SATURDAY 2 JULY 2016
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, election day is upon us, Australians still have a number of hours to vote, and it is very clear to me that just as I said at the start of this eight week election campaign, that this election would be in many ways a referendum on the future of Medicare. that is the issue which voters are talking to me today, as they go to vote.
Australian voters understand that you can have Malcolm Turnbull or you can have Medicare, but you can't have both. People are aware that if Mr Turnbull is re-elected, it's going to cost Australians more to go to see the doctor. Australians are aware that if they vote for me and for Labor, we can help protect Medicare as people know it now. It is very clear people have heard what the Royal College of Australian GPs have said, that 14.5 million Australians will pay more to see the doctor in the event that Mr Turnbull is elected. People are concerned and have heard the head of the AMA say that GPs are at breaking point. People have heard and are concerned that the reports that an average family with two teenage children will have to pay an average of $412 more to see a doctor each year under Mr Turnbull's changes.
This last eight weeks has provided clear choices for Australians in this election. Labor has worked on a policy agenda for the Australian people. We are ready to govern. We are ready to implement our policy agenda for the Australian people. We are ready to serve. I hope that I and Labor have done enough to earn the votes of the Australian people. But I know now it is in the hands of the Australian people themselves to decide the future, to decide this election, and I make one last election day promise – that we will not let you down, that we will protect Medicare, if you vote Labor.
Happy to take questions. Thank you very much. Sid?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the polls have you one point behind going into election day, how are you feeling? Do you think you can make it up?
SHORTEN: Well, I am absolutely sure that Labor is closing at the right time. I feel very confident that our message of jobs, education and Medicare, substantial promises about school funding and making sure we stand up for TAFE and apprentices, properly funding universities and not having $100,000 degrees, our message on education is cutting through. Our message about climate change and especially through promoting and prioritising renewable energy, it is cutting through to young voters. Our message about healthcare, and protecting and saving Medicare, and reversing some of the dreadful cuts that Mr Turnbull has in mind for Medicare, this is cutting through. Our commitment to Australian jobs, to good infrastructure investment in both roads and public transport, to a first-rate NBN, to ending the digital divide in this country. I know that our message about supporting first home buyers and having a real plan for housing affordability, which is more th an just telling you to get rich parents, I know our plans for housing affordability are most certainly cutting through.
I also know that there is great concern with Mr Turnbull's economic plan. All he has offered in a lazy, shallow election campaign is one promise. He's said that he wants to have a corporate tax cut, which will see $50 billion of money taken out of the Australian budget, paid for by cuts to education, infrastructure and, of course, healthcare. So I'm very confident that we are closing very well. Andrew?
JOURNALIST: Have you done enough to win?
SHORTEN: Yes, we have. We are going to defend Medicare. If people are concerned about healthcare, then they have got a clear alternative in voting Labor. Mr Turnbull has been running scared in the last few days on the Medicare issue, because he knows it's in black and white in his budget. Mr Turnbull, desperately yesterday, was promising no further cuts to Medicare. That's like the mugger who's taken your wallet promising not to rob you again. The damage is already done. Mr Turnbull stands judged by Australians today for his cuts to Medicare, and we will stand on the side of the Australian people.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, without being privy to some internal Labor polling, how many seats do you think you are going to be winning tonight?
SHORTEN: I hope that Labor is successful in many seats. One seat which I’m going to watch very closely is the seat of Lindsay. What we have here in Emma is an outstanding candidate. The issues of Western Sydney are the issues of Labor's election platform – jobs, education and Medicare. I am optimistic that right across Australia we are seeing a discernible mood for change. It is not enough for a lazy government to turn up and just say, well, please just give us a second term because we had a first term. Australians want a Prime Minister who's interested in them, not just in keeping his own job. Labor offers positive plans for the future of Australia.
JOURNALIST: Are you tired, enthusiastic, it's been a long campaign?
SHORTEN: I feel outstanding. This has been a great privilege to serve the Australian people. It is a great honour to be able offer our views forward and offer yourself to be the alternative Prime Minister of this country. To be clear, Mr Turnbull and the Liberals inflicted an eight-week election campaign on the Australian people. But we have taken every opportunity, we have made every post a winner, to talk about our positive plans. And I certainly have the energy, that if elected tonight, as Prime Minister I will hit the ground running tomorrow.
JOURNALIST: Why do you think that more people are turning to the independents and Greens and away from both your party and the Liberal party?
SHORTEN: I can understand why people aren't voting Liberal but I don't accept the proposition that we're not getting more votes for Labor. We will see what happens tonight.
JOURNALIST: But why are more people going towards independents and Greens? All polling is showing that.
SHORTEN: Well actually, polling shows many things. What we are going to find out is how people vote. What I know is that there is dissatisfaction with the Government and there is a general exhaustion in the community about governments and political parties who make promises and don't keep them. But what I can say is that individuals do have a choice in this election.
Australian people should understand that every individual vote counts. I think the queues at this polling booth and right across Australia, in remote towns in northern Australia, to the big cities of Melbourne and Sydney and Brisbane, I think we live in a fabulous country that we settle our differences through the ballot box and through our votes. But what I also say to Australians is, your individual vote can help save Medicare. Your individual vote will make a difference towards the price of medicine, towards the cost of going to see a doctor. Rachel?
JOURNALIST: Has Daniel Andrews been invited to tonight's election party, and if not is it because of the role he's played in the CFA dispute in Victoria?
SHORTEN: Well, you are quite right. Our election party tonight could be quite a celebration. And all my state Labor colleagues are completely welcome. In terms of the CFA dispute, I would like to see that solved. I am a Victorian. What I also understand, it is a state issue. Mr Turnbull, I think, has been very unscrupulous in terms of exploiting volunteers as political pawns. We all know that Malcolm Turnbull would never have thought about talking about CFA volunteers if there wasn't a dispute in Victoria. He's obviously just using it to try and create a federal issue. People can see through that. It is a state issue. I'm running to be the Prime Minister of Australia, not the Premier of Victoria.
JOURNALIST: But do you submit it could have a huge impact on votes for Labor in Victoria? Is that why you have stayed in Sydney right up until the last minute?
SHORTEN: We live in Melbourne, and I am looking forward to being back in Melbourne today. In all seriousness, when we look at the issues for Victorians. Victorians want to see Medicare saved. They still want to have bulk-billing. They don't want to pay the price hike for medicine. They don't want to have pay more for get a blood test or an x-ray when they are in some of the most intense battles of their personal life. Victorians want to see schools that are well-funded. Victorians are sick of an NBN which is so slow that we've moved from 30th in the world in internet speeds to 60th. Victorians want to have real action on renewable energy and real action on climate change. Victorians want to see a banking royal commission. Quite frankly, Victorians have had it up to their back teeth that Mr Turnbull on one hand is proposing a shallow economic plan, which will give $50 billion, including $7.4 billion to big banks, they don't understand why Mr Turnbull is so keen to defend big banks when we are seeing Australians being charged 20 per cent for their credit card interest rates.
I know Victoria very well. Victoria wants a better government in Canberra than the one they are getting and that is what they will get with me. Thanks everyone. I will see you all a bit later.