FRIDAY, 10 MAY 2019
Subjects: Labor's investment in Cairns Hospital; Labor's plan for far north Queensland; election costings; Labor's far north Queensland renewable energy zone initiative; Coalition divisions and chaos on climate change; Scott Morrison’s deal with Clive Palmer; Coalition’s 14th energy plan; childcare workers’ wages; Senate crossbench.
ELIDA FAITH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LEICHHARDT: Good morning, my name's Elida Faith and I am really happy to be here today joined by Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten. Now Bill has spoken this week very proudly about his mum and I would like to take this opportunity to talk about my mum because right now my mum is actually here in the hospital. My mum came in via ambulance yesterday morning at 6 am. She came into a hospital that was already at full capacity. It had an ambulance bay that was full of ambulances with patients on stretchers waiting to be transferred. Mum is still here. She's going to be here for a couple of nights and they are still yet to find her a proper bed. Now, I hear stories like this every single day, every day. And it's one thing to hear these stories, but it really brings it home when it's one of your own family that's experiencing these things. I know that our doctors, our nurses, our paramedics and our hospital workers work really hard. They need help. They don't need more cuts. At this election, far north Queenslanders are going to have a choice. They can choose to have their hospitals properly funded. Properly funded under a Labor government. Or they can choose to see more cuts and chaos under an LNP government. That will be far north Queenslanders' choice. It's not fair that my mum is sitting here still waiting for a bed. This is not good enough for far north Queenslanders. And it's not good enough for my mum. And I am really, really happy to be here today with Bill because Bill is going to make some more announcements in regards to funding for our Cairns Hospital and only Labor has a real plan for far north Queensland.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Elida for sharing a story about challenges to the hospital system in the real world. This is my seventh visit to Cairns since the last election, and in that time Labor has developed and we're launching our plan to deliver a fair go for far north Queensland. This is something which you won't see from the Liberals. It's called a policy. In fact it's called a whole set of plans. But at the heart of Labor's proposition to change the government, to end the chaos in Canberra, is to vote for better health care. And it's a really clear example here in Cairns, in far north Queensland. Labor's already announced $60 million to help upgrade the hospital, make it a training facility. Now the Government has matched that once we announced it. But what we've also said is we want to spend $15 million to improve the emergency department ward to deal with the sort of issues which we've just heard in such personal human terms from Elida. We also have said today, we're launching this today, that we want to upgrade some of the other facilities at the hospital. By using a modest amount of taxpayers money we can improve the efficiency, the productivity, the quality of the treatment which hardworking staff are giving. A $4.2 million addition to upgrade the hospital to provide more waiting facilities, to provide more treatment rooms will mean that lovely fellow we saw, Dan, that he can get treated and seen quickly. That the staff aren't working all around the clock because there is a logjam of inadequate facilities. Australia's health care staff are the best in the world. But they deserve the best resources in the world. That's what a Labor government will give. That's why in this final week, one of the big issues in this election is health care. I mean there's wages, there's climate change but there's no doubt - and cost of living - there's no doubt in my mind that if you're to tally up the three or four key issues one of them is health care. Labor's offering is so much better because what we are doing is we're prioritising the health of the sick over tax breaks for millionaires. We're prioritising better health funding over more subsidies for millionaires and softer tax laws for multinationals.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten today the big issue for Labor is the release of your policy costings due any moment now. But why are you fronting the media before the numbers have been revealed, are you trying to avoid scrutiny over this issue?
SHORTEN: Well I've had the joy of being with you for the last number of days and the media for the last 2,000 days. Listen, if you want to talk about who's avoiding things go to the government. Where's their policy for north Queensland, far north Queensland? Where is their health policy? I’ll tell you their policy. More of the same. Now as is appropriate my shadow treasurer and my shadow finance spokesperson, Chris Bowen and Jim Chalmers are going to present a detailed set of costings in Canberra. But let me finish. But we all know that when it comes down to it, and I can give a short version of our costings now, we are the most transparent opposition in the history of federation. We're being upfront with the people of Australia. We are going to reverse the cuts to schools and hospitals. We're going to stop the chaos. We're going to provide tax cuts on 1 July for 10 million working Australians and we will have a better set of books. But the question that Mr Morrison needs to answer is why does he hide how much he wants to give the top tier of tax earners? Is it $77 billion as I initially thought? Or is it a higher number as has been revealed by other people? Why are they hiding this?
