Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Hobart






SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s cuts to child care; one year anniversary of Tony Abbott’s education lie; NBN; data retention; support for Tasmania.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It has been a real privilege for me to come to the Discovery Learning Centre in Bridgewater, meet the children and the hardworking staff of this centre. This learning centre is fundamental to the morale in the Bridgewater community and there is 59 families here, many of whom depend on the rebates in child care support which means that mum and dad can go and work, and the children are getting not just care but quality education and early learning development. So this is a really important centre and I think that we have all seen the good work which the hardworking staff are doing here. It's been a real privilege.


And it highlights to me how unfair Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey's rotten Budget is. What on earth is Tony Abbott doing, and Joe Hockey doing, by proposing to interfere with the child care rebates which the families here need, to be able let their kids come here so that mum and dad can go to work. The Government should take its hands off the 1400 families in the electorate of Lyons here who risk losing much of their benefit because of unfair Budget. That's why it's great that I'm accompanied here by Brian Mitchell, Labor's candidate for Lyons, who is determined to stand up for the child care rebate.


One other thing I just want to say before we take questions is today is the one year anniversary when Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne famously lied to this Australian people. A year ago today, desperate to win votes, Tony Abbott when he was Opposition Leader said that he'd been on a unity ticket, a unity ticket with Labor when it came to education funding in this country. We all know that that's been a lie from Tony Abbott. Since the election, Tony Abbott has spoken out against proper funding of education, he's walked away from Labor's promises and his own pre-election promises. What that practically means for Tasmanian parents, is there is $680 million less coming to schools in Tasmania, needs-based funding.


Any parent anywhere would be outraged to see a Government short changing the future of their children. But today in Bridgewater, it is not just the parents at this centre who see their own beautiful, unique, precious children losing funding that these families need, but because of the Abbott Government we see that these kids when they go to primary school will lose funding, and when they go to secondary school will lose funding too. This unfair Budget is anti-Tasmanian


JOURNALIST: What sort of impact will changes to the rebate will have on low socioeconomic areas like this one in particular?


SHORTEN: Well I call it as I see it. Probably half the families here really need the rebate to be able to send their kids to this centre. The Abbott Government and Eric Abetz and all the other people in this Government love to give lectures to ordinary Tasmanians and ordinary Australians about the need to work hard and pay more taxes and go to work. Yet at the same time this Government, this Abbott Government is unfairly making it harder for parents to be able to go to work because they are taking the rebate away from the kids and they’re also making it harder for their kids to get the best start in life by underfunding schools. This will have a cataclysmic impact on this centre and across all of Tasmania.


JOURNALIST: On average, what is the dollar figure that families are standing to lose?


SHORTEN: If you're a family earning about $60,000, as a result of this Budget in the next three years, the family will be about $6000 worse off. We’ve seen the Abbott Government turn and start attacking the media for reporting the losses in this Budget. This Government has decided that the only way you can run Australia is through breaking promises, lying to the Australian people, introducing an unfair Budget which will see the lowest income earners, the bottom half of Australia in terms of income, paying the much bigger portion of the Budget taxes and cuts that this Government's brought down. This is really unfair on ordinary families.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, he rollout of the National Broadband Network has been described as chaotic and rushed in a report this morning. The National Disability Insurance Scheme rollout was previously criticised, compared to a plane taking off before it was fully built. Did Labor compromise some of these important projects in Government by the way it was rolling them out?


SHORTEN: I think everyone knows that the Abbott Government is determined to trash everything that was built up by previous governments, and you have referred to two – the National Broadband Network and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. What is important here is that Australia has the best possible national broadband. The Abbott Government doesn't believe in national broadband. They want to, rather than give us in the future an information super highway which will allow businesses in Tasmania and across Australia to compete with the rest of the world, they want to give us the digital equivalent of single lane roads. This Government is anti the NBN and they will do anything to discredit it.


When it comes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, again this is another classic Liberal lie. Before the election they were dragged kicking and screaming to support it. Now they have got in, they are doing everything they can to rubbish it. I’ve visited families with family members with severe and profound disabilities in Tasmania. They are hungry and keen to see the National Disability Insurance Scheme rolled out. I just wish the Liberal Government, Tony Abbott's government, would stop being knockers. They are in government now, perhaps they should actually get on and look after people, rather than just trying to discredit and play politics with all these important things like the National Broadband Network and Disability Insurance Scheme.


JOURNALIST: So you disagree that the rollout of the NBN was chaotic under Labor?


SHORTEN: There is no question in my mind that we need the National Broadband Network to be rolled out. Labor got that process started. The Liberals won last election, it is now time they started acting like a Government, not an Opposition. They’re addicted to getting reports after reports just to run their political agendas. Australia needs a National Broadband Network, and instead we have got a government who is just determined to knock everything and undermine all the good ideas this country has.


JOURNALIST: Did Labor rush the project though?


