SUBJECTS: Labor’s announcement of a new headspace facility at Lawnton; Peter Dutton’s disgraceful comments about Ali France; Labor’s better and fairer tax policies for low and middle income earners.

ALI FRANCE, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR DICKSON: Hello everyone and thank you all for coming along today. It's really great to be joined by the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, Tanya Plibersek, and the Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Julie Collins, to make a really important announcement here today that will deliver mental health services for young people across the Pine Rivers region. I'm now going to hand over to Julie who's going to talk a bit more about what this means for our region.
JULIE COLLINS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND AGEING: Thanks Ali and it's wonderful to be here with Ali and with Tanya to make this important announcement today. If elected, a Shorten Labor Government will invest in a full headspace site here in the electorate of Dickson in this area. What we want to do is provide mental health services to young people who are seeking support. We know that one in five Australians is living with mental ill health and we know that for young people it's around one in four. So we want to be able to provide services for these young people in this area to ensure that they get the mental health services they need. This is an important announcement for this area and it's only because of Ali's lobbying and actual advocacy that we are able to make this announcement today. This is the eighth headspace site that Labor has announced in the last few weeks that we would build should we get elected at the 18th of May election. It's terrific to be here and I want to thank the local people here and this community centre for hosting us today. Talking to them about the needs of the local community and particularly young people coming through the doors, living with mental ill health, shows just how important this new facility and headspace will be in this area. It is critical to provide that support to young people who need it. I might hand over to Tanya to talk about some other issues. 
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Julie, and it's wonderful to be here again with Ali. I was just up here on Tuesday campaigning with Ali and helping her work on her plans for this terrific community. Of course, we have a real choice at the coming election. We have a choice between investing in health and education, the same or bigger tax cuts for 10 million working Australians, for policies to lift wages for working people. We have a choice of a vote for Labor which does those things, or a vote for the Coalition, the LNP - a continuation of the cuts and chaos we've seen over the last six years. We have a choice between candidates, too. We have a choice between voting for Ali, committed to this local area, out there doorknocking. I think you've doorknocked, you and your team, 22,000 homes since May last year - 60,000 voters either doorknocked or phoned - that is an incredible effort for any campaign, for any campaign team. You've got a choice between someone committed to the local area and someone who flies in and out and spends as much time in his Gold Coast mansion as he does here in the electorate of Dickson. Someone who in fact tried to leave the electorate of Dickson, wanted a safer seat on the Gold Coast, to be closer to his Gold Coast mansion, who shows no commitment to this local community. You've got a choice between the decency and hard work of Ali France and the pea-hearted cynicism of Peter Dutton. To me that's an obvious choice. Any questions?
JOURNALIST: Just talking about candidates and the elephant in the room, Ali, is Peter Dutton's comments about you using the disability [inaudible] – do you see it as a waste, as an excuse?
PLIBERSEK: Well, do you mind if I say a couple things before I hand back to Ali? This just blows me away - you know, Peter Dutton talking about making excuses. What's his excuse for spending more time in his Gold Coast beachside mansion than right here in Dickson, in the electorate that he's supposed to represent? What's Peter Dutton's excuse for the cuts to schools and the cuts to hospitals and the cuts to disability services? What's Peter Dutton's excuse for being voted by doctors the worst Health Minister in living memory? What's Peter Dutton's excuse for knocking off Malcolm Turnbull and then not even having the votes to win the ballot for the leadership? What's Peter Dutton's excuse for saying to people with disability right across Australia that there's somehow something wrong with them? What's Peter Dutton's excuse, and frankly what's Scott Morrison going to do to pull him into line? Because I say this to Scott Morrison: just days ago, he was out there saying that we should be more respectful to people with disability, and now one of his most senior Ministers is laying the boot in. And what's Scott Morrison going to do? He's going to walk on by. I say to Scott Morrison: the treatment you walk past is the treatment you accept. If he is prepared for Peter Dutton to be saying this sort of thing to - not Ali, I'm not talking about her as an individual - I'm talking about millions of people who have heard this morning, from Peter Dutton, a senior member of the LNP, of the Coalition Government, that it's fine to put the boot in to people with a disability. What's Scott Morrison going to do about that?
JOURNALIST: Do you think it was a deliberate comment, or do you think he was just [inaudible]?
