THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
THE HON AMANDA RISHWORTH MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CANBERRA
YVETTE BERRY MLA
ACT DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Labor's Plan for Schools funding; Labor's Plans for Early Childhood Education; White Supremacist slogan motion voted on in the Senate; TPP; Government plan to move Australian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; Protecting students and teachers from discrimination in schools.
ALICIA PAYNE, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CANBERRA: Hi I'm Alicia Payne, Labor's candidate for the new seat of Canberra. It's wonderful this morning to welcome Labor's Federal Education team, Tanya Plibersek and Amanda Rishworth and our ACT Minister Yvette Berry to the electorate to talk about Labor's exciting plans to invest in education. We’re here at Forrest Primary School this morning and under a Labor government Forrest Primary and schools like it would receive $500,000 more if Labor is elected. So I'd like to hand over to Tanya to talk more about our plans.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks so much Alicia for that warm welcome. It's terrific as you said to be here with Amanda and Yvette at Forrest Primary School. This is a beautiful school and we've had a great morning meeting with the kids and the parents and the staff of Forrest Primary and when we were talking to the children they were talking about how excited they were to be back at school after the school holidays. When we were talking to the parents what we heard is that they are hard at it, fundraising for the school. Schools like this have dedicated parents all over Australia who this weekend will be staffing the sausage sizzle at Bunnings or cooking cakes for the fete or planning the next school trivia night or chocolate drive or fun run or walk to raise money for the school, and we admire those parents so much for the dedication they show to their children's education. Wouldn't it be fantastic if they had a Commonwealth Government that was prepared to back in the dedication they show to their kids' schooling? There are two and a half million children around Australia who attend public schools like this one and so far Scott Morrison has admitted that he's cut funding from Catholic schools and he's restored it and he's admitted that he cut funding from independent schools and he's restored that but he continues to refuse to admit that he's cut funding from schools like this, $14 billion over the decade. Labor is committed to restoring the funding cut by the Commonwealth Government to our fine public schools that teach two and a half million Australian children. That means that the ACT in the first three years of a Federal Labor Government, would see its schools better off to the tune of $57 million, that's in the first three years alone. A school like Forrest Primary would see increased funding of about $500,000 over the first three years of a Federal Labor Government. Of course that comes on top of our commitment to the early years and I'm going to hand over to Amanda now to talk about that.
AMANDA RISHWORTH MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Thanks Tanya and of course one of the topics we were just discussing with parents here was the importance of investing before school, in the two years before school, and that's why I'm so excited to be here with Yvette because the ACT has decided they also want to invest in the years before school. They are not only funding a four year old pre-school but they are planning to expand to three year old pre-school and the Commonwealth wants to be a partner in that, Labor wants to be a partner in that. Unfortunately we don't have that type of enthusiasm from the current Government, we have a Government that will not fund ongoing four year old pre-school and won't even consider three year old pre-school. Well there's a different option when it comes to Labor. We want to properly fund our four year old pre-school by locking in the funding permanently. That will benefit 10,000 children here in the ACT and mean $16 million extra going into pre-school. Of course we also have a plan to extend our funding for three year olds. So a Labor Commonwealth government wants to partner with the ACT to make sure that children get the best start to life and are best prepared for school. Of course, speaking with Yvette, what we know that will mean for the ACT is a Federal Labor investment in pre-school will mean that they will be able to roll out their three year old program faster and be able to deliver it in multiple settings. This is what parents want and this is what families want, and it is disappointing that the Minister and the Prime Minister won't acknowledge these important early years, but speaking with parents here, and speaking with parents right around the country, I know that they do want an investment in the early years. They see education and particularly early education in a down payment for their child’s future and what could more can be more important than that?
