Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Gladstone - Queensland election; Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget






SUBJECTS/S: Queensland election; Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget; asylum seekers; cost of living.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great to be here in Gladstone with Labor’s candidate, Glenn Butcher. We’ve had a good opportunity to talk to shoppers here about cost of living, return to school, there’s real concern among parents that Tony Abbott’s cutting billions of dollars out of the Queensland school budget, and we haven’t heard so much as a peep from Campbell Newman. And of course, talking to parents, they are worried about the health care costs, Tony Abbott just won’t give up on trying to introduce new taxes on the sick and the vulnerable. But Labor has an answer – we’ve got Glenn Butcher, standing up for people living in Gladstone and the region, to make sure that we’ve got a strong voice in Brisbane, in Queensland politics, because Queenslanders more than ever need people who are determined to stand up to Tony Abbott’s outrageous cuts to health care, to jobs and to education. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Why is the seat of Gladstone so important?


SHORTEN: Well anyone who knows anything about Queensland knows that it doesn’t just stop in South East Queensland or in Brisbane. The great regional towns of Queensland are remarkable in the nation of Australia. Queensland is on the most decentralised – or is the most decentralised population across the nation. When you think of Queensland you’ve got think of Central Queensland, you’ve got to think of northern Queensland. Be it Gladstone, Rockhampton, Cairns, Mackay or Townsville, or indeed inland, there is a lot happening in Queensland outside of Brisbane and South East Queensland. That’s why I’ve been travelling all around, from Cairns to Townsville, today in Gladstone, tomorrow in Rockhampton, of course I’ve visited Mackay and Toowoomba, because the story of Queensland is the story of the entire state, the regions. That’s why I’m here.


JOURNALIST: Just on federal issues, can we expect a federal Labor government to raise taxes and cut services?


SHORTEN: Well first of all let’s put some markers down here. We do not support the way in which Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey – the invisible twins of national politics, who are not coming to Queensland at all during the state election, a remarkable accomplishment, they are not even going to come to Queensland because there is a state election underway – we don’t support them raising a GP Tax. We don’t support them putting a tax on fresh food by increasing the GST. We don’t support them increasing the price for young people to go to university and decreasing the number of people who are going to get a university education.


When it comes to taxes, I think the Government has got some opportunities here which they are not sufficiently exploring. On one hand they are going soft on the multinationals and I think they can do more there to make sure people pay – big business pays its fair share just like small business does. Also they’ve got this ridiculously expensive paid parental leave scheme which no one wants, which no one supports, except for the Prime Minister of Australia. So these are things that the Government could do on taxes. When it comes to our policies on taxes and indeed on all matters, we’ll release them in good time before the next election, we certainly will do that.


But what I also know is that when it comes to policies, I think it would be great if Tony Abbott came to Queensland to answer the hard questions. Why is he cutting money to Queensland schools? Why is he cutting money to Queensland hospitals? Why won’t he come to Queensland? Why does he want a GST on items currently which don’t have that 10 per cent tax?


JOURNALIST: Would Federal Labor close down Manus Island if re-elected in 2015?


SHORTEN: Labor supports regional re-settlement. We have been very frustrated at the culture of secrecy that the Abbott Government is practicing with its immigration policies, and care of people directly or indirectly in the responsibility of Australia. The first step that Australians deserve – it doesn’t matter what your politics – is to be treated as adults, and the Abbott Government needs to come clean. We’ve now got the failed Health Minister in Immigration, he doesn’t need to botch up Immigration like he botched up Health, he just needs to be straight with the Australian people. What’s happening there? We find out more reading the newspapers from Cambodia to Papua New Guinea than we can from our own Government and it’s not good enough.


JOURNALIST: How would Labor solve [inaudible]


SHORTEN: Well first of all we’ve got to find out what’s going on, that’s the very first step. It’s asking us to talk about how we can fix an issue which the Government hasn’t even come clean and told us about, very difficult. But just ask the Abbott Government. Immigration should [inaudible] tell Australians what’s going on. Everyone knows they’ve got a culture of secrecy. You’ve got the Immigration Minister, the hapless former Health Minister, [inaudible] you’ll get more respect that way.


JOURNALIST: You’re criticising the Coalition’s secrecy surrounding immigration matters, will you guarantee you’ll allow journalists access to detention centres [inaudible].


SHORTEN: First of all – sorry I’ll just wait til that plane goes by.


JOURNALIST: Thanks, very courteous of you.


SHORTEN: Your question is a generous one because it assumes there will be a change of government at the next election. I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch. What I will say on immigration policy right here, right now, is that the Government needs to come clean.


JOURNALIST: What was your response to some of the shoppers in there who were worried about the cost of living [inaudible]


SHORTEN: Well it is ridiculous that a town like Gladstone, petrol is 30 cents over the odds compared to what you can get in the suburbs of the big cities. That’s unacceptable. The Federal Government has been belated in getting the ACCC here, but I know that with Glenn Butcher, he is not going to rest until he makes sure that Gladstone gets treated the same as South East Queensland. We’ve seen the unedifying spectacle of the Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman, forking out hundreds of millions to save his own seat, and yet he would seem to need a Satnav to find himself outside South East Queensland. Glenn Butcher is a local lad, he has raised his family here, he has worked here for a long time, and he is the sort of chap you need to stand up for Gladstone. You don’t need Campbell Newman spending all his money in his own electorate, you need real local patriots like Glenn Butcher.


Last question? All done?




SHORTEN: Thank you everyone, lovely to see you.