Q&A NATIONAL PRESS CLUB
TUESDAY, 28 JUNE 2016
SUBJECT/S: Pre-poll voting; Labor’s positive policies; Health funding and saving Medicare; Free trade agreements; Superannuation; Malcolm Turnbull’s defining campaign moment; Malcolm Turnbull’s $50 billion tax cut for large businesses; Independents; Marriage equality; Economy.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Andrew Probyn from the West Australian. Can I preface by question by observing that overnight Iceland beat England in the European Championship and in recent days even Lionel Messi misses penalties. But –
SHORTEN: Always remember the favourite doesn't always get up.
JOURNALIST: Can I turn to July 2, because by July 2, about 30 per cent of Australian voters will have actually cast a pre-poll. Can you tell us how many - what you think this will affect the - how this will affect the vote? What percentage you think will be people who are simply disaffected with you lot and probably us lot as well? And whether in future elections, given that so many people choose to lodge a vote before election day, the pleasure should be granted to even more and make it a right and not a conditional right?
SHORTEN: Well, I think there's two issues. Going to the second part of your question - I like the idea that you have an election on a particular fixed day. Pre-polls is available though because people move around a lot, this is being held during school holidays in many jurisdictions. I believe in having an election on a particular day, but I like the flexibility that Australians are afforded with pre-poll. But I want to go to perhaps what I think is the deeper point of what you were saying.
When you are saying - how will people vote and what affect will this have? What will affect this election are the choices which people make and the policies which we offer people. What will affect this election is whether Australians make a choice based upon our priorities of Medicare, jobs and education, or whether or not they think that a $50 billion tax cut by Mr Turnbull to large companies is the way this country should go.
I feel very positive that when you outline our positive view of the future, our trust we have shown in the Australian people by putting our policies out there, that we will be rewarded well and positively by the Australian people because our policies go to the lives that people are living. Australians aren't waiting for government to tell them what to do. They're investing in the future, they’re trying to keep fit and healthy, they want to make sure their kids get the best quality education, they have enough money set aside for retirement. They have interests outside of work, they don't let work define them. But what they want is a Government who's in sync with the future that they seek for themselves. They want a Government who's committed to working with the rise of Asia, and we’ve got policies for that. They want a Government who's dealing with climate change and not deferring the problem. They want a Government who will prioritise the healthcare of all Australians. They want a Government who's going to help provide their kids with skills, they want a Government who will help retrain older workers and not have them forgotten. And I think we’ve got a pretty good proposition. And I'm looking forward intensely to the next four and a half days that remain in this election.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Next question is from Lenore Taylor, and can I offer the Club's congratulations on becoming the Editor of Guardian Australia.
JOURNALIST: Thank you very much. Mr Shorten, my question is about public hospitals. Labor's running ads right now attacking the Coalition for cutting $80 billion from schools and hospitals and we know $57 billion of that figure was the cuts to projected future funding for hospitals. But two weeks ago you revealed that you were only putting $2 billion on top of Malcolm Turnbull's $2.9 billion in extra funding. My question is this - do you think public hospitals will require extra federal funding after those first three years because the state's obviously do, even if it's not quite $57 billion, they're saying that they will need extra federal funds? If your answer is yes, why did you not put aside even contingency amount in your ten year costings? If the answer is no, why are you still using the $80 billion figure in your ads?
SHORTEN: Thank you for that. Hospitals are a most important issue in this election. And in my address to you earlier, I said that this election is about choices. We have chosen to fund hospitals more generously and more significantly than Malcolm Turnbull. It's a choice. One thing I have learnt and been reminded of as I travel hospital wards during this election. To get my own experience as a parent, when you have a child, it's not the be-all and end-all experience, but it's a pretty cathartic event when it happens, you realise that beyond your own existence, you’ve got these wonderful little people who are totally vulnerable and dependent upon you. And there is nothing more helpless for a parent than when they can't make their child well immediately or when the cough persists or there's something not happening or they had a fall, and then you’ve got to take them to a hospital.
