PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 19 JUNE 2017
SUBJECTS: The Liberal’s $22 billion cuts to schools; media reform; building safety standards
JOURNALIST: Hello Mr Shorten.
SHORTEN: Good morning.
JOURNALIST: The Greens look like they are about to do a deal with the Government on Gonski, do you regret dealing Labor out of this so quickly?
SHORTEN: There is no way the Labor Party will support $22 billion worth of cuts to our schools. The Labor Party is determined to make sure that our kids get the best start in life and we don't do that by short changing Australian schools by $22 billion dollars over the next ten years.
JOURNALIST: But is it, is it really a cut? I mean are we still going through that argument?
SHORTEN: Well you just have to talk to everyone from the Education Union through to the National Catholic Education Commission. There's no doubt that from agreements which were signed and made in 2013 that Mr Abbott then cut $40 billion dollars, $37 billion dollars in the 2014 Budget and all Turnbull has done is put back some of the money which was cut.
Why on earth does this Government want to short change Australian schools at the same time on 1 July he's giving millionaires a $16,500 tax cut and he's giving large multinationals and Australian banks $65 billion dollars in corporate tax relief. This Government's priorities are out of touch and all wrong. We'll put the kids ahead of big banks and ahead of millionaires.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten on media reform is there any room to cut a deal on that this week?
SHORTEN: I think there's plenty of sensible proposals and what the Government's doing but we are not going to support a reduction in diversity by getting rid of the two out of three rule, that essentially means that Labor doesn't want to see one dominant media outlet controlling newspaper, radio and television but on much of the other changes, such as helping TV stations with relief on their license fees, Labor's up for that. It is wrong of the Government to take the industry hostage and say that all of the other reforms can't be supported merely because they are insisting on one change which Labor has real doubts about.
JOURNALIST: Do you concede that that makes Channel Ten’s current position even more difficult?
SHORTEN: The people who have been running Channel Ten have got to explain Channel Ten. I am interested in maintaining diversity in this country. And certainly, when it comes to negotiating the vast bulk of media reforms, Labor is up for that.
But this ‘you've got to agree with everything the Government says or you get nothing’ - this take it or leave it approach just shows you how out of touch and arrogant the Government are when they are dealing with people who don't agree with everything that Malcolm Turnbull wants.
JOURNALIST: Just in terms of another issue, cladding on buildings. Just outline your concerns there for, I think, Victorian buildings in particular you’ve raised.
SHORTEN: I have no doubt that unless we make changes to our regulation and supervision of cladding, it's not a matter of if but when, we might see some terrible fire. Let me be very clear - I don't make those comments lightly. I'll be attending a meeting later this week with fire experts, employers, unions about how we need to further improve the protection for Australians.
We shouldn't think that merely because this terrible tragedy happened somewhere else, that somehow we are immune to these problems in Australia. Now, I think we have got good standards but I think we would be most foolish not to revisit what we do.
When you have a tragedy like this anywhere, I think it is sensible, prudential to make sure we have got the best health and safety system in Australia. I have always been committed to standing up for health and safety. I think that unfortunately this tragedy, this terrible tragedy, means we should revisit whether or not we are being complacent. Whether or not we have deregulated standards too much. Are we allowing in unsafe imported materials? Are we making sure that qualified people are protecting everything from the fire sprinkler systems, right through to the maintenance and upkeep of building materials in our high-rise buildings?