Bill's Transcripts



EMMA MCBRIDE, LABOR'S CANDIDATE FOR DOBELL: Good morning everybody. I'm Emma McBride, Labor's candidate for Dobell. Welcome to Baker Park, Wyong, on the Central Coast, where I played netball since I was 11-years-old.

Today, I'm really thrilled to have Labor leader, Bill Shorten, Catherine King, our Shadow Health Minister, and Anne Charlton, Labor for Robertson. We have some really important announcements central to health and well-being, which will make a difference not only on the Central Coast, but across Australia.

Welcome, Bill.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you and good morning everybody. It's great, as an absent netball dad, to see this netball factory turning out so many young people who are playing competitive sport on a Saturday. I just want to complement the parents and the volunteers here in particular for driving such a fantastic hub of activity.

Indeed, what Labor is committed to, is the replication of what we see here all over Australia. Labor's already outlined its sensible policies to help save Medicare, properly fund our hospitals, keep the price of medicine down, make sure there's no privatisation of our Medicare system. Today we want to put into place the final part of our strategy for a healthy Australia. I'm talking about preventative health strategies.

Every Australian knows whatever they can do to improve their health means we're going to have better health the longer we live. Making sure Australians are healthy and have healthy lifestyles is a key part of making sure we live longer lives with more meaning and quality.

What we're announcing today is a package of measures to get Australians moving. To make sure physical activity becomes more a part of Australians’ lives. We've got a plan. Talking about healthy communities, tackling obesity, the scourge of alcohol abuse, and, of course, tobacco, backed up by better health channels.

Underpinning our health vision for the next ten and fifteen years in Australia is to get Australians more physically active. It doesn't have to be competitive sport, it could be just walking and doing more non-competitive sport activities. But what we understand, is if Australians take greater care of their health, they are going to have longer lives with fewer health challenges the older they live.

We want to tackle chronic disease. The problem is once someone has severe diabetes and they are in the hospital system, the cost is expensive not just to the patient but to the whole system. The more we can do earlier to encourage young people to fall in love with sporting activities, to encourage adults who might have got out of the habit of playing sport to walk a bit more, to pay more attention to what they're eating and drinking, then what that does is lays the foundation for a healthier future for all Australians.

What I'd like to do now is ask my Shadow Minister for Health, Catherine King, to talk further about our plan on that. What I'd like to do after that is just come back and talk briefly about our plan for the Central Coast of New South Wales, and our plan for putting forward a Roads Rescue Package. But perhaps we'll hand over to Catherine now and I'll finish off on the Central Coast.

CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH: Thanks for that, Bill, and it's great to be here with Emma and Anne on the Central Coast. We know one in three Australians have a chronic disease; diabetes or heart disease. One third of the burden of disease in this country is actually preventable.

We also know two-thirds of adults and one-quarter of kids are overweight or obese. We have to do better. I am so proud of Bill's leadership on this issue. We really want to see Australians moving more, leading a national effort to actually start to turn the tide on chronic disease.

Our plan involves 50 healthy communities across the nation built on the successful Victorian program that has really seen, at the local government level, healthy kids, healthy communities and healthy workplaces. A community based intervention program proven to work and to actually get people eating well and more physically active.

Tackling obesity through Australia's first national physical activity strategy. We've had the Heart Foundation, Diabetes Australia, Cancer Council, the Sporting Codes calling for a national physical activity for the last few years. Labor will deliver one. We'll deliver with the national nutrition framework; a framework that assists people and assists communities to start to make sure we understand how we eat well in this country.

It also includes a $5 million investment in the fantastic Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program. A program teaching young people and their parents about how to grow food, how to work together in their communities. About making sure we can make healthy food choices. We're also going to take the better health channel. I don't know if we've got too many parents in the room here - we've got quite a few at the back there – but the better health channel is the platform many parents in this country use now to get information about the health of their children - preventable health - but also trying to work out where services are in the local community.

We're working with the Victorian State Government to make that the national platform for health information for all Australians. To make sure we then can get our positive messages out through the better health channel. We also want to have a new national alcohol strategy, making sure we are actually continuing to take action on dangerous levels of drinking. It's only a Shorten Labor Government committed to prevention and I do want to thank Bill for his extraordinary leadership on this particular health policy, thank you.

SHORTEN: Thank you, I just would like to also talk about our launch of Central Coast: Labor's Positive Policies. I must congratulate Anne Charlton and Emma McBride and Deb O'Neill for the work they've done. Labor's hard working representatives in this area.

In particular, we've already outlined most of these policies, but I'm pleased today to talk about our Roads Rescue Package. This will fix local roads on the Central Coast. We're particularly pleased with this plan because this community has expanded and grown, but the infrastructure has not kept pace. Labor has got the plans to make sure it’s not just the middle of our big cities that are liveable communities, but a marvellous area like the Central Coast.

