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Budget 2018: Transcript of doorstop: Cairns: 14 May 2018: school funding, polling, budget reply, Government debt, Jane Prentice pre-selection

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SUBJECT/S: School funding; Polling; Budget reply; Government debt; Jane Prentice pre-selection.

ELIDA FAITH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LEICHHARDT: Good afternoon, thank you for coming out today in this beautiful Far-North Queensland afternoon. My name is Elida Faith, I am the Labor candidate for Leichhardt and I have the great please today of having Tanya Plibersek here, our national Deputy Leader. Tanya and I have been visiting a year 6 class today at Balaclava State School. We've had a fantastic tour, had a chance to have a chat to the students in class to see what they're up to and all the wonderful things that they're learning. And in the recent Budget, this particular school, Balaclava State School in far north Queensland will lose around $300,000 in the 2018/19 calendar year which is very concerning, we are in far north Queensland and we would hate to see all this wonderful work not continue. I will now hand you over to Tanya. Thank you.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much. It's a great pleasure to be here at Balaclava State School with Elida Faith, Labor's candidate for Leichhardt. We had a terrific visit with the year 5/6 class. They told us about what they're studying in maths, what they're reading at the moment, the excursions that they've had this year and it's so good to hear from keen, young learners. And what we know about investment in education is that it's the ticket to a lifetime of opportunity. That's why it is so very disappointing that the Turnbull Government has cut $300,000 from this school alone over the 2018/19 calendar years. That's part of a $17

billion of education cuts affecting schools like this all across Australia. Labor wants to see every single dollar of that $17 billion returned to our schools, to make sure that every child, in every school, in every part of Australia can get an absolutely world class education. We want teachers to be given the opportunity of doing what they do best, giving one on one attention to their young students so that those students can get the best possible start in life. Extra funding means more one on one attention, it means more help with the basic:; reading, maths, science, coding. It means more opportunity to expand the horizon of these students, more art, music all of the extracurricular activities that schools love to offer.

That's why it's so extraordinary that Warren Entsch, the current member for Leichhardt, is not prepared to stand up for students in schools like this. How can member of parliament stand by while $300,000 is cut from Balaclava State School and how can Warren Entsch justify the $19.6 million cut from schools in his electorate over 2018/19 alone? Warren Entsch talks a big game when he's here in town but when he goes to Canberra he votes for Malcolm Turnbull's cuts, he's a pussy cat in Canberra when it comes to schools funding.

Now it’s not just schools obviously that have been cut under the Turnbull Government. We've seen cuts to TAFE and apprenticeships and cuts to universities as well. TAFE and apprenticeship numbers, apprenticeship and trainee numbers have fallen by more than a thousand in recent years here in the seat of Leichhardt. Now we know that there are still problems, particularly with youth unemployment. How can it be okay to cut investment in TAFE and training as well as schools, cut investment in universities? Why does Warren Entsch this it’s more important for big banks to get a $17 billion tax cut over the next decade than for schools like this right around Australia to have their $17 billion worth of funding restored. On the one hand people can vote for tax cuts for big banks, passed to overseas shareholders and big bank executive salaries or they can vote to properly fund our schools. That's the choice between them. You can have Warren Entsch supporting tax cuts for the banks and the cuts to school funding or Elida Faith supporting proper school funding for our schools. Thanks, any questions?

JOURNALIST: On an unrelated note, what’s your response to today's Newspoll?

PLIBERSEK: Well you know, polls go up and down, we've got two different polls in two different news organisations, they tell a mixed story. What we always say is what matters is going out talking to the people of Australia about what matters to Labor. The difference that a Labor Government can make and we will make the biggest difference in schools like this when we restore $17 billion of funding cut by the Turnbull Government. In the Budget Reply speech on Thursday night Bill Shorten drew some very clear battle lines. He said we're not prepared to see all of our tax income go to high income earners and the big end of town and because we've made some tough decisions when it comes to closing tax loopholes we are able to better invest in schools and hospitals, TAFE and universities. We are also able to offer bigger tax cuts to low and middle income earners and we're able to pay down debt sooner. I think that

Australians as they hear that story: better services, lower taxes for low and middle income earners and paying down debt faster; will know who to back in the next election.

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned that there could be a snap election?

PLIBERSEK: Bring it on, I say bring it on. I would love to go to the electorate and say we've got two plans here we've got Malcolm Turnbull's plan and Warren Entsch's plan to give a $17 billion tax cut to the big banks or we've got Labor's plan to re-invest that $17 billion in our schools. I'd love to have an election campaign on that basis.

JOURNALIST: So Labor is ready to go to an election if one is called?

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely. We are very much looking forward to saying to the people of Australia there are two very clear visions here. Malcolm Turnbull's vision is for tax cuts for the top end of town, Labor's vision is for tax cuts for low and middle income earners, better hospitals, better schools, better TAFE and apprenticeships, better universities, better infrastructure and by the way we can also pay down our national debt sooner. I think that's a terrific basis for an election.

Just on the debt issue, some of that polling you referred to today talked about how people would like to see debt paid off sooner and it is extraordinary isn't it, that the Liberals and Nationals who campaigned on the debt and deficit disaster have doubled debt since they came to government. Isn't it extraordinary that they have doubled the debt and that our gross national debt is now higher than half a trillion dollars and it's going to stay there for the next ten years, there's no end in sight. It's pretty extraordinary isn't it?

JOURNALIST: What was your response to the LNP dropping Jane Prentice?

PLIBERSEK: I'm very disappointed that the LNP have made this decision. I think Jane Prentice is one of their more competent performers and I think any Party that is really struggling with its' representation of women in the Federal Parliament should really think twice. I think it is really extraordinary that the Liberals have intervened in Western Australia to save Ian Goodenough, who incidentally I think is a very nice man. but he's on the backbench. Here you've got a frontbench woman who I think is regarded as one of the more competent performers, who isn't being protected by her own Party. I think it’s really up to the Prime Minister to say whether he thinks that it's important that the Liberal and National parties look more like the community they represent. Don't forget Labor is almost 50/50 when it comes to women's representation, we're very proud of that fact. The LNP is at about one in five of their MPs being female, I don't think they've got the option of losing people like Jane Prentice.

JOURNALIST: And just a local one, you've got the Deputy Prime Minister in the Tablelands talking Budget. What's your response to his visit?

PLIBERSEK: I think it's important for the Deputy Prime Minister to explain why the Liberals’ most recent Budget bakes in all of the cuts, bakes in $17 billion of cuts to schools, $2.2 billion of cuts to universities, bakes in cuts to TAFE and apprenticeships and adds another $270 million cut to TAFE. And on top of that keeps the retirement age at 70 and makes sure we have oldest pension retirement ages in the world and says to pensioners we can’t find $14 a fortnight to give you an energy supplement but we can find a $16,000 a year tax cut to someone earning a million bucks a year. Let the Deputy Prime Minister explain those priorities.

Thank you.

MONDAY, 14 MAY 2018


Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra