Bill's Transcripts




SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan for an Urgent Care Clinic in Fremantle; GST; ACCC wanting harsher punishment for businesses ripping off consumers; foreign interference; the Liberals’ cuts to schools; immigration levels; jobs for Liberal mates.



SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan for an Urgent Care Clinic in Fremantle; GST; ACCC wanting harsher punishment for businesses ripping off consumers; foreign interference; the Liberals’ cuts to schools; immigration levels; jobs for Liberal mates.

JOSH WILSON, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR FREMANTLE: Welcome here to Fremantle Hospital. I have some state and federal colleagues here with me; Simone McGurk, State Member for Fremantle, the Minister for Communities and Child Protection. The Deputy Premier, Roger Cook who is also the Minister for Health and of course, Bill Shorten, Labor's federal leader, the Leader of the Opposition.

It's brilliant to be here in Fremantle today because we're announcing a commitment from federal Labor of $5 million to help the State Government create an Urgent Care Clinic here in Fremantle. When Fiona Stanley was opened, the emergency department in Fremantle closed and the emergency department at Fiona Stanley opened - it has left a health service gap here in Fremantle and the Urgent Care Clinic that will be established will help close that gap. It's a policy of the McGowan Labor Government. It's going to be enabled with a $5 million contribution from federal Labor if we form government. 

As someone who has lived in Fremantle all my life, I know what the ED meant to this community. I visited several times myself as a young man, I've come here with my children on a number of occasions. There wouldn't be a person in this community who has not come to the ED in Fremantle in the past and they will benefit from an Urgent Care Clinic. It will mean that people who have a serious, not life threatening but serious out-of-the-blue health issues can have those addressed at a clinic that will provide seven-day-a-week service and will take pressure off the emergency department at Fiona Stanley.

We are able to do that as federal Labor because we take a distinctly different approach to the Turnbull Government. We don't want to give $17 billion in a tax giveaway to multinationals, big business and the big four banks. We want to invest to (inaudible) there is no better example of that than of public health and public hospitals. And it is the kind of commitment I am very proud to make as Labor's federal candidate.

I'll hand over to our leader, Bill Shorten.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks, Josh. It's great to be here with Simone and Roger and of course, Labor's candidate for Fremantle, Josh Wilson - who is just doing an absolutely standout job in this campaign. 

I'm really pleased to be here announcing that a Federal Labor Government will invest $5 million in an Urgent Care Clinic right here in the heart of Fremantle. It was great for me to talk to the family we just met and to talk to Georgia who is eight. And I'm a parent, Chloe and I've got three kids. We understand that when your kids are sick, you need to have resources close to home. It really is a terrible deed that the Liberals back in 2015 just shut the emergency department and they've really left this community underserviced as a result. So what Labor's going to do, working of course with the McGowan Government, is will find $5 million for capital to help refurbish the tired facilities which we saw to provide an Urgent Care Clinic. This will mean that literally thousands of residents will be able to get the urgent but not life-threatening conditions, can get that care right here in their own community. 

Labor is all about making life easier for families. We are all about making sure that people have quality health care in this country; it's affordable and accessible. This is a really smart use of a relatively modest amount of money - $5 million - which is going to help make life easier for families and for people who need to get urgent care. And what we'll also do is we'll help de-clutter the emergency department at other hospitals so that the system works as it should. The really urgent, life-threatening conditions are dealt with in emergency departments and what we have is that for urgent but not life-threatening conditions, they can get attention in their local communities. This is a really sensible idea. And as I was saying earlier to the family, having kids is not for the faint hearted. If you really would like to think that the Government is on the side and providing quality health care which is affordable and accessible, I just think this is exactly what governments should be doing. 

And that we can make these promises, here and elsewhere about prioritising health care, because I and Labor have made the choice: we think the health of Australians is more important than the profits of big banks. So we're not going to give $17 billion away to the big banks which means we can do these really sensible and relatively inexpensive but very vital and necessary health measures because I think that a family being able to get their child to see a doctor on time, quality attention, is more important than some big CEO at the top end of town getting a tax cut. 

