MONDAY, 5 MARCH 2018
SUBJECT/S: Joondalup Health Campus; Western Australia Infrastructure Fund, GST, Polls
ANNE ALY, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR COWAN: Happy WA Labour Day.
My name is Anne Aly, I'm the Federal Member for Cowan and I'm very, very, excited to be here today with Bill Shorten the Leader of the Opposition and Mark McGowan the Premier of Western Australia.
A great Labor team delivering for people in the northern suburbs of Perth and they're here today to make an announcement about the Joondalup Health Campus an announcement that many of us are very, very excited to hear about and so without further ado, I'll hand over to Bill Shorten the Leader of the Opposition, Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everybody, it's great to be here with my friend Premier Mark McGowan making an important announcement which is overdue for the growing northern suburbs of Perth at the Joondalup Health Campus.
I am pleased today to announce that if Labor is elected at the next national election we will put $154 million to help build a new mental health unit which will deliver 75 beds for people dealing with serious mental illness.
The northern suburbs of Perth are a dynamic and growing part of Perth and a part of Australia but there's no doubt that the emergency departments are being strained by people seeking assistance but there's no beds to process the people into, to help them with their recovery.
There's currently 40 plus beds here but the system is absolutely groaning. The waiting lists are unacceptably long. All of the experts have said that right across Australia emergency departments are getting challenged and overworked through people seeking legitimate support for their mental health challenges. But the problem is if there's no beds to put people into, it just clogs the whole system and waiting times increase and increase and increase.
So what Labor is proposing, following the very strong advocacy of both Mark McGowan and Anne Aly, the local Member of the northern suburbs for Federal Labor, is that we see that in Perth the waiting lists are amongst the longest and we see in the northern suburbs of Perth it is almost virtually ground zero in terms of the pressure being put on the system.
So Labor, if elected, will build a new mental health unit which will replace the existing unit but increase and almost double the number of beds which are available.
The health workers in this hospital do a great job. But what they need is a government in Canberra who will prioritise the health needs of Australians over other matters. Now how we fund this project is it comes from our Fair Go for Western Australia Infrastructure Fund. Everyone knows that Western Australia hasn't been receiving its fair share of the GST. So this, along with our earlier announcement in terms of the Ellenbrook to Morley railway line, is a down payment to make sure that Western Australia gets the sort of amenity and infrastructure which will help make this one of the finest places to live in Australia.
Labor can pay for our promises because we're not giving $65 billion away to large multinationals and big banks in unwarranted tax cuts, instead, my priority is the health care of Australians, the health care of Western Australians. The Government's priority, of course, is the financial health of large multinationals; we just think differently. I'd now like to now hand over to Premier Mark McGowan to talk further about this excellent announcement.
MCGOWAN: Thanks, Bill can I, first of all, thank Bill Shorten and the Federal Labor team for this important commitment to Western Australia. This is $154 million towards the health care of citizens in our state in the area of mental health. As we know mental health demands is growing massively across our community. In the northern suburbs of Perth, we have a hugely growing population, one of the fastest growing populations in the country. There's large amounts of unmet need up here, there's lots of families moving into this area, new housing being built everywhere. The Joondalup Health Campus actually has the most beds of any hospital in Western Australia, it's one of the biggest hospitals in Australia. Yet its mental health services have not had any significant growth in some years. So, what this announcement will do is assist the State Government to provide additional mental health beds here at Joondalup, servicing the northern suburbs and ensure that unmet need, up here in this growing corridor, will be met in the future.
So we're very pleased with this, this is something we've advocated for, it's something that is a welcome addition to the state, it assists the state enormously, it assists the people in the northern suburbs, it assists with mental health care, it's a terrific announcement for Western Australia. I'll hand over to Kempton who as you know runs the hospital and he'll say a few words.
KEMPTON COWAN: Thanks, Mark. Look I think most of it has been said but I'd just like to reiterate the comments of Bill and Mark. The hospital has been under a lot of pressure for many years, the demand is constantly growing and the resources to meet that demand, despite best efforts, have been inadequate. So that has been recognised with an announcement in April of last year, towards the expansion of the hospital but what wasn't completely recognised at the time was the mental health needs, so the demand has been constantly increasing. We have had a mental health observation area open here recently but it was really not addressing the fundamental need which is the need for more acute mental health beds.
