TUESDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2019
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s investment South Coast Health services; Banking Royal Commission; Murray Darling South Australian Royal Commission; medical transfers; political donations.
MIKE KELLY, MEMBER FOR EDEN MONARO: Well G'day everyone, thanks very much for coming here to beautiful Moruya on our fantastic South Coast. We're very lucky to have with us here today the Federal Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, and also the Federal Opposition Leader Michael Daley, sorry the State Opposition Leader Michael Daley who has come here and doing a great job for us to really make sure that we have a great competitive campaign in New South Wales.
But also with us here today, we have three candidates locally that are working closely together, all pulling on the same oars to get things done for this region. We have Leanne Atkinson, the great candidate for Bega and of course Fiona Phillips who is the candidate for Gilmore. Strong, intelligent women, I hope you notice as well, a very stark contrast to our opponents.
Look, it is wonderful to be here today because we have some great news and this news that we'll shortly mention builds on a fantastic record in health delivery in this region by state and federal Labor governments. Essentially we have seen a new regional hospital, the south east regional hospital in Bega, $170 million, we've seen $14 million in Eurobodalla delivered for a various range of primary health care facilities, including $700,000 for the Queen Street medical practice. We've seen $12 million going to the Moruya Hospital here for 20 transitional care beds which also enable us to upgrade the oncology unit. We've seen a great investment in Aboriginal health services in the region with mobile dental facilities and rescuing the Katungul service as well.
So it's a tremendous record that’s delivered across the spectrum of primary health care, dental health care, mental health for the first time in the region, and in relation to those critical services that are needed locally in terms of pathology and scanning and other services. So that's what's needed here not just a tick in the box affair. It needs that full range of services and in particular rural and regional people need local mental health services. So it's extremely exciting to see Labor working together at the state and federal level to deliver what we need here and in an earlier time frame than that's currently being contemplated. So it's great to have you here guys, really fantastic for Fiona, Leanne, and myself, and we look forward to seeing the delivery of this wonderful proposal. Thank you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much. Thanks Mike. I'm really pleased to be here with my friend Michael Daley announcing better health care services for the south coast of New South Wales. I congratulate in particular Fiona Phillips our candidate in Gilmore, and Leanne Atkinson the state candidate in Bega for the hard work they've done in liaising with Catherine King our Shadow Health Minister to get the announcement we're about to make delivered.
I am pleased therefore to announce that if federal Labor is elected in three months as the next government of Australia, we will invest $25 million in the Eurobodalla hospital development. This makes it a total of $200 million, and I know Michael will be talking more about state Labor's exciting contribution.
I had the privilege just before of attending a local medical surgery. Dr Holland was explaining to me along with the very capable midwives we met there, they were explaining to us the needs in this area. I'm pleased to say to the community here and the 3,000 who've got involved to sign the petition - we are listening to you. We're listening to the local clinicians, we're listening to the local nursing staff, we are listening to the local people of this community and you can only do that of course when you've got a local candidate who knows the area. We want to make sure that when people and families are dealing with a loved one who has got a challenging mental illness, that they can get the care here.
Dr Holland explained to me the remarkable statistics, that 75 percent of the people with these conditions have to be treated outside the local area. Now we just make the odds harder against people recovering and getting the treatment when they have to travel away from family when they're dealing with all sorts of serious medical illnesses. But this is what a federal Labor government will do. We will choose better local hospitals over bigger profits for banks. We will choose the health care of Australians over subsidising tax loopholes for the very well off. We choose the health of Australians. We think that there is no issue any more important, and that's why I'm pleased to now hand over to Michael Daley who is barnstorming the Opposition Leader of New South Wales, focusing on the health of everyone in New South Wales.
MICHAEL DALEY, NSW LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thank you so much Bill, it's great to join you on the campaign trail. This is the contrast of Labor in Australia against the Liberal Party. We've got a Prime Minister Scott Morrison and a Premier Berejiklian who don't want to touch each other with a barge pole. They don't want to be seen together on the campaign trail. You've got a Liberal Government in Canberra and a Liberal Government in New South Wales who don’t respect each other, who fight each other, who won't be seen together. No wonder it's up to Labor to come in and rescue communities and make announcements like we are today. So thank you, Bill. Bill's a friend of mine. We're not afraid to be seen together. In fact if Bill's the Prime Minister and I'm the Premier, you can look forward to a great era of cooperation between the Commonwealth and State Governments.
