FRIDAY, 3 MAY 2019
Subjects: Labor’s $2 billion Melbourne Metro investment; road and rail transport investments; candidate for Melbourne; childcare; wages; private health insurance; election costings; NDIS.
JOSH BURNS, CANDIDATE FOR MACNAMARA: Welcome everyone. Well we're on the site of Anzac station, a beautiful sight here in the heart of Macnamara. It's very nice to be joined here by the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten, Brendan O'Connor and of course the Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews and the Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan. I'm Josh Burns, I'm the Labor candidate for Macnamara and this project is so important for people in my electorate, because it's going to run a train line right through the heart of it to connect people from Caulfield all the way up to the Parkville precinct to real jobs, real transport infrastructure. The Labor Government that's gotten things done in Victoria to partner with a federal Labor government that will get things done right across this country. So with that I'm going to let Bill Shorten say a few words.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks. Josh Burns, Labor's candidate in Macnamara. Here we are at the site of Anzac railway station. What an exciting vision for Melbourne and for Victoria to have the single biggest public transport infrastructure investment ever. And federal Labor is really excited to be using our support to work with Dan Andrews in Victoria to give Melbourne a world-class underground railway system. Melbourne really needs greater assistance in infrastructure. Did you know that under the current Liberal government with all of their cuts and chaos Melbourne has been cheated and Victoria has been cheated of a fair share of national infrastructure? Under the current government, infrastructure expenditure in Victoria has fallen to as low as 7 per cent, so 7 cents in every national dollar, go into Victoria at its lowest point. But federal Labor's going to change that. We want to see our big cities receiving public transport investment. So we're going to put forward $2 billion in our first budget to assist with the timely execution of this remarkable project. Below our feet two massive tunnels will be drilled. 7,000 people employed. All of this in a zone with the world's busiest tram corridor happening right around us. This will literally mean for people in Melbourne, for tens of thousands of people on the railway lines fanning out right across the massive Melbourne footprint, there'll be more places on trains. This city is going to hum a lot better. This is what federal Labor wants to do. We want to have real change. No more cuts and chaos of a divided government. We're the party of the future in this election, not the party of the past. We're the party who wants to see Australia have world class public transport to help be a congestion buster for our big cities. We will work with Dan Andrews. We will work with Annastacia Palaszczuk. We will work with Mark McGowan. And we'll work with other state premiers because Labor believes that if we've got better public transport that's good for jobs, that's good for liveability. It means more time at home with a family. I'd now like to hand over to Dan Andrews to say a few more words about this exciting partnership - a vision for Melbourne in the 2020s and the 2030s.
DANIEL ANDREWS, PREMIER OF VICTORIA: Thanks very much Bill. Thanks everyone for being here. This is the biggest public transport project in our state's history. And what you've just seen Bill Shorten announce as part of his positive and optimistic plan, that's what a real partnership looks like. A real partnership with a real project and real money. Money provided over the next four years. Not money that's on the never never for projects that haven't been planned even. This is a real partnership with real money to deliver a real project. This is fantastic news for Victorians. Fantastic news for those 7,000 workers and their families. Fantastic news for every single Victorian because essentially by taking the busiest train line out of the current city loop that's great for people that are on that Cranbourne Pakenham line and the Sunbury line, but it's also great news for every other person who uses train services across the state because it creates additional capacity in the current city loop. This is a project that has been rated by Infrastructure Australia as the number one project and yet we have no support from the current federal government. The contrast is very clear. And I want to thank Bill Shorten on behalf of all Victorians for a positive plan, an optimistic plan, one that is real. A real partnership to get things done with real money delivering real projects. That's a real difference between the alternative government and the government that we've been experiencing these last six years. I think we're happy to take any questions you've got now.
JOURNALIST: (inaudible) funded as you've already said on your website, why is this money needed?
ANDREWS: Well I've always said and you've heard me say many, many times that if you've got a real partnership with a Commonwealth government you can do more and you can do better. Now we've already got the biggest infrastructure agenda in the nation's history underway right here now. But we're having to do so much of it on our own. And that's the key difference and that's what's at stake in the election on May 18. Do we keep doing these things on our own where Victoria doesn't get what it's entitled to? Or do we have a real partnership with a Shorten Labor government that actually cares to invest and to get things done.
