THURSDAY, 17 JANUARY 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor’s investment in Logan Hospital; Labor’s positive plans for Queensland; Superannuation; Murray Darling Basin Plan
DES HARDMAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR FORDE: Alright, thanks for being here today everybody. My name is Des Hardman, I'm your Labor candidate for the Federal seat of Forde at the next federal election. I'm also a radiographer and I work here at Logan Hospital. I'm a local dad and I live right here in Meadowbrook, here where the Logan hospital is. We've got some really exciting news to talk to people here at the hospital today about, the staff, the patients, everybody here at Logan hospital will benefit from this, and most of all our community.
So with me today, I'd like to welcome Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition. Bill has come to Queensland today to launch our campaign, our Queensland campaign to make this announcement, this very important announcement. We've also got Catherine King, Catherine is our Shadow Health Minister and very local Member for Rankin, Jim Chalmers and Shadow Minister for Finance. So, today we have announced an Urgent Care Clinic a $33 million investment in healthcare, public healthcare, services for people in our community. For people like me who knows that our hospital is at 100 per cent capacity every single day that this type of investment will provide the relief of the pressure of services. And that is a significant move. And only a Labor Government will make those types of investments in their local community when it comes to healthcare. So once again, here I am today, I'm proud, I'm excited, I'm really looking forward to having the opportunity to ensure that this commitment that we're making today becomes reality after the next election as soon as we can possibly make it happen. So thank you all very much for being here and I'll hand you over to Bill Shorten.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Des and happy new year to the Queensland media. It's great to be back in Brisbane, it's great to be back in Queensland with Des Hardman, our Candidate for Forde. I'm here of course with Jim Chalmers the local Member for Rankin and a senior member of my shadow ministry and Catherine King, our Shadow Health Minister from whom you will hear in a moment. For the next nine days, I'm making Queensland the headquarters of the Opposition. I'm going to get back on the Bill Bus and I'm going to travel to many parts of Queensland. And we're going to carry a message here as the summer break comes to an end. Our message to Queenslanders is that we want to see more jobs and less cuts. We're going to see here today as part of our ongoing commitment to reversing cuts to Queensland hospitals from the Federal Government. Logan Hospital is a very, very hardworking hospital. I just spoke to a family whose father was treated in palliative care here, they couldn't have been more complimentary at one of the hardest times in their life than they could have, about the staff here at the hospital. And we've just been to the outpatients area where you see it's busier than Flinders Street Railway Station in Melbourne, this outpatient centre.
So Labor is really pleased because of the economic decisions that we've made, the reform decisions we've made, that we're going to prioritise better healthcare for Queenslanders over bigger tax loopholes for multinationals. Specifically here at Logan hospital, following the lobbying of Des Hardman who works here at the hospital in radiography, what we are going to do is we are going to invest $33.4 million in an Urgent Care Clinic. What we see in this hospital is a very crowded outpatients, you've got fractures, you've got people who have injured themselves at home, the kids on the skateboards. You see, people with painful injuries in a very crowded facility. So we're going to build an outpatients centre which will deal with urgent care and that's going to make a big difference to the ability of Logan Hospital to deliver healthcare and it's going to make a big difference to the health outcomes to the people who live in this fast growing part of Brisbane's southern corridor.
We're going to do this because we see the next election as being about choices. We're choosing better healthcare and hospitals over bigger tax concessions for the top end of town. We think that this is what Australians want.
I'll be travelling throughout Queensland to talk about our plan for better jobs rather than more cuts. And what we'll be doing is be it in North Queensland, Central Queensland or South East Queensland, we'll be taking our positive plan to the people of Queensland. And we start in Queensland and of course we will travel throughout the rest of Australia. The election will have to be in the first part of this year. We want to put positive plans.
The two overwhelming sentiments I heard this summer from people is one, they think the Government is a shambles, they think it's divided. And two, they're concerned that everything is going up except their wages.
What we're going to do is put people back at the centre of political decision making in this country and our announcement today at Logan Hospital shows our ongoing commitment to delivering quality healthcare for all Australians regardless of where they live.