JOURNALIST: Why didn't you want to wait until after the numbers were revealed before standing here to answer questions on your detailed economic policy?
SHORTEN: I don't mean to be, I don't mean to be a bit of a history wonk here, but in 2010 the Liberals didn't reveal their costings to two days before the election. In 2013 they didn't reveal it till three days before the election. We're being upfront. Now you can punish us for not being upfront or you can punish us for being upfront, pick your poison and choose it. We're being upfront.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, part of what you're talking about when your plan for far north Queensland is the renewable economic zone. Can you talk about the Kidston project obviously is already underway. That's a very major project. How would you actually encourage other projects to come into the area and will your costings that your colleagues are revealing later talk about the cost of what ever Labor's action on climate change is?
SHORTEN: Well, thanks for that. Our renewable energy zones, we're nominating a number around Australia, we've nominated north west Tassie, for example, we've nominated this area as well. What we do if we nominate an area as a renewable energy zone is we'll make sure they get fast track access to the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation which has been spectacularly successful. For every dollar of taxpayer money outlaid, it's delivered nearly $2 back. We also want to make sure that this region gets the power that it needs. So we've got an energy modernisation fund of $5 billion. So, by making this a renewable energy zone, that's what happens. But you go to the bigger question of climate change. One of the two or three big issues in this election is climate change. There can be no doubt about it. And the fact that this government runs a dishonest pretense that somehow they have a climate change policy when we all know they don't. You all know it, we all know it, because if they were Malcolm Turnbull would still be Prime Minister. The question on climate change is when will a government get real about it? And I have formed and reached the conclusion, which I suspect many Australians have reached, that the Liberal Party will only get serious on climate change when they lose an election. See if they think they can get away with their scare campaign they will keep being the knuckle-dragging, climate change denying, coal-wielding warriors that they are. The Liberal Party in Australia and the National Party in Australia need to lose an election to discover that climate change is real. Now I've got Penny Wong here, she was a climate change minister and I think she can also give some of the context to why at this election if you want real change and real action on climate change, if you want to end the chaos on climate and get certainty back into climate change policy, vote Labor. Penny.
PENNY WONG, OPPOSITION LEADER IN THE SENATE: I just want to make a couple of comments. We see today on the front page of a couple of the papers, the Coalition saying we've got a policy on climate change. Well it's their fourteenth. It's their fourteenth. The reality is this. We have seen an internal war inside the Coalition on climate for a decade. A decade. And it has led them not only to kill Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister but you might recall in 2009 to kill him also as Opposition Leader. And you know what? The war's still going. Kathy Ganley, Scott Morrison's candidate for Solomon, told someone who supported renewable energy, and I quote, "You need to stop taking the drugs you're on." You need to stop taking the drugs you're on. That's what Scott Morrison's team thinks about renewable energy. And I do want to just make a comment about Mr Entsch. Mr Entsch has recently discovered climate change. He's recently discovered climate change. He seems to be wanting to talk a lot about it. Well he's as quiet as a church mouse in Canberra. Talks a lot about it now, in the shadow of an election, up here in far north Queensland, quiet as a mouse in Canberra. And people should not forget this. Mr Entsch for all he talks about climate change was part of the chaos and part of dragging down Malcolm Turnbull. Helped the far, hard right drag down Malcolm Turnbull, signed the petition. So he shouldn't come to far north Queenslanders now and tell them that he cares about climate change.
JOURNALIST: Will the cost of increasing Newstart be included in your policy costings?
