MONDAY, 16 JULY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s $10 million investment in recreational fishing; immigration; Private Health Insurance premiums; health care
JUSTINE KEAY, LABOR'S CANDIDATE FOR BRADDON: Well thank you everyone for coming. Thank you for coming to Heybridge and thank you to Matt, Troy and Todd for joining us here today, and Bill, welcome again to the North West of Tasmania. We're here at Heybridge at the ramp here at the Blythe river, and as you can see it's not the best ramp that you could ever see in Tasmania. So it's great to have Bill here today to announce how Labor will support recreational fishing. It's a huge pursuit here in Tasmania.
There are so many recreational fishers here, and they need to have some of the best assets possible so that they can get out in rivers like we see here today - maybe not on the water today, it's pretty rough out there on the Bass Strait.
But it creates so many jobs here, supports so many businesses - $93 million invested in the Tasmanian economy, because it is such a fantastic recreational pursuit enjoyed many Tasmanians. So thank you Bill for coming.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you. Good morning everybody. It's fantastic to be here at Heybridge with Justine Keay, talking to local recreational fishers.
Fishing is one of the most democratic pastimes in Australia. It's the fourth most popular pastime in Australia. Millions of Australians love to wet a line, go fishing, and a lot of fishing is done from boats these days, and so as a result what we need to do is have a national conversation about improving our ageing boating infrastructure in Australia.
Now, Justine's been particularly keen, I mean, it’s almost part of a Tasmanian's identity to go fishing. 28,000 boats are owned in Tasmania, and most Tasmanians love to go fishing. And on the North and North West Coast, it is a number one activity.
So Labor is pleased to announce today we will have a Supporting Recreational Fishing Fund of $10 million for Australian boat ramps, for fishing infrastructure. We'll roll this out over five years, we'll work in partnership with local councils who have been left to look after a lot of this on their own.
Fishing is a great job generator in Australia, there's 90,000 people who earn their livelihoods from fishing. It generates, actually, $1.8 billion right across Australia. In Tasmania alone, it's estimated that $93 million is spent every year on boats, on fuel, on tackle, on bait. And as a result, we think it's a big tourism generator in Tasmania in particular, who's hosting, next year, the world fly fishing competition.
But when you look at some of the infrastructure here, it's seen better days. All too often, and I think most Australian who have ever gone fishing see the congestion at too many boat ramps, and many boat ramps are unusable at low tide.
So this fund will be available, we estimate that it will help 40 boat ramps around Australia get upgraded, including at least three we can see, talking to recreational fishers, in this part of Northern and North-Western Tasmania.
This is a really good grassroots idea. Fishing is important, it not only generates jobs as I've said, in economic activity and tourism, but it also is just one of the fabulous great Australian pastimes.
So I am really pleased that Labor is making this announcement, in no small part due to Justine's advocacy, because she understands what matters to Tasmanians and what they enjoy doing. And one of the reasons why we can put $10 million into a fishing infrastructure fund to help recreational fishing is because we're not giving $17 billion away to the big banks.
It is all about priorities. We choose everyday Tasmanians, the Liberals, they just - the Liberals just choose the big end of town.
I would now like to invite a third speaker to talk a bit about recreational fishing and why he thinks it is a great idea, over to you.
TODD LAMBERT: Thanks, Bill. It is great to see Bill and Justine here today announcing these things for the electorate of Braddon.
Recreational fishing is a big pastime here in Tasmania. Mums and dads, it's what we do of weekends - it's our lifestyle. So we welcome the announcement. We also welcome the announcement of Arthurs Lake, money spent up in Central Highlands region, which I know Justine's been a big advocate for.
Perhaps we can get some money up there out of this fund where we can get some money with Wi-Fi and powered sights in Pump House Bay. And with the world fly fishing championships next year, I'm sure that's something, that's infrastructure that's sorely needed.
The beauty of that, of course, it will get main-landers coming across. What do they do of a night? They come down, they get on Facebook, they download their media, what great publicity for Tasmania.