I'd like to invite my colleague Catherine King to talk further about our commitment to healthcare and to the Logan Hospital and then happy to take questions.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH: Thanks Bill, look it's terrific to be here with Des Hardman our terrific candidate and Jim Chalmers, the local member in this area as well, to make this announcement to take pressure off Logan Hospital. We've seen $6.1 million over the current hospital agreement with the states and the Commonwealth ripped out of Logan Hospital. And that has an impact. It has an impact on the number of outpatient visits that can be had. It has an impact on the number of people who can be seen in the emergency department here. We know this hospital is under pressure. The staff here are doing a fantastic job, but we want to take some of that pressure off. We've had a fantastic announcement by the state government, a $280 million redevelopment of this hospital, but that's going to take time. So to take the pressure off, the announcement today of a $33 million urgent care clinic that's come at the behest of the Queensland Government and Des Hardman's hard work in lobbying for it. This urgent care clinic will treat Category four and five patients. Patients who might have a minor fracture, a scrape, a cut that needs tending to, might have some upper respiratory tract issues, people who really should not be treated, not necessarily in the emergency department because they are not admitted to the hospital, but do need that extra level of care beyond what can be done with a general practice. So this urgent care clinic will take pressure off Logan Hospital, but also make sure there can be a better integrated primary healthcare system here in Logan to really make sure that staff at this acute hospital can continue to do the terrific work that they are. I want to thank particularly Des for his fantastic advocacy for the people of Logan.
SHORTEN: Great. Thanks, Catherine. Are there any questions on this or any other matters?
JOURNALIST: Is this the start of the election campaign for you?
SHORTEN: I think a conscientious opposition should always be working on the best policy ideas. I mean we have come back from leave, certainly I have chosen to start my campaigning in Queensland. I did in 2016, where goes Queensland, goes the nation. We're picking issues that we think are most important to Australians. Labor at the next election is choosing the healthcare of Australians over bigger profits for multinationals and banks. So today certainly reflects our values and our priorities. Wherever you live in Queensland, wherever you live in Australia, it should be your Medicare card which determines the quality of healthcare you get, not how much money you've got in the bank and it's part of our commitment to make communities like Logan even more liveable.
JOURNALIST: If the Logan Hospital is at 100 per cent capacity every day, does that mean the Palaszczuk Government is doing a bad job?
SHORTEN: It just means that population is growing and infrastructure has got to keep pace. The fact of the matter is, be it back in the day when Campbell Newman was in charge cutting healthcare in Queensland, or the $6 million of cuts which the current LNP Government in Canberra has presided over the hospital, you have got to increase medical services over time. The population is growing and we're getting better at how we deliver healthcare. This is a good workforce so I invite you to take the time to talk to the people who work here, right from the executive management, through to the nurses, through to the volunteers who greet you when you first come to the hospital. But we can't ask more of our people without the government in Canberra investing in the health system in Australia. Politics is all about choices. We choose the health of Australians over keeping multinationals and the big end of the town happy and we can do this because we’ve made hard economic decisions and we're putting our policies forward.
JOURNALIST: The Saturday that you’re taking off on the Sunshine Coast, will taxpayers’ money be going towards that?
SHORTEN: No. And listen, I notice that some people in the Government are critical of me doing nine days up here in Queensland and taking Saturday off to be with my family. Do you know rather than bagging me being in Queensland, why don't they come and visit? Come and have a holiday in Queensland if that’s what you want to do or come and work in Queensland. For the next nine days, the headquarters for me is Queensland. I mean everyone here knows that my wife's a Queenslander so I love coming up here but it's a work thing and we're going to make sure over the next nine days we visit much of Queensland and I'm looking forward on Saturday to catching up with my family.
JOURNALIST: You promised to smash under-performing super funds, how?
JOURNALIST: You promised to go after the under-performing super funds, how?
SHORTEN: I think the regulator, first of all, superannuation is not the money of the super funds, or indeed of governments. It's the people's money, which is put into accounts to be invested in their best interest. Now what happens is there's been a lot of debate about the performance of banks, and I for one will never forget that Scott Morrison voted 26 times against having a banking royal commission. And one of the spotlights which has been shone in recent days is making sure that where people's money is in superannuation funds, that those superannuation funds are not complacent or lazy, that they are actually working hard to get the best investment return. I for one certainly think the regulators need to examine the bottom quarter of underperforming funds and make sure their trustees are doing their job, otherwise you’ve got to move those mandates on from those trustees, or replace those trustees. So I think that one year doesn't necessarily signal how a performance will be, but if you have a pattern of under-performance over half a decade or more, then I do think the regulators need to step in and demand greater accountability.
