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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Launceston, TAS: 15 January 2016: Malcolm Turnbull's cuts to Medicare and pathology services; Malcolm Turnbull's 15 per cent GST on everything; NSW ALP; Jakarta terror attacks; NSW redistribution of electorates



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THE HON. BILL SHORTEN LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

E&OE TRANSCRIPT DOORSTOP LAUNCESTON FRIDAY, 15 JANUARY 2016

SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to Medicare and pathology services; Malcolm Turnbull’s 15 per cent GST on everything; NSW ALP; Jakarta terror attacks; NSW redistribution of electorates

ROSS HART, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BASS: [inaudible] has suffered under cuts introduced by the Abbott-Turnbull Government. Cuts of $364 million over ten years in primary health and acute care and of course we now have the announcement of cuts of $650 million in pathology services, an abolishment on payments that support bulk billing it's absolutely essential that we maintain bulk billing of pathology services. It's important for everybody to understand that any impediment to screening of really nasty medical conditions should not be the subject to any barrier or any impediment. That’s why we're opposing any cuts to the bulk billing incentives that apply to pathology. These are personal stories, I have a friend who suffers from a chronic medical condition, he requires monthly blood tests. If he doesn’t have the blood test then he might not know the outcome of his conditions. We know that pap smears are very important for the screening of chronic conditions, cancer conditions that are not able to be diagnosed without reference to pathology and diagnoses that arise from pathology. Welcome Bill Shorten to Launceston.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you Ross. Good morning everyone and it's great to be here at this remarkable pathology centre. Sonic employs 500 Tasmanians, providing high level quality care and we're going to hear from Dr Laurie Bott , a leader of these people in a moment. Let me state at the outset, in Australia the quality of your healthcare should depend on your Medicare card and not your credit card. I think that the Turnbull Liberal Government has taken leave of their senses with their unfair, harsh cuts to pathology services and bulk billing incentives. What I mean by that is that the Government is proposing, the Liberals are proposing to

cut incentives to our pathology labs to ensure that there's bulk billing for services. And where that affects real people, where that affects everyday Tasmanians is what it means is it's forcing pathology labs to look at a co-payments or asking patients to pay more out of pocket to be able to get those vital tests for chronic diseases such as diabetes, for life-threatening and life changing challenges like cancer, for pap smears.

There is no good case for undermining the quality of Australia and Tasmanians' healthcare by putting barriers in the way of patients seeking necessary tests for cancer, for chronic disease. The role of a Liberal Government is not to make it harder for patients to pay more to get the healthcare they deserve and Tasmania already has challenges in terms of health and life expectancy and health outcomes and the Liberal Government, in my opinion, is behaving in a cowardly fashion by putting up barriers for patients getting the care they need. What I'd like to do now is introduce you to Dr Laurie, he leads a remarkable team of professionals, providing 500 jobs for Tasmanians. We're here today accompanied by Laurie's visit by Senator Helen Polley. We've heard from Ross Hart Labor's hardworking candidate in Bass and we have Labor's hardworking candidate from Lyons, Brian Mitchell here. I'll hand over to Laurie and then I'd like to make further comments about GST and 15 per cent and why that's bad for healthcare.

DR LAURIE BOTT: Thanks. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to make a few statements. Diagnostic services, which is Launceston Pathology, North West Pathology have been providing healthcare pathology testing and health care for over 40 years. We are really committed to a great quality testing service in this state, pick up early cancer, help people with testing related to chronic disease or any diagnostic testing. It's vital to the health of this state. Every Tasmanian realises this. So the removal of this bulk billing incentive item is a 4 per cent funding cut for us. It's a significant issue in this state. We're providing pathology services in a regional area which is costly. We provide it in many isolated communities around this state, West Coast, King Island, Flinders Island. It's a costly service that we have to provide and this is a significant cut for us. So we're very concerned. We want to make pathology testing affordable and accessible to people in this state and so we are concerned with this funding cut that we may have to introduce a co-payment related to pathology and so I'm pleased that this issue is getting some people looking into it. I'm very pleased that Mr Shorten has come down today and is throwing some light on this issue. And I'll hand back to him.

