Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Brisbane



SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government’s unfair budget; Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman’s cut’s to health; Carbon price; Senate; Climate change; G20; Asylum seekers.

Good afternoon everyone. It’s fantastic to be here at the hospital with Anthony Lynham, Labor’s candidate in the Safford by-election, the upcoming state by-election. We’re here because there are few things more important for state or federal governments than providing quality health care to Australians and to Queenslanders. We’ve seen Campbell Newman shut hospital beds, sack highly trained hospital staff. We now see a debate about Campbell Newman putting out to tender important health services and jeopardising therefore the quality of care which Queenslanders would receive. And the triple whammy has been Tony Abbott’s unfair budget. Not only is he making Queenslanders, or Brisbane people living on the north side, pay a new GP tax, pay more for their petrol and a new petrol tax, we’re seeing the pensioners who live here seeing their pensions cut. But what we’re also seeing is tens of billions of dollars being slashed by Tony Abbott from the money he gives the state governments to help adequately fund hospitals across Australia including Brisbane. In effect over the next 10 years Tony Abbott withdrawing money from the hospital system in Queensland is the equivalent of closing 1 in 5 hospital beds. The Queensland hospital system does a great job, but it’s already borne the brunt of Campbell Newman’s job cuts, his privatisation and now you get Tony Abbott. Anthony is a respected medical practitioner in this community; we have an opportunity at the Stafford by-election, to send a message, not only to Campbell Newman, but to Tony Abbott on behalf of the whole of Australia that Tony Abbott’s health cuts are the wrong direction for Australian’s healthcare. I might hand over to Anthony to make some further points.

ANTHONY LYNHAM: Thanks Bill. I’m standing up for Stafford because as most people realise Stafford has the highest concentration of health workers in it than any other electorate in Queensland. The electorate of Stafford is more affected by these cut from Newman and from Abbott than any other location in Queensland. I’ve doorknocked Stafford at length for these past six weeks and every health worker I come across has the same concerns. 420 jobs cut here at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s hospital, 250 jobs lost at Prince Charles and 30 beds cut. I mean Queensland’s and Stafford can’t take anymore. I mean, don’t forget with those job losses comes losses to the community, it’s a flow on effect. The mechanic, the grocer, the butcher, they’re all eventually affected as well. These health services we have now are stretched to the limit. The metro north service has a further $2 billion worth of cuts to absorb over the next 10 years. We’re stretched to the absolute limits, cracks are starting to appear. You would have seen the news over the weekend and last few days and the whole thing is going to come down like a house of cards and all Newman’s hoping for is that it doesn’t come down before the next election. He’s just hoping he can hold on until then and I can tell you what, it’s not long before we see real problems with Queensland health.

SHORTEN: Thanks everyone, we might just see if there’s any questions.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of the Federal Governments tactics this morning trying to gag and guillotine the debate on the repeal of the carbon tax?

SHORTEN: I’m happy to do the other federal issues so are there any questions on the health care or we’ve got the point across? Okay, in terms of the carbon debates in the Senate, Tony Abbott and the Liberals are up to their old tricks again, they want to stifle debate, they want to gag debate. The Senate is the house of review in Australian politics. Tony Abbott mightn't like the majority of Senators but that doesn't mean that he should be trying to stop them from having their say. The Senators were elected by Australian people along with Mr Abbott so we should have a proper debate in our parliament, not some sort of rushed through debate which Tony Abbott is trying to gag Senators from having their say in a democracy.

The gag's been used by both sides of parliament before, what makes it different on this occasion to what’s happened in the past?


SHORTEN: We've got a new Senate where you've got a group of crossbenchers along with Labor, the Liberals haven't been in Government before putting this stuff through the Senate with this new Senate composition. So what makes it remarkable is that Tony Abbott’s trying to bully new Senators into submitting to his will. Tony Abbott shouldn't be picking on individual Senators and trying to gag debate. He should instead win his argument, win the debate by the strength of his arguments not just the strength of his numbers.


JOURNALIST: Apparently Rick Muir sided with Labor, does that give you some hope that’s he’ll support the [inaudible]?


SHORTEN: I make no judgment about individual Senators but the point here is that Senators have been elected to be the house of review in Australian politics, that's what our constitution, our founding fathers established the Senate to do. Now we've got Tony Abbott complaining when people don't do as he says. The Abbott Government should stop trying to bully their way on matters including climate change, or the Budget, and listen to people and try and convince people rather than relying on numbers to turn unfair arguments into fact.


JOURNALIST: What's your view of the Palmer United Party’s suggestion in terms of an emissions trading scheme, is that something you’d support?


SHORTEN: We're waiting to see what their amendments are. Labor's position is very clear, we believe climate change is real, we believe that you need to have effective action on it. We know that a lot of rest of the world is moving to take action on climate change. We are, want to make sure that we have a policy for clean energy, for renewable energy, we believe that Labor has got a good plan for dealing with climate change. We will look carefully at the amendments from the Palmer Senators and we’ll see what they have to say but we'll be judging them against our long-held principles.


JOURNALIST: Is a policy that sets the price at zero until all our major trading partners come to the party, does that fulfil your sort of baseline criteria for what we need to do?


SHORTEN: Well, apparently there's 300 pages of amendments coming. I'd rather wait and see what they're actually proposing. But Labor does stand for the principle of an Emissions Trading Scheme. We do want to see effective action to reduce our carbon emissions, carbon pollution. We will take a stand against carbon pollution. When it comes to questions of detail about what crossbench Senators are going to do, I think we'll have to wait and see what they actually put up before I can give a definitive answer on our voting intentions.


JOURNALIST: [inaudible]


SHORTEN: Well, the G20 is a marvellous opportunity for Australia, the previous Labor Government managed to secure it. We hope it goes well. In terms of the security arrangements, we'll have to see how our professionals are going on that. I wouldn't wish to second guess their arrangements at this point.


One other issue which  certainly has been coming out loud and clear in the last few hours is Mr Abbott's terrible comments about reports of asylum seekers, women, seeking to self-harm from their circumstances on Christmas Island and elsewhere. Let me just say this - these comments by the Prime Minister of Australia are a new low even for him. We say to Mr Abbott, you mightn't wish these people were in our care but they are in the care of the Australian Government, and we've got to treat these people as human beings, not just points on a political scoreboard. I said this morning to the Government, Mr Abbott you cannot wash your hands of these matters, Australia owes a duty of care to people. If we have them in our care, to make sure that they are treated safely, decently and humanly and that will be our position. Thank you.


JOURNALIST: Aren’t your asylum seeker policies similar to the Governments though?


SHORTEN: We're not the Government. This is the Government who’s enacted them and no they're not similar in this regard and these are always tough issues but it doesn't show any moral leadership of the Prime Minister just to simply say that these are issues of blackmail and I think we need to just make it very clear that when the Australian Government has people in their care, that we do owe them a duty of care to do everything we can to make sure they're safe and that is our approach. Last question.


JOURNALIST: [inaudible]


SHORTEN: Well first of all, this is a Government who shrouds their policies in secrecy. We're getting reports from the Refugee Action Centre, we're seeing intemperate comments from our Prime Minister. Again, I just say on immigration matters they work best when we see Australians being treated with trust and openness, rather than relying on second hand reports but it is important that we treat people decently, that is the right thing to do, it's the Australian way. Thank you very much everyone.