TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THE HON MATT THISTLETHWAITE MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR AN AUSTRALIAN HEAD OF STATE
MEMBER FOR KINGSFORD SMITH
SATURDAY, 27 APRIL 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor’s $12 million investment in youth drug and alcohol treatment; Mr Morrison’s preference deal with Clive Palmer; Wages theft.
MATT THISTLETHWAITE, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY: Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to Randwick. It's great to have our Deputy Leader, Tanya Plibersek, here for a very important announcement supporting the great work of the Ted Noffs Foundation. Before I do that, I'd like to sincerely thank Matt Noffs and the wonderful team at the Ted Noffs Foundation here at Randwick for the excellent work that they do in providing support for young people dealing with addiction, complex mental health issues, feeling marginalised in society, and helping them get back into education, and feel loved and part of the community once again.
We've just had the great privilege of touring some of the fantastic facilities and seeing first-hand the great work that the Ted Noffs Foundation are doing here. And for me in particular, visiting and talking to some of the young people that are in the residential program just down the road here, perfectly highlights the value of this service. And it was perfectly summed up by one of the young girls we spoke to when she said "I've been in numerous residential drug programs before, but this program has provided me with hope." And I think that perfectly sums up why we're here today, and I'll now hand over to Tanya to make this very important announcement.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you very much for that Matt. It's such a pleasure to be here with Matt Thistlethwaite, the Member for Kingsford-Smith and my very good friend. He's a terrific local member who has consistently argued for better health services for his local community, and I was delighted to see he was successful recently in putting in a $10 million investment for the Botany swimming pool, to make sure that Botany pool's going to be available all year around. And that, of course, comes on top of the terrific work that he's doing as part of our executive team, particularly leading Labor's argument for Australia to become a Republic. It's an issue that Matt has been committed to all of his adult life.
And of course, Matt Noffs, it's such a pleasure to be here with Matt today and to see the wonderful work that the Ted Noffs Foundation does. This isn't my first visit here, I have been here before, and consistently over the years I've seen the care, the concern, the support that young people who make use of these services get. It is an absolute tragedy that we are now seeing demand for residential drug rehabilitation services for children as young as 13. And in our conversations with the young people and the staff earlier, we heard that even 12-year-olds and 11-year-olds have been approaching the Ted Noffs Foundation with a need for drug rehabilitation services.
Making this very important announcement today of a $12 million investment, which will allow the building of a new residential drug treatment and rehabilitation service, and more investment in Street Universities as well, gives us the opportunity of helping more young people. We know that drugs are taking a terrible toll on our community, and helping young people who are addicted to drugs to stop using, to get the help they need, not just from addiction specialists but also psychology, psychiatrists, social workers, helping them not just give up the drugs but also find a pathway back to health, back to participation in schooling, TAFE, university, work, that is so important. And this investment of $12 million today allows us to do that, most importantly for those young people, it gives them hope. It gives them hope of a full, rich life. And for us as a society, it means that we draw people back into becoming productive members of our community, who live full, rich lives and contribute again to society.
I'm going to ask Matt to talk in more detail about the proposal that they've made to us, for a new residential rehab for young people, and also about the very important role that Street Universities are already playing. Thanks.
MATT NOFFS: Thank you. I want to thank both Matt and Tanya and Labor for the vote of confidence in evidence-based drug treatment for young people. We are seeing every Australian city with young people suffering from drug issues. This is something that affects every single one of us. If we don't have a drug problem ourselves, we know someone who does. Not enough is being done for them. We're seeing two many young people dying, dying at music festivals. We're seeing too many young people struggling with ice issues. We do not want to see a return to heroin - we have been incredibly successful as a country to defeat those issues. And the only way that we will continue to do that is with an evidence-informed approach. And so that's why I thank Tanya and Matt and the Labor Party, for coming to the party and helping us to expand our services.
So as Tanya said, we will be expanding our residential services, we'll be starting one more residential treatment program for young people, most possibly outside of NSW. But also we will be looking to start three new Street Universities, which will be non-residential treatment facilities for young people around the country too. We haven't decided where they will be, but it will be based on need. Most importantly, on the eve of the second pill testing pilot in the ACT, we have people in power who are looking to find new ways to deal with these issues. New ways to save young lives, and as Tanya said, new ways to help young people flourish. Punishing them is no longer an option. Supporting them is the only way that we will support the rest of the country. So again, thank you very much Matt and Tanya for this opportunity, and the young people thank you also.
PLIBERSEK: I'm just going to say a few more words about why we are able to do this. Labor is able to invest in health and education because we're not making a decision to give more and bigger tax cuts to people who are already on very high incomes, or to give bigger tax breaks to multinational companies. We've made a decision to invest in health and education. So you've got a choice at the next election - better investment in health and education, or more cuts and chaos under the Liberals. The choice at the next election is between a stable and united team under Bill Shorten - or Scott Morrison, who's prepared to do deals with every dodgy, extreme, right-wing party under the sun to cling desperately to power. There's a choice between Scott Morrison and his lie, after lie, after lie, his desperate attacks on Labor that we're going to end the weekend, that we're going to introduce death taxes. Or, a thoughtful, evidence-based approach from Labor. We've spent six years developing our policies, and we have decided that better schools, better hospitals, greater investment in TAFE and university, preschool for three and four year-olds, these things are more important than bigger tax breaks for people who already have enough.
