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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: Monash University, Melbourne: 29 August 2018: Labor to uncap university places; Liberals' cuts to education; chaos and dysfunction in the Morrison Liberal government; united Labor team; Peter Dutton's ministerial intervention issues; Tony Abbott's new role in the Morrison Government; resignation of Julia Banks; bullying and intimidation in the Liberal Party



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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING

SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

JOSH BURNS

LABOR CANDIDATE FOR MACNAMARA

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

MELBOURNE

WEDNESDAY, 29 AUGUST 2018

SUBJECTS: Labor to uncap university places; Liberals’ cuts to education;

Chaos and dysfunction in the Morrison Liberal Government; United Labor

team; Peter Dutton’s Ministerial intervention issues; Tony Abbott’s new role

in the Morrison Government; Resignation of Julia Banks; Bullying and

intimidation in the Liberal Party.

PROFESSOR MARGARET GARDNER AO, VICE-CHANCELLOR MONASH

UNIVERSITY: I'm very pleased to welcome the Deputy Leader of the Federal

Opposition and the Minister for Education and Training, Tanya Plibersek and also

the candidate for Melbourne Ports which is now Macnamara, Josh Burns to

campus here at Monash and I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to introduce

them to a series of students who are part of our equity program mentoring students

and themselves being mentored into university. So helping students who need

access to university and need support to get that, this program provides that

support and was indeed just awarded the national award by the Australian

Financial Review last night for the most successful equity and access program in

Australia. So those students are an important part of making sure that education is

open and available to all students irrespective of background on the basis of their

aspiration and talent.

JOSH BURNS, LABOR'S CANDIDATE FOR MACNAMARA: As the Labor

candidate for Macnamara it is really exciting for me to be here at Monash

University, my former stomping ground where I spent many hours here, to

welcome Tanya Plibersek here today to talk about how Labor is going to uncap

university places, which as local candidate it means more than 1,200 people in

Macnamara are going to have a chance to go to university and it's a really exciting

policy and one I'm really proud of. So it gives me great pleasure to welcome Tanya

Plibersek.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you Josh

and it's terrific to meet with you here today and to be welcomed by Margaret.

Margaret is a very distinguished educator and what she's done here at Monash is

something really to be proud of and congratulations Margaret on those awards that

Monash won last night.

Today Josh and I are here meeting the students, some of whom are the first in

their family to go to university. They're also mentors to other students, high school

students, who will likely be the first in their family to go to university. One of the

great projects of Labor has been to make sure that every Australian, if they're

prepared to work hard and study hard, can get a great education at a world class

university like Monash. When we were in government last we uncapped the

number of students who could go to university, so if you qualified academically, if

you were prepared to do the study and you got a place in university there would be

funding for you to complete your university education. Sadly, just before Christmas

the Liberal Government put an unfair, artificial cap back onto university places.

That means that over the next decade more than 200,000 students that would

otherwise get a university education will miss out if this unfair cap stays in place.

Well Labor has announced that we would uncap places again so that any

Australian who's prepared to work hard, study hard and put in the time and take on

the student debt will get a great education. Sadly, with Scott Morrison as Treasurer

and now Scott Morrison as Prime Minister, all we've seen in higher education is

cuts - $2.2 billion in cuts just before Christmas that go along with cuts to pre-schools, a disaster in early childhood education and care where one in four

families will be worse off, $17 billion cut from our schools and over $3 billion cut

from TAFE, training and apprenticeships. If Scott Morrison is serious about

economic growth in Australia, he should invest in one of the most critical drivers of

economic growth and that is a first-class education for every Australian.

Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Yes, just for that uncapping of those 200,000 odd places, where

does that funding come from?

