THURSDAY, 26 JULY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s investment in health care not banks, Whiteley’s vote for a $20 co-payment, My Health Record, penalty rates, Emma Husar.
JUSTINE KEAY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BRADDON: Well thank you for coming here to Devonport. This is my home town and it's just wonderful again to have Bill Shorten and Catherine King here in Braddon.
Two days to go until Saturday's election. What we have found during this election and what we have found over the last, well, since I've been campaigning well before the last general election, is that health is the number one priority in this region.
It doesn't matter what door I go to in this, in any of the towns here in the North West, someone knows someone who is waiting for elective surgery. Someone knows somebody who cannot get in to see a specialist, I actually find it just unimaginable and disgraceful that my opponent Brett Whiteley and Malcolm Turnbull do not talk about health at all.
They completely have their head in the sand, they're completely out of touch. They have not made any announcements for health funding for Tasmania or indeed this region.
I've campaigned very hard for health funding and for better access to health services in the North West and for Tasmanians.
We have announced a number of policies and funding opportunities for this electorate - $30 million for elective surgery to halve the waiting list, which will benefit thousands of people in the North West and West Coasts of Tasmania.
We've also announced 50 jobs in Centrelink, 20 of which will be for Medicare so that people here don't have to wait more than they have to to process their claims. They can actually speak to real people when they're going to talk about their Medicare.
We've also announced $4.5 million for TasReach. Now, this program was cut by the Liberal Government in 2016, a decision that my opponent Brett Whiteley made.
He didn't stand up for the people of the North West, when they needed to access specialist services.
So this program will bring more specialists to the North West, to the Devonport GP Superclinic, to remote and rural areas like the West Coast, King Island and Circular Head.
It means that people in this region won't have to travel to Hobart or Launceston as much as they do now, or to try and find specialists on the mainland.
We've also announced a new Headspace - $2.4 million for a Headspace in Burnie because we want to make sure that when people need to access mental health services, they can do so straight away.
And we've also announced $800,000 for a mini hospital ward at the Devonport TAFE. So we can train more nurses in aged care and disability services with the best training possible.
We've done this because we've listened to the people of Braddon, unlike my opponent who would much prefer to give $17 billion to the banks and put the interests of banks before the people of Braddon.
We've been listening to them and we've got announcements to be able to deliver to the people of Braddon, because we put their interests first. We put the people of Braddon first, and we put their health care first.
Thank you again Bill, you've been here a lot of times, not just during this by-election, but in the last couple of years. I appreciate you here again. And Catherine, you're a regular as well, I think they know Catherine quite well at the airport now, and she's been here many many times talking to locals about health.
Thank you again for coming.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Justine. Good afternoon everybody. It's great to be here in Devonport with Justine Keay and of course our Shadow Health spokesperson Catherine King.
The by-election draws to a close but has become clear to me, from my constant and regular engagement with the voters in Braddon that health is the number one issue for voters in Braddon.
And that's understandable because when you strip away all the sort of carry on and politics and the Punch and Judy Show, and the toing and froing, what really matters to Australians, what really matters to the voters in Braddon is their family and their health.
And that's why if you prioritise health then you should be voting for Justine Keay on Saturday, because Justine Keay's prioritising the health of Tasmanians.
She wants to reduce the waiting lists for those elective surgery which is far longer in Tassie than it is on the mainland.
She wants to put back Medicare staff, put people back into the system so we can help people with processing their claims.
She wants to make sure that families on the North Coast and North West part of Tasmania don't have to fly to the mainland to see specialists. Instead, she's got a plan to bring the specialist attention to the communities of North West Tasmania.
If you prioritise health, then vote for Justine. If you prioritise handouts to the big banks then vote for Brett Whiteley.
What I would like voters to think about as they go to the polling booths on Saturday, is whether or not they want more of the same from Malcolm Turnbull's Government. Or whether or not they want to see a better government and more improvement.
Whether or not they want to put hospitals before banks. Pensioners before multimillionaires. Schools before tax cuts for the top end of town.
Justine Keay and Labor have a plan for the health care of Tasmanians. If you want to see better health care for Tasmanians, vote Justine this Saturday.
