Bill's Transcripts


SUNDAY, 29 MAY 2016

SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan to boost coverage of women’s sport; Labor’s plan to protect Medicare; Tonight’s debate; AMA advertising; Schoolkids Bonus; Labor’s plan for Budget repair that’s fair

KATY GALLAGHER, SENATOR FOR THE AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY: Good morning everyone, it's great to be here and to be welcoming the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten and Jason Clare here to the University of Canberra, to my home town, on my patch, to meet some of the young sporting women of the future who are practising here this morning. The under 13's and the under 17's for this very important sports announcement, women in sports announcement from Bill Shorten today. Bill, it's great to have you here, so please, I know the girls are really so pleased and thrilled to have you come and speak with them this morning. And I'll hand over to you. 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hi, good morning everybody. This is a fantastic backdrop for a press conference, I think. It is a scene being repeated all over Australia. Parents taking their teenage kids, teenage kids to fall in love with sport and potentially become great national heroes for future generations of Australians. But at the very least get the benefits that sport provides you. And that's why a Labor Government, if elected on July the 2nd, will fund an extra 500 hours of live coverage of women's sport on ABC television. We're doing this because we believe that our women athletes deserve comparable coverage to our male athletes. We've got a great sporting story of Australian women athletes. It's a great and wonderful story, but at the moment, what happens is of all the sports coverage on television, only 7 per cent is of our women athletes and yet we've had the Southern Stars, we've had the Matildas, we've had the Diamonds, we've had the Opals, all doing remarkable things. We should never forget that in 2012 our elite Australian women athletes won more medals even than our elite men athletes. And I'm looking forward to great results at Rio in coming months. It is important that our women athletes get equal treatment to our men. It is important generally in Australian society that Australian women get an equal go as compared to Australian men. Now, our very sensible proposal will supplement the developments and coverage of women's sport. It was a real shame that under the Liberals in 2014 women's basketball and women's soccer disappeared from the television. Now, I am pleased that soccer's come back with the Matildas, but still women's Basketball languishes in the too hard basket of Liberal cuts to the ABC. Now, what we want to see is that the ABC is funded to do 500 hours of extra coverage of women's sport across all its platforms. Importantly, our funding will be based on the principle that where a commercial network is bidding for a sport, that's not the focus of this extra money. We're going to use the extra money going to the ABC to complement and supplement what our television networks are already doing. I'd like to personally give a shout out to Channel 9 and their coverage of netball, I think that's a great development, I've been greatly interested in women's netball and the conditions of our elite athletes, and I think that Channel 9 development is really excellent. Our policy is going to make sure that women's sports get a better deal. One of the greatest proponents of giving women's sport a better deal are dads. Dads want to see their daughters getting the sort of coverage that their sons get. And what we want to make sure is that these future stars behind us, when they become heroes in Australian sport, that they can provide role models and mentors, and real inspiration to future generations of Australian women. I know that Australian women are capable of just about any achievement possible on the planet. I think it's important that there's a Government who's willing to support them. I'd like to now get my spokesperson, Jason Clare, to talk further about this really good news for women's sport in Australia.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Well, thanks very much Bill and Katy. This is great news, it means we are going to see more women's sport on the telly and more woman's sport online. We all remember the night before the last election when Tony Abbott said there'd be no cuts to health and no cuts to education. He also said there would be no cuts to the ABC, and unfortunately in the aftermath of that election, in the first budget after that election, he cut about $250 million out of the ABC, and in the last budget, only a couple of weeks ago, Malcolm Turnbull cut another 48 or 49 million dollars out of the ABC. Now, after those first cuts we saw the women's basketball national competition and the W league, the soccer, come off the ABC. It's good news that the soccer is back, but the basketball is still not there. And as Bill said, only 7 per cent of the sport we see o n telly at the moment is women's sport, despite the incredible success of female athletes. It's great news that Channel 9 struck a deal with netball to get netball on to telly, it's also great news that Channel 10 have got the women's Big Bash on the telly as well. But we can do more, and that's what this is about. It means 500 extra hours of live women's sport on the telly or online, that will see the women's hockey team, the women's cricket team, the women's basketball team, as well as the WNBL, being the sports that we will be able to see on ABC TV or on iView. This policy provides the opportunity to create a home for elite women's sport on iView as well. To reinforce one point that Bill made, this is not about competing with the commercial networks, this is about giving funds to the ABC to acquire the broadcasting rights for these sports, where Channel 7, Channel 9, Channel 10, or Foxtel decide not to purchase t hose rights. It means more women's sport on TV,  more women's sport online, It's great news for women's sport. Thanks very much. 

SHORTEN: Are there any questions on this or on any other matters?

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you've declared yourself a great fan of women's sport. I've got a pop quiz for you this morning. Can you name the captain of the Hockeyroos, the Diamonds and the Southern Stars.

SHORTEN: The Hockeyroos I can't, but  Amanda [Meg] Lanning, Amanda [Meg] Lanning runs the Southern Stars, she's the captain, and Laura Geitz, of course, is the captain of the The Diamonds.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, can I ask, can you explain how spending on Medicare contributes to economic growth?

