WEDNESDAY, 29 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan to deliver a fair share of GST for WA; Liberal Party chaos; Julia Banks resignation; Abbott appointment to special envoy for Indigenous Australians
HANNAH BEAZLEY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR SWAN: Good morning everybody, thank you for being here. My name is Hannah Beazley, I'm the Labor candidate for Swan. I would like to say a very big thank you to Labor leader Bill Shorten for coming out here today, always supporting our TAFEs and our local TAFEs here in Swan.
Bill has been as you know, to WA many, many times. He's a big supporter of Western Australia, he continues to lead the way on GST for WA, our fair share. So I'm very pleased that he is here today as well as Premier Mark McGowan and Member for Brand, Madeline King.
So I will not be speaking anymore, and I will hand over to Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody, great to be back in Western Australia with Hannah Beazley, our candidate running in the very marginal seat of Swan and then we've got Madeline King of course, one of our leading spokespeople on the frontbench and it's great to be here with my friend, Premier Mark McGowan.
Mark's got to go down to Bunbury to meet with veterans so this won't be the longest press conference but what I'd like to do to get the ball rolling is to simply say, the GST fight needs to end. Labor will support a unity ticket with the current Government to make sure that Western Australia gets their fair share. I congratulate Mark McGowan for his single-minded advocacy to make sure that Western Australia gets a fair share.
What Labor will do is that we will support what the Government has said, but what we will also do is we will legislate it within our first hundred days. That's a floor of 70 cents, from 19/20 and we will lift that floor to 75 cents, 2024/25. We will also make sure that this funding is untied. Obviously, we will consult with the Western Australian Government and we'll have a view about things but this is going to be genuinely, a call for Western Australia.
So today, I am very pleased to say, no more argy-bargy between Liberal and Labor nationally. Labor has been leading the case and we've always been pleased when the Liberals have caught up but now what we want to do is put this beyond the realm of day to day politics. It's so confusing in Canberra to know who is going to be in charge at the current moment, let's just legislate it.
So whether or not it's Malcolm Turnbulls there or not there, or Scott Morrison is there or not there or I, or anyone else - let's just legislate it. Let's look after the West. Untie it, put the floor in and we'll make sure that no states are worse off because of course, Labor can make that promise because we're not giving away tax cuts to the top end of town.
I might now invite Mark McGowan to talk further about this exciting announcement.
MARK MCGOWAN, PREMIER OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Thanks very much Bill and can I welcome Bill Shorten back to Western Australia, as you know he's been a regular visitor, some 36 or 38 or 40 times or thereabouts since he's been Opposition Leader, which must be a record.
It's terrific to have Bill announce today a unity ticket with the Federal Government on GST to ensure that Western Australia gets its fair share.
I am very pleased, this is an important and historic day for Western Australia to secure this commitment and it means that we will, from this point forward, when this deal kicks in, have a better share of GST in the future and a floor below which our share can never go.
I think this is a testament to the fighting spirit and the work of the people of Western Australia who have advocated for and been very vocal about this issue now, over many years. And it's terrific that that effort on behalf of the people of Western Australia - or the effort of the people of Western Australia - has been rewarded with this announcement today.
As you know, Bill has been an advocate for Western Australia getting a better share over a long period of time and today, to announce that it's going to be legislated means it can never be undone and that Western Australia will have a floor below which our share can never go and that's a great thing for our state.
I'll hand over to Bill to answer questions and then I'll answer some questions.
SHORTEN: Thanks Mark, I just realised this is the longest stint between visits to Western Australia - it's been about five weeks since I was last here - so I should just congratulate Josh Wilson and Pat Gorman on their election victories as well.
Over to you.
JOURNALIST: Why did it take Morrison coming up with the GST deal for you to come up with this promise to legislate?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, history didn't start when Scott Morrison made that proposal. For a long time Mark McGowan and Western Australian Labor had been at both Malcolm Turnbull and myself and indeed Tony Abbott, to do something about the GST.
I went back after many visits to Western Australia and explained to my colleagues that if you want to understand Western Australia and if you want to be taken seriously as a national government in Western Australia, you've got to deal with the GST unfairness.
So in fact, you'll find that we were talking about floors, of the 70 cents variety, well before Mr Morrison came to the party. But having said that, you know aren't we all a bit over saying who was first, who was second?
I mean Mark was first, but beyond that at the national level, let's just legislate it now and I think the ball is now in Mr Morrison's court, I know he's got a busy agenda having just taken over from Mr Turnbull, but let's just legislate the floor, we'll do it in the first 100 days.
JOURNALIST: Just for clarity around that, in terms of legislating the floor, will you also legislate the new equalisation standard, in terms of benchmarking?
SHORTEN: In terms of making sure that it's put beyond doubt we will. I mean the issue here is of course, and other states will be watching what I say here and I'm conscious of that. We believe that a 70 cents floor and then a 75 cents floor should apply across the board, full stop.
