TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
JASON CLARE MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT
SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESOURCES AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA
MEMBER FOR BLAXLAND
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BANKS
SATURDAY, 20 APRIL 2019
SUBJECTS: Liberals’ cuts to penalty rates; Liberals’ cuts to hospitals; Labor’s game-changing health investments; Liberals’ division and chaos.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE: Thanks for coming to my neck of the woods. It's great to have the amazing Tanya Plibersek here in the local area, as well as my friend Chris Gambian, who will make a fantastic Member of Parliament as the next Member for Banks, if he's fortunate enough to win the seat of Banks at the next election. Great to have Gerard Hayes here as well, representing the HSU, and all the fantastic men and women behind me - ambos, paramedics, health professionals - who help to keep our community safe over the Easter weekend. And on behalf of my electorate, can I thank those men and women behind me for all the great work they do not just over Easter, but right throughout the year.
It is the Easter break and there's lots of people here and right around the country that are working. Lots of people in shops, in cafes, in restaurants, people who rely on penalty rates. And unfortunately, they'll earn less over the next few days than they did a couple of years ago because the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Liberal Government has stood by and let penalty rates get cut. And it'll mean for a lot of people they'll earn $200, $300 less over the next few days than they would've a couple of years ago. Penalty rates are important. You know, as a boy from this local area who grew up working at Sizzler in Carramar not far from here, I can tell you those penalty rates help to pay for things like railway tickets, they pay for petrol for the car. They paid for all the things I needed to get through uni and it's not just young people out of school and at uni that rely on penalty rates - it's mums and dads who pay for everything from rent, to mortgages, to nappies, to petrol, to put food on the table. And the fact that this Liberal Government doesn't understand that, and has stood by and let penalty rates get cut, and at the same time want to give millionaires an $11,000 tax cut a year, tells you everything about this Government. It shows you that the Morrison Government is way out of touch and just doesn't understand the pressures on ordinary Australians.
That's one cut. Another cut is the cut to this hospital. This hospital under this Government has had $3 million cut out of it. And if you want to know what that means in real terms, it's the effect of having 5,000 less people being looked after in the emergency department. And I can tell you, this ED is heating. I've been campaigning long and hard to get extra funding for the Emergency Department because there's always people queued out the door. And when you rip money out of hospitals, it just makes it harder for the people whose job it is, like the people behind me, to look after sick people in my local community. Politics is about choices. Elections are about choices. And there's a clear choice at this election - if you vote Labor, we will reverse the cuts to penalty rates. And if you vote Labor, we'll reverse the cuts to hospitals. If you vote Liberal those penalty rate cuts will remain and people will earn less, and those cuts to hospitals will remain and that will mean people in my community will suffer. I'll pass on now to Chris Gambian, Labor's candidate for Banks, to say a few words. Thanks mate.
CHRIS GAMBIAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BANKS: Thanks Jason and thanks to everybody, especially the workers, for joining us here today at the hospital. I want to pass on my thanks to everybody who's working this weekend to keep us safe, to keep us healthy, and to keep us well-fed, frankly. Look, everywhere I go in the seat of Banks the topic sooner or later turns to one question, which is what is happening with health. Everywhere I go, people don't have to think long about the issues that affect their lives in a very particular way, before the topic turns to what's happening with health, and why is so much money being cut out of the health system. Every time somebody waits longer than they need to, it's because money that should have been left in the system has been taken out. And this Government, from the very first opportunity they had in 2013, has taken money out of this area from health services. That is not just a terrible shame, it's causing real pain to people in the area, and I'm really hoping that in a few weeks’ time we can turn that around. So thanks to everybody who's working this weekend. Thanks to Tanya and Jason for being here. I'll pass over now to Gerard who's going to say a few words on behalf of the Union.
