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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW: 9 March 2016: National Party's support for cuts to regional health and education; Labor's campaign for Page



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SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

E&OE TRANSCRIPT DOORSTOP SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY LISMORE WEDNESDAY, 9 MARCH 2016

SUBJECT/S: National Party’s support for cuts to regional health and education; Labor’s campaign for Page.

SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: It’s great to be here today at Southern Cross with Janelle Saffin, Labor’s candidate for the seat of Page. A former member, great member of Parliament too, who we want to return to Canberra. We are here to talk about the Turnbull Government’s cuts to universities, cuts to hospitals, cuts to our schools. I’ve been lucky enough to have been in this region over the last day and a half. I’ve visited a macadamia farm, visited the processing centre, visited a preschool and then here at the university today. What I would say is this. People are concerned about the cuts to health, they are concerned about the National-Liberal cuts to education, and they are concerned about the future of our universities. Because they understand that the way we ensure not only an economy that is growing but secure jobs in the future for our children, is to make sure we have a good education system all the way from school through to university. And all we have seen from the Turnbull Government, from the National and Liberal parties unfortunately, is cuts to these sectors.

JANELLE SAFFIN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PAGE: I invited Penny here personally to see firsthand the impact that the $100,000 degrees that Mr Turnbull and the National Party want to introduce would make on our community. That would devastate regional universities and it would further entrench the inequality and the unfairness in rural and regional Australia. Quite frankly I am appalled that the National Party would support it.

WONG: Happy to take questions.

JOURN

ALIST: Janelle, obviously this is the very start of the election campaign for you. Is this going to be one of your key movements throughout this campaign?

SAFFIN: It certainly will be, education and health, because education and health are two big issues in rural and regional Australia. For the National Party and the local members to say we represent you, they clearly do not. They say one thing in the electorate but when they go to Canberra they vote on policies and law that make an impact in our community, that hurt our community. I don’t want to have women have to pay $30 for a pap smear, I don’t want cuts to Medicare, I don’t want a GP Tax and I certainly don’t want $100,000 degrees. Also we have committed, Australian Labor has committed to the Gonski reforms and that is a fair funding formula for schools so that every child has the opportunity to have a good education. And the National Party have said no big time to that.

JOURNALIST: Penny, why do you think that the Nats are proposing to make these changes to university fees?

WONG: Well I think Janelle had it right. The National Party talk up fairness for regional Australia but when they go to Canberra, they vote for cuts to regional Australia, that’s what happens. And we know that the cuts to universities, the deregulation of fees, the risk of $100,000 degrees, that is bad for rural and regional Australia. So all I would say is this: we know when Janelle Saffin is representing your local community in Canberra you will have a strong advocate for your community and a strong advocate for a good education system with more funding, more investment in our universities and our schools. A vote for the National Party is a vote for cuts to education and health.

JOURNALIST: Penny you are here today, Mr Shorten is here tomorrow, how important is this seat for Labor?

WONG: This is a critical seat for us. This is a critical seat for Labor to win government and to form government. But it is also a really important community for us to continue to represent in Canberra. It’s a diverse community, it’s a community with a lot of opportunities but some challenges. And I think having a federal government and a federal member who understands the issues here, who understands the importance of investment in schools and hospitals and universities is critical for this community.

JOURNALIST: It’s been said that where goes Page there goes the government, would you agree with that?

WONG: Look I think historically there is a lot of truth to that. We certainly are serious about campaigning here and we are serious about doing our best to win here. We think we are putting forward someone who the community knows and trusts, who has been a strong and powerful advocate for this community when she was a member and will be again.

JOURNALIST: Janelle, obviously you are running again. You have been a former member for this seat, why are you back campaigning again?

SAFFIN: I am campaigning so that our community is represented properly in Canberra . So that our community has a voice in Canberra and to ensure that there are no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no cuts to TAFE. TAFE has been decimated. No cuts to apprentices because we need jobs in the region. We don’t need cuts to apprentices so that we get less apprentices. So I will be the voice of Page once again in Canberra. The local member has actually said “stuff Canberra” in his literature he sent out to everybody. And I say that he will be stuffed by Canberra because he doesn’t have a voice in Canberra.

WONG: And let’s understand what the National Party and the local member have voted for since the National-Liberal parties have been government. They voted for cuts to health. They voted for cuts to our universities. They voted for $100,000 degrees, they voted to ensure there are cuts to vocational education, that there are fewer apprentices in Australia. That is what the National Party have voted for. That is not good for this community and it is not good for the country.

ENDS

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