PLIBERSEK: Do I think it was deliberate? Yeah, I do think, when you talk to journalists in this way about your opponent, it's deliberate. And, not only is it deliberate, but it's just so hypocritical. I mean, this is the guy, I think it at last count he had nine homes. You know, maybe one of them's in the electorate. Great, good on him. But we all know that he likes to spend time, not in Dickson but on the Gold Coast, in his mansion, walking along the beach. That's a nice life - I don't blame him for that. But to be criticising Ali, when he spends so little time here. You actually, you actually need an armed escort to get into his office. I don't know if anybody locally has tried recently to get an appointment with Peter Dutton or his staff, but you know what it's like trying to get through the security cordon to actually see your local Member, face to face, on the rare occasion that he's in the electorate. I mean how hypocritical is this guy? How hypocritical is someone who actually didn't want to represent the voters of Dickson? He actually tried to leave this electorate for a safer seat on the Gold Coast and when the Liberal party on the Gold Coast didn't want him, he came crawling back to Dickson with his tail between his legs and said "Oh I suppose this will have to do." Really. Ali do you want to add anything to that?
FRANCE: Yeah I do. I was exceptionally disappointed by the comments that were made, but not surprised. This came a week after we discovered that $1.6 billion had been ripped from the NDIS. Having a disability is not an excuse. It is a reality. It is a reality that many hundreds of thousands of Australians have to deal with every single day - and I am no exception to that. And while Peter Dutton is attacking me, he's not focused on the real issues that are impacting the people that he represents. I'm talking to people every single day who are struggling to pay out-of-pocket health expenses, who are struggling to get a full-time job, who want to see action on climate change, who know that millions have been cut from their schools and hospitals. The people of Dickson really want us to be focused on those issues and not on this type of mudslinging.
PLIBERSEK: Can I add a little bit more? Ali France has never made excuses because she has never needed to. Like, as I said, I was here on Tuesday campaigning with Ali. She wasn't making excuses. She was out hitting the streets, talking to voters. She's been a journalist. Her last job was working for a palliative care organisation. She's raised two children. She's an elite sportswoman. She hasn't made any excuses because she hasn't had to. Peter Dutton's the one who should be excusing himself and he should start with an apology for these awful comments.
JOURNALIST: Mr Dutton put out a statement earlier today saying he was simply repeating some of the comments that certain people in the electorate, who were constituents, have been saying.
PLIBERSEK: Oh really? I mean, truly. Well I hear from some people that Peter Dutton is a horrible human being. Put that on the record.
JOURNALIST: Ali, just for context for some people who don't know, you actually do live quite close to the electorate anyway?
FRANCE: I'm really passionate about this community. I work in this electorate. I have my office in the electorate. And I live about 5 minutes from the boundary of the electorate and I've spent the last 12 months doorknocking, talking to many thousands of people in this electorate and I'm really - my job in all this - is really to listen to the issues that are important to people. It's not about me. It's not about Peter Dutton. It's about the people of Dickson and their stories and if I am fortunate enough to be elected, I will be fighting for their issues down in Canberra.
JOURNALIST: Are you actually at Ashgrove are you?
FRANCE: I'm right near the Enoggera Barracks.
JOURNALIST: Thank you.
PLIBERSEK: I might also say that Ali's house is a lot closer to the electorate than Peter Dutton's Gold Coast mansion, just incidentally.
JOURNALIST: Did you just call Peter Dutton a horrible person?
PLIBERSEK: No I didn't. I've heard some people in the electorate say that he is a horrible person.
JOURNALIST: Did you agree with them when they said it?
JOURNALIST: It's day 2 and it's already getting pretty personal. Is this what the campaign is going to be like?
PLIBERSEK: I was simply making the point that Peter Dutton claiming unnamed sources critical of Ali is ridiculous. That's the point I was making.
JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you about Labor's tax policy? Josh Frydenberg has released Treasury information today. How does your tally of tax changes compare to what they say is $380-odd billion over 10 years?
PLIBERSEK: Well first of all, Treasury doesn't model Labor Party policies. The Parliamentary Budget Office models our policies and using the Treasury in this extraordinarily politicised way is a real abuse of our public service and of our Westminster tradition. So I don't accept these releases of information without any detail about the assumptions that have been used. Secondly, what I'd say about taxes is that our tax cut for working Australians is the same or bigger for 10 million people. For 3.6 million Australians on lower incomes, our tax cut is bigger. The fact that we are not prepared to commit to tax cuts for people on $200,000 a year in ten years' time, which is what the government is asking us to do, I'm not embarrassed about that. I'm not embarrassed about closing loopholes for high income earners and huge multinational companies. I'm not embarrassed to say that we want to target negative gearing to newly-constructed properties. That we want to limit the thousands of dollars that high income earners are spending on clever tax accountants to minimise the tax they are paying. I'm not embarrassed about the fact that we stopped the government giving a $17 billion tax cut to the big banks. I say, if we want to properly fund our schools and hospitals then yes, we should give tax cuts to low and middle income Australians and yes we should look after small businesses. But as for the choice, I choose better funding for schools and hospitals, bigger tax cuts for low income earners over better tax loopholes for multinationals and millionaires. Proudly. OK thanks everyone.