THURSDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s ‘Your child. Our future’ plan for Australian education; Scott Morrison’s fairy-tale economics; South China sea; 2016 Federal Election; Safe Schools Program; Senate Voting Reform
MATT KEOGH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BURT: Hi I'm Matt Keogh; I'm Labor's candidate for the new seat of Burt. Education is absolutely vital to providing opportunity to children in this area. As we've seen in Western Australia, the mining boom has come off and we need to make sure that our children are ready and prepared to take advantage of the new economy that is coming for Australia and the world. And that means making sure they get the best educational opportunities no matter where their school, no matter their background, that they get the best educational opportunities that can be afforded to them, and that's what our 'Your Child.Our Future' policy is all about. Making sure that no matter what background a child comes from, no matter which school system they are in, they get the absolute best opportunity of an education, so they have the best opportunities for their future. And that's why it's been great today to come down with Bill Shorten to the school that replaced my old school in Armadale, here Xavier Catholic School, to meet with some of the children and talk to Cathie Bauer the principal about education, the proper funding and resourcing of education and how that can make such a difference to our children and the prosperity of our nation. So I’ll hand over to Bill now, thanks Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everyone and it's great to be here in Armadale, at Xavier Primary School with our candidate Matt Keogh for the seat of Burt. It doesn't feel like so long ago we were here in Armadale for the by-election of Canning, but it's great that Matt has again put his hand up to run for the Labor Party in the new seat of Burt.
Now it's good to be here at Xavier Primary School because yet again when you talk to the children, and you talk to the teachers and parents, you're just reminded that Australians fundamentally know that education is the key building block to our nation's prosperity. It's very disturbing that in the last 15 years, Australia's been falling back down the academic ratings in the outcomes for our school system compared to, say, schools in Asia. It is most important that we lift the academic and educational standards in our schools so Australian kids get the best chance in the world from their time at school. That's why Labor's 'Your child.Our Future' school plan, which is fully funded, is the only plan on the table. To not only give the kids the best chance in life, but to make sure that Australians can compete with the rest of the world for jobs.
It is a fact that our policies and proper investment in schools will add nearly 3 per cent to the bottom line of the economic output of Australia in future years. So when we talk about education, it's not just about every child and every school getting every opportunity. It's about all of our futures; the best thing that parents, teachers and indeed Governments can do is give our children the best start in life.
We are here at a Catholic school. Labor’s plans are sector neutral. We'll make sure that children who attend all schools, government and non-government, Catholic and independent, schools in the suburbs of Perth and right in the regions of Western Australian, we'll make sure that every child in every postcode gets an equal go to be the best they can be. Our reforms are an economic plan. They are fully funded.
And when we talk about economic plans, it is very clear that whilst Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison replaced Joe Hockey, nothing's really changed about the economic fundamentals. This morning on ABC's AM show recorded nationally, Scott Morrison said, and I quote, when he was asked where will the cuts come from, I'll quote what Mr Morrison said, "the same way we have been doing it for the last two and a half years". Have they learned nothing, Mr Turnbull's Liberals? Did they just change the salesman but not what they are selling? The Liberals have ruled out a 15 per cent GST for the time being because of Labor's staunch campaign to stand up against a price increase on everything. Mr Morrison now needs to rule out cuts to Medicare and cuts to schools. The Liberal Party have no economic plan for our future, unlike Labor. They've got no plans for tax reform and fairness in our tax system. They have got no plan to properly fund our schools. They just want to keep doing the cuts and the cuts and the cuts. It's not good enough. I think Australians want more from their Treasurer and their Prime Minister. They want less talk, more action. Happy to take any questions on this and other matters.
REPORTER: Do you think the Treasurer's trying to sell the Australian public unicorns.
SHORTEN: The truth of the matter is Malcolm Turnbull's new economic leadership is just a fairy-tale. The Treasurer's well out of his depth. Australians want to see less talk, more action. I think it's becoming increasingly clear that Mr Morrison, the Treasurer, not only is he out of his depth but he and Mr Turnbull have no plan for Australia's future. They have got nothing to say on schools. They have got nothing to say on universities except $100,000 degrees. They have got nothing to say about Medicare, except cutting bulk billing incentives so that patients and sick people are discouraged from going to the doctor and they have got nothing to say on tax reform. I think that new economic leadership is a fairy-tale.