Now, I'd like to just hand over to Roger Cook to talk further about how this idea will work. 

ROGER COOK, DEPUTY WEST AUSTRALIAN PREMIER: Good morning, everyone and thank you for the opportunity to be here in Fremantle with Josh Willson for this terrific announcement.

The urgent care clinics are a part of the McGowan Labor Government's plan for health. What we want to do is to fill a gap in our health services for those people who need urgent care but don't need the fully fledged facilities of an emergency department. 

One of the areas we're keen to (inaudible) is here in Fremantle. We've lost the ED here at Fremantle Hospital. The GP after hours clinic closed down some time later. So there is a gap in services in Fremantle. And as someone who has brought his kids to the emergency department here at Fremantle in the old days, I'm really pleased to see this important  facility supported by Josh Wilson and Bill and his team. What we're doing here is providing an important service to the families of Fremantle, for those people who need acute primary care - care which is unplanned but don't need to go to the ED up the road at Fiona Stanley Hospital. 

So this will provide an important service for families. It will provide an important part of our health service - making up that gap between the emergency department and GP services. Urgent care clinics are an important part of our plan for health and it's terrific to see the $5 million contribution today which would go towards important building upgrades, to ensure that we have a extended acute primary care service here in Fremantle.

JOURNALIST: $5 million, how many patients - what will be the capacity of this wonderful facility? 

COOK: Well, what we'll be doing here is setting it up as a unit as a primary care environment. So that means people will be able to come in, see a GP who will had a communication with the local ED if they need assistance. We'll have some diagnostic care around the pathology, radiology and so on. But the idea is that to receive those patients who would otherwise have to travel up the road to the Emergency Department at Fiona Stanley Hospital but don't need the fully fledged facilities at that ED.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

COOK: Yeah.

JOURNALIST: It that new positions or will that be just be taken -

COOK: No, we are looking forward to partnering with one of our primary care providers in Fremantle who will be putting people into the clinic down here providing extended after hours services and providing an important primary care service to the community. 

JOURNALIST: Will State Labor do this regardless of whether or not Labor is elected federally?

COOK: Look, what we want to do is to see a network of urgent care clinics throughout the state. And we've talked about a range of those places where we would like to see them developed in Western Australia at the last election. Fremantle Hospital was one of those places because we know that there is a gap in the services down here at Fremantle. This funding will go to important building and works upgrades which means it can be part of the overall hospital facility and provide an important contribution to the health services at Fremantle Hospital. 

JOURNALIST: Minister, can I get - just a different issue. The State Government has announced it selling a sizeable parcel of land in Cottesloe. It's prime real estate, about 10 hectares (inaudible) ease the minds of some of the residents there who are against this sort of development so close to the beach?  

COOK: Yeah, we've identified parcels of land throughout Western Australia, particularly in Perth, which are surplus to requirements for the State Government. This is an important part of mending our state's finances and making sure that we are putting taxpayers' dollars back into services which are so vital (inaudible). In relation to those parcels of land, obviously it's important that we look after the heritage value of the existing buildings on those sites but it's also important that we make sure that we're maximising the taxpayer dollar by allowing the state departments to release this surplus land back into the system.  

JOURNALIST: (inaudible) concerns with land like that is always going to be high rise apartments so close to the beach. (inaudible) What would your message be to people who are against such development? 

COOK: The message is to be involved in the planning processes that protect people's interests but also remember that this about revitalising communities, making sure that we've got the adequate housing and ensuring (inaudible) Western Australia a great place to live.

JOURNALIST: Can we ask you some questions, Mr Shorten? 

SHORTEN: By all means. I am launching Patrick Gorman's campaign for Perth fairly soon so I've got time for a couple of questions.

JOURNALIST: The Government's GST plan, I know you've spoken on it before and now you're here in WA. Will you back it? 