SHORTEN: All of our costings will be revealed in the next hour. What we've said is we think that Newstart should be reviewed and we're not reviewing it to lower it, but until that review is complete, you couldn't put a number on it. Also to be far to Katina's question earlier, where she asked me about our climate change costings, the costings of what the government will expend will be contained in the document.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten you've announced, released the figure of how much your crackdown on tax breaks will save. How much is Labor spending, will it be an overall figure in the costings about how much you'll spend on all of the commitments you've made?
SHORTEN: Yeah, but I think that, listen I don't want to steal Jim and Chris's thunder, they have been working over the last number of days, weeks and months. But let me put it to you this way. We go to this election with a better set of books. See this is where the government's inherent contradiction is finally exposed. See, we are actually shutting down tax expenditure on tax subsidies for property investors, for very wealthy millionaires. We are not going to spend taxes on them anymore. And that means that we can do the trifecta of Australian politics. One, we can reverse the cuts to schools and hospitals, $7.2 million at Cairns Hospital for example. Two, we can provide fair tax cuts for 10 million Australians and in fact for the bottom 3.6 million earners it will be better than what the government has offered and we can look after our pensioners who never get thought about in our government's agenda of fight for the wealthy. And three we can provide better surpluses. So that's the trifecta. Looking after the people on the fixed incomes and the working, wage earners of Australia, reversing the cuts to schools and hospitals, and a better surplus. And you all know why. Because we have got the courage to trust the Australian people, to put forward our views well ahead of the election. This government can't match our deal for pensioners, our support for childcare, battling households and indeed better tax cuts for low income earners because they spend all their time defending the status quo. They are determined to defend handing out tens and tens and tens of billions of dollars to people who don't need it at the upper end. As a result because of the choices we make, we can have a better set of books. The one thing that does concern me about this government is not only are they defending the status quo, but I fundamentally believe it's in the Liberal and National DNA to try and give new tax cuts to the top end of town. Mr Morrison makes a great show on the high moral ground. He's not a man who flips or flops. And indeed, 250 times he's said that he wanted to give the business tax cuts, $80 billion to big business. 250 times. Now miraculously he's had a conversion eight days out from the election and said “oh I actually didn't want to do that”. But the problem is that you don't even have to believe his last minute conversion. Look at his deal he's done with Clive Palmer. I'd like to ask Senator Keneally who's had a good look at these arrangements just to understand when you do a deal with Clive Palmer, he never gives you something for nothing.
KRISTINA KENEALLY, SENATOR FOR NSW: Thanks Bill, thanks everyone. Well we have seen in this election campaign that Scott Morrison is willing to do a desperate deal with Clive Palmer in his desperate attempt to cling on to power. And we are seeing more and more evidence that this deal is not just a preference swap. It is actually - well frankly it's an exchange of wardrobe. It's an exchange of workers. We've seen the photos already. Here we've got photos of that. Actually we were just at the aquarium weren't we. It kind of puts me in a Dr Seuss frame of mind. One fish, two fish, yellow fish, blue fish, from here to there, there to here, funny things are everywhere. I mean these guys, they're sharing shirts. Think of the inefficiency of this campaign. I mean the volunteers have to go off to some back room and change shirts and then come back out having spent half the day handing out for the Libs, now they're handing out for Clive Palmer. Maybe Mr Palmer could just order some of those reversible shirts you know like basketball players have, blue on one side yellow on the other. Probably be more efficient. He can probably get them made in China too. So you know check that out Clive. But look, don't take my word for it. Quite frankly, we've got now the director of the Palmer United Party or whatever they're calling themselves now, United Australia Party. Clive Palmer's party in Victoria putting on social media, she says here, just this week, she says that actually where it is happening where the Libs are helping us, the Libs are funding the workers. Clive Palmer's state director in Victoria has just put it out there in social media. The Libs are funding the workers to hand out for Clive Palmer's party. But then she goes on, she says or it might be they are Lib volunteers helping us to help them. I'm going to come back to that. She says because of course a volunteer is never paid are they? You know who else hasn't been paid for years by Clive Palmer? His workers. And you know who's going to get a big payday if Scott Morrison wins. Clive Palmer. Clive Palmer does nothing for free. He gets other people to pay for it. He got the Commonwealth to pay his workers. Now he's getting the Liberals to pay the people handing out for him. She says, Catriona Thoolen, state director of Clive Palmer's party in Victoria - the Lib volunteers are helping us to help them. The Lib volunteers are helping us to help them. What kind of help is Mr Palmer expecting? You can be sure he is not expecting just a handshake if he gets elected. He's expecting that $80 billion tax cut to the top end of town that Scott Morrison has hundreds of times staked his word and his reputation on that he's going to deliver. Well Clive Palmer is waiting for that payday if Scott Morrison is re-elected. So, I look forward to those shirts Clive, check them out. I’m sure you can get them online. EBay. China, somewhere.