So look, we are really excited about the announcement as Labor is recognising how popular this pastime is to the people of Tasmania, and we thank you very much for recognising that and coming out today, and it's a fantastic thing for mums and dads and the fishing industry and everybody here.
SHORTEN: Great, thanks very much. Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: Did you tell the Member's Health Fund Alliance its members wouldn't be disadvantaged by your two per cent premium hike cap policy?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, let's go to the core issue. Since the Liberals have got elected, families on average are paying an extra $1,000 in private health insurance. This is just too much.
Only a government who is wildly out of touch doesn't realise the damage that these crazy price increases are doing to people's health coverage in this country. I said on February the 4th, when we decided that we are going to tell the big private health insurers no more gouging of people's premiums and we would cap their fees at two per cent, I made clear that we will work with APRA, the financial regulator, to make sure there are no unintended consequences for some of the smaller and not-for-profit funds.
And certainly since then, we've indicated, working with the small and not-for-profit funds, that we will listen to them. We will work with them and work with the APRA, who is the financial regulator, to make sure there are no unintended consequences.
But one thing I also want to be very clear on, the small funds are not the target of this issue, but those big funds are not going to use the small funds as human shields to deter us from making the big funds accountable.
We just saw on Sunday, that these big funds who get whatever they want from the federal government in the way of price increases, get what they want from the Government in the way of tax decreases - they're all off in Lisbon having a great time on the fund members' income and money, whilst they charge the big profits.
The real issue here is that Mr Turnbull always backs the big end of town, whereas we're about cost of living and making sure that everyday people don't have to pay too much more for their health cover.
JOURNALIST: How does Labor intend -
JOURNALIST: (inaudible) two per cent cap on premium increases?
SHORTEN: Sorry, I only heard the last part.
JOURNALIST: Are you backing down on your proposed two per cent cap?
SHORTEN: No. No, I just want to put NIB and Bupa and Medibank Private on notice that the party is over.
When Labor gets in, we're not going to just rubber stamp massive price increases to health insurance premiums. And just as we made clear on February the 4th, and again to the small not-for-profit private health insurers, we will work with the regulator and them and we will consult to make sure there is no unintended consequences.
But if we are also going to talk about healthcare costs, let's be clear. In this by-election in Braddon, health, in my opinion, is the number one issue.
We have seen out-of-pocket costs of seeing a GP go up and up under the Liberals. We've seen cut backs to hospitals. It's all about choices. This government and Mr Whiteley, the Liberal candidate, they want to see the banks get a $17 billion tax cut.
We want to put more money back into the healthcare system, more money into Tassie hospitals, and we want to put downward pressure on the price of healthcare in Tasmania, and right around Australia.
SHORTEN: Sorry, just share the questions around.
JOURNALIST: Thank you. There seems to be a growing consensus that immigration should be cut. Do you support the reduction of immigration numbers?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, what the Government never talks about in immigration is the out-of-control increase in people coming to Australia with visas which give them work rights.
Currently, the Government wants a pat on the back that permanent immigration is about 160,000. But what they don't tell everyone is that under the Liberals, the number of people coming here temporarily with visas that give them work rights in Australia has blown out to 1.6 million people - 1.6 million people right now, in Australia, from overseas, have visas that give them work rights in Australia.
This is an increase of about 200,000. In other words, more than the whole annual immigration intake in Australia for permanent immigrants. This is a government who has no idea what they're doing about people with temporary work visas. And this is at a time when you've got youth unemployment, when you've got young people who can't get apprenticeships, and you've got wages stagnation where most Australians have either had no pay rise or a tiny pay rise.
This government does not want to talk about the growing problem of people coming to Australia with temporary work right visas and they're doing nothing about that. That, to me, is more important than some of the other things the Government is talking about.
JOURNALIST: But do you support the reduction of immigration numbers?
SHORTEN: Listen, we want to make sure that if we bring people to this country as permanent residents, as permanent citizens, that the infrastructure is keeping up, that the hospitals are keeping up, that the schools are keeping up.
