Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Forrest



MONDAY, 23 JUNE 2014

SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s unfair budget; $80 billion cut to schools and hospitals; chaplaincy program; climate change; national security; East Jerusalem; Senate negotiations; Peter Greste.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great to be here at Forrest Primary School at the start of another parliamentary week. I'm accompanied by Kate Ellis, our Shadow Spokesperson for Education, and hard-working local federal Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary Gai Brodtmann.


Today, visiting for Forrest Primary School, it brings home yet again what a dreadful budget of broken promises built upon lies we have seen inflicted on Australia. We will see $80 billion of cuts from our hospitals and our schools because of the Abbott Government. $80 billion.


But in the real world, when you see those hopeful and optimistic faces of these wonderful children, what it actually means is we're going to see one in every seven Australian teachers gone. That is the funding cut that the Abbott Government is wreaking upon Australian schools. One in every seven teachers.


Or it's the equivalent of $3 million being dragged out of each school, courtesy of this budget. One in every seven teachers, or the equivalent of $3 million from every school courtesy of these cuts. Over the next decade it will be the equivalent of 1800 schools not being built. These are dreadful numbers for the future of Australia, our children.


This government knows that this budget is a disaster, it's a slow-motion train wreck, especially for our children, and what we need to see is this government needs to not try to distract Australia by looking at everything else, we need this government to ditch the budget. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, on education, the Government's looking at reworking the chaplaincy scheme so that it can continue after the High Court. Would Labor support a chaplain-only scheme or would you make having secular welfare workers compulsory for you to support it?


SHORTEN: Labor has supported a chaplains scheme which would see trained welfare professionals being there to back up the work of our teachers, to make sure our children are doing well.


Labor most certainly does not support restricting chaplains to just religious organisations. We think this is taking the education system down the wrong track. This is a government who on one hand says that billions of dollars of cuts to schools is nothing to do with them, so they're happy to take out the funding which is the equivalent of one in every seven teachers or $3 million from every school, but somehow when it comes to school chaplains, this government is micromanaging the conduct and welfare in every school in Australia.


This government is making the wrong choices and the wrong priorities. You're better off funding schools properly, making sure our kids get the right start in life, making sure that our teachers are backed up, rather than having some debate about school chaplains.


JOURNALIST: Today's Neilsen poll shows that the Coalition is back to levels before the budget. Is the heat being taken out of the debate, is that what we're seeing today?


SHORTEN: Not at all. This is a dreadful budget. I believe the polls confirm what Australians already know, that this is an unfair budget and it's got the wrong priorities. Cuts to pensions, increases in fuel taxes, cuts to family payments, cuts to schools and hospitals. This is a dreadful budget which doesn't help Australia at all. In fact, the only thing more unpopular than this budget is Tony Abbott.


JOURNALIST: Do you have any concerns Anthony Albanese might be trying to undermine you as Labor leader?


SHORTEN: Not at all. Anthony is doing an excellent job, a standout job as Shadow Infrastructure and  Transport Spokesperson. I, and Anthony, and the whole Labor team are focussed on exposing this unfair budget and the rotten priorities of this government who lied their way into office.


JOURNALIST: Are you aware of any of the backgrounding that’s been reported today, that he’s been backgrounding against you?


SHORTEN: No, not at all.


JOURNALIST: So it hasn't happened?


SHORTEN: I don't believe it’s happened at all. And again, I know what unites the Labor Opposition. We are determined to provide an alternative to this rotten budget brought down by the Prime Minister. And to all those people who support Labor, or who are interested in what Labor has to say, I can guarantee we are not getting distracted. We will focus on cuts to schools, cuts to hospitals, cuts to pensions. This is the dreadful truth which the Government never told us about their budget before they got elected.


JOURNALIST: The carbon tax looks set to be repealed come July. Can you just clarify what Labor's policy will be in that July period? I know you've said that you'll possibly develop a policy on climate change, but you're going to need to say something in July when Direct Action is going to be debated and so on. What will the policy be?


SHORTEN: We’re happy to say what we’ve said for the last number of months. First of all, we think climate change is real. We think it's embarrassing that we've got a Government that's not doing anything serious about climate change when the rest of the world is.


We've made it clear that we would support the repeal of the carbon price on the basis it was replaced by an effective policy. I don't think anyone thinks that this smelly bag of fish called the Direct Action policy, a multi-billion dollar boondoggle by the Abbott Government just to hide the fact that they’re climate sceptics, satisfies anyone.


