Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Harris Park




SUBJECT / S: Abbott Government’s education cuts; Paid parental leave shambles; GP tax; Tony Abbott’s backward views on climate change; Australia Post; Kim Beazley.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everyone. I’m at Saint Oliver’s school, a small school with a big heart, meeting parents concerned  about educational opportunities in Western Sydney. I'm here today with hard-working local Member of Parliament, Julie Owens, Federal Member for Parramatta.


This Budget is unfair and the longer this Budget goes on and the more that Australians find out about this unfair Abbott Budget, the more parents and Australians are upset. This is an unfair Budget for parents who wish to send their kids to get the best education possible at Government and non-Government schools. Australia needs needs-based education funding. We need to make sure that our children receive funding based upon the principle of needs-based funding. Saint Oliver's is a school which is doing a lot with hard-working teachers, with a dedicated parent community making sure their kids get the best start in life. But the Abbott Government's retreat from education, cutting funding to states, the refusal to endorse a six-year plan for education funding means that Saint Oliver's can't offer the great opportunities to its students that it otherwise would.


This Budget very day becomes more unpopular with Australians. The parents here are also concerned about cuts to health, they're concerned about cuts to the multicultural budget, you've got a lot of immigrants who are worried that their parents are not going to be able to into Australia on visas because of the new costs which the Abbott Government is implementing.


All in all, this unfair Budget shows that it doesn't matter how many world leaders Tony Abbott meets, he's still got problems at home in Australia. Mr Abbott needs to use his time overseas to reconsider his unfair Budget based upon broken promises and lies before the last election.


There's nothing more important for an Australian Government to do than to generate good healthcare and good educational opportunities for the kids. And Labor, even if Mr Abbott won't, Labor will go to every part of Australia and talk about this rotten Budget, and no matter how far away Tony Abbott flies from Australia, this Budget sits here festering as the unfair Budget that it really is for Australian families.


I might hand over to my colleague Julie Owens to make further comments.

JULIE OWENS, MEMBER FOR PARRAMATTA: Thanks, Bill. Saint Oliver's is probably the smallest physical school in the country but it's a huge school in terms of the job it does in an incredibly diverse community. I phoned six people stood to try and get a dozen parents to talk to Bill on very short notice in a community where both parents work and over 40 turned up, all angry about this Budget because I tell you, in a community like this, when you attack schools, when you rip money off schools, particularly when you said you wouldn't, particularly when you said there was a unity ticket, you attack a family.


Nobody cares more about their children than the families in my community. They do everything for their communities, some of them moved from one continent to another for their children and this is where they take their children to school and begin the building of their children's lives. Attack a school and you attack a family in this community and that's exactly what Tony Abbott's done, and that's why they've turned out in such large numbers today to talk to Bill.

JOURNALIST: Bill Shorten, the Principal here is concerned, like many otherPprincipals, about school funding beyond 2016-17. What assurances can Labor give him?


SHORTEN: Christopher Pyne is the most dangerous Education Minister we've seen in Australia in a very long time. Labor believes that we should have needs-based funding. We believe that the funding provided to the Government and non-Government sectors should take over a six-year time scale not just four years. The kids entering prep now don't stop getting educated at the end of grade three. Parents plan for their children's future with forensic passion. Parents don't plan for their kids based on one, two or three years - they're planning to make sure their kids get the best education over 15 years. They reasonably expect that our politicians and the Abbott Government should take a long-term view to making sure their kids get the best start not the short-term, cut-funding, break-promises approach of the Abbott Government.


JOURNALIST: What's your assessment of how the Prime Minister's going on the world stage?


SHORTEN: Well, I think the Prime Minister's got a couple of challenges. He's meeting with Barack Obama in the next 24 hours. He'll be talking to him about climate change we hope. The rest of the world is moving forward on climate change, and Australia's got a dud Prime Minister who's taking Australia backwards on climate change. The science is in, climate change is real. I can only guess what on earth Tony Abbott will say when Barack Obama says that, "Well, we're doing all this things in America and the rest of the world on climate change," Tony Abbott will have to sit there and shrug his shoulders and politely try and change the topic to the weather.