SHORTEN: Thanks. And I'd just again say on this issue of cutting the bulk billing incentives, what this means for Tasmanians, and indeed all Australians, is it will be more expensive to get the necessary tests you need on things as important as the treatment of chronic disease and cancer, pap smears, diabetes. You name it, we need an efficient quality pathology system in this country. In many ways it's the back office of our medical system but the decisions and the tests and the research and the facts found here actually save Australian taxpayers literally billions of dollars down the

way and that's what Labor wants to do. We want to keep the downward pressure on the healthcare costs and the costs of living for all Australians. That's why I also have to say, as I will say every day between now and the election, Malcolm Turnbull wants a so-called mature debate on a 15 per cent GST. He wants a positive debate. The problem is that the 15 per cent GST is simply a bad idea. It will increase the cost of everything. It is really lazy political government to see people saying that 15 per cent tax on everything is the only answer that this government can come up with. Labor says why not get multinationals to pay their fair share. Why not look at some of the superannuation tax concessions? Indeed, why not look at the excises onto tobacco. There's other alternatives which avoid families having to pay 15 per cent on everything they buy. Happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: Did you push for Jamie Clements to resign because of the sexual harassment allegations?

SHORTEN: Listen, Laurie's speaking on the pathology, if you've got other questions, other than pathology, I can get him so he doesn't have to deal with every other issues important that you're raising.

JOURNALIST: Did you push for Jamie Clements to resign because of the sexual harassment allegations?

SHORTEN: I asked yesterday for the matter to be resolved. I asked for a report by the New South Wales Labor President, Mark Lennon, to be provided to our National Secretary of the Labor Party George Wright. I wanted the dysfunction to end. The matter has ended yesterday and I'm pleased.

JOURNALIST: So you did push for him to resign?

SHORTEN: Let me be straight, it's time for straight speaking. I believe that we need to have workplaces which have no harassment in them whatsoever. I believe fundamentally that women should participate equally in Australian politics with men. The Labor Party's got a strong track record of standing up for the right of women to participate in politics. Currently Labor has 44 per cent of its representatives are women and we want to lift that number. I wanted the dysfunctional debate in New South Wales to end, I asked for it to end and it has ended yesterday. I made my view very clear.

JOURNALIST: Does he deserve a payout?

SHORTEN: New South Wales is resolving all those matters. Clearly there's been a resignation. I asked for the matter to be resolved and again, I want to make clear, the Labor Party wants to encourage women to be involved in Australian politics. We have, ever since our formation. We support 50 per cent of our MPs being women. We support equal pay for women in the workplace. We've been speaking up on the challenges of

family violence. We want women to be involved and to have an equal say in every aspect of Australian society.

JOURNALIST: Did you push for him to resign because there was a bad look in the lead up to the election?

SHORTEN: No, I wanted the dysfunction to end, I made my view clear. New South Wales Labor has acted, I'm pleased with that, and again, I'm going to go back to what I think is particularly important - what I believe - women deserve equal treatment. If this country did nothing else in the next 15 years but secure the equal treatment of women from all walks of life, from dealing with the scourge of domestic violence, which is the most extreme form of inequality, to making sure early child care educators got equally paid over time, to make sure that we have more women in politics, more woman in boards and institutions. That's what I want to see.

JOURNALIST: Is there a culture of misogyny in New South Wales Labor?

SHORTEN: Listen, I asked for the dysfunction to end. Clearly, I had concerns and people, I appreciate, have acted upon them. Labor's got a good track record too. You've got to ask yourself why is it that we have my deputy leader, we've got Penny Wong, we've got Kate Ellis, we have got many more women in political life than our political opponents and we've even decided to set more ambitious targets. I'm not afraid of a debate, which says that half of our politicians, half of our politicians in the next 10 years across Australia should be women. That's what we're pushing for and I'm confident we'll get there.

