DOORSTOP: 17/4/19

April 17, 2019


SUBJECT/S: Federal Labor’s $50m commitment to kick-start the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Radio Rentals, Labor climate policy.

NADIA CLANCY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BOOTHBY: I’m Nadia Clancy, Labor’s candidate for the seat of Boothby and I’m really happy to be here today with a number of members from our federal and state Labor team. We’re here for a fantastic health announcement and Labor has made it very clear throughout our time in opposition but also leading into the election that we are really committed to investing in hospitals and our health care because all South Australians should be able to trust they should get the health care they need and not be worried about it costing too much.

MARK BUTLER: Thanks Nadia. It is great to be here with Nadia Clancy the candidate for Boothby, my parliamentary colleague Steve Georganas, our Senate candidates Marielle Smith and Emily Gore, but also importantly Peter Malinauskas the state Labor Leader and Chris Picton the state Shadow Health Minister.

Today is a really important announcement. South Australian Labor and Federal Labor have a great legacy in modernising and rejuvenating South Australia’s public health and public hospital facilities. You see that nowhere better than on North Terrace with the new Royal Adelaide Hospital behind us, a great legacy of the Rann and Weatherill Labor governments, which will stand the test of time and develop modern services - 21st century services - for South Australia for decades to come. But behind that hospital also the Federal Labor Government funded the South Australian Medical Research Institute which is pulling some of the world’s best researchers here into Adelaide. Jay Weatherill, when he was Premier, and Peter Malinauskas as the Health Minister, understood that we needed to extend that program of rejuvenation into delivering a 21st century facility for pregnant women, for new mothers, for babies and for children. Today Federal Labor announces the first solid down payment on delivering that to South Australia – a $50 million contribution to make sure that we are able to deliver a 21st century hospital for pregnant women, babies, new mothers and children across South Australia.

I want to stress that if elected in May, a Shorten Labor Government intends to work cooperatively with a Marshall State Liberal Government. Peter Malinauskas has made it very clear in recent months that this project should be above party politics, as a bipartisan project at a state level. I also note though that there has been no contribution, no commitment from Scott Morrison or Greg Hunt to help in delivering this really important project for South Australia.

It’s time, in the June State Budget, that Steven Marshall and Rob Lucas actually start to set out a clear plan, a timeframe and some solid funding to deliver this project as a reality. A Shorten Labor Government, if elected, will make the first financial contribution.

I’ll just finish by saying Labor is able to make this contribution because we are choosing to deliver 21st century hospital services to the Australian community instead of tax loopholes to the wealthy and the big end of town. This $50 million commitment is part of our $1 billion hospitals fund which is aimed at rejuvenating public hospital services across our wide country. It is also part of our $2.8 billion commitment to reversing the cuts to hospital services that have been made right through the life of this Government, going back to the horror budget of 2014 under Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, but also cuts that were delivered in every single one of Scott Morrison’s Budgets as Treasurer.

I want to thank Peter Malinauskas and Chris Picton for joining us at this announcement and I’ll hand over to Peter to say a few words.  

PETER MALINAUSKAS: Thanks very much Mark and it is great to be here with so many Federal Labor Party parliamentary colleagues but also candidates in the upcoming Federal Election, also to be here with Chris Picton as well.

I can’t tell you how excited I am at the news of Federal Labor’s $50 million commitment to a brand new women and kids hospital here in the biomedical precinct on North Terrace. This is a dramatic leap forward. It is important to remember that only ten years ago where we are now was largely unused wasted land, and now not ten years later we are probably on the site of one of the most advanced public hospitals anywhere in the world, and soon to be the start of a brand new woman’s and kids hospital.
This is a project that most South Australians desperately need to take place. We are now in a situation where there is bipartisan agreement between state Labor, state Liberal and also federally as well to see this project but what we’ve seen now is the first real commitment when it comes to money towards this project. This $50 million investment from Federal Labor is unusual, it isn’t common to see Federal governments make contributions to public hospital capital projects and I think it is fantastic that Federal Labor has decided to prioritise public health, they’ve decided to prioritise brand new public hospital infrastructure here in South Australia. 

