TRANSCRIPT: DOORSTOP INTERVIEW - NOWRA - THURSDAY 16 MAY 2019

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TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
 
FIONA PHILLIPS
LABOR CANIDATE FOR GILMORE
 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
NOWRA
THURSDAY, 16 MAY 2019

SUBJECTS: Labor’s funding commitment for Shoalhaven Hospital; Scott Morrison’s cuts and chaos; Close election outcome anticipated; Labor’s negative gearing policies; Lies and scare campaigns by the Coalition; Affordable rental properties in Gilmore; The Liberals’ revolving door of Prime Minsters; Labor committed to working with state governments.

FIONA PHILLIPS, CANDIDATE FOR GILMORE: Welcome everyone to Shoalhaven Hospital. I've got with me today Tanya Plibersek, the Shadow Minister for Education and for Women, and Senator Jenny McAllister. Look, we're at Shoalhaven Hospital. This is a place that is very dear to me. I'm a part of this community, many of my children were actually born here, and as you know, Labor has committed $35 million towards Shoalhaven Hospital, specifically for a mental health unit and also an ambulatory care centre which provides out-patient services. But, at the moment, I've got to say, as a local, I am very disappointed that the Liberal candidate and the Morrison Government have not committed the $35 million to Shoalhaven Hospital. As a local, people tell me every day how important this hospital is. We see here - bed-lock here - quite often, we see people where their elective surgery has been cancelled. You know, why haven't they committed the $35 million to Shoalhaven Hospital? I'm saying to them: show us the money. Commit to Shoalhaven Hospital like we have. I'll just hand over to Tanya.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Fiona and I think we know the reason that Warren Mundine hasn't committed the $35 million to Shoalhaven Hospital - it's because he doesn't give a stuff about Shoalhaven Hospital because his local hospital is Royal North Shore in Sydney. Labor has a plan to invest in the electorate of Gilmore, invest in the Shoalhaven region of the South Coast. We've got a plan to invest $35 million to upgrade these hospital facilities, including much needed mental health facilities, to invest in other health facilities - the Eurobodalla Hospital - and better Medicare, pensioner dental and cancer plan. We've got a plan to invest in schools and TAFE and university places -  $2 million for the Nowra TAFE. We've got a plan to invest more in much needed local road upgrades including the upgrade to the Princes Highway much sooner than the Liberals are proposing to do. We are able to do this because we prioritise investing in local communities over protecting tax-breaks for the top end of town. We're able to invest in schools and hospitals and TAFE and pre-school and more affordable childcare and pensioner dental and better cancer care and better roads. We're able to do all of this because we prioritise investing in our communities over bigger tax cuts for the top end of town. As Scott Morrison still refuses to admit that he wants to spend $77 billion or more to give the highest income earners a tax break. He wants to spend $80 billion on giving big business bigger tax breaks. We say, instead, our local hospitals, our local schools and TAFE and apprenticeships, our pensioner dental and cancer care should be the priority for our nation. Now today, you've got Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten both talking about this election in its final hours and days. Bill Shorten is saying “We need change in Australia”. If you want to see change - real action on climate change with lower pollution and lower power prices by investing in renewables, if you want to see our hospitals and our schools rebuilt and improved, then you have to vote Labor. And if you want to see an end to the chaos and division, then vote Labor. Scott Morrison's saying if you want another three years the same as the last six years, then vote Liberal. He's saying if you want another three years with no action on climate change, with 14 different energy policies, then vote Liberal. If you want more cuts to your local hospital, more cuts to your children's school, to TAFE and apprenticeships, then vote Liberal. If you want more division and chaos in government, vote Liberal. Here on the South Coast, you've got Liberals fighting Liberals, you've got Nationals fighting Nationals, you've got Liberals fighting Nationals. What you know for certain is a vote for Scott Morrison is a vote for more of this chaos. You've got Clive Palmer calling the shots from the back of a boat in some undisclosed location. You've got, you know, all manner of minor parties who want to do a deal with the Liberals and the Nationals, and what does that deliver to the people of Australia? More cuts and more chaos. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: How many seats are you thinking you'll pick up in the election this Saturday?

