Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Perth



SUBJECT/S: Liberal cuts to education in WA; Commission of Cuts; ICJ whaling decision; Private Health Insurance; Peter Greste; CFMEU.

It’s a very active day in Perth today with a lot of frustration by parents and teachers about the Barnett cuts to education and there’s real concern that Tony Abbott will copy the Barnett education cuts and the Liberals nationally will cut Western Australian education too. So we’ve seen one of the biggest protests by ordinary parents and ordinary teachers who are unhappy at job losses in teaching and education assistance, unhappy with education cuts. There’s a real desire by Western Australian parents to get the best deal possible for their kids, and clearly the mood today is that they won’t settle for Liberal cuts in education by either Colin Barnett or Tony Abbott. I might just say one other brief thing before I pass onto my colleague, the member for Perth. Overnight, the International Court of Justice made a decision with regard to commercial whaling.  Labor launched a legal case in 2010 to stop the commercial whaling which we’ve seen in the Southern Ocean, that has now been successfully concluded, so this is great news for everyone who wants to see whales protected and not hunted for commerce.

I might pass on to my colleague, Alannah Mactiernan for her comments about education.

ALANNAH MACTIERNAN, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND INFRASTRUCTURE; MEMBER FOR PERTH: I’m on the board of an independent government school in a low SCI area and we at our last board meeting, you know we’re looking at do we need to cut our Indonesian language, or do we need to remove some of our education assistants that are helping us with literacy? Schools are being forced to make some very, very difficult decisions that will really dumb down our education. Parents understand that we are in a globally competitive world and our kids have to be really well educated if they are going to have an opportunity to compete in that environment. So parents are hugely conscious of what this means to take money out. As I say, on the ground it is having a really profound effect, schools are having to say ‘no we’re going to have to cut Indonesian here or we’re going to chop that special-ed program; it’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s not the way to get Australia competing and competitive and productive in the 21st century . Thank you

JOURNALIST: Teachers have made this clear that this is about Colin Barnett’s cuts, are you just hijacking a protest?

SHORTEN: The issue here is Tony Abbott’s the one who’s been on Western Australian radio countless times saying he intends to model his government on the Barnett Government. The other point here which cannot be forgotten or overlooked is that before the election the Abbott Government said they were on a unity ticket with Labor on education. Labor federally promised six years of funding for all the school children, the Abbott Government’s not promising six years. The only unity ticket in education is the unity ticket between Tony Abbott’s Liberal cuts nationally and Colin Barnett’s Liberal cuts in Western Australia.

JOURNALIST: But the timing of this rally is a bit cynical isn’t it, given that it’s just four days before the Senate by-election?

I’ll give you cynical. Cynical is cutting 700 jobs out of education, 350 teachers. I’ll give you cynical. Cynical is the Abbot Government, they’re happy to be in Perth for photo opportunities but they won’t turn up and talk to teachers and parents. Cynical is not telling Western Australians what is in their Commission of Audit. I think that it’s disgracefully cynical of the Abbott Government, they’ve had the Commission of Audit since early February, they don’t trust Western Australians enough to give them the report of the cuts. Why on earth should Western Australians trust the Abbot Government, that cynicism?

MACTIERNAN: It’s important to understand that this decision to actually put this rally on this day was actually made in October before there was, they mapped out their plan of action for the next six months so the decision was made in October six months before they knew there was going to be another half Senate election so please, do not believe that.

SHORTEN: Thanks Alannah.

JOURNALIST: You don’t have any actual evidence that there will be education cuts in the Commission of Audit thought?

SHORTEN: We don’t have actual evidence of the Commission of Audit other than the fact that its sitting on Tony Abbott’s desk. Surely in this day of age it would be smarter of the Abbott Liberal Government to trust Western Australians with a report. Does anyone seriously think that if this report wasn’t bad news for Western Australia than it wouldn’t have been rushed out and released before the Senate by-election?

JOURNALIST: On the whaling, that doesn’t, the decision doesn’t rule out whaling in the northern hemisphere. Does Australia need to push further?

SHORTEN: Well first things first, the decision that Labor made to take this matter to the International Court was a policy which wasn’t supported by Tony Abbott. This, the wisdom of this approach has been vindicated by the successful decision and we believe that it’s now time for people to appropriately pause and see why on earth do we need to have the commercial hunting of whales. But certainly in our part of the world Australia’s stood up for the environment and I think our seas will be the better for it.

JOURNALIST: Are you proud that it was Labor that stood up for this case?

SHORTEN: Yes. It is important that Labor took the action it did in 2010, former minister Peter Garrett and the Government then pushed hard, and now we’ve seen the wisdom of this long-term strategy been vindicated. I think most Australians regardless of politics are probably happy that there won’t be commercial whaling in our seas of those precious mammals, those precious and rare mammals.

JOURNALIST: Are you worried this decision could potentially set back free trade negotiations between Australia and Japan?

SHORTEN: No, I’m not.

JOURNALIST: Just on another issue, today people with private health insurance face one of the biggest price hikes in a decade. Is this fair or just profiteering from insurers?

SHORTEN: Cost of living is a real issue for Western Australian families, private health insurance is part of it. What we see under the Abbott Government is private health insurers increasing their premiums, further and faster than we’ve seen before. The Abbott Government needs to spend less time worrying about knights and dames, more time worrying about cost of living. The Abbott Government needs to spend less time bagging people for disagreeing with education cuts and more time spending on providing proper resources for our kids at schools. Last question thanks.

JOURNALIST: With the Peter Greste case are you able to comment on that [inaudible]?

SHORTEN: Oh we’re pleased that the Government’s stepping up its activities, we believe that because Peter Greste is a journalist is not a reason he should be arrested in Egypt and we are certainly very supportive of all efforts to return him to his family in Queensland, and we believe that’s a matter not of politics but rather the whole nation getting behind Peter Greste and his family. Last question.

JOURNALIST: The CFMEU crackdown on militancy following the decision [inaudible]?

SHORTEN: Thanks David, I said yesterday when the Victorian Supreme Court made its decision, that I thought this, the indusial action, and the disputation that we saw in the centre of Melbourne’s city was completely wrong and no one is above the law. It was a waste of their members money, it was a terrible inconvenience to the citizens of Melbourne and the police and the company and I think the union needs to have a good look at itself because the tactics it was pursuing in that dispute were well wrong. Thanks everyone, see you, have a nice day.