But I don't want to see this government start blaming everything on one issue when this government is cutting funding to schools, cutting funding to hospitals, when it's forcing up the cost of living, and everyday Australian workers are not getting wage rises.
It is long overdue, and I'm going to keep going on this issue, that this government does something about the massive increase in people coming to Australia on temporary visas which give them the right to work in Australia. 1.6 million people now, it's gone up over 200,000 under the Liberals.
Why is it the Liberals never talk about all the people with temporary work right visas in Australia when we've got youth unemployment, we've got declining apprenticeships, and we've got wages stagnation holding back the wages of millions of Australians?
JOURNALIST: Digital rights groups are calling for Australians to opt out of the digital national health records due to privacy concerns. Do you encourage people to stay in it?
SHORTEN: Yes, I actually think it is important we try and have a working system of digital health records because I do think it leads to better health outcomes.
You know, as a parent, when you take your kids to the doctor, sometimes if it's not the same doctor or if you have to change towns and you move to a new doctor, it's important not to lose all the previous history.
But I don't blame people for being sceptical about this government in terms of the way it implements digital change programs, I mean let's never forget the Census.
One job, the Government had with the Census, and they bungled that. So I do get - I can understand why people are concerned - but I say, don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Let's make the scheme work rather than give up on the scheme, although I do accept that this government have an ability to turn a lot of things into a mess when they touch them.
JOURNALIST: Would there be any merit in holding a Senate Inquiry into Australia's population policy?
SHORTEN: I'll talk to my colleagues and we'll see what they say, but I do again just say to the Government, why are you asleep at the wheel, Mr Turnbull, when it comes to the profusion and the explosion of the number of people with temporary work visas coming to Australia?
The total number of people who become Australians in the last year is 160,000 approximately, but under this government, there is now 1.6 million people who have temporary visas which give them work rights which forces wages down, doesn't help youth unemployment and does nothing for apprenticeships.
JOURNALIST: Back on the recreational fishing policy -
JOURNALIST: Did Brant Webb have any role in lobbying for this policy?
SHORTEN: Oh well I speak to Brant Webb a fair bit and he would be - I don't know if he's Tasmania's most famous fisherman, but he's certainly one of Tasmania's most determined fishermen. He loves his boating, and so when I was talking with Justine I certainly rang him to get his view on matters.
Brant Webb, of course, is famous for surviving the Beaconsfield mine disaster, but probably not as famous for his fishing - well I think he loves that more than his previous job.
JOURNALIST: How will the community consultation work for that policy?
SHORTEN: Very important. We'll talk to recreational fishing groups, and I want to thank some of the guests who are here today. We will talk to local councils.
I mean, the people here know what needs to be done and where it needs to be done. And then I have my - I held my breath when a couple of the journalists nearly slipped over on this decrepit ramp. So I'm pleased that nothing untoward happened, but having said that, clearly something needs to be done and we will talk to councils and we will talk to local fishing groups.
They know what needs to be done.
JOURNALIST: Should there be a national standard that vaccinations for all Meningococcal strands are subsidised?
SHORTEN: Yeah, I do think that's an important issue. I was very concerned to see what I read about it.
It goes again, to show me the problems with healthcare in Tasmania. The most important things in life are your family and your healthcare, and all of the shouting from the Government and all of the carry on and political attacks they do on Labor, that's just really hot air.
What really matters is properly funding our healthcare system. People pay their Medicare Levy, I think it's part of being an Australian that you should be able to get quality, affordable healthcare, you should be able to get healthcare because of your Medicare card, not your credit card.
There have been cutbacks - we don't buy the argument that this government can be trusted on health care. If you think that health is important in Tasmania, if you think that health is important in Northern Tasmania, vote for Justine.
Because she's interested in putting more money into healthcare. If you think that giving a tax cut to the big banks is what floats your boat, then vote for the Liberals, vote for the banking party of Malcolm Turnbull and Brett Whiteley, but if your healthcare matters to you, then for goodness sakes don't trust the Liberals, vote Labor.
JOURNALIST: So you agree there should be subsidy?
SHORTEN: I think so, yes.