PLIBERSEK: Well, it's a very close election. It is really a very close election. We've seen an extraordinary number of lies about Labor policies and scare campaigns. The Liberals, because they've got nothing, have gone negative. We've just seen with - you see with Warren Mundine's bus running around the Shoalhaven - the 'bus of lies' as it's been called. In contrast, we have offered a bold vision for real change in this nation. Real action on climate change, real investment in schools and hospitals, cancer care and dental care and more affordable childcare. But it's going to be a close election and that's why every vote counts. That's why people should get out now, get ready to vote for Fiona Phillips on Saturday, to make sure that Gilmore comes to Labor so that we can invest in upgrading the Princes Highway, in upgrading Shoalhaven Hospital, in building Eurobodalla Hospital, rebuilding TAFE in Nowra, we can invest in our schools and our roads. If people want real change they should vote for Fiona Phillips in Gilmore and they should vote Labor in the Senate.

JOURNALIST: What impact do you think pre-poll will have, especially in a marginal seat like this?

PLIBERSEK: Look, it's very difficult to tell. We have seen an extraordinary number of people - millions across the country - vote early. I'm not sure that it's going to really change the outcome of the election particularly. I think it's a bigger reflection of people not wanting to queue up on Saturday. I think that's the real underlying message of pre-poll. I don't think it's much more complicated than that.

JOURNALIST: Fiona, just on something that Ms Plibersek was just asked then, she mentioned the highways. What do you take from today's announcement that the Federal Government is allocating $400 million of that $500 million to a Milton-Ulladulla bypass

PHILLIPS: Well as a local I know we need to fix the Princes Highway and we need to fix it now, not in the never-never. And that's what the Morrison Government is doing. Look, we've said before we are allocating that $500 million and we are actually bringing forward three times as much funding for the Princes Highway than the Coalition. And we've identified the projects. There's projects that are ready to go, like the Mad Mile. You know, we've got the Jervis Bay Road intersection, the Milton bypass. So we've already said that. We've got a better funding commitment than the Coalition.

JOURNALIST: The Real Estate Institute of Australia has come out and said that they've scrutinised changes to negative gearing and that the proposed changes would increase rents. Is that a burden you think that the people of Gilmore should have to carry?

PHILLIPS: Well what I know as a mum with four teenagers and like any parent or anyone, we want our children to be able to afford to buy a house. You know, I've grown up in this area. I've seen villages that have got empty shops, and we need to be encouraging our families back into our villages so that people can spend more in our local shops as well. It's actually a really positive thing. You know, we're actually still having negative gearing but for newly constructed properties so that means we're changing the emphasis from speculation to construction and that means more jobs. Only Labor's got a plan to deliver more jobs for Gilmore.

PLIBERSEK: Can I add a little bit? I am itching to jump in on this because what we have here is a continuation of a campaign of misinformation about Labor's policy. If you are already negatively gearing, you get to keep that negatively geared property. No questions. Everybody who is currently doing it, they are grandfathered, no change for them. And as Fiona said, if you want to negatively gear in the future, you have to buy newly-constructed property. That means more jobs for local tradies. It means that we are using that taxpayer investment in housing to generate newly-constructed housing. More jobs, more investment, dealing with our shortage of housing across Australia. As for this absolute lie that rents will go up, as well as the NSW Treasury and the Federal Treasury saying this will have little or no impact on housing prices or housing market, we also have a plan - Labor has a plan - to construct 250,000 additional affordable rental properties. So it is not true. This is part of a Liberal scare campaign and we do not accept it for a minute. People should not believe this rot, they should not believe this scare campaign. Can I just say something else as well? Fiona makes a very good point here. Many of us are home owners ourselves. All of us have children that we hope will one day be able to afford a property of their own. As a nation, we are giving more help to people buying their tenth or thirtieth investment property than we are to young Australians trying to get into the housing market. First home buyers are going to auctions and they are competing with people buying their tenth property or their thirtieth property who get a tax payer subsidy to do that - to outbid that young first home buyer. And Scott Morrison, when he was Treasurer, said that there were excesses in negative gearing. He investigated closing this very generous subsidy to investors to outbid first home buyers. Now that he is Prime Minister, he is not prepared to admit that this is part of the problem. He is pretending that there is no issue for first home buyers in Australia. Honestly, ask anybody under the age of 40 how easy it is to get into the housing market and they will tell you about their struggles. Scott Morrison has got his fingers in his ears, he is not listening. He is not listening to those young first home buyers talk about how they have struggled to save a deposit to get into the housing market and they are running this outrageous scare campaign, frightening renters when we all know that Labor's policies will have no impact on rents. 

