FRIDAY, 17 MAY 2019

SUBJECTS: Bob Hawke; Labor’s investment in healthcare; the Liberals’ cuts to hospitals; Election chances

DES HARDMAN, CANDIDATE FOR FORDE: Thank you everyone for being here today at my favourite place, Logan Hospital. My name's Des Hardman, I'm the Labor candidate for Forde at the Federal Election. I'm here today with Tanya Plibersek and Catherine King, Jim Chalmers, and some other really important Labor politicians from our local area because Labor knows how important our health and hospital services are to people in our community.
I've been a radiographer here, up until recently, at Logan Hospital, managing the MRI suite for thirteen and a half years. And during that time I've worked with some wonderful people that are dedicated and delivering wonderful services to help people in our community.
I just thought I would also just quickly mention that sadly, last night we lost a great Labor leader and Prime Minister in Bob Hawke. Bob Hawke changed the lives of people in Australia, every single Australian is living the legacy of Bob Hawke as Prime Minister in those years. Particularly around healthcare, Bob delivered for us Medicare, which we all know is key to the delivery of healthcare services to people right across our great nation, and it wouldn't have been without Bob.
It just sort of reminds us how important these healthcare services are to people in our community, and that's why Labor is committed to consistently delivering when it comes to healthcare. We are the best when it comes to health and hospitals, out of any government. For example, we've recently, during this election campaign made some significant commitments to Logan Hospital. Firstly, our $33.4 million urgent care clinic, which will ease pressure on our very, very busy Logan Hospital emergency department, so that people in our community can get the health services they need and deserve, when they need them. More recently, we've also made a further commitment for more beds as a stage two kick-off for the re-development of Logan Hospital. A
$29.1 million investment in our community, at Logan Hospital here in Forde, which is, once again, a really important step forward in delivering the healthcare services that we need in this rapidly growing community.
Just lastly, I'd also like to mention that we've got a really important decision to make this Saturday. If you haven't voted early already, and you're still thinking about which government you want to lead this country, I'll just remind you that only Labor has delivered on healthcare for people in Forde, and for people right across this nation. So if you want to end the cuts to our hospitals of the Coalition Government, then you need to vote Labor this Saturday. Thank you.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thanks Des, that was fantastic. And if people want to vote for someone who knows the health needs of the electorate of Forde intimately having worked at this hospital for thirteen and a half years, then they should vote for Des, for Des Hardman here in Forde. I'm also joined of course by Catherine King, our Shadow Minister for Health, by Jim Chalmers, our Shadow Finance Minister, we've got Senator Murray Watt with us, and we're really delighted to have Queensland Minister Steven Miles here with us too.
Can I say what a pleasure it has been meeting with the staff, we're joined by our friends here from the nursing staff here at the hospital. We've met with doctors, allied health professionals and others today. As well, of course, as meeting with patients - with little three year old Piper, and her mum. Piper's an oncology patient here at the hospital, and other patients, young patients, who are waiting for their surgery. We see when we talk to the patients they cannot speak highly enough of the staff at this hospital. They cannot speak highly enough of the staff at the hospital - but it takes more than dedicated staff to run a hospital system – it takes investment in hospitals.
Last night we heard the terrible news that Bob Hawke had lost his long battle with illness, and Bob Hawke knew better than most people that it is Labor governments that change Australia for good. And one of his greatest legacies will always be our hospital system and Medicare. The principle that any Australian, even if they've got not a dollar in their wallet, should be able to get the healthcare they need when they're sick was a principle that Bob Hawke had to re-institute. We had Medibank under Gough Whitlam, the Liberals got rid of it, they privatised it, and Bob Hawke's Government had to re-introduce Medicare, the system that we have today. At its heart, that system says if you're sick and you need care, you should be able to get that care.
Bob Hawke's achievements were many but that will be one of the most important. Economic reforms, social reforms like Medicare, environmental and foreign policy reforms, are all a proud legacy. But they were not easily won – they were hard fought and hard won. They were opposed by conservative politicians of the day. And so, when we're here today looking at the fantastic work done in this hospital, we know that it still takes struggle to ensure that the dedicated workforce here continue to have the resources available to them that they want to share with the patients who come to this hospital. The staff at this hospital want the best quality care for every patient and that takes their dedication, their professionalism – but it takes resources too.
So on Saturday people have a choice to make. They have a choice to make to properly fund Medicare, to invest in hospitals, in pensioner dental, in our cancer care package. People have a choice to make when it comes to education, to invest in free childcare, three and four year old preschools, better investment in our school system, better TAFE and more apprenticeships, and more access to university. People have a choice to make, a choice to invest in renewables to bring down power prices and bring down pollution. People have a choice to make, do they want to see real investment in public transport, as well as roads and ports and airports? People have a choice to make, do they want to see the same or bigger tax cuts for 10 million working Australians, while we close down loopholes for the top end of town? People have a choice to make, do they want a united, disciplined team, or do they want three more years of the chaos we've seen under the Liberals? With three Prime Ministers, and three Treasurers, and a government that still can't say why they changed Prime Ministers just a few weeks ago.
We have a choice to make on Saturday, for a more hopeful and optimistic Australia, or whether we're just going to cop the scare campaigns and lies that we've seen in recent weeks, and have three more years of chaos and cuts under the Coalition. I'm going to ask Catherine to say a few words specifically about health policy, and we'll hear from Steven Miles as well and then we can go to questions. Thanks.

