FRIDAY, 18 MAY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to boost the number of MRI machines; Turnbull’s cuts to hospitals; Labor’s Fair Share Fund for Western Australia; live sheep export.
JOSH WILSON, LABOR'S CANDIDATE FOR FREMANTLE: Good morning everyone, I'm Josh Wilson I'm Labor's candidate for Fremantle. It's great to be here in Fremantle with Labor Leader Bill Shorten and we're here today at Fremantle Hospital. It's a cornerstone of health services in the Fremantle electorate. I'm very happy to be running as Labor's candidate in Fremantle and be part of Labor's fight across the nation to put Australia back on the path to a fair go. A fair approach to taxation, a fair approach to pensioners and proper support and funding for the things that we share; public education, public healthcare.
As Labor's candidate, I'm very happy to fight for better support for those services here in Western Australia. For a fair share of the GST, for a fair share of defence shipbuilding in my electorate, to continue my advocacy for a proper, measured, calm, focused transition out of the live sheep export trade, towards an expanded higher value, more jobs, chilled meat export trade which is something we've been working for, for a long time.
On healthcare, the contrast between Labor and the Turnbull Government could not be clearer. They want to take $2.8 billion out of public hospitals and that means $77 million of cuts, over three years to Western Australian hospitals, hospitals like Fremantle Hospital here behind me. To talk more about Labor's health care policy, I'm pleased to introduce Labor's Leader Bill Shorten.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Josh, it's lovely to be in Fremantle it's a really special part, not just of Western Australia but of Australia, and at the core of Fremantle's identity is their pride in having their own hospital. But unfortunately, we see a big debate in the nation about what's more important, giving tax cuts to big business and banks or properly funding our hospitals. Last week we had the budget from the Government and Labor's alternative budget presented by myself. And I said budgets were about choices and when I come to Fremantle Hospital it reminds me very clearly what the choices are. Mr Turnbull and the government have chosen to find $80 billion for corporate tax cuts, much of which will go to large companies, big business, the banks and multinationals. But hidden in the fine print of Mr Turnbull's budget unfortunately, there are a lot of sneaky cuts to schools and to hospitals. They were still there, as they have been each year that the Coalition has been in power.
Specifically, in the next three years, I think West Australians would be alarmed to discover that this Coalition Government in Canberra is cutting $77 million from hospitals in the next three years alone. Talking to the really great nursing staff and the patients here, I think we all agreed that what's most important in life is family and health. I think most Australians are actually surprised when they learn that Mr Turnbull on one hand, is going to give $17 billion to the four big banks in tax reductions in the next 10 years but he's cutting funding to hospitals at the very same time.
Actually the more you think about it, it makes you really angry that the Turnbull Government is going to see patients suffer because of cuts to hospitals just so he can find the money to reward the big end of town, multinationals and big banks. I couldn't be any more determined to stop Mr Turnbull's sneaky budget of cuts to schools and hospitals. It's a very clear choice that's why I'm disappointed that Mr Turnbull is not even putting forward a government candidate to run in the upcoming by-elections. He knows West Australians are on to the sneaky cuts that are in the budget. This by-election in the west would be a referendum, do you want to see the big banks get more money or do you want to see the cuts from the government reversed to West Australia's hospitals, including the fantastic Freo Hospital.
We're happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Have you sought assurances from John Setka that he won't seek to break the law again and if not will he?
SHORTEN: Listen, I don't think anyone is above the law, let's be very clear. I'm not the keeper of every official in the union movement, nor am I the keeper of every banker or businessman. I think all Australians should obey the law but let's go to the heart of why you're asking about CFMEU officials. The Trade Union Royal Commission set up in 2014 by Tony Abbott continued and supported by Mr Turnbull, is nothing more than a taxpayer funded witch hunt of the union movement. I think it is beyond a joke that Mr Turnbull spends tens of millions of dollars to attack the trade unions, and he does this as a distraction to cover up the protection racket he's been running for the big banks. If you want to find out who the real crooks in town are, go to the top end of business, go and have a look at the banks and the appalling conduct all the while Mr Turnbull's been banging on attacking the unions trying to get wage rises for workers. He's driven right past the banks who've been ripping off thousands and thousands of customers, farmers and small business. His priorities are all wrong. Yet again protecting the big end of town and going after everyone else.
JOURNALIST: Peter Beattie has told Sky News that you should stop taking donations from the CFMEU, will you stop taking donations?
