Bill's Transcripts






SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Broken Promise on Schools; Removing the debt-cap; Tony Abbott refusing to help save the Victorian auto industry; Joe Hockey’s decision on GrainCorp; Tony Abbott acting like he’s still in opposition.

: Good afternoon everyone. It’s great to be at the first Queensland Labor Party Conference since the Federal election. It’s a very strong and determined spirit at the Conference. There is no doubt that Tony Abbott’s broken promise to all the school children, their parents and teachers in Australia has galvanised the morale of the Labor Party because I think we all realise that education and making sure our children get the best start in life should be above party politics. The broken promise; not saying after the election what they said before the election, not keeping their promise on four years of identical funding, not promising now, unlike before the election that no school would be worse off, and the ripping up of the so-called unity ticket from before the election till now. The broken promise has left a bad taste throughout the schools and parents of Australia. And in Queensland we’re alarmed that the Abbott Government is offering even less now than what they were doing before the election to Queensland schools, Queensland parents and Queensland school children.

Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: What assurances do the Government have to give public schools , that they won’t bear the brunt of these cuts?

SHORTEN: Labor was shocked to see State Minister after State Minister, doesn’t matter if they were Labor or Conservative, coming out attacking the new Minister for Education. I think that it is really important that governments stand up for public education. Labor supports needs based education regardless of what school children go to. But there is no doubt that State Education Ministers are alarmed that the Federal Government is going to take the axe to public school education funding because they broke their promise from the election.

JOURNALIST: Minister Langbroek appears more conciliatory?

SHORTEN: Before the election I met with Mr Langbroek. Labor was willing to offer an extra $2 for every extra $1 the Queensland Government would invest in their schools. Before the election the LNP Government wouldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t take money out of the system, as the Commonwealth was putting new money into the system – so that doesn’t help the kids. Now it would appear that the Abbott Govenrment is offering them only one year, or relatively small amounts of money and we all know that Queensland schools need more funding. So there can be no doubt that in this broken promise by the Abbott Government, the losers are the school children of Queensland, especially in government schools.

JOURNALIST: Would you support the scrapping of the debt ceiling as the Greens are suggesting?

SHORTEN: Well, just when we thought politics couldn’t get any more unusual after breaking the election policy, we now see the Abbott Government lining up with the Greens to propose providing no ceiling on the national credit card. Labor believes that if the Abbott Government needs to increase or nearly double the tax-payer debt nationally, that they need to come clean and show all Australians the books of the nation so we can see if it’s a worthwhile thing to do, to lift the debt-cap. Before the election the Abbott Government said that you don’t fix a debt problem by increasing debt. This is another broken promise, after the election they are now saying in order to fix the debt problem, you’ve almost nearly got to double the national debt to half a trillion dollars.

JOURNALIST: Will you be backing the Victorian Government’s plan to save auto manufacturing industry?

SHORTEN: The Abbott Government is running up the white flag on jobs all around Australia. Not just Simplot or Electrolux in New South Wales, not just the Gove refinery in the Northern Territory, but there is not a car job in Australia that is safe from the Abbott Government axe. Labor believes, like the Liberal Government in Victoria, that there should be the automotive support which currently exists, half a billion dollars, should be provided to help keep intact nearly 250,000 automotive jobs. What we see here is the Abbott Government before the election said they were a friend of manufacturing, now they’ve given up on manufacturing. Before the election you would have thought that a Liberal Government in Victoria would have supported the Abbott Government now. Now the Liberal Government in Victoria is saying, that the Abbott Government is a danger to car jobs in Australia and this uncertainty needs to stop. The most important thing a government can do, doesn’t matter what its politics, is help secure jobs so that Australians have got a really good future to look forward to in the future.

JOURNALIST: Have you got any concerns on the decision on GrainCorp?

SHORTEN: GrainCorp? I think that most people in business are a bit surprised at the reasons that the Coalition Government has used on foreign investment. They seem to be more poll driven when it comes to foreign investment. Our concern is to make sure our agribusiness industry, which is really important, keep attracting international investment. We are concerned about consistency in decision making going forward. Clearly there is division within the Coalition ranks, with the economic dries who seem to be aghast at Treasurer Hockey’s decision, and you’ve got some of the National Party who are popping champagne corks. This seems that this decisions has been guided more by politics than by the national interest or by jobs.

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister says that Labor didn’t allocate enough money to chemotherapy infusions when you were in Government, is that correct?

SHORTEN: The Prime Minister needs to realise he’s no longer the leader of the opposition. Once you get elected to run the government of Australia that is a massive privilege, it doesn’t matter who you are – Liberal or Labor. The Prime Minister needs to concentrate on focusing about what are the things he’s going to do in the future, rather than simply try to be an opposition leader in drag. He said before the election that a Coalition Government, if elected, would be a government of no surprises and no excuses. Now we see that it doesn’t matter if it’s jobs, or education, or debt – they are a government of nasty surprises and pathetic excuses.

JOURNALIST: But they’re saying this is your fault and you left this surprise for them.

SHORTEN: The Coalition Government was elected. They cannot spend the next thousand days simply saying that they’re an opposition in everything but name only. They are in charge, they are responsible. They need to demonstrate that when it comes to schools, when it comes to hospitals, when it comes to jobs, that they are a government for all Australians and they need to stop blaming everyone else for the issues and decisions that they are making right now.

Thanks everyone.