And again, I have been reminded during this campaign how important our hospitals are and why they should be properly funded. I'm terribly proud - you said we're offering to fund them $2 billion more than the Liberals. I have to say that is not an insignificant amount. And for me, when I think about that number, what I think about is reducing waiting times in emergency wards. I think about making sure we take some of the burden off our nurses and doctors. Making sure that we fulfil that trust with parents who are also taxpayers. Now, we proposed a series of reforms to our healthcare system over the next ten years. We will unfreeze the GP rebate. I frankly find it remarkable when Malcolm Turnbull - of all the front - can get up and say he's guaranteeing Medicare when he's freezing the GP rebate for six years. It is a manifest lie he tells on television every night.
And then I look at the other things we're doing. We have decided to scrap the price-hike for prescription medicine. It's just a values decision. We decided to scrap the tax cut for large multinationals and we’ve decided instead to use some of that money to scrap the price hike in medicine. It's just who we are in Labor. We prioritise the healthcare of Australians. We get to the hospital reform package. We will deliver 50 per cent in the efficient price for state-funded hospitals. That's what we will do. I'm confident in the next four years our reforms will deliver benefits. The previous four-year health agreement, which was designed by Labor in government, has achieved reforms. The states sign up to four-year agreements - all political parties have adopted the same funding proposition we have of four-year models. But it is certainly true that the Government revealed in their 2014 budget, and they spent two years denying it, that they were cutting future projections in terms of healthcare. What Labor has done is make hard decisions, we have scraped together and found the scarce taxpayer dollars to unfreeze the GP rebate, to protect the bulk billing incentive for diagnostic imaging and pathology, for making sure that we don't go ahead with the price hike for medicines and at the same time increasing our hospital funding package which will decrease elective surgery waiting times. I’ve got no doubt that as we sit down – and if a Labor Government is elected after July 2 – we will sit down and work with our states to make sure these agreements are effective and at the end of the four-year period we'll be in a much better position to forecast which is required for the healthcare for the years thereafter.
JOURNALIST: The question is tough, you're putting up a proposition in advertising you're not prepared to live up to yourself. Are you going to put $57 billion up or aren't you? If you aren't, why are you running those ads?
SHORTEN: I understood the question the first time. I just did, but I'll go through it again very briefly. We're providing four-year costings in hospitals, like the other parties, like the states do. But it is true that Mr Turnbull and his budgets have cut hospital funding. They published it in their 2014 budget. They have made those cuts. And we'd love to be in a position to restore every dollar of funding. But it is not wrong to point out what the Liberals have cut because they have. And we fought for two years against a barrage of conservative propaganda which said those cuts weren't there. Now I think everyone acknowledges those cuts are there. And what we're doing is making space in a tough budget, prioritising healthcare. We're putting back $12.5 billion in GP rebate freeze, $12.2 billion. We're putting something up like $2.9 billion in terms of the diagnostic imaging and bulk billing cut s. We're putting up $3.6 billion when it comes to the PBS price freeze and we are putting, as you said, double the amount of hospital funding that Mr Turnbull's prepared to do in the first four years of a four-year agreement.
JOURNALIST: Thank you very much for your speech, Mr Shorten. I'd like to turn your attention to trade, you mentioned in your speech about bad free trade agreements. Australia's currently negotiating seven free trade agreements including the Gulf, India, Indonesia and a couple of others. Just wondering, which of these free trade agreements that’s currently under negotiation would your Government want to land as a priority in the next three years? And, what does make a good free trade agreement?
SHORTEN: We're very committed to free trade agreements. We did them in Government and we have supported them in Opposition. But what I did say in my speech – and it goes towards this context about the lessons of Brexit - the lessons for Brexit is that a divided government cannot deliver economic certainty. The other lesson of Brexit is that where you have a significant proportion of the population feeling left out, feeling forgotten by change, unable to see the benefits of change, to experiencing unemployment and cynicism, then you get the sort of division.