JOURNALIST: Malcolm Turnbull has increased his lead over you as preferred PM, is this concerning leading up to the by-elections?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all I don't comment about polls. Never have when they've been good, bad or indifferent. What I do - and I've got to say it's Mr Turnbull who defined himself by saying that he had to get rid of Tony Abbott if he lost 30 Newspolls. You know, the Government has passed that milestone, but that's up to them.
No, I define myself by my values. Chloe and I want to make sure that our kids get a quality education, I want the same for all Australian kids. I want to make sure that everyone can be able to see a doctor when they need to. I want to end the constant flight of people having to go to the mainland to get healthcare which mainlanders take for granted, which Tasmanians have to pay a lot of money for. These are the things that - and I want to make sure that Tassie kids, if they want to do an apprenticeship, can find one. That's why we're so strong on local jobs.
My values are jobs, education and health care. Mr Turnbull's values are, if you look after the top end of town, he hopes that the top end of town will look after everyone else. Well, if you believe that, then I think that's a mistake.
JOURNALIST: Why are you so much less popular than Malcolm Turnbull?
SHORTEN: I don't buy that argument.
JOURNALIST: Labor has outspent the Liberals in this Braddon by-election by quite a substantial amount -
SHORTEN: Who told you that?
JOURNALIST: That's according to numbers coming from -
SHORTEN: The Liberal party, okay.
JOURNALIST: But how can -
SHORTEN: Are you seriously asking me to comment about Liberal propaganda about complaining to be poor? I'm not going to do that.
What we are willing to do, what we are willing to do in our policies, is back the locals.
See, the problem for Mr Turnbull is he's spending $17 billion of people’s money on a tax cut for big banks. Yes, I do want to spend $200,000 upgrading this boat ramp, I do want to see medical services in North Western Tasmania do outreach into the community. I'm willing to see $4.5 million spent on that. I am willing to invest in grassroots football in the North West.
It's all about priorities. But when we talk about who's spending what, Mr Turnbull's going to give $80 billion to big corporations, $17 billion to big banks. He's giving a $10 a week pay increase to the age care nurses we spoke to last week in Northern Tassie, but he's giving $7000 to Mr Whiteley, if Mr Whiteley gets elected, in a tax cut.
Their priorities are all wrong, they’re spending Aussie money, Aussie taxpayer money on the wrong priorities, we're backing the grassroots and we're backing local industry.
JOURNALIST: My question is though, if people are vote - why should people vote for Labor in the by-election when you can't deliver these funding promises until you're Prime Minister?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, if I follow the train of that argument, what you're saying is we're not allowed to promise anything because we're not the government? Well, no way.
We're not buying that Liberal bit of propaganda. Do you know what the Liberals are complaining about? They haven't done any homework and they're dirty at us because we have.
Do you know what the Liberals want us to do? Say nothing, just give them the seat. Well I'm not going to do that.
I don't care how much Mr Turnbull and the big end of town have a crack at Labor, I'm going to fight back. We're going to fight back for hospitals in Tassie, we're going to fight back for schools in Tassie, we're going to fight back for more apprenticeships in Tassie, we're going to fight back for the right of Tasmanians to be able to send their kid to university or give their kid an apprenticeship. We're going to fight back for the ability of small businesses to be able to invest in new productive machinery and get a better tax depreciation.
Mr Turnbull, he really finds the whole electoral process a bit of a bother. He's annoyed at Labor because we've got better promises, more for the grassroots. Mr Turnbull should adopt our policies rather than complain about us having some policies.
JOURNALIST: Are you prepared to take your personal unpopularity to an election?
SHORTEN: Tell you what I'm prepared to do, I'm prepared to debate Malcolm Turnbull next week. How about we get Mr Turnbull out of his ivory tower, out of his events, invitation-only events – why don't we have a debate on healthcare in Braddon next week?
I'll be here, he should be here. I actually think healthcare is the number one issue. I'll back my healthcare promises against his $17 billion tax cut for banks, and let’s see how popular that is with Tasmanians.