SHORTEN: No I'm not going to take that advice. I think the real issue here if we want to talk about cleaning up donations is the Turnbull Government should stop taking foreign donations. I mean that's the real challenge here. We've tried, a year after - and to be fair the media has been part of trying to clean this up, to get foreign donations out of our system. But the Turnbull Government comes up with all the excuses in the world to keep taking foreign donations. Unions and business and social institutions all have a right to be involved in politics. What we've got to do though, is make sure that we have transparent and honest politics. So my advice to the government is this; let's clean up foreign donations and also let's clean up donations generally and make all payments over $1000 transparent. And I think it's now long overdue and I'm sure Mr Beattie would agree with this, that we have a National Integrity Commission, a National Anti-Corruption Commission. In 2018 Australians are pretty unimpressed by the calibre of politics, and sometimes when you watch the carry on, you don't blame them. You know, we're debating do we give tax cuts to big banks - people must think how out of touch are these politicians. But one thing we could do to improve the level of debate and the level of trust that the citizens have in our democracy, regardless of who's in power is a National Integrity Commission. I invite Mr Turnbull to join with me to set up a National Anti-Corruption Commission.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten you've been spending a lot of time here I'm sure you're across the local issues. What do you think about SMART drumlines for WA to combat the shark issue?
SHORTEN: Well the last thing that West Australians want is wise men from the east coming and giving you lectures about this remarkable state, I get that. It is generous of you to acknowledge that I've spend a lot more time here than the other fellow. But what I do believe is that our ocean environment is very important and we've got to respect it. We've also got to ensure that people are safe when they go to the beach. I'm going to let the experts provide the advice to the McGowan Government and I'm not going to have a group of politicians try and score political points.
JOURNALIST: As you embark on the by-election campaign will Labor be making any promises for WA above and beyond the Fair Share Fund or is that it?
SHORTEN: Thanks for drawing attention to the fact that only Labor has a Fair Share Fund for Western Australia. There's two parts to your question, which I'd like to go to. One is the unfairness which occurs to Western Australia in the GST distribution, and then I might talk a little more specifically about some of our promises. I think it is dodgy that the Turnbull Government won't even run Liberal candidates in Western Australia. Now it's more than just a coincidence isn't it, that they won't run candidates when they've got the report into the review of the fairness of the GST distribution of West Australia. You've got to ask yourself, they know what's in this secret report, but they've made a decision not to run candidates in these by-elections.
To be fair, it's more than just a coincidence. When the government of the day, having brought down a budget that they think is fantastic, they think is nation saving and everyone should love them for. The fact that they're not willing to test their budget or their GST proposals with Western Australia, shows that they know that their plans are not in the interests of West Australians, or that West Australians won't like it. By contrast, what Labor has said is that we get that it has been unfair that West Australia has historically got 34 cents back in every dollar of GST that they've paid. We think that's too low. The solution though in my opinion, doesn't involve robbing Peter to pay Paul, it doesn't involve trying to disadvantage one state at the expense of another. So, what Labor has come up with and we've worked closely with the McGowan Government in our priorities is a Fair Share for West Australia Fund. In other words, we're willing to fight and put money into a special account above and beyond the normal course of events because we think that West Australia has been duded. Now, we can find this extra money because we're not providing $80 billion in corporate tax cuts and because we've made serious and sensible and rational overdue economic reforms to the bottom line of the nation. We have the ability to support Western Australia more because we're prioritising Western Australia over the big end of town.
Some of the specific proposals we have already put on the table include extending the Mitchell Freeway to Romeo Road, for example. It includes the Stephenson Avenue interchange, it includes the Ellenbrook to Morley rail line, it includes doing long overdue work at the Midland Railway Station, it includes funding for the Joondalup hospital - a new 75 bed mental health facility and that's why Josh has got me in Fremantle. We will have more to say about the extra resources we will provide Western Australia. We do it not because there is a by-election, we do it because we think Western Australia hasn't had a fair deal on the GST, and we do it because we're prioritising the needs of everyday West Australians over that of the big end of town. And I'd like to remind West Australians that in our alternative budget, because we're not giving billions away to the big banks, we're able to offer nearly a thousand dollars to every West Australian who pays income tax who earns up to $90,000. So we've got better income tax cuts for working class and middle class people, we can help reverse the cuts to hospitals like in Freo, we can pay down the national debt, and we can even help save the ABC from the unfair cuts.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, will you be intervening in the case of Warren Snowdon, the veteran Labor MP in the NT where there has been a motion or decision to expel him?
