WEDNESDAY, 25 JULY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to reverse the LNP’s $2.9 million cut to Caboolture Hospital; by-elections; Emma Husar; NEG, Trevor Ruthernberg’s medal and rank
SUSAN LAMB, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LONGMAN: Good morning everybody and welcome here to the Caboolture Ambulance Station. A station that was established back in 1991, and can I of course acknowledge the amazing staff here at the Queensland Ambulance Service.
You know, there are a few things in life that you should just be able to rely upon, to depend upon. Of course being able to pick up the phone and ring an ambulance at your time of need is one of those things. Having the health care services you need, delivered by your local hospital is another. Having a school that's funded for every student to get to their full potential is another, and of course having the backing of a government in what you need in your life is another thing you should be able to rely upon. But the reality is we've got a government that doesn't prioritise people, doesn't prioritise our health care or education. They've cut $2.9 million from our Caboolture Hospital, millions of dollars from our schools. This is unacceptable. We should be prioritising people and our health care and our education over the big banks.
Now in contrast we in Labor know how critically important it is to prioritise people. That's why we're going to build a $10 million chemotherapy service at the Caboolture Hospital, an urgent care clinic over on Bribie Island, and of course return the $17 billion worth of cuts to our local schools.
Now it's great to have the Minister here, Steven Miles with us here at the Caboolture Station today, and of course to have Bill and Tanya, once again back in Caboolture, to stand with me and fight for our fair share of health care services, and make sure that our schools get the funding they need, and not the banks. Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Susan, good morning everybody. This by-election is all about health care. It's all about the Caboolture Hospital. Now the ambos who we've been talking to, these highly trained paramedics, they do a fantastic job. But they're only as good as the resources that the national government gives the hospital system here in Queensland. They can get the patients to the emergency department and they do an outstanding job, and we're lucky to have their professionalism and dedication, but a lot of that good work gets undone with the waiting times in our hospitals, and the hospital in Caboolture. It's not right that there's been a $2.9 million cut to Caboolture Hospital - that is not fair and that needs to be changed.
Labor has campaigned strongly this by-election on health care. Susan has made it clear that because we're not giving $17 billion to the big banks, we can afford to have an urgent care clinic on Bribie Island, which means that the 15,000 residents there are able to get urgent care which is not of a life-threatening nature, locally, rather than having to spend the half hour, expensive journey down to the emergency ward here. And what that means is that the emergency department here is seeing the life-threatening cases, not cases which can be dealt with closer to home.
Susan's campaigned for a new MRI licence in the northern part of Brisbane, which means that people will be able to get Medicare rebated treatment, this amazing 21st century treatment, which guarantees better quality of health, and they can get it locally and they can get it with a Medicare rebate, which is not currently available. Susan's campaigned in this by-election to add eight new beds for chemotherapy treatment at the Caboolture Hospital.
And of course today, we are very pleased to say that we will more than restore the $2.9 million which was cut by the Liberals, going to Caboolture Hospital. You I think, and what I hope is that the question which people in this by-election ask themselves is whether they want more of the same from the Turnbull Government, or whether they want to send a message to Malcolm Turnbull to say we want to see improvement in our hospitals, we want a better deal when we're sick or when our family is sick. Labor stands firmly and squarely on the side of putting hospitals before banks, putting patients before multi-millionaires, putting Medicare ahead of the corporate tax cuts which Mr Turnbull so desperately wants to give the big end of town.
I'd now like to invite Tanya Plibersek to say a little bit more and then the Health Minister for Queensland, Steven Miles.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Bill and I want to thank Antoinette and her team for having us here at the ambulance station this morning. I also want to say, you know I was the Health Minister when Campbell Newman was in government up here, when Trevor Ruthenberg last had the opportunity of having an influence on health policy. And I saw the devastation that Campbell Newman's cuts caused across the Queensland health system. I saw the thousands of people who lost their jobs - doctors, nurses, people who were doing diagnostic imaging, people who were looking at blood pathology. Even the people who were cleaning our hospitals and providing meals to patients - absolutely widespread devastation across the health care system up here, having a huge impact on patient’s right across Queensland.
When Trevor Ruthenberg last had the chance of influencing health policy, he voted to sack more than 700 nurses from this local area alone. Why would anyone trust this guy to go to Canberra and have a say about health policy? You've got Malcolm Turnbull cutting $2.9 million from the Caboolture Hospital. Why would anyone send Trevor Ruthenberg down there to back in those cuts, to see more of the devastation that he was part of when he was part of Campbell Newman's cuts to the Queensland health system.