I'm here with Bill today and these terrific candidates and MPs to make this announcement today. Premier Berejiklian is in Sydney today announcing an arrogant decision to press on with the $730 million demolition and rebuild of a stadium in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. So $730 million, three quarters of a billion dollars to knock down and rebuild a perfectly good stadium in Sydney. Bill and I, and the team are here today to announce $200 million for regional health in New South Wales. That says everything about Liberal priorities. It talks about Labor's commitment to health.
People all over Australia, all over New South Wales know that when it comes to crucial services like health and education, Labor always delivers because we actually believe in it. They're not phoney commitments like the commitment that the Liberal government has made down here. It's not enough. When Fiona and Leanne have been door knocking, they've been told by residents it's not enough. This announcement today is about equality between Eurobodalla and Bega. The clinicians have said that they want equality. The petitioners have said they want equality and all the door knocking that's been done by these candidates has said the same thing.
Leanne and Fiona, they've been described as terriers - two very strong Labor women, and I can tell you, Leanne has been driving me mad about this commitment, so we're here today to deliver for Leanne and the community down here. And I want to say thank you for everyone who worked this up, my Shadow Health Minister, Walt Secord, this is a great announcement - it's all about families in regional New South Wales, not stadiums in Sydney.
SHORTEN: Thanks Mike. Now, any questions about this exciting announcement or any other state or federal matters?
JOURNALIST: Bill do you think the federal government has invested enough in regional mental health services?
SHORTEN: No, I don't. I've got Catherine King here as well, I'll get here to supplement our answer. But the fact of the matter is that we're learning a lot more about mental illness, and gradually it's losing its stigma.
But one of the things that I found in the 80 plus town hall meetings I've done all over Australia, is that it's difficult enough when there's an emergency, but there's some level of care. But straight after the immediate incident or immediate challenge, the sub-acute area, it's just deficient in regional Australia.
When you're battling mental illness or indeed addictions, you need to be in your own environment to help come through that. You need to be around people who love you and know you. At the moment in Australia under this government there is a exodus to the big cities of people if they can get treatment and that's not good enough. But I might get Catherine to briefly supplement on some of the other things we're doing in regional Australia on mental health.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE: Sure.Thanks very much Bill. There wouldn't be an emergency department that I visit around the country, where the emergency physicians are saying to me that they have got people who are presenting with mental health problems in their emergency department that need assistance and they can't get either care in the community or care in sub-acute beds. We would like to obviously see the government spend much more on mental health. We'll have a fair bit to say about that obviously in the lead up to the next election. But when you've got the circumstances where Headspace for example, have substantial waiting lists across the country, it is clear that early intervention services are well and truly needed. But when you've got a federal government that has cut, in this area alone, $5 million out of the public hospital system, you've got emergency physicians saying "we need help with patients who have mental illness", you've got to ask, why is this government so poorly funding our public hospitals to actually deal with the services that we need in this community.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Eurobodalla readers will be delighted to hear this announcement but one of the things that brings people to hospital regularly here is car accidents on the Princes Highway. Will a Shorten Labor government commit to an 80-20 funding agreement with whatever New South Wales Government we have - to make provide for dual carriageway (inaudible)?
[CAR PASSES BY]
SHORTEN: He's taking the Blue Highway.
First of all, I am familiar with the road needs of South Coast New South Wales. My family and I had the opportunity over any number of years to come up here for our holidays. And I remember it was only a day or two, in fact, it might have been while I was staying further up the coast here at Bawley Point, that we had that terrible fatality with Jessica Falkholt and her family. That was shocking and I was very pleased and I got my Shadow Minister Anthony Albanese to sign a commitment to work with the current government. I think the Deputy Prime Minister McCormack signed it for the government.
So, we do think there is a case to be made for a fair go. In terms of our record, we've got a good record I'll get Mike to supplement that in a moment.
If we want to get things done like roads, like safety, like hospitals then we've got to be able to pay for our promises. So one way I can say not only will we work with the Liberals to help see greater investment in the roads in the manner in which you ask. I can pay for my promises. I can pay for my promises because we are going to make multinationals pay their fair share of tax in Australia. We are going to make sure that we close some of the unsustainable loopholes where property investors are favoured over first home buyers in our housing market.
But I might get Mike to talk a bit further about our record and our ongoing commitment. And of course, I've got the future Premier of New South Wales here and he is very motivated on this question.