I have spent my whole life being a moderate, moderate union rep, moderate in the Labor Party, moderate in terms of the Australian political spectrum. I fundamentally repudiate Malcolm Turnbull's economic approach at this election. He said he was going to move into the centre ground but he didn't. Instead his formula seems to have reduced for the time being to tax cuts for high-net worth individuals and tax cuts for large companies. That is his economic story, which he's willing to expend billions of dollars. I understand your point about trade, but this is an important point about how you win at trade. Paul, I understand your question. I do. But I'm trying to put to you - you said what makes a good or a bad trade agreement.
What makes a good trade agreement is one which the community support. If you don't have community support for trade agreements, if they're bad agreements, if people think that somehow there's rorts in then visa system. If people think somehow criminal syndicates have taken control of the allocation of visas, you undermine the credibility of all of our international engagement. And that's why I was making the point, Paul, that I am a moderate. I understand this country works best, from trade to every other economic proposition, when you're in the middle ground. So my answer on trade agreements is that if it benefits the mass of Australians and not the few. If it lifts living standards rather than see some people miss out. That is what I believe about trade and that's what I believe about this country, Paul. I don't buy the argument that if the very few do very well that somehow that justifies the very many doin g very badly.
JOURNALIST: Mark Reilly from the Seven network. Mr Shorten, I ask you about your superannuation policy because I don't know what it is at the moment.
JOURNALIST: And I'm sure a lot of Australians don't. In the recent days you have announced that you will match the Government's savings on the cap - the $500,000 cap on after-tax contributions, and that's about half a billion dollars, a fair whack of money over the forward estimates. But you've not said how you're going to raise that money, where those taxes will increase. Haven't people got an absolute right to know what your policy is before they cast their ballot on Saturday - so where will you raise that money?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, Mark, the problem with superannuation is that the Government threw everything into the air and cast great confusion by their unconsulted, unwarned, and in my opinion not terribly well thought out measures they announced on budget night. Now what we have said about our policies and we said a fair while ago is that superannuation tax concessions at the top end are simply not sustainable. We made that statement well over a year ago. My economic team and I have been talking with the superannuation industry, with planners, with retirees, with superannuation funds. And what we have done is we’ve got several measures – and they're all spelled out but I'm happy to spell them out clearly now. One is, that we are supporting, for low income earners, that they get the tax they pay on their superannuation for people who earn up to $37,000. They shouldn't have to pay tax on tha t, it should be credited to their superannuation. We are supporting that for low income earners.
On the top of concessions, we've said when Mr Howard and Mr Costello introduced their changes in the 2006/7 budget, we said those changes are simply not sustainable anymore. And at the very top end where you have got people with millions and millions of dollars in superannuation, it's not sustainable to run an argument which says that they should have all of that income tax free in perpetuity, when other people go to work and their income's taxed at much higher rates. Now the issue most recently has been dealing with Mr Turnbull's changes. We've made no additional announcements in terms of any other policies. But what Mr Turnbull's done is he's raised the prospect of retrospectivity for some of the changes, the measures which aren't retrospective, I'm sure we can work through if we form a Government. The retrospective measures though do have a cloud over them, I think it’s fair to say that. There are some experts who declared them to be retrospective. We've said we're gravely concerned about the prospect of retrospectivity. Now Mr Turnbull has asserted to all and sundry, there is no retrospectivity. What we will do - and the best place you can do that is from government - we'll sit down with independent experts and we'll satisfy ourselves as to the extent which these measures are not retrospective or if any of them are retrospective. But we can only do that from government. And if Mr Turnbull says that his measures are not retrospective, then if they turn out to be retrospective, how can he bank the saves from that, unless he intends just to make retrospective changes.
JOURNALIST: Why can you only do it in government, why can't you consult in opposition?
SHORTEN: The truth of the matter is is that Malcolm Turnbull brought that budget down on May 3, and then ever since then we have been in a perpetual election campaign. The Government's been at sixes and sevens to explain their transition to retirement proposals. They have been at sixes and sevens to explain to people how you calculate your tax records back ten years. It's an open secret in industry and in the Australian Tax Office, that they're being overwhelmed by questions, by people, by retirees, self-funded retirees, by people who put our non-concessional contributions beyond half a million dollars into their accounts, the tax office has been overwhelmed.
