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Transcript of press conference: Sydney: 31 August 2013: Johnny Warren Institute funding announcement; Coalition costings; Polls

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E & O E - PROOF ONLY _____________________________________________________________

SUBJECTS: Johnny Warren Institute funding announcement; Coalition costings; Polls. _____________________________________________________________

CHRIS BOWEN: Well thanks for coming everybody. It’s absolutely great to be here in Bossley Park on this spectacular day to make a really great announcement. I’m pleased to be joined by my friend and colleague, Ed Husic, the Member for Chiefly and the unofficial convenor of the parliamentary friends of the Western Sydney Wanderers. Also, Jamie Warren the President of the Johnny Warren Foundation and

Les Murray, Craig Foster and Emma Highwood. As well, of course, the Mayor of Fairfield City, Frank Carbone.

Well, today we’re announcing that the Rudd Labor Government is committing $10 million in funding to the establishment of Johnny Warren Institute; building on the work of the Johnny Warren Foundation which was established ten years ago and has done such great work in developing the skills of young Australian footballers. It’s time now to take this to the next stage and I’m delighted that the Rudd Labor Government is able to commit this $10 million in funding which will see the Institute up and running.

I’m particularly delighted that the Johnny Warren Foundation working with Mayor Carbone have decided to make Fairfield City the home of the Johnny Warren Institute. I’m particularly delighted given the contribution of Fairfield City and Western Sydney to Australian Football that we’ll host the Institute. I know the Mayor is working through with his Councillors and staff and with the Foundation identifying the sight, identifying the contribution of Council, and making sure that work can continue and progress.

Western Sydney is very important to football and of course we’ve produced 50 per cent of Australia’s Socceroos over the years have come from Western Sydney, some great names. I have to declare my interest, before you ask, my conflict of interest. I’ve grown up in the same street as Harry Kewell, in Smithfield, around the corner

here. He use to beat me when we played street soccer, we use to call it in those days, he’s a couple of years younger than me, I use to be annoyed when he beat me but now I don’t feel so bad given what he has gone on to achieve.

He showed great passion and great commitment for the game. He would every afternoon be out kicking the soccer ball against his parent’s B and D roller-door, getting the skills up and developing his great passion for the game of football. And of course he is a great role model for young people around this area and around Australia more generally as are all of the people who have represented our Nation in the sport of Football. And, as I say, 50 per cent of them have come from Western Sydney - the home to many great football bodies, Club Marconi just around the corner here of course, a very important and famous one but many other institutions as well. So this is a very good day for Football, a very good day for Western Sydney and I’m very pleased to make this announcement.

Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Minister, Kevin Rudd’s ramped up his attack on the coalition accusing them of committing fraud on the Australian people, has he gone too far?

BOWEN: No, this week we’ve pointed out that there’s real questions to answer on the Opposition’s costings and where cuts will come. And we’ve seen Mr Abbott over the last 24 hours say we’ll release all that at the end of next week, well hello, the election’s next Saturday! The end of next week does not give the Australian people enough time to see their policies and their cut in full.

And as I say, if you don’t know what they’re going to cut, don’t vote for them. Because if you did know what they’re going to cut, you wouldn’t vote for them.

JOURNALIST: But you’ve accused them of essentially deceiving the Australian people, that’s a very strong line.

BOWEN: Well, if you’re not going to put your cuts out until the last minute, after the advertising blackout, after people have had the chance to fully examine their cuts then you are not being upfront and honest with the Australian people. You know I’ve had two debates with Mr Hockey in this election campaign, there was meant to be a third one with him next week, he’s pulled out. He’s pulled out of the third and final debate. Why? Well maybe he doesn’t want to face the question as to why we still won’t see costings and cuts announced as late as next Wednesday in a five week election campaign.

We were told constantly, the line was “You’ll see it all in good time before the election”. Well, Thursday or Friday before polling day is not “in good time before the election”.

JOURNALIST: Your claim that the Coalition had a $10 billion hole in their costings has been rebuffed by public servants, has this taken the sting out of your attack?

