TUESDAY, 8 MARCH 2016
SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals attack on Medicare and cuts to pathology and imaging services; Liberals’ dirty deals with the Greens; Pat Dodson; Budget; Mardi Gras
STEFANIE PERRI, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CHISHOLM: Hello everybody, I'm Stefanie Perri. I'm the Labor candidate for Chisholm. It's great to be here on a very warm International Women's Day in Burwood East at Marina Radiology, where Marina Radiology in Burwood East since September last year have been providing very important radiology and imaging services to this community. We've been discussing today how some of the cuts are threatening services that are being provided here, very critical early detection work and really important services for this area. It's my great pleasure to throw over to Bill Shorten.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Stefanie and happy International Women's Day everybody. It is a real privilege to be here at Marine Radiology Services, where every day this service and the hard working staff backed up by the leaders of the business, who've invested their own money, are seeing and helping 600 patients a day. But all of this is under threat. The Turnbull Government is pushing ahead with $650 million worth of cuts to Medicare. Specifically, the Turnbull Government’s hell bent on removing the bulk billing incentive payments which allow patients to receive early treatment for vital diagnostic imaging and pathology tests. You know, on International Women's Day it's tragically ironic that women patients in Australia, women seeking early detection of breast cancer, women seeking ultrasounds during pregnancy are facing the prospect that bulk billing will become an item of the past if the Turnbull Government get their cuts though this parliament. It isn't right in Australia that Australian women have to depend upon their credit card to be able to get medical services in this country. In Australia, on International Women's Day Labor rededicates itself to the values that it should be your Medicare card, not your credit card, which determines the quality of health you get in this country. Women deserve better from the Turnbull Government. But of course this dysfunction in Medicare, the relentless attacks by the Liberals to undermine universal health care is consistent with the dysfunction we see right across the economic plans of the Turnbull Government. The Turnbull Government as we speak are still pushing to have $100,000 university degrees, they're still pushing with their cuts to schools and their cuts to Medicare. The dysfunction of the Turnbull Government has to stop and it starts with Labor's defence of Medicare for Australian women patients, and indeed that helps all taxpayers, because not using early treatment of services, putting barriers in the way of people getting medical help when they need it by putting up the costs would ultimately cost the taxpayer more at the end of the day anyway. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, are you worried about the Greens and Libs doing a preference deal and how that will effect Labor seats?
SHORTEN: Well I think that Australian politics needs to step above the cynicism of these traditional enemies, the Greens and the Liberals combining to attack the Labor party in the centre. The Green political party needs to be very careful of working with the likes of Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz and the conservative right wing agenda of the Liberal Party. They may think it's smart politics to get Liberal preferences but a lot of Australians will be saying what do the Green political party really stand for? The same challenge of course goes for the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party say that they want to take action on a range of issues yet clearly they are willing to trade deals, crush out independent and cross bench Senators just so that they can work with the Greens.
The real test of what the Greens and the Liberals are doing is that if they hadn't done the deal, or if the Senate deal that they want to do now had occurred in 2013, been in place before the last Federal Election, Tony Abbott would still be Prime Minister, Medicare would have been slashed, pensions would have been cut and we'd see $100,000 degrees and other broken promises from the Liberal Government rubber stamped by a Liberal controlled Senate. I just say to the Green political party and the Liberals, Australians are sick and tired of deals which deal the Australian people out just so some people can keep their jobs in Parliament.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten the Turnbull Government says it won't make a decision on new submarines until after the election, are you happy with that timeframe?
SHORTEN: Of course not. The Turnbull Government can't make a decision on anything, in fact the biggest decision which they seem to be grappling about is when to have the election, not what to do to help Australia. They're still pushing ahead with Medicare cuts, they won't keep their promises on Australian submarines; this is a major build, this is a major expenditure of taxpayer money, it's about the defence of the nation for coming decades, not coming weeks and months. I think it is scandalous that the Turnbull Government can't keep a three-year-old promise about building submarines in Australia. The Australian Defence manufacturing industry deserves better, workers in these industries deserve better, Australians deserve better in terms of the future defence of Australia than this constant waffle, talk and delay.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you announced last week that Pat Dodson was the preferred candidate for the vacant seat in the Senate, what - has this been delayed and why?
