TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Strathpine, Monday 16 May




MONDAY, 16 MAY 2016

SUBJECTS: Unemployment in Queensland; Labor's positive plan for education and infrastructure investment in Queensland; Refugee policy; Liberal Party division; Penalty rates; Negative gearing; Labor's water safety program; Librals' unfair Budget for Queensland families

LINDA LAVARCH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR DICKSON: Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to Dickson. Tanya -

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It's such a pleasure to be here with Linda Lavarch today. Linda has been a fantastic representative of this community, parts of this community at a state level. Indeed, she is the State Member of Parliament for 12 years. She was the first female Attorney-General of Queensland and Justice Minister. [inaudible] local level where she worked hard for and delivered for her local community and at that State level where she provided a great deal of leadership as Attorney-General. People have been able to see the type of person that Linda Lavarch is: her commitment to her community, her hard work, her dedication and her success. Labor is absolutely delighted to have Linda running for us in this seat of Dickson and we are absolutely delighted to have her running against Peter Dutton. I've been a frequent visitor to this area both in federal election campaigns and state election campaigns and I know that people here in Dickson can recognise a candidate of the quality of Linda and see how vastly superior she would be to the current Member of Parliament.

I wanted to talk today about the reason that I'm in Dickson. Obviously supporting Linda but also talking about jobs and education. Of course we know that Queensland is a State that has been badly affected by unemployment and has actually seen unemployment worsen in recent times. In fact, there’s about 8,600 extra people unemployed since the Coalition came to government federally. We know that the changes in the mining sector, in particular, have had a bad affect. And of course the thousands of jobs lost under Campbell Newman's Government continued to have a dampening effect despite the excellent work of the Palaszczuk Government in Queensland. It takes a long time to rebuild the sort of damage that was done by Campbell Newman in his four years in power.

We know that the best way that we can ensure that our young people are prepared for the jobs of the future is to invest in education. And I think Peter Dutton really needs to explain to the people of Dickson why he thinks that the kids in this area, the area that he represents, don't deserve the $14 million extra that Labor would provide to fulfil our Gonski needs-based school funding commitment over the next two years alone. The difference between electing a Labor Government and a LNP Government is $14 million in this seat alone over the next two years for local schools. Now it's pretty extraordinary that you would have a local Member of Parliament who says that that kind of investment in his community - in the children, the parents of this community - is not necessary and not welcome. So Peter Dutton needs to answer why he thinks school kids here don't deserve an extra $14 million over the next two years alone and most particularly, why those child ren don't deserve the individual attention that they would get? The support that they would get if they're falling behind, the extra extension activities that they would get if they're gifted and talented. Additional supports like speech pathology, English as a second language, languages other than English, teaching coding in schools - making sure our young people are prepared for the jobs of the future.

But of course it's not just school education that's suffered under the Coalition Government. We've seen massive cuts to vocational education and, in fact, Queensland has lost about 24,000 apprentices in the last couple of years including well over 800 apprentices in this seat, in Dickson, alone. Peter Dutton should explain to the teenagers who are missing out on a trade, missing out on a job that will sustain them and their family for years to come, the 800 kids that could be doing apprenticeships today, why he thinks they don't deserve that support to get a job, and get a job with a real future?

Now education, of course, is the key to young people being able to grasp the opportunities of the future. It's the golden ticket to success. But in the shorter term, we also need to invest in infrastructure projects as a real driver of productivity and growth in Queensland. Labor, of course, has made several substantial funding commitments to new infrastructure like the Townsville Stadium, like the $200 million to build another section of the Ipswich Motorway that comes on top of the $1 billion that we already committed in government to the Ipswich Motorway and like the M1 project as well. But, of course, the largest piece of infrastructure is the NBN and we know that this community is missing out on a first rate NBN. Malcolm Turnbull promised that his NBN would be cheaper, faster, delivered sooner. In fact, it has turned out to be more expensive, slower and delivered late. The NBN is the most critical infrastructure of the future. It's the sort of infrastruc ture that allows people to grasp economic opportunities well beyond the community they live in and Malcolm Turnbull has completely dropped the ball on it. Malcolm Turnbull is very blah blah blah on innovation but so far he's cutting funding for education and you can't have innovation without education. He's dropped the ball on the NBN which is the most critical piece of infrastructure to support innovation. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Peter Dutton this morning has attacked you on the issue of boat turn backs saying that you undermine Bill Shorten's position and that Kim Carr has referred to you as two faced. What do you make of that?