SHORTEN: Medicare means that when people are sick they can get care quickly, what that means is we keep a healthy workforce. A healthy workforce is a benefit to every employer in Australia. Furthermore, when you look at what the costs of privatised two tier health systems cost, for example, the United States. The American's spent 17 per cent of their GDP on healthcare for fairly inefficient results, certainly for poorer Americans. By contrast in Australia, we spend just on 10 per cent of our GDP on healthcare, and the beautiful sweet spot of the Medicare system is that it means our employers don't have to pay health insurance. If you or I were in America we'd be seeking that our employers top up our health insurance because of the inadequate nature of the existing system. So, what Medicare delivers is a healthy workforce, It delivers greater emphasis on primary care, and it delivers less costs to employe rs. All of this contributes to the bottom line of economic growth.

JOURNALIST: How important is the debate tonight for you, Bill, and are how are you feeling heading into it?

SHORTEN: Well, I'm looking forward to this debate. I didn't ask Mr Turnbull to have an eight week election but I've really been enjoying getting out and talking to real people about Labor's positive plans. And I'm looking forward, again, tonight talking about Labor's positive plans. Our positive plans for jobs, our positive plans to save Medicare, our positive plans to make sure that every child in every postcode gets every opportunity through well-resourced schools. I'm really looking forward to also discussing the difference in my priorities and my united Labor team's priorities with those of Mr Turnbull and his Liberal team. Mr Turnbull's chosen to spend $50 billion in a tax giveaway for big business. I've chosen to spend $49 billion over the next ten years making sure that we've got the best Medicare system in the world and we've got the highest achieving school sy stems in the region.

JOURNALIST: The country’s doctors are launching a ferocious advertising blitz against the Government's stance on the Medicare rebate freeze, you must be happy to have the doctors on your side?

SHORTEN: Well I don't blame the doctors standing up for the patients, that's what doctors always do. The frontline of our healthcare system are our hard working GPs, many of them small businesses. The fact that a Turnbull Government wants to freeze the rebates they receive for six years is basically putting the doctors in the worst of all possible choices. Do they have to absorb increasing costs for six years or do they charge patients more upfront fees? Australia's doctors are committed to the welfare of Australia's patients. Australia's doctors know that if Mr Turnbull is elected after July 2, 14.5 million patients will have to pay more to go and see the doctor. Who can disagree with the doctors when they say that they want to prioritise the nation's health against people's wealth?

JOURNALIST: Your party submitted 70 odd policies for costing, did you submit a schoolkids bonus policy for costing?

SHORTEN: I don't know, but I would have to go and check with my financial people.

JOURNALIST: Yesterday you said that the Coalition's company tax cuts are useless and hopeless. Why shouldn't every owner or even employee of a business with a turnover more than 2 million conclude that a Shorten government will never give them a tax cut, and if that's wrong, under what conditions are tax cuts for medium and big business useful and hopeful?

SHORTEN: Thanks Tim, there's a couple of points in your question and I'll address each of them individually. In a perfect world, if Mr Turnbull hadn't tripled the deficit, if he hadn't endangered our triple-A credit rating, if they haven't mismanaged the economy, then one could contemplate tax cuts in the corporate world. But the truth of the matter is we've got to deal with the facts as they are, not as the facts that Mr Turnbull would wish they were. Now I did say yesterday that a $50 billion giveaway to the big end of town is absolutely the wrong choice, and I am absolutely committed to that. What happens is that Mr Turnbull's justified his whole economic plan for Australia, I mean, to be fair it's his third plan. First of all he wanted the 15 per cent GST and he's backed off that for the time being. Then he had the thought bubble about increasing - allowing states to levy taxe s, and that went down like a lead balloon. Now he's sort of fastened upon corporate tax cuts as the answers to all the problems of Australia's future. The problem with giving a $50 billion tax cut to corporate Australia is it's exactly the wrong time with the wrong priorities. What Mr Turnbull is saying is that the best case scenario, in the next 10 years because of a $50 billion tax giveaway, all we'll get is 1 per cent in GDP growth in total across 10 years, and that's on the optimistic side of that assessment. The truth of the matter is that giving away $50 billion for very little economic gain at all is precisely the wrong measure that this economy needs at this time. What we need to do is make sure that we've got a skilled workforce, what we've got to do is make sure that our kids are getting an education comparable to the top nations in our region. What we have got to do is make sure that we have a healthcare system which encourages people t o be able to get the healthcare they need when they're sick early on, primary care, not leaving problems until they are too expensive or too late. Mr Turnbull's priorities are all wrong. Giving $50 billion away just to get a 1 per cent growth in the economy is an absolute misallocation of taxpayer resources. The truth of the matter is that this giveaway will mean that our big banks get over $7 billion back to their bottom line. Does anyone seriously think that the banks aren't going to pocket this $7 billion of taxpayer money and just keep it as profit? Mr Turnbull's priorities are all wrong, he is choosing the wrong levers, for the big end of town, when we should be prioritising education, healthcare, the needs of middle-class and working-class families.

