SUNDAY, 12 MARCH 2017
SUBJECTS: WA election; penalty rates; the Liberal’s dirty deal with One Nation; GST; National Disability Insurance Scheme; vaccinations.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, everybody and welcome to the sunny banks of the Maribyrnong River.
I just want to congratulate Mark McGowan. The election result in Western Australia is Mark McGowan's election victory. He deserves the credit. He was an opposition leader for five years and he worked very hard to prepare Labor to be a positive alternative in Western Australia. It was the result that he deserves because of his efforts and his united team. And it was the result that West Australians need; they need a change in Western Australia and I look forward to seeing him become a very successful premier.
To the extent that there was a federal sphere or federal ramifications of the election, it really comes down to two or three issues. First of all, the massive, unrelenting, persistent incompetence of the Turnbull Government is a fact for all Australians. Secondly, Mr Turnbull's absolute refusal to stop the cuts to penalty rates shows that he, and his crew are out of touch. And of course, I think that the Turnbull Coalition's refusal to put One Nation last, I think is a decision that they regret. I said it was a mistake when they first did it. Labor came out a month ago and said we wouldn't preference One Nation, even ahead of the Coalition.
I think today, Mr Turnbull should show that he has heard the lessons of Western Australia. He should rule out once and for all doing any further deals with One Nation. He is the national leader. I've ruled it out, he should do the same. And of course, I do think that there was such a massive swing to Labor in Western Australia, Mr Turnbull should change his attitude completely and stop supporting the cuts to penalty rates, and now start opposing the cuts to penalty rates with Labor.
Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: You say it is about, that penalty rates were an issue but it was really more of a state-based campaign, wasn't it? I mean, no government has won a third term since the 1980s in WA, it’s come out of the mining boom with not much money left, so how much really can something that happened two weeks ago, when the writing was on the wall months ago, really claim an affect?
SHORTEN: I think you're right, and you might note that at the opening of my press conference I said this is Mark McGowan's election result. I have no doubt that the mood for a time for change was a big factor in this election. I've got no doubt that the work of Mark McGowan and his united Labor team being a viable alternative had a big impact. Labor's policy to oppose the privatisation of Western Power was significant and of course, standing up for West Australian jobs was a very important part of the reason why Mark McGowan had such an overwhelming win.
But there is no doubt that there was a reaction on penalty rates. Now, I don't think the full reaction to the Turnbull Government supporting cutting penalty rates has washed through with the Australian electorate yet, I think this will be an issue which will grow in crescendo and outrage. The problem for the Coalition, and this is a problem throughout Australia, is that when they enthusiastically support cutting penalty rates, it just shows Australians that the Coalition Government doesn't care about their real wages, doesn't care about the lives that working class and middle class Australians are leading.
JOURNALIST: Do you think it also shows something to, how there was a massive loss for Labor in the 2013 election and McGowan stayed leader through all of it. What do you think this says about keeping a stable leadership for this long?
SHORTEN: Well, I always think it's a good idea to keep a stable leadership in opposition. But I think what it shows is that when oppositions do the work, when they listen to people, when they talk about the issues which affect people rather than just the insider political games, that's when I think they get traction.
Mark McGowan very clearly said he opposed the privatisation of Western Power, the energy company over there. Mark McGowan said he wanted to put West Australians jobs first. When oppositions focus on the issues which affect people, that's when I think people start to listen to them.
That's why we are focused on housing affordability; making sure that first-home buyers can compete on a level-playing field with the investment speculators. That's why we are focused on defending penalty rates; because we think that when you cut someone's real wages, that's a disaster for family budgets. That's why we are focused on defending Medicare and making sure that you're able to afford to see the doctor when you need to see it and it's not depending how much money you have got in your bank account.
JOURNALIST: Do you support Mr McGowan's push for a greater slice of the GST?
SHORTEN: Well, we will see how Malcolm Turnbull goes with a new West Australian Government. I think the immediate pinch point for Malcolm Turnbull is that he said that he wouldn't support Mark McGowan's push to see Federal money go into public transport in Perth. I think that's where the action is going to be first up. I think that Malcolm Turnbull needs to respect the decision of West Australian voters. And instead of funding a big highway going nowhere, instead what they need to do invest in Perth METRONET to improve public transport for people living in Perth.
JOURNALIST: There's been more chaos plaguing the NDIS last year that has come to light. Did Labor's design of the scheme, having only a three year trial period for instance, play a role in that?
SHORTEN: No. I think the National Disability Insurance Scheme is an excellent idea. The principle that people with disabilities should be able to control, have a greater say in their lives and get packages of support directly paid to them and their families, to me helps relive the burden on carers and people with disabilities. The National Disability Insurance Scheme, I think it is the right thing this nation needs to provide a better deal for people with disabilities and carers.
It is shown that if we can organise the resources going to people with disabilities and carers and their families better, it will have an economic benefit but it will also improve the quality of lives of literally hundreds of thousands of Australians.
JOURNALIST: Should the Government consider giving the agency a short term financial boost so that current problems are ironed out quickly?
SHORTEN: I think the Government should sit down and brief the Opposition properly on how it is going. The Government tends to complain about the NDIS a lot, and we wish they would stop doing that. If they want make sure the scheme works as well as it can, Labor will be willing partners because issues like support for people with profound and severe disabilities and carers shouldn't be political footballs.
JOURNALIST: Vaccinations, do you support the Prime Minister's moves today on Vaccinations? He is calling for national approach.
SHORTEN: We certainly do support a national approach. Mr Turnbull has today asked state governments, or said he would ask state governments to withhold child care places with parents who don't vaccinate their kids. I think you'll find that a lot of states are already doing this. But you know, I applaud Mr Turnbull standing up along with Labor against the anti-vaccination brigade.
I have written to Mr Turnbull last week and said one thing the Federal Government can do, without just putting all the problems back on the states, is have a national education campaign. To have a national approach, educating parents to the importance of vaccinations as opposed to some of the crazier views they can read on the internet. I think we need to start educating parents and I would like Mr Turnbull to reconsider his opposition to a national education campaign.