And in the case of Western Australia, the compensation should be untied, let's legislate in the first 100 days.
That way, I mean I never thought I'd see a set of circumstances where Western Australia's own Julie Bishop wasn't on the frontbench - these are very, there's a lot of sifting sands here in the Coalition.
So, when the Government say that you don't need to legislate it, I think you quite rightly can go back and say, we don't know who is going to be where on the frontbench and Western Australia has obviously been diminished in the Coalition, unfortunately, because of Ms Bishop's unsuccessful bid.
So that is why I think more than ever, instability is the enemy of Western Australia and we just need to legislate it.
JOURNALIST: How many seats do you reckon you would be able to win over the people of WA, with a deal like this and do you think some of those Liberal MPs should start to be feeling a bit worried about their position?
SHORTEN: Listen, I think Western Australians like all Australians were revolted by what they saw last week. They said 'oh my god the political people in Canberra are just talking about their own jobs'. I just want to reassure Western Australians, I don't look at Liberal Western Australians or Labor Western Australians, I just see Western Australians.
So when it comes down to how people vote at the election, I don't want to rely on winning on the basis that the Government's negatives flow across to us. What we want to do is earn the respect of Western Australians.
I think this is a meritorious proposal. People are sick of just hearing promises fly in, fly out, when will it ever happen? You have heard Western Australia's Premier, Mark McGowan say legislating the floor is a sensible way to go, we're happy to do that.
And I think the best thing the Government can do to reassure stability - because they are very unstable at the moment - is just commit to legislate themselves.
JOURNALIST:Can you genuinely say that your fix or solution to the GST will be better off for West Australians?
SHORTEN: Yes. I think that what it does is it puts it in black and white. The Western Australian media has been ferocious in its advocacy for a better deal for Western Australia, and I should know that because so many times you and your colleagues have asked me.
I think Western Australia will be better off if we just legislate the floor. No doubt. No doubt in my mind.
Mind you, that is not the only reason why I think Western Australians will be better off under a Labor Government. I'll make sure that - and we are here at this marvellous TAFE facility - I say to Western Australian parents we will make sure that if you want your son or daughter to do an apprenticeship, there will be a spot available.
What I say to West Australians is that if they want to see better energy prices or they want to see a reduction in aged care waiting lists, Labor has got the plans to do that.
I will say to parents who want to make sure their kids, wherever they live, get a good quality education, that we'll back that in.
I want to make sure, and I will say to Western Australians, that if you are sick, you’ll get quality health care and it will be your Medicare card not your credit card determining the quality of care you get.
So I do think you will be better off under us.
JOURNALIST:Mr Shorten, on Peter Dutton's au pair issue, his office says the Minister has intervened in many cases presented by Labor Members of Parliament and they suggest we might have to ask if any of those cases were based on donations to the Labor Party, what do you say to Mr Dutton's office?
SHORTEN: Well, that's a really defensive set of remarks, isn't it? Like, this is is standard 101 in the Liberal playbook I have to say, when under pressure blame Labor. I did not ring up to sort this au pair situation, I didn't realise we had such a shortage of them. But frankly, I think this issue shows two things.
One, Peter Dutton's enemies in the Liberal Party haven't forgiven his undermining of Mr Turnbull and the leaks are just continuing apace, aren't they? We didn't think about this. I didn't know anything about it. I'm reading about the AFL guy, or ringing up and sorting out - sorry, but Peter Dutton and his own group are the people that know about this.
So it just shows that disunity rolls on, they've learnt nothing from last week.
The other thing I say to make I think a more important policy point, is people don't like conflicts of interest and the exercise of undue influence, and I think the best way that Parliament can improve its reputation and standing in the eyes of our fellow Australians is have a national anti-corruption commission.
That way when you have got issues where people say X has done the wrong thing or Y has done the wrong thing, why don't we just have a national anti-corruption commission so that these matters can be fixed.
You have got them in Western Australia, an anti-corruption commission, most of the states have. I just think, leave aside this au pair scandal and what Dutton knew or didn't know or what's gone on there, and I guess we'll get to the bottom of that eventually, the bigger issue here is that Australians don't have confidence in their political system.
They got rid of Tony Abbott for Malcolm Turnbull, they got rid of Malcolm Turnbull for Scott Morrison. You hear all this comment about people getting special favours. Let's just set up an anti-corruption commission and that way Australians can say that Parliament is willing to put itself under the sort of scrutiny which other people are.
JOURNALIST: Julia Banks has announced -
JOURNALIST: Can I just ask -
SHORTEN: I'll come to you next.
JOURNALIST: Sorry, Julia Banks has announced she is not re-contesting her seat, saying she's experienced this bullying an intimidation by both her own side and yours, do you have a problem in Labor with bullying and intimidation?
