THURSDAY, 9 MAY 2019
Subjects: Labor’s investment in Queensland hospitals and healthcare; border security; resettlement of Manus and Nauru detainees; Peter Dutton; Robo-debt; Scott Morrison’s IOU to Clive Palmer; tax havens; Government’s scare campaigns.
CORINNE MULHOLLAND, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PETRIE: Welcome to Redcliffe Hospital, one of Queensland's busiest hospitals. Every year some 68,000 patients come to this hospital to get emergency treatment at the emergency department. It's also got one of the busiest oncology units also in the state. Today we have gone on a tour of this amazing hospital and met some of the fantastic nursing, doctors, staff who are doing incredible work for our local patients here in the Petrie electorate. We've chatted to patients and families who were going on one of the biggest battles of their life, battling cancer and we thank people like Debra and Judy who spoke to us today with their families in the middle of their treatment. Labor has a health action plan for the Redcliffe Hospital. It includes a $10 million upgrade to our emergency department. As I said, one of the busiest in Queensland. We also have a $10 million plan jointly with the State Government to deliver an MRI machine here at this hospital, a hospital that does not have an MRI machine. As I said one of the busiest in Queensland. We also have a plan to reverse the LNP's $4.2 million worth of cuts that have been dealt a devastating blow here at our hospital. Today I'm so pleased to be joined by Bill Shorten our Labor leader to make a further exciting announcement for our hospital. Today we're announcing a $12.2 million dollar package. A $6 million dollar plan to buy a second CT scanner for this hospital. We're also going to take a $6.2 million upgrade of the ICU to benefit the amazing patients that call this town and this community their home. The choice, ladies and gentlemen, at the next federal election could not be any clearer. Between a team, a Labor team, that values this hospital and this local community and the Liberal National team and a local member in Luke Howarth who has cut, cut, cut from this hospital. The only way the people of this community will get an upgrade to this hospital and reverse those cuts is to vote Labor. I'd like to invite Bill Shorten now to make some further remarks about this exciting announcement today.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody. Fantastic to be here on the Redcliffe Peninsula in the seat of Petrie, one to watch on election night. We're running an absolute first class candidate, Corinne Mulholland. I'm here because as the election comes to a close, Labor is saying that one of the key issues for voters in making up their mind, making a choice, is the quality of healthcare and Medicare in this country. Labor throughout this election campaign has said we want better hospitals not bigger tax loopholes. Today we're announcing $6.2 million for the ICU, the intensive care unit here. $6 million for the second CT scanner. We're also fleshing out the cancer package I announced in budget week. We'll be investing $60 million in the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital to provide cutting edge technology, oncology services to make sure that Queenslanders in the fight of their lives get the support they deserve. Some of you have had the chance to visit the oncology ward and talk to people dealing with cancer treatments. There's 300,000 Australians getting treatment for cancer right now. 50,000 of our fellow Australians will die. We haven't solved every form of cancer. Cancer makes you sick but it shouldn't make you poor. So today Labor is again saying that in this election people have a choice. Do they want better support with out-of-pockets for cancer or do they want bigger tax loopholes? Do they want to see us invest in pensioner dental? Do they want to see us invest in out-of-pockets for cancer? Do they want to see us repair the cuts to hospitals? Or do they just want to give $80 billion away to the top end of town? These are the choices in this election and Labor is committed to saying that when you vote Labor you'll get better Medicare, better healthcare, not bigger multinational profits or indeed bigger tax loopholes.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten can I ask you a question on border security? Last night in the debate you mentioned that Labor would seek to revive the New Zealand resettlement offer that's on the table. If you do that would you also look at closing that so-called back door to stop people resettled in New Zealand from coming to Australia under existing migration laws?
SHORTEN: Yes, what we would do is seek to use the same formula which the government's used with the United States. So, the same system the government uses is the one we would use in our discussions with New Zealand.
JOURNALIST: Tanya Plibersek has raised the Malaysia solution this morning when talking about resettlement deals and she is also suggested that the US could take more refugees from Manus and Nauru. Would you consider revisiting the Malaysia solution or asking the Americans to take more refugees?
SHORTEN: We are committed to maintaining strong borders. We have made it clear that we will do boat turn backs where the Defence authorities and Border Security say it is safe to do it. We are committed to the view that anyone who comes by boat, via a people smuggler, will not be processed and settled in Australia, full stop. Now, we have also said, and you were all at the debate last night night, that what we don't believe is that we should keep people for, you know, semi-indefinite detention. I congratulate Malcolm Turnbull for the work he did. We think there are opportunities if other regional places want to take people. That's fair enough. Having strong borders shouldn't make Australia a cruel country. We will work it through. But I am not going to have the government run their scare campaign, somehow saying that because we believe in the humane resettlement of people in third party countries, that that is not a commitment to strong borders. I notice that Peter Dutton's been let out of wherever he has been and he's popped his head up in Townsville. Kristina and I were talking about and she has got some observations that I think she should share with you.
SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY: Thank you Bill. Look, Peter Dutton has been let out of his cave. He has been kept underground somewhere by the Liberal and the National Party. But they have let him out of his cave to appear on national television. In fact, to travel all the way to Townsville. Look, frankly this is a desperate attempt by the Liberals to scare Australians. This is a desperate attempt to cling to power. This is a desperate attempt to deploy the most toxic man in Australian politics and to have him out there raising the spectre of fear and division in the community. The Australian people understand and support the commitment that both parties have to strong borders, but the Australian people do not believe we need to be a cruel country, cruel to people on Manus and Nauru in order to secure our borders and keep them safe. Peter Dutton, been let out of the cave, out there in Townsville, trying to scare people. One has to ask is Mr Dutton indeed auditioning for the…some job in the future. Perhaps Peter Dutton is showing us his audition tapes for the role of leader of the party after the election.
JOURNALIST: Just on borders and Home Affairs, one of the things that Peter Dutton did say this morning in Townsville is that you should outline who your Home Affairs minister will be. You've pointed to who your Health and your Education Minister will be. Can you give us even just one name of someone within your party who you would consider fit for that role?
SHORTEN: I have got plenty of people who can do the role. But I tell you what, unlike the Liberal Party I don't want to take my orders from Peter Dutton. What a joke this fellow is. He destroyed Malcolm Turnbull. He destroyed Malcolm Turnbull. One of the single biggest issues that we hear wherever we travel, I'm sure you hear it for your exhaustive inquiries too, is what people really hate about modern politics is the turmoil, the backbiting and the pushing. Peter Dutton has never properly accounted or shown any remorse for tearing up the Liberal government of Malcolm Turnbull. We don't take orders from him, that's one of the many good reasons why I'm in the Labor Party. We will put forward our full ministry after the election. But since we're talking about ministerial lineups. Has anyone seen their environment minister? Do you know they've had five defence ministers in six years? This is a government in ... and by the way, what is the real role of Clive Palmer in this Government? Clive Palmer. Pauline Hanson's outed Clive Palmer and said that he was trying to heavy her to vote for $80 billion of tax cuts last year. Just how much power will Clive Palmer, the unnamed minister at the Morrison Cabinet table actually have?
JOURNALIST: You mentioned scare campaigns earlier. Today, Labor is linking Clive Palmer with the government's former proposed company tax cuts. The Treasurer has said it's now dead. Are you not running a scare campaign of your own with this?
SHORTEN: Well let me just go to what Mr Morrison said. First of all, does anyone think Clive Palmer doesn't want a corporate tax cut for big business? That's certainly what Pauline Hanson's made clear he wants. Does anyone not really think that Mr Morrison doesn't have one of the biggest IOU cheques in Australian political history to Clive Palmer if he gets returned? I mean, Clive Palmer ain't going into politics to, you know, raise taxes for big business is he? So Mr Morrison I think he's the real problem here and you say, you know, trying to give Mr Morrison a leave pass in recent times because of his sudden conversion to not wanting to give a tax cut to big business. It's in the Liberal DNA. I have here a quote from what Mr Morrison said. It's just about the one year anniversary of when he said it. Morrison, quote: "We're fully pursuing our enterprise tax plan. Nothing's changed on that. We remain committed to this. We don't flip or flop on these things." Well you be the judge. Was he lying then or is he lying now? The reality is that the Liberal Party for the last three years has wasted the nation's time pursuing a one point economic plan: tax cuts for big business. And we see it again last night when he was evasive, he still wouldn't confirm that he wants to give $77 billion to the top tier of tax earners. The Liberal Party serve the top end of town in Australia, they serve the vested interests. Labor wants to ensure a fair go for all Australians.
JOURNALIST: On Robodebt, social advocates have talked about the legalities of this program and groups like ACOSS have asked Labor to more solidly outline what you would do on that. What's your view on the legality of Robodebt? What would Labor do with that system?
SHORTEN: We want to make sure that people aren't receiving welfare to which they're not entitled to. And no one gets a leave pass on that. But I do think that there are smarter ways of getting people to pay back money and indeed investigating what people actually really do owe rather than giving it to the debt collectors. This is a government who've got no problem giving $80 billion to the top end of town. But if you're on Newstart and you found yourself a job and you accidentally got an extra weeks' pay, they find the debt collectors for you. This is a government who if you are weak and powerless in this society, who if you're someone who this government doesn't think supports it, they'll chase you. And if you're at the top end of town like Mr Palmer, he apparently owes the Commonwealth taxpayer $70 million doesn't he? Because the Commonwealth has paid his debts to the workers. See that's the difference. If you are poor and disadvantaged this government will sic the debt collectors onto you. But if you're Clive Palmer and you owe your workers tens of millions of dollars, Mr Morrison will put you in the Senate.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you told one of the patients in there this morning with a week to go that lots of people are tuning out. So, whose fault is that? Are you failing to engage voters or have people just had a gutful of modern politics?
