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Transcript of interview with Lyndal Curtis: ABC 774: 6 September 2013:Coalition cuts and costings; Labor's Better Schools Plan; Labor's positive plans for the future.

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E & O E - PROOF ONLY _____________________________________________________________

Subjects: Coalition cuts and costings; Labor’s Better Schools Plan; Labor’s positive plans for the future. _____________________________________________________________

CURTIS: Mr Shorten, welcome to ABC News24.

SHORTEN: Good morning Lyndal.

CURTIS: If I could start first with your Education portfolio. You have a six year plan for schools but isn’t it the case that the extra money in that plan will not flow to Queensland, to the Northern Territory, or to Western Australia because they have not signed on?

SHORTEN: Labor’s been working hard over the last three years; Julia Gillard, Peter Garrett, Kevin Rudd, myself, to make sure that we have all Australian schools - government or non-government, it doesn’t matter what jurisdiction they’re in - funded according to the needs of individual schools.

We were able to wrap up negotiations with the Liberal state of Victoria even before the election was called because they know that a six year plan is the best thing for government school kids in Victoria.

CURTIS: But on my question, those three jurisdictions won’t get the extra funding under the plan because they haven’t signed up.

SHORTEN: That’s right. But what we would do if we were re-elected is we would make sure that we negotiate a deal with those states. We’ve guaranteed some increases to those states but not as much as they would otherwise gain. Tony Abbott has said to those states you don’t have to sign any deal with the Commonwealth, we’ll just give you the money. The big problem with Tony Abbott’s ‘just give the money away’ approach to education is that the

Queensland Government, the West Australian Government, the Territory Government, will just cut their own budgets and use Commonwealth dollars to replace the money they’re taking out of the system but will see no net improvement for students in those states.

I was in Perth on Tuesday. I spoke to thousands of parents and teachers. The Western Australian Government is already cutting their budget. They desperately want the Commonwealth to replace the money they’re taking out. That’s not an improvement.

CURTIS: But if those states don’t cut the budget. If Tony Abbott wins and they don’t cut the budgets, then doesn’t that say that children, potentially, in those states would potentially be better off under an Abbott government than under you?

SHORTEN: There are more ifs in that sentence than are in the dictionary. For instance you say if states don’t cut their budgets. In my experience dealing with some of these Coalition states who love to cut things - cut jobs, cut services - if you front up at the front door, you knock, knock, knock. Hi I’m here from the Commonwealth tax payer, we really believe in the education of children and if you’re a Labor Minister you say we want you to maintain a floor on the funding. We don’t want you taking the money out the back door. But if you’re a Liberal Education Minister you say here’s some money and by the way we don’t care if you pillage your system and take money out, as they are doing as we speak.

Ask any teacher in Queensland or any parent in Western Australia. They know that the Coalition governments there are taking money out of the system through the back door. So if you really care about the education of your children you’d vote Labor because frankly we are the only mainstream political party offering extra resources and making sure that every child gets the individualised support they need, that school communities are empowered.

CURTIS: Politicians don’t like to comment what might be the election outcome on the prospects but this is the business you are engaged in. You’d know as well as anyone. Is there enough ground for you to make up, come 6pm Saturday, in order to win? Or is simply the task too big?

SHORTEN: If every parent of a child in a government school has a good look at the education policies, that will bring some votes to our side. If every person who catches the train in our big cities has a look at the fact that Tony Abbott said they won’t fund public commuter transport and public transport in our cities, they would move to our side. If you ask someone that works in the service of the public and you look at the job cuts the Coalition propose they would probably move to our side. There are enough Australians who would suffer, with doubts about the Coalition. If you are a manufacturing worker. If you are someone who relies on penalty rates. If you are someone who earns less than $37,000 per

year, the fact that Tony Abbott wants you to pay a new 15 per cent tax on your superannuation contributions. There are enough Australians who are negatively affected by them and positively affected by us, that there is a margin to win by.

CURTIS: Although, as you pointed out with my question, there are a lot of ifs in there.

SHORTEN: Yes, it’s if people have a look at the fine print of the Coalition policy, that’s right.

CURTIS: So what do you think the real prospect is for the result, come Saturday?

SHORTEN: I believe that for every loyal voter, for every person that puts their trust in the Labor Party, I believe for every non-aligned voter who is still unsure who to vote, the only answer that i can give is that a vote for Labor is real a prospect of a Labor Government. And it certainly is a real prospect that Tony Abbott won’t have a chance to bring all of his hidden issues into power.

I mean, they’re talking like they run the show. They’re already said they want to tackle the conditions of building workers. They’ve already said that they would be open to supporting a case attacking penalty rates. They won’t promise funding to schools for six years, rather than four. They’ve said they’ll stop the Trade Training Centre program. They have said that they want to buy second-hand Indonesian boats using tax payer money. They have said that they want to have a gold plated parental leave scheme which will see self-funded retirees hit by the loss of credits in terms of the superannuation payments they receive.

CURTIS: But the Labor Government has not been without problems. The clearest demonstration of that is the fact that you changed leaders twice. Do you actually deserve to be re-elected?

SHORTEN: I believe the future of Australia is about the next 10 or 20 years and that you need governments which are looking to the long term. A Labor government’s priorities are in its schools, are in its National Disability Insurance Scheme, are in superannuation, are in the National Broadband Network, are in putting a price on carbon pollution, are into having low inflation, modest wage growth, and making sure that people can find a job and keep a job. I do believe we are the long term government.

You always see the Conservatives banging on about this issue or that issue. They can tell you what they’re against. What I can tell Australians we are for is a good society. Our society is not just an economy, it’s not just made up of individuals, as important as that is, it’s about making sure that this country works together. You can’t having us working together if you’ve got a government that just wants to fight with the unions like the Coalition. You can’t have a

government who just wants to back the mining companies against the people who are getting a cut in their superannuation tax. These are important issues.

CURTIS: Given you are thinking long term, have you given any thought at all to what happens on Sunday if Labor does not win?

SHORTEN: No, I have to say that, in terms of the election, I am absolutely focused on talking to every voter I can, just explaining that there’s several good reasons to vote for Labor and there’s several bad reasons to vote for the Coalition. One of the reasons I would say to people not to vote for the Coalition is that for days, and weeks, and months, they have been saying we’ll tell you where our cuts will be and how we are going to pay for our promises, then they reveal them Thursday before an election. And then they reveal that they are going to cut infrastructure spending. They reveal and confirm that they are going to retrospectively tax people’s superannuation accounts. These people have treated the Australian population with disrespect by not revealing their policies in good time or their costings. They know it. We know it and we’ve got to make sure the Australian people do.

I mean, is it an accident Lyndal - I know this isn’t a commercial TV station - but is it an accident that the Conservatives have waited until the end of the electronic advertising period to reveal policies which we then can’t highlight in ads? It’s not an accident. We know that.

CURTIS: On that note, Bill Shorten, thanks very much for your time.


Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111

Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton, ACT, 2600