All we need now is Steven Marshall to step up to the plate and actually put their money where their mouth is. The Premier has outlined, he has made a commitment to have this hospital to be built by 2024 right here on this site. Thus far we haven’t seen any real money committed to that project. The only money that is on the table is Federal Labor’s. We’ve got bipartisan support for the need for a new Women’s and Kids. We’ve got bipartisan support for the precise location. What we need now is actual money being put on the table and only Federal Labor has committed money thus far. If Steven Marshall is deadly serious about making sure that this project is realised there has got to be money in this year’s State Budget. Federal Labor has put their money where their mouth is, it is now time the Liberal Party did the same. We have to see real money in this year’s State Budget if we want to see this project realised by the year 2024.
I want to thank Nadia Clancy, Mark, Emily Gore, Steve Georganas and every other Federal Labor politician who is committed to campaigning for this important announcement today. Chris Picton and I welcome it, State Labor welcomes it, let’s make sure that the bipartisan support for this project is matched with bipartisan money. Federal Labor has put its money on the table it is now about time the Coalition does the same thing. 

JOURNALIST: Peter is this another move by yourself to distance yourself from the decisions made by the previous State Labor Government? Much like you did with the Repat the other week? Conceding that building a woman’s only hospital here was the wrong policy to take to the last state election?

MALINAUSKAS:  Let’s be clear about this Rory because there is an important chronology to work through. Back in 2010 there was an election largely fought upon whether there should be a biomedical precinct at all. We know that the state Liberals fought the brand new Royal Adelaide Hospital every single step of the way and since then we’ve seen the construction of a brand new facility and other investments that have gone with it, whether it be the SAHMRI or two brand new medical schools from our two universities just up the road. It has undoubtedly been a huge policy success. At the 2014 state election Jay Weatherill announced that State Labor was committed to building a brand new Women’s and Kids hospital right here on this site; part of the biomedical precinct. That was a position that we took to the 2014 election, an election which we won. Now since then substantial amounts of work was done analysing the costs of that project, around about where they could build it and so forth, advice was sought from various agencies, including regarding the flight path. Since then that advice has evolved and has allowed for rather than being a separate woman’s and kids, to have a co-located project. We believe that is an optimal outcome. I said from the start that I wasn’t going to be a Tony Abbott style Opposition Leader, which means if new advice is put on the table which demonstrates that a co-located project can work on this site, then we support it, let’s make it happen. It is only Federal Labor that has committed the money that is necessary to see this project realised.

We want to see the right outcome for people when it comes to our public hospital system and our public health network. That requires real financial commitments and I am very grateful for the fact that Federal Labor has made theirs, it is now about time the Liberal Party and the conservative side of politics actually started putting their money where their mouth is to see this project come to fruition.     

JOURNALIST: Peter how can that advice change so much in a little over a year between when the Women’s only hospital was announced ahead of the 2017 State Budget and then the Liberal Party’s announcement late last year about a co-located Women and Children’s? How can that be so different?

MALINAUSKAS: We understand that the Liberal Party in Government in South Australia has received advice that they can build a co-located facility on this precinct and make these costs stack up. Well, if they’ve got that advice we welcome it. That’s a good outcome and it is worthy of support. I am very grateful for the fact the Labor Party is putting some money on the table to realise that vision, to actually see construction take place. It is now about time that the State Liberals start to commit its own funds if we are going to see this brand new project being delivered by the year 2024 as committed by Steven Marshall.

JOURNALIST: Is it convenient now that you can turn around and offer bipartisan support given it is a completely different position from the last state election?

MALINAUSKAS: The position that Labor took to the last state election was based on the best evidence and advice at the time. If there is renewed advice that says this project can be delivered on this site we welcome that, but let’s get on with it. Let’s not talk about it anymore, let’s take this bipartisan support for the building of a co-located facility in this site and actually start allocating some funds so it can be built. Whenever a politician says it is not about the money, you know it is always about the money. What we have got to start seeing is Steven Marshall put his money where his mouth is, just as Federal Labor has, so this project can actually start being built. It is what the state needs, we know the woman’s and kids facility has served us well at its current location but it is now time for a brand new hospital and Labor is the only party that is putting money on the table to see this build take place. Let’s now see the State Liberals do the same.

