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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Brisbane: 9 March 2017: Hospital Funding, Pauline Hanson giving away QLD GST, Kate Ellis

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SUBJECT: Hospital Funding, Pauline Hanson giving away QLD GST, Kate Ellis

JOURNALIST: You’ve been in to have a look at some advances at the PA hospital; do you feel some of the good work being done here could potentially be undone by the cuts to funding?

CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE: Look absolutely, I think that you’ve had a state government that’s been willing to invest in this hospital to really look at the way which it’s digitised its entire hospital system, the way which patients are cared for, great engagements and clinicians. What you want to be able to see is hospitals innovating in that area, when you’ve seen basically the Federal Government has said we think status quo for funding is ok, of course Labor committed an extra $400 million to Queensland hospitals in the last election compared to what the Turnbull Government has committed.

That sort of money is really important for actually reforming what happens in hospitals, and I think PA is a great example of what we can do when you’ve got investment. The work that they’re doing is already reforming hospitals across the country, really leading the way which is starting to see good quality improvement, good quality clinical governance throughout the hospital system, but also being able to make sure patients are cared for in the best possible way.

We know in hospitals across the country there are adverse events and those adverse events are all avoidable and the sort of system you put in place here with the money that was invested by the state government really does improve patient

care. So we’d like to see more investment in hospitals, better agreements between the Commonwealth and the states driving that reform rather than the cuts we’ve seen under the Turnbull Government.

JOURNALIST: So will Labor remain committed to that $400 million dollar figure going forward?

KING: What we’re going to do is obviously the agreement with the states runs out in 2020, the next election is 2019, were going to see what the Commonwealth and the Turnbull Government is going to come up with. They need to start the negotiations now with the states and territories as to what the next hospital agreement is going to look like. We think that it’s important that that’s not just something done in secret, that there needs to be a much bigger look at what is happening, and we’re going to have a look at what our policies are in the lead up to the 2019 election. We firmly believe that the Commonwealth has not gone far enough, has not committed enough funding as Labor would have done had we been in government today.

JOURNALIST: But surely the Government’s ability to commit additional funding was reliant on them getting the Budget under control. They can’t do that until Labor backs some of their saving measures…

KING: We’ve already given them plenty of savings measures, again measures that we decided as a priority should go to funding our public hospitals properly - that include the changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax. Here you’ve got a Government that is so determines to give $50 billion worth of tax cuts to large corporations, yet they won’t fund our public hospitals properly. We think they can do it, they obviously have different priorities to the Labor party.

JOURNALIST: But the Prime Minister this morning has said that you know, it’s incumbent on Labor to take a bipartisan approach to get the Budget back under control, and protect the country’s AAA rating.

KING: Then they should adopt our savings measures and our plans for negative gearing and capital gains tax, and they shouldn’t be giving $50 billion dollars’ worth of tax cuts. They’re obviously not going to get those through the Senate, they need to ditch those and properly fund our hospitals.

JOURNALIST: Terri, you might want to weigh in on this; there’s been a rally in Brisbane this morning about penalty rates, the ABCC warned a lot of the workers yesterday that if they took strike action they could actually be in breach of the law if they didn’t have written agreement from their employers. Is this sort of rally today an example of why we need these new laws? To stop industrial action disrupting worksites?

TERRI BUTLER, MEMBER FOR GRIFFITH: I think probably the point of the rally today is that the cuts to penalty rates are really worrying for people, and that they’re worried about who’s going to be next. When you start cutting the pay of low paid workers by up to $77 per week, then of course everyone else is going to be looking round and saying “Is it going to be us next?”

Particularly when the Turnbull Government has the power to step in and avoid the pay cuts and is refusing to exercise that power, pretending to just be innocent bystanders in the whole thing.

JOURNALIST: But surely if they do that, going forward, you just can’t have the situation where an independent decision is made that the Government’s going to intervene every time you get those sorts of decisions made by independent bodies?

BUTLER: And that’s why we need to actually set up the rules properly, so that the Commission can’t decide to reduce people’s take home pay, and that’s what Labor’s draft bill does. That’s what the bill we’re proposing will actually do.

There are already conditions on the Commission’s exercise of discretion in award review processes. There’s already conditions - for example requiring work value changes before you get pay increases built into minimum rates. There’s already conditions around the way that discretion is exercised and the basis in which it is exercised. Why shouldn’t there be a condition that says if you’re going to change awards you can’t actually leave people worse off with a cut to their take home pay.

JOURNALIST: At the rally, the unions not only were targeting the Government, but also One Nation. Do you think that’s an indication that a lot of Australians are starting to wake up to what One Nation’s real policies are?

BUTLER: Well, I think Pauline Hanson’s been very clear herself about the fact that she supports cuts to penalty rates and she doesn’t support low paid workers. I think most people looking at that would say, well, hang on a minute, I’m already doing it tough, there’s already pressure on the household budget, expecting me to take a pay cut on top of all that is just unreasonable. They’re not going to vote for Pauline Hanson when she supports that.

JOURNALIST: Also on Ms Hanson she’s revealed over the last couple of days, she’s prepared to see Queensland take a GST cut so WA gets more money. Is this what we should be seeing from a Queensland senator?

BUTLER: Well, you wouldn’t think so. If you’re a senator for the state of Queensland presumably you’re going to stand up for Queensland’s interests. I think that people would expect that of their senators. You certainly see our senators, like Murray Watt and Chris Ketter and Anthony Chisholm and Claire Moore out there standing up for Queensland every day of the week. Why would Pauline Hanson be out there barracking for Western Australia to get a share of GST revenue that’s presently coming to us? It just seems unreasonable.

JOURNALIST: Just on Kate Ellis, she’s obviously announced her retirement; is this a big loss for Labor?

KING: Look certainly, I want to wish Kate all the best, she’s a friend, colleague, someone that all of us have worked with over a long period of time. These are very much individual decisions, very hard decisions to make. Both Terri and I are parents of small children and we know how tough it is to balance that work and family life. I really want to wish Kate well. Kate’s still going to be there for a while. I know from the

back bench she’ll be helping us still on early childhood education policy and education policy as well and has still got a contribution I think to make to public life.

Certainly now Bill’s got a decision to make about shuffling the frontbench, and I’m sure there are lots of fantastic people on our back bench at the moment who would be pretty keen for the job as well.

JOURNALIST: Should he ensure that it’s a woman that replaces Kate?

KING: I’ll leave those decisions to him. He’s done a fantastic job making sure in our Shadow Cabinet, in our Shadow Ministry that there are good women being able to step up and come forward and I know he’ll be factoring that into his considerations.

BUTLER: We have more women on our frontbench than the Liberal Party has in the entire House of Representatives. If anyone should be thinking about getting more women onto the frontbench, it’s Malcolm Turnbull.

JOURNALIST: Do you think, Terri, you’re a chance to step up from Assistant Shadow to a slightly bigger role and replace Kate?

BUTLER: I think today is about Kate. I mean, this is an amazing decision she’s made after a long and distinguished career in the Parliament. I know that we all just want to wish her well in that.


JOANNE CLEARY (KING) 0428 816 751 BELINDA CAREY (BUTLER) 0435 349 221