SHORTEN: Labor's led the way and I congratulate the work that Mark McGowan and West Australians have done to insist upon their fair share. Without unduly going through the history of it, it was Labor federally who's led the way at the national level. We've said that we accept the proposition that the formula has created unfair outcomes and therefore Western Australia missed out on valuable support. So that's why we created a Fair Share Fund and we said that there was effectively a floor of 70 cents. The Government's got the same timetable and they've said over time, they want to build that towards 75 cents. We agree but what we say is that Mr Turnbull in his infrequent visits to Western Australia has been known to make promises and then take a long time to turn up or remember them. So what we say to Mr Turnbull is make the floor of the law - make the floor the law when it comes to the GST and 70 and 75 cents approach. Labor's up for that. 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you accept though that voters in Perth and Fremantle have a right to know Labor's position on this issue before they go to the polls?

SHORTEN: Yes, that's why I just gave it. 

JOURNALIST: But are you going to better or match what the Liberals are offering WA?

SHORTEN: Sorry, let me just say that again then. I apologise if I wasn't clear.

We have led the way. We've said that we accept the Government's proposition of 70 cents and then going to 75 cents. We agree - so that's the same. But what I want to do is, Mr Turnbull can periodically - he is known for his fleeting visits to Western Australia but we say to Malcolm, make the floor the law. In other words, let us legislate the promises which you are making. We will.

JOURNALIST: Sorry, will it -

SHORTEN: Sorry, just to clarify - I've answered that, yeah?

JOURNALIST: Will that result in WA having a certain amount of extra cash -


JOURNALIST: That will flow from the Liberals' plan?

SHORTEN: It's the same, yes. But I can also say too on this other point. The difference is this: we agree and we support that - Why wouldn't we support it? It was our idea. But beyond that, we can pay for our promises to find extra resources for Western Australia because we're not giving $17 billion away to the big banks. Mr. Turnbull has never explained how he pays for his promises. We're also saying that we want to legislate these arrangements - so make the floor the law. 

The other thing is you asked me in your question, West Australian should know our position which we've articulated but where are the Liberals? Like, why didn't they run in Fremantle? Why didn't they run in Perth? Why does Malcolm Turnbull have such a low regard for the views of West Australians that he won't even run candidates in these by-elections? It just shows you that he takes West Australians for granted and he'll do the bare minimum he has to so he doesn't get into any further trouble.

JOURNALIST: Rod Sims, the ACCC Chairman, wants fines for breaching consumer law increased, potentially up to 20 per cent. Would Labor give the consumer watchdog what they want?

SHORTEN: Are you referring to his most recent report or would the ACCC -

JOURNALIST: It looks like, yeah.

SHORTEN: Well, yes. We're currently studying the detail of his report. We are interested in how we can improve protections for consumers, so we're very open to it.

JOURNALIST: Overnight, we've seen 12 Russian intelligence officers charged in the US, accused of hacking Government emails. How confident are that your emails are safe from hacking?

SHORTEN: Well, you can't be 100 per cent confident. Cyber security is a burgeoning area, a problem, not only for foreign governments but for criminals. So it's a matter of protecting assets and protecting your cyber security. 

We believe that the Government needs to invest more in it. But we're also concerned, not just about government or hard targets which are relatively secure, we're also concerned about businesses, about service providers. 

So there is no doubt that cyber security is a growing area of risk and that the Government needs to work with the private sector to further strengthen -

JOURNALIST: Do you have any concerns about foreign agents meddling in Australian elections? 

SHORTEN: Listen, we've supported the regulation of foreign intervention. We've supported the latest changes to our national security laws but there's one piece of unfinished business. Why does the Liberal Party of Australia still take foreign donations? It's a pretty clear way for foreign interests to be meddling in Australia. 

Labor, we've taken the stand to best practice, not to accept foreign donations. You've got to ask yourself, why does Mr Turnbull and the Liberals still want to take foreign donations? They should just stop the habit. It's an addiction - and they should stop the habit and kick the habit right now, foreign donations. 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, what is your reaction to threats to jail Stephen Elder over his criticism of the Government's education policy?