JOURNALIST: Will Labor be supporting a royal commission into what happened in the Murray-Darling Basin given that we’ve got reports of another fish kill today?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, there's an ecological disaster unfolding on Australia's greatest river system. The government can't keep ignoring the problem or just brushing off the concerns. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, when he was in, started a Royal Commission from South Australia's view. Of course the conservative governments elsewhere wouldn't have a bar of that and now we've got an ecological disaster. It may well be timely to wait for the South Australian Royal Commission to report to help us to understand what the next steps should be. I’ve asked the current Prime Minister, as we're so close to an election, would he work with the Opposition and more importantly Australia's scientists and experts to provide a report and an update on what they think is happening, the best experts think is happening, before Parliament resumes on February the 12th. Sadly the current government has seen fit to schedule only 10 days of Parliament in eight months. This ecological disaster should be a priority for the government - it is for me - before we get to a decision of a national Royal Commission, I'd like to see what the South Australian information is, and I certainly want to know what the experts' best advice is about what it happening, because it is a complex issue, before Parliament resumes. I commend my Shadow Minister, Tony Burke, I sent him up to Menindee, which is ground zero for some of these ecological disasters and we’re already getting information back from that visit.
JOURNALIST: (inaudible) said last week that they were very well staffed…
SHORTEN: What I'm talking about is outpatients. I don't know if you came through the tour we just did, but it's very crowded. They're getting up to 80 people there at a time. What I might do is invite Catherine to talk further about the need which we are addressing. I guarantee you though, if we go out and hold a view of the people who live in Logan, they want to see more outpatient services for the sort of care we're proposing. And if we were to have a beauty parade between Mr Morrison's tax cuts for the big end of town, or my plan to provide more outpatient services in Logan, you put your money on us.
KING: Thanks, Bill. The hospital is currently seeing 500 people a day through the emergency department and that's been growing by 3% each year. Of course, Labor when we were last in government invested substantially in an expansion of the emergency department and thank goodness we did make that investment, because there was huge pressure on this hospital and that continues. Outpatients as well, there are obviously substantial waiting time for outpatient visits. What the urgent care clinic will do for patients, it will provide 22 new specialty clinics so other outpatient visits can be held at the urgent care clinic. So that will really take pressure off the outpatients department here, and as I said those Category 4 and 5 patients that are not going to be admitted, that will take pressure off the ED department, so they can get on with doing what this hospital is good at; treating those people who are in acute episodes of illness and making sure they then can move on to what their next transition of care will be.
JOURNALIST: Are patients being stacked in the corridors here?
KING: Well certainly this hospital, there is no doubt is under pressure because of population growth, and we also know that the cuts that have happened here at this hospital mean that of course if you cut funding out of the hospital, it means you can deliver less services. That's what the Morrison Government has done under the current funding agreement, $6.1 million cut out of this hospital. You don't improve outpatient waiting times, you don't improve emergency department waiting times, you don't improve quality of care and services by cutting $6.1 million out of hospital. What you do is you do what the State Government has done, invest $280 million in redeveloping the hospital, and what federal Labor wants to do, try and take immediate pressure off by the building of an urgent care clinic.
SHORTEN: First of all, when I look at Queensland I don’t look at just Labor and Liberal seats, I look at Queenslanders. I think our message of a fair go for all, providing bigger tax cuts for working people, properly funding our hospitals and schools, taking real action on climate change and renewable energy, which will help with cost of living. Getting wages moving again in this country, making sure that wherever you live in this country you’ve got access to decent services not cuts, that’s a Queensland story. So our message I think is one for the times in Queensland. But having said that there are thirty seats here and we want to make sure that we do well here. If you want to form a majority in the house of reps you certainly need to get a good showing in Queensland. I’ve been coming to Queensland for the various jobs I’ve been in for a long time. A lot of my family now live here, this is a great place to live but I think what a lot of Australians feel, not just Queenslanders, is that in the last few years something is not going right in the economy. More and more Australian families are having to spend household savings just to pay the weekly bills and wages growth is at record lows. We are seeing the cost of childcare up 20% since the Coalition came in. We are seeing the cost of private health insurance nearly making it a luxury product. We’ve seen the freeze on the Medicare rebate. So I think that not only is Queensland important electorally, what’s happening is that the government in Canberra has forgotten the people of Australia. This summer when I went around and people would come up and talk to me, the most common thing that they would say to me would be listen we are just sick of the instability. So yeah, we are putting a positive plan – what people say is stop focusing on yourself and your own fights and focus on us. What could be more reasonable to focusing on the needs of people than if you have an injury at home or if your child falls of something or you need urgent care which is non-life threatening. Let’s go and make life easier for the health workforce of this state and put some extra resources in rather than tax concessions for the top end of town.