I'd like to hand over to Catherine King to talk further Labor's great offerings on health care in Tassie.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE: Thanks very much for that Bill, and look it's fantastic to be here back in Devonport with Justine, a great friend and colleague that we want to see back in Canberra because we know that Justine, every single day, is standing up for this community here in Braddon - particularly when it comes to their health care.
And that is in absolute and utter stark contrast to her Liberal opponent, Brett Whiteley.
When people go to the polls on Saturday or if they're voting at prepoll today or Friday, we want to remind people about the Liberal candidate's record when it comes to health care.
And no better way you can do that by the Advocate. The Advocate that in fact shows very clearly at the time that Brett Whiteley, when he was the Member here, he was telling everybody that it wasn't a big deal for them to have to pay $20 extra to see their GP.
He was there, part of the cheer squad, making sure that people were paying more to see their GPs, and we've seen that across the board when it comes to health care. He was also part of the Government cheering again, Tony Abbott as Prime Minister cutting $57 billion out of our public hospitals.
Now the voters of Braddon in 2016 absolutely rejected those cuts when it came to health care. Yet here, Brett Whiteley is, wanting once again to be part of a Government that absolutely slashes health care.
And we say enough.
Justine Keay says absolutely enough.
What we want to see here for the people of Braddon is again, TasReach providing specialist outreach services for people across the North West of Tasmania. A reduction in the elective surgery waiting list - Tasmania has 7,000 people languishing on the elective surgery waiting list as we speak.
We've committed $30 million to halve that waiting list. Over 500 patients here in the North West will benefit from that commitment.
Only Justine has a plan for the people of Braddon, only Justine cares about the health care of the people of Braddon and I hope that certainly on Saturday that the people of Braddon send that message loud and clear to the Turnbull Government.
SHORTEN: Hi everyone, happy to take questions, but I'd like to invite you to ask the first question.
JOURNALIST: Thank you! Mr Shorten, when was your office first alerted to problems within Emma Husar's office, and when were you first told about the investigation into her?
SHORTEN: Buzzfeed contacted our office about the investigation being conducted by the NSW Branch. That was the first time I was alerted to it.
JOURNALIST: And that was when?
SHORTEN: Wednesday, last week.
JOURNALIST: The allegations have been around for quite a while and apparently Anthony Albanese says he knew there were problems weeks ago. Why did you as leader not know about this?
SHORTEN: The protocol which has been used in the past - the NSW Branch does the investigations, they then advise the Leader. What other gossip other people have had, that's up to them but both the NSW branch, and Anthony have both confirmed that neither told me about the investigation.
JOURNALIST: But does it mean information is being kept from the Leader of the Party?
SHORTEN: It means we've got an independent investigation and might I just say again on this matter, as I've said previously, I'm going to let the investigation carry out its actions. I think that's fair to all parties. We do encourage respectful and support respectful workplaces, and if people have got their concerns then they've got a protocol to follow, which is being implemented.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten is the announcement made today by the Nine Network and Fairfax a positive for Australian people or a negative?
SHORTEN: I think that remains to be seen. Labor voted against the legislation which would have enabled this concentration of media power, our concerns were to make sure that we prioritise the jobs of journalists, media diversity, and local content.
Now the law changed, we accept that, the merger has now been announced.
We will be watching very carefully to make sure that our concerns are not realised. Our concerns, that media diversity would be undermined, that local content would be undermined and that journalist jobs would be on the chopping block.
We'll fight to make sure we maintain all of these three principles of ours. Local content, media diversity, and jobs, and specifically the Advocate and the Launceston Examiner will be caught up in this merger - we want to make sure that Tasmanian news gets covered in Tasmanian media, that it doesn't all come out of Victoria.
So perhaps on that I might ask is there any local papers, got any questions?
JOURNALIST: Yeah, I do actually.
JOURNALIST: It's about the tax cuts. Apparently Liberals have been saying that you and Justine aren't connected with the small business tax cuts. What exactly is your policy on that one?