They've now got to a point, where anecdotally, they're just leaving the messages and inquiries on voicemail. This Government doesn't know how to implement these changes, it is not clear if the changes are actually implementable. What we will do from government - because the changes aren't fully due to come into until 1 July 2017 - is we'll sit down and do what this Government hasn't done. We will talk to people. But, I want to make it very clear. I do not support the proposition that you make retrospective tax laws in this country. This Government says they are not retrospective, I think that the mess that this Government's thrown the whole superannuation system into can be best resolved when Labor forms a Government and we talk to people.
JOURNALIST: The Financial Review, I'm Laura Tingle. Mr Shorten, in your speech you say that keeping our promises and offering certainty over the next term depends on a capacity to negotiate with the Parliament. So my question is, on the 100 per cent certainty that whoever wins government, there will be more budget savings announced in the next Parliament, should the fact that savings have not been mentioned in the campaign immediately disqualify them? Or should both the House and the Senate make the quality and equity of budget measures the guiding principle for considering the policy?
SHORTEN: Our intention is to stick to the promises we have made before an election. That's why we have gone to such lengths to outline our policies. I mean, the Government's only today been dragged kicking and screaming to release costings. I don't know if they’ve done that yet today. But it's a sort of unusual world where the Opposition puts its costings out ahead of the Government. It's an unusual world where the Opposition has put forward policies and rolled them out for the last year. But one of the reasons why we have done this is we do not intend to be a big-spending Government. We intend to implement the platform which we have outlined before the election. We don't want to start making capricious changes once in Government. That really frustrates people. We chosen to be so upfront with the Australian people because we have a platform for social and economic improvement in Austral ia. The measures which we announced before the election will be the policies we carry in Government.
JOURNALIST: What's the expectation about what Parliament should do about other measures?
SHORTEN: Well, in terms of Parliament, we'll have to see what the Australian people provide in the way of who gets elected. But we will implement and debate our policies and our agenda. Now I'm optimistic that our approach of not automatically saying that everything if Liberals say is wrong and bad, Of our policy of not treating minor parties as being some sort of social or political inferiors. A respectful attitude to the Parliament. I want to make Parliament work. I don't think the Liberals do.
JOURNALIST: Jackson Gothe-Snape from the Adelaide Advertiser. Mr Shorten, thanks for the speech. Just looking at South Australia, how have Labor's actions or inactions contributed to the rise of Nick Xenophon there? And just quickly, I want to take you to what you call the defining moment of the campaign in your speech, Mr Turnbull saying, “what political parties say they will support and oppose at one time is not necessarily what they will do”. That seems to be pretty obvious to me. Do you think that's factually incorrect?
SHORTEN: Could you repeat the last bit of your question?
JOURNALIST: Just referring to your speech?
SHORTEN: Yeah that bit.
JOURNALIST: You've quoted Mr Turnbull saying, “what political parties say they will support and oppose at one time is not necessarily what they will do”. This is what you've called the defining moment of the campaign. It seems like a pretty obvious statement to me. Pretty factually true statement to me. Do you think it's incorrect?
SHORTEN: In terms of Nick Xenophon, I guess one of the luxuries of being a free-range Independent, is you can be all things to all people because you never have to form a government. Must be a wonderful world going around just making up whatever you want to say to appeal to people. It's a great world but it's not a way to run a government. It's not a way to run the political process. There are only two parties who are seeking to form a government in this country - the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. So, I understand that Senator Xenophon can say good things to people whenever he feels like it in return for their votes. He's got that luxury that he'll never have to keep the promises. Only the Liberal Party and the Labor Party are seeking to form a government. That's why we got have got a choice between the two major parties.