STEVEN MILES, QUEENSLAND MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MINISTER FOR AMBULANCE SERVICES: The Palaszczuk Government has spent the last four years rebuilding Queensland's health services after they were decimated by Campbell Newman. Trevor Ruthenberg stood by while Campbell Newman sacked 700 nurses from this region. We have now more than rebuilt those services.
But our job has been made harder because we have a Federal Government that won't work with us to deliver more and better health services, they work against us. They are cutting $2.9 million from Caboolture Hospital. They owe Metro North nearly $130 million in activity funding for operations performed as much as 12 months ago, and then their aged care policies are meaning that older Queenslanders, our grandparents, are not getting the services they need. We have our COAG Health Council next week, and aged care is not on the agenda. Hospital funding is only on the agenda because Queensland has demanded that it should be. Those policies are making my job harder, making the jobs of these paramedics harder.
You just saw our local assessment unit, its job is to go to people's homes when they probably don't need to go to hospital, but can't get an appointment with a general practitioner. They go into nursing care facilities that don't have sufficient nursing staff, to avoid taking those older Queenslanders to hospital where we know that often they will just get sicker. That's why we need a government that will work with us to deliver more services. Cancer treatment at Caboolture Hospital, restore those cuts, an MRI licence in the region, a treatment facility on Bribie Island to save people making that trek into Caboolture. That's what Labor has committed and what they will deliver, and it is why Saturday is all about health.
The by-election on Saturday is all about health.
Trevor Ruthenberg spent three years in this community being a yes man for Campbell Newman's cuts. Now, he wants to be a yes man for Malcolm Turnbull's cuts. Just on Monday, I opened the new carpark at Kallangur State School. That carpark could not have been built if Trevor had gotten his way, if he'd sold that school oval off for housing development. The choice on Saturday is very clear: Susan's record on delivering health care into this community means that on Saturday, if you care about health care, you should vote for Susan.
SHORTEN: Thanks Steven, are there any questions on this or any other matters?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, could the voters of Caboolture essentially end your leadership if they don't vote for Labor?
SHORTEN: Listen, this election isn't ultimately about me or Malcolm Turnbull; it's about the things that matter for voters in Caboolture. What matters in Caboolture is do they have to make half hour or one hour journeys to get cancer treatment elsewhere, or should they be able to get it in the great fight of their lives right next door to where they live? Should they really, if you live on Bribie Island or on the coast just close to Bribie Island, should they be able to get urgent and important medical care in their own community, or have to take an ambulance all the way to the emergency department at Caboolture? This is what matters. What matters to people is that when they're sick, they can afford to see a doctor and they get quality care. That's why we're saying today that we are going to turnaround the $2.9 million in cuts which has happened to the Caboolture Hospital under the Liberal Government. This is what really matters.
And I mean, I said earlier in my opening but I'm happy to repeat it: the critical thing that I hope that people ask themselves before they cast a vote in Saturday's by-election, is whether they're really happy with more of the same from the Turnbull Government?
If the LNP and Ruthenberg is successful, the message that sends to Malcolm Turnbull is: the cuts to healthcare are OK, that an inferior health offering is satisfactory for people in this area. I actually want people to ask themselves whether it wouldn't be better to send a message to the Government that they want better from this Government. They want better in health. They want hospitals before banks. They want to see the $17 billion not being spent on big banks, but being spent on the education of our kids.
Sorry, I'll just go there.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the states have National Energy Guarantee decision (inaudible) this week. It is showing a saving of $550 a year. Are you going to encourage Labor states to embrace the NEG?
SHORTEN: First of all, I think that Mr Turnbull, if he really wants to guarantee lower energy prices, needs to guarantee to the states what the legislation is that he's going to present to the Parliament. I mean, it's a bit of a wrong priority of Mr Turnbull to go and try to convince the states when he hasn't even convinced his backbench. The report has only just come out and I haven't studied it. I'm getting briefed on it as we talk. But when I look at it, last year alone, $630 power price increases. I think that what Mr Turnbull is going to do is offer too little too late.