SHORTEN: We will keep all of the tax cuts which have been implemented at the time of the next election, and that goes to small business. We took to the last election two years ago support for tax reductions for small business. But, yeah I will fight with Brett Whiteley and Malcolm Turnbull about giving tax cuts to big banks. I mean the great lie of Malcolm Turnbull's economic policy is purely this, he is pretending you can hand away tens and tens of billions of dollars, $17 billion to the big banks alone, $80 billion out of the nation's ATM. He pretends that he can do that and look after his friends, his political allies at the top end of town with no consequences for ordinary Tasmanians, but if you take tens and tens of billions of dollars out of the nation's ATM, one of three things has to happen. Either he's got a sly plan to raise other taxes to replace the money that's been withdrawn, or alternatively, he is just going to cut services, because if that $80 billion is not there, then something's got to give.
My concern is that it will lead to more cuts to schools and more cuts to hospitals and more cuts to pensions. The third alternative of course is that he pretends that there is no consequence and he just increases the national debt, which means that we have got to pay greater interest rates then, which means we're back to the terrible situation of more cuts to services.
So, yep, we will say to voters on Saturday Brett Whiteley means $17 billion for the big banks. Justine Keay means reduced waiting lists, more support for the hospitals, more support for people to be able to see medical specialists in their own communities, rather than having to pay for a return plane fare to Melbourne.
JOURNALIST: How will you convince businesses in Braddon to support Labor? We've seen Labor focus very heavily on health and the Liberal party focus very heavily on business. Have you not done enough to court the business vote here in Braddon?
SHORTEN: Well, I've just been out at Fonterra this morning, that's a very important dairy operation, they have two major processing plants and of course they're very important for the dairy farmers. And as I was talking to the management there, they expressed some satisfaction at hearing our following policies and I'm happy to repeat just a couple of them.
One is what we're going to do is we've got what we call the Australian Investment Guarantee. What that practically means is that when you invest - any business invests more than $20,000 in new machinery, new trucks, new software, what we're going to do is allow that business to deduct an extra 20 percent. So in other words they can offset the expenditure on job creating technology and pay a lower tax bill. Now that's a great specific, targeted measure, that's much better than giving Melbourne boardrooms and Sydney boardrooms a tax cut which they then send to foreign shareholders.
The other thing which we're going to do to help local business in Tassie is we're going to stop the flight of young people to the mainland to get TAFE and to get university education. What the work forces want - what the employers want in Tassie is they want to encourage the young people when they finish school to look at apprenticeships, to look at getting qualifications here in Tasmania.
Only Labor's got a plan to look after apprenticeships and I just want to say to parents, we'll make sure that your kids could have a choice of going to university or get an apprenticeship. Under the Liberals, there's nearly been a thousand apprenticeships lost in this electorate alone. So we're going to give people, business in Tasmania the winning trifecta - lower taxes, a more skilled workforce and of course cheaper energy, because we're going to back renewable energy which this government is just all at sea over.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten another big issue in Tasmania is obviously the GST distribution. We now know the Federal Government's, the Coalition's policy. What is your policy and what guarantees can you give to the people in this electorate that a Labor Government would not change the GST distribution?
SHORTEN: Well, actually I have announced this at the by-elections in Western Australia because unlike Mr Turnbull, I turn up in Western Australia and Tasmania. But to repeat what I've already reported to your paper in the past, we do think that Western Australia was hard done by and there seemed to be some unfair outcomes. But what we've always said is that you can't rob Peter to pay Paul. Tasmanians have got a right to a fair share of the GST. But the beauty of our position is this, we can support making sure that no state goes below 70 cents and then 75 cents distribution, and we can also make sure that regions get their fair share because we're not giving $80 billion away to the top end of town in corporate tax reduction.
What I want to say to the voters in Tassie, just as I say to the voters everywhere is sometimes you get a lot of the numbers and everyone is saying you know, there is this and there is that. I've got a pretty straight forward principle. Labor can help administer the nation in the interests of all parts of Australia and we'll do it by not giving money away to multinationals and big banks, instead we'll prioritise your kids getting a job, making sure they get quality education, the pensioners get the energy supplement not cutting the pension and of course, number one, looking after our health system because the health of Australians is more important to me than the health of the big banks.
