Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Brisbane - Labor's plan for 'Your Kids. Our Future'; 2016 Election; Clive Palmer & Queensland Nickel






SUBJECT/S: Labor's plan for 'Your Kids. Our Future'; 2016 Election; Clive Palmer & Queensland Nickel; Healthcare premiums; ABCC legislation; Marriage equality delaying tactics 


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone. It's fantastic to be in Brisbane for the Fight for Queensland rally. What was really good this morning was to be able to articulate and explain our announcement that we made only 48 hours ago that a Shorten Labor Government will make sure that every child in every school in Queensland receives the well-resourced education in their schools that gives them the best chance in life to compete for the jobs of the future. Today, we've released figures which show that courtesy of Labor's policy going forward, which is fully funded, I might add, there would be an extra $855 million for Queensland schools. What that actually means when you boil it all down, one parent to another, is that at the next election, if you choose Labor, your child will literally, annually have hundreds of dollars more resources spent on better support for their teachers, more choice in subjects, better support for special needs if they need it, more individual attention and the other choice is if you vote for Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberals, you get cuts to school funding - cuts to every school's funding. So at the next election, there is a very clear choice, if you want to invest in education in our future, choose Labor, if you want more of Mr Turnbull's cuts and his Liberal team cuts to education, vote Liberal.

Happy to take questions. Thank you.


JOURNALIST: It was spoken in there a lot today about how Queensland Labor went from a shocking defeat in 2012 to rebounding in 2015. The opinion polls for you at the moment aren't that great, do you take some strength in what happened in Queensland last year to sort of come back as an underdog?


SHORTEN: Well there's no doubt that Labor enters the election year as an underdog but this is after 2 years of staunch opposition to Tony Abbott's unfair agenda and Labor did so well that the Liberal Party panicked and dumped Tony Abbott. This year's election will all be about putting people first for the future of this country. It will be about who's got the best policy for Australian jobs, who's got the best policies to invest in early years of education, in schools, in TAFE and universities. Who's really credible about renewable energy and tackling climate change. Who really believes in making sure that it's your Medicare card, not your credit card, which determines the quality of healthcare you receive in this country and it will most certainly be about a 15 per cent GST on everything. Only Labor can be trusted on Aussie jobs, schools, education, healthcare, renewable energy and of course sticking up for people and opposing a 15 per cent GST on everything.


JOURNALIST: You refereed in your speech to Clive Palmer, do you think he should sell off his jets and things like that to try to pay those workers' entitlements?


SHORTEN: My first thoughts are that this business QNI could try and be maintained as a going concern but already over 200 workers have lost their jobs with no certainty of their entitlements. It is most important, it doesn't matter if you're Clive Palmer, Malcolm Turnbull, or any large company, you've always got to make sure that you keep enough in your business to pay the entitlements of workers if in the unfortunate set of circumstances comes and that the business can't keep going. It is not right, and it should not be allowed in 2016, that large companies can effectively borrow interest free the entitlements of their workers, churn them in the administration of the company and when the gates close, not have the money for your employees or your small business unsecured creditors. Labor would stand up for these employees. Labor's the one who has put in place some of the safety net and I think more needs to be done.


JOURNALIST: Is the Minister allowed to take (Inaudible)?


SHORTEN: The Liberals, they've been asleep at the wheel on healthcare for the last 2 years. In the last 2 years Australian families have paid the largest increases in premiums, the rate of increase, that we've seen in a very long time. Health premiums under a Liberal Government keep going up and up and up. Two years on, the Liberals are now realising that the horse has bolted and they've got to do something about it. It's pretty ineffectual their response. And at the same time as the health premiums are out of control, in terms of increases of above 6 per cent, we see them cutting $650 million over Christmas to Medicare. There is no case been made to put up the pressure on prices for people who need vital scans and imaging to help prevent or treat illnesses. The real problem when it comes to healthcare is that Mr Turnbull and the Liberals believe that it should be your credit card, not your Medicare card which determines the quality of care. They are taking us down the American road of a 2-tiered health system. Labor will fix this problem.


JOURNALIST: Just back on Palmer, what more could be done to support workers?


