TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Flinders Hospital and Medical Centre, Tuesday 14 June






SUBJECTS: Labor's positive plans for health, education, and jobs; Nick Xenophon Team political party

MARK WARD, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BOOTHBY: Welcome to Flinders Medical Centre right here in the heart of Boothby. I'd like to welcome Amanda Rishworth and I'd also like to welcome Tanya Plibersek, and over to you Tanya.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much. It's a real pleasure to be here at Flinders Medical Centre and, of course, this is not the first time I've visited. I’ve been to this marvellous hospital more than once and it's wonderful to see the work that's done here. We were just in the paediatric wing seeing some very sick children who – obviously at this time of year you see a lot of colds and respiratory illnesses – and it’s wonderful to see the care they get here. Of course making sure that we have a world class health system is absolutely vital for the people of South Australia and I'm delighted on the weekend we were able to announce an extra $2 billion of funding for our hospitals. What that means for South Australia over the next four years is around $140 million - extra funding for South Australian hospitals. That means people waiting a shorter ti me in accident and emergency. It means people waiting a shorter time for elective surgery they need. It also means better care, the type of care that the dedicated doctors, nurses and allied health professionals at this hospital want to provide to their patients. Of course our health system is more than just hospitals - we know the best way of keeping hospital costs lower is to keep people healthy and out of hospital whenever we can. And that's why on the weekend we also spoke about a $100 million investment in primary healthcare, the frontline of keeping people healthy and out of hospital. We want patients to have a strong relationship with their family doctor so that doctors can monitor changes over time and make sure they're working on keeping people healthy – not just treating them when they get sick. Our health policy is about extra investment in hospitals. It’s about better primary health care. It's about unfreezing the Medicare B enefit Schedule so that patients can continue to see their doctors and be bulk billed when they do. It's about making sure that our diagnostic imaging and pathology testing can continue to be affordable. And it's about fighting the Liberals’ plan to put up the cost of medicines. It really is only a Labor government that delivers a first class health system to the people of South Australia. But that goes for jobs, it goes for education. It's only Labor that will ensure that we have good quality jobs, advanced manufacturing jobs and a strong steel industry in South Australia. It's only Labor that will invest in education from primary school right through high school, vocational education - the apprenticeship announcement we made today - and university funding that means that students can afford to go to university without $100,000 university degrees. That’s why electing a Labor government on the 2nd of July is so important and I just want to spend a few minutes talking about the political landscape here in South Australia. It is pretty unusual to see the rise of the Nick Xenophon Party in the way that we have. I’m very confident that Nick Xenophon will be re-elected to the Senate come July 2nd. The question for South Australia is who he brings with him. We've seen such a ragtag motley crew of candidates with the Nick Xenophon Party. They're not allowed to speak in public - you've got someone who is number two on the Senate ticket who's not allowed out in public because he said such controversial things about getting rid of penalty rates on the weekend. You've another candidate who's advocating a strange form of acupuncture to treat infertility. You remember what happened when Nick Xenophon put someone into the State Parliament who said that putting fluoride in the water was about mind control. Now Nick Xenophon, there's no risk that he won't be re-elected on the 2nd of Ju ly. I think everybody anticipates that Nick Xenophon will be returned as a Senator with no trouble - the question is who he brings with him. Think about the difficulties that parties like the Palmer United Party and the Katter Party have had keeping their people in line. Nick Xenophon is going to end up spending all his time managing a bunch of crackpots rather than advocating for the people of South Australia. The only way the people of South Australia can guarantee they'll see extra investment in fantastic hospitals like this one, the only way that South Australians can guarantee they'll see strong jobs growth in advanced manufacturing, in the steel industry, in food and beverages, in medical technologies, is to elect a Labor government. The only way South Australians can ensure investments in schools, in TAFEs, in universities, is to ensure that a Labor Government is elected on the 2nd of July. Nick Xenophon will be elected, come what may - the real danger is who he'll bring with him. Amanda, do want to say a few words?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Thanks Tanya and also Mark. It is great to be here at Flinders Hospital - a very critical hospital to my electorate of Kingston in the southern suburbs of Adelaide providing an excellent level of care to so many people. Of course it's really important that hospitals like this are properly funded and that is why it was devastating when the Liberal Party cut so much out of our hospitals. I'm really pleased that Labor has clearly said that we will put money back into our hospitals ensuring that we have a good level of funding for our local hospitals. Of course that's not all Labor's plan when it comes to health and Tanya has outlined so many levels of health. I know in my electorate that my constituents want the best healthcare possible and it is only Labor that will ensure that happens.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks, any questions?

JOURNALIST: I noticed in South Australia Labor is running split tickets, how to preference Liberals ahead of [inaudible] vice versa - why are they doing this and not picking one over the other?

PLIBERSEK: Well we've worked very hard to try and find an arrangement with the Xenophon team that would have reflected Labor values, that would have assured extra jobs for South Australia, a strong steel industry, a strong advanced manufacturing sector, investment in education, investment in healthcare, protection of penalty rates. And sadly we haven't been able to be reassured by the Xenophon Party that they share those values. So we've said to South Australians that they should choose where their preferences go. We've issued split tickets that show on one side if you want to vote Labor and then Liberal - how to do it. If you want to vote Labor then Xenophon - we've showed how to do that. Of course we're fighting hard for first preference votes; we believe that it's only Labor than can ensure decent jobs, decent healthcare, a strong education system here in South Australia, so we want people& #39;s number one votes.

JOURNALIST: You said that you've got some disagreements with the Xenophon team over manufacturing in Australia. They want an Australian [inaudible] policy, what sort of possible disagreements are you talking about there?

PLIBERSEK: Well we haven't been reassured for example about the Xenophon position on penalty rates. We know that the number two on the ticket is opposed to paying penalty rates on the weekends and we've heard some very concerning things from Mr Xenophon himself about penalty rates in the past. This is one of the difficulties - we have actually sought to come to an arrangement where we could agree on the things that are important for South Australia. We haven't been able to do that so we are leaving it up to South Australians to decide how they direct their preferences.

JOURNALIST: The Xenophon candidate talks about acupuncture, are you afraid that [inaudible] reflected in the policy he votes for?

PLIBERSEK: I am actually a fan of acupuncture; I've had acupuncture myself. It's the type of acupuncture he's been talking about that I think is a bit questionable. You actually need to have a scientific base if you are treating people and I’m not really confident that the person we are discussing has really got the evidence for the sort of treatment he's been advocating.

JOURNALIST: You describe the Xenophon team as a bunch of crackpots - is there not one genuine candidate out there you'd believe?

PLIBERSEK: As I say, I think Nick Xenophon has been a very effective politician. I think he has been a very effective populist politician in South Australia and I have no doubt he will be returned to the Senate and he will continue in his role as a Senator for South Australia. What really worries me is whether he is able to focus on the needs of South Australians when his whole focus is going to be to contain the explosion of any people he might bring in with him – that might ride his coat tail into the Senate or into the House of Representatives. If he was proud of these people you would not have a clause in the Party's constitution that forbids them from speaking out on issues that they're interested in and we only need to look back as far as the Xenophon candidate that was elected to the State Parliament - and some of the very unusual views that she pursued and advocated publically - to see the kind of thing I'm worried about.

JOURNALIST: Early voting opened today, how important is it to get those early votes?

PLIBERSEK: We know that more and more people are voting before polling day and that means it's important for us to be campaigning very strongly as soon as the polls open. I think we have been campaigning very strongly. We've been talking to the Australian people about a vision for Australia's future: that has strong economic growth driving the creation of good quality jobs, that invests in our health and education systems, invests in our people. That has plans to address climate change that genuinely reduces the carbon pollution and does our bit as a good global citizen, protecting our Great Barrier Reef and our beautiful environment. We've got a plan for marriage equality, we've got a plan for vocational education, higher education. We have been clearer with the Australian people than any opposition in living memory about the details of our, more than one hundred positive polices now – and we&# 39;ve also described how we would pay for those plans. Bizarrely, you've got a coalition government that refuses to say how they would pay for the centrepiece of their campaign which is a $50 billion tax cut for big business and a $16 billion tax cut for individuals earning more than $180,000 a year. There is only three ways to pay for a $66 billion tax cut: you either increase debt, you cut spending or you raise taxes. There's only three ways that the Government can spend a $66 billion - give away - a $66 billion tax cut. It's by cutting spending, increasing taxes or increasing debt and I'd like to know from Mr Turnbull which of those three things he's proposing. Scott Morrison has already said after this election we'll see more cuts, he said judge us on our record. We know what the record is because he’s cut funding to our hospitals like this one.