In many ways the Central Coast is becoming its own city. What we need to see here across the diverse communities, is the ability to have the roads, the local roads, upgraded from the footpaths to the curb and channelling to the actual roads themselves. What Labor's come up with, based upon heavy consultation with local community representatives, led by my local team, is practical measures. They're not the most expensive measures, but the good news is, it'll make congestion in the Central Coast something which finally gets addressed, and upon this we create a more liveable community.

I have to also say, part of our strategy for the Central Coast is to make sure the Central Coast gets proper NBN. One of the things we learnt out of last night's debate, is Australians are deeply dissatisfied with Malcolm Turnbull's second-best, second-rate technology which short-changes the Central Coast of New South Wales. I want to end the long one and a half to two hour daily commutes to and from Sydney. NBN is a game changer and our Roads Rescue Package will be a game changer for liveability in these communities.

We're happy to take questions on our Health package, our Central Coast Roads Recovery Package or indeed any other matter.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, can I just ask: how concerning is it 28% of voters, according to an opinion poll out this morning, were thinking about putting their vote behind the independents or the greens?

SHORTEN: Wherever I travel around Australia, I think the steep climb Labor has is paying off. What we see is the issues I'm talking about, and the Labor Party is talking about, are beginning to bite. People are beginning to understand there is a real difference between Labor and Liberal. People are beginning to realise, if you want to save Medicare, vote Labor. If you want proper National Broadband Network, vote Labor. As we learned in the debate last night, if you don't want to pay $100,000 for university degrees, vote Labor.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten how can you say that though when the Newspoll out today showing despite you campaigning in several marginal seats, you are set to lose nine out of 10 key marginals. Why is your message failing to cut through in those crucial seats?

SHORTEN: I don't believe our message is failing to cut throughout. I think the issues I and my talented team are talking about, are the issues Australians want to talk about.

Last night at the debate, set up under Mr Turnbull's rules, the issues were the issues Labor has been talking about. The issues people want to talk about, are how do we make sure our kids can afford to go to university? Mr Turnbull let the cat out of the bag when he said he wanted to deregulate university courses. He said the flagship courses. Wonderful, competition, let’s see what prices they can charge.

The truth of the matter is, only Labor can be trusted to properly fund universities in Australia, thereby giving working class, middle class kids, and kids from the regions a fighting chance to be able to get to university based on their marks and not their parent's wealth.

Last night in the debate first home ownership came up. Again, as has been confirmed by a Treasury document which the Liberal Party dishonestly tried to keep from the Australian people, the Prime Minister’s own Treasury Department has confirmed what Labor has been saying: the negative gearing tax subsides disproportionately favour the very well off and everyone else is missing out.

Last night in the debate, we heard about the National Broadband Network. There you had poor old Malcolm waffling on about his copper technology, and then when I asked Australians what they would prefer, fibre or copper? It was as a tsunami, an avalanche on Facebook. Australians want the best technology. They understand, why would you install second-rate technology, which at some point in the future you have to go back and rip up? Why not do the job properly the first time, do it right once, do it right the first time?

I actually believe in the marginal seats our issues and indeed in all seats, safe Liberal seats and safe Labor seats, on the very important and wonderful Central Coast of New South Wales, the fact Labor is willing to defend Medicare, not privatise the payment system. The fact Labor is willing to oppose hundred thousand dollar degrees and properly fund our universities and TAFE. The fact Labor is willing to roll out fibre technology rather than discredited, second-rate copper technology. I think our issues are beginning to bite, and we will keep pressing them for the next 13 days, because Labor can win.

JOURNALIST: The Chief Executive of the CFA has quit, the board has been sacked and in key marginal seats in Victoria such as Corangamite [inaudible]. Do you think the CFA dispute is affecting your chances in Victoria?

SHORTEN: What’s important about the CFA is keeping Victorians safe. It is not about me or Malcolm Turnbull. It is not about the election. It is about the safety of Victorians. I know volunteers and I know career firefighters. I worked during the Black Saturday bushfire reconstruction. I’ve seen the marvellous work the volunteers did and the marvellous work the career firefighters did alongside them.

I do not accept the prophets of doom who say somehow career firefighters and volunteers cannot work together. Our volunteers are the heart of the CFA. I am more than confident there will be a resolution in this matter, because there is sufficient goodwill to resolve it. I have no doubt about that, full stop.

JOURNALIST: Childhood obesity, Mr Shorten. I mean there is obviously a role for parents as well as governments and we're seeing a positive example here. But what’s your message to families that need to put the iPads down and get off the computer games? What’s your message to those parents?