JOURNALIST: Thank you, will the Fair Work Commission decision be supported by a Federal Labor Government?
SHORTEN: Which Fair Work decisions?
JOURNALIST: That was a question that the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce had.
JOURNALIST: Penalty rates.
SHORTEN: Oh well listen, on penalty rates the question there from the TC - the Tasmanian Chamber is they want to be able to keep penalty rate cuts. No, I won't support that. I want to say to the 11,000 or 12,000 hospitality and retail workers in North Western Tasmania, a vote for Labor will see your penalty rates restored.
And the good news for small business actually is the biggest single problem in Australia at the moment is wage stagnation. What people in Braddon are telling me is everything is going up except their wages and when people aren't getting regular wage rises, that stops confidence in the economy. What's really frustrating to a lot of Tasmanians, indeed a lot of mainlanders is if you're very rich this country, you're doing very well. But if you're a battler, you've got energy prices going up, the private health insurance prices are out of control, you haven't got a proper wage rise- that's the problem. So no, we will absolutely support restoration of penalty rates which were arbitrarily cut.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Australian this morning says that yours and Labor's position against the NEG has hardened as a result of the details that we've seen about the National Energy Guarantee over the last few days. Can you confirm are you now more opposed to the need as a result of the Minister's prescription for only reviewing targets- emissions targets in the mid 20s?
SHORTEN: We're not at a final position and how can you be? This government hasn't even presented a draft legislation of what they're proposing. I mean the reality is that Mr Turnbull is not suffering the tyranny of high expectations when it comes to doing something about energy prices. Under his National Energy Guarantee, what they're saying is that in the next ten years your power prices might come down by $550, in the next ten years, and only $150 of that is through his much overhyped National Energy Guarantee, most of it is going to come through the improvements in renewable energy.
Last year alone, family power bills went up $630 on average. Mr Turnbull hasn't got a plan to look after ordinary, working people's energy bills. He's just got a plan to try and placate the right wing of his party with pretend schemes about whole lots of new coal-fired power stations being built on every corner. He doesn't have a plan, what he's got is a sort of sticky-taped together with an ice-cream stick and rubber band proposal to placate the knuckle-draggers in the right wing of his party.
JOURNALIST: Anthony Albanese is campaigning in Longman today and that's again fuelling speculation that he wants to take your job. What do you have to say to that, do you find it frustrating?
SHORTEN: No, I'm really pleased that Anthony is out campaigning in Longman. He announced Labor's policy for a new Park and Ride facility because we want to make sure that people who use public transport don't have to park nearly a kilometre away from the railway station before they can even get to the railway station.
But I've got Catherine King here just slaying them in the aisles when it comes to health policy here. I was with Tanya Plibersek talking about we're going to improve health outcomes at the Caboolture Ambulance depot yesterday. Listen, I'm going to say this about Anthony and all my team, they're loyal, they're working hard for Labor we're not going to get distracted by the government. What really matters here is not the ins and outs of Labor and Liberal and all the personality stuff which is so beloved by some people in the press. What matters to people in Braddon is do you have a plan to get their energy prices down, we do. What matters to people in Braddon, is when their kids grow up can they get an apprenticeship here in Tassie rather than having to go to the mainland. What matters to people is if they're having hip surgery or an arthroscopy, what matters to them is that the waiting time for Tasmania for this surgery is longer than the mainland. What matters to pensioners trying to pay their energy bills right now is that Mr Turnbull is so out of touch that he's taken $14 off single pensioners living on their own - $14 a fortnight but he can find $17 billion for the big bank. What people in Braddon want is Justine Keay who's on the side of everyday people not Brett Whiteley who's the shop steward for the big banks in Tasmania.
JOURNALIST: Are you opting out of your My Health record?