JOURNALIST: A question for Mr Shorten, Angus Taylor said today that he plans to reduce energy bills by 25 per cent. What's your reaction?
SHORTEN: Oh well, I’ll sell you the Harbour Bridge if you're silly enough to say you want to buy it. I mean this is their 14th policy. The one thing you can set your clock by in Australia is that when the Liberals say that they've got a new, hey presto, we're going to reduce your power prices, your next bill will probably go up. I mean haven't we heard this before? How many times did the government call you out into the courtyard into Parliament and said, Victory! Peace in our time! We've solved the energy crisis. Gas is going to be cheaper, energy is going to be cheaper. I mean hadn't they already told us that they had lowered power prices? Now they're going to do it again? The reality is the single biggest driver of power prices in this country is a lack of an energy policy. Because people won't invest the extra generation needed to put the supply of energy in which will lower the price. So there is a paralysis at the heart of this government on energy. So when they say that they've got their 14th policy, just ask them how their previous 13 policies went. Ask them where Malcolm Turnbull is and ask them why they don't take real action on climate change. So, you know I think people who pay their energy bills should take this latest "breakthrough” announcement as seriously as they’re still paying for the cost of the last 13 "breakthrough" announcements.
JOURNALIST: What's your energy policy costing over 12 months, four years and ten years?
SHORTEN: Well first of all our energy policy will drive down prices.
JOURNALIST: What will it cost?
SHORTEN: Well it won't because we're driving down prices. And the issue is, in terms of some of the individual levers we've got our $10 billion clean energy fund, but that actually delivers a return. We're going to put $5 billion dollars into energy modernisation, which will put downward pressure and create greater efficiency and reliability on our energy systems. There are I think - and again, you're very cunningly getting me to talk about the detail which Jim and Chris will do in the next half hour - but no that's fair enough, you're a trained and skilled interrogator. About $500 million plus. We're going to put $300 million dollars aside to make sure that our trade exposed aluminium, steel, cement sectors are not at a disadvantage globally. We've got some other modest measures. At the end of the day though this argument about the cost, you know and we've had the good chance to talk about it frequently, in terms of the taxpayer, our plans are much cheaper for the taxpayer. In terms of the environment, our plans are so much better than the government's because their complete lack of ambition on reducing carbon emissions is not funny. And in terms of corporate Australia, 250 companies are affected by our industrial safeguards and they have the option with all of the tools we're giving them to choose least cost abatement at individual companies.
JOURNALIST: You'll be subsidising the wages of childcare workers. I think you've stated about 100,000 workers. But there are nearly 200,000 workers in the childcare industry in Australia. So which will miss out under Labor's subsidy?
SHORTEN: Well, I'll tell you who's missing out now. Everyone.
JOURNALIST: But under Labor's plan.
SHORTEN: Now let's not just glibly brush off the problem that we're solving here.
JOURNALIST: But is it solving it if half of them miss out?