Our choices are in favour of Medicare, our choices are in favour of education, our choices are not in favour of providing a $50 billion corporate tax cut, which won't work, which I'm not even sure Mr Turnbull will agree to sign up to now. In terms of a what Mr Turnbull actually said, which really I think is a pretty big moment in this election, when he says that “what political parties say they will support and oppose at one time is not necessarily what they will do”, I think that shows breath-taking cynicism about his whole election campaign. His campaign is essentially, “I'm Malcolm, don't hold me to anything, you sort of know me, I've been around a fair bit, it's my time, it's my turn, it's my place”. That's it. Is that really what this election is about? Someone who says, "By the way, you know, what I say and do now, you shouldn't expect me to be what I sa y and do if I get elected”. I don't hold that standard.
The Labor Party accepts - and we've applied this discipline to our election policies - what we say is what we will do. We mean what we say, we've said what we mean all along. Mr Turnbull saying, "What political parties say they will support and oppose at one time is not necessarily what they will do”, maybe a statement of fact about Mr Turnbull's political approach to life, but it's not the basis upon which he should be elected Prime Minister of this country.
JOURNALIST: Malcolm Farr, from news.com.au, thanks for your address, Mr Shorten. Could I get an idea please of the boundaries you’d put around Medicare? Would a Labor Government reject a genuine valid proposal to outsource some of the mechanics of Medicare even if that could lower the cost of the service, increase efficiency and increase its sustainability? If the answer is yes, wouldn't that be election posturing triumphing over common sense?
SHORTEN: I know that there are some in the Australian political community who are a bit over the Labor Party talking about defending Medicare. But the truth is - that if we don't defend Medicare, no one will. You go to the payment system which was the source of some debate. Let's call it as it really is. My opponents set up a privatisation task force. A privatisation task force - they allocated $5 million towards it. As that man on the TV said - you don't set up a task force to privatise if you don't intend to do it.
Now, I for one just simply don't believe Mr Turnbull when he makes a temporary tactical retreat and says, "Well we won't do that, we'll disband that group”. The fact of the matter is - look at the history of the Liberal Party, look at their actions. Malcolm Fraser said at the start of the Medicare debates that before an election, oh we won't disband it. Then as soon as he got elected, he did. John Howard and Tony Abbott have also said they won't undermine healthcare, they won't make cuts, they won't affect Medicare. Famously though when they got elected, they did. I just don't believe Malcolm Turnbull. I think he said it because we forced a retreat on him.
Now of course, when you look at the efficiency of the system, Labor's always up for improving the system. But I believe that the payment system is a fundamental part of the Medicare architecture. I'm not interested in seeing it outsourced. But having said that, I also believe that Medicare funding isn't guaranteed anyway. Mr Turnbull's making ads on television and he walks along, in the Parliamentary offices and he says, "Medicare funding’s guaranteed”. How can you stand there in front of the Australian people and tell lies like that?
Medicare funding is not guaranteed. If you get a freeze on the GP rebates for six years, a third of doctors according to the Royal College of GPs will have to stop bulkbilling. If you are increasing the price of medicine, you are making it harder to have universal medical healthcare. If you're getting rid of the bulkbilling incentives for X-rays, for blood tests, you're making it harder for people to access universal affordable healthcare. We will not be deterred from the fight to defend Medicare merely because Mr Turnbull has made a tactical short-term retreat on one issue and, in fact if anything, if Mr Turnbull really wanted to guarantee Medicare, this is what he should do - unfreeze the rebate, don't go ahead with the price hike for medicine, reinstate the bulkbilling incentive and he can afford to do that by not going ahead with an astounding and astonishing $50 billion tax cut for large company which this nation ca nnot afford and should not be paid for from the budget of the healthcare of Australians.
JOURNALIST: Michelle Grattan from The Conversation. Mr Shorten, you say you'll keep all your promises, which is obviously an important reassurance to voters, but I do recall that Bob Hawke when he was Opposition Leader in this room at this stage of the campaign put a caveat on his undertaking to keep promises, saying that if he found things were different, then he felt that that justified not keeping every promise. Are you going to give yourself no abundant caution let out from what is a fairly sweeping commitment that you have made?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, Michelle, it's a sign of Australian politics that people don't even expect the politicians to keep the promises they made. I mean, I’m just reflecting on an earlier question about what Mr Turnbull said, you know, the question was, "Well, isn't he just being factual”. For Malcolm Turnbull to say in an election, "What political parties say they will support and oppose at one time is not necessarily what they will do”. Maybe a statement of truth about the Liberal Party, but the Labor Party, we cannot govern ourselves by those low standards. At least Hawkie put a caveat. Malcolm Turnbull hasn't even bothered with a caveat, he hasn't even bothered with a promise. He's outsourced the middle part of the promise and gone, "Well, just wait and see what happens after the election”.