SHORTEN: The My Health record stuff, I tell you - if you ever want to start a mess you'd get this government to be in charge of the implementation. The idea of digital storage of e-health records is a good idea. Labor's supported this but goodness me I wouldn't trust this government to buy a litre of milk at the local milk bar without needing a helping hand. I mean the concerns that are coming up every day, I just think all of us must be scratching our heads. You know, Minister Hunt says he's going to provide military grade cyber security - like he's just making stuff up. Family court matters could now potentially access these records. Insurance companies - if one of you get injured at work today, there is no guarantee that the insurance company can't investigate your My Health Record to be able to run a case against the injured person.
There is a lot of detail missing here. I mean, I don't blame people for opting out of the scheme right now. This Government needs to get its act together on My Health Records. There are too many questions, too much unanswered detail, too much doubt. I don't blame people for saying I'm going to opt out.
I would recommend to the Government to consider very seriously suspending the scheme and let's deal with the concerns of the consumers. People are sick of being told by government, just trust us, when in fact, this is a Government who works for big business and big vested interests.
So I just can't believe what a mess they've made of this.
Sorry, I'll come back to you guys in a sec.
JOURNALIST: Are you confident that if you lose a seat this weekend, your leadership remains safe?
SHORTEN: Oh listen, let's try and talk about winning the seat. That answer wouldn't surprise you. I've got the best candidate in Braddon. We've got the best health policies in Braddon. We've got the best policies to stand up for pensioners. I mean this election, as people go to vote, will be a question for voters, do they want more of the same from Mr Turnbull? More tax cuts for multinationals, more handouts for the big banks, more cuts to hospitals, more cuts to schools, more cuts to the pensioners? Or do they actually want to send a message that the health of Tasmanians is more important than big business. That getting a good quality education is more important for parents than giving money away to multinationals. It is a very straightforward choice.
JOURNALIST: Do you accept though, Bill, if you don't win either of Longman or Braddon that your leadership is cooked and if not, why not?
SHORTEN: No, I don't. But what I also accept is the voters haven't voted yet. So I think it would be presumptuous of me to start saying, oh the voters are going to do X or Y.
I'm here to have a conversation with Tasmanians. What I say to Tasmanians is that, we're listening to you. We understand that if you can get a job, if your kids get a quality education, if the pensioners have got enough to get by, if you can afford to see the doctor and get quality health care in your own community, that's what matters. The rest of the stuff is just white noise.
Sorry, your go.
JOURNALIST: Just back to Emma Husar, a number of Labor MPs have told Sky News that they knew about this issue months ago. Is it a failure of your office that you only found out last week?
SHORTEN: No. We've got a process in place. There is an independent investigation. I'm going to respect that.
JOURNALIST: Did you know that Cameron Sinclair was working in Emma Husar's office?
SHORTEN: I'm not entirely sure who Cameron Sinclair is.
JOURNALIST: So, obviously not?
Listen, if people in the Labor Party - and by the way, I might have met them but that doesn't mean I know everyone I've met and remember.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, if necessary will Labor's support legislation to require a court order for the release of medical records from My Health and have you decided personally if you will opt out of the system?
SHORTEN: Why don't you get Catherine to talk a bit more about My Health and then I'll come to you about what I'm thinking.
KING: Thanks for the question and I think Bill is absolutely right. This Government has absolutely mucked up the implementation of the My Health Record. This is a system that is actually really important for improving health care in the nation. But it actually requires buy-in of the Australian public and the danger that we have at the moment is because they have mucked up the implementation so much that the Australian public now don't have buy-in to this system. So we've called for a suspension of the rollout. I don't think the Government's got a choice about that.
I also think that the legislative framework that sits behind the My Health Record needs examination. And particularly that issue. We saw Minister Hunt out yesterday actually giving wrong information about whether a court order is required or not by law enforcement officers and others to access to my health report. Under the legislation, it is silent on that issue. So I think that legislative framework, including the issue of court order warrant, is absolutely something that does need to be dealt with.
We want people to have faith in this system. They need to have faith in this system if it's actually going to work. And unfortunately this Government is undermining the faith in this system every single day with the way it's operating.
SHORTEN: And just what was the second part of the question, Tom?
JOURNALIST: Have you personally decided what you'll do?