SHORTEN: Well first of all I don't know to what Julia is referring. But let me say about Julia Banks, just to show we are not always about attacking each other in politics. I have always found her to polite and professional. She was a formidable candidate. She was the only Liberal to win a seat off Labor at the last election.
She is a professional woman, the sort of person you are keen to see take up a political career, so I feel not only the Government's failed but the system has failed if people like her feel that they can't continue.
In terms of the specific bullying allegations, she's a serious person, she wouldn't have said this lightly. In terms of our own party, we have got procedures in place to protect people.
JOURNALIST: So will you look into the -
SHORTEN: Listen, I can't investigate the Liberal Party.
JOURNALIST: But your own party?
SHORTEN: Sure, we have got protocols in place and we are always seeking to improve them.
JOURNALIST: Give you a better chance in her seat though, wouldn't it, her stepping down, you would imagine?
SHORTEN: I think it is pretty easy to be cynical these days. She is a strong candidate and her not being there is a blow to the Liberal Party but I just want to say to Australians and people watching this carry on, I want people to vote for Labor because of our positive ideas, not just simply be complacent and rely on the dysfunction and the chaos of the Liberals to flow across and people vote for us.
Clearly if Julia Banks is stepping down, it shows the division in the Liberal Party just goes on and on. There's been no line drawn in the sand since the rolling of Malcolm Turnbull and the elevation of Scott Morrison.
JOURNALIST: Can I just ask the Premier, on the merits of the two GST proposals, do you have a preference of the two? The legislating the floor, does that make a difference? Is there essentially no difference between the two deals?
MCGOWAN: I'm pleased that Bill Shorten said there is a unity ticket, so Western Australia has a high degree of certainty, but what Federal Labor is doing is locking it in stone, so locking it in stone is good.
We had a situation where your GST share went down to 30 cents in the dollar and that was clearly outrageous and unacceptable. To lock in stone a floor of 75 cents is good.
Now, it still means Western Australia still subsidises the rest of the country, but we will never get to the point where we go down to 30 cents in the dollar again, as we did during the term of the Liberal Government.
JOURNALIST: And the fact that the funds are now unfettered? What difference does that make?
MCGOWAN:It gives the state flexibility, it is GST compensation. The GST was meant to be a tax that was delivered to the states for the state to spend in accordance with its priorities, so it gives the Western Australian State Government flexibility and that is a good thing. That means that we can use for it the purposes, as determined, by the people of Western Australia.
Obviously we will always to talk to the Federal Government about all issues, but giving us flexibility is a good thing.
JOURNALIST: Have you gotten your written guarantee yet from the new Prime Minister for the GST bill?
MCGOWAN: No, not yet, not as far as I am aware. Obviously I have been in communication with him about that and I raised it with him when I spoke to him and I have texted him about the issue. So I will await the written confirmation so we can write it into our midyear review.
JOURNALIST: I'll just ask Mr Shorten one, do you think -
SHORTEN: Alright, and make this the last question because Mark's got to go as well.
JOURNALIST: Thank you. If I could just ask do you think that Tony Abbott is the right man for the Indigenous envoy role?
SHORTEN: I think I will rely on Western Australia's Senator Pat Dodson and quote him, or requote him. He said First Australians have asked for a voice and they got Tony Abbott; a clear disappointment.
Listen, he is clearly interested in Indigenous affairs but while he and Mr Turnbull were in power there were a lot of cuts to services. I think if he is going to be a fair dinkum envoy for Indigenous Australia go and convince Mr Morrison, who was the Treasurer who wouldn't properly fund remote housing, I think Mr Morrison and Mr Abbott, if they want a reset on treating First Australians with some degree of decency, Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison need to reverse their cuts to remote housing.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, are you going to follow the new Prime Minister's lead and issue your Shadow Cabinet with Australian flag lapel badges?
SHORTEN: Listen, the badge. I think it is fine if you want to wear a badge or the flag, that is fine, it doesn't worry me. All of us in Parliament love our country.
For me, it is not what I wear to work that matters, it is what I do at work.
I think the real challenge here, is to put Australians ahead of ourselves. Now people are saying that in politics, the way we are going to demonstrate that is doing the stuff that needs to be done.
Legislate our promises on a fair go for Western Australia. What we are also committed to doing is make sure that we improve the role of women in politics. We've all got, both sides of politics have a bit to learn here, but I do notice that Julie Bishop, she was a formidable political opponent, and I haven't had a chance to say this directly in the West but, she served Australia with some flair, a bit of panache, no one could argue that. But it would appear that no other Western Australian MP in the Liberal Party voted for her, and that to me speaks volumes.
What message are we sending to Western Australians that your number one, your most senior Western Australian, who undoubtedly has been good for raising funds for the party and represented Australia on the world stage, when it comes to the tough business of politics, she was left friendless.
So I just would acknowledge her service.
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