MONASH MEDICAL CENTRE, MELBOURNE
MONDAY, 27 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECTS: Liberal Party civil war; Labor’s plans for hospitals and Medicare; Cabinet reshuffle.
CLARE O'NEIL, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR HOTHAM: Hello everyone, my name is Clare O'Neil and I am the Federal Member for Hotham and it is just so fantastic to have Bill and Tanya here today and I also want to welcome Jennifer Yang, who is Labor's candidate for Chisholm. It has been an absolutely deplorable week in Australian politics and it has been awful to watch the Liberals up in Canberra fighting and bickering amongst themselves. Labor is not interested in those disputes, we care about things that actually matter to Australians, and that's why we've been here today visiting Monash Children's Hospitals.
We've spoken to a number of families here today, they're not talking about what's going on in Canberra, they're worried about their children, and the need for those kids to access the very best medical care that they can. Under Scott Morrison, $700 million has been cut from hospitals including $23 million from Monash Health. This is a hospital network in which one in six Victorian babies is born, it's not good enough. Bill, Tanya, Jennifer and I were looking this morning at the MRI facilities here at Monash Health. They have got an incredible MRI facility but would you believe that this beautiful hospital has been built without an MRI licence? That means that children who need medical care in this area have to travel many, many kilometres to get the medical care that they need. Labor is very, very concerned about these issues, we're focused on the things that matter to ordinary Australians, and I'll hand over to Bill to say a few words.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hello everybody, it's great to be at the Monash Medical Centre and visiting the children's hospital here. I'd just like to acknowledge the great work of Professor Ditchfield and his team and indeed all of the people working here. For Tanya and myself and of course our candidate for Chisholm, Jennifer Yang, and for Claire O'Neil, what we want to say to Australian people today is Labor is getting on with the job. There's nothing more important to me and my stable team than making sure we prioritise health care and the proper funding of hospitals.
It is correct to say that under Mr Morrison and his predecessor, Mr Turnbull, they cut hundreds of millions of dollars from hospitals - about $700 million. So what we're saying today is Labor is getting on with the job of the interests of everyday Australians. That's why I'm pleased to reiterate that we're going to put $2.8 billion extra into our hospitals, we're going to unfreeze the Medicare freeze which has seen patients pay more out of pocket costs and importantly today due to Clare O'Neil's advocacy, we're here to see how we can help provide more MRI resources, the very important diagnostic scans which allow us to help cure little kids. What Clare has been putting to us is and she is taking advantage of Labor's policy, if we are elected, we're going to put another 20 MRI machine licences available for Medicare rebates.
In this part of Melbourne, what that means is that instead of parents having to take their sick children all the way into Parkville in town or across to Wantirna, they can get medical care for the most precious thing in the world, our kids, straight away much closer to home.
We had the chance to talk to a little girl and her mum, these MRI scans will make the difference and help us explain why she's feeling the pain that she's going through. What Labor is doing today, is we want to reassure Australians. Last week was probably one of the worst weeks ever in Australian political history and a lot of people are rightly frustrated with the whole political system. I actually feel that the lesson from last week for me and Labor is that the pressure is on us to be the responsible alternative. People are looking at Labor perhaps in a way that they haven't before because they've just given up on the divided, chaotic shambles which is the current government. I mean, Australians still haven't had explained to them why they have a new Prime Minister, they're angry and they're frustrated.
What I want to say to Australians is health is the number one issue for us and we understand that what Australians are looking to Labor for is vision for the future, policies for the future and making sure that we stand up for everyday Australians and what they want and deserve. I'd now like to hand over to Tanya Plibersek to talk a bit further about these issues.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thanks Bill. I think as both Claire and Bill have said, last week was a shocking week for most Australians seeing what was going on in Canberra with the Liberals eating each other alive. And Australians are scratching their head this week because essentially what the Liberals have done is replace a reasonably popular Prime Minister with a much less popular Prime Minister, the Liberals own third choice for the job, remembering that both Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton were actually ahead of Scott Morrison in different ballots at different times.
The problem with Scott Morrison is that he is the architect of all of the cuts and the chaos that the Liberals have stood for in recent years. So, Scott Morrison was sitting around the Cabinet table when billions was cut from health and from hospitals and more recently as Treasurer, he is the Treasurer that has said it's more important to give a $17 billion tax cut to the big banks than to properly fund our schools. He's cut $17 billion from schools and given a $17 billion tax cut to the big banks. He's the Treasurer that's presided over $700 million of cuts from our hospitals. He said it's more important to give someone on a million dollars a year a $28,000 a year tax cut, than to properly fund our hospitals.
Australians won't buy the same toxic product in updated packaging. Scott Morrison has been the architect of the tax cuts for the big banks, the tax cut for the top end of town and the cuts to health, to education and to pensions to pay for it all.
SHORTEN: Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: You're now ahead of the Prime Minister on all fronts in Newspoll, aren't you relishing in the events of the last week?
SHORTEN: No, I'm not. I mean, I don't comment on the polls when they're bad and I don't comment on them when they're good but I don't think any of us here needed an opinion poll to tell us how angry, confused and annoyed Australians are with the Government but with politics more generally. I mean, the Morrison Government still hasn't told us why Morrison is the Prime Minister. People don't understand, people actually expect better of politics and I think that if you look at the division and chaos which is there, what Mr Morrison probably doesn't realise is that Mr Morrison can change his title, but he can't change what he believes. And if you want to see what he believes in, have a look at the last three Budgets.