JOURNALIST: How many seats do you think you can win? Be realistic.
SHORTEN: I am always realistic. I want to win as many as we can but that is going to be up to the voters at the end of the day.
JOURNALIST: Do you have a projection?
SHORTEN: Well I am not so arrogant as to say to the voters as to what they are going to do. We will find out whenever the election is. But two things I already know what voters think. One – they would like to see one prime minister for three years. Labor’s learnt the lesson. There’s that old joke but its actually true now. Once upon a time paramedics would ask someone who is suspected of concussion ‘who is the prime minister?’ because we were pretty stable but now they don’t bother. So people are sick of the instability. I have had life-long liberal voters say they don’t agree with everything we are saying, but that is fair enough, who agrees with everything someone says, but they are sick of the instability. This is my sixth January as Opposition Leader, I’ve got a very good team, we are stable and we are working on policies. But the other thing they say to me is Bill, once upon a time having rich parents was useful but it wasn’t a prerequisite to the next generation getting ahead. Now what’s happening is that money is determining the future much more and we are not seeing the proper resources for the pensioners, we are not seeing the proper support for the battlers and we are not seeing the wages moving at all, we're seeing labour hire expanding everywhere, one in three Australians is in casual or insecure work. People feel that the economy is headed in the wrong direction because it is not working in the interests of everyone. That why our fair go plan for Queensland and for Australia, I'm optimistic it will resonate. We’ve just got to tell the story that’s why I'm going on the bus. Our bus is going to travel at least 1400km.
JOURNALIST: How often will you be on it?
SHORTEN: I will be on the bus every day where the bus is going. I won't be catching an aeroplane between now and towards the very end of next week. You’re welcome to come on the bus but I will certainly be there, travelling to big towns and small towns. I think that Australians also want to see their politicians being real, and being out there with them. They don't expect us to solve every problem they've got. But they do expect that you're in touch. I think this government has seriously lost touch. When they say everything is going fine in Australia, speak to someone who is waiting for a shift by text message the night before they're due to work. Speak to someone who can't get an apprenticeship for their child, speak to a seafarer who’s just lost a job because BHP is sending the ship overseas and foreign flagging it. Speak to a railway worker in Rockhampton, speak to someone in Maryborough who is trying to battle to make sure we can keep manufacturing there. This government is out of touch and I want to help resume and renew the faith of people that their vote can make a difference.
JOURNALIST: You didn’t get the swing you were looking for last time what makes you think you will this time?
SHORTEN: Oh no, the Longman by-election was very satisfactory.
JOURNALIST: I mean in 2016 election.
SHORTEN: Oh you mean, back then? Listen, we did OK. People thought they were voting for Malcolm Turnbull. He had just got rid of Tony Abbott. Remember Malcolm Turnbull the Liberal leader in the 2016 election. They don’t talk about it now except for Peter Dutton. What happened is I think they thought they would give the Liberals another chance. I think now people have given up. This government has been in, by the time of the next election, for 2,000 days. What have they done? There was the banking royal commission, but we take a bit of credit for that. Healthcare, though, that’s a big issue with the cuts.
JOURNALIST: The final leg of the trip will be on a plane then, you said end of next week?
SHORTEN: I want to get to every part of Queensland. The bus that I'm on, we're going to go from here, we'll get up to Townsville, it's a matter of whether or not I can fit in Cairns this trip or make a separate trip.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Clive Palmer has been fairly active on Labor’s political spend with political ads. Inaudible?