For myself, the reason why I'm confident we can keep our promises is because we haven't gone in our budget to rely upon zombie measures which will never pass the Senate. Because we haven't taken the low road of smashing family budgets. The Liberals are in great glee over a minor difference in terms of the first four years relatively of a $400 billion budget - $1.6 trillion over the next four years - but the problem with their approach is that they will make savage cuts, which will harm the fabric of this community. The problem with their approach is that they are camouflaging cuts which will never get through a Senate. Now, we have eschewed that sort of approach of smashing the family budget, and the reason why I'm confident that we can keep our promises is because we're making long term structural reform. Not for us the faint heart of saying that the property industry will always maintain neg ative gearing and perpetuity. Not for us, the easy road to simply say, well, let's just give corporate tax cuts away and fingers crossed hope some of that money eventually trickles through to the economy. Yeah, we have made the decision to clamp down on dodgy private providers in the VET sector. We have made the decision to call out Tony Abbott's climate policy which is Malcolm Turnbull's climate policy, paying big polluters for little appreciable results. And we have made the decision that we don't need to spend $160 million on a plebiscite for a non-binding opinion poll so that some people's relationships have to go the gamut of public opinion.
We've made polices which are winding back unsustainable tax concessions. We have led the debate on making multinationals pay their fair share. The other thing is, and I think this OECD report which was released recently, I think really does get to the heart of some of the matters about our economic propositions compared to Mr Turnbull's corporate tax cuts big end of town winners. They said, and what we support, is if you invest in education and you invest in public infrastructure, that's a sustainable basis for economic growth. That's why I'm confident we can keep our promises because our promises are funded. Our promises will deliver each year a better position in the budget than the previous year. We get to balance in the same year as the Liberals. But we haven't made the lazy, right-wing approach of just mashing services. I don't see why sick people in Australia should have to pay for a corpo rate tax cut. I don't see why kids of poor and middle-class schools should have to go without resources so high net-worth individuals can get a tax cut. This election is a question of priorities. I'm confident we can keep our promises because we have done so much work in opposition to base them.
UHLMANN: Just to be absolutely year on this, though, and pick up on what Michelle said - are you saying that no matter what the circumstances, no spending, or no savings, and no program that isn't already in your manifesto, you will not be doing anything beyond that?
SHORTEN: I am saying that our manifesto will form the work plan of the next three years of a Labor Government.
UHLMANN: Next question is from Fairfax.
JOURNALIST: Mark Kenny, Mr Shorten, from The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. You said in your speech that the first act of a Shorten Government would be to pass the or put the bill on same-sex marriage and have a free vote in the Parliament. Can I probe that a little bit further and ask you about what your attitude would be if you don't win the election? What's your attitude to the plebiscite itself? Would Labor support the enabling legislation for the plebiscite given that the Australian people would have endorsed the other side's proposition? And in the event that the plebiscite were to be voted down, something Malcolm Turnbull says won't happen, but nonetheless in the event that the plebiscite returned to no-vote, would Labor walk away from pursuing changes to the Marriage Act, perhaps in the same manner in which Malcolm Turnbull puts aside now his, you know, passion for the Republic?
SHORTEN: There's a world of difference between Malcolm Turnbull and I. Just because I don't succeed at first, I don't give up. You mentioned the Republic. The Republic debate is not Mr Turnbull's personal property. The fact that he failed in 1999 doesn't mean he's got the right to give up on behalf of the rest of us. Just because he didn't succeed doesn't mean we can't. And I take this view about marriage equality. Just because Mr Turnbull did a deal with the right wing of the Liberal Party for an inferior option for dealing with the debate about marriage equality, why should I have to accept and sign up to Malcolm Turnbull's grubby deal with the right wing of his party? I'm not going to.