KING: Thanks very much Tanya and it's terrific to be back here at Logan Hospital with Des Hardman, a fantastic candidate and advocate here for the people of Forde, but also for healthcare across the nation. We're also obviously joined by Jim Chalmers, again, who's been a terrific advocate for this hospital, alongside Senator Murray Watt, and also the Queensland State Health Minister, Steven Miles, who's worked very closely with Labor to make sure that we know and understand the needs of Queenslanders.

Bob Hawke, when he created Medicare, said that in the event of an adverse health event, that there would be two million Australians who would go bankrupt trying to pay for their healthcare. The legacy of Medicare stopped that happening. It's been incredibly important to every one of us to be able to access the healthcare that we need. It means that people can come to Logan Hospital Emergency Department and be treated free of cost. It means that people can go and see GPs across the country, go to diagnostic imaging, have pathology tests. Medicare is Bob's great legacy and it's incumbent on all of us in the Labor Party to honour that legacy. And that's what we want to do tomorrow on Election Day. We want to invest in Medicare again. We know that for many people, out of pocket costs of health care have been growing under the Morrison Government. We want to try and start to solve that problem. It's incumbent on a Labor Government to build Medicare again. And it's only a Labor Government that will do so.

Under the Morrison Government we've seen here in Queensland over a $160 million cut from our public hospital system. If they're elected again on Saturday, over $600 million worth of cuts to public hospitals are to come again. Labor wants to reverse those cuts and  we don't want to only reverse those cuts, we also want to invest in infrastructure - here at Logan Hospital, over $60 million to improve urgent care to take pressure off the emergency department, to build more wards so that we can get more people out of ED into the care and treatment that they need at this hospital. $460 million is the commitment we've made to improving Queensland public hospital infrastructure right the way across this state.

All we've seen for the Liberal Government in their six years in office is cuts to healthcare, cuts to public hospitals, cuts to public dental, cuts to prevention, cuts to Medicare, $3 billion ripped out of patient payments for GPs. Labor wants to invest. We've had $2.8 billion for our Better Hospitals Plan, $2.4 billion to bring pensioner dental into Medicare and $2.3 billion to try and help with the out of pocket costs for cancer. This is a Labor Government legacy that we hope to be able to have after May 18. While there's a choice at this election, really when it comes to healthcare, there is no choice at all – only Labor will deliver for our healthcare system. I might hand over to Steven to say a few words.