So I'd just like to on behalf of Joondalup Health Campus and the staff from Ramsey Health Care and really on behalf of the people of the northern suburbs of Perth, thank Bill and the Premier for this announcement today. I think it's a very significant commitment and will really help to address the needs of the northern corridor. Thank you.
SHORTEN: Any questions on this announcement or any other matters?
JOURNALIST: So it's not new money then it's from the GST compensation fund you've promised that's been announced before. So it's the divvying up of that, it's not actually new money is it?
SHORTEN: It is from the infrastructure fund, that's correct but to the extent is it new money, Mr Turnbull and the others haven't come to the party yet. The reality of it is, Mr Turnbull flies across to Western Australia he 'ut tut tuts and says his Western Australia seems hard done by and then he gets on the plane and forgets.
So what we're using and we do it in consultation with Western Australian Government and Premier McGowan, we've said to Mark, what are the priorities for this State, what are the priorities for Perth? And he has said: listen this is fundamentally very important, he's said what you see here is a couple of things.
One: Federal Labor will recognises that Western Australia hasn't been getting a fair deal. Two: Federal Labor is able to make these sort of city building, community building initiatives because we're not wasting a whole lot of money on tax cuts for large foreign companies; and three: we are working with the State Government.
Now you don't always expect state and national to agree on everything but what I do know is that whenever I talk to Mark McGowan, he's got his finger on the pulse, he's committed to the betterment of not just Perth, but the whole of the state. So that's why this announcement came up, ticked all the boxes.
JOURNALIST: Did the polls make happy reading on the plane over here?
SHORTEN: My opposite number has chosen to define himself by opinion polls; I define myself by my values and my priorities. My values and priorities are education, health, jobs. We see a looming trade war between President Trump and Europe and China. My concern is that all the steel which can't go to America could swamp Australian steel and aluminium jobs. My concern and priorities are not the numbers in the polls, my concern are the numbers of jobs which are affected by this looming trade war for example.
JOURNALIST: Is Barnaby Joyce the main factor driving down the PM's popularity at the moment?
SHORTEN: Again, I am not going to comment on the polls. I think what this is, is a chaotic and divided, incompetent and inept government. They're focused on themselves. I think the last month that we've seen, February of Parliament, has turned even more Australians off politics.
I am not going to talk about Barnaby Joyce's personal life. He and Vikki are about to have a baby, I'm not going to contribute to the digital footprint that that child will have in the future by analysing the ins and outs of every aspect of that relationship. I'm going to respect what Barnaby Joyce has asked for, which is to give them some room.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned Donald Trump's tariffs, should Australia retaliate?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, to be fair, I don't know that any Australian Prime Minister can stop President Trump behaving in this manner. But I do hope that Malcolm Turnbull's on the phone, he just had a recent visit with him, they seemed to get on very well by all accounts. I do hope he's at least trying. What I also hope is this: Australia and America have been allies in all sort of adversity and conflict, I hope at times like this that all of our other friendship counts for something.
In terms of protecting Australian jobs, there are tens of thousands of people who work in steel and aluminium. People sometimes forget we're still a manufacturing country and these are blue collar jobs, they're engineering jobs, there are also white collar jobs and service jobs. They're transport jobs. They're jobs in the regions and suburbs. Steel and aluminium jobs are worth fighting for. I'd like Mr Turnbull to be upfront with the Australian people: what efforts has he made?
But also, we know it's not just what we import into America which could be affected. If all of this steel coming out of China, Vietnam, Europe, elsewhere, India - if it can't get into America, it's going to find a home, it is going to be imported somewhere. This is the problem. This is what's so dangerous about President Trump's trade war with the Europeans and other countries, China etc. The problem is that if that material can't go into American markets, it comes here. And I want to know what Mr Turnbull's doing to protect tens of thousands of fair dinkum, everyday jobs.
I'll come to you in a moment.
JOURNALIST: You're calling it a trade war then, Donald Trump has launched a trade war?