JOURNALIST: Those 200,000 affordable rental properties, how many will actually be here in Gilmore, where more than 40 per cent of people are struggling to pay their rents?

PLIBERSEK: It's 250,000 properties over 10 years and we've seen in the past, substantial investment in Gilmore through our previous national rental affordability scheme and public housing upgrades and extra construction in the 2008-2009 period. The number that are built over the next 10 years is something that we'll work with community housing providers to determine. 

JOURNALIST: Of course NAPLAN - there is a bit of a bungle there. How bad is this for New South Wales students? How likely are they going to have to re-sit their NAPLAN tests?

PLIBERSEK: Look, it's another disaster from this government of chaos. There is actually not an IT project that this government can't stuff up. They have stuffed up the NBN. They stuffed up the Census. They stuffed up the change to the new childcare system. They stuffed up 'robodebt' so that people were getting notices for thousands of dollars of debts that they didn't owe the Commonwealth Government and now they have stuffed up NAPLAN online, meaning that thousands of kids around Australia are stressed, teachers are stressed. We've seen tests dropping out entirely, kids finishing their tests and then losing the finished test. We've seen timeouts, we've seen blank screens. Honestly, there is no IT project that this government can't stuff up because they are all about chaos and they are all about the past. I think it is very important that we get this right for kids. Over time, of course, it is better to have an online system but we shouldn't be adding to stress for little kids by giving them an inadequate NAPLAN online. 

JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek, if you read the headlines, I suppose, everybody has said - other than Alan Jones pretty much - that Fiona has got this seat. Do you think she's done enough to get over the line on primaries?

PLIBERSEK: Well I'll tell you what, if being the best candidate is what wins you elections then 100 per cent, Fiona's got it in the bag. But we know that this a tough seat and Fiona's had a tough fight. This election and last election she has been focused on what matters here, to the people in the electorate of Gilmore and the South Coast - better investment in our hospitals, in our roads, in our schools and TAFE, into dental, cancer care, and more affordable or even free childcare for thousands of families in Gilmore. We've definitely got the better candidate, we've definitely got the better policies. We are a united and disciplined team, in contrast to the chaos that you see from the Liberals and the Nationals, at each other's throats on the South Coast and around Australia. So if any of that counts for anything then yeah, she's got it in the bag.  

JOURNALIST: In 2013 Miss Sudmalis said to Neil Reilly, who was the candidate, do you want a government that has a revolving door of Prime Ministers? Six years later they've had a revolving door of Prime Ministers, do you expect the same now for Labor? Do you promise that there won't be a revolving door of Prime Ministers?

PLIBERSEK: Now I can promise that, I can promise that 100 percent, for two reasons. We've learnt our lesson. It amazes me that the Liberals, having seen the negative impact on Australia that our leadership instability had, would follow the same path and have three Prime Ministers and three Treasurers in six years. As late as yesterday, the current Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, still couldn't answer why Malcolm Turnbull is no longer Prime Minister of Australia. They have been a government of chaos. Today we've got Barnaby Joyce on the radio urging people to vote against the Coalition Senate ticket. We've got Tony Abbott and Jim Molan, senior Liberals, fighting each other over volunteers and who's where on the Senate ticket. We've got the Nationals fighting the Liberals over the Senate ticket. They have learnt nothing. We have learnt our lesson. We have learnt our lesson, and they have learnt nothing. We have had a stable and united team for six years under Bill Shorten's leadership. We have had the one Leader. We have had the one Shadow Treasurer. We've had the one Deputy Leader. We have had a stable and united team, focused on our hospitals, on our schools, on TAFE, on university, on pensioners, on climate change - on the things that make a difference to people's lives, not focused on ourselves.

JOURNALIST: We've seen with some of these big major projects, that there's a co-contribution from State Government. The Premier was in town yesterday talking up the need for a Liberal Party member to remain in Gilmore to work constructively with the State Government. How, you know, how can you, I guess, guarantee that Labor would work constructively with the Liberal Government in New South Wales?

PLIBERSEK: I was the Health Minister when Jillian Skinner was the Liberal Health Minister and we worked very constructively together. What we won't do is let the state governments off the hook. When we talk about co-investment, that actually means, as a Commonwealth Government, if we are lucky enough to be elected, yes we contribute our share. We increase school funding, we increase healthcare funding, we increase infrastructure funding. But state governments have to do their share too. They need to make the contribution to the things that improve communities, and change lives - and we'll hold them to account. 

Thanks everyone.

ENDS