SHORTEN: No the Labor Party - and I’m very pleased, the Labor Party's unanimously in Western Australia supported my recommendation that Pat Dodson fill the unexpired portion of Senator Bullock's term, and the National Executive last Friday also unanimously endorsed my request. Pat Dodson will be an outstanding candidate, but I think also it's important to note that Labor is committed to closing the gap in terms of Indigenous disadvantage in this country. We want to reduce the unacceptable incarceration rate where we see young Aboriginal men in Australia more likely to end up in jail than university. We want to reduce the poor health outcomes that are afflicting Australian Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander communities. We also need to close the political gap. That's why I'm very pleased that not only Pat Dodson, but Linda Burney and Tammy Solonec in the West Australian seat of Cowan [Swan], along with Senator Nova Peris are all representing the Labor Party. The Labor Party recognises that if we want to change the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we need to give their leaders the chance to speak for themselves in the Parliament of Australia.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, are you against the Government holding the Budget a week early, and do you think it's worth the cost of recalling MPs to Canberra a week early?
SHORTEN: Again we see the dysfunction and the division which is at the heart of the Turnbull Government. Every day Australians are growing increasingly disappointed with Malcolm Turnbull. Not only does he - before he was leader he said one thing and now he's become Prime Minister he's doing something else, but it seems that the only decision which is keeping him up at night is when can he call an election to best suit Malcolm Turnbull. This is a distraction from the real issues. Labor by contrast has positive plans about funding our schools, we're committed to making sure that the mighty TAFE institutions of Australia are supported to be able to train apprentices in the future. We're committed to not discouraging working class and middle class children from being able to go to university by opposing $100,000 university fees. We're very committed to making sure that housing affordability helps put the first home owner on a level playing field with property speculators. Labor's got sensible, thought out plans which are focused on jobs, fair taxation, properly funded healthcare, schools and education, and of course, real action on renewable energy.
JOURNALIST: And just on the Budget, I mean if Turnbull does bring the Budget forward a week earlier, that would still give you time to prepare a Budget Reply speech but would you be happy if that was brought forward?
SHORTEN: I don't want Mr Turnbull wasting taxpayer money on political stunts to try and keep Mr Turnbull in power. Australians already know that division and dysfunction is at the heart of the Turnbull Government. Australians are increasingly disappointed that Malcolm Turnbull's all talk and no action. I think they are very disappointed that we see division at the heart of the Liberal Government and you know, it was only this weekend that the Attorney-General got overruled by the Prime Minister; they've got the Treasurer in witness protection and the far right of the Liberal Party won't even let Malcolm Turnbull go for a walk in Sydney on a Saturday night.
Now this division has to stop, this dysfunction is not what Malcolm Turnbull promised six months ago when he promised new economic leadership. The Turnbull Government needs to focus on Australian jobs not their own jobs. The only thing they seem to spend any energy on is fighting themselves. If they spent half as much energy sorting out Medicare, tackling the funding problem in our schools, making sure our hospital remain international standard, doing something about $100,000 degrees, doing something about Australian jobs, doing something about housing affordability. I just wish Malcolm Turnbull would work as hard for Australians as he works for his own self-interest. Last question thank you.
JOURNALIST: Speaking about a walk on a Saturday night, you were pictured hugging Trent Zimmerman at the Gay Mardi Gras, how did that come about?
SHORTEN: Well we were both standing opposite each other and we hugged. I can't understand the far right of the Liberal Party. These men and women of the far right of the Liberal Party, why are they so obsessed about other people's sexuality? Now I welcome the fact that Trent Zimmerman is the first openly gay Member of Parliament from the Liberal Party. What I can't believe is some of the anonymous attacks on Trent Zimmerman saying that somehow he's let down the Liberal Party by hugging someone from the Labor Party. Now it just shows you how much the Liberal Party's lost the plot. Six months ago, Australians were willing to give Malcolm Turnbull a tick because they thought he could change the Liberal Party, six months on Australians are learning that the Liberal Party's changing Malcolm Turnbull.
No, I think the right wing of the Liberal Party should stop persecuting Trent Zimmerman. I think they should - if they didn't want to go to the Mardi Gras that's fine, but hundreds of thousands of Australians were there. It was a great celebration and I look forward to in the first 100 days if Labor gets elected, introducing a Bill to legalise marriage equality. It'll be a conscious vote. You know, we've got to stop worrying about the irrelevant stuff, let's get on with the business of providing a bright future for Australia, and that means all Australians. Thanks everyone.