BOWEN: No, I don’t accept the premise of that question. We were very clear when we made this announcement. We released in the interest of openness and transparency the Treasury and Department of Finance advice to us. We made it

crystal clear in that press conference that one - we had commissioned this work, not the Opposition. Two - it was done before the election was called, not in the caretaker period, therefore not under the Charter of Budget Honesty. We said that, this was work commissioned before the election was called. And three - that different assumptions would lead to different outcomes.

For example, I pointed out that the Opposition promising to cut the low income superannuation bonus or payment. Now this is a very retrograde move in and on itself, taking money away from potentially one in three working Australians earning less than $37,000. People who can least afford it. But they’ve claimed $3.7 billion for this save. Now, I’ve pointed out that if you think it’s going to start on 1 July 2014 then the save is much less than that. But if you’re going to make it retrospective and take the cut over a longer period of time going back well then you would make more money.

Mr Hockey could clear this up today, release you costings, release your cuts, put them out for all to see. You might criticise our press conference earlier in the week but we put our documents out. Mr Hockey, show us your costings, show us your cuts.

JOURNALIST: A new opinion poll in the Financial Review shows you’re trailing Ray King in your seat of McMahon. Are you in danger of losing your seat?

BOWEN: Well, let me tell you this. I grew up here, I went to school around the corner, I went to primary school around that corner. Representing this area is very important to me. It’s been important to me for the nine years that I’ve represented the area in Federal parliament and nine years before that I represented the area on Fairfield Council. It’s not a fly-in fly-out operation for me. It’s been more vocation for

all that time.

Getting more resources for this area, getting more support for this area, dealing with challenges and as a member of Cabinet, of course ensuring that we continue to grow our economy which benefits this area. Now, I’ve never taken the view that any vote is to be taken for granted, I’ve worked and earned every vote. It’s not a fly-in fly-out operation. I still live here in this community unlike the Liberal candidate who doesn’t live here in this community. This is not a game, this is real, like Ed, who grew up in the area he represents, it’s what we do, it’s what we believe in and we’ll go out there and we’ll be earning every vote until Election Day.

JOURNALIST: The poll has you only getting 46.9 per cent of the primary vote, is a week long enough to turn that around?

BOWEN: Well, a week is plenty of time to be talking to people about our positive plans for the future, about the Opposition’s cuts and what they’ll mean for this area and I don’t think that every opinion poll that’s always published is necessarily always accurate but I’ll tell you what, what I’m focused on, is I’m focused on getting the job done for this area where I grew up and continue to represent and it’s been my great honour to represent for the last nine years and I will be working very hard to represent them for the next three years as well.

JOURNALIST: Kevin Rudd’s blamed the media, he’s blaming News Corp for Labor’s bad polling, when is Labor going to take responsibility for its position in the polls?

BOWEN: Well, it’s perfectly appropriate to point out that sometimes coverage in election campaigns is not always what everybody would call fair and balanced, that’s a perfectly appropriate thing to point out, with all due respect to all of our good colleague journalists here. And there are newspapers which have taken an editorial position frankly to campaign against the Government. We’ve said all along, that’s their right, they can do that. But when you take an editorial decision to campaign against the Government or political party then you have to expect that to be pulled out occasionally and be commented on.

We’re focused on next week, on being very competitive at this election. I believe that this election will be close, I believe that we have a good case to put and obviously we’ll all take responsibility for the result whether it be a win or otherwise.

JOURNALIST: In terms of the coalition releasing their costings, we’ve seen an announcement about the latest asylum seeker policy to cut aid. What’s your reaction on that?

BOWEN: Well, I haven’t seen the details on the announcement, I’ve seen some speculation, obviously a leak of the Coalition’s announcement today and no doubt the Minister for Immigration will respond in more detail when that announcement is made. But I’ll say this, our approach is, although many would say it’s too hard line, is to take people to Papua New Guinea and say that is where you will be settled, that is where you’ll be settled. So that is what we’ll need to do in order to persuade people from coming to Australia by boat. We make no apologies for that policy; it’s the right policy, its right to be hard-line on these issues.

JOURNALIST: This policy (inaudible) by boat. Do you think the Government should -

BOWEN: - Well, we’ll have a look at the detail that the Opposition has announced; there are measures in place, which have been in place for some time, under various Governments. We’ll have a look at the detail of what the Government announces, what they say - often the devils in the details of these things.