GERARD HAYES, HEALTH SERVICES UNION, SECRETARY: Thanks for coming today. It's very important, this issue. We are safe as a community because the people behind us - the paramedics, the cleaners, the diagnostics people in the hospital, the doctors, the nurses - they give up their time through the night, through the afternoon, through public holidays, to make sure we're safe. What we're seeing today is a very good step forward, that we need to make sure that hospitals are funded appropriately, and people who work in hospitals who care for our communities are treated fairly. I think this is a very good first step in that process today.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well, thanks very much Gerard. My real purpose in coming here today was to thank the people who are working over this Easter and Anzac day period. Today we're at the hospital and we're talking to paramedics and cleaners and doctors and nurses, all of the health professionals that keep us healthy and safe over this period. But when you look around Australia, you'll see Emergency Services personnel, you'll see police, all sorts of people, who give up time with their family to work over this long weekend. So thank you. First of all, thank you to everybody who's working this long weekend and working over Anzac Day. Many other Australians that taken the opportunity of spending a bit of time with their families, going on holidays, just relaxing at home, but a hospital like this is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Around Australia, hospitals are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and they're not the only places that are having to operate over this long weekend.
One of the worst cuts of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government is the cut to penalty rates for people who give up time with their family at a time like this. Instead of being home eating Easter eggs, they're at work keeping us safe, keeping us healthy. And that should come with extra pay. We've already seen cuts in retail and hospitality. We've seen cuts in pharmacy. We know that further cuts are on the books because Mathias Cormann said that keeping wages low is a deliberate economic strategy of this Government. So who is next? We need to make sure that the people behind us today, people who work in hospitals, keeping us safe and healthy, don't have their penalty rates cut as well.
Labor, if elected, would restore the cuts to penalty rates in our first 100 days. We would make it a priority of a Shorten Labor Government. Because when people give up time with their families at Easter, Anzac Day, Christmas, on Sundays, they deserve to be paid extra for that.
But Scott Morrison hasn't just voted eight times to cut penalty rates. He has deliberately cut hospital funding as well. We're here at Bankstown Lidcombe today. This hospital has suffered a $3.2 million cut under the Liberals. The Prime Minister is at Westmead today. He should explain to the patients he's meeting why he cut $12 million from Westmead Hospital. Cutting $12 million from Westmead Hospital is the equivalent of 18,000 presentations in the Emergency Department. The $12 million cut is the equivalent of 18,000 presentations in the Emergency Department at Westmead Hospital. So Scott Morrison should explain to people who are waiting in Emergency today why they're waiting longer because of his cuts. There are 3,600 people waiting for elective surgery at Westmead Hospital. Scott Morrison should explain to the thousands of Australians who are waiting for elective surgery why he's cut hospital funding. Right now, we have the longest waiting period for elective surgery in Australia's history. Waiting periods for elective surgery today are longer than they have ever been, and that's because Scott Morrison has cut hospital funding. And what's worse, he's got further cuts in store.
If Scott Morrison is re-elected, there's $2.8 billion more cuts coming to our hospital system. We've already got long waiting times in Emergency. We've got the longest surgery waiting times in Australian history. And Scott Morrison's plan is to cut another $2.8 billion from our health system. There is a very clear choice at the next election between a Labor Government that will reverse the cuts to penalty rates, and a Labor government that will reverse the cuts to health, that will restore funding to our hospitals and have a $2.3 billion cancer package on top of that. Or a Morrison Government that'll see more cuts to penalty rates, in more industries, and more cuts to health, meaning people wait longer in Emergency and wait longer for elective surgery.
JOURNALIST: Tanya, so the AMA has actually come out and said the reason for these lengthy elective surgery waiting periods is that there aren't enough beds. What would Labor do about that? I mean, it seems like a massive issue. And also, the Liberals are saying it is just because of an ageing population really.
PLIBERSEK: First of all, yes, it is about the number of hospital beds. And you can't increase the number of hospital beds, without increasing the number of staff, and the funding that the hospital gets. In fact, this Government's already cut more than $700 million from hospitals, and the impact of that is seen throughout our health system with blowouts in emergency waiting times and blowouts in elective surgery. By restoring the money already cut from our hospitals and investing more in our Better Hospitals Fund, we can make sure that we have the beds, that we have the staff to treat Australian patients properly. We want the world's best hospital system, not the world's biggest tax loopholes as Scott Morrison does.