JOURNALIST: Okay the Falkholt crash made national headlines, we would love to invite you down to our office where we can show you a story map of all of the crashes that happened on the highway in 2018, you are always welcome, we would love you to come.
KELLY: The Princes Highway has been victim of a large number of accident zones and chokepoints and this is something that's always been the focus of our Labor candidates and myself over the years. So it was Labor that committed the money, the $60 million dollars that did the Bega Bypass as part of the Princes Highway. It was Michael Daley, this bloke right here, who I sat down with as the Infrastructure Australia process was rolling for the Princes Highway to say, well if that doesn't come through he was going to commit to doing Victoria Creek, Dingmans Creek chokepoints. Very dangerous parts of the Princes Highway and he followed through on it, he put money in the bank for that to get done.
So that work we have seen done on Victoria Creek and Dingmans Creek is thanks to Michael Daley when he was the Roads and Transport Minister.
JOURNALIST: Everyone's grateful but we've had three head-ons near the Rail turn off in the six months from July to December.
KELLY: So to follow on, it is always going to be our ambition to continue that work, to continue working towards those objectives for the Princes Highway. We're fortunate now we can work with the Canberra joint regional organisation made up of the local councils, who prioritise the order of road works for us to inform the political processes. Right now, they've stuck the Barton Highway at the top of that list.
So we will continue to work with the councils on their priorities, but it will always be the focus of Labor Governments who have been the ones who have invested and put skin in the game on the Princes Highway and great results will be seen right across this region.
JOURNALIST: Bill, some questions from Canberra.
JOURNALIST: Do Ken Henry and Andrew Thorburn need to resign?
SHORTEN: Well, that's based upon the Royal Commission - let me just answer about the Royal Commission first because I haven't said anything yet since it came out yesterday and then I'll go to your specific point.
I think I'm like millions of Australians I'm just furious at what I'm reading. Once upon a time a bank and a bank manager was regarded as the stamp of good housekeeping. The bank manager was known in the community, they'd be the referee for the kids going for the jobs. But in the last 20 and 30 years and we've seen most recently in recent years, the corporate profit motive of banks has overwhelmed the interests of putting people first.
And what we see is a complete indictment of Australia's banking system. What we see is that some corporations have got very rich. Made big profits and bonuses and very high wages have been paid to people at the very top. What I think about when I saw that Royal Commission yesterday, is I think about the tens of thousands of victims. There'll be small businesses, there'll be retirees, there'll be individuals, there'll be farmers even here, and around this district who've been let down by their banks merely because the banks pursued profit over people.
So, first of all, I just want to say this is a day which Australia's banks should be ashamed of. And almost as ashamed as the banks should be the current government. They did everything to cover up and protect the excesses of the banks. They made a conscious choice to back the big banks with their tax cuts and to vote 26 times against a Banking Royal Commission.
They made a choice to pick the banks over the people. I'm sorry for the victims and I'm sorry that it took as long as it did. But I'm actually proud that the Labor Party withstood the pressure of both Turnbull and now the current fellow. They abused us, they attacked us, the big banks said that somehow it was class warfare to want to have a Banking Royal Commission. Well, the result came in yesterday and the banks and their political arm the Liberal National Government of Australia - they deserve to hang their heads in shame.
And now the government is saying well trust us to implement the Banking Commission's findings, really? You can't - you couldn't trust the current government to have a Banking Royal Commission and you certainly can't trust them to implement the findings of the Banking Royal Commission.
I mean and as for the banks themselves, now I think some of the senior people there do need to consider their positions. I regard this Banking Royal Commission as an absolute day of disgrace for the banks and their friends in the government and I think a lot of Australians will be saying, how can some of these people on the boards of the bank who have been there - I'm not saying someone who's turned up in the last year or two - but some of those longer serving board members. Some of those executives at the top who've been around as all of this is happening. It's not good enough for them to say sorry, or I won't take long service leave, or I'll hand back 10 percent of a million dollar bonus. That's not good enough.
So I think that this government has a task in front of it and the nation has, it's to implement the Royal Commission. But I have to say to Australians, this Banking Royal Commission report is now a big issue for the next federal election which is due in about three months’ time.