SHORTEN: I am a parent of three kids and all of them do weekend activity. What I like about this place, you visit lots of places, but you get a sense and a feel of the community. There are thousands of registered netballers on the Central Coast. There are literally thousands of kids coming here and their parents. Parents need to be supported and encouraged to make sure kids stop watching the screens, put the iPads down, and get out and do some activity.

What you need to help parents do that, is provide some support to the volunteer organisations. Everyone working on the sausage sizzle, on the cake stall, in the canteen, no-one is paying those parents. They would even argue they perhaps didn't volunteer, they just felt they got dragged into it because they didn't step back quick enough. The point about this, is this is the lifeblood of Australia on a Saturday morning.

I couldn't be prouder to be an Australian when I see what is going on here. None of the parents here want their name in the newspaper. None of the parents here are asking for a pat on the back, or a pay rise. What they want to do is make sure their kids and other kids get the benefit of team sport, that they get the benefits of activity.

There may well be a Commonwealth Games champion playing out there right now or a future one playing out there now. Do you know what I do know? There are thousands of kids, in this case girls, who are learning the benefits of team sport, who are learning when they get out of their own home, where they may be the special loved one in the team, you have to make a bit of allowance because every other kid wants the ball too. They are learning to have confidence in themselves. This is an example of how Australia functions best, by building community.

What we need in the Government, and if we get elected, is a health policy which encourages communities taking activity. The truth of the matter is though, is there are plenty of our communities where they don't even have this level of life or activity. We see unfair outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. We see people growing up in hardscrabble suburbs, where perhaps the parents don't have work or there is not the same community spirit. What we need to do is to create healthy communities. What Labor is doing with Catherine's leadership and my own, is we are turning out 50 healthy communities.

What we are also going to do is keep working on discouraging kids from taking up smoking. What we want to do is tackle obesity by encouraging kids sport. We are going to have a national alcohol strategy because I think the argument trying to do anything in alcohol is too hard, is one where we now need to say: that was then but we've got to show more leadership now, right down to the better healthy channel network. All of it works together.

JOURNALIST: Last night in the debate Mr Shorten you spoke about marriage equality and you said there was a risk of there being hate and homophobia in the debate around the plebiscite. How concerned are you about there being hate crimes that could arise out of this, and are you concerned that by drawing a line in the sand and dividing this, people who may disagree, people think they may be accused of being hateful?

SHORTEN: Well, there are a number of issues there. Let's be clear, I do believe the best way to resolve the marriage equality issue is to have a vote in Parliament. I know if Malcolm Turnbull really ran his party, that's what he would do. Let's just tell the truth here. The truth is Malcolm Turnbull agrees with me. The truth is, before he became the leader of the Liberal Party he would have been proposing exactly the policy I'm proposing. But he can't and won't because he doesn't control his own party.

Why is it Malcolm Turnbull is telling Australians to settle for second best outcomes merely because he settled for second best in order to keep his job? The fact of the matter, is a marriage equality debate is a legitimate debate. There are people who disagree with it and there are people who supported. What I also recognise is some of the critics of marriage equality have extreme views. I don't want the children of gay parents who are in a loving relationship having to go to school and read nonsense in the newspapers, with respect to newspapers. I don't need them to see nonsense on the television, with respect to television. I don't need to see families in caring relationships have to put up with taxpayer funded nonsense merely because Malcolm Turnbull is too chicken to actually vote in Parliament the way his head and heart would otherwise indicate.

This is a really important issue. Mr Turnbull said unless you support a plebiscite, you don't have respect for the Australian people. I have plenty of respect for the Australian people, that’s why I want another debate with him in public where it's just him and I calling it out to each other. What do we think, what do you think? Answering questions.

But Mr Turnbull knows, and he said last night, he thinks a marriage equality plebiscite will be won overwhelmingly. He said the majority of Australians want it. Well doesn't he condemn himself by his own words? Where is the leadership in that, Malcolm? If you know what people want, if you know it is going to happen, why don't you just lead with me and do it.

I mean is every issue in a future Turnbull government if he is re-elected, going to be, as soon as it gets controversial we will have a plebiscite? We have a system of representation. That's why we run for Parliament. He and I are offering ourselves for the highest office in the land as leader and it’s time he started leading not following his party.

JOURNALIST: You spent a lot of time this year visiting pathology and radiology clinics promising to protect bulk-billing in those areas. Radiologists said they actually haven't had any firm commitment from you in that area. They also labelled your Medicare rebate freeze policy an insult, saying it has left them out despite the fact they have had a freeze on their rebates for 18 years. What will you do specifically to protect bulk-billing in radiology and pathology?

