Bill's Transcripts






27 AUGUST 2013





Subjects: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman’s cuts; Labor’s positive plan.



BILL SHORTEN: It’s great to be at the PA Hospital talking to some of the front-line medical staff: nurses, attendants, people who make sure that Queenslanders, when they’re in trouble, get better. We had a chance to talk about this election and to compare and contrast the Coalition's propositions around health care and what Labor has done and continues to do.

Labor's put over $1 billion dollars into the Queensland Health system. Labor has put in hundreds of millions of dollars to help emergency departments, to help treatment for those difficult diseases such as cancer which is so challenging for human beings, for families, for people who have cancer. Labor has got a good record.

By contrast, there is plenty of concern with Queensland Health workers that the dreadful and vicious cuts that the LNP launched, as a surprise, after they won government. Cutting 4,140 jobs. Cutting billions of dollars out of the Queensland Health system. The concern for Queensland Health workers is they don't want to let Tony Abbott do to Australia's hospitals what Campbell Newman has done to Queensland's hospitals. They are very concerned that the Coalition priorities are all wrong. They are concerned that there’s a $22 billion paid parental leave scheme which will benefit the few. They are concerned that there will be no means test on private health insurance which will again, benefit the few. They are even concerned of this crazy cash for tinnies idea where the Coalition wants to pay for second-hand boats to fishermen from South East Asia.

Health workers think priorities are all wrong. They understand that a vote for Tony Abbott is a vote for cuts to health care, is a vote to cut to the quality of life in Queensland for some of the people who are most vulnerable. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: You’ve only got 10 days to really turn the campaign around, can you do it?

SHORTEN: If Labor is able to have the conversations, to engage with voters, to talk about issues which are important to our standard of living, then I think we can close the gap and succeed and prevail on September the 7th.

JOURNALIST: Are people listening though?

SHORTEN: I believe that as the election draws closer, more and more people are engaging. Australians, Australians aren't silly. They understand that on one hand, the Abbott government is saying a vote for us is a vote for smaller government. On the other hand they say that, as part of the equation, if you vote Coalition for smaller government, is in fact bigger expensive programs.

So if you have the ultimate outcome the Coalition is reducing services. If you’ve got one of the ingredients they put in is in fact not acting on climate change, is not acting on a mining tax, is paying money into South East Asia for second-hand fishing boats, they all know – people aren't silly, they understand if you are adding expenses here and yet you say your overall target is smaller government, what's the missing ingredient in the middle? The missing ingredient in the middle is the Coalition, in order to do what they say they want to do, has to cut jobs. It can't promise the same length of commitment for schools funding, has to cut health care. What underlines that whole equation is what happens when Conservative governments get elected.

Australia's got a bright future but the way we compete for the future is through investing in people, not cutting services. The way we make sure Australia has a positive future for our young generation, for our people looking forward to retirement, is you invest in better superannuation, you invest in infrastructure. You realise that what makes Australia have a bright future is growing the pie, not shrinking the pie. That's what they get and if we have that debate in the next 10 days, then it will be a very close election with every prospect that Labor's positive view about growing the pie in Australia, rather than cutting and shrinking and going after jobs, that we could well prevail.

JOURNALIST: The Coalition wants to introduce a policy, a job commitment bonus for people who are long-term unemployed and do find and stay in work. What are your thoughts on that? Is that a good idea?

SHORTEN: I think the best way you help people to find work is you give them skills and training. Skills and training. Again, the Coalition I think, don't quite get what it is to be long-term unemployed. What people need is they need the opportunity to be job-ready. They need the opportunity to have skills. The Coalition say on one hand we are worried about the long-term unemployed, but on the other hand they have committed to not continuing trade training centres. Everyone knows that the jobs of the future require skills and training.

The idea that say you are concerned about the long-term unemployed yet you actually cut Trade Training Centres which gives people the day to day skills. What's crazy is the Coalition proposition is they say that after two years we’ll give you extra money – people who are unemployed actually need the interview. They need to get their foot in the door. So it’s about supporting people's skills.