SHORTEN: Clive Palmer is Australia’s number one digital serial pest and I am going to take Clive Palmer seriously when he pays the $70 million that he owes the workers and his creditors. I will take Clive Palmer seriously when he pays back the taxpayers of Australia who have stepped into his shoes to fulfil his obligations as a conscientious employer. I say to Australians; maybe you think it is funny or maybe you are getting annoyed or whatever by that yellow wallpaper he is papering up all over billboards around Australia, I will just say this; the bloke owes the workers money. The taxpayers of Australia- you and everyone else- have paid his debts for him, so when he contacts you, he is spending your money to annoy you. He should just pay the workers, do his proper obligations and then he can have a welcome to hear whatever he wants to say on everything else.
JOURNALIST: Just when you say-
SHORTEN: Sorry, I did say you were next but you will be the one straight after.
JOURNALIST: Mr. Shorten how flexible is your timing around the first term plebiscite on a republic given that indigenous leaders like Marcia Langton would rather you delay it to give clear air to constitutional recognition. Would you do it in a second term instead?
SHORTEN: Jared, I said at our National Conference, a month ago, that our first priority would be indigenous recognition- that is the timetable we have.
JOURNALIST: But would they be sequential? As in you wouldn’t-
SHORTEN: Yeah, that is what we decided at our National Conference. I think you should be talking about having an Australian Head of state but I think it is long overdue to include our First Australians in the nations birth certificate.
JOURNALIST: Could that include going to the second term, pushing into the second term?
SHORTEN: Listen, I want to win my first election but I admire your confidence in my second term chances.
JOURNALIST: Based on what we saw from the Audit Office yesterday, how confident are you that the Great Barrier Reef Foundation will be able to produce meaningful projects within its budget?
SHORTEN: This government is racked by scandals but I think one of the- I mean I think a lot of Australians are trying to forget 2018 and government politics, it is like a bad dream, until they come back and see them again. But- I think handing $443 million, $443 million to a private charity run by some of the big names in business when they didn’t ask for $443 million in a half hour meeting; that is scandalous. Now we have found out from the audit that the process there was anything but best practice and of course, two of the three architects, handing $443 million of taxpayer money to a private foundation to look after the reef, was of course Malcolm Turnbull- he is gone, that is life. The other two were the current Treasurer and the current Prime Minister. I think the whole thing smells, it is a scandal. The other crazy thing about it is, is the double handling. They are handing money to a private foundation- an amount which they have never handled before, no track record. Then they are making the CSIRO and the universities and government agencies ask the private people to get some of that money back, it is triple handling. The whole thing is a mess. We will take it back and we will just protect the reef.
JOURNALIST: what do you think about the administration costs about being up to $80 million [inaudible] expensive lunches [inaudible]?
SHORTEN: I don’t know what they’re eating. But the point is, I don’t know what the Government was thinking when they handed the money. $80 million to administer government money. I thought that was the job of the government. This Government loves privatisation so much they’ve even privatised their own administration of the reef. And paid the private sector $80 million to do it. I mean, I know ideologically, this Government loves the big end of town, but handing away $443 million of taxpayer money, red hot, and it is one of the scandals which when you push Australians they recall from 2018, how on earth does anyone get $443 million in half an hour when they didn’t even ask for it?
JOURNALIST: Are you heartened by the CFMEU getting its way over Wollongong coal and what message does that send to other employers who use labour hire?
SHORTEN: Well the real issue is labour hire. I think it’s wrong in Australia that you can have people doing the same job of the same skills of the same classification with the same productivity but because the legal identity – one of them works for the actual company, the other works for labour hire – the labour hire worker can be paid far less. How does that improve productivity? How is that fair at all? I’ve got a simple view of life when it comes to workplace relations: same job, same pay.
JOURNALIST: Just very quickly –
SHORTEN: - Alright Amy, last one.
JOURNALIST: Jacinta Price put up a Facebook post speaking about indigenous deaths and she included Linda Burney in that. Given her personal situation which we all know from last year, do you find that to be in bad taste?
SHORTEN: I’m genuinely not aware that she’s done that. I think Linda Burney’s great. And I don’t want to comment any further. I appreciate what you’re asking. But I don’t want to comment any further. I hope that’s not right. Okay thanks everybody. See you on the bus I hope.