SATURDAY, 19 MARCH 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labor's putting people first; Safe Schools; Senate voting; 2016 Election.
TONY CLARK, LABOR'S CANDIDATE FOR DEAKIN: I'd like to welcome you here today out in Deakin, to Ringwood, to our central Ringwood Community Centre. My name is Tony Clark and I am Labor's candidate for Deakin. It's fabulous to have both Bill Shorten and Stefanie Perri here, to have over more than 200 people downstairs where we have only standing room so they can actually come in here and ask questions directly of Bill, myself and Stefanie to find out what our vision for the future is, what Labor's vision for the future is. It's a really good vision so without further adieu, I'd like to hand you over to Bill Shorten.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you, Tony and it's great to be here with Stefanie Perri, Labor's candidate for Chisholm and Tony Clarke, Labor's candidate for Deakin. I am also accompanied by Chloe today and it's good of her to give up some of her weekend.
Labor is intending to put people first in all of our policies if we are elected at the next election. That's why this is my 16th public meeting, town hall meeting. Because I am determined to change the way we do politics in Australia, I want people and their voices to be at the centre of political debate in this country. That's why Labor has a platform for the next election which will put jobs first, fair taxation and housing affordability, it will prioritise funding our schools and making sure that our hospitals and Medicare system provide the world class quality care where it's your Medicare card not your credit card which determines the level of care you get in this country and of course, we will not give up fighting on climate change. We will have great policies promoting renewable energy at the centre of our approach on climate change.
Now today, I am out with the people of Australia, in this case, I am out in Ringwood in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. But people in Australia, they want to be the people who feel they're controlling politics, not the right wing of the Liberal Party. The right wing of the Liberal Party, faceless men of the right wing of the Liberal Party in many cases, have now forced through the cancellation of Safe Schools program next year, two defeats on Malcolm Turnbull. One, they have damaged Malcolm Turnbull's authority. Two, they have managed to succeeded in cancelling a program from next year, Safe Schools which is an anti-bullying program to make sure that our children are safe at school. What concerns me is this is not the first win that the right wing of the Liberal Party have had. They have significant momentum over Mr Turnbull. They have managed to muddy up the debate about the GST and force Mr Turnbull to go a path he didn't want to on the GST. They are now forcing Mr Turnbull to back away from dealing with the excesses of negative gearing. They have now had a win on Safe Schools through their shouting and their own argument against Mr Turnbull and it makes me worried for Australia - what's next? If Mr Turnbull can't stop the right wing of his Liberal Party on these matters already, what chance does he have about stopping the cuts to Medicare? Stopping the cuts to family payments? Or stopping the cuts to pensions? What chance does he have against his own party in terms of making sure our schools are properly funded and our hospitals receive the badly needed extra resources that they require to decrease waiting list in emergency? So today, we see a summary of Australian politics is this: Mr Turnbull has an idea, the right wing of the Liberal Party force him to back down and Mr Turnbull has to back down. That's Australian politics Turnbull-style 2016 and it's not good enough for the people of Australia.
Happy to take any questions on these and other matters.
JOURNALIST: Just on the Senate reforms, would you support a High Court challenge? Bob Day has suggested that he would go to the High Court on it.
SHORTEN: Well today is the first I have heard about Senator Day's specific challenge to the reforms. Labor will have careful look at the arguments he puts and the legal basis on which he relies. But Labor has no doubt that these reforms are anything but reforms. 3.3 million Australians at the last Federal Election voted for candidates in the Senate who were not members of the Labor Party, the Greens political party or the Liberal National parties. They have been effectively disenfranchised under these changes. What these changes effectively mean is that the Greens political party, I believe in return for preferences in lower house seats in Melbourne and Sydney, have done a dirty deal which now means that the changes which have been successfully opposed in the Senate of the Abbott Government, the cuts to Medicare, the $100,000 degrees, the keeping of young people who are unemployed six months with no payments whatsoever, all those cuts come back on the table. If we had the system which the Liberals and the Greens political party voted for last night, in at the last Federal Election, 3.3 million Australians would have been disenfranchised and all Australians would have suffered because Mr Abbott could have got through his dreadful 2014 Budget with its dreadful cuts.
JOURNALIST: Do you accept the changes to the Safe Schools program would still maintain the scheme?
SHORTEN: Well the scheme hasn't been maintained from next year. The right wing of the Liberal Party have been bullying Mr Turnbull and Mr Turnbull has caved in. This program now will not be refunded from next year. The point is that the right wing has won. We are always up for sensible discussion about how you make sure the curriculum is serving its best purposes, but what has happened here is that Mr Turnbull's right wing have shouted and stamped their foot, they've insisted that Mr Turnbull just cancel a program and that's actually what has happened.
Now for me, what really matters in Australian schools is that children are able to go to school and be safe, free from bullying and free from discrimination. I would rather trust the teachers and principals of Australia's schools than the right wing of the Liberal Party with the welfare of Australia's children any day of the week.
Last question thank you.
JOURNALIST: With respect, we are here in an area mainly held by the Liberals historically. Why are you out here and is this a sort of area we are expecting to see you come back to when the election campaign is called?
SHORTEN: I don't take any Australian for granted. I don't look at a suburb or a postcode in Australia and say that's a Liberal or Labor suburb. I see a postcode which full of Australians who pay their taxes, who want the best for their kids, they want enough money in retirement, they would like to see their kids be able to afford a house. The Labor Party will govern for all Australians not matter what postcode. We don't favour one over the other. That's why we've got policies to promote Australian jobs, we've got policies to have a fair taxation system which also includes prioritising the needs of the first home buyer over the property speculator seeking to invest in their tenth house. That's why we are committed to funding the schools in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne according to need. That's why we want to make sure that the Monash medical centre and the Maroondah Hospital and the other hospitals in the east are properly funded and of course, people in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne are just as concerned as everyone else in Australia about real action on climate change. I am really looking forward to our town hall public meeting. Anyone is welcome. I look forward to taking all questions because we will put people at the centre of all of our policies going forward.
Thanks everyone, have a nice afternoon.