Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Perth - Canning by-election; Lipspill





SUBJECT/S: Canning by-election; Lipspill; Turnbull Government’s plan for $100,000 degrees; Liberal chaos and division.

MATT KEOGH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CANNING: Great to be at Murdoch University’s Peel Campus, where they are running nursing schools and a number of pathway courses for people to get in to university. What we've seen today is a first rate institution which quality facilities and high technology learning and teaching on services. It's been great to meet with some of the students and teachers and lecturers here to see some of the great opportunity that is being provided into the Canning electorate through higher education. These are the things that are coming under threat, under this Federal Liberal Government.


The threat of $100,000 university degrees making it harder for people to get into university and the cuts to our schools making it harder for students to attain the level of education that they need to be able to get access to university or to pathway courses is a sad indictment of this Government. We are seeing in Western Australia and throughout Canning a very high-level of unemployment. We need to be providing people with the pathways to get access to the jobs of the future, but critically here, jobs that are about helping all Western Australians, producing more high-quality nurses to work in our hospitals; hospitals that are also being under-funded by this Federal Government. So it's been great to meet with the students here.


We call - as the Labor Party - on the Federal Government and we are saying to the people of Canning the cuts that we are seeing to schools, the cuts that we are seeing to university funding - I think about half a billion dollars being withdrawn from university funding in Western Australia, are hurting. It's the wrong priority. We need to be seeing more investment in these education services so that people can be given the opportunity to get ahead in life. We met with a number of students here who have not been able to get access to university through schools. They have come through pathway courses. They have committed themselves to getting a higher education so that they can better provide for their families, and we need it to be about supporting that. We need to be about creating more opportunity for people in this area to get those opportunities and this Federal Government through its cuts to education, its cuts to universities, its cuts to health, its broken promises to the Australian electorate in these areas, all things that Malcolm Turnbull has supported, are the complete wrong direction for this country. That is why I'm standing in this election so that we can get Australia heading back in the right direction to support the families of this area, to get them better jobs, a better education and to provide more for the people of Western Australia.


Thanks . I'd now like to hand over to Bill Shorten who came on the visit with me.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks, Matt - I think he's covered a lot of the issues pretty well then. I just wanted to make some points about being here with Alannah and Matt at Murdoch University's Peel Campus. We have just visited and seen some of the 700 nursing students who are doing a three-year course, who are learning about nursing and they have got great resources to do it in. But what I think is most interesting about the tour we just had is talking to the nursing students. These are nursing students from all the walks of life, some from modest backgrounds, others from well-off backgrounds. You may well have noticed that plenty of these nurses are mature age students, in other words they've done other things and they've decided to re-skill and change their skills and take up the important work of nursing.


This is the secret of success for the future of Australia's economy. It's making sure that Australians have the chance through universities and TAFE to acquire the skills they need in a changing economy to get the jobs of the future. Under my leadership, Australia's universities will be educational institutions which have an eye on business. They will not be businesses who occasionally dabble in education. I fundamentally believe that be it Mr Turnbull's Liberals or Mr Abbott's Liberals, the current Liberal Government, is taking Australia on the wrong path, in the wrong direction for universities and TAFE in Australia. The Government is proposing wholesale deregulation of Australia's universities. They are proposing significant cuts to Australia's universities. The consequence of Mr Turnbull's policies, which were Mr Abbott's policies for universities, is that the price of going to university will go up, and the number of opportunities for Australians to go to university will go down.


This is the exact opposite of where we need to go. There's plenty of parents right now weighing up what sort of career advice to give their kids as they finish school. There's plenty of Australians after the mining boom who are looking to change careers and change skills. The worst thing we can be telling Australians is that it's going to cost more to go to university and there will be less opportunity for you. Labor believes that part of the economic story of Australia in the future is making it easier to go to university, easier to get apprenticeships, easier to go to TAFE. Only Labor has the policies which will see a better chance for Australians to re-skill and for their kids to get to go to university. We're happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten can you still win this by-election?


SHORTEN: I believe that this by-election will not be decided until 6pm Saturday night, and with Matt Keogh, Labor is doing everything we can to win this by-election. But already, there's been one big loser out of the Canning by-election - that's Tony Abbott. I think it's the first time in Australian political history that even before the votes have been cast, the Liberal Party's run up the white flag. But what they think is that by getting rid of Mr Abbott their problems are at an end. What they don't understand is that for the voters of Canning and indeed all Australians, whilst they didn't like Mr Abbott's personal approach I suspect, more importantly they didn't like Mr Abbott's policies.