PLIBERSEK: Well, we can afford to invest in health and education because we're

not giving tax cuts to the top end of town. Now nobody believes Scott Morrison

when he says he's not going to proceed with big business tax cuts and even

Mathias Cormann has already said that the Parliament will have to go back to big

business tax cuts. I mean Scott Morrison is the guy who was the Treasurer saying

that it was more important to give a $17 billion tax cut to the big banks than to

properly fund our schools. He cut $17 billion from schools and offered a $17 billion

tax cut to the big banks. We won't proceed with the big business tax cuts. We also

say that people at the upper income end don't need the generosity in the tax

system that Scott Morrison is offering them. Scott Morrison's idea of fairness is if

you're on a million bucks a year, you get a $28,000 a year tax cut and if you're on

$80,000 or $90,000, you get thirteen bucks a week. We say we don't need to give

those tax cuts at the top end - we can afford to invest in health and education.

We've made tough decisions around negative gearing, around capital gains tax

concessions, around superannuation concessions at the high end, around family

trusts, around tax deductibility for tax accountant services. We've made a whole lot

of tough decisions. The reason we've made those tough decisions is so we can

invest in what matters in ordinary Australians' lives: a great education for

themselves and their kids; a health system they can rely on; early childhood

education and care; aged care; decent infrastructure. These are the things that a

make a difference in peoples' lives.

JOURNALIST: Okay, just moving on to the current au pair story involving the

Home Affairs Minister. How many visa cases have Labor MPs made

representations on to the Department of Home Affairs?

PLIBERSEK: Oh look, I couldn't possibly answer that question. Labor MPs, in the

course of their work, make reasonable representations. Any Member of Parliament

does if they see that the Department has made an unfair decision, they would

make a representation, that is completely normal. What's not normal is for a

Minister to be intervening on the basis of a phone call within a few hours. There

are questions, of course, about whether there are connections here with a donor to

the Liberal Party. We don't know the answers to these questions and that's why it's

critical that the Minister and senior Departmental officials appear before the

Parliamentary Inquiry into these au pair visa issues. It is not unusual for people to

make representations to the Minister, it may be very unusual for the Minister to

respond in the way he has. He should answer those questions. I think it's

instructive too, that this same Minister still has very serious questions to answer

about his eligibility to be in Parliament at all. He's obviously got some very serious

business interests in child care centres in Queensland. I think it's important that the

Minister answer the questions about his eligibility to be in Parliament, it looks like

he's got a good business in child care and he seems to have a sideline in au pairs,

as well.

JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott has accepted his new role as Special Envoy to

Indigenous Affairs, what do you make of that appointment by Prime Minister Scott

Morrison?

PLIBERSEK: Well, Tony Abbott's the guy who cut $500 million from programs to

close the gap in health and education and indigenous disadvantage. So I'm not

really sure he's is the best person to be advocating on behalf of Aboriginal

Australians. They have got some pretty strong advocates themselves that might, if

they had the ear of the Prime Minister, might be able to give him some decent

advice about how to genuinely reduce the gap when it comes to health and

education, employment and so on. Having cut $500 million from Indigenous

programs is one thing, the other thing I think it's worth being aware of is that now

Tony Abbott's talking about making sure that Aboriginal kids are getting a great

education. Well I would be the first to say that is absolutely critical. That every

child, in every school, in every community gets a great education. This Liberal

Government has cut tens of millions of dollars from the Northern Territory school

system, on its own. They have cut billions of dollars across Australia from the very

schools that would be giving a decent education to the children that he professes

to be worried about.

JOURNALIST: Liberal MP Julia Banks has just announced she is quitting

Parliament because of bulling and intimidation. With the Wentworth, the former

Prime Minister's seat of Wentworth, now coming up to a by-election, and now the

seat of Chisholm, Ms Bank's seat, should the Government just call an election?

PLIBERSEK: Of course they should. The Government should just let the

Australian people decide. The Government people should let the Australian people

decide whether they want a Government that is just chaos, dysfunction and cuts or

whether they want a Shorten Labor Government that would deliver good quality

jobs, with decent pay and conditions, reinvest in our health and education systems,

make sure we have world class infrastructure that drives productivity and growth in

our economy. Let the people decide.