Now I'm saying to Australians, who do you trust to keep the banks in line? The current government, who 26 times voted against a Banking Royal Commission or the Labor Party who against the odds from Opposition secured a Banking Royal Commission. But the job's not done yet. I say to the victims, we hear your concerns about compensation. I say to those senior bank executives who may feel because they haven't been specifically named or no charges laid immediately out of the Commission - you are not out of the woods yet and I don't say that our of any vindictiveness, but the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars of people's money was squandered. Dead people having their accounts serviced, people charged for no services, there's been a massive breach of trust and I don't think the Australian people will be satisfied now having had some of the extent of the wrongdoing revealed. I don't think they're going to be satisfied with anything less than some of these executives considering their position and the government needs to absolutely, absolutely recall parliament.
I mean we are due to sit for two weeks but I am putting a challenge today to Mr Morrison. You are only sitting for two weeks because you know the whole show is falling apart. For the election, you've said it's not for another three months. Let's table another couple – let’s schedule another couple of weeks of Parliament. The job is there to be done. What this government wants to do is say "there's no time to do anything about this before the election" and then they hope to win the election and then guess what everyone? Nothing will happen if this mob get re-elected.
If you want honesty out of the banks you don't ask the people who presided over it to give them a second chance. Time is up Mr Morrison. The very least you can do to salvage part of your reputation, because no one is going to forgive you for stopping the Royal Commission, is at least schedule another couple of weeks. I challenge Mr Morrison, a couple more weeks of parliament, it's not as if you've got anything else to do and let's get on and start implementing the Royal Commission putting consumers first.
JOURNALIST: The Coalition is taking action on all 76 recommendations. Are both parties on the same ticket here? Are the differences between you really that big?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, let's start with the Royal Commission. Difference? The difference is between daylight and moonlight, daylight and night-time. Mr Morrison attacked me personally and said that having a Banking Royal Commission was nothing but a "whinge". 26 times they voted against it.
I'm going to say something I never thought I'd ever say - let alone even think. Even Mr Turnbull this morning said sorry for not calling the Royal Commission earlier. I never thought I'd find someone softer on banks than Mr investment banker Prime Minister Turnbull but now we have. He's called Mr Morrison.
What is it with these Libs? They protected the banks uphill and down dale. Imagine if they had got their way and we didn't have a Banking Royal Commission? The rip offs and the rorts, and the vested interests, they'd that still be laughing all the way to their profits. But because of Labor that didn't happen.
But now, this Government: one, can't apologise for getting it wrong and that isn't enough though by the way. Two, they've got to make sure that the people who've been running these banks face the full consequences of their civil and potentially criminal mistakes.
You know, I do say to Mr Morrison, just say sorry. But that won't be enough - if you're fair dinkum about being sorry, then what we do is we schedule another two weeks of Parliament in March and we make sure we start implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission. If this Government can't reconvene parliament for March, if they can't say sorry, if they can't stop calling for senior directors to consider their position, they haven't learned a lesson and I ask the Australian people of the election, who do you trust to keep the banks honest? The Liberals who wanted to cover it up or Labor who wanted to see the truth?
JOURNALIST: If you follow through on changes to mortgage broking, will you be limiting competition in the market?
SHORTEN: First of all, we got the recommendation yesterday and we said we're committed to implementing the recommendations. My Shadow Treasurer said we'll set up an implementation taskforce. We'll work through with all these people and all the various stakeholders. I say to the various stakeholders, we will listen to you. But we know that everyone's got to lift their socks and that without a doubt, is the conclusion of the Royal Commission. What we won't do is put the Royal Commission in a drawer, on a shelf, let it gather dust and ignore it.
This Royal Commission shows the failure of trust between the banking sector and Australians. And I repeat, the banks today should be ashamed of themselves by their behaviour and the Government should be almost as ashamed by its behaviour, trying to cover up the scandalous behaviour of the banks.
JOURNALIST: Do you still have confidence in APRA and ASIC?
SHORTEN: I think that the regulators haven't come out of this unscathed. Now, I know that the Government cut funding to the regulators. There's always a government cut somewhere in the problem here, isn’t there? They can't help themselves the Libs. They're always cutting back on the watchdogs that look after their mates.
The Royal Commission's recommended these people look at it. I accept that's the first way to go. But I think that the boards of the banks shouldn't breathe a sigh of relief. And I think the regulators are going to have to come up with some pretty good work. There was a lot of evidence was out there in the Royal Commission, wasn't there? There was just so much evidence saying of wrongdoing. I think this will be the test for the regulators. Do they just wave through the breaches or do they actually prosecute it with the teeth and reflecting the fury of the Australian people at being cheated so shamelessly in financial terms by people to whom we'd all been grown up and told to trust.
JOURNALIST: Bill, onto a different topic here. Now that you have had time to consider it, what recommendations for the Murray Darling Basin Royal Commission would Labor commit to?
SHORTEN: We haven't finished with our considerations on that. I think everyone's been shocked this summer in particular by the scenes of the fish kills. Now, the problem's in our biggest river system are much deeper and greater than that. But how much of an ecological disaster does one government need to wake up to itself? We’ve asked the Australian Academy of Scientists, after I couldn't get the current Government to do anything in January, to provide us a report. They've indicated to me that I'll have a preliminary report before Parliament resumes. They've got Australia's best experts and then they'll give me the final report a week later. What is pleasing - and which I'm not sure people are aware of - is that the River Authority have agreed to make available, previously unavailable data which will enhance the work of our scientists.
I do make this remark in passing, though. How did it come to be that the Opposition in Australia has to write to the Academy of Scientists to get the report, to negotiate the provision of data? I mean, what is this Government for if it's not to look after these issues? That's why I think Parliament needs to resume too. We've got to have a discussion and we'll work together. You know the Murray Darling Basin shouldn't be a political football between the Government and the Opposition - and I'm prepared for it not to be. I've said any report we get, we will make available to the Government straight away, names of the scientists, there will be no redacted bits, no sensitive things in it. We just want to get the facts out on the table.
This Government's got to stop being a part-time government. We saw it again when the former prime minister made a brief appearance where he's expressed some goodwill towards the Independent running against the current Minister for Health. This is a divided government. The reason why they're not scheduling parliament is that they've effectively stopped governing in Australia.
Well there's two big bits of work for them: the Banking Royal Commission, the Murray-Darling Basin - saving that and we could all work on that together. But the Government's got to stop scheduling phantom hearings when they know they can have an election and turn up and do their day job.
Imagine people in Moruya, anywhere on the South Coast, saying to their boss at the beginning of this year: listen, I've been thinking about it and I don't really like every aspect of my job so I can come to work 10 days in eight months? This is a hopeless mob and their time is up.
JOURNALIST: On another subject, will you vote for the Phelps bill on medical help for asylum seekers when it comes to the House?
SHORTEN: That's our position. The Government wrote to me yesterday. I will say this, that the Government for the first time seems to be getting the message that when you've got refugees in your care, the view of the treating doctors should be treated more importantly than bureaucrats. So they have said that they want to look at it. We'll have to study what they're saying. We'll work with the Crossbench, we will listen to the Government. That's the way politics should operate. But I'm not convinced that when it comes to the health of anyone in our care that a bureaucrat in the Department of Home Affairs is better placed to judge that person's health than a treating medical doctor and specialist.
JOURNALIST: Well Labor supported it in the Senate so presumably it will be supported in the Reps?
SHORTEN: Yeah, I'd just refer you to the previous answer I gave.
JOURNALIST: What about the Morrison offer to have independent doctors make assessments as an alternative?
SHORTEN: I mean, it's a back-flip from the Government. I don't know if they have done it because they've had a change of heart and want to treat people well or if because they're worried about losing a vote in the House. But politics is the art of the imperfect. So, I don't care what reason they've got for modifying their position, we'll have a look at that. We've said independent medical doctors, their views should be considered. So we'll see what common ground there is. But again, I just say to the Government - if you look at it as a club to try and beat the head of the Opposition before an election and scare people about boats, well then that's your political strategy. For me, it's not about that. It's about if we have people in our care, how do we make sure they're treated properly. The boats - we're going to stop them and turn them around, we'll have regional resettlement.
This is a Government addicted to scaring Australians. Yet when it comes to banks, when we see some truly scary behaviour, they go missing in action.
JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about allegations (inaudible) yesterday, New South Wales Labor had to quarantine $100,000 in donations?
SHORTEN: Well, I've got Michael Daley, the head of New South Wales Labor. I will just remind everyone, we said we wouldn't accept any foreign donations two years ago – the best part of two years ago. So, you know, this Government is still addicted to taking money from foreign sources, it was only when legislation was passed recently.
I also think if this Government believes in electoral transparency, I want to give them a tip which is what the electorate think: if someone's giving a political party a donation of over $1,000, we deserve to know who they are. This Government doesn't support that. So I think there's some improvements we can make. But Michael, he acted very swiftly yesterday I have to say - very swiftly and decisively. And I might let him now finish off and explain what he did. Thank you very much everybody.