It's only been day four of Mr Turnbull's Liberal government and we see the same disunity, the same chaos and we see even worse, the same policies. We asked Mr Turnbull in parliament this week: will you change the reckless Abbott approach on universities and $100,000 degrees? And what Mr Turnbull said is they're keeping all the same policies. It's not good enough. The voters of Canning want to see a real change in this country. The only way you can get a real change is to voting for Matt Keogh.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Scott Morrison this morning on Ray Hadley confirmed that he was offered the Treasury portfolio by Tony Abbott. Can I just get your reaction to that?


SHORTEN: The disunity and chaos of the Liberal Government has been on display for all to see. The Liberals might've gone to a different corner of the ring but they're still fighting each other. The real issue here is that you've got Mr Morrison, who seems to have fallen out with Mr Abbott, you've got Mr Turnbull who's taken down Mr Abbott but we've still got the same policies, the same chaos and the same division. We see leaks coming out of the Liberal Cabinet about Mr Turnbull's poor record on appointing women to boards. We see today a lot of finger-pointing going on. Australians are sick and tired of these games. They just want to see a debate about ideas. All we've heard from Mr Turnbull is keeping the same ideas, he just thinks that he's a different salesman to Mr Abbott. It's not good enough for Canning, it's not good enough for Australia and today again, I call upon Mr Turnbull to drop the push for $100,000 degrees, to drop university deregulation which sees higher prices and less opportunity for Australians.


JOURNALIST: Will a poor result here for Labor put pressure on your job Mr Shorten?


SHORTEN: The only person who's had any pressure on the Canning result was the Liberals and Mr Abbott. Again I think you'd be looking to the political record books, wouldn't you, to see where on earth there's been a by-election where the average swing when a Member of Parliament pass away is 2.5 per cent. The Liberal Party are so worried by the voters of Canning they dumped their leader? This is new territory altogether. I think more importantly, what about Mr Turnbull changing his policies? That's what the voters in Canning want. They want to see a commitment not to have the harsh cuts to hospitals and schools, they want a commitment not to see the swinging cuts to pensions. They want to see a policy about infrastructure so that there's jobs after the mining boom and they certainly don't want to see $100,000 uni degrees, and that's still all on the table.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, what do you think about Andrew Hastie's comments that Labor didn't support troops in Afghanistan?


SHORTEN: Frankly I'm offended by those comments. I'm offended not because a Liberal politician makes a criticism of the Labor Party, I guess that's to be expected. But there's been a great tradition in this country that Liberal and Labor together support our Defence Forces. You can have the political arguments back here in Australia. When it comes to backing up our men and women in uniform, both parties have always maintained bipartisanship. I think what we need to do is see - stop having this argument about who loves this country more. As far as I'm concerned, Australians of all political shades have had family members serve this country, I have, you probably have and many others have. But the political debate shouldn't be used as some sort of football where we see the ADF dragged into it. I really think they were very unwise comments.


JOURNALIST: What about the substance of his comments though?


SHORTEN: They're not true.


JOURNALIST: They're not true? Labor politicians were more interested in photo opportunities than actually engaging with the troops on the ground?


SHORTEN: They're not true - are the Liberals still saying that today? They're just not true.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten Labor has taken a hit in the Galaxy Poll out today. What's your response to that?


SHORTEN: Well, I think to be candid, anyone who replaced Tony Abbott was going to get an improvement in their position, Mr Turnbull just got there first.


JOURNALIST: Do you concede that with Mr Turnbull as Prime Minister, your job in Canning is more difficult?


SHORTEN: I don't think the issues have changed at all. We've seen the Liberals panic and that's what it was. You know, when Mr Turnbull's case for change wasn't a change of policies, it was that they've had 30 bad opinion polls in a row and that a slim majority of his colleagues wanted change from Mr Abbott. The real issues in Canning aren't who's in charge of the Liberal ship, it's the direction that the Liberals are rowing us in. There are cuts to hospitals and schools which affect the quality of life and the opportunities for the people in Canning and across Australia. Pensioners, part pensioners have seen themselves attacked by a Liberal government who've broken their promises from the last election. Unemployment in Western Australia is up and we haven't heard any plans from the Federal Government about helping people who are out of work in Western Australia. They're still pursuing their ruthless right-wing agenda in terms of increasing the cost of going to university. As for Climate change, Mr Turnbull when he was not in charge of anything said it was a very important issue and that he wouldn't want to lead a party which didn't have fair dinkum policies on it. Mr Turnbull has sold off his own views on climate change backing in Mr Abbott's climate change policy. Let's not forget, Mr Turnbull said a month ago that spending, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars on a plebiscite on marriage equality, a taxpayer-funded opinion poll, he said that wasn’t the way to go. Now he's in charge of the Liberal Party, he has even sold out his views on that.


JOURNALIST: Matt, if you think you lose this by-election, you are the most likely contender for the new seat of Bert?