I actually think if anyone who the Liberals pick wants to improve their standing with the Australian people, reverse the cuts to hospitals, provide more Medicare rebatable MRI machines so that the families we see here don't have to travel half way across Melbourne to be able to get refundable medical services.
What really matters here is not me or Mr Morrison. What really matters is the people of Australia, and I can only imagine people now even watching this. They might be in an airport travelling for work or they might be having lunch during their work at the factory or on a construction site, might be teachers in the school common rooms or just people at home - and they're saying, ‘what's going on in Australia? Why on earth can't our politicians look after us?’
I just want to reassure Australians this morning, we get the message in Labor.
We are stable; we've got five years of proof of that. We are united; we've got give years of proof of that.
But even more importantly we're focused on the health care of Australians. That's why Clare O'Neil's been advocating so hard and we're considering seriously that we provide a Medicare rebatable service at this children's hospital so that people don't have to travel across town for their sick kids to get the medical care they deserve.
JOURNALIST: Last week you were demanding for an election to be called, is that still your position?
SHORTEN: I think the sooner that people get to say in who runs the country, the better. The sooner people in Australia get to have a say who is running the country, the better.
This current government is put together by sticky tape and Band-Aids and some ice cream poles and not much else.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of the Morrison Government's new Cabinet?
SHORTEN: New Cabinet? Well, it's the same people with the same poor policies just doing different jobs. But I might hand over to Tanya and to Claire O'Neil to talk about the lack of priority on the banks and Tanya to talk more generally about the line-up.
PLIBERSEK: Bill, I guess the thing I'd add is that it's generally the same line-up doing a different jobs except that a number of MPs who had left the frontbench in disgrace have been brought back.
We've got a government that's trying to convince people that there's something new here, that there's a refresh but the same personalities doing different jobs with the resurrection of formerly disgraced MPs just doesn't cut it.
I'd also just like to mention that the Government is trying to pass this off as a great improvement in their female representation. Labor has got about double the number of women on the front bench than the Liberals do, and we've got about double the number in Parliament altogether, so I'm not sure that they should be crowing about their women's representation just yet.
O’NEIL: I will just make a brief comment in my capacity as Labor spokesperson on financial services. Scott Morrison has made an extraordinary decision not to include a Minister for Financial Services in his new line-up.
Now, it's extraordinary but it's not surprising because Scott Morrison is the best friend that the big banks ever had in Federal Parliament. This is the person who denied the need for a Royal Commission for 600 days, and during that time, it is probable thousands that of Australians got ripped off by a financial institution.
He voted against a Royal Commission 26 times, and he spent the last two years with his main argument to the nation being that the big banks need a $17 million tax cut.
Now, to not have a Minister for Financial Services is an absolute joke, and it just proves that Scott Morrison not on your side, he is on the side of the big banks. He always has and always will be.
JOURNALIST: Would Labor in Government keep immigration as a separate departmental portfolio from Home Affairs as Morrison has done?
SHORTEN: We haven't made a final decision, but we're open to that. One thing I want to reassure Australians is that if we're given the privilege to form a Government after the next election, whenever that may be, the attitude I'm going to take is that I'm not going to rip up everything that's happened just because another political party did it.
Now, when it comes to the basics though, it'll be a massive change of direction. I'll make sure that kids to who come here get a better deal in terms of the medical care they're getting in the context of Medicare rebates, and properly funding our health care system; so we'll be very different there. Obviously we think that every school should be a good school and therefore we're going to properly fund our schools.
We're not going to have anything to do with corporate tax cuts and when the Government says they're not going to do corporate tax cuts in the short term, they're crossing their toes and they're crossing their fingers, because never get between a Liberal Government in a tax cut for a rich mate.
But when it comes to other structural matters like our border security, making sure that we've got proper policies for immigration, proper policies to keep Australians safe as well, well we're going to be constructive. See, the difference between us and the Liberals is they sort of hate each other, and they sometimes hate us, we're not interested in that, we're just interested in looking after everyday working Australians.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Stuart Robert first resigned from the Turnbull Ministry in 2016 amidst a China trip and a probe into donations, now he's returned and will be part of the Foreign Investments Review Board, do you think that's appropriate?
SHORTEN: He's going to be on the Foreign Investments Review Board?
JOURNALIST: He’ll rubber stamp the decisions.
SHORTEN: Goodness me. I hadn't thought about that. I think you make a relevant point here the Government's going to have to explain.
Listen, I think Tanya's captured most of the issues to do with the reshuffle. But it's fundamentally this: what's going to change? It's the same people. Now some people voted for Mr Morrison and not Mr Dutton, so obviously Mr Morrison's friends have had a leg up and some of Mr Dutton's friends have got a kick in the pants.
But Mr Dutton himself, the man who tore town Malcolm Turnbull, he's back in the same job as if nothing has happened.
And I have to say, I haven't had the opportunity to say this on the record yet, but I noticed that Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister, has announced that not only is she stepping down Foreign Minister, but she's finishing her time in politics.
I didn't always see eye-to-eye with Julie but no one, no one, could dispute that she was a person who presented the case for Australia on the global stage with a bit of flair. I think Western Australians will be very disappointed that people in Western Australia who want to vote Liberal probably preferred her to one of newer, less well known people they've got.
So I think the Liberals have shown a bit of a disregard of what the people want. That is why I say the sooner the people get to decide who should run the Government, the better.
Perhaps one last question if there is one?
JOURNALIST: Emma Husar reportedly wants you to reinstate her preselection, have you spoken to her about that?
SHORTEN: Not yet. That'll be a matter for New South Wales to pick the candidate for Lindsay.
Thanks everybody, see you later.