How in good conscience, when we meet these lovely little children today, how can we say to them in the years to come, that we were in a parliament that did nothing about climate change?


JOURNALIST: Does Labor support ASIO being granted expanded powers for online surveillance?


SHORTEN: Certainly Labor is committed to our national security; it's not the matter of partisan politics. We do believe that the security agencies should be given appropriate powers with one caveat, that there's appropriate oversight. As a country, I believe we're smart enough to improve our national security and ensure the rights of individual citizens aren't trampled.


JOURNALIST: And what about stronger laws for revoking citizenship from Australians fighting with terror organisations overseas? The Government's indicated they might be looking at that, would you support that in-principle?


SHORTEN: I’m like millions of other Australians. When we saw some video footage of people with Australian accents talking about the dreadful violence and participating in the dreadful violence that we see in Iraq, I think every Australian was rightly appalled.


Labor's message to Australians who for some misguided act of what they perceive to be their faith going over and engaging in this dreadful violence is, if you go, don't expect to be welcomed back.


JOURNALIST: But just on those stronger laws, would you in-principle support that move?


SHORTEN: Well again, if you are a young Australian who thinks that somehow you're pursuing some definition, misguided definition of faith by engaging in the sort of medieval barbarity that we're seeing in parts of Iraq, if you leave Australia I don't expect you can reasonably expect to be welcomed home.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten would you personally describe East Jerusalem as occupied or not?




JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, back on the carbon tax, the Government's very confident that it will get through, but with negotiations with the Palmer United Party not yet finalised, do you think they're going off too early?


SHORTEN: Well Clive Palmer says he doesn't support the carbon price. What the Government do with the crossbenchers is a matter for the Government, but what I do know most definitely, you can bet your house on it, is that the Abbott Government does not want to talk about their unfair budget.


This unfair budget means that we’ll see – it's the equivalent cut in funding of one in every seven Australian teachers being taken out of the system. It's the equivalent of dragging $3 million out of schools over the next decade. It's the equivalent funding which could build 1800 new schools across the next decade.


This government will want to talk about anything but their rotten budget. Labor is going to stand up for ordinary Australians. We are going to fight this rotten budget and try and oppose the cuts which mean that our children, our sick, our vulnerable, our poor don't carry the disproportionate burden of this unfair, rotten budget which is based upon broken promises and calculated, systematic lies before the last election.


JOURNALIST: Peter Greste finds out his fate today from the Egyptian Government, has the Abbott Government done enough to try and secure his release?


SHORTEN: Well it is most important that everyone in Australia sends a unified message to Egypt. We believe this journalist should be freed, we believe he should be allowed to come home. I support the Government’s efforts to do that. There is no daylight between Liberal or Labor or people of good conscience about ensuring that this journalist should be able to come home. And I think it just reminds us that there's over 200 journalists imprisoned all around the world for nothing more than being a journalist, and that's unacceptable and we need to guard our liberties here in Australia, because this is a fundamental issue of human rights. Last question, thank you.


JOURNALIST: Have you been telling business leaders behind closed doors that despite how Labor will vote, the carbon tax will be repealed?


SHORTEN: I believe it’s clear that the Government's determined to repeal the carbon price, but this government needs to convince the crossbench of the Senate. Labor's view is fundamentally clear, it is this – climate change is real. No amount of scepticism by the Abbott Government can undo the science.


Labor is committed to a market-based system. We will work our policies up for the next election. We would support the repeal of the carbon price on the basis that a better system was brought into practice, into being. This Abbott Government cannot be trusted on climate change.


JOURNALIST: So you have told those business leaders then –


SHORTEN: No I'm not going into any of that. What I am saying most clearly is our view is crystal clear. The Abbott Government does not fundamentally believe in climate change. They're going to provide billions of dollars in direct action which will accomplish precisely nothing.


All Australians should be concerned that we've got a government in Canberra that doesn't believe in climate change, is cutting the pension, is cutting funding to schools, cutting funding to hospitals. They lied before the last election. This budget is a bad budget for Australia, and the secret's out – everyone knows it. Thanks everyone, see you in Parliament later.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you think it’s a little bit unusual that the Government is prioritising the carbon tax when there is a budget emergency?


SHORTEN: What is unusual is that this government is prioritising yet again the debate on carbon when they know the Senate changes next week anyway. It is clear to me that this is a government desperate to play hide and seek with the Australian people.


They're ramming through heaps of unfair budget measures in a few bits of legislation. This is a government this week who does not want to talk about the budget of Australia. That is a shame, but Labor will keep this government honest. Thanks everyone.