SHORTEN: Well, at the start of this process, I wouldn't have thought there would have been any doubt, happy to opt in. I do support the principle of using digital technology to create medical records which help treating doctors over a period of time get the necessary information. That's a good proposition.
But if the Government doesn't get its act together; too many doubts, too many question marks about privacy, too many flaws - well then, I will consider if I opt out. I wouldn't have thought three weeks ago or two months ago that I would even be at that point, that I'd question whether or not I opt out.
But I think a lot of Australians are sick of just trusting large institutions and those institutions disrespecting their concerns. This privacy debate is not new ground. Labor had a position of offering people to opt in but you can't tell this Government anything. So they change it and make it opt out. I mean, as recently in the last few days, we found out that the Singaporean medical health records - 1.5 million records, including I should tell Mr Turnbull, the Singaporean Prime Minister. The Government really needs to get its act together.
You know they've stuffed up the rollout of the NBN. Now it looks like they're going to have to write down the price of that. They have the census, that was a famous fail. The National Disability Insurance Scheme, they managed to take a good idea and really cause a lot of hardship in implementation. And now they can't seem to get the My Health Records right.
Australians want a government who is competent in their conduct as their government expects Australians to be in their daily lives.
JOURNALIST: So you're very close to opting out, Mr Shorten? You are personally close -
SHORTEN: I wouldn't have even thought that I would contemplate it but I do say to the Government again, please get your act together. You get paid big money, you've got a lot of advisers and don't go and blame the machines or the computers.
There are questions here on privacy and I know sometimes it's not fashionable to worry about individuals and their concerns about privacy. It's one thing to have your medical information available for doctors but if this medical information is going to be available to large insurance companies, if it can be used in legal proceedings - people just saying, woah, this is not what people thought they were signing on for.
But the Government can salvage this and I suggest to the Government that what they should do is they consider suspending the opt out scheme, suspending the roll out and sit down and talk to people. This is a Government who doesn't like to hear from its critics. But sometimes you come up with a better outcome if you hear the bad news not just the good news.
Sorry, I did say last question. Has anyone who hasn't had a question got one?
JOURNALIST: There was polling released today that shows 45 per cent of people in Braddon named health care and access to Medicare as their number one priority. Would you agree with what you're hearing? Is that correct?
SHORTEN: I'll let Justine have the last word, I'll just say that there are plenty of important issues but there is no issue ever more important than your health.
You know, we've got some visitors here from the Canberra Press Gallery and I sometimes think that in the nation's capital, we can over complicate politics - look at the personalities, check the latest, you know whatever story. What really matters to Tasmanians is their family and their health care.
If you think that your health care and your health is important to you, Labor's got the stand out, superior policies because we will put your health before big banks' profits.
But Justine, last word - you're the candidate.
KEAY: Yeah, thanks Helen.
It's something I hear every day. I had a volunteer last night actually tell me - he's 80 years old. He waited six months for a procedure and then the specialist said, 'I'm going to have to do another operation on you. You can pay $5,000 to me right now and I can do it right away or you can wait longer than a year.' I think that's disgraceful that someone who's just come out of an operation is contemplating whether they can find $5,000 to get that surgery that is recommended to them right away or have to wait a lot longer when you're 80 years old, more than a year to get that operation in the public health system.
Last night, there was a photo released and I think local journalists in Hobart, from the ABC, took a photo of all the ambulances ramping at the Royal Hobart Hospital. We have a health system in crisis in Tasmania. Our State Health Minister and my opponent, Brett Whiteley have their head in the sand. I just cannot understand why they're not talking about health at all. They seem to think everything is fine. It is clearly not.
You don't have to go far in this electorate to hear stories like I heard last night. People like Theo here in Devonport, who's been waiting over a year for a back operation. Judy, who waited over a year to get neurosurgery. It's just everywhere. We've got the plan to improve the health services in Tasmania.
My opponent, Brett Whiteley - he wants to put the interest of the banks before the interests of Tasmanians when it comes to health. If that's what people want to vote for, they can vote for Brett on Saturday. If they want to fix Tasmania's health system, they can vote for me.
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