JOURNALIST: At the election campaign you hammered the Greens and said they had a toxic culture when it comes to women. But you have a candidate in Melbourne who has made jokes about rape. How is that acceptable that he remains to contest this election and not be disendorsed?
ANDREWS: I'll let Bill speak to that first and I am happy to speak after him on that.
SHORTEN: I think you're right that the candidate's remarks which were made were deeply offensive. I'm not going to defend the remarks, they were shocking and stupid. But he's also come forward and said he was 22 at the time, seven years ago. He is mortified as he should be. He doesn't want to cause any embarrassment and he doesn't hold those views now. So he has apologised deeply and he certainly doesn't hold those views now.
SHORTEN: I agree. Stupid is stupid is stupid. I'm not here giving the bloke a pat on the back. But let's go to what the real contrast here is. The Liberals have just been forced to dump another one of their extreme right wing candidates.
JOURNALIST: But they did dump their candidate Mr Shorten, and Premier Andrews -
SHORTEN: Yeah hang on. Greg I'm going to do the courtesy of finishing a question. You will get your go.
JOURNALIST: The question is why you won't disendorse -
SHORTEN: Yeah I understand the question. What I'm saying is that this Jessica Whelan, she said what she believes now. She said what she believes now and it reflects on what she thinks now. What our fellow said was, he said it seven years ago when he was 22 and he's clearly regretted and apologised for it. He understands. He doesn't think that now, he certainly doesn't think it at all, he understands that. The Liberal candidate, not only were these contemporary remarks but then they tried to cover it up. They didn't put their hand up and say, no this is wrong. They said, we got a conspiracy theory of hackers. Federal police were going to be called in. So the way that they've tried to cover it up reflects very poorly on the Liberal party.
JOURNALIST: Mr Andrews in the state election this was a real tactic that you guys used in trawling through Facebook accounts, bringing up historic things the Greens candidates said. You came to the conclusion that they had a toxic culture problem with women and now for the bloke in your faction it seems to be okay. Why?
ANDREWS: Well it's not okay. And he himself has made that very clear. So I'll just be very clear with you, he's -
JOURNALIST: How can you support him remaining a candidate?
ANDREWS: What he has said and what is most important here is that he shouldn't have said what was said. He shouldn't have posted, he shouldn't have associated himself with those views. That was wrong. The difference here is he's owned it. He's made an apology and I believe him to be sincere in the apology that he has made.
JOURNALIST: Is the nuts and bolts of it that you're running a protection racket for one of your own faction members.
ANDREWS: Well no, that's not right.
JOURNALIST: Are you not disendorsing him because if you do the Greens will put their resources into other seats in Melbourne.
ANDREWS: Well, be clear about this. He's made comments. He's associated himself with subject matter that's completely wrong. He's owned that. He's apologised. I believe his apology is sincere. That sits in stark contrast to the culture of contemporary extremism that seems to be taking over the Liberal and National parties. I think the Prime Minister's in town today and I for one as a proud Victorian would like to know exactly, I want answers to those questions about whether that United Patriots Front fellow Erikson was engaged by the Prime Minister, these are the allegations, to interfere in the Victorian election last year. I think we're entitled to those answers. We're also entitled when people make a mistake, they stand up, they admit to it, they apologise and they're sincere in that. And that's exactly what the candidate for Melbourne has done in stark contrast with many others.
JOURNALIST: Why isn't Luke Creasey here when these tunnels run through Melbourne.
SHORTEN: This is actually the seat of Macnamara.
JOURNALIST: But the train line goes through Melbourne.
SHORTEN: The train line goes through the whole of Victoria, why don't I have every Victorian Labor person here. Come on, fair's fair.
JOURNALIST: Wages are growing at 2.3 per cent. What would be the acceptable wage growth figure for Labor, would it be 3 per cent, would it be 4 per cent. Can you guarantee wages under a Labor government would be higher. Secondly what role did Sam Dastyari and the private equity firm have in influencing your $200 million funding for pathology.
