TAMWORTH HIGH SCHOOL
FRIDAY, 27 MAY 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labors Your Child Our Future plan.
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR RURAL AFFAIRS: Its great to join Greg Parker from the Teachers Federation and of course our candidate in New England, David Ewings. He is a fantastic candidate he has been working hard here promoting Labors positive message. Im sorry that I was a little bit late but unlike Barnaby Joyce, I do not have a helicopter at my disposal. But were doing our best to service and campaign in this very very large electorate. David has been out there door knocking hard and we have been getting a very good response. Were in New England to win not to run 2nd or 3rd . The primary vote is being split here with Tony Windsor entering the race and we think that makes this an open game. Labor is running hard, we have a great candidate and we are here to win.
We're at the Peel High School today to talk about Barnaby Joyces failure to back the final years , not the final years or what we used to call the last two years of the Gonski reform funding. We are backