SUBJECTS:  By-elections; Representation of Labor women; Liberals' cuts to schools and hospitals; Liberals’ big business tax giveaway; Childcare. 

SUSAN LAMB, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LONGMAN:  Thank you, and welcome here to Penson Park at Kallangur. We are sitting right on the edge of Dickson and Longman, right here in this park. And it’s great to have young, progressive women, and a progressive party like Labor here with me. So, we’ve got Corinne Mulholland, who will be the candidate in Petrie, Anika Wells, the candidate for Lilley, and, of course, Ali France, who’s sharing today’s event with me, the candidate for Dickson. Great, strong, progressive women for a great, strong, progressive party like Labor. Two days ago, Tanya Plibersek and I visited a school just down the road here, Dakabin State School. Two days ago we heard from that school community. We heard from the school leaders, and we heard from the school principal and teacher aides and teachers, about the difference that funding makes to their students; students that need the very best start in life for their career, for their future, and for our country’s future. At the same time Tanya and I were visiting Dakabin State School, the Prime Minister of Australia arrived in Longman, jumped on the Bruce Highway, and he headed north. Now, he didn’t stop at Dakabin. He didn’t bother to take the time to come to Dakabin and listen to the school community. He didn’t take the time to stop at Dakabin and listen to the community at large here. And I suspect why he didn’t stop here is because he would have to explain why he is ripping nearly $20 million out of our schools here in the Moreton Bay region, and taking nearly $3 million out of our Caboolture Hospital. And, instead, giving $80 billion to banks and big businesses. Now, Tanya is back here again today. I’m really pleased to have her with me. This is a great community. We’re standing at Penson Park. Just over behind us here is Kruger Hall. This is an area I’ve called home for nearly 28 years. My children went to kindergarten in Kruger Hall. All of my children got a great education at Dakabin State School. So, today, it’s great to bring Tanya back here to listen to the people once again at Dakabin. Those people that Malcolm Turnbull travelled along the Bruce Highway and snubbed last week. Thanks Tanya.   

TANYA PLIBERSEK MP, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:  Susan – isn’t she great – give her a hand. Thank you. It’s such a pleasure to be here with my friend and colleague, Susan Lamb, and with our candidates for Petrie, for Dickson, and for Lilley as well. And we’ve also got our former member for Lilley here in the audience, Wayne Swan, who has made such a fantastic contribution to public life in Australia, and our state colleague, Mark Bailey, as well. Thank you both for coming. Look, I’m delighted to be here to support Susan’s campaign in Longman for the second time this week. Because the issues here in Longman, issues right around Australia, are just too important to get wrong. We’ve got a Federal Government that thinks it’s more important to give $80 billion worth of big business tax cuts, including $17 billion to the big banks, than to properly fund our schools and hospitals. As Susan said, we were at Dakabin State School just earlier this week. And I know the difference that hundreds of thousands of extra dollars of funding in 2018 and 2019 would make to a school like Dakabin. And I know the difference that almost $20 million would make to schools across the electorate of Longman if Labor’s original funding plan for our schools had not been destroyed by the Turnbull Government. I know Susan’s been fighting hard too for Caboolture Hospital and the funding that it’s lost under Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals. Susan’s been standing up for pensioners. We know that thousands of pensioners have had their pensions cut in whole or in part by Malcolm Turnbull, who wants people to work until they’re 70 before they can receive a pension, who has cut the Clean Energy Supplement. Honestly, what kind of government can’t find 14 bucks a fortnight for pensioners, but can manage a $16,000 a year tax cut if you’re earning a million dollars a year. What kind of priorities are those? And, in just a very short while, families will be hit with the new childcare changes that Malcolm Turnbull is introducing that will leave 280,000 families worse off. Almost a quarter of all families will be worse off. Most of those are families at lower income levels. How unfair is it to be denying those children the benefits of early childhood education, or making poorer families pay through the nose for childcare they can’t afford. That’s why it’s so very important for the people of Longman to return Susan Lamb to the Federal Parliament. She is a local. She has lived here for decades. She has raised a family here; she knows what the local issues are. And, you know, you turn for a moment to her opponent. Most politicians like to say “judge me on my record.” Well that’s the one thing that this guy can’t say. Because you look at his record, his record of supporting the cuts of the Campbell Newman government that saw thousands of teachers lose their jobs, thousands of nurses lose their jobs. I mean, Susan’s opponent actually wanted to sell off the local school’s oval. What kind of person allegedly representing a community wants to sell off the oval that the local kids are playing on? The one thing that this guy can’t say is “judge me on my record” because his record, like Campbell Newman’s record, is a record of cuts; cuts to health, cuts to education, cuts to jobs, cuts to our local communities that left communities struggling. That’s why I’m so pleased to be here today with Susan, and I’m happy to take any questions.  

JOURNALIST: This is a very strong line up of women for the coming federal election…  

PLIBERSEK:  It is, isn’t it?  

JOURNALIST: …but, were Labor to win the next federal election, would you have the expectation that your front bench line up would include 50% women, or, perhaps even more?  