SHORTEN: Well let's talk about wages. Well I'll do the second issue. What Labor's done is we've decided that after seven years we want to increase the bulk billing incentives to pathology to stop pathology from having to decrease its bulk billing. Now this is a government who loves to complain when Labor chooses to spend more money on health. You know this is a government that will always find an excuse to tell you that they can't afford your health care bills. We take a different view. When the government says that we can't afford to spend on health what they're actually telling Australians is you don't deserve better funding for health. So if you have a look at the policies we've outlined, be it helping keep pathology bulk billing at high numbers, that's what we do. That's what Labor does. After seven years, due for an increase. But it's not just that. When it comes to Medicare and helping people in the fight of their lives with cancer the government said it's free. How out of touch is the government? You know cancer makes you sick, but it shouldn't make you poor. We want to look after pensioners. Did you know that we're going to give a new Medicare item which will provide up to a thousand dollars every two years for pensioners to help with their dental care. Now the government says they can't afford that. But they can afford to give tens of billions of dollars away to big business and tax cuts, they can afford to give tens of billions of dollars away to property investors, they can afford to give tens of billions of dollars away in loopholes. This is a government who just doesn't think that the people of Australia deserve proper health care. In terms of wages. Big problem in Australia under the last six years of the Liberal government is that everything has gone up except the wages. And in many sectors you've had penalty rate cuts. We've seen the early childhood educators underpaid for the work that they do. We see a lot of abuse of casual labour, abuse of 457 visas. So we think we can get wages moving. I'll tell you I will do better than the government. Because this government while it's been in power has presided over record low wages growth. And the problem is that if you've got record low wages growth that has a chilling effect on the economy. It's like putting the economy in the fridge and chilling it. We've got no growth going on. As a result zero percent inflation. It means that businesses are doing it hard. Everyone knows that three more years of this current government's cuts and chaos means that everyday Australians fall behind the pace. So be it wages or health care we are the party you should vote for. Vote Labor on May the 18th if you want better help with your health care. Vote Labor on May the 18th if you want to get your wages moving. Vote Labor on May the 18th if you think that three million pensioners and seniors health card holders deserve a fair go. Vote Labor as well if you're one of a million Australian households whose income is less than $175,000 because we're going to provide you between $1,500 and $2,000 in additional subsidy for every child.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten your costings are central to the debate in this campaign. Cynics would say: "Oh yeah well he'll release his costings in the last few days to minimise scrutiny on them as much as he possibly can." Can you please be clear with us exactly when we will see your full campaign costings.
SHORTEN: We will release our costings towards the end of next week.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten on Kevin Rudd, he's been doing a lot of work in Chinese electorates all around the country. Is there a potential deal for him to get a foreign posting if you are elected as prime minister?
SHORTEN: No there isn't, but Kevin Rudd is like the whole Labor tribe. They've all united because they know this government's got to go. On May the 18th people have got a choice and Labor is making the case for change. If you want to have, you know the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison-Palmer-Hanson government, that's what you're getting if this government get re-elected. This government hasn't made the case to give them a third chance. All this government's delivered you is the promise of a tax cut on the never never which can only be funded by massive cuts to schools and hospitals. Their record is one of looking after the very wealthy and doing nothing else for anyone else. If you look at the $14 billion worth of cuts to schools, the $700 million cuts to hospitals, 400,000 pensioners having their pensions cut or losing the pension altogether, this is a government which only thinks about the top end of town, whereas we are making the case for change today and every day up to the election. If you want real action on climate change, vote Labor. If you are one of three million pensioners who worry about how you pay for your dental care, vote Labor. If you're one of a million working households in this country under $175,000 and you'd like to get a subsidy between $1,500 and $2,100 per child, vote Labor. If you are sick of not getting a wage rise but corporate profits go up and up and up and up and up, vote Labor on May the 18th. As for Kevin Rudd campaigning, that's good, because we need to combat the Liberal lie machine in the Chinese community which is just lying every day, making up stories about a million refugees in the next 10 years or making up stories about Safe Schools. The Liberal Party is actually offering Australians nothing at this election. If you want to ask the Liberals what they're going to do for Australia in the next three years all they'll do is complain about us. If you ask us what we're going to do for Australians in the next three years we've got lots of good plans for middle and working class families.
