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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 25 May 2015: discusses $133,000 to loan koalas to Singapore; and Marriage equality.



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PAT CONROY MP MEMBER FOR CHARLTON CHAIR OF LABOR’S WASTE WATCH COMMITTEE

E&OE TRANSCRIPT DOORSTOP INTERVIEW PARLIAMENT HOUSE MONDAY, 25 MAY 2015

SUBJECT/S: $133,000 to loan koalas to Singapore; Marriage equality.

PAT CONROY, CHAIR OF LABOR’S WASTE WATCH COMMITTEE: Well, this is a Government that’s got its priorities all wrong. They’re happy to slash $6,000 from family incomes through this unfair Budget but at the same time they’re happy to waste $133,000 lending four koalas to the Singaporean Government for 10 months. This is a Government that really has got its priorities wrong. We’ve got the Goldilocks of swimming pools, Joe Hockey, who flew at taxpayers’ expense up to Darwin to announce the lengthening of a pool which the council itself said was too long already. So you’ve got to question the ability and priorities of this Government when they can’t even get ordinary things like that right.

Happy to answer any questions.

JOURNALIST: These sorts of measures, we’re not talking about something like bringing the Budget back to surplus are we? You can always pick out a bit of waste in Government expenditure, but $110,000?

CONROY: But it’s about priorities. To spend $133,000 on four koalas for 10 months when we’re cutting family payments by $6,000, that’s 20 families that could have had more assistance. I come from an area affected by the recent storms and we’ve seen changed eligibility criteria meaning that hundreds if not thousands of families in my region miss out on a bit of assistance to replace groceries, so there are plenty of examples of where this Government is wasting money and they need to reprioritise it rather than attacking families.

JOURNALIST: Would you support a referendum on gay marriage in Australia?

CONROY: The High Court made it clear that Parliament is the area where we need to resolve this issue. The minute legislation is put in place to debate marriage equality I’ll be voting for it. We need to get legislation passed through both houses as quickly as possible to guarantee marriage equality in this country.

JOURNALIST: Talking about a waste of spending money overseas, can you extrapolate that and say, in foreign aid, these cuts are justified because we can spend more money at home as well?

CONROY: No, foreign aid is actually an area where we can improve relationships with other countries through capacity building, through infrastructure building, not through the loan of four koalas. So, spending money overseas is not bad, it’s what you spend the money on. Spending money to provide a habitat and training for koalas for months versus cutting foreign aid, attacking families, it just really shows the priorities of this Government.

JOURNALIST: Might be a good marketing tool of sorts, a bit of good will maybe?

CONROY: Look, I think the only thing guaranteed to be less effective at improving our relationship with Singapore would be to send Tony Abbott over there.

ENDS

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