Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Labor’s commitment to needs-based school funding; Liberals cuts to school funding






SUBJECT/S: Labor’s commitment to needs-based school funding; Liberals cuts to school funding; Dodgy training providers; Labor Party reform; Cuts to ABC funding; GST; Nuclear waste; Media laws

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone, it’s great to be at Roxburgh Park Secondary College with Maria Vamvakinou our Member for Calwell. We're here today talking to teachers and students about the importance of needs-based funding for all schools across Australia.


Labor's the only political party committed to needs-based funding. We believe fundamentally, that schools should be funded according to the needs of their students and the school resources, and all of the diverse backgrounds of the students which come to schools.


The Liberal Party for the last two years has cut funding to schools; only Labor will make sure that all of the schools are funded properly. Only Labor will make sure that all our students regardless of their postcode or their background will get the quality education to give them the best start in life.
As I said to the teachers today, my mum was a teacher and then she taught other teachers in the education faculties of universities. She taught me that the status of education and the status of teaching in this country has slipped backwards over the last three decades. Labor can reverse the decline in the respect which teaching is held. We want to see young teachers enter the profession knowing that they're able to carry out their vocation, their passion for bringing education to the next generation of Australians. We want to make sure that older teachers and experienced teachers don't experience the burnout which comes with insufficient resources and being asked to do much with too little.


Labor supports need based funding across our schools full stop. Happy to take any questions.


JOURNALIST: Is this a chance for you to get back some of the ground you've lost in the polls?


SHORTEN: This is a chance to make sure that Australian schools are properly funded. This is a chance to make sure that our young people; the next generation of adult Australians get the best start in life. The fact of the matter - I was going to say - is that for many students when they finish school, their last teacher will be their last career advisor. That's why it's important to give them the best start and we call upon Malcolm Turnbull to stop having thought bubbles about education, nice pleasant after dinner conversations, and instead get on with the business of keeping the promise that was made at the last election so that all kids in all schools can know that they will be funded according to their needs and teachers are able to do the best they can possibly do, giving our kids the best start in life.

 We've seen reports emerge today that training colleges are gorging tuition fees and lumping taxpayers with a $3 billion bill for student loans thanks to the previous Labor government’s VET-Fee HELP scheme. If you're elected would you do anything to ensure colleges don't take advantage of the students?

There's no doubt that under the Liberals in the last 2 years, the private training sector in Australia is in crisis. A lot of Australians are being concerned to find out that taxpayer money is being used to rip off vulnerable students for no gain for those students. Labor believes that the pendulum has swung too far against the TAFE sector in Australia. We say to Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals, let’s back in the TAFE sector. It's been going strong for a very long time, let's turn our back on that right-wing thinking, that ideology of just ‘leave it all to the private providers’. There's a crisis in private training in Australia. Labor's been calling this out for the last 2 years, it's now time the Liberal Party acted.

 You were talking about teacher's pay before, what can the Commonwealth do about teacher's pay when that's a state issue?

There's no doubt that states are involved in the administration, responsible for the administration of our schools. But for the last 2 years the Liberal Party has been misleading Australia when they've said that there's no Commonwealth role for schools - for the Commonwealth in schools. We believe in a good education for all kids and the Commonwealth provides some of that money to the states so that the states can run their schools to best possible effect. Taxpayers want to make sure that their hard earned taxes are going to make sure that kids get the best start in life. The Liberal Party should keep its election promise from 2013 and make sure that children regardless of their postcode, regardless of how well off their parents are, regardless of where they live, their ethnicity, that they all get the same chance in life across Australia's quality schools.

 Mr Shorten, Anthony Albanese today didn't rule out making another pass for Labor leadership, are you confident the party's reforms on the leadership put in place under the Rudd Government will stay in place?

