TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Zilzie, Tuesday 17 May




TUESDAY, 17 MAY 2016

SUBJECTS: Pension cuts; Education; Cuts to apprenticeships: Truck driver's renumeration tribunal.

JOURNALIST: Tell us what you're announcing?

LEISA NEATON, CANDIDATE FOR CAPRICORNIA: It's wonderful to be here today at an aged care facility down on the Capricorn Coast and my pleasure to host Tanya Plibersek, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and also we're here with our State Member for Keppel, Brittany Lauga. We've been talking with people this morning about their hopes for the future and learning about aged care facilities. Learning about the wonderful things that happen in these facilities, a real sense of community that's built through the activities and it's our pleasure to be here today as somebody's retiring and celebrating the incredible contribution that they've made to the people of this centre. I'd like to hand over to Brittany to say a few words.

BRITANNY LAUGA, STATE MEMBER FOR KEPPEL: Good morning and it's wonderful to be here with our wonderful Federal Labor candidate for Capricornia, Leisa Neaton and also our wonderful Federal Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, here talking to residents at the aged care facility at Emu Park. I've been to this aged care facility a number of times and every time I come here residents tell me about their concerns about health cuts, about the education of their children and their grandchildren. They tell me about their hopes and dreams for their children and their grandchildren's future. So it's wonderful to be here with Tanya Plibersek and Leisa Neaton talking with residents and also celebrating Roger and Pauline who are retiring today after many years volunteering and working here at the facility and contributing to our community through their volunteer work. And can I introduce the Federal Deputy Leader of the Opposition , Tanya Plibersek.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks so much. It's great to be here with Brittany Lauga and with our fantastic candidate for Capricornia. It's wonderful to be here with Brittany and with Leisa today. When we visit aged care facilities like this one which is a fantastic facility, we talk a lot to residents about their hopes and dreams for the future and a lot of people today have expressed their concerns particularly about cuts to pensions.

We know there are about 1,450 pensioners who'll be worse off in the electorate of Capricornia because of Malcolm Turnbull's cuts to the pension. But they’re not just interested in themselves and the cuts to the pension, they've got a great number of concerns about health cuts more generally. This area of Capricornia, this seat of Capricornia, will lose almost $600 million over the next ten years out of the health and hospital system. Now when I was the Health Minister, we built a fantastic new cancer centre at the Rockhampton Hospital which meant that people didn’t have to travel as far to get the treatment that they need. We know that if people have treatment closer to home their survival rates are much better. So I'm very proud of that facility. But the investment in that facility is a sharp contrast to the $600 million that Malcolm Turnbull is going to take out of hospitals and health services in this seat, if his plan goes ahead. What& #39;s really needed is someone who's prepared to stand up and say no to Malcolm Turnbull on hospital cuts in Capricornia and of course, that person is Leisa Neaton. But you know, the people who are residents here, they're not just thinking about themselves, they're not just thinking about their own pensions, their own health services. They're thinking a lot about the future of this country, the sort of country that they want to see for their kids and grandkids and they know that education is the ticket to prosperity for Australia's future. They know for their individual grandchildren, or great grandchildren in some cases, that the best thing they can do to ensure that they have a job and a future is to get the best possible education for themselves. But it's not just about individual kids.

We know that investing in education is good for all of us - it's good for our national prosperity. The difference between Labor and the LNP over the next two years alone is an extra $31 million of school funding for the seat of Capricornia. Now it's beyond me why any Member of Parliament thinks that they can go out to their local community and say that they don't want $31 million for schools in their electorate. Well, that's what Michelle Landry's doing, she's saying that she doesn't want that $31 million for schools in her electorate. In contrast, we’ve got Leisa Neaton who knows the value of education because she's been the principal of the largest school in Capricornia for many years. She's seen the difference that a top quality education can make for individual students. It is absolutely life changing to get that individual attention if you're falling behind, to pick up kids early if they've got trouble with literacy or numeracy. And for gifted and talented kids getting that special attention so they can make the most of their gifts. It really is the ticket to a great life, getting a great education and that's why we want to invest in schools in Capricornia and around Australia. Just one other thing I want to say about education. This is an area that relies on trades people for all sorts of jobs, right across the economy.