If the Liberals are saying that this is a feature of our ageing population, well they're quite right. But any government that was committed to having a first-class health system would acknowledge that and increase hospital funding, not cut it as the Liberals have done.
JOURNALIST: A bit of a shocker of a week, some people are saying, for Labor last week. What do you feel like you have to do to turn it all around?
PLIBERSEK: I don't agree with that characterisation at all. I don't agree with that characterisation at all. We had a very strong week, talking about the difference between Labor's health policy and the Liberals' health policy. Labor's health policy is to invest more in our hospitals, to tackle waiting lists for an elective surgery waiting list blitz, to invest more in Cancer Care so people can get Diagnostic Imaging and blood tests and medicines that they need to treat their cancer. I think our focus on health has shown what kind of government we would be. Scott Morrison, in contrast, is about cutting penalty rates, he's about cutting health funding, he's about cutting education funding, cuts to aged care, underspending on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
There is a very clear difference at this election between a Labor Government that wants the world's best hospitals and schools, and a Liberal Government that wants the world's biggest tax loopholes for the top end of town. It's all about choices. Elections are about choices and government is about choices. Scott Morrison today is visiting Westmead Hospital - He should explain why he's cut funding to Westmead Hospital. That's the sort of choice that we're talking about.
Can I just make another remark. It was reported today that Julian Leeser had some posters defaced with anti-semitic graffiti, and I just really wanted to put on the record very strongly that there is no place for that sort of behaviour in Australian political life. One of the wonderful things about our democracy is that we can have different points of view, we can disagree with one another very strongly about issues of policy, but we should never have issues of religion, or race, or bigotry of any type, brought into our political debate. So I say very strongly that whoever has defaced those posters in that way should be ashamed of themselves.
I also would say that Pauline Hanson apparently is backing in one of her candidates who is claiming that Labor would support Sharia law if elected. There's no place for that sort of lie in Australian politics, nor is there any place for the deliberate and orchestrated lie, that's doing the rounds on social media at the moment that Labor has plans for a death tax. Let's keep this election clean, let's keep it fair and let's keep it focused on real issues that matter in people's lives - their pay and conditions at work, a great hospital when they need it, wonderful schools for their children, real action to get power prices and pollution down. They're the things that matter in this election campaign, not all of these lies and side issues that some people are being distracted by.
JOURNALIST: Jason, just one question for you. We've seen in recent weeks Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison heavily campaigning in your region. Is it up for grabs do you think?
CLARE: I'm glad you asked you that question because the Liberals still haven't nominated a candidate to run against me. Nominations close on Tuesday, so we've only got three days to go and the Libs still haven't chosen a candidate to run in the seat of Blaxland. I think most people in Bankstown know that the Libs don't really care about this community, and they don't try. But to not even have a candidate selected and announced with three days before nominations close, shows just how out of touch the Liberals are. And just across the way to the seat of Werriwa and the seat of Fowler, we've had two Liberal candidates have to step down because of section 44 issues, so there's no candidates there at all. The Liberals just don't take Western Sydney seriously. If they did, they would've picked a candidate a couple of months ago. The bottom line is, whether it's Western Sydney or right across the country, the Liberal Party don't deserve another three years in government.
You mentioned Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott was saying this week that if he was drafted he'd run again as leader. You had Peter Dutton this week attacking somebody for a disability that they have. The chaos, the dysfunction, the infighting between all of those Liberals over the last few months - remember what happened back in August - people don't forget that. It's stuck in people's minds. They remember all the backstabbing and fighting in the Liberal Party in August. Dutton, Abbott, Morrison, Turnbull, and it's still going on. We saw all of that last week. The only way to end all of that is to kick this rotten, divided Government out.
Thanks very much.