YVETTE BERRY, ACT DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER: Thank you, yes, well this is a very exciting announcement around early childhood education particularly but also for public education in the ACT. I've been listening very carefully to parents, teachers, school leaders, educators in early childhood education, about how important those early years are. And so the ACT has an aspiration to roll out pre-school education for four year olds and expanding it to three year olds as well. The funding that's being announced by the Labor Opposition will provide an opportunity for the ACT to roll that out even quicker than we had previously arranged. But now, of course, we also are very excited to hear about extra funding for ACT public schools, an extra $56 million over the first three years will make a huge impact on the ability of our teachers and school leaders to provide an excellent education and a good to start to life in our public schools. Thank you.
JOURNALIST: For the Deputy Leader: Scott Morrison has expressed his disappointment in the 'It's OK to be white' vote that was held yesterday. What course of action do you feel would be appropriate for the Prime Minister from this point on, in regards to that vote?
PLIBERSEK: Well I'm very surprised that he allowed senior members of his Government to vote in favour of a white supremacist slogan in the Senate. I think it really is a strong challenge to Scott Morrison's authority. If he's disappointed it's up to him to show his disappointment and show that there are real consequences to members of his Government for supporting white supremacist propaganda.
JOURNALIST: What sort of consequences?
PLIBERSEK: Well that's not for me to say. Surely as Prime Minster he has some levers available to him to express his displeasure, if it is indeed sincere.
JOURNALIST: Do you hold any concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership legislation that's before the Senate?
PLIBERSEK: Well Labor has been very clear that we have concerns about this deal. We think that the labour market testing provisions are not strong enough and we don't support Investor State Dispute Settlement Clauses in trade deals. We don't think it's fair that companies should be able to sue the Australian Government for taking action on behalf of Australia, and as a Health Minister who had to fight one of these court cases to protect our tobacco plain packaging legislation, I know how difficult and costly it can be. On the other hand, we are, as a Labor Opposition, absolutely committed to making sure that there are jobs from exports because Australia is an export nation, it's a trading nation, and we need to be working with like-minded countries to ensure that our goods are welcome in their markets. We've balanced those two things, we've said that, in our view, agreements are better without Investor State Dispute Settlement Clauses and without these weakened labour market provisions and we would seek to renegotiate these elements of the trade agreement and certainly we would prohibit these sorts of elements in future trade agreements. But we do want to see these jobs that would come from the TPP. We are not prepared to block it for that reason.
JOURNALIST: What was your reaction when you heard that the Prime Minister was considering moving the Israeli embassy?
PLIBERSEK: Well I woke up this morning to the news that the Prime Minister was considering moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and thought "My goodness what has Australian politics come to?" That bipartisan internationally supported position that Australia has held for decades can be thrown out the window because the Prime Minister is getting desperate in the seat of Wentworth. I was shocked frankly. I mean this is a Prime Minister, first of all the previous Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, the previous Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop made clear that Australia would not be pursuing this course of action and just months ago Scott Morrison believed the same thing, or at least he said he did. Now, just days out from a by-election that he is terrified of losing he is decided to float this issue that flies in the face not only of bipartisan policy in Australia, but flies in the face of the well accepted international position. I think it reeks of desperation and what’s more, I would say, if Scott Morrison thinks that following Donald Trump on foreign policy and climate change policy will win him votes in Wentworth, he is sadly mistaken.
JOURNALIST: When it comes to protecting teachers from discrimination in religious schools, how is Labor going getting the numbers to potentially move the change?
PLIBERSEK: Well we’ve been talking with schools and school communities, and I am so pleased that the overwhelming message that has come back from schools and school communities is they don’t discriminate against same sex attracted students, they don't want to, they don’t wish to have the right to do that and many of the schools and school systems are saying the same applies for their teachers. They don’t want to discriminate. If they've got a great teacher who reflects the values of the school, who is working hard for the benefit of their students, they don’t want to discriminate against that teacher. We are very committed to removing discrimination, the right to discriminate against students and school staff and will work carefully with school communities to ensure that we can do that.
JOURNALIST: Do you think you'd get enough support from the cross bench though to get amendments or changes to legislation through Parliament?
PLIBERSEK: Well that’s yet to be determined. There is a lot of cross bench support for measures like this. I am very pleased that the Government has said that they're prepared to move on the issue of students. I think we now need to work on the issue of school staff as well.