I don't accept the proposition that we'll run an honourable second in this election, Mark. What happens after the election if we don't win, well we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. But in the meantime, I want to say to every person in Australia who supports marriage equality, that we will implement it in the first 100 days. We will present that bill. It will be the first bill I present. And I want to say to people who are outraged that this debate has the potential to go down this taxpayer-funded path where some of the views expressed against it will definitely give the green light to homophobia and ugly hateful attitudes - we haven't given up on winning the election. We're not going to give up on people who just want to see marriage equality dealt with through the Parliament. The Parliament is the national forum in a representative democracy for these decisions. Mr Turnbull himself knows on marriage e quality, that if he had his way, if he actually ran his political party, which we know he doesn't, that what would happen is that he would rather have a vote in Parliament. But merely because he can't convince his party, why do the other 24 million Australians have to sign up to his deal? I won't. And we won't. We'll just put the case in the Parliament. We're going to put the case in the election full stop.
JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten, Sabra Lane from the ABC 7.30 program, thanks for your speech. Just on your quote, which you say is the defining moment of the campaign, are you able to recite the sentence that immediately follows?
SHORTEN: I don't have it with me.
JOURNALIST: I will read it to you. It says: "You have seen the Labor Party has opposed many measures of ours which they have subsequently supported or subsequently changed their position on, the best-known of those is obviously the SchoolKids Bonus, which they made an iconic issue, and launched petitions and campaigns and then they said they were going to fight it all the way to election day to restore it. And then they did a very quick backflip”. Do you still stand by your comment saying this is the defining quote of the campaign?
SHORTEN: I do think the excerpt is. It goes to show you what sort of leader Malcolm Turnbull will be. Absolutely. If some people in Australia think that nothing that a candidate for the highest political office in the land matters, well then I would suppose you'd let this comment go through to the keeper. But I don't and I won't. What I fundamentally believe here is that if Mr Turnbull is saying that he's giving himself a leave pass even before he's been elected not to keep his promises, I won't. And I appreciated some of the earlier questions from Michelle and others. They say are you going to keep your promises? Do you want to give yourself some wiggle room? No, I don't want to give myself some wiggle room. The policies we have worked out are costed and funded. You know, the political wisdom in this country is that Governments lose elections and the Opposition s hould just sit back and be a small target and not offer an alternative vision for this country. In the last three years my united Labor team has gone from not just being united, not just a strong opposition, but to being a strong alternative.
We have outlined our values. People at least in this election can go into the ballot boxes knowing what Labor stands for. We do stand for properly funding education systems, right from childcare through to schools, TAFE and universities. We think merit is a legitimate human condition and educational opportunity shouldn’t be confined to just the very well off. We believe that healthcare of all Australians is important. We have made a deliberate decision to prioritise properly funding aspects of the health system and Medicare which the Government simply isn't. We've made a deliberate decision to back in better technology in the NBN. We have made a deliberate decision to support first home buyers get a level playing field. We have made a deliberate decision to talk about climate change and take real action focussing on renewable energy. We have made a deliberate decision to put out the policies out there and cost them because our vision of this country, both in the first hundred days of when we form it, the way we would govern through consensus, and where we want to see this country go in the next 10 and 15 years, we haven't hid our vision from the Australian people. We have a fundamental idea that you can't have economic growth unless you have growing equality. You can't have growing equality and sustainable economic growth unless you put in the basic building blocks - infrastructure, public investment in our public transport and roads. Investment in education and skills. Investment in new industries from tourism infrastructure fund right through to the NBN and renewable energy. So I am completely confident that this is an issue in the election. If Mr Turnbull's willing to say, well, he doesn't want to govern to a standard other than I can change my mind, well I don’t think that is good enough for this country. We want to be a break from the past and that is why we have been such strong Opposition and that is why we have been a positive alternative government. That is why we have funded our policies. That is why we intend to spend less than we save every year going forward. That is the sort of government we will be, a government for all Australians. Thank you.