JOURNALIST: So you are concerned about the culture of misogyny in New South Wales?

SHORTEN: I'm concerned about the discrimination of women wherever it occurs, in political parties and in corporate life. I'm concerned that women don't get paid the same. If you want to see an example of unequal treatment of women, look at the deal that our early childcare educators get. That industry is predominantly dominated by women. As a result, in my opinion, that's one of the reasons why they are less well remunerated. That is why when I was the Minister for Workplace Relations, I pushed to make sure that our community and social services sector again, an industry where it was 80 per cent plus women, receive equal pay. So I've got a track record, I'm very committed. Women deserve an equal go. That is, by the way, why I cannot believe the Liberal Party and Malcolm Turnbull, he says that he's different to Tony Abbott, but he's actually cutting the paid parental leave of 79,000 new mums. How on earth does that help women participate in the workforce?

JOURNALIST: Did Labor drag the chain over this issue though?

SHORTEN: I wanted New South Wales to fix it. I stepped in and they have.

JOURNALIST: Should it have been fixed before that?

SHORTEN: I can't be any clearer than I just was, I think.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Anthony Albanese should stick with Grayndler or shift to Barton as a consequence of the redistribution of seats in New South Wales?

SHORTEN: Anthony is on a private visit in Italy. He's taking a well-deserved break. He'll have a look at the maps and the Labor Party will go through its proper processes when he returns and I'm very supportive of whatever decision he makes.

JOURNALIST: What's your response to the attacks on Jakarta?

SHORTEN: I, like all Australians, deplore the terrorist attacks in Jakarta. It is a reminder of the importance and the challenges that our largest, nearest neighbour, Indonesia face. Indonesia's a remarkable country. The progress it has made in the last number of decades are its economic progress, its political progress, it's the largest democracy where the majority of the population are Muslim and what these attacks should remind everyone is terrorism is not against one religion. It's not a question of Christian versus Muslim. More Muslims die from this sort of extreme terrorism than other people. So my point is, Australia needs to keep working with Indonesia, they've got a successful track record. They're determined to defeat terrorism and we need to work with our neighbours and reach out to Indonesia and help them deal with these issues.

JOURNALIST: Has the Government offered you a briefing on who might be behind it?

SHORTEN: We've asked for a briefing, we will wait to see.

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned Islamic State has claimed responsibility?

SHORTEN: I'm not going to jump to releases or statements made by particular groups. I'm going to let the authorities and the security agencies try and identify who these people came from. One thing's clear though, it's the violence that's perpetuated against people of the world and we need to work together to defeat extremism whenever we see it.

JOURNALIST: Is it concerning that IS appears to be gaining a strong foothold in that area?

SHORTEN: Well, I'm not about to start determining from a pathology laboratory in Launceston about who caused this terrorist incident. It's time for calm heads, cool analysis and relying upon our national security agencies who, by the way, are very, very good.

JOURNALIST: Would it be a shame if Joel Fitzgibbon was forced out of Parliament by the redistribution?

SHORTEN: I don't see that happening. Joel's got my support and he's a good operator. He's got a lot more to give. Last question.

JOURNALIST: Would you support Chris Bowen moving to a safer Labor seat?

SHORTEN: He's indicated he's going to contest the seat of McMahon. Let's make it really clear, Labor is ready for this election whenever it happens. And for me and my Labor team what matters is stopping the attack on bulk billing and pathology so cancer patients, chronic disease patients get the care they deserve but they get it based upon their Medicare card, not on their credit card and we are going to go every day whenever the election is called, to stop a 15 per cent GST and while we're at it, we're going to back penalty rates, we're going to stand up for real action on climate change, we're going to make sure that every Tasmanian child gets a good quality education because every Tasmanian school should be an excellent school and we're going to defend our health system and stick up for Aussie jobs. See you on the campaign trail with Ross and Brian.

ENDS

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