PLIBERSEK: Well, the great thing about Labor today is that we’re at almost half of our Federal representatives being women already. We’re at about 48 percent. And, if you compare that with the Liberals at 22 percent, you see why Labor has policies that serve both the men and women of Australia properly, while the Liberals continue to get it wrong on issues like the GST on tampons. I’m very proud of the women that we already have in the Federal Parliament, the very strong line up we’ve got on our front bench, and I’m confident that if we are fortunate enough to be elected at the next election, we will be meeting our target of 50 percent representation by women, probably six years ahead of schedule. I’d expect many of those women to go on to have stellar careers on the front bench, because, geez we’ve got a lot of talent. Any other questions?  

JOURNALIST: You guys have got a very visible presence this week; you’ve been out and about a lot. Does that mean there’s any concern about you guys losing the seat? Or, is there a different move behind that?  

PLIBERSEK: We’re just delighted to be here campaigning with Susan on the issues that aren’t just critical in Longman, but are critical right around Australia. I mean, the Labor Party right now can fund bigger tax cuts for low and middle income earners. We can stop the cuts to hospitals and schools. We can reinvest in TAFE and universities, and our infrastructure – critical infrastructure – roads, rail, ports and so on. We can return to surplus at the same time as the government and have bigger surpluses over time. We can do all of that because we’re not blowing $80 billion on big business tax cuts that mostly flow to overseas shareholders in big multinational companies. Now, I know what makes sense for Australia. So, I love being on the campaign trail to explain to people Labor’s positive policies for Australia, and show the difference between a government whose only belief is if you give enough tax cuts to big business and multi-millionaires, some of that will trickle down to the rest of us.  

JOURNALIST: Anthony Albanese is in Tasmania today. The same day he’s got a double page spread in the newspaper – oops, lost my question. Sorry about that. Are these by-elections a test of party leadership?  

PLIBERSEK: Do you know what? We’ve had five great years of unity and discipline, and, most importantly, putting forward positive policies for Australia’s future. We have more policy than any Opposition in living memory has been prepared to put to the Australian people, including very controversial policies that people said we were mad to take on, like limiting negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions to newly built housing so that we drive investment in new building of housing, not just bidding up existing properties. The reason that we have got policies out there like restoring every dollar of the $17 billion cut from our schools, reinvesting in TAFE so kids can get a great TAFE education and older Australians can retrain for the jobs of the future. The reason we’ve said we’ll uncap university places again. The reason that we can say we will restore hospital funding and release 20 new MRI licences. The reason we can say that we’ll invest in productivity enhancing infrastructure around the country, is because we have a united and disciplined team, led by Bill Shorten, who has done an extraordinary job of driving policy development in the Labor Party, and done an extraordinary job of leading a united and disciplined team. It’s no coincidence that we have been ahead in the polls for as long as we have. We have shown through our unity and discipline that we are capable of being the government Australia deserves. When you look at the other side, what do you see? Just this week, once again, Tony Abbott putting his hand up and saying, “I was robbed, I want to be leader again.” You’ve got Barnaby Joyce, the soap opera – rolling soap opera – that continues around Barnaby Joyce. You’ve got the Greens that continue to show disunity and leadership attacks on their leader as well. The only party – oh, sorry – I forgot to mention One Nation, as we’ll soon be calling it, One Person. The only party that has shown a focus on the needs of Australian citizens, rather than its own internal politics, is the Australian Labor Party. And that’s why I’m so proud to be here today campaigning with Susan with all of these fantastic Labor supporters.  

JOURNALIST: Susan said there should be a consideration to changing the section of the constitution that forced her out. Does Labor support a change of Section 44?  

PLIBERSEK: Look, we’re happy for the Australian public to have a conversation if that’s a big priority. What I’m hearing from most people is that changing the constitution is not top of their list. They want to see decent funding for their schools. They want their kids to have affordable high-quality childcare, school education, a chance to go to TAFE, a chance to go to uni if they want to. They want to make sure that the jobs are going to be there. That instead of cutting penalty rates, as this Government has done, we have a government that is focused on making sure that people can make a living if they go to work full time; that they can actually provide a decent standard of living, a roof over their heads for their family. These are the things that are top of mind for most Australians. Having a constitutional referendum at any time is difficult, and it’s expensive. And I reckon that it’s not, frankly, the biggest priority for most people right now. Any other questions?  

JOURNALIST: Susan – just a quick one?  

LAMB: Yes.  

JOURNALIST: We just want to get from you, Susan, your thoughts on the changes to the childcare system and what you think about – if there’s a system that’s more fair, obviously – for the existing system?   

LAMB: Look, I think what’s fair is that every child, in every state, in every town, in every suburb, has access to an early childhood education. That’s what I think is fair. I don’t think it should matter whether you have a parent that is incredibly wealthy or you’ve got a parent who’s studying. I think that every child should have access to an early childhood education. We know the difference it makes when your child has access to an early childhood education. I was at a school just the other day in the electorate, and they were talking about the NAPLAN results. And they’ve made a really strong connection between the early childhood education their preppies were getting prior to entering school and the NAPLAN results they’re starting to see. So, we need to ensure that every child has access. Absolutely.  

PLIBERSEK: Great, thanks everyone.