TOPIC: SUPER SATURDAY BY-ELECTIONS
E&OE - PROOF ONLY
JUSTINE KEAY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BRADDON: Thank you very much for coming here today to Devonport. We’ve been speaking to the practice here today about health.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Penny Wong, Julie Collins and Senator Anne Urquhart for joining me here today and also to thank all the volunteers that I’ve had come and spend this last – gosh, we’re in the 11th week of this campaign for me – spending their time having these really important conversations with the people of Braddon. These are conversations about the priorities of Labor and the priorities of my opponent, Brett Whiteley. When we’re out on the doors or on the phones, out in the street talking to the voters of Braddon, it’s very clear – my volunteers have heard this, I’ve heard it – that health is the number one issue in this electorate. That’s why we’re here today talking about adolescent health and the challenges that our practitioners face and what they’re doing to make sure that our young people in this community can access health services.
But this government – my opponent Brett Whiteley – don’t believe we need to improve access to health. They don’t believe that we need more funding into our health system. But the people of Braddon know that’s not the case. The people of Braddon know that our health services here have been completely trashed. The health system in Tasmania is in crisis. We have the longest waiting times anywhere in this country. The people of Braddon are waiting far too long for their elective surgery, that’s why Labor seems to be the only party listening to the people of Braddon.
We’ve announced $30 million to address elective surgery waiting lists in Tasmania. We know that people here, and GPs have told us as well, that to access specialist services in the north-west of Tasmania have become more and more difficult because in 2016, thanks to people like Brett Whiteley, they cut funding to the TAZREACH program. This program allowed specialists to come to clinics like this, to places like the west coast, to King Island, Circular Head, to address the health needs of people in our community so that we didn’t have to travel to the mainland or to other places like Hobart. Labor will restore that funding – $4.5 million. My opponent has not talked about that at all. We’re also going to address the access. People are finding it so difficult to access our Medicare services. That’s why we’re introducing 50 new places in Centrelink, 20 of which will be for Medicare, and we’re also going to establish another Headspacecentre in Burnie so that young people in Burnie can access mental health services when they need it.
And when we have a skill shortage in the north-west, and my opponent Brett Whiteley doesn’t seem to be talking about that at all, we’ve announced $800,000 to establish a mini hospital ward at the Devonport TAFE so we can train people properly in our aged care and disability services here, which are growing.
So thank you to Penny, Julie and Anne for coming today. Thank you to all the volunteers who are out still out there today talking to the voters in Braddon – this is not over yet. We’ll be talking to the voters until 6 o’clock tomorrow night because this election is so important. This election is to send a message to Canberra, a message to Malcolm Turnbull that the people of Braddon want their interests first. They want their health care first, not the interests of the banks. Brett Whiteley would go to Canberra, if he’s elected tomorrow, championing for the big end of town, championing for tax handouts for the big banks and doing absolutely nothing to address the health needs of this community. Thank you – Penny.
SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Thanks very much Justine. Can I first thank Dr Cooper and her staff for hosting us here and for the fantastic service they provide to young Tasmanians and to the many Tasmanians here at the Don Medical Clinic.
We are here to talk about health and we’re here to talk about the choice that people in Braddon have. I want to be very clear, I know this has been a long election campaign and people are probably tired of media and listening to all of the policies, but there is a very, very clear choice you have tomorrow. Your choice is between someone who wants to give $17 billion in tax cuts to the banks, and Justine who backs Medicare. Your choice is between Mr Whiteley, who supported cuts to hospitals, and Justine who supports more funding to hospitals here and health services here. Your choice is between someone who backed a $20 co-payment that would make it harder for families to come into services like this, which is the Liberal Party, or someone who backs better health services; more people to provide Medicare services. That’s a pretty clear choice because Justine and Labor back Medicare, Justine and Labor will always invest in health. We know what the Liberals and Mr Whiteley think about Medicare and what they’ve been prepared to do to hospitals throughout the country including here.
It is a very clear choice and I urge Tasmanians, I urge the people of Braddon, to look very clearly at what is on offer here – a party that backs health, a candidate that backs health and Medicare, and someone who wants to make it harder for you to go to the doctor. Thanks very much.
JULIE COLLINS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGEING AND MENTAL HEALTH: Thanks, Penny. As a Tasmanian, we all know Brett Whiteley well, and what we know about Brett Whiteley has not been good. Brett Whiteley absolutely supported a GP tax for Tasmanians; for the people of Braddon to pay $20 more every time they go to a doctor – that was supported by Brett Whiteley. The Advocate says he said “it was entirely necessary”. Entirely necessary for everybody in Braddon, every time they go to the doctor, to pay an extra $20. They know Brett Whiteley well and they’ve rejected him twice before and I urge the people of Braddon to reject Brett Whiteley again.