I want to make a different invitation to Mr Turnbull: let's end the climate change wars. Let's work together to lower energy prices in this country - that means moving to 50 per cent renewable energy. 1.8 million Australian households already have solar panels on their roofs. They're not doing that because it's more expensive, they're doing it because they want to have control over energy prices, and Mr Turnbull is caught between two stools. He knows that the technology of renewable energy is getting better and better and putting downward pressure on prices. He knows that if we have the commitment to 50 per cent renewable energy, that will unlock a wave of new invest which is the very thing we need to put downward pressure on power prices. But on the other hand, he has got to keep the knuckle-draggers of the right wing and the Queensland LNP, by pretending they're going to build new coal-fired power stations on every corner. We all know that that is rubbish.
So I think Mr Turnbull has got a long way to go and I think before he demands action from the states, he needs to demand action from his own backbench so that the states know they're really negotiating with Malcolm Turnbull and not an enormous bunch of climate change sceptics on the backbench.
JOURNALIST: Can you explain the cuts to Caboolture Hospital? You say there is $2.9 million in cuts, the Government tells us there has been 53 per cent increase of Commonwealth funding to Metro North. There is billions of dollars extra going into Commonwealth funding since the last Labor Government. How do you justify the $2.9 million because somebody on some side is telling porkies here and the voters are concerned?
SHORTEN: Thank you for that. And what I'll do is I'll also get the Queensland Health Minister to join me in the explanation but for me, it's as simple as this: when the Liberals were elected in 2013, they guaranteed that they'd provide 50 per cent of the efficient price funding for hospitals - 50 per cent. They've broken their word. They're only providing 45 per cent. And that means that there's been a cut of $2.9 million to Caboolture Hospital.
What the Government want to do is, having broken their promise, they want to say that their latest position was really the case all along, but it wasn't. When you reduce the proportion of Commonwealth funding from 50 per cent to 45 per cent, the share you contribute, that's a cut.
But why don't I get the Queensland Health Minister -
JOURNALIST: Before I lose you, can you not also concede that it is still record funding?
SHORTEN: Well, I think this is really at the heart of the debate - and it's the same debate in education, so what you're asking is a very important question. This Government say one thing at an election, and then after the election when they don't deliver it, what they hide upon is the natural growth in expenditure. We have more people in Australia since the last election, or from 2013. Government is bigger than it was from 2013. But if the Government had kept their word and kept on the 50 per cent contribution, rather than the 45 per cent contribution, there would be an extra $2.9 million. Labor has found the money to keep to that 50 per cent proposition because we're not going to pay the big banks.
I want to sort of speak almost pass the press journalists here to people in this electorate, to Australians generally. Elections are about choices. I know that people get sick of the Punch and Judy show, and as you said, Jono, the numbers, who's right and who's wrong. What I promise Australians and what Labor promises Australians is that we will prioritise scarce taxpayer money to spend on your health not on tax cuts to banks. There can be no doubt that whatever the Government says, we are offering more funding. We're offering more funding to reduce the waiting lists. More funding to make sure that you get chemotherapy treatment closer to home.
I spoke to a great lady, Debbie Doyle, who was interviewed in one of the newspapers recently and I spoke to her with no cameras present and all of that, but she had been in the newspaper talking about the draining travel to get cancer treatment. Now, it's not just chemo, there's also radiation. What she explained to me is what is really happening in Caboolture, beyond the important numbers debates which you raise, is that a group of people have to band together and pay for a maxi taxi. So that they get up at 8 o'clock in the morning - and if you're coming from Bribie, it's closer to 7 o'clock in the morning. Eight or ten of them will get on a bus - the maxi taxi. They'll go down to Royal Brisbane. The actual chemo treatment doesn't take the eight hours, but if you've got to have rests, if you've got to have radiation - what we're seeing is battlers battling cancer, having to travel all the way to Royal Brisbane in many cases. And why should they wait a day? It's exhausting.
My mum had chemo, my mum went through cancer. It is tiring. I am sure that even some of the people here have had family members who’ve battled cancer. What I'm putting forward, what Susan Lamb is putting forward - and she has a track record of voting for more money in hospitals, not less - is we're just going to prioritise cancer victims over big bank CEOs.
But why don't I get Steven because he's in charge of the books in Queensland.
MILES: The point here is, if the LNP had kept their word, Caboolture Hospital would have $2.9 million in more funding. Because they didn't, they cut $2.9 million from its budget. That's less resources for the hardworking doctors and nurses, midwives and their support staff at the hospital to deliver services into this community.