The other way which we generate sport for long-term unemployed, is support for employers to give people a chance. They are looking at how they can hand out dessert to the long-term unemployed, I think we need to look at what’s the entree and what’s the main course. The entree is the skills. The main course is working with employers to hire people. As usual, the Coalition's got a bandaid to deal with a much bigger issue.

JOURNALIST: ICAC is handing down its report in a couple of days. The report into New South Wales Labor. Has Labor done enough to end this conduct in the union movement?

SHORTEN: ICAC's investigating – I don't think they are investigating industrial relations. In terms of ICAC, what has happened with those couple of Labor MPs is shocking, it’s ridiculous, it’s a betrayal of trust. I don't think it reflects the Labor cause and the Labor message in this election.

Kevin Rudd has acted in a timely fashion, as soon as he became leader, to do something about making sure people can have confidence in the Labor Party in New South Wales. But again, ICAC is the independent watchdog and we fully support the recommendations which they have been making and have done so.

JOURNALIST: Is New South Wales Labor now clean and is it worrying that this report is coming out just a few days before the Labor campaign launch?

SHORTEN: We’re respecters of due process.  It’s up to ICAC, its timetable. And any recommendations that ICAC has made, Kevin Rudd and Labor have acted on and will continue to do so. Zero tolerance for that sort of behaviour.  It’s hopeless.

JOURNALIST: You’ve been trying a tactic of linking Tony Abbott to Campbell Newman for weeks, probably months now, do you think it is working? It doesn't seem to have had the desired affect on the poll?

SHORTEN: It is not a tactic to link Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman – Campbell Newman was at Tony Abbott's launch on Sunday. They’re in the same political party. If you vote for Tony Abbott, you get Campbell Newman. If you are happy with his cuts to jobs, if you’re happy with its cuts to TAFE, if you’re happy with his cuts to schools, well that's what you get with Tony Abbott. That's the good news.

The problem is if you don't think reducing school funding is a good idea, if you don't think reducing frontline health services is a good idea, if you don't think getting rid of jobs is a good idea, that's what you get when you get Tony Abbott. You get a Canberra version of Campbell Newman.

JOURNALIST: Those warnings don't seem to have been having an effect on the polls, though. Could it be that your Government's on the nose more than Mr Newman's Government is?

SHORTEN: No, what I believe is that this election will be fought on the issues, not the personalities. Australians aren't silly. There are 15 million people who are going to go and vote. They will weigh up who has got the best ideas for the future. The case for Labor is that we believe in a good society and have new ways to build Australia; the NBN, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Better Schools, more jobs, more skills and training. That's our policy prescription. Simple points, straightforward.

The Conservative proposition is the Coalition can tell you what they're against. They’re against a mining tax, they’re against action on climate change, they’re against Trade Training Centres. The problem is that Tony Abbott has not articulated a positive agenda other the fact that he wants to provide millionaire paid parental leave, other than the fact that he wants to buy clapped out second-hand Indonesian fishing boats. That's not a plan. That's a mistake.

JOURNALIST: A lot of people don't want to vote for Labor or Liberal. They have disdain, no respect for either side of the political parties. What do you say to those voters?

SHORTEN: I’d vote for Labor. Give Labor another chance because Labor actually has the best policies. These people you are talking about probably have children that go to schools in Queensland. They probably have family members who might have severe or acquired impairment or disabilities. They may well be people who aspire to re-enter the work force. They could be people who want to benefit from a National Broadband Network. Leaving aside personalities, who has got the substantial offering which makes a material difference in the lives of ordinary people?

We stand for better schools, we stand for more skills and training, we stand for a National Disability Insurance Scheme, we stand for better superannuation, we certainly stand for the creation and maintenance of good jobs. That's a good offering, leaving the personalities out. Thanks very much everyone.



Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111



Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton, ACT, 2600