It is shocking that since the LNP came to government federally, more than 800 apprenticeships have been lost in Capricornia. Now we're always going to need tradespeople, we're always going to need plumbers and electricians and builders. Where are they going to come from if we're not teaching our own kids those trades? How can people support their families if they don't have the opportunity of getting a trade and all of the skills and the job certainty that comes with that in the future? Thanks. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: So what's Labor pledging? How are they going to help the aged care funding? Are you guys pledging anything in that sense?

PLIBERSEK: We've always done better on aged care than the Liberals who have cut again in this last Budget from aged care. But it's not just about aged care, it's about our health system - the $600 million that the Liberals have cut from the health system in Capricornia alone. It's about pensions. We know that the Liberals and the Greens did a deal that means that 1,450 pensioners in Capricornia will be worse off. It means that they can't use that little bit of extra money to improve their quality of life, buy a Christmas present for the grandkids. We'll always do better looking after people and I think it's important to have someone who's prepared to go to Canberra and actually fight for the things that she believes in: a strong health system, a good aged care system, looking after our pensioners properly. Remember the Liberals promised before the last election that there'd be no changes to pensions. In fact, 330,0 00 pensioners are worse off because of the deal between the Liberals and the Greens to cut pensions. And it could have been even worse. Labor managed to stop some changes that would have left every pensioner up to $80 a week worse off.

JOURNALIST: I've got one on asylum seekers from [inaudible]. They've just asked me to ask you what is your position on asylum seekers?

PLIBERSEK: My position is full support for the Labor Party position.

JOURNALIST: Can we touch on the Yeppoon event you are heading to next?

PLIBERSEK: Yes, I'm very much looking forward to going to Yeppoon. It's a community that I've visited in the past. I'm looking forward to going back there. We'll being meeting with local community organisations, many of them providing frontline services to people in need in our community and I expect that they'll be talking to us about most recent Budget cuts and the stress on family budgets that comes from the most recent Budget. You know, in Malcolm Turnbull's last Budget, if you were earning $1 million a year, you'd get a $17,000 a year tax cut. I don't think there's too many residents in Yeppoon earning $1 million a year. But if they were, they'd get a $17,000 a year tax cut. In contrast, ordinary families have missed out. If you're a mum with two kids in school and you're on $65,000 a year, this Budget cuts $4,700 from your family budget. If you are on a lower income, it just gets worse. I don& #39;t understand why we have a Prime Minister who wants to give big multi-national companies a $50 billion tax cut. High income earners over $180,000 a year - they get a $16 billion tax cut and at the same time we're cutting funding to hospitals, to schools, to aged care, to apprenticeships, to vocational education - it’s crazy. It's going back to the bad old days of Margaret Thatcher's trickle-down economics - that's what Malcolm Turnbull's promising for Australia. We believe that we should be investing in our people - a strong health system, a great education system and jobs, jobs, jobs.

JOURNALIST: Will the ALP Government bring back in the truck driver’s remuneration tribunal if it gets elected?

PLIBERSEK: I think it's a shocking situation that for the first time truck drivers are offered a decent living wage by an independent tribunal focused on road safety and the Government want to take that away. These are people who are forced to drive many hours, longer than is safe because of the low wages in their industry. They deserve a decent day's pay so they don't risk their own lives making ends meet in their business. It's not just about the truck drivers on our roads, it's about everybody that shares the road with the truck drivers. If people are forced to work long and unsafe hours because they are underpaid, that is a risk for every road user.

JOURNALIST: So will the ALP Government bring it back in then?

PLIBERSEK: We are completely committed to safe rates on our roads because we know that truck drivers have been underpaid in the past and they risk their lives to make up the shortfall.

JOURNALIST: To Lisa, so basically the LNP had a breakfast with truck drivers this morning and truck drivers were saying that it affects owner drivers very badly having that tribunal in. What would you say to them who say it's going to affect their livelihoods?

NEATON: As I said from the beginning with this issue, when there were concerns there should have been a sit down with unions, with truck driver owners, with the tribunal. A conversation should have been had about what are the sticking points and how can we move forward. Instead, what we've jeopardised is the opportunity for safe rates as we've said and the opportunity for people to be - all people to be - safer on the roads so I definitely think there needs to be further conversation on this issue.