JOURNALIST: He's having dinner with Rupert Murdoch as we speak. What's the concern over the amount of access that media giants like Mr Murdoch have to our leaders?


SHORTEN: Mr Abbott's entitled to meet with whoever he wants. I just wish Mr Abbott would come and meet with real Australians who are putting up with the unfair impact of his Budget. I hope Mr Abbott is able to use his 11-day sabbatical overseas to organise his thoughts, to reconsider his rotten Budget because if Mr Abbott doesn't reconsider his rotten Budget, the Senate will do it for him. And I’ve noticed Joe Hockey’s come out in recent days trying to bully the Senate. The Abbott Government’s going to smash their way through the Senate. Well, here's a bit of news for Mr Hockey: the Senate was created by our constitutional founding fathers as the House of review to stand up for States amongst other matters. And I do not believe that no amount of bullying rhetoric from Mr Abbott overseas or Mr Hockey at home turns an unfair Budget into anything which the Senate is going to want to support in large measure.

JOURNALIST: Warren Truss has conceded that the Prime Minister's paid parental leave scheme is still in the design phase. Is that a surprise to you?


SHORTEN: The Prime Minister’s paid parental leave scheme is not in the design phase, it’s in the crazy inventors phase. It isn't going to see the light of day. This paid parental leave scheme, no-one wants it Tony Abbott. People in Australia know that on one hand when you're cutting pensions, when you're defunding schools to have a Rolls Royce paid parental leave scheme, is of no help to the Australian taxpayer or Australian families. The National Party are an open mutiny about the paid parental leave scheme. You've got Liberal Senators threatening to cross the floor, you've got everyone else up in arms but Tony Abbott continues on regardless of what everyone else thinks This paid parental leave scheme of Mr Abbott's is nothing more than a multibillion-dollar taxpayer-funded Tony Abbott ego-trip.

JOURNALIST: Is double dissolution a real possibility and I suppose if it was would Labor be confident?

SHORTEN: I said in my Budget reply speech two days after this rotten, unfair budget of broken promises and lies was brought down, that if Mr Abbott thinks that Labor is scared of an election, he should try us. If Mr Abbott wants to threaten to bring on an election, he should bring it on. This Budget's not about me or Tony Abbott, it's about the national interest of the Australian people. How on earth can Labor vote to increase taxes on the sick? How on earth can Labor vote to take money away from the pensioners? How on earth can we vote to make it harder for working class kids to go to university? How on earth can we punish the unemployed with six months of no money whatsoever? How on earth do we punish Australian families by putting a new tax on driving to work? This is a rotten, terrible budget, it’s sinking fast. Mr Abbott, whilst he’s in a reflective phase, as President Obama’s talking about climate change, he should at least, if he won’t do anything else on climate change, he should at least think about how he re-does his budget. This budget doesn’t need cosmetic surgery, it needs a fundamental rebuild.

JOURNALIST: The head of Australia Post was paid $4.8 million last year, it that justifiable?

SHORTEN: Well I think that when you’ve got 900 people losing their jobs executive salaries does become an issue. What I would say to the families of those 900 Australia Post workers is that Labor will be pushing to make sure you get proper support in this most difficult phase. There’s no doubt that the internet’s changing the way Australians communicate with each other but it’s how you manage change is terribly important to whether or not it’s viewed as the right thing or the wrong thing. Seeing jobs lost is never a good thing in Australia and, of course, executives who are receiving multi-million dollar wages when hundreds of people are losing their jobs, you know, people probably do look at that and say what’s going on here?

JOURNALIST: Mr Abbott’s earned some praise from one of your former ministers Mr Beazley. What do you make of those comments?

SHORTEN: Kim Beazley is a professional diplomat and he’s being excellently professional and diplomatic.

JOURNALIST: Should the Australia Post board scale back the head’s wage? Is it growing too quickly? $4.8 million must have a lot of Australians leaving with their mouths wide open?

SHORTEN: Well again, I don’t want to get into the blame game but when you’re shedding 900 people’s jobs I think it’s important that every level of the organisation does their bit to tighten the belt. Leadership starts at the top. Thanks everyone.