TRANSCRIPT: DOORSTOP INTERVIEW, LAUNCESTON - MONDAY, 12 NOVEMBER 2018

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
 

ROSS HART MP
MEMBER FOR BASS
 
 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
LAUNCESTON
MONDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2018
 
SUBJECTS: School funding; Immigration.

ROSS HART, MEMBER FOR BASS: It's always a great day to have my federal colleagues here in Tasmania but it's a particularly fantastic day to have Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party here in Launceston to talk about education. The reason why we are talking about education is the fact that Bass in northern Tasmania will benefit by $12 million under a Labor Government if elected. Welcome here Tanya, to Bass in northern Tasmania.
 
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thank you very much Ross, it's great to be here with Ross and with Brian to talk about extra school funding if federal Labor is elected at the next election. I love visiting Launceston and it's been wonderful to visit Launceston College this morning and see the terrific work that the school does. We've seen the art exhibition of the senior students and we saw a lot of students with heads down working very hard towards their exams. But of course a school like this would benefit enormously if Labor is elected at the next federal election. The school behind me, Launceston College, would be $1.3 million better off in the first three years of a Labor government, and indeed the seat of Bass would be about $12 million better off over those first three years of a federal Labor government. Lyons would be about $8.5 million better off over the first three years of a Labor government. The state of Tasmania overall would be more than $50 million better off under a federal Labor Government in the first three years of our new funding arrangements. Parents are able to check how much better off their school would be by looking up our Fair Go for Schools website, where they can check any public school in Australia to see the extra funding that Labor would provide. Now Labor has stood side by side with all three school sectors, Catholic, independent and public schools, saying that the Morrison Government and before that the Turnbull Government, should not have cut funding from our schools. The priority of Scott Morrison all the way through has been finding tax cuts for the big end of town, for multimillionaires, and saying that whole time that we couldn't properly afford to fund our schools. Well we just don't buy that and that's why we've said from day one that these funding cuts need to be reversed. Now Scott Morrison has agreed to reverse the funding cuts to Catholic and independents schools but public schools, that teach two and a half million Australian children, two thirds of Australian children, they won't get a single dollar extra from the Morrison Government. The funding cuts to public schools stay under Scott Morrison.
 
JOURNALIST: So you are visiting LC today, and how specifically would this money benefit them? Is there some areas where they've been underfunded more specifically?
 
PLIBERSEK: Well absolutely and you can talk to the teachers here, as I have, about the extra funding and the difference it would make. This extra funding will allow more teachers to be employed, more teaching assistants, more specialists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, counsellors, psychologists. It would allow teachers who are already here teaching in the system to continue to upgrade their skills to continue to stay up to date in their profession. It will allow smaller school groups in the classroom. It means kids who are falling behind, they see that identified and they see the extra assistance they need to catch up. It means kids who are struggling get the one on one attention they need. It means kids who are gifted and talented get the extension opportunities to really explore their gifts. It means more subject choice, it means more variety. It means a better education for students, not just at Launceston College but at schools right across Australia. 
 
JOURNALIST: The teachers have described what they call a mental health crisis facing a lot of the students, particularly here at Launceston College. Would you like to see this money go specifically towards more psychologists and counsellors at the school?
 
PLIBERSEK: It's our very strong view that the best people to make decisions about how this extra money is invested are the school community - the principal, the teaching staff, the parents and the school community. And if the school community identifies extra psychologists or extra supports - youth workers, social workers - as the best way to spend this extra money, then we would absolutely support that. Looking at the students artworks today, you can see that a lot of students are worried about the pressure that they are experiencing and the pressure that their peers are experiencing. There were a lot of the final art works that deal with these issues of mental health and peer group pressure.
 
JOURNALIST: I've got a question if you don't mind answering it? Do you support Scott Morrison's plan to give more power to states and territories to prove how many immigrants they can take under changes to the immigration numbers?
 
PLIBERSEK: Scott Morrison is absolutely the master of saying `no’ when Labor suggests something, and then coming out a few weeks later and suggesting something very similar himself. I mean, some time ago we suggested to the Government that it was time to take the politics out of decision-making around immigration numbers and to have a bi-partisan approach with an inquiry that would look at the best approach, the best numbers, for immigration intake into Australia. We've said all along that we are very happy to work with the Government on this, and it's only now that Scott Morrison is finally starting to listen to the concerns that many people have been expressing for some time. We're in beautiful Launceston today but I live in Sydney and I can tell you the pressure that people are feeling with infrastructure not keeping up with immigration numbers is really reaching very acute proportions now. People feel like they are sitting in traffic at 2 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, the same as they would be at peak hour on a Wednesday morning. They're feeling the stress of overloaded public transport, hospitals and schools not keeping up with the number of people who are using them. So we do support an approach that is bi-partisan, that is considered and that takes the politics out of decision-making around these issues.
 
Thank you.
 
ENDS