On the other hand of course we’ve got Justine. It’s been an absolute privilege to work with Justine and the other Tasmanians in the Federal Parliament. As Tasmanians, we’re pretty formidable for sticking up for our state. People know Justine and they know she will always stand up for the people of Braddon.
We know that Justine will support better health services for the people of Braddon. We know that Justine wants your access to your doctor to be with your Medicare card not your credit card. We know that Justine supports investment in hospitals, not longer waiting lists. The choice is very clear for the people on the north coast and the west coast tomorrow and I urge them to remember what Brett Whiteley was like, what Brett Whiteley did, and urge them to remember that Justine is standing up for them in Canberra. She doesn’t want to support $17 billion for the big banks, Justine wants to support the people of Braddon and better investment in health while Brett Whiteley wants to support the big end of town and keep making things harder for the people on the north-west and the west coast. Thanks.
JOURNALIST: Where’s Bill Shorten today and why isn’t he out campaigning?
WONG: Bill Shorten was here yesterday, wasn’t he? I’m happy to tally up how many times Bill Shorten’s been to Longman, Braddon, Perth, Fremantle and Mayo in South Australia as compared with Malcolm Turnbull.
I think the question that should be asked is “why is Malcolm Turnbull avoiding Mayo”? He hasn’t even been there. This is a seat they’ve held for three-and-a-half decades. This whole week he hasn’t been in Adelaide, hasn’t been in South Australia, hasn’t been in Mayo. Maybe he’s there today but I doubt it. I think it’s pretty clear who’s been prepared to get out on the hustings and Bill has been.
JOURNALIST: If Labor loses this seat and/or Longman, how tenable is Bill Shorten’s leadership?
WONG: That’s a hypothetical isn’t it? We are not contemplating that type of hypothetical in terms of the outcome of the seat. We know it’s hard to win, we don’t take anything for granted but Justine is a great MP and she’ll make a great MP and advocate for health care in this region.
JOURNALIST: This is a question for both you and Justine, the one thing that voters here have consistently said is that they don’t trust politicians to deliver on any of the pledges or promises that have been made over the last two months. What guarantees can you give that the Labor Party will deliver – they obviously can’t deliver right now? And also Justine, how do you feel that voters have such strong resentment for politicians?
WONG: I’ll answer that and then I’ll flick to Justine. I accept all of us need to do better when it comes to the voters’ trust in us. We understand as the Labor Party that we have to demonstrate our faith and our commitment to voters. When it comes to some of the key issues we have, we have stood firm against a Coalition Government that has sought to cut hospital funding. We have stood firm against a Coalition Government that has sought to cut funding to local schools. We have fought against cuts to the pension. We have fought against the cutting of the Energy Supplement, which hits pensioners hard. We fought against the increase to the retirement age so that people here and across the country can access the pension when they need it.
We have demonstrated over the last five years that we are true to our values, much more so than a Coalition Government who told Tasmanians, who told Australians, no cuts to health, no cuts to education, and then turned up and cut how many tens of billions of dollars from your health system and from your education system.
KEAY: Thank you. From the beginning of this campaign Brett Whiteley said “judge me on my record”, that’s what he said and that’s what we have done. That’s perfectly fine, we know what his record his, it’s in black and white, it’s on the Hansard. His record is to cut funding to health and education, his record is to cut the Age Pension – to kick people off the pension, to change the way it’s indexed. His record is to lift the pension age to 70. His record is for the people of Braddon to pay an extra $20 to see a GP. His record was to look at how he could broaden the base of the GST and in fact increase it putting fresh food and produce through the GST. His record is not standing up for the people of Braddon and what he will do if he’s elected tomorrow is to go to Canberra to vote to cut the Energy Supplement for many thousands of pensioners in this electorate yet give the Commonwealth Bank $7 million a day in tax cuts.
These are the choices that the people of Braddon have to make. It’s very, very clear. They can choose to vote for Labor, to vote for me; someone who has worked hard in this electorate over the last two years and before the last federal election. I consider myself a very grassroots politician. If I can change one person’s life, if I can affect positive change in their life, then all this other crap that goes with politics is worthwhile in my opinion. If I can go to Parliament and stand up and fight for them and argue for the people of Braddon not to cut the pension, to get more funding into hospitals, then I think that’s a far better choice than Brett Whiteley who has a very bad record for doing that.
JOURNALIST: You’ve focused very heavily on health throughout your campaign. Are you concerned that there might be a risk in putting too many campaign eggs in the one basket?
KEAY: Like I’ve said before throughout this campaign, you don’t have to go far to hear that health is a major concern for the people of Braddon. Just last night as I was walking the streets I had a lady come up to me who said “I’ve been waiting three years for someone to have a look at the metal plate that’s in my neck; that’s been in there for 17 years”.