SHORTEN: Well the National Broadband Network is a big project. It is a massive undertaking. There is no doubt that Labor got the project started, it championed the case for Australia entering the 21st Century and participating in the digital economy. What sort of short-sightedness do Tony Abbott and the Liberals have? They got no vision for the National Broadband Network. They got no vision for internet age. They’re uncomfortable with change.


What we see here is that if you are running a small business in Tasmania and you want to compete for work across the world, we need a National Broadband Network. Australians know that for education, they know that for health care, they know that for every aspect of our lives, we need the best possible technology being provided to ordinary Australians, otherwise we will create a digital divide in this country where a few people will have access best and fastest internet and national broadband, and the rest of Australians will always get second rate helpings from the Abbott Government.


JOURNALIST: Will Labor support the new data retention laws?


SHORTEN: In terms of the data retention laws, the Government hasn't consulted Labor. We have to see the detail of what is proposed. Let me state a couple of basic principles though. On one hand, we need to make sure that our national security agencies are able to do the job they are required to do and keep Australia safe. That is of fundamental importance to all Australians. But at the same time we got to make sure that we don't have the rights of individuals, their private conversations on the internet being intruded upon by big brother. So it’s a matter of getting the balance right. Now I think Australia is smart enough to get the balance right, but the first step will be for the Abbott Government to not make this a political issue, and national security shouldn't be about the a political issue, it should be about the Abbott Government consulting Labor so we can come to the best outcome.


The other thing of course is that Labor is firmly against a new internet tax. We know this is a government who are addicted to new taxes. They’ve got the GP tax, they’ve got a petrol tax and now they will go for a liefecta of taxes of which will be an internet tax, none of which was told to Australians before the last election.


JOURNALIST: It was Labor's idea though and Nicola Roxon proposed it, does Labor still support it?


SHORTEN: We clearly support the best possible tools being available to our national security agencies to keep Australia safe. But it is not beyond the wit and wisdom of Australian governments to be able to get the balance right to preserve individual privacy whilst making sure that we are secure as a nation. We make very clear we will consider what the Government's proposing. We would also appreciate the Government sitting down and talking to us about what they are proposing, but we approach this with a very open mind.


JOURNALIST: [inaudible]


SHORTEN: In terms of Queenstown, it’s clear that the Government, the Federal Government abandons communities when they hit difficult times. In the course of the last five days I have been to Point Henry at Alcoa in Geelong where hundreds of workers are losing their jobs, over 1500 people will lose their jobs. The Federal Government has been missing in action. I was at Nhulunbuy in the East Arnhem Peninsula, Gove Peninsula on Sunday. Rio Tinto has closed their refinery there. There has been no help there for 1000-plus employees. And again, we see this scene being played out in Queenstown where you’ve got the Mt Lyell copper mine and Henty gold both mothballing operations. The Federal Government goes missing in action when workers require support.


I do think there should be a package of support from the Federal Government. I will talk to the community of the West Coast. We will talk to the small businesses, we will talk to the mining companies. But there are good people who are losing their jobs, there are good people whose housing values are being been cut in half, there are good people being abandoned by the Abbott Government. The simple truth is that if you're a blue collar worker in the mining or manufacturing sector and your company hits hard times, the Abbott Government will desert you.


JOURNALIST: Is there a crisis on the west coast in Tasmania?


SHORTEN: Words like crisis are pretty strong. It is a very resilient community. One thing is for sure, the challenges which the west coast community of Tasmania face – at the moment they having to face them on their own. The Abbott Government, they were happy enough to get their votes before the election, but now it is the case that the west coast community has been deserted by the Abbott Government. Labor will come up with policies and ideas to support this community. They are clever, smart, resilient people. But I think it is important they have a national government in Canberra who has got their back when times are tough.


JOURNALIST: Is the answer a pot of money from the Federal Government or does it need to be a more practical solution?


SHORTEN: I think that the first answer is go and have a look at what is going on – talk to people. This community, I have been there many times in the past when I was working with the union representing the mining workers and people working underground. These are smart communities, but they are doing it tough. The job of the Federal Government isn’t just to hand out pots of money. But it isn't the job of the Federal Government just to ring up communities and say "you're on your own now". The job of the Federal Government is to show leadership and to work with Robyn Geraghty and the council and work with the small business and Chamber of Commerce and the representative workers. There are solutions here but it just requires effort from the Government, and this is a government who abandons communities when the going gets tough.


JOURNALIST: Would you repeat your call for a double dissolution given the trouble Government is having with the crossbench getting its Budget bills through the Senate?


SHORTEN: What I am interested in fairness. I’m interested in making sure that kids in Tasmania get the best quality education and that they’re funded according to need. What I am interested in is that this remarkable early learning centre and the 59 families who depend upon it, and staff who work here, they don't need a government causing anxiety and confusion. I just want the Government to go back to the drawing board. Don't be too arrogant to admit that you got it wrong. This Government lied to people before the last election. I think it is now time they owned up to their lies and started their Budget process again from scratch. Anything else other than that is sheerly arrogant and not in the best interests of people.


Thanks everyone, have a nice day.