JOURNALIST: Catherine King yesterday said that she would not rule out reducing the private health insurance rebate pending a Productivity Commission review. Would you rule it out?
SHORTEN: We have no plans to lower the private health insurance rebate, but what we do have is a plan to cap the fee increases. One of the big problems is that the private health insurers have been calling the shots within the Liberal government. I mean the Liberal government's never seen a bunch of vested interests, top end of town rent seekers that they don't give into, lie over and let them tickle them on the belly. Private health insurance premiums have been increasing too much under the Liberals, so you know we're going to do? We're doing what this government's too gutless to do. We're going to stand up to the big private health insurers. We are saying, you cannot under a Labor government for the next two years increase private health insurance premiums more than 2 per cent. So we are going to introduce fair dinkum price control because we are the party of working people in this country. I don't want to see private health insurance becoming a luxury item which only the super rich can afford. We're going to rescue private health insurance by a bit of tough love.
JOURNALIST: In last month's budget the Federal Government's showed an undercut. Can you promise people who are on the NDIS that you will not cut any funding?
SHORTEN: Yes I can. I'm going to do a forum, it's a day of action for people with disability and their carers at Moonee Valley racecourse so you'll hear what I'm going to do there. But, the short answer is we are going to make sure that the Liberals $1.6 billion cuts can't be repeated. What a lazy government. They can't get multinationals to pay their fair share of tax in Australia but they can make sure that poor people who need wheelchairs have to wait two years for a wheelchair. It speaks volumes. On May the 18th, if you know a family who are carers or people with disabilities, vote Labor, because when it comes to looking after people with disabilities in this country, that's more important to me than getting a tick from a vested interest property group or a vested interest private health insurance group or a bank.
JOURNALIST: Does this money help cover the fairly drastic shortfall in stamp duty revenue and had Mr Shorten told you it was coming before you postponed the budget?
ANDREWS: No, no. We are very pleased to welcome this announcement today. This is a very significant demonstration I think of what a real partnership looks like, a real partnership, a real project and real money. Coming to Victoria, if Bill is successful, in the next four years. Not in 14 years - the next four years. That's really, really significant and sits in stark contrast with the current government. What this will mean is that instead of having to build these massive infrastructure projects on our own, we'll have a proper partner, a real partner. And that just means that we'll be able to do more and do better. The good thing about this is this is not an announcement for one budget in one year. This is consistent support over the next four years and that's what a real partnership looks like. This is a fantastic day for Victoria.
JOURNALIST: Over a billion dollars of East West Link money?
ANDREWS: Well there's a couple of weeks to go in the election.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, does this mean the East West Link is dead under a Federal Labor Government? Given that money's been so-called put aside by the current Government.
SHORTEN: You and I know when the government says it's been put aside and it never gets to Victoria, that's a cut. I know where Melbourne is. I know where Victoria is. I've lived here for 50 years. I've caught the Dandenong line. I understand this is a cracker of a project, but I don't think the Victorian taxpayer should have to carry, to do all the heavy lifting on their own. When you vote Labor on May the 18th in the national elections we will make sure that public transport in our cities gets some love. Ever since Tony Abbott's time, this government, the national Liberals have been very, very shy about investing in public transport in the cities. Some of the other money we're using though is our fantastic South East roads package which is north of a billion dollars. So we're going to help people who live out in Berwick, who live out in the new suburbs in the south east to make sure that congestion, they don't get ignored just as the housing estates have developed. We want to make sure they've got quality roads to go with the quality of lifestyle they want. On the East West, we all know that there has been two state elections. Dan's put the case to the Australian people. And I've been over on the west side of Melbourne. There's plenty of work going on. If you want, if public transport and roads are what you vote on in elections you would vote Labor. Have a look at the suburban rail loop, the airport rail link, Melbourne Metro, the roads package in south eastern Melbourne, plus what we're doing in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. You know Melbourne and Victoria, if they care about roads and rail should be voting Labor because we've got a positive vision.Thanks everybody.