Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: TUMBI UMBI - New South Wales election; Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget






SUBJECT/S: New South Wales election; Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget; Mike Baird’s Risky Privatisation Plan; Remote Indigenous communities; TAFE; Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan


DAVID MEHAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR THE ENTERANCE: Look, thanks for attending everybody. My name’s David Mehan and I’m Labor’s candidate for the state seat of The Entrance for the March 28 state election. I’m really pleased to have Bill Shorten here with me on the Central Coast visiting this community based pre-school which is state funded. It’s great to have Bill here and it’s a great reminder that what happens in the Federal Parliament, Tony Abbott’s cuts to education and health, has an impact on the Coast and you need a state government that’s going to argue with the Federal Government when those impacts hurt local people as they have done on the Central Coast. So I’d now like to ask Bill to come forward and say a few words.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks David, it’s great to be here on the Central Coast. Coming here to this pre-school, talking to the hard-working staff, looking at what is being done for three and four year olds in pre-school just reminds you about what’s really important in Australia at the moment.


It’s not who leads the Liberal Party that’s important, it’s not how well someone is selling an unfair Budget, it’s the fundamentals. It’s cost of living, it’s cuts to childcare, it’s cuts to hospitals, it’s cuts to education.


What we see now is that the importance of the early years of education for our young people, for our little children, and it’s really important that the Federal Government works with State Governments to make sure that families are able to help ends meet. That's what's important today. It is not a question of who’s leading the Liberal Party. It is a question of making sure the national government in Canberra is helping families make ends meet.


Happy to take any questions.


JOURNALIST: The candidates on the Coast here are doing particularly well at the forums, the Labor candidates, what's your impression so far of their campaign?


SHORTEN: Labor’s got good candidates on the Coast. I believe that under Luke Foley's leadership and strong candidates on the Central Coast, we’re seeing the region get the attention it deserves.


Families should not all have to make the long commute to Sydney to make ends meet when they should be able to have good resources here on the Coast to help with cost of living. Unemployment is unacceptably high in Australia. Youth unemployment’s unacceptably high in this region. What we need is a government nationally who’s in touch with the needs of everyday families. It’s not good enough for the Abbott Liberal Government to be cutting pensions, to take $6,000 a year away from family incomes, to not make the long-term support necessary for universal access for four year olds to go to school. These are the things that matter and at least with Labor's Central Coast candidates, you’ll have champions who’ll stand up for the region.


JOURNALIST: I'm not sure if you’ve caught wind of the ‘Our Forgotten Coast’ campaign, but basically just calling on more infrastructure. Obviously Labor's self-described modest infrastructure fund is a lot smaller than what the Baird Government’s putting up. How confident are you that that will get Labor over the line?


SHORTEN: Labor’s a good track record in the past when were in Government nationally of helping build infrastructure for the Central Coast. In terms of Luke Foley's promises, he’s got costed promises which I think people can trust and see what they’re there for. The only way which the Liberals in New South Wales are making any promises is by selling or privatising the electricity assets. This is not the best way forward, selling the assets of New South Wales in order to pay for their promises and the problem is that the Liberals have no other plan B when it comes to providing infrastructure other than selling off the assets of the people of New South Wales.


JOURNALIST: You said of Tony Abbott yesterday that he describes himself as the Prime Minister of Indigenous Australians but really he just wants to take the land. I think that's a correct - move them off the land. What's your response to comments by Alan Tudge that you should retract those comments and that they’re not appropriate?


SHORTEN: Well, I think whilst I understand the Liberal Party rallying around to defend their beleaguered Prime Minister, what really matters here is that we’ve got Indigenous Australians living in small townships and we’ve got a Prime Minister who says that the only solution he has for them is that they should leave their small townships and we heard him say, and the real issue is he said that the taxpayer shouldn't subsidise lifestyle choices. What I think has triggered the reaction from Indigenous Australians and many non-Indigenous Australians is Tony Abbott's simplification or his glib one-line that somehow people who live in small townships are making the lifestyle choices as if they have a choice, like some Australians do, about whether or not which suburb they live in in big cities.


The treatment of Indigenous Australians is not a simple matter, it’s a complex matter and what we need from the nation's leader is thoughtful analysis. It is a complex problem. We are right to say are well how are we making sure that people have access to jobs, that they’re safe, that children are getting educated? But, by the same token, you don't do that by dictating to Indigenous Australians where they live and how they do it. You sit down with them. So I think the legitimate reaction and certainly I share it, is that Tony Abbott needs to not just be using glib lines implying false choices which people actually don't have the capacity to make and simply saying there’s a simple solution to something which is complex.