SHORTEN: First of all, the administrators have got a job to do to see if they can restructure the business. That should be everyone's shared objective. What then needs to be done is to make sure the employees who have lost their jobs have their entitlements paid. I think it is important that the Federal Government does what it can to make sure that these employees who are caught up in a set of circumstances not of their own making, are not left stranded in terms of their entitlements and the safety net. The Government should not rely on any technicalities to avoid supporting the workers in terms of the payment of their entitlements and instead the Government should stand in their shoes and be a creditor.


JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)


SHORTEN: Again, I start with workers' entitlements and that's why you just can't trust, in my opinion, the Liberals when it comes to workplace relations. They've got form. They're not that interested in standing up for penalty rates. Now, when you have the workers' entitlements, I don't know why the Government can't use the gear scheme to support the workers and their entitlements and then seek restitution from Mr Palmer or from the QNI company.


JOURNALIST: Michaelia Cash is refusing to give Labor access to certain  trade union royal commission documents, do you buy her reasoning that it's not in the public interest?


SHORTEN: There we go again. The Liberals are playing politics with this issue. The royal commissioner said that no-one should see the confidential report. The Liberals are ignoring that and selectively showing some parts - some reports to some people for political gain. It speaks for itself.


JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)


SHORTEN: One of the most important things a government can do is keep its eye on the cost of living pressures for Australian families. For the last two years, whilst the Liberals have been in, the private health insurers have basically seen a green light because of the ineffectual leadership of Liberals on restraining healthcare premiums and now they've gone for broke. Now as they approach an election, the Government is scrambling around trying to do something because they realise that for the cost of premiums going up, some of the largest numbers we've seen in a decade, Australians are deeply dissatisfied.


JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)


SHORTEN: What matters is not the timing of the election, it matters the issues and the choices which Australians get and a vision for the next 10 years. This morning you heard me articulate an economic plan which has people at the centre of it which is all about Australian jobs. We talk about our defence manufacturing and renewable energy being encouraged, for example. We also want to make sure people go to work and have secure jobs, that they don't have their entitlements under threat. We spoke this morning about a Labor vision to make sure that every child in every school gets every opportunity through Labor's historic and fully funded proposals for the education and schools system. The next election is a real test about a vision for the future of Medicare in this country. Labor's made it clear we think that it should be your healthcare card, not your credit card which determines the level of care you get in Australia and at the same time this preoccupation and obsession by the Liberal Party of Australia and Mr Turnbull to put a 15 per cent GST on everything, yet they give a free pass to the multinationals who don't pay their fair share of taxation, it speaks volumes for the choices Australians will have at the next election. Perhaps one more question.


JOURNALIST: The Queensland election was largely attributed to the unpopularity of Campbell Newman. How much harder does it make it for you now that Malcolm Turnbull is enjoying quite high popularity?


SHORTEN: The issues are still the same issues for Australians in 2015 and 2016. Do people have secure employment? Are we prioritising Australian jobs over foreign jobs? Can people get quality healthcare at an affordable price? Are we seeing a school system where there's proper investment so that every child has the opportunity to be the best they can be in the future? And our education plan is an economic plan? I think that this election is all about cost of living, the fundamentals and what we have is you have Malcolm Turnbull who says one thing and does another. He says that he cares about the healthcare system yet he has no way of dealing with rising healthcare premiums, he's instituting slashing cuts to Medicare and the health related services, he says he cares about innovation yet he's cutting funding to our school system in Australia. I think this is going to be a really important year where we outline the visions for Australia for the next 10 years.


Thanks, everyone.


JOURNALIST: Can I ask one more easy one?


SHORTEN: Alright, very last question sorry.


JOURNALIST: What do you reckon of Tony Abbott's comments that he will support a plebiscite on marriage equality whatever the outcome is?


SHORTEN: Tony Abbott dreamed up a taxpayer-funded plebiscite to kick the issue of marriage equality into the long grass of the next few years. Malcolm Turnbull didn't agree with that when he wasn't leader of the Liberal Party. We should have a conscience vote in Parliament. And if Labor is elected, we will introduce legislation for marriage equality in the first 100 days after the election. Malcolm Turnbull is carrying out Tony Abbott's policies and I believe he is delaying marriage equality by implementing Tony Abbott's preferred plans.


Thanks everyone.