MILES: Thanks so much Catherine. Tomorrow is Election Day and I can think of no more fitting place to be on the eve of that election than Logan Hospital. You know, Queensland's hopsitals suffered a double blow – they not only had to struggle through the cuts of Campbell Newman and his state LNP government, but they came at the very same time as Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison were cutting federal funding to our hospitals. And while as a state government we've been able to reverse Campbell Newman’s cuts, we've rebuilt those frontline services, reemployed those doctors and nurses and midwives and many more, and we're investing in building the hospitals that we need – 192 beds here at Logan for example – but we haven't been able to reverse the cuts that Scott Morrison made and those cuts are still affecting our hospitals, still undermining the work of our doctors and nurses and other health professionals and I really need as a state health minister a federal government willing to work with us to deliver the health services that Queenslanders need. That's not just the $650 million that our hospitals will be better off under a Shorten Labor Government, but also a federal government that will work with us to deliver the capital, the infrastructure projects we need, so while we're building 192 beds here, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to do that, Federal Labor will help us to build more – 32 more beds and a further space that can be fitted out down the track when needed for another 32 beds. So the choice is really clear here – we have a choice between the Shorten Labor Government that will work with us in partnership to deliver better healthcare for Queenslanders or more cuts and chaos for our hospitals under the Scott Morrison LNP.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks Steven. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: What seats do you hope to pick up in Queensland tomorrow?

PLIBERSEK: Well we're hopeful for a number of seats here in Queensland but time will tell. We are very competitive in a number of seats and I'd say for my money there's a number that we are possibly going to pick up tomorrow and we're very hopeful.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of Tony Abbott's tribute to Bob Hawke?

PLIBERSEK: Well, to be honest with you, I thought it was in rather poor taste and we're very grateful to Scott Morrison – his tribute to Bob Hawke was very nice and we are grateful to him for acknowledging the very significant role that Bob Hawke played in our nation's history. Tony Abbott trying to claim Bob Hawke as some sort of secret Liberal I think was really – well I know what Bob Hawke would have made of it, let's put it that way, and I don't think he would have minced his words.
Bob was a visionary leaders and one of the most important parts of his vision was the idea that the Australian economy should grow strongly but that ordinary people should be the beneficiaries of that growth. Today we call it inclusive prosperity – our opponents call it class war. The idea that when an economy grows strongly, when a business does well, some of that benefit flows on to the workforce, is at the centre of the economic reforms that Bob Hawke and Paul Keating made. And that is still our vision today – a strongly growing economy with that prosperity shared across the Australian community.

Bob Hawke had a great vision of social policy – we've talked about Medicare today, increases in the pension, huge increase in the number of students finishing high school, the Sex Discrimination Act, and the environment, protecting the Franklin River in Tasmania, Daintree in Kakadu, preventing mining in Antarctica. In foreign policy – his fight against apartheid, the South African leadership told us many times was critical to the end of apartheid. And in economic policy – the Accord, with business and unions working together to deliver prosperity and to share that prosperity. Opening up the Australian economy, reducing tariffs, deregulating our financial sector, making sure that Australia was open to the world by floating the dollar. All of these reforms are great Labor reforms and they were hard fought and hard won. This rewriting of history by some in the Liberal Party pretending that they were somehow secret Liberal reforms delivered by a great Labor Prime Minister, I don't think stands much scrutiny.

JOURNALIST: How confident are you in Forde?

PLIBERSEK: Well, we've got the best candidate. We've got the best candidate, we've got the best policies – I'm actually pretty confident. 

JOURNALIST: Do you think the passing of Bob Hawke will effect results tomorrow?

PLIBERSEK: I've been asked this now three times today. We are grieving a great Labor Prime Minister and a great Australian – we are not thinking in those terms. We respect Bob's legacy and we're talking about his legacy today because just as Australian's love Bob Hawke and he loved Australians, he is central to Labor's story. And there is so much affection and respect for our great former leader. We're not thinking in electoral terms about that at all.

JOURNALIST: Tomorrow's election day - how do you think you'll be spending your Sunday?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I very much hope we'll be getting right to work for the Australian people, implementing a Labor agenda that sees better investment in health, in hospitals, in schools, in preschools, in TAFE, in unis, in roads and public transport, in delivering the same or bigger tax cuts to ten million working Australians and delivering real action on climate change, lifting our investment in renewables, making sure people get paid a fair day's salary for their hard work. I hope we'll be getting right to work on delivery that agenda.

Thanks everyone.