PLIBERSEK: I'm very glad that Peter Dutton has been frightened into campaigning in his own seat by my presence here and I'd welcome him to come and campaign in my electorate of Sydney, because I know that every person who met Peter Dutton or heard from him would be another vote for Labor. So he's very welcome to come to Sydney to campaign in Sydney. I don't pay any real attention to what Peter Dutton says about me or my motivations.

JOURNALIST: There's evidence that more than 20 Labor candidates or MPs are against the new Labor policy on border protection. Does that indicate that there's a growing conflict within the Labor Party and should that be worrying voters?

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely not. All of these candidates have said that they support Labor Party policy. What they don't like is Liberal Party policy. They don't like indefinite detention on Manus Island and Nauru. Labor is committed to stopping the boats, to making sure that people smugglers don't start up again their wicked trade. They don't care whether people make it to Australia or not. What Labor candidates don't want to see is the indefinite detention on Manus Island. And if you want to talk about splits inside political parties, you've got a Liberal Party that can't agree whether their centre piece of their Budget - their retrospective superannuation changes - are retrospective or not. Changes that, in fact, start in 2007. We've got Liberal MPs, some of them white hot with anger on this retrospectivity and others trying to deny, in fact, that this change that starts in 2007 is retrospective. You've got Tony Abbott haunting the election campaign. We saw Tony Abbott out on the hustings again yesterday defending the record of the Abbott Government. Well, it was such a great record that Malcolm Turnbull knocked him off. But Tony Abbott's still out there defending the record, defending himself and no doubt if Malcolm Turnbull doesn't do well in this election campaign, Tony Abbott believes that he will become Prime Minister again.

JOURNALIST: Peter Dutton has accused you of being two-faced on the boats issue. You said that you didn't support it at National Conference but now you come out [inaudible] and say you do support it. How can you respond to that?

PLIBERSEK: Well, like I say, Peter Dutton when he was the Health Minister was voted by doctors as the worst Health Minister in living memory. I don't take advice from Peter Dutton.

JOURNALIST: But what about your actions? You've spoken publicly about not wanting to turn back boats and now that is Labor's policy. So what happens with that?

PLIBERSEK: I've always supported Labor's policy. We had a very fierce debate at the National Conference. I've supported Bill Shorten's position on this the whole time. Of course we want to ensure that the boats don't start up again, that people don't risk their lives coming to Australia by boat. On the balancing side, we say that Australia could and should take more humanitarian entrants, but they should come here safely. They should be supported to settle into Australia appropriately. No-one believes that the Government has done a good enough job resettling those people who are on Manus Island and Nauru. It's for the Government to answer why processing times have doubled under their watch and why there's no durable resettlement arrangement with any country for those people on Manus Island and Nauru. The Government wants to pretend there are divisions in Labor. What they're trying to do is diver t attention from the very real divisions in the Coalition. Divisions about retrospectivity of superannuation. Divisions about whether climate change is actually real - I believe their candidate for Fremantle actually is out on the inter-webs today saying that climate change isn't real and a whole range of other things that don't accord with Liberal Party policy. You've got Jason Falinski, who is one of the New South Wales candidates who says that people coming by boat should be allowed to stay. You've got - not just Tim Wilson, a Victorian candidate - but Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop, all of them saying that the Government's data retention laws were wrong. It'd be quite nice if one of you journalists asked Malcolm Turnbull whether he supports his own comments in 2012 about the Government's data retention laws and whether he intends to make any changes if he's re-elected? I think if you really want to look for division, you don't have to look any further than Tony Abbott on the campaign trail haunting Malcolm Turnbull.

JOURNALIST: On penalty rates, would Labor intervene if the Fair Work Commission decides not to keep penalty rates. Would you step in and legislate?

PLIBERSEK: We have said that we are absolutely committed to protecting and supporting penalty rates in this country. Working on a Saturday or a Sunday, a Saturday night, a Sunday night, Christmas Day, New Year's Day is not the same as working nine to five on a Wednesday. People should be compensated for working anti-social hours that keep them away from their family, from their friends, from their community.

JOURNALIST: So Mr Shorten has said that [inaudible] will follow the Fair Work Commission's ruling. Would you intervene if that doesn't support that position?