I mean it is extraordinary that even Scott Morrison's own colleagues don't have

faith in him to remain as Prime Minister. You know, two days ago Scott Morrison

was trying to say that the divisions are over, nothing to see here, everything's

healed, and we have got Julia Banks resigning from Parliament because she is

talking about the chaos inside the Liberal party. Yesterday, we had Julie Bishop

refusing to rule out a tilt at the leadership. I mean nobody believes that this divided,

dysfunctional Government is focused on anything other than itself.

JOURNALIST: Just further on that seat of Wentworth there, how confident are you

in that seat off the back of new polling showing that the two party preferred split is

50/50?

PLIBERSEK: Oh look, I'm afraid I wish I could believe that poll, but I'm afraid I

don't because Wentworth, I think it was a 20 percent margin for the Liberals at the

last election. It is a very safe, blue ribbon Liberal seat. Now we have had fantastic

candidates in the past, we have got a fantastic candidate right now. He will very

strongly make the case for Labor. But in a blue ribbon seat like this, we wouldn't

have any expectation of winning. You look at a seat like New England. We were

very happy to take the fight up to the Coalition Government in the seat of New-England. We don't do it because we expect a twenty point turn around in the

voting. We do it because we want to make the case across our community for

better jobs with decent pay and conditions, more investment in health and

education, a fairer society, a stronger economy. We want to put that case, but in

tiger territory like this it’s always an uphill battle.

JOURNALIST: Chisholm's not tiger territory though is it? It was a long standing

Labor seat from before Ms Banks has held it. What are your thoughts about that,

Labor's chances?

PLIBERSEK: Well Anna Burke won Chisholm when it was a very marginal seat

indeed and she built up her margin through her extraordinary work ethic and her, I

mean, she was just a brilliant Parliamentarian and she was a sad loss to Labor

when she left, when she retired. We've had good Labor candidates since but a

new candidate coming into a new seat like this is always very difficult. Certainly

Julia Banks retiring, I hope, gives us a better chance. The real question of course

is why is she going? What does this say about the Government? And what it says

about the Government is it's time for an election. You cannot have people saying

that the Government, saying that they're being bullied inside a dysfunctional

organisation and say it's OK if that bullying, that dysfunction, is governing our

country. It is extraordinary that we have a group of people leading the nation that

are more focused on fighting themselves than they are on the jobs of Australian

workers, on the flatlining wages that we are experiencing, on the spikes in energy

prices, the increase in pollution because we've got no energy or pollution reduction

policies, on health and education, all the things that matter in people's lives don't

rate a mention with the modern day Liberal Party. It's all about themselves.

JOURNALIST: Julia Banks says she's leaving because of bullying and intimidation

and that the chaos of last week was the last straw, but it's clearly been an ongoing

issue for her. Are you aware of bullying and intimidation particularly for women in

Parliament? Is that an issue that needs attention?

PLIBERSEK: Look I certainly can't answer for the details of the internals of what's

going on in the Liberal Party, but you can see the outcomes of it. You've had two

years at least of chaos and dysfunction with Liberals in the media, day after day,

bagging each other, talking about each other, fighting over the top job, fighting over

who's going to be in Cabinet or the outer Ministry. It has been all about their jobs. It

hasn't been about the Australian people. You don't need to be an insider in the

back rooms of the Liberal Party to work that out. The results are on display - we've

got flatlining wages, we've got chaos in things like the implementation of NAPLAN

online, we've got cuts through childcare, schools, TAFE and universities, we've got

a health system with growing hospital waiting lists, we've got continuing uncertainty

when it comes to energy and environment policy, which means an investment

strike in the construction of extra energy into our network. And the results are there

for anyone to see and the results are terrible for the Australian public. Now is the

time for the Prime Minister, the new Prime Minister, to admit that it's chaos and

that the Australian people should be deciding the leadership of their country, not 80

people in a Liberal Party back room meeting.

Thanks everyone.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: DAN DORAN 0427 464 350

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.