SHORTEN: If you think the status quo is fine, talk to an early childhood educator. The reality is that out of 96 occupations they come in 92nd. And I know you're a keen advocate for the rights of women. The reality is this is a 96 per cent feminised industry. The market's broken when it comes to the payment of early childhood educators. I am sure that you and millions of other Australians agree that we need to do more for our early childhood educators. They're the first kids to which we entrust, the first people to whom we entrust the kids outside of the family unit. So we've come up with an envelope of funding to improve their wages. We'll work with the for profit sector, we'll work with families and parents. We have an envelope of funding. We've got a plan over the next 10 years and the beauty of our plan - we are tackling a problem this government puts in the too hard basket, which is a very big basket. We are going to do the right thing by a very important section of the economy who experience unique difficulties. And the way we're going to do it, is it doesn't cost parents because we'll put in price controls and we'll make sure that the money which is allocated to wages goes to wages.
JOURNALIST: If you are tackling the problem but there are still workers that are missing out aren't you then only tackling it by half?
SHORTEN: I used the word before, perhaps I should focus in on it again. We have an envelope of funding. We have an envelope of funding. What Labor does with its envelope of funding is we're going to improve the wages of early childhood educators.
JOURNALIST: Will it be all the early childhood ...
SHORTEN: Well the money is there. That's the difference between me and the Liberals. And let's never forget it. Ask the Liberals or get your colleagues on the Liberal bus to ask Mr Howard - oh, not Howard, he's not even turning up is he? Morrison. Ask Mr Morrison what he's going to do to lift the wages of early childhood educators. Do you think he has one plan? Any plan? Of course not. He doesn't get it. This government's stuck in the past when it comes to sorting out wages of low paid women workers. And we've been able to do this and what's more is we've even been able to do something better for families. Did you know that because of Labor and because we've got a better set of books we can provide genuine, no nonsense cost of living relief for nearly a million Australian households. I want to specifically right now for 10 seconds address the working parents of Australia, the nearly million households whose income is less than $174,000. Vote for Labor for real change and to end the chaos in childcare. Mr Morrison, somewhat I think foolishly, said on Wednesday, childcare costs are going down. Well I don't know what bill he's paying, but I tell you that's not the experience of a million Australians. We will provide a subsidy of up to $2,000 because we've got a better set of books.
JOURNALIST: Senate crossbenchers are threatening to block some of the revenue measures which underpin your set of books. What will you choose if the Senate makes you choose? Your spending promises or keeping the budget in surplus?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, let's win the election before we start talking about how we deal with the Senate crossbench. But, I think your question does highlight the danger and the risk of voting LNP or for Palmer Party, or whatever his latest advertising company is called, or indeed One Nation. If you vote for those small parties or you vote for the Liberal Nationals who rely upon them - chaos, chaos, chaos. The biggest single message I get: get real on climate change, get real on cost of living, look after the pensioners and please end the chaos in Canberra. A vote for Labor in the House and the Senate is the best way to make sure that the crazy chaos which you are alluding to just never happens. Vote 1 Labor.
JOURNALIST: The Senate crossbench is not a new phenomenon, no one has controlled the Senate for more than a decade, it is a valid question, which would you pick?
SHORTEN: You're allowed to ask the question and I'm allowed to answer it. No, don't be smart. Now what I'm saying here is this. We haven't even won the election. Imagine if I said oh, we'll win the election and we'll do this. How arrogant would that be? My conversation is actually not with the bar scene from Star Wars of the crazy right in the Senate who Mr Morrison's depending on for re-election. I don't care about them. I’ll let you into a secret on how I think. I'm interested in the voters. I'm interested in the fact that people are waiting here in this hospital ward to get attention. I'm interested not in your question about the Senate, I'm interested in a million Australian households who are battling with child care. I'm interested - no wait a second, I'm going to talk about the people that sometimes the media don't ask about. There's 2.6 million pensioners in Australia. Have any of you got any idea how good their oral health is? Do you know what it's like if you're a pensioner not able to get attention on your teeth? And I'm also addressing young Australians. They are as forgotten in this election by this government as pensioners. Young Australians are sick and tired of an anti-science, anti-climate change, anti-rational, science-phobic government in Canberra. We cannot afford to keep selling out the future by just pretending that more of the same is good enough. What the Australian people deserve is a government as good as them. I look forward to listening to Jim and Chris unveil our better set of books and we'll see you all very soon. Thank you very much.