PLIBERSEK: We've already made a submission supporting penalty rates and should we be elected we would urge the independent umpire to respect penalty rates because people rely on them, people working anti-social hours deserve them. But I have seen reports today that other political parties want to ignore the decision of the independent umpire. I think this is a very dangerous road to go down because if you can ignore the independent umpire to do something in favour of penalty rates, you can ignore the independent umpire to get rid of them entirely. We know that the Government wants to get rid of penalty rates entirely and we don't want to give them an excuse to ignore what the independent umpire says. We expect that the independent umpire will protect penalty rates because Australians deserve them and they rely on them. But we already have a Government that’s got rid of the safe transport independent umpire because, if they don't lik e what an independent umpire says, they just abolish the independent umpire. I don't think giving them a precedent to do that is a very good idea.

JOURNALIST: How would Labor replace the NBN with fibre to the home?

PLIBERSEK: Well, we'll be making more detailed announcements about our NBN over coming weeks, but I can tell you this - an NBN under Labor will have more fibre than Malcolm Turnbull's slow, second-rate, expensive NBN.

JOURNALIST: John Symond from Aussie Home Loans has warned that Labor's negative gearing changes will result in a property [inaudible]. How can you guarantee that that's not going to happen?

PLIBERSEK: It's pretty predictable that someone who has made a fortune from encouraging people to buy their 6th or 10th or 20th investment property is worried about any downturn in his own business model - that's pretty predictable. There is not a credible economist in Australia who supports this notion that property prices will fall. What we say is that it is not fair that we give more help to someone buying their 6th, their 10th or 20th home than we do to first home buyers. We see again and again, first home buyers pushed out of the market. New figures in New South Wales today show that there's been another drop in the proportion of home loans going to first home buyers. It's because they are locked out of the housing market. Now, I'm a home owner. I am happy if my home grows slowly in value over time - that's great. I'm also a mother of three children and I don't want them locked out of the housing market. The direction that we're heading on at the moment is that these, sometimes absurd, increases in prices year on year mean that young Australians will never be able to afford a home of their own and that's not the sort of society that any of us wants.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Labor needs to clarify its asylum seeker policy in terms of boat turn backs after it has taken up so much oxygen?

PLIBERSEK: No, it's completely fair. I think that there's lots of mischief in Coalition ranks trying to make this an issue and I would simply say that there's a very clear position from our National Conference. Our National Conference is open to the public, everybody was able to see the debate and everybody was able to see the outcome of the debate. And, of course, it suits the interests of a Government that is deeply divided - on superannuation, on climate change, on marriage equality, on Tony Abbott's leadership - it suits them to try and divert attention to Labor. We have been a strong and united team and I think most fair-minded observers would say that the strength and unity of our team has been a great benefit in the last two and half years and indeed, in this campaign.

JOURNALIST: How are you finding the campaign?

PLIBERSEK: I love it, it's great. I love campaigning.

JOURNALIST: Do you think you can last 7 weeks?

PLIBERSEK: I can absolutely last 7 weeks and I'm looking forward to visiting Dickson again in that 7-week period because this is a seat where we have a very good chance.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] just a couple of words on the learn to swim program for children?

PLIBERSEK: Just two very quick things that I'll say to you. We made an announcement on the weekend about a water safe program. We believe that Australia being a country surrounded by ocean, where we love a lifestyle, even if you don't live near the ocean, or visiting the local swimming pool on the weekend, kids need to learn to swim. So this national program will ensure that all our kids leave primary school with at least basic swimming skills. That's good for their health and fitness but, of course, it also can be a life-saving skill to learn so I'm very proud of that program.

There is just one other thing I wanted to say about this local community. Peter Dutton in the last election campaign, the government that Peter Dutton belongs to, gave someone on a $1 million a year a double tax cut that adds up to $17,000 a year. Now, I don't think too many of Peter Dutton's constituents would be benefiting from a $17,000 a year tax cut but I can tell you that everyone under $80,000 a year loses. People on $80,000 a year or less actually will cop it in the neck because of the cuts to the Schoolkid's Bonus, because of the cuts to Family Tax Benefit, because the Government's got rid of the kid's dental scheme which in this electorate alone - 9,700 families could benefit from kids dental - well that's been stopped in this Budget. Because of all of these cuts, a working mum on $65,000 a year is actually $4,700 worse off because of the cuts to Family Tax Benefits, Schoolkid's Bonus. This governmen t wants to cut paid parental leave for 80,000 mums nationally. And, on top of all of that are massive cuts to health and hospitals, to schools, to universities, to vocational education. I think it's about time that Peter Dutton actually stood up for the families that he represents instead of going to Canberra and voting for measures that hurt them every time. Thanks everyone.