I think the real question over these final three weeks of the campaign is how low will Scott Morrison go? We've even got at the moment, Ewen Jones saying that it's completely the wrong thing for Scott Morrison to do, to make a deal with Clive Palmer. So you've got actual conservative members of Parliament, members of the LNP, saying it's the wrong thing for Scott Morrison to make a deal with Clive Palmer. We have to ask ourselves, first of all, why does Clive Palmer even want to be back in the Parliament? Last time he was there, he turned up to 25 out of 400 votes, fell asleep in the Parliament as often as he made a useful contribution. And secondly, why does Scott Morrison want him there? What's the deal between them? What's in it for Clive Palmer, and what's in it for Scott Morrison? Clive Palmer, the guy who can find tens of millions of dollars to stick his own face on billboards, but actually can't manage to pay his own workforce properly, so that taxpayers have to step in and pick up the wages bill for the workers of Queensland Nickel.
We've got a very clear choice in coming weeks, between investment in health and education, more cuts and chaos. Stable and united team under Bill Shorten and a Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who will do a deal with anyone, do anything, say anything, to cling desperately to power. That's the choice ahead of us.
JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek, Anthony Albanese said in doing a deal with Clive Palmer, Scott Morrison chose a tosser over ripped-off workers. Do you stand by those comments?
PLIBERSEK: I think a lot of Australians would express it in the same way. Honestly, you cannot walk down the street in Sydney, or I've been travelling around the country, in pretty much any city in the country today, without seeing Clive Palmer's face on a billboard somewhere. How can he find enough money? He's estimating he will spend $55 million on advertising, and taxpayers had to pick up the bill for the workforce that he dudded. And it's not Labor saying that, it's Ewen Jones, it's members of the Liberal-National Party in Queensland saying that. It's the workers who've been ripped off by Clive Palmer saying that. I think it's a perfectly reasonable comment to say that this man is not fit.
But the real question is why has Scott Morrison done a deal with him? Around the country, people are scratching their heads about the Clive Palmer phenomenon, right. But we've got Scott Morrison who thinks that Clive Palmer is so good that he's going to exchange preferences and make it easier for Clive Palmer to get into the Senate. The real question is for Scott Morrison. What's in it for you, Scott Morrison, to put this man back into Parliament? The man who was so interested last time he was there he slept through half of it, and that was only when he was turning up.
JOURNALIST: Did Labor frontbenchers meet with Clive Palmer to discuss a preference deal?
PLIBERSEK: I believe there were a couple of phone calls but there were no formal negotiations, and Bill Shorten, our Leader, has made it absolutely clear that there would never have been a deal while Clive Palmer owes tens of millions of dollars, either to his workers or to pay back the taxpayers who had to step in. Mums and dads all over Australia, working hard, having to put their hands in their pocket through their taxes, to pick up the tab for the workers that Clive Palmer dudded.
JOURNALIST: Do you know what was said in those conversations?
PLIBERSEK: No, I don't. Actually preference negotiations are normally handled by the party organisation. I believe there were a couple of brief phone calls.
JOURNALIST: Amanda Vanstone has called for a Royal Commission into Australia's water system, with a focus on the Murray-Darling Basin. Is that something that Labor would endorse?
PLIBERSEK: Look we're certainly very keen to have a much closer look at the water deal that Barnaby Joyce signed when he was Minister. The fact that so much was paid for water that only appears during flood times, I think most people are mystified by that decision and it certainly bears closer investigation. We think that the Murray-Darling plan is a very solid plan. The problem is this Government has not properly implemented the Murray-Darling plan. There's been four substantial enquiries or investigations into the river system. I don't think we want to have further delays in going back to square one. What we need to do is have a Government that is actually committed to implementing the plan as it was designed. To make sure that yes, we have stronger water flows for agricultural communities, but that we also protect our precious environment. I'm not surprised that Amanda Vanstone, as a South Australian, is very concerned about the implementation of the Murray-Darling Plan, because South Australia really sees the impact of this Government's mismanagement of it.
JOURNALIST: The Chatime bubble tea chain is the latest franchise to be investigated for allegedly underpaying its workers by quite a lot. There's been a string of these scandals recently. What's your reaction to hearing its possibly happening again?
PLIBERSEK: It is truly shocking isn't it, that the operative word in your question is it's happened again and again and again. We've seen scandalous wage theft in this country in recent years. We need to have much tougher penalties - Labor has committed to much tougher penalties - for employers who deliberately rip off their wages. But guess what, we've actually now got a Prime Minister who is doing a preference deal with someone who has done essentially the same thing, walked away from paying his workforce their proper entitlements. It's no wonder that there's no proper action from a Government that obviously doesn't care about wage theft.