SHORTEN: Well, I am saying he has put up tariffs and now we see the Europeans, for example, saying they'll retaliate. This is a dangerous path to go on and I just hope that America can respect its allies and people who have given it good advice in the past.
But in the meantime, I just hope that Mr Turnbull - and we'll work with him - is doing everything he can to protect steel and aluminium. The steel industry has had it hard but it's starting to get back on its feet. Now it could be hit for six.
And we've got the Government, they're just focused on themselves. They're all out today in the media - not talking about steel workers, aluminium workers, small businesses or truck drivers - they're talking about each other. For goodness sakes, they have got to just park that internal division in the Coalition, let's focus on the bigger threats which is looking after every day people.
JOURNALIST: Kimberley Kitching has described the Royal Australian Air Force project as a $250 million private jet for the Prime Minister. Will you scrap that project if you came into office and you agree with her view?
SHORTEN: No, I don't share that view at all. I think it's legitimate for the Air Force to have ordered these planes and I think it's legitimate if Prime Minister Turnbull has one of them used, periodically, not all the time, for his travel.
JOURNALIST: Have you informed Senator Kitching that her view is out of line with Labor policy?
SHORTEN: My office has.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, at a Port Douglas cafe on January 23, did you discuss with Geoff Cousins and Kelly O'Shannessy how federal laws could be used to revoke the licence for the Adani mine?
SHORTEN: I think your question is going towards my view on the Adani mine. Let me answer that and give you a bit of context. I don't support the Adani project. It's been spoken about since 2011 - that's a matter of record. It's had numerous deadlines. If you believe the initial hype and booster-ism about Adani, they've been shipping coal out of Australia for the last three years. And indeed in your paper and others, you do report periodically how they keep failing deadlines. So I'm a sceptic. I'm not supportive of it. Labor has said it has got to stack up commercially and environmentally.
In terms of the commerce, no Australian bank will invest in it, no Australian super fund will invest in it. My plan for jobs in regional Queensland doesn't involve putting all our eggs in one basket; how many more deadlines can this business fail to meet? We have seen what happens when you rely on one person to deliver the jobs and I'm referring to QNI, Queensland Nickel up in Townsville, which was Clive Palmer's operation. Thousands of people were let down.
In terms of my discussions with the ACF, I'm grateful for the briefing they gave us. I'm an enthusiast for the outback of this country right through to the coast and the Reef. But one thing I made clear - and I've made it clear in Queensland, I've made it clear in Victoria and I make it clear here in Western Australia - if I and my united team are privileged and fortunate enough to form government at the next national election, we will respect one of the cornerstones of Australian democracy - that is when contracts are entered in to by previous governments, we can't just simply rip them up because that would then create investment uncertainty.
So what I have said, and what we say to the ACF and what I say to coal mining communities of which I'm a frequent visitor, and what I just say to Australians who are interested in both resources and mining jobs and preserving our environment, is that Labor will respect previous contracts by previous administrations. We will act in the national interest based upon the existing laws that we inherit at the time we form government.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, there is a WA silicon producer, Simcoa that's likely to be affected start away by any US trade war. How concerning is that? They've got 170 employees.
SHORTEN: I just think your question and what could happen to businesses, both big and small, shows how serious what's happening in America is.
I understand that President Trump's frustrated by a loss of blue collar jobs in America. I understand that. The problem is though that they put up tariffs against steel imported from China. Then what happened is that Chinese steel would go to third party nations, for example, Vietnam and it would still be shipped into America. Trump has said we will have tariffs on everything steel and aluminium coming into America. To me this is, it's a blunt stick - it is a blunt instrument trying to solve the issues about how you create manufacturing and engineering jobs in your own country.
My concern is that Australia's a much smaller player. We don't make steel or aluminium on the scale of many other nations but we do have a viable industry, and Western Australia is the home of a series of refineries and aluminium operations for example, you have got plenty of steel producers.
We want Mr Turnbull to work with people - work with the Labor opposition, work with the states, work with industry. There is going to be some pretty big movements if this tariff introduction goes ahead, now's the time to focus on jobs.