The other point I keep making is because the Federal Government continue to refuse to reconcile their contribution for that hospital funding for the 2016-17 year, Metro North is still owed nearly $130 million in funds that were committed to them under the Health Partnership Agreement. That's not Malcolm Turnbull's money, that's Queenslanders' money. Queensland taxpayers’ money that we sent to Canberra for our healthcare and Malcolm Turnbull refuses to pay back to us.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just on Sydney MP, Emma Husar. Obviously there is an investigation underway but how can that investigation be independent if it is being run by a former - a Labor figure?
SHORTEN: First of all, political parties have independent processes, just like corporations do, just like I am sure, media organisations do. I think you'll find that media organisations when there have been complaints will have an independent investigation which is auspiced under their protocols.
But let me go to the heart of where I think your question is going. First of all, I think that Emma Husar is a good person. I certainly think that she's going through a very tough time. I also think that other people have a right to fair treatment in the work place and respectful relationships. What Emma has done is she's putting her family first with all of this attention, she's going to take a little bit of leave. That's not unprecedented and I think that's the appropriate course of action.
Having said that, I do think that the people are entitled to respectful work places and respectful treatment. Clearly, there are complaints, and so there are protocols in place and there is an independent investigation.
Probably the final thing that I'd just say in terms of the initial points that you were making. Emma Husar has been through a pretty difficult family law process. That doesn't make her an unusual Australian, plenty of people have. What has been disappointing is to see some of this very personal family law argument and distress dragged out publicly.
Sorry, why don't I just share the questions. Do you guys want to work out who asks?
JOURNALIST: If she is found to have breached workplace law, will you disendorse her?
SHORTEN: If people have breached the law, we'll deal with that when that happens -
JOURNALIST: So you will disendorse -
SHORTEN: Well actually what I'm not going to do is pre-empt an investigation. And I think that that is actually fair on all of the parties.
JOURNALIST: When did your office become aware of issues involving Emma Husar?
SHORTEN: This set of complaints we found out last Wednesday afternoon.
JOURNALIST: So your office wasn't aware of complaints last October?
SHORTEN: To my knowledge, there hadn't been a complaint -
JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to your office about that?
SHORTEN: To the best of my knowledge, I am certainly of the view that the complaints of this nature were not made any earlier than I'm aware of.
Sorry, why don't we just give your other colleagues a go?
JOURNALIST: There are reports that former Chief of Staff, Andrew Thomas had a role in managing the office. Do you know if that's true or not?
SHORTEN: Had a role in managing my office?
JOURNALIST: Her office, Ms Husar's office?
SHORTEN: No, I'm not and also, I understand to that question, he said that isn't correct.
I am going to give some of the women journos a go and then back.
JOURNALIST: There was coverage yesterday of a staff member being filmed walking a dog. Is that a Government staff member and do you think that is appropriate?
SHORTEN: Listen, I'm genuinely not aware of all of the circumstances. And obviously, in the heat of this investigation, I'm going to treat the investigation process with respect, and anyone who has any complaints or concerns.
But I will just make this one additional comment: You may or may not be aware that Emma Husar entered Parliament because she was a disability advocate. She became a disability advocate because one of her children, her son, was diagnosed with autism. As I understand, before people get looking down at the issue of the dog, this is a support dog for her son.
JOURNALIST: 7 News footage aired footage last night showing a staffer walking that dog, that is what we were able to confirm. Is that, is that, is that improper conduct?
SHORTEN: I do not know all of the circumstances behind that event. I genuinely don't. I'm not going to leap to any conclusions, positive or negative. There is an independent investigation, but the reason why I did choose to explain a little bit about Emma Husar's circumstances, is that she's a single parent. One of her kids is diagnosed and living with autism. The animal is a part of her son's therapy and treatment - for that fact, and I only put it in - I suspect there's more to this whole situation, and if I can, perhaps, just indulge a little with one point here. There's been a lot of family law stuff dredged out and circulating I'm finding out in the last day or so. I don't know if all of you have ever been through messy break-ups, and this doesn't excuse any waste of taxpayers’ money and it doesn't excuse anything else. But I do get the sense that there is more to this situation than meets the eye.
That is why I actually think it's respectful to all of the complainants, to Emma Husar and her family, to let an independent investigation take place.
SHORTEN: Sorry - John was next. John?
JOURNALIST: But getting a worker to pick up poo though for you, is surely not appropriate - dog poo?
