SUBJECTS: Liberal's unfair changes to early childhood education; ABC denied access to Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru; Sexism in workplaces; WA GST revenue.

PATRICK GORMAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PERTH: I'm Patrick Gorman, the Labor candidate for Perth, and it's fantastic to be here at Leederville Early Childhood Centre with Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party. We've had a fantastic tour, talking to the educators, the administration staff, some of the children, and I want to say a big thank you to the educators for the work they do. Thank you to Sally, the centre director, for having us here today. We're here because families in Perth are losing out under the changes that have happened in the early childhood sector. One in three families in Perth are worse off under the changes that came into effect this week. That's a huge concern to me as Labor's candidate for Perth. It's a concern for me as a parent. I have an eight-month-old son, he's in early childhood education. Early childhood education makes such a difference, a positive difference for young people all across Australia and to have more than 1000 families in Perth alone who are missing out on that vital early childhood education and care is just not good enough. So to talk more about what Labor's going to do to make sure all children get the care and education they deserve, I'm pleased to introduce Tanya Plibersek, Labor's Deputy Leader.
TANYA PLIBERSEK MP, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you. It is fantastic to be here with Patrick Gorman, Labor's candidate for Perth, in this beautiful childcare centre in Leederville. I want to thank Sally and all of the early childhood educators that we've met today. They do such important work. They really are some of the most undervalued members of our community, frankly underpaid, I know parents value early childhood educators but their pay simply hasn't kept up. It is important that we begin to address this disparity to make sure that we can retain these dedicated staff in this industry. Now the Government's made changes recently to the way that families receive support for early childhood education and care. And it means that 279,000 or so families will actually be worse-off from this week onwards because of the Government's changes. We've got another couple of hundred thousand families who haven't transitioned to the new system who may be cut-off altogether because they haven't managed to transition. I've been talking to the office staff here and the early childhood educators who are telling me that families are baffled by the requirements of making the transition on the new website. It's very difficult to get someone on the line at Centrelink to help you through these changes. And frankly one of the most disturbing elements of the new changes is that it's not just high-income families who miss out because they're now over the threshold. You see about 88,000 very low-income families who are missing out because of the changes. Early childhood education and care is vital for parents who are studying, who are trying to get back into the workforce, who are working, but it's also really important for children. It's a great opportunity for children to make new friends, experience new learning opportunities. It gives them a great start in life, and this Government has forgotten - they've forgotten the stresses on families. They're putting them through an absolute circus to get enrolled in the new system, many families are missing out altogether, there have been numerous glitches in the software - many people have dropped out of the system or big bills have been run up for families that they aren’t actually really liable for. It has been a debacle and Labor says let us know the experiences that you have with this new system by contacting us through the Labor website so that we can share these stories.
JOURNALIST: What part of Labor's policy will address the one third of families in WA who will be missing out or worse off. What specifically would the difference be to address that?
PLIBERSEK: We've been very critical of the way that low income families in particular have been kicked off the childcare subsidies because of the new tests that have been applied. We think that it is very important for children - all children benefit from a few days a week of childcare, so that's certainly an area that this Government needs to re-examine.
JOURNALIST: So an elected Labor Government, would you reverse [inaudible] restricted rules to allow those families [inaudible] to have the benefit of that part of the policy?
PLIBERSEK: Labor's closely examining what's happening with new changed system and we'll make our final childcare policies clear well before the next election.
JOURNALIST: Just on other issues if that's OK? In regards to Nauru, should the ABC be allowed to access to Nauru for the Pacific Islands Forum?
PLIBERSEK: Of course in the end the Government of Nauru can make any decision it chooses about who's allowed into its country but I think it's very important that the Prime Minister raise with the Government of Nauru that journalism is a vital foundation for a strong democracy in any country and as the Australian Prime Minister we would certainly expect him to stand up for the Australian broadcaster and ask the Government of Nauru to reconsider this decision.
JOURNALIST: Do you think [inaudible] appropriate action [inaudible]?
PLIBERSEK: The Government of Nauru is a sovereign government but it would be appropriate for the Government of Australia, for the Prime Minister of Australia to make the case that Australia's national broadcaster and all media organisations should have proper access to the Pacific Islands Forum.
JOURNALIST: And now just on the issue, I guess, of the day around Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. Do you condemn Senator David Leyonhjelm's comments [inaudible]?