SHORTEN: Warren Snowdon serves the Labor Party and I support him. I support him for these reasons; he has been an outstanding representative of people in his electorate for 30 plus years, before then he worked at the Land Rights Council, he's been an outstanding Territorian. I completely support him.
JOURNALIST: Are you intervening though?
SHORTEN: Well, if I completely support him, if it gets to it. Unlike Mr Turnbull, I don't let my MPs swing. If I support them, then it's all the way.
JOURNALIST: An intoxicated bloke in Brisbane has apparently being fined fur hurling abuse at the Prime Minister –SHORTEN: Has he been fined has he?
JOURNALIST: Yes, is this sort of behaviour acceptable, can you see why he might have hurled abuse at the PM?
SHORTEN: No, no one should abuse anyone. It doesn't matter if it's Malcolm Turnbull or someone's grandmother, you shouldn't abuse people. Listen, I think politicians like other people should be able to go about their business without getting abuse. I also have to say though that if you're a politician who doesn't expect a bit of free advice from the cheap seats, well then you're dreaming. I know that I started off doing these public town hall meetings and I've noticed that Mr Turnbull has adopted a similar style subsequently. Perhaps he'd be better off when he does his events to turn the alcohol off. I think sometimes when you hold public meetings and the alcohol taps are open, well it's more exciting than incendiary isn't it. Best probably not to serve alcohol Malcolm during political events.
JOURNALIST: Do you still think that live exports should be banned in the northern hemisphere summer as you've previously said?
SHORTEN: I think the live sheep export industry has had chance after chance. The Labor Party nationally has come to the conclusion that the live sheep export industry has had chance after chance and it doesn't seem to be able to get its act together, without using cruelty as part of its business operating model. It's using the flags of convenience, third world ships in the long voyages in the hottest period of the year. But what we want to do - I think I'm reflecting what people inside the industry say to me, what a whole lot of Australians say, it doesn't seem sustainable or viable and they've had chance after chance. What we're doing is we’re being honest, there's plenty of Liberals who agree with us. We want to give notice to the industry so that the people in it have the opportunity to transition. You know farmers have got a right to make a living - truck contractors and wharfies, all of the people in the supply chain do. We think it's a smarter idea to do more processing onshore and value add. We do think that you can't ignore the animal welfare problems. I might ask Josh to talk a bit more because Josh Wilson here in Fremantle has been a very active campaigner on this issue of animal welfare. I'll come back to you.
WILSON: Thanks, Bill. As Bill said, it's been recognised for some considerable time, particularly in this community and 90 per cent of live sheep trade goes through Fremantle, and at the end of the day you have to trust the science. The Australian Veterinarians Association said last week that the long haul live sheep trade to the Middle East on decrepit old metal ships, tens of thousands of sheep crammed into them going to the hottest part of the world, at the hottest time of the year is inconsistent with animal welfare standard. So we have to listen to the science. But it's not a sort of contest between the interests of farmers and the interests of all Australians who care about animal welfare, it's about making a transition which is already underway. Live sheep trade is in decline, it has been in decline for some considerable time. What Labor has proposed is leadership, is working with the industry, working with farmers to get us to a better place. The rest of Australia doesn't participate in the trade, New Zealand is out of the trade, Bahrain have stopped taking live sheep exports, almost 85 per cent of the meat products that they take are now chilled meat from Australia, that's the future. A more stable future for farmers, higher value exports, more jobs and of course acceptable animal welfare standards.
SHORTEN: This has been a good press conference but I might just make one final comment before I go about the ABC. The ABC can give politicians a hard time and sometimes more effectively than the person up in the Queensland pub. You don't always like what they have to say about you but one thing is for sure, the ABC is a vital national institution. It's also vital not only for the fact that it gives political coverage without bias, it's also vital for because of the services it provides in regional Australia. The Turnbull Government has already cut $250 million from various ABC services, now they're proposing to cut another $83 million. This is wrong, wrong and wrong. And I'm not politicising the ABC, Mr Turnbull has done that with his cuts, but I just want to say to all of those viewers and all those people who are concerned about cuts to the ABC, the Labor Party is going to fight to have a free, well supported national broadcaster. I mean if Mr Turnbull can find $80 billion to give to large corporations and big banks then surely it can find $80 million for the ABC. I mean he paid Foxtel $30 million which you have to pay to watch, but he's taking $80 million off the ABC which is free to watch. So we think it's an important campaign and we want to hear from the public. Thank you everybody, see you soon.