SHORTEN: I don't know all the circumstances, that's what I'm saying to you. I wouldn't ask you or anyone else to pick up my dog's poo, but that's probably just what dog owners do. But I'm not walking the dog.
But again, I've got to say - there will be people who will form their conclusions at the end of the investigation. But there sounds to be a lot internal family turmoil there, and I just don't know if everything is out there and I'm happy to let the investigation get to the bottom of that.
JOURNALIST: With respect, in regard of that, should though, given that Emma Husar is a publicly elected official, should Fair Work get involved and start an investigation?
SHORTEN: Well, that will be up to anyone to follow that process if they want to. But what I would say is that there is an independent investigation, and people are availing themselves of those protocols, so I'm going to back the systems.
That's why organisations have systems in place when people have complaints. I think it's fair to all the parties involved that we respect that investigation process.
JOURNALIST: If Emma Husar's found to have misused Comcars, what would the penalty be?
SHORTEN: Well there's penalties through the parliamentary expenses authority. I'm sure that Emma Husar won't object to the parliamentary expenses authority having a look, or double checking, if someone is raising a concern.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just for Canberra and on My Health Record, Ed Husic as you know is saying he'll opt out if the schemes concerns aren't addressed. Do you support that? What's your view on that one?
SHORTEN: Well, it's up to Ed what he does with his health records. But I think Ed's going to a serious and rising concern. The principle of having health records digitally stored is a good idea. But, like everything else this Government does, they've got the reverse Midas touch.
Every bit of gold they have, when they touch it it turns into something less pleasant.
They've got the roll out of the NDIS wrong in lots of places, and many of you and many people beyond here know that they've experienced complaints with that.
The Minister, now Deputy Prime Minister, had one job with the Census, and they managed to get that wrong, didn't they?
And then you've got other examples of failed rollouts. So I actually think that it would be smart of the Government to suspend the rollout of the My Health Record system until all of the privacy concerns are actually addressed.
I get the impression they've consulted some people in the health profession, but I think the broader community is not aware of who will have access to your records, and every day, we're finding that. Someone like Kerryn Phelps I take seriously on matters of health policy, she said that she's got reservations.
When you've got prominent Government backbenchers saying that they're going to opt out, I just think maybe it's time to draw breath and not further create concern over this record system. Why not do it properly and get it right?
JOURNALIST: Would you opt out?
SHORTEN: I think initially my view was that I was very up for keeping digital records. Every day that goes on, you hear concerns. I don't want to give up on it. But what I would do is ask the Government to listen very carefully to my invitation. Why not suspend the rollout? I mean, we've managed to get along for 117 years without it. Let's do it right once, than implement it really poorly and then have all of the people worried about who can access records?
I think one thing which has surprised people, and I haven't quite heard the answer yet, is that your records will be available for 30 years after you died. I'd like to get to the bottom of all this stuff. What is the overwhelming public policy? And there may well be one, but I think wouldn't it be sensible if they just put a brake on it?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Pauline Hanson in Ireland on a cruise, Pauline Hanson is overseas on a cruise, is that going to help Labor's chances in the Longman by-election, not having Pauline in the final week of the campaign?
SHORTEN: Well, what Pauline Hanson chooses to do for a holiday is her business, not mine. I mean, if she wants a luxury cruise in Ireland, good luck to her.
My concern is not what she does when she's on holiday - it's when she's not on holiday. My concern is that when she's in Australia, she votes with the LNP 90 per cent of the time to cut penalty rates, to cut funding for schools, to not have proper healthcare funding, to give tax cuts to big corporations. Actually, to be honest, if Pauline wants to take a few more holidays and not vote for Malcolm Turnbull's cuts to the circumstances of working people in this country - have fun!
JOURNALIST: Can I ask about the One Nation candidate?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, will you be in Longman on Saturday night?
SHORTEN: I certainly hope to be in Longman at some point during the day.
JOURNALIST: Some point? Will you be here to commiserate with Justine Keay on Saturday night?
SHORTEN: Well, let me introduce you to Susan Lamb.
JOURNALIST: I apologise
SHORTEN: Why don't we get -
JOURNALIST: Or will you be with Justine Keay?
LAMB: Keay. Her name's Keay.
JOURNALIST: Before you go, there have been some young LNP members photographed making a controversial gesture, some say it's an "OK" sign, others say it has links to white supremacists - what do you make this behaviour? It was done during a photo campaigning for the Longman by-election.
