PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 22 MARCH 2017
SUBJECT/S: Needs-based schools funding; Omnibus Bill; Peter Dutton ‘championing’ marriage equality
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It's great to be here with people who are committed to giving our kids the best start in life.
Labor is fundamentally committed to needs-based funding for our schools. We do not believe that a child's postcode should determine their future in life. We think that a well-resourced education with teachers who are given all the support they need to deliver the quality that they can - that's what parents in Australia want. Labor is 100 per cent the party of making sure that schools are properly funded and our kids get the best start in life and that's what Labor stands for.
I'd like Tanya to say a few more words and then we're happy to deal with any other matters if there are any.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thanks very much everyone. If you talk to the parents who are here today, the teachers, the principals who are here today, they will tell you stories about the difference that the Gonski needs-based funding has made for their school, for their child. It has meant extra support for kids who are struggling at school help to catch up, improvements in literacy and numeracy, extra investment in science and coding, extension programs for kids who are gifted and talented.
Every child is given the individual attention they need to make the most of their school experience. It is only the Liberal Government that says money doesn't matter in our schools.
It is extraordinary that this Government right now has a choice before them. They're cutting $30 billion from our schools over the next decade while they give big business a $50 billion tax cut.
Now I know, if you went to parents, if you stopped any parent on the street anywhere in Australia and said, you've got $2,000, you can donate to it to your local school or you can give it to a big business to send overseas to their shareholders, I know what parents would do with that money.
The reason parents work so hard at cake stalls and sausage sizzles and fundraising for their school is because they know that resources matter. They know that extra teaching staff in their school matter. They know that individual attention for their child matter.
It is only Labor in government that will deliver the full Gonski to make sure that all our children - every child in every school, gets every chance to succeed.
BILL SHORTEN: Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, on a slightly different education matter, where would Labor stand on a split up of the Omnibus Bill that would have childcare measures package with only the same amount of money to pay [inaudible].
SHORTEN: Labor will never give up defending the family payments and pensioners. We have remained 100 per cent resolute. We rejected from the outset the political blackmail of the Government saying that the only way there can be any changes to childcare is if you rob family payments or if you go after the pensioners. I hope that victory is in sight that the Government splits the Bill and does what Labor said should happen all along. The Government needs to come clean, they need to drop their rotten cuts to families, their rotten cuts to pensioners, Labor has got its fingers crossed that we can win this argument but I just want to promise all the pensioners in Australia and all the people battling to make ends meet who receive family payments. We've got your back and we're not going to give up until we win.
JOURNALIST: If the cuts to family payments were no longer included you would support the childcare measures plus the welfare cuts along with that?
SHORTEN: Well, we wait to see what the welfare cuts that they're proposing. This is a Government who is too stupid to know when they're beat sometimes. They keep saying 'oh well we'll cut x billion and y billion' they're so arrogant they can never admit they're wrong. So we will see what remaining cuts they're trying to make and we will weigh that up. But let’s be really straight here, we’re defending the pensioners, we're defending family payments.
For the record, the childcare changes they're making we think will see one in three parents still suffer. But if there is some improvement then we're not going to be completely obstinate or bloody minded. But this is a Government who doesn't know how to admit they're wrong and we're going to keep going and stand up for working and middle class people in this country.
JOURNALIST: So Mr Shorten, what further changes would you like to see to the childcare package then?
SHORTEN: We think that the 12 hour requirement is too little, absolutely too little, ball’s in the Government's court. Again, I have to say, nearly everything we've said has turned out to be right. We've said the family payment cuts were a bad idea, looks like the Government may give up for the time being. We've said to them and we've said this in the 2014 Budget, 2015 Budget, 2016 Budget and now, stop going after pensioners. What did the pensioners of Australia ever do to deserve Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull? So we will have a look, but I tell you one thing, we are consistent, we will always put peoples’ interests ahead of Governments political needs.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, if the Government intends to split up the Omnibus Bill, should they just say so? We've had a number of ministers this morning exactly what they have planned.
SHORTEN: They say the hardest word to say is sorry. This is a government though, who doesn't even know how to compromise. They think it’s a dirty word. Again, you've got a Treasurer who doesn't really talk to the Prime Minister, a Prime Minister who is probably fed up with his Treasurer. They've got all of these absolutely crazy cuts still on the books. This is a government who wants to give Australia the oldest retirement working age, for example. They should stop wasting the nation's time and just say what it is they want to do. Listen to the people and get on with running the country but you all know that everything that happens in this Government is through the prism of leadership instability. We see an increasingly desperate Prime Minister looking for every distraction under the sun. But when it comes to family payments and pensioners, we will back them up. When it comes to childcare, we want to see a better deal but not at the price of doing over families and pensioners.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, if those Bills are split, will you support any of the savings?
SHORTEN: Well let's wait and see what they actually do. I mean, we're in the same boat you are; trying to work out what this Government says in a media interview or what their policy is. They change their position between breakfast and lunch, don't they?
JOURNALIST: But already seeing some of the savings in the original Bill, are there any measures in there that you would support?
SHORTEN: We've been very clear that if it is hurting families and if it is hurting pensioners, you're not going to get our support.
JOURNALIST: Did you ever expect that Peter Dutton would be the Government Minister making the case for marriage equality?
SHORTEN: I never expected him to be a serious contender to replace Malcolm Turnbull, so we live in a surprising world. But, again, it doesn’t matter if it is on Section 18C or marriage equality, their whole logic about marriage equality is about doing anything is “oh, we need to get the votes, not Labor.”
It is not about Labor or Liberal. It is about the right of people to marry the people they love. We should just get on and do it in Parliament. This is a government who never take the quickest path between A and B. Now they're talking about some postal vote: non-binding, using the snail mail, an opinion poll. This is a government who just don't know what time of day it is.
We are all in Parliament, we should just vote and make marriage equality a reality.
I mean, it is the same with Section 18C. Malcolm Turnbull has given in to One Nation and the right-wing of his own party. Now we are having this totally distracting debate and what it means is for a whole lot of communities in this country, the leader of the country, the most powerful man in Australia is giving the green-light to say it's ok to offend, insult and humiliate. That's not leadership, that's an appalling lack of leadership all just because one man just wants to save his job.
Thanks everybody, see you up in Parliament