SHORTEN: Let's be clear, some of the radiologists leadership, as opposed to radiologist generally, have sold out for a couple of coins from the government about rent reform. The truth of the matter is we are defenders of bulk-billing. The truth of the matter is we are the people who will unfreeze the rebate for GPs.

I am determined to make it the case in this country sick people are not discouraged from going to the doctor by the cost of it. In terms of radiology and pathology we remain very committed to making sure people are able to have cost-effective access to medicine and to medical treatment which will improve their health outcomes. I might ask Catherine to supplement the answer.

KING: Thanks Bill. The bulk-billing incentive for radiography and pathology, the Turnbull government still wishes to cut, has actually seen bulk-billing in radiography grow by 10 per cent. That is very important. Now we know there are further things we need to do to make sure we can keep radiography affordable for all Australians. We are happy to talk to the radiography industry about that. What is absolutely clear, is this Government wants to, at every single opportunity, transfer costs on to patients. There is one guarantee under Malcolm Turnbull, you will be paying far more for your scans and for your pathology under a Liberal Government.

JOURNALIST: The first part of that question, last night you spoke about hate and homophobia being part - could be part of that debate.


JOURNALIST: Are you actually concerned there could be hate crimes, and there was a link last night to the events we have seen in Orlando.

SHORTEN: I don't make that comparison. It is not the same situation in Australia. What I do recognise, if we give the green light to some taxpayer funded debate contrasting the positions on marriage equality, you would have to live on another planet if you just assume some of the critics of marriage equality aren't motivated by homophobia. That’s not all the critics, there are people with religious views, I get that, I understand that. But why on earth is this nation going to spend $160 million having an opinion poll on some people's relationships.

Mr Turnbull confirmed himself it’s his party's position. The clear signal he was sending was he would like to stick to his old position but he can't. Well, I actually think that is weak. If we have a leader in this country who knows one thing to be true but then says another thing that is weak. If we have a leader in this country who understands and can look at what has been happening. Look at the Irish referendum for example. I don't know if you have a good look at some of the 'no' case run there. Some of the arguments run were despicable. Just despicable. They were hateful.

If you know the majority of Australians agree with marriage equality, and Mr Turnbull and I both think that. If you know there is the potential for ugly arguments to emerge, if you know Parliament, our system of representation means you get elected to Parliament, well when you join all those dots, why on earth are we going to inflict this nation on another opinion poll, a national turn out, in the next 12 months?

You can vote Labor and in the first 100 days we will put a bill into Parliament, which people can vote on according to conscience. Then we can deal with this debate and get on with all the other issues which Australians expect us to including healthcare, a proper NBN, not Malcolm Turnbull's second-rate copper. We can stop $100,000 degrees, and we can save Medicare from the privatisation plans of this Government.

My friends, if I could have a question from someone who has not asked a question.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you have your campaign launch in Lindsay tomorrow. Newspoll today shows both your party and the Liberal Party primary vote would actually fall in Lindsay to a party like Nick Xenophon's team. What's your message to voters who might be attracted to the Nick Xenophon team in seats like this?

SHORTEN: Labor's got the best policies for Lindsay. We will make sure you can still go to the doctor and have bulk-billing. We will take real action on climate change focusing on renewable energy. We will make sure we have Budget repair that is fair. We will help those people who aspire to see their kids be able to get into the housing market, be able to compete on a level playing field, rather than be disadvantaged by taxpayer funded subsidies which are going to the top 20 per cent.

We will make sure we have proper schools, properly funded with resources. We will make sure you don't pay $100,000 degrees. We will tell the people of Lindsay who have been ripped off by the banks we will have a banking royal commission.

What we will also do, is we will dig in and oppose $100,000 degrees. I want the kids from the western suburbs of Sydney to be able to get the same access to go to university as children from more affluent backgrounds. We will make sure Medicare never gets privatised. We will make sure we scrap this task force, which is set up to privatise the payment system. We will finish that day one of us getting elected. We will keep downward pressure on the price of medicines, so people in Lindsay who need to go to the doctors don't pay more for their prescription Medicines.

We have got a plan for infrastructure, we've got a plan for education, and we’ve got a plan for TAFE. We will say to the working parents of Lindsay, including many working mums, we will lift the rebate on childcare from $7,500 to $10,000 so working parents and working mums in particular are able to work and not spend all their wages on childcare. We have got plans in the best interests of Lindsay and the best interests of Australia.

I can't wait for the next 13 days, night and day, for us to put out our policy plans, including of course in Lindsay, making sure people here get access to proper fibre in their NBN, not Malcolm Turnbull's the second-rate copper.

Thank you, see you at our next event. 


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