Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Moonee Ponds - vaccinations; GST






SUBJECT/S: vaccinations; GST; the second Abbott budget; job-swap week in the Abbott government.




It is good news today that the Abbott Government has listened to the calls of public health experts, parents, the Labor Opposition that I lead and indeed the media, and finally acted to say that parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated will put in jeopardy access to family payments.


Labor understands that there are a small number of people who have deeply-held religious convictions, but other than that, Labor sees no case at all for parents not to be encouraged to immunise their children.


At the last election, Labor proposed a stronger standard than what is currently in place and throughout the course of the early part of this year - in February, March and April - Labor has been calling for the tightening of the standards around vaccinations, to make sure that the best science is what applies to the well-being of our children and nothing else.


Labor always believes in science, Labor believes that where science can protect our children that should be what dictates the policy. We are pleased the Government has listened.


Happy to take any questions.


JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)


SHORTEN: Yes, Labor supports promoting the safety of our children. We believe fundamentally in the science of vaccinations and we fundamentally believe that policy should be made by the best evidence and the best science. And we would say to the Liberal Government that we are pleased that you are agreeing with our position and yes, we will cooperate to make sure that the safety of our children is what is paramount in public policy.


JOURNALIST: If you believe in the science, do you think there should be exemptions at all (inaudible)?


SHORTEN: It is a good question, I don’t necessary claim to fully understand all the religious faiths which say somehow vaccination is an offence in their religion but what I do recognise is that there are some religious groups who fundamentally hold this view. But what I don’t accept is people just claiming some sort of loose, undefined conscientious objection and using that as an excuse not to do the right thing by their children.


I think it is appropriate that for tax-payer money to be tied to be making sure that getting children vaccinated.


JOURNALIST: Do you think the Prime Minister would close that loop-hole that you’ve been asking him to do? To close that contentious objection?


SHORTEN: I hope that the Government and I have got every indication that the Government will strengthen the test. There are a very small number of people whose particular religious faith says vaccinations aren’t the way to go. I don’t believe that reflects the science on vaccinations. I am like, I believe, millions of Australian parents, we believe in vaccinating our children, we believe that if other parents are sending their kids to school alongside our kids, they too should make sure their children are vaccinated and if they choose not to, they shouldn’t be receiving government benefits.


JOURNALIST: Just on the GST carve-up, the Finance Minister thinks the distribution formula we use in the current year, 2015-16 – experts say something different. What do you think is better out of the two?


SHORTEN: It is another day and we see more chaos, dysfunction and dishonesty at the heart of this Government. Before the last election, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey when they were in Western Australia were all things to West Australians. They were promising rivers of gold in changing the GST. Of course, in Tasmania they were said something else altogether. Now they are in government, we see fighting within the Government. The Treasurer is in charge of the administration of the GST, and the Prime Minister along with the states and what we see is the Finance Minister attacking the Treasurer. This is chaotic government. It is unheard of in a cabinet that the Finance Minister saying that we need to go one way and the Treasurer saying we need to go the other way. To me, it all just proves that you can’t trust the Liberal Government when it comes to the GST. They simply want to increase the GST and they want to extend it to a whole range of products which don’t current pay a GST on it right now.


JOURNALIST: (inaudible) the model that Mathias Cormann is suggesting though – do you think that is a more painless option?


SHORTEN: I think when we talk about the ‘painless option’; the Abbott Government has got the opportunity to see if they can bring down a budget that doesn’t inflict a whole lot of pain on ordinary Australians. They have clearly misled West Australian voters where they have promised to do something on the GST and now they can’t, or won’t, or are not going to. I think what the Government should do if they want to talk about painless options is, at least the for the millions of pensioners, be they be in Western Australia or everywhere else, just take their hands off the pension. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey should not be cutting the pension. I think that would be the best, the most pain free proposition for millions of Australians as we approach the second budget of the Abbott-Liberal Government.


JOURNALIST: (inaudible) the PM is meeting with media proprietors this week – what is Labor’s stance on the current negotiables?


SHORTEN: I read with great interest this week that the Prime Minister is meeting with the media owners and his Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, is overseas. This is clearly job-swap week in the Abbott-Liberal Government. Malcolm Turnbull wants to do Tony Abbott’s job and while Malcolm Turnbull is overseas, Tony Abbott is doing Malcolm Turnbull’s job. This Government is not focusing on the real things that matter in Australia. What they are doing is they are out of touch, they should be focusing on the Budget, they should drop their attacks on the pension, they should drop their attacks on the health care system and they should stop trying to introduce $100,000 degrees for working-class kids that want to go to university.


Last question.


JOURNALIST: Is Labor pushing for more de-regulation though?


SHORTEN: Sorry, of which particular area?


JOURNALIST: Media ownership.


SHORTEN: First of all, we will just see what comes of Tony Abbott doing Malcolm Turnbull’s job. I think it is remarkable that Tony Abbott thinks it is noteworthy that he is going to meet with some people when Malcolm Turnbull is overseas. I just wish this Government would stop fighting each other and get on with standing up for the rest of us.


Thanks everyone.