Thanks for that. I just want to put on record that the Labor Party's given me tremendous support and we're very unified. If we want to look at disunity in the last 2 years, we have to say what happened to Tony Abbott? It's the Liberal party who's been engaging in civil warfare; that's a matter for them. But Labor under my leadership has been united; we've been focusing on the issues that matter. We want to make sure that hospitals are properly funded; we want to make sure that your Medicare card not your credit card which gets you the health care you deserve in this country. I want every school to be a good school and well-funded. We want to make sure that jobs are kept in Australia and that we're making sure that we're training our young people for the jobs of the future. We want to end the scandal and crisis in private training in Australia which the Liberals have presided over for the last 2 years and the Labor party's completely committed to these goals.


JOURNALIST: Just on the ABC Mr Shorten, do you share the concerns of the Nationals MPs about the changes to regional programing for next year?


SHORTEN: What an audacious bunch this government are. They're now complaining about cuts to the ABC but they all voted for it in the last two Budgets. Before the last election the Liberal and National party’s promised there'd be no cuts to the ABC. Since then they've folded their arms and whistled, whilst $250 million has been cut from public broadcasting. Now what's happened is the National Party MPs are realising that the city based government is ignoring the regions of Australia, they've broken their promise, they've cut funding to the public broadcaster. We call upon the Government, the Liberal Government and Malcolm Turnbull - he was the minister in charge of these cuts - to actually make sure to reverse the cuts. If the National Party want to look for someone to blame, stop blaming the ABC and blame the people who pay for the ABC's budget which is the Liberal Government of Australia.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Malcolm Turnbull has come out saying that increasing the GST is a possibility. Do you except that by increasing the GST it could be a good way to fix the Budget bottom line?


SHORTEN: No. See this is the problem with the Liberals. Whenever they see a problem they just think that working people should pay more. They want to make it harder for working people’s kids to go to university by pushing up the price of going to university. They want to make it more expensive to go to the doctor with their GP taxes. And really they just want to increase the price of the GST to avoid making harder decisions. I think if the Liberal Party want to tackle their ballooning budget deficit they should stop giving a leave pass to multinationals who are not paying their fair share of tax in Australia. They should go after some of the superannuation tax concessions which see people with millions of dollars getting extra help from taxpayers when these people with millions of dollars don't need it. Why is it that Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals would always rather pick on families than pick on the big end of town? It's not good enough.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten are you open to talking about the economic opportunities for states like South Australia in repatriating and storing the uranium exports?


SHORTEN: Well I was very disturbed to realise that the Liberals have been sitting on a report listing seven different communities as possible recipients of nuclear waste. I think the Liberal Party needs to get over its addiction to secrecy and just level with Australians. Who's on their list, which communities are going to have nuclear stock piles, nuclear waste stock piles, targeted for those areas? I think that's what we need to see, what's really happening and the Liberals just need to tell us rather than sitting on bad news. They need to put it out there and be straight with the Australian people.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Deb O'Neill once said that education funding is too important to just be left up to the states. Do you agree with that?


SHORTEN: There's no doubt in our federation, we've got state - we've got three levels of government. States traditionally were responsible for education but in the last 50 years we've seen parties of both sides from Robert Menzies on, Gough Whitlam on, putting more and more money aside for education funding. I do believe that the Commonwealth has a responsibility to make sure that, working with the states, we're making sure that every child gets a quality education. There are millions of parents who trust the teachers to do a good job. There's hundreds of thousands of teachers who trust governments to have their back. There are literally millions of kids who go to school every day - we want to make sure that the adults in the world are as optimist and brave as they are. All of that means that the Commonwealth Government and the Liberals need to stop letting Australian children, Australian teachers and Australian parents down. Last question if there is one, thanks.


JOURNALIST: Will Labor support changes to the regionals, for regional broadcasters and what about the two of three ownership laws?


SHORTEN: There's no doubt we're seeing the disruptive effects of technology challenging existing laws and raising questions about whether existing laws are obsolete. So Labor's up for that discussion. Although I've got to say, you know, if we are paying this government by outcomes they wouldn't get much for the way they've handled media law reform. For two years they've kicked the can down the road as technology, you know, really exponentially changes the media landscape. What I can promise Australians is that whatever the media law reforms are considered, including the two you mention, Labor will also make sure that top of the list we maintain media diversity and we make sure the regions of Australia are getting the same quality media that the cities get. Thanks everyone.