PLIBERSEK: I condemn Senator David Lleyonhjelm's comments absolutely. I think they have no place in the Parliament. They have no place in any workplace and he should apologise unreservedly. It is completely, completely unacceptable behaviour.
JOURNALIST: Is it encouraging to know that both leaders have stepped forward and said that is the appropriate course of action?
PLIBERSEK: I'd expect nothing less. I wouldn't expect anyone, in any workplace, anywhere to be subject to that sort of commentary.
JOURNALIST: And do you think such comments actually end up discouraging women from taking on important roles in Parliament?
PLIBERSEK: Look I’m not sure about that, but I think comments like that make people really think twice about David Leyonhjelm and I've got to say, it really is quite a gobsmacking episode. I mean, to double down and continue to repeat the comments is really quite extraordinary.
JOURNALIST: We've had similar sorts debate, I don’t know whether you saw last week, with a- it was called an ‘alleged feigned head-butt’ and while that was sort of- we’ve moved on from that. It still raised a lot of concerns about the treatment I suppose of women in Parliament. Some of them said it needs to be raised, the standard. Do you agree with that and should that be applied to the Federal Parliament as well?
PLIBERSEK: I've got to say, sexist commentary, these sorts of comments, I mean I don't know much about the issue you're describing, but it's not appropriate in any workplace. I don't think you need to point to the Parliament in particular. A lot of women working in a lot of different industries experience sexism every day, from their colleagues at work, from customers - it's not on, it's absolutely not appropriate and I think it is good that there's been such a strong pushback on Senator Leyonhjelm's comments but I hope that that isn't just because we're talking about the Parliament of Australia. I hope it's because people understand that such comments are not appropriate in any workplace, anywhere, to any woman.
JOURNALIST: How are you sort of confident are you I guess in the lead-up and the campaign [inaudible] by-election. How are you feeling?
GORMAN: I'm feeling really good. I've been out talking to my community, I've been doorknocking every day, I've been making phone calls, been visiting important parts of the Perth community like the Leederville Early Childhood Centre, talking to the staff and the parents about what's important to them. We've got Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Leader here today, which shows we're taking nothing for granted. I think there's going to be a Melbourne Cup field of candidates here in Perth. I think we've already got about 12 candidates declared, that will probably double by the time nominations close at midday on Thursday and declared on Friday. Best thing I can do is go out and talk to local electors, talk about what's important to them, talk about what Labor offers. What Labor offers is very clear. We will deliver a fair go for Western Australia. A fair go when it comes to funding TAFE. A fair go when it comes to reversing cuts to Royal Perth Hospital and a fair go when it comes to giving WA a fair share of the GST as Tanya mentioned earlier. We want to make sure that also young people and families in this part of the world have the opportunities to work, access to early childhood services and also get a bit more money into our education system.
JOURNALIST: We are expecting the Productivity Commission's final findings from the Treasurer and the Prime Minister. I guess yesterday Liberal MPs were asked if WA can expect to be satisfied with how it's lobbied so far. That I guess wasn't clear at this point. How important is that going to be I suppose especially for the by-election?
GORMAN: Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have hidden this Productivity Commission report for months. They should have released it months ago. We will see what they have to say on Thursday. At the moment, the only Party with a clear plan for a fair share for WA is the Labor Party, with a $2 billion fund. A fair go for WA. $2 billion that will be spent in consultation with the State Government to make sure that we address that very unfair share of the GST and get Western Australia back up to a 70 cent equivalent floor. I've got no idea what the Liberal Party's plan is. All I know is that they continue to hide it, week after week, month after month. We'll see what they have to say.
JOURNALIST: Obviously there's going to be more candidates in WA in these by-elections but the WA Party that's campaigning on an agenda for a better share of GST, do you think the Party, that Party will sort of rise in prominence because it is an issue impacting West Australians and their vote?
GORMAN: There's a whole range of issues that are important to people in Perth. I mentioned earlier health, education, a fair share of the GST, fair share of infrastructure spending. I think there’s going to be- there's already 12 declared candidates. There will be many, many more declared candidates. That's one of them and I think, yeah, the Liberal Party didn't have the guts to run in this election but there are two former members of the Liberal Party running, so I am up against some people are very tight with the policy agenda of Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party so it will be a very interesting contest. Thank you.
PLIBERSEK: Thanks everyone.