KEOGH: My focus with this entire by-election has been on 19 September and talking to people throughout this electorate, all across it, all about the issues that are important to them. As Bill said, the issues haven't changed at all during the course of this election. For people that have be coming to speak to me as I have worked my away across this electorate, have been the nearly $200 million taken out of schools, the over $2 billion taken out of hospitals, the GP tax, $100,000 university degrees, cuts to part pension and changes to indexation. Those are the things that are hurting people on the ground in Canning - they're local issues as well as being national issues. And the Government was so afraid of those issues, it even had to try to change its leader to distract from those problems.


JOURNALIST: Still, Malcolm Turnbull is much more popular than Tony Abbott. It makes your job harder, doesn't it?


KEOGH: I think someone described Malcolm Turnbull taking over the Liberal Party as a bit of a sugar hit. Most people know that sugar isn’t actually that good for you and it seems like based on the Galaxy poll that came out today that they basically got the Diet Coke version of that sugar hit. I'm not too concerned about that. What I am concerned about continuing to talk to people through the electorate, including today and meeting with voters out tomorrow during polling day.


JOURNALIST: How do you approach this last 24 hours?


KEOGH: I will let the indications people talk about those things. What I'm doing is visiting facilities like this, talking about the issues that are important to the people in Canning and talking to voters. That's what an election campaign is about, it's about meeting with and talking to the people in the electorate and that's what I'm doing.


JOURNALIST: Andrew Hastie this morning seems to be increasing his arguments about mandatory sentencing. He has unveiled a bit of a campaign in Armadale saying - outlining your opposition to mandatory sentencing. Can you just restate your position on that and maybe anything against his argument about ice addiction?


KEOGH: My position on mandatory sentencing is well known. I oppose mandatory sentencing because it's been proven time and time again to not work. What we need to do to punish criminals, we need to catch them. We need to see a bigger investment and effort in catching criminals, the people that are manufacturing this stuff, the people that are dealing this stuff. The other thing we need to do is learn from the experts. If we see what happened in New Zealand, they had a massive ice problem and they committed to investing in rehabilitation services. That's made the difference. The policies of the Liberal government have seen WA become the ice capital of the nation. We've seen the Federal Government withdraw funding from services that support rehabilitation. We've been very happy to commit to enhancing the funding of rehabilitation services in this electorate like Hope Community Services, like Palmerston, that's what we need to do on the street to help the families that are suffering from their children, their family members that are on ice. We need to get them off ice. We need to take the opportunity to rehabilitate. That's what's been proven to work. The Liberal candidate in this election has made a lot about saying "I will get people together, I will get the experts together, the subject matter experts." I'd like to say to him: I am the subject matter expert. I was a prosecutor. I have sentenced these people. I have been involved in law enforcement and law reform for a long time. Mandatory sentencing doesn't work. Catching criminals is what works and also investing in rehabilitation so we can get people off these drugs.


JOURNALIST: How many drug criminals did you send to jail?


KEOGH: I don't have a record that I've been keeping around with me. I was a federal prosecutor, is was involved in sentencing for drug importations as well as commercial matters but I don't have a list.


JOURNALIST: A pretty small number wasn’t it?


KEOGH: I have no idea.


JOURNALIST: You were only there for six months to that section?


KEOGH: I did six months in that section but while I was working in the office for 4.5 years I use to do work in and out of the different sections in sentencing matters.


SHORTEN: Thanks Matt. One last question?


JOURNALIST: How much of a role do you think pre-polling might play in this one? It might field up a funny result?


SHORTEN: Australians increasingly, because of their busy lives, are voting ahead of the election day but I think what will influence the result frankly is talking about the issues that matter to people in Canning. You just heard Matt Keogh give a pretty detailed answer in terms of his approach in tackling the scourge of ice. What Labor's done in this election is we've put a lot of pressure on the Liberals. We've put a lot of pressure on the Liberals to change. Now, they've given in to some of that pressure. They’ve changed their leader. They didn't even wait for the result to change their leader. What we're also doing is saying to Mr Turnbull, we need to change the policies. We need to stop cutting and slashing funding to schools and hospitals. We need to stop giving pensioners such a hard time. We also need to make sure that there's policies which promote and create jobs. One of the best ways you create jobs in the future is get behind higher education and universities. To return to where we started in this visit, there are really special people here studying to become nurses, people out of school, or indeed parents who are changing careers, people who are changing careers to get jobs of the future. Only Labor is supporting properly funding our universities. Only Labor wants to give the young people going to university the chance to go to university and not pay exorbitant $100,000 fees for their studies. It's only Labor who wants to stand behind our apprentices and mature-age students and say we encourage you to skill up and change your careers, and we'll make sure it's not prohibitively expensive to be able to give something back and to train in the new directions which this country has to go.


Thanks, everyone.