JOURNALIST: So does Tony Abbott just want to move people off the land?


SHORTEN: Well clearly what he’s saying, by putting these lifestyle choices, he’s failing to understand people's connection with the land.


JOURNALIST: Three of the four Central Coast MPs, Liberal Central Coast MPs that won at the last election, aren't contesting due to revelations at ICAC. Do you think the Liberals have lost their credibility on the Central Coast?


SHORTEN: I’ll ask David to also answer that as the local voice here, but it is clear the Liberal Party in the Central Coast has lost its way. It’s clear from one election to the next that we’ve seen a wholesale change in their candidates and I think voters on the Central Coast are looking for more certainty and more consistency, more trust and more honesty, and I think that's what you will get with Labor's candidates at this election but I might ask David to talk a bit more about this.


MEHAN: Look, the local Liberals were given a great opportunity back in 2011, they were given a big mandate and they made a lot of promises. They squandered those quickly, they didn’t have to take the developer donations which were clearly illegal donations at the time. But worse than that, when they were brought before ICAC they decided to stop working for the Central Coast. Now, they're still being paid at the moment to be local members for this area, and regardless of the outcome of ICAC and regardless of their personal culpability or otherwise, they've got an obligation to work for the Central Coast. But ever since that matter has been before ICAC, Liberal Head Office, Mike Baird's office have told those guys to keep undercover and they've stopped working, and that's the worst thing about this, we've got no local representatives in those seats working for the Central Coast and arguing on our behalf.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, with the latest Government crackdown, do you think there is a problem with some vocational education providers?


SHORTEN: Yes. Labor has expressed its concern on numerous occasions that the massive expansion of private providers in training has brought with it unintended consequences where we're seeing some private providers gaming the system. And I think one of the solutions here is to help rebuild and restore confidence in TAFE, and that's what we see, for what it's worth, at the State elections both in Queensland and Victoria and now again in NSW, with state Labor governments trying to rebuild and restore confidence in TAFE, I think that's one of the ways we can avoid some of the profusion or mushrooming of some of these scandals in terms of some of the private providers.


There is a role for private providers in training and there are some private provider organisations doing outstanding work, but I think there is mounting community concern that on the one hand we've seen the Liberals dismantling and attacking TAFE, and the on the other hand, we've seen the ‘leave it to the market’ attitude of private providers in training and we’re seeing a long tail of underperformance and indeed in some cases scandalous behaviour.


JOURNALIST: You're taking an active role in the State election, you've been out and about, and do you think we will see the Prime Minister having a greater presence as well in this state election?


SHORTEN: Well, Tony Abbott lives in NSW so he will get a vote in NSW, I'm sure he will do that.


I think though the real challenge here is increasingly I think Mike Baird would rather Tony Abbott just come back it Sydney, collect the mail and put out the bins and little else.


The real issue here is that even if we see Tony Abbott or don't, even if we see Malcolm Turnbull or we don't, the real challenge here is that at the state level you've got a Liberal Leader who won't stand up to a Liberal Government in Canberra.


It's not enough for Mike Baird to say on one occasion he didn't like the Budget and then do nothing to change it. The basic test in state elections, I think, the calibre of a state leader, is will they even if it’s against their own party, stand up for hospitals, stand up for schools, make sure that your state’s getting its fair share of jobs, that confidence is being built, and what we see is Luke Foley will do that, Mike Baird cannot stand up to Tony Abbott.


JOURNALIST: There are reports today that Julie Bishop’s written to her Indonesian counterpart to say that she would pay for the Bali Nine's gaoling if they are let off death row. Does Labor support this?


SHORTEN: We saw these reports in the media. I’ll speak to Julie directly to see what she had in mind, but I do support the Government doing whatever it can to prevent this absolutely needless execution going ahead. Australia and Australians understand these two young men broke the law. I don't think Australians are saying that people should just be forgiven or that they should just be released from gaol, but the death penalty will solve nothing. It won't solve the scourge of drugs. These two young men have, by all accounts, rehabilitated, they have seen the error of their ways, they’re making a real contribution even from within the Indonesian prison system to a better world. For their families' sake and for them and for, I think, justice in the long term, they should be granted clemency.


JOURNALIST: Would you pay for the gaoling though, is that something Labour would consider?


SHORTEN: I’ll speak to Julie to see what she had in mind in terms of that. I've only just seen the media reports, but as I say, Labor does support the Government doing absolutely what it can to prevent the execution of these two young men.


Thanks, everyone. Have a nice morning.