JOURNALIST: But have you ignored other issues?
KEAY: This is an issue that the people of Braddon raise with me every single day, but we’ve released an enormous amount of policies to rebuild our TAFEs here on the north-west coast, for infrastructure projects to grow the local economy and jobs, like the Coastal Pathway, Cradle Mountain, Bass Strait Highway, the $60 million that we put forward that the Liberals then followed. We’ve got a candidate and a Federal Government that is completely out of touch. We’ve got four Liberal senators here who never come to Braddon, a Prime Minister who’s never been here until just this election.
So I can say to the people of Braddon, you’ve got someone who’s worked hard for you, who has delivered and assisted you, who is completely in touch with you because we’ve got an enormous amount of policies and commitments that we’ve made that address the need of the people of Braddon, or you can vote for someone who’ll put the interests of the banks before yours.
JOURNALIST: And Justine, what’s your plans on Saturday if you don’t win? Do you plan to stay in politics?
KEAY: One day at a time. I’m in this to win it. I’ve been campaigning very hard, not just in the last 11 weeks but throughout my term as the member and before that. I’m not ready to give this up by tomorrow.
JOURNALIST: Do you consider yourself a career politician though?
KEAY: I consider myself a fighter for the people of Braddon and want to continue to do that.
JOURNALIST: Justine, you just attacked Brett Whiteley’s credibility but what about your own credibility? How can you prove that to people who have almost unprecedented levels of distrust in politicians from both sides?
KEAY: I’ll point out a testimonial from people I have helped – you can just go on social media and find it – that we’ve put out there. People who are willing to step forward and tell the rest of the people of Braddon how I’ve helped them; what they think of me. I know people will make their choice tomorrow and that’s what they’ll do but it’s clearly the choice between someone who’s willing to fight for them – to put their health needs ahead of the banks. That’s the choice tomorrow for the people of Braddon, they’ll have their say.
JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister and Brett Whiteley say you’re a “liar”, that you’re just not telling the truth, particularly on health funding, which has gone up to Tasmania; federal funding to Tasmania.
KEAY: If Brett Whiteley thinks the status quo of our health system is okay then he’s clearly not talking to any voters in Braddon. We know in the 2013 election that they cut funding to health; it is there. In the state budget just handed down in May this year, the state treasury, the state Treasurer, said that they’re concerned about the level of funding coming from the Commonwealth; that it’s not meeting the needs of people in Tasmania.
It is quite clear that they’re the ones that have not done enough; they know they haven’t done enough to address the health needs of Tasmania. On the other hand, Labor as I’ve outlined,have announced a number of policies and commitments to ensure that people in this electorate and that people in Tasmania can access health services better. They don’t need their credit card to do that, and we’ll be putting the interests of Tasmanians before the interests of the big end of town.
WONG: Can I just make two points about the Prime Minister throwing around the word “liar”. Well the biggest lie was told by his party before the 2013 election when they said no cuts to health and no cuts to education then proceeded to cut billions of dollars – I think it was $80 billion dollars – from health and education budgets. If you think that’s a lie, look at Joe Hockey’s own budget papers because he had it in there, very clearly, as a cut. A savings measure that would ensure that less money was spent here in Tasmania and across the country on your schools and your education, and really? Is this a lie? So this is what we’re talking about – $20? It’s a $20 co-payment. Okay, you were asking a question of me?
JOURNALIST: Senator Wong, I just wanted to seek a guarantee from you that all of the promises that have been made over the last 12 months by Labor here in Braddon and in Longman will be put into place if Labor wins government next year.
WONG: They’re Labor policy if we win government; fully costed Labor policy if we win government.
JOURNALIST: I’ve just got one more question for Justine if that’s okay? Justine, by my count you’ve been campaigning every day since May 11, are you tired?
KEAY: Oh well, you know, you wake up every day ready for another day to speak to the people of Braddon – it is a very long campaign. I have to say I wasn’t excited when the Speaker set the date 11 weeks out. I came out very strong, very early, very hard because this is a community that I love; born and bred here. This is a community I’m willing to fight for so every day has been a fantastic day because I get to speak to the electors of Braddon as I have done for the last two-three years leading up to the 2016 election. My tank is not empty, I’ll still be going tomorrow and beyond.
JOURNALIST: Can I just follow up with a question for you Senator Wong? You’ve failed to endorse Bill’s leadership…
WONG: No no no, don’t verbal me. I said I wasn’t going to take a hypothetical predicated on the fact that we’re losing. Bill is the leader, Bill will remain the Leader. I know there’s been a lot of focus on this and I think Albo was very clear yesterday in his one-word answer, but what I am clearly saying is we are not countenancing the loss of Justine. She’s a fantastic representative for your community.
Thank you very much.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.