JOURNALIST: The government is saying that they will get the budget back into surplus by about 2021. Does Labor - do you think that if you were to be elected that you would also get the budget back into surplus by 2021 or earlier?

SHORTEN: As my shadow treasurer said in his debate against Scott Morrison, what we will do is, closer to the election, we will outline how we intend to bring matters to have a credible pathway to balance. But what we will do, is we will, unlike previous Liberal oppositions, outline our four and 10 year forecasts and outline how we are going to pay for the promises we make. But one thing I can be very clear about here today, is Mr Turnbull's whole economic edifice relies upon the assumption that giving $50 billion away in corporate tax cuts is the answer to all Australia's problems. The truth of the matter is, that a lot of that money that he's giving away will go overseas to foreign shareholders, a lot of that money he's giving away will be absorbed by the big banks in extra profits. When Australians realise that Mr Turnbull's economic plan is to give banks $7 billion plus over the next 10 years, rather than properly fund schools and properly fund bulk billing, I think Australians will be very disappointed with Mr Turnbull's wrong priorities for the nation.

JOURNALIST: You are quite critical of the 1 per cent growth dividend for the company tax cuts -- 

SHORTEN: Over 10 years, yes.

JOURNALIST: Have you modelled the growth dividend, the GDP growth, that you expect to get back from the health and education spending that you are proposing?

SHORTEN: There is no doubt that educating our workforce is a game changer for this nation--

JOURNALIST: Have you modelled the economic dividend?

SHORTEN: I'm going to answer your question, I'm going to do it the courtesy of giving it a detailed answer, rather than a three-word slogan. Education absolutely is the game changer for the Australian economy. There can be no serious argument put up against the proposition that ensuring a skilled workforce in the future won't lead to making sure that our kids are able to benefit in the race for global jobs in the future. I don't want Australian children just growing up learning to play the apps on computers. I want our people in the future, the Australian people, to be designing the apps, not just to be using machines, but operating, manufacturing, and advanced manufacturing of technology. I have got no doubt that the argument which says that a more educated workforce leads to long-term sustainable economic growth is just incontrovertible, and in terms of healthcare, how on earth can it be good for G DP growth, indeed for the wealth of this nation, if we start creating walls between sick people and going to the doctor? You know, I think the fact that the Royal College of Australian GPs has felt so motivated to engage in the political debate, they are not doing it because they necessarily prefer my personality or Mr Turnbull's personality, it's all about the issues. I think it is the truth that if you increase the cost of going to see the doctor at the early stage, we will become a nation where sick people get sicker, and that will be a drag on economic growth as our hospital wards get fuller, our emergency queues get longer, and the wait for elective surgery becomes even more drastic.

JOURNALIST: With respect, are you saying that you have no idea if your party has submitted a policy for costings on a $4.5 billion scheme?

SHORTEN: You asked about what are all the things that we've submitted for costing. Let me just repeat your question, you said that I - there's 70 issues going for costing, and I said I'll get back to you about which programs and what form we've asked for the costing. 

JOURNALIST: I asked specifically whether you had submitted for costing a policy on the schoolkids bonus - $4.5 billion--

SHORTEN: We have made a decision on the schoolkids bonus, and let me just go back to that. Mr Turnbull and his Liberals decided not to keep funding the schoolkids bonus past 2017. You know, in a perfect world, we'd like to be able to keep supporting families who are doing it hard with the costs of sending their kids to school. And what we've indicated though, is that after we've seen the most recent independent budget figures, after we have seen the hash this government has made with tripling the deficit, with adding $5000 net public-sector debt on the head of every man, woman and child in Australia since the Liberals got elected, that we've had to make a hard decision that we can't go on with the schoolkids bonus. But in addition what I can say, just as our shadow treasurer said in the debate in the Press Club on Friday, is that we will provide our 4 year and 10 year analysis of all of our promi ses, of our revenue measures, and our spending measures.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, sorry, but that's not what I asked. What I did ask was whether you had any idea about whether your party has submitted for costing a policy on the $4.5 billion schoolkids bonus?

SHORTEN: Well, frankly, what I'm saying is that we're not going ahead with the schoolkids bonus full stop.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, we saw some pretty ugly scenes in your home town yesterday over race riots. How worrying is this in 2016?

SHORTEN: Well, even though some in Mr Turnbull's party contradicted myself and Mr Turnbull yesterday and said you're not allowed to talk about racism, the truth of the matter is there are still pockets of systemic racism. When we see people having sort of, violent brawls, well that to me just highlights some of the problems we have in our community. But last night at the Long Walk, we did see Australians come together. We saw Australians come together in the recognition, in the recognition that this nation can do better and will do better. And I think if anyone who was there last night, you would have seen thousands and thousands of ordinary people joining together and saying that we're all committed to making sure that all Australians get an equal share of the Australian future. Thank you everybody, see you a bit later at the debate.


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