SUNDAY, 1 MAY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s school cuts; High Court challenge to Senate voting reform; Kidman & Co; Budget 2016; Penalty rates
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Today's education announcement is a typical Turnbull Government trick. They have taken a bucket-full of dollars out of schools, now they want to put back a cup-full and they expect us to be grateful. A vote for Mr Turnbull's Government is a vote to cut funding to schools.
Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Just on that, between 2000 and 2012, Commonwealth and State funding rose nearly 4 per cent a year while (inaudible) maths, reading, science got worse. Is more money the answer?
SHORTEN: Only people who already have a lot of money tend to say that more money doesn't help. I want every school to be a great school. I don't want to make the wealth of a child's parents the key indicator of whether or not a child gets a good education in Australia. The truth of the matter is that today's announcement is nothing more than a con by the Turnbull Government. For the last three years, they've taken bucket-fulls of money out of schools. Now at the last minute before an election, they want to replace it with a cup-full back and they expect people to fall for that trick. It is the case that if you vote Liberal, you're voting to cut school funding.
JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) for teachers to get paid more for their output rather than longevity?
SHORTEN: I am not going to engage in undermining and attacking Australia's teachers. Australia's teachers do a lot of work in class and out of class. I think it is long overdue for Australia to start saying thank you to Australia's teachers. All of our best educational experience is due to great teachers. I am not going to join in with the old fashion Liberal rhetoric to excuse cutting funding to schools by simply blaming teachers. A child's development does depend upon good teachers. It depends upon engaged and motivated parents interested in their child's education. And of course, well-resourced schools. Only Labor has a plan to fully-fund needs-based education in every schools in every postcode. Remember, it was Mr Turnbull who said, as he was having one of his notorious thought-bubbles, he said that perhaps it would be best in an ideal set of circumstances, if the Commonwealth got out of funding Government schools at the state-level. No, I can't trust Mr Turnbull or his Liberal team to do anything another than cut school funding.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Turnbull said he is not troubled about what the High Court will determine about Bob Days challenge to Senate voting changes. What do you think about that?
SHORTEN: Well, I think Mr Turnbull's voting changes were ill-advised. It was all about just giving control to, on one hand the Liberals or on the another hand the Greens and squeezing out independents. Labor took a principled position at the end of the day. We recognise that 3 million Australians voted for a political party other than Labor, the Greens or the Liberals.What Mr Turnbull and the Greens have effectively conspired to do is starve independents and the people who want to vote for independents of the chance to vote for independents.
JOURNALIST: Was the Kidman sale in the best interest of the nation? Sorry, the blocking of this sale.
SHORTEN: I think like everything else to do with this Budget, the Kidman sale was viewed to be in the best interests of the political interest of Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison. They said they needed 90 days to review the decision and Mr Morrison miraculously did it nine days. I think it's much more to do with politics and a lot less to do with policy. Having said that, this whole Budget is one where the Government is scrambling to find a reason for people to vote for the Liberal Party. That's why we see this rushed, half-funded idea for education emerge today from the Liberal bunker. The Liberals have spent the last three years cutting billions of dollars, now they are putting back a much smaller amount and they expect to be cheered for this. The truth of the matter is that Australians are jeering a Government who is much more interested in their own survival than they are in the well-being and welfare of Australia's schools.
JOURNALIST: Will Labor support legislation to reduce bracket creep? (inaudible) from July 1?
SHORTEN: Well, again it's a bit like the education announcement today. We heard yesterday, targeted political leaks from the Government, patting themselves on the back for offering modest tax cuts. For the last three years, everyday, the Liberal Government has been pick-pocketing voters and now at the very last minute, they're offering a few dollars to hope that all will be forgiven. The tactic won't work and Australians won't fall for it.
JOURNALIST: Take the politics out of the decision. Do you agree that the foreign investment board to block that sale to a Chinese entity? (inaudible)
SHORTEN: I am always committed to seeing Australia do well and that Australia be able to control its economic future. But you can't take the politics out of the Kidman announcement because Mr Morrison, clearly reacting to the political pressure from the National Party and Australians rather than look at all the evidence. I think for the rest of us to have a clear line of sight on the motivations, other than the political motivations of a desperate Government scrambling for votes, they need to put all the facts out there in the public domain. You and I don't have all the facts, Mr Morrison does and clearly he was motivated by politics.
Last question, thanks.
JOURNALIST: Just on penalty rates, are you disappointed that the FairWork Commission said the decision would be pushed back?
SHORTEN: Labor is committed to supporting our penalty rates system in Australia. We put in a submission from opposition supporting our penalty rates structures. The Government, by contrast, backed in the Productivity Commission which proposed slashing penalty rates. If Labor wins the election on July 2, I will intervene in the penalty rates case on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia, to indicate not only an opposition's support for penalty rates, but a Labor Government's support to look after people who work unsociable hours, who deliver the services that we need and require. Labor is a defender of our penalty rates system, full stop.
Thanks everybody, have a nice day.