SHORTEN: I think it's very un-Australian if we've reached a point that you can no longer criticise the government of the day - particularly, if you're commenting on policies which affect your area of interest. If there is a law or rule in Australia which says that people who represent schools are not able to comment on Liberal Government education cuts then that should be scrapped. I think this very un-Australian development.

JOURNALIST: And what do you make of the investigation into Catholic education -

SHORTEN: Well, I think this is a very disturbing and un-Australian trend that somehow if you are a critic or want to comment on the government of the day, that you then are subject to investigation. Particularly, if your comments are on an area which you are deeply involved in. Let's be very, very clear here: if the Government, or people are asserting that there is a rule which says that representatives of schools, representatives of the education sector, can no longer criticise cuts to school funding - that is a stupid rule and it needs to be changed.

JOURNALIST: Did Labor coordinate or advise Catholic education in Melbourne on any campaigning or robo-calls?

SHORTEN:  The Catholic Education Commission is an independent body. They make their own decisions based upon what they perceive to be the interests of parents and kids who send their children to low-fee parish schools. I think the Government, rather than trying to just complain about its critics, the Government should just correct their education funding cuts. The fact of the matter is public education in this nation has seen massive funding cuts. Cuts to low-fee parish schools and independent schools have also occurred, forcing up the price of sending your kids to school.

JOURNALIST: So did Labor coordinate or advise Catholic -

SHORTEN: No. I'm sorry, the difference is that the Catholic Education Commission, the Australian Education Union, schools around Australia, state governments and federal Labor are all critical of Mr Turnbull’s $17 billion cuts to education.

If Mr Turnbull doesn't like the criticism that he's cutting funding to schools, maybe he shouldn't be giving away $17 billion to the big banks and give it to the education of our kids instead. He is so out of touch that he wants to sort of declare war on his critics for cutting funding to schools. He should actually just stop handing away money to his mates at the top end of town.

JOURNALIST: Do you think the New South Wales MP (inaudible)?

SHORTEN: It's a state issue but I think (inaudible), yes - absolutely. But whilst - that's a state, New South Wales matter - I think it does highlight again the need at the national level for an anti-corruption commission. I just say to Mr Turnbull and the Liberals - I mean, they aren't here in Western Australia but I just say to them through the media - please back a national anti-corruption commission because if you think that national politics is immune to some of the carry on we see at the state levels, you're living in la la land.

JOURNALIST: Just on immigration rates, the Chamber of Commerce is worried about falling immigration rates and they say regional areas are being starved of skilled workers. Do you share that concern?

SHORTEN: Well obviously it's important that we have some immigration to Australia and it's important that when immigrants come here, that we have the opportunity to get them working in the regions. 

What concerns me is the topic the Government is not talking about. It's not permanent immigration, it's temporary visas, people with work rights with temporary visas in Australia. That number has gone up under the Liberals. When we have a situation where wages are stagnated - most Australians haven't had a pay rise or they have had very small pay rises - why on earth would Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton be encouraging greater expansion of temporary guest workers in Australia when we should be giving jobs to our own young people and so that we can help do something about lifting wages and conditions for West Australian.

I really do - okay, very last question.

JOURNALIST: Mathias Cormann's Chief of Staff been appointed the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. Another former staffer has been picked to head up the Productivity Commission. What do you make of this? Is the Coalition stacking the deck? 

SHORTEN: I think the Coalition thinks that they're in trouble at the next election so what they're doing is planting their Liberal staffers in positions of power because they know that they're in trouble with the electorate. It has got to stop. The Government has got to stop politicising the public service. I mean, the real challenge here is that we can’t get enough people to man the phones at Centrelink, they keep privatising and they keep offshoring and getting labour hire contractors at the front line of the public service. But at the back end in the top, cushy jobs, they are just giving jobs to their mates. It has got to stop.

Thanks everybody.


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