SHORTEN: Well I do think that not everyone's fully engaged in the election. I think some people are turned off by the negativity too aren't they? Also, what I was thinking in that, in an oncology ward is these people they're in the battle of their lives. One of the ladies, she moved up from Gippsland. She's moved up to Queensland, resettled with her sons who were there. We met the son there too. She got, this was last April, she's now had a diagnosis. That was her first treatment today. Like when you get that news I'll tell you what you're not greatly fussed about what order are how to vote cards in somewhere are you. But having said that this is why this election is important. Because when you strip away the noise and some of the negative carry on and all of that, if you are in the fight of your life don't you deserve to have a government in Canberra who's as brave as you? Don't you deserve to have a plan for the future. What I learned out of last night's debate is I saw for the first time Mr Morrison's threadbare real agenda on display. You know we had five questions which is such, we each asked each other questions. There were five. They were all about Labor policy. We don't talk about Liberal policy because they've only got tax cuts unfunded in two elections time. So what I'm saying to voters as we approach the last week is Mr Morrison thinks that cancer treatment's free. Mr Morrison thinks there's no problem with childcare costs, he thinks it is going down. Mr Morrison thinks he's got climate change under control. This government is out of touch. They've only got one plan which is to look after the special vested interests. For me making sure that this hospital - this is a modest hospital - is the centre of this community. I want it to have better resources. Labor's made choices. We're going after some of the unsustainable tax subsidies at the top end because for me when sick people get a fair go in this country we are a better country for everyone.
JOURNALIST: Why are you palming off the questions about resettling refugees in the United States when it’s Tanya Plibersek who raised the prospect and not Peter Dutton? Can we get a yes or no about whether you consider that deal…
SHORTEN: Interesting use of the word Palmer there. No, we're not. I congratulate Malcolm Turnbull - that's not something you hear the Liberals do - for keeping that deal on track with President Trump. I actually don't think that we should keep people in indefinite detention forever when we can resettle them in other countries. I'm sure you'd agree with me. So we're not. The point about it is if we've got people who have been in indefinite detention really for six or seven years let's move them on. Let's find third party countries, that's all. But let's not fall for the Government's scare campaign. I mean this government, they've said we're going to take the ute off you. They’ve said that you're going to lose your weekend. They’ve said that there are death taxes when there aren't. You know they want to, they should be ashamed of themselves signalling the people smugglers a week out from the election to try their hand. They will find us completely resolute working with border security exactly as we said.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten on your health plans you've talked about the election being about choices. You have a number of policies health is one where there's quite long term spending plans. Will the costings tomorrow show the budget impacts over the medium term, over a decade?
SHORTEN: Four and 10 years. Yes.
JOURNALIST: Labor has been critical of the use of tax havens like the Cayman Islands but it's been revealed today that IFM Investors, a fund manager owned by 27 industry super funds including Australian Super owns infrastructure assets that are ultimately held in trust in the Cayman Islands to deliver a return for their members here in Australia. Do you accept that this shows there are legitimate uses for tax havens in Australia?
SHORTEN: I believe completely in transparency. I don't want to see a Caymans Island based company take over our health system as has been given the green light by this company. Global capital moves around but we need to see transparency. We need to see where tax is really paid. It's not good enough in this country that we have large multinationals paying no tax or nearly next to no tax. You know for me it's about a fair go for all Aussies. The reality is, you run a local newsagency, you're a hard working journalist, you work in a hospital, you have got to pay the tax pretty much as it is levied on you. You don't have the chance to split your income, you don't have the chance to park it in the Caymans. I for one, am sick and tired of weak conservative governments not demanding greater transparency in terms of what goes on with their taxation.
JOURNALIST: Mr. Shorten you're talking about pursuing new third-party resettlement options, New Zealand is clearly on the table, is Malaysia also on the table?
SHORTEN: There's no arrangements to talk with Malaysia, we're not the government. You use the word new. New Zealand been on the option, on the table for four or five years. You have got to ask yourself why the government hasn't pursued it. Do they want to prolong this issue to score political points? Listen, I know that the government wants to scare people about boats. Well, I'm calling that out. I'm not the government. What I'm saying here is that this government has run out of anything to talk about. What a surprise that the Thursday or Friday of the second last week, government's tried all the other scare campaigns. I noticed today, no one's asking me about that nonsense discussion about climate change costs, when in fact the cost of not acting is greater. We all know the government has pressed the panic button. They want to scare people on boats. They know we've got the same policy on boats. We will have a very good foreign policy because I've got Penny Wong and they don't. You know we will make sure that we help resettle people. But you are sophisticated analysts - you know we have got the same policy on boat turn backs, you know we have got the same policy on regional re-settlement, you know we're committed to resettling people overseas and not letting them stay here. This nation needs more than scare campaigns. You saw him last night. He thinks the childcare costs are going down. He thinks that cancer treatment is free. He thinks that first home buyers don't have a problem in the market. Goodness me, he even surprised me when he said - climate change, yeah we're going to make all our targets. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. All that man can do is talk about us. They don't offer any plan for the future of Australia, they just want to give their corporate tax cuts, back on the table of old mate Clive. They want to give $77 billion away to the top tier of tax earners. We know they have no plans. You know they have no plans, whereas we want to help the sick people in this hospital. Thanks everyone.