JOURNALIST: Just briefly on another matter with you Peter, what words do you have to say to the 100 or so South Australian employees of Radio Rentals who face an uncertain future given the closure of their retail outlets?

MALINAUSKAS: Radio Rentals has been an iconic retailer in our state for many, many years. It has employed hundreds if not thousands of people over its journey and is a brand that I think all South Australians are familiar with. The news of their closure is really disappointing. I think it is a loss for the state. Our thoughts always go out to the workers who have lost their jobs under this particular circumstance and what we would like to see is a state government who would start to become a bit more proactive when it comes to providing assistance to those who lose their jobs in our community. We’ve had a number of building companies close, we’ve seen the Big W Monarto site set to be close and we now have heard about Radio Rentals but we seem to have a state government that seems to say oh well those workers, good luck to them. We would like to see a more proactive effort from this state government showing a compassionate response, indeed showing some resources towards these workers getting retrained so they can enjoy a decent standard of living.    

JOURNALIST: Your leader yesterday came under intense questioning about the emissions target, when can we hear more?

BUTLER: We’ve been very clear, and I was clear when we announced the policy with Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen a couple of weeks ago now that we based our policy on modelling that has been available for people to look at and cross examine for some time now. Our energy policy, for example, we’ve based our assumptions on the modelling that was commissioned by the Turnbull Government, by the Energy Security Board, the peak body for the electricity sector in Australia that shows quite clearly that delivering the National Energy Guarantee would deliver a reduction on average to households in their power bills by $550 per year. On top of that modelling there has also been modelling that shows our more ambitious renewable energy target of 50 per cent would deliver a further reduction of wholesale power prices over the course of the 2020s in the order of about 25 per cent. So modelling has been very clear in energy, which is the biggest part of our climate policy package.

In transport, again, we’ve relied very heavily on the Government’s own modelling, the modelling that was commissioned by the Turnbull Government which shows that fuel efficiency standards introduced in the same measure that they have been introduced in the United States would deliver savings on average for motorists of more than $500 each and every year; a saving over the course of the life of a vehicle of around $7,500. Again very clear modelling with our transport modelling based on the modelling commissioned by the Turnbull Government but also the experience in every other OECD country because every other OECD country has these fuel efficiency standards except Australia.

In the manufacturing sector we’ve been very clear, with a long engagement over 12 to 18 months with the manufacturing sector, the LNG sector and other large polluters that would be covered by our policy, that we would not introduce a new mechanism but instead work with the existing Turnbull Government safeguards mechanism. To that end we are also introducing a much broader range of offsets that those companies would be able to access in response to their request, for example, to allow trading in the international carbon trading markets.

We’ve got more detail than any party, in government or opposition, has ever taken to a Federal Election around climate change. That modelling is very clear, it is very hard for the government to argue against it because most of the modelling has been commissioned by the government itself. 

JOURNALIST: Do you concede yesterday was untidy?

BUTLER: No I don’t concede that at all.

JOURNALIST: You don’t think it was untidy?

BUTLER: I don’t concede that at all.

JOURNALIST: Your leader couldn’t answer the question?

BUTLER: I don’t concede that at all. Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen, and I and other members of Federal Labor’s leadership team have been talking about this policy for weeks now. Bill Shorten and I did a very, very long detailed press conference when we announced this policy. He was here yesterday to make announcements around health and he was focusing on health.

JOURNALIST: With regards to health, why wasn’t this announced yesterday while Mr Shorten was here?

BUTLER: This is a five week campaign, we are rolling out our announcements in different portfolio areas to ensure that the community is able to absolve all the commitments that we are making in important areas of public policy, including obviously in health. This is, as Peter has said, this has been a debate going for some years now subject to different advice that has been received by the state government over the last couple of years. People want us to kick start this project to make it a reality for women, for families, for babies and for children in this state. It is overdue to have a clear plan for delivery of a project that Steven Marshall promised well more than 12 months ago now. Federal Labor is going to be the first to put money on the table. We think that is an announcement that deserves a bit of attention in South Australia.