST: If the Coalition wins majority Government as predicted, should Bass voters wave goodbye to the pre-election promises from Labor?
SHORTEN: Not at all. Labor will keep pushing for our policies. I have to say I don't think Mr Turnbull has a mandate for very much at all, has he? I mean, he campaigned on having cuts to Medicare. Their Budget is in disarray. Remember, their Budget was brought down four or five days before he called the election. This Budget won't stand the test of I think parliamentary scrutiny. The Government and some of their MPs are running away from Mr Turnbull's leadership, they're openly undermining him. I think Labor's promises and platform would provide a good platform for work in the 45th Parliament. We're going to keep pushing for a royal commission into the banks. We do believe it's appropriate to have a parliamentary vote on marriage equality. We think it is long overdue to take proper action on climate change. We do want to investigate the way that visas in this country appear to have been rorted by criminals and scoundrels selling these visas with their dodgy work rights overseas. And we are most committed to saving and protecting Medicare. Mr Turnbull yesterday made an appearance in a voter-free environment and he said that he heard the message, it was all his fault, about the election. But then he promptly decided to blame Labor and blame everyone else for not understanding his policies. Mr Turnbull spent yesterday talking about health care. He says that he recognises Australians don't trust the Liberals when it comes to health care and Medicare. But he refused to rescind the cuts. Mr Turnbull simply doesn't get it. He's still out of touch. Australians absolutely judge you by your actions, not your words. No-one believes Mr Turnbull's mea culpa on Medicare when he's refusing to reverse the harsh cuts to hospitals, to bulk billing, to blood tests and of course to x-rays and the payment system.
JOURNALIST: That snap election that you warned of, will that be called before Parliament sits in August, or after?
SHORTEN: It's really up to the stability of the Liberal Party. I've watched Malcolm Turnbull very closely since he became Prime Minister. I think I and Australians, and indeed many of his Liberal colleagues realise that Malcolm Turnbull only worries about Malcolm Turnbull - that's how come they've lost so many of their Liberal colleagues. I know that there is white hot anger in the Liberal ranks against Mr Turnbull and the campaign he's conducted. If he scrapes home, his problems have only just begun.
JOURNALIST: That language there, "if he scrapes home", do you think that it's more likely that the Liberals will retain, stay in government by saying that?
SHORTEN: I just want to acknowledge the work of the AEC and all the vote counters. They're doing the best they can. Postal votes are still to be counted, absentee votes are still to be processed. We live in a marvellous country where we settle our political differences through the ballot box. I'm patient. I understand Australians want to know the outcome. Trust me, I do, too. But I recognise the process is complicated, the votes have to be counted. Mr Turnbull gave us a very complicated Senate voting system, that's all got to be worked through. So we don't know who's won or lost the election in terms of who will form a government, but every Australian knows that Mr Turnbull lost his mandate to do anything. Everybody knows that Mr Turnbull's party is seething with anger at his high-handedness and the fact that his policies didn't appeal to the Australian people. Mr Turnbull now, if he's genuinely humble - and let's face it, Liberals don't do humble well - if he's genuinely humble he will then reverse his cuts to Medicare. He will reverse cuts to bulk billing incentives, he will unfreeze the rebate, he'll properly fund the hospitals just as Labor would if we form a government, and of course, he won't increase the price of prescription medicine. Mr Turnbull has a way to show a real apology to the Australian people, a sense of humility. It is to backflip on his Medicare health cuts.
JOURNALIST: What plans do you have for same-sex marriage in the new Parliament, do you want to bypass a plebiscite, will you introduce your own bill or what?
SHORTEN: We think there should be a vote in the Parliament. Every time Malcolm has a tricky, technical idea on seems to turn to mud, doesn't it? Malcolm Turnbull should go back to being the old Malcolm Turnbull. I think more Australians like that. He knows that the best option for this Parliament and for Australia is to have a conscience vote in the Parliament in this term of Parliament, we're up for that. I think that we need less division in our society and more unity. That's why we have a Parliament. And that's where the votes should be held.
JOURNALIST: Did Labor win these three seats here in Tasmania through a dishonest campaign?
SHORTEN: Labor won the three seats because we have great candidates and we've got great policies. Labor won these three seats in Tasmania because we're actually willing to stand up for Tasmanians and not be a rubber stamp for Canberra. Labor won these seats in Tasmania because we will fight to defend Medicare. Labor won these seats because we don't support harsh cuts to hospital funding, and to Medicare. Labor did well in this election because we have the best policy to properly fund our schools. Because we reject the notion of $100,000 degrees. Because we will stand up for TAFE and for apprenticeships. Because we will prioritise Australian jobs. Because we'll take real action on climate change. My candidates couldn't have worked any harder than they did. We have a positive platform which we will take to the 45th Parliament and win, lose or draw, we're going to stand for our values and our people. Thanks everybody.