REPORTER: Just on foreign policy, do you think that Australia should join the US and sail within 12 nautical miles of the disputed territory in the South China Sea?
SHORTEN: There's quite a strong degree of bipartisanship on national security. It is something I'm proud of. I worked with Tony Abbott, I didn't agree with him on a lot of his domestic policies but bipartisanship on national security to the extent it is possible is something which Labor's always stood up for. We do believe that there should be the international rules of the sea should be adhered to, that ships should have passage through the South China Sea. We certainly believe that the matter should be resolved peacefully through international tribunals and international mediation.
REPORTER: Do you think the National Executive should take over pre-selection in Fremantle, Brand and Perth?
SHORTEN: The Labor Party will pick three fantastic candidates for Fremantle, Brand and Perth. It's a once in a generation opportunity to bring in new blood to these seats and I am really looking forward to that and I'm sure the Labor Party will go through its processes and we'll have a once in a generation chance to bring in new blood to represent Western Australia most diligently at the national level.
REPORTER: Given it's such a big opportunity as you say, should the National Executive then decide this?
SHORTEN: The Labor Party will go through its processes.
REPORTER: It looks like MUA has the numbers in Fremantle, would you be happy with that?
SHORTEN: Again, I'm just going to refer to my first answer and my second answer, the Labor Party will go through its processes.
REPORTER: Just on Senate voting reform, micro parties are threaten to run a marginal seat campaign against the Government if it goes ahead with the reform. Would Labor support that?
SHORTEN: What the micro parties do is up to the micro parties. But I do think that the Government needs to explain what it wants to do and why it wants to do it. I get the impression that the crossbench senators, a bit like a lot of Australians, thought Malcolm Turnbull would say what he says and keep to his word and clearly what they're discovering like a lot of Australians are discovering, is he says one thing when he was not the leader of the nation and does something else now he is leader of the nation. And indeed, even beyond Senate voting, Malcolm Turnbull before he got elected was a champion of climate change. Now he's an apologist for Tony Abbott's second rate policies. Before Malcolm Turnbull became leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister, he was all for having a free vote in Parliament on marriage equality. Now he wants to kick the issue of marriage equality down the road and cost taxpayers $160 million for a very divisive public debate which his own team won't even be bound to. Before the election, Malcolm Turnbull was a fierce republican, now he's just forgotten that. That's very much yesterday for him. And also before he became leader of the Liberal Party he was certainly a strong supporter of a proper education system and now he's taking not only all the cuts of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, but he's introducing some of his own.
REPORTER: Is Labor committed to supporting the safe schools program and what's your thoughts on the criticism of it over the last week?
SHORTEN: I'm absolutely supportive of the safe schools program. For those people who are not aware, it's a program which is designed to help young people who are gay or transgender or bisexual and help them and schools make sure they are going to school in a safe environment not a bullying environment. I do not support increasing the chances of teenagers being bullied at school. Being a teenager in Australia is not easy, certainly no parent of a teenager would think life's easy. I should know. What I also say is that we have got to make sure that our kids go to school in a safe manner. This safe schools program shouldn't be subject to some right-wing Liberal ideology. Again, it's like marriage equality. I wish the right wing of the Liberal Party would stop worrying about what's going on in other people's lives and focus on the economy, focus on making sure our schools are properly funded, focus on making sure that Medicare's not being undermined, that our hospitals aren't in crisis. Why is it that some of these social issues seem to pre-occupy half of Mr Turnbull's Government more than unemployment, more than protecting the Australian steel industry, more than schools, hospitals or climate change.
REPORTER: Gary Gray suggested that you and the Prime Minister should work together to do a deal on new rules for Senate voting. Will you do that?
SHORTEN: I'm always open to working with anyone in the best interests of this nation.
Last question? Thanks everyone and thanks to the school for hosting us.
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