SHORTEN: Listen, some people in the far-flung ranks of a political party can engage in stupid behaviour. I'd probably put that in the stupid behaviour context.
I think, probably more challengingly is the serious questions of the One Nation candidate who is in Australia, running in Longman, he's got serious questions to answer.
He seems to have left a trail of upset subcontractors. So he's got serious questions to answer, but he seems seriously determined to avoid answering these questions before election day.
If he doesn't fully answer those questions, then I think voters could be forgiven for thinking the worst of him. This issue of not paying the subbies, it's not just one or two, there seems to be a whole trail of them.
I think that the people who’ve dealt with him are calling him a dodgy tradie, I do think he owes the voters an explanation, or voters could be forgiven for assuming the worst.
JOURNALIST: Is Labor digging up these disgruntled contractors and urging them to go to the media? Because that's the allegation.
JOURNALIST: There's a dodgytradie.com website that Labor has set up, surely that's the case, that it's a smear campaign?
SHORTEN: I'll just answer Jono's question first, and then come to your contribution. Listen, in terms of the source of these complaints, I think it's the people who were owned money.
JOURNALIST: Are you digging them up or not?
SHORTEN: I've never sub contracted to this fellow, which is probably fortunate, and the point about it is, we're not inventing the complaints, are we? I do think voters -
JOURNALIST: It seems your facilitating them somewhat.
SHORTEN: I'm sorry, the trick to not having unhappy subbies, is pay them.
JOURNALIST: Susan Lamb, could we also (inaudible) Just a quick question, Susan you embraced Emma when she broke down in Parliament. Does she still have your support as an MP?
LAMB: I met Emma in 2016 when I was first elected. What really struck me about Emma, was how compassionate she was. She's a fierce advocate for not just children with a disability, but their families.
She's a really compassionate person. She's going through a really difficult time at the moment, but I think the best thing we can do is make sure that we offer her the support she needs at a really difficult time for her family. I think that's the best thing we can do the help our friends.
JOURNALIST: On the One Nation candidate, we at the ABC do have a lot of documents continuing to allege the non-payment of debts, all manage to establish he hasn't broken any laws, but certainly non payment of debt seems to be the case. How concerned are you that he just keeps defecting that - just, denial, denial, "I owe people nothing", three days out?
LAMB: If Matthew Stephen owes people money then he should come good and pay people. We've got tradies all over the electorate here that work hard. My son is one of them. My son is a local subbie. You know, if you work, you do the work, you get paid.
Matthew Stephen hasn't paid people, he should come good and pay people.
JOURNALIST: Susan, my apologies for mixing you up with your colleague before, but would you like Bill to be here on Saturday night with you?
LAMB: I would welcome every single member of Labor Caucus here on election night. I know I have to share with Justine, and of course Josh over in the West, but absolutely I would love every member of Caucus to be here with me on Saturday night.
JOURNALIST: How much pressure do you feel in this by-election, because a lot of people are saying that if you don't hold your seat, your boss beside you won't be standing beside you for much longer?
LAMB: I think the only person feeling pressure in Longman right now should be Malcolm Turnbull. People are really, really angry about his priorities.
JOURNALIST: And Mr Shorten, can I just get a quick comment from you on the Daily Mail? The Daily Mail has just, and we are yet to verify all these reports, they've just put claims online -
SHORTEN: But you're going to put it to me anyway.
JOURNALIST: Live TV.
JOURNALIST: My understanding is you're aware of these reports, so what do you make of claims that Trevor Ruthenberg has been misusing the title of "Major"?
SHORTEN: Listen, Tanya was telling me a story this morning so I'll let her do that, but I don't know whether to call Trevor Ruthenberg Corporal, Captain or Major, and I just think some clarity here would be useful. But I might just hand over -
PLIBERSEK: I actually mentioned to Bill this morning that when I was at one of the pre-poll stations handing out on the way here, a fellow came up to me with his medal, with the title on the box, the title on the case, the title on the medal, the name of the medal should absolutely be no surprise to anyone who has received the medal. And this fellow just couldn't believe, couldn't understand, how Trevor Ruthenberg could misuse his service in this way.
He felt it was the most profound insult to other people who have served, served overseas, and served in Australia, to be claiming service that you don't have.
We've only just become aware of these other allegations that perhaps Trevor Ruthenberg is overstating the rank that he achieved.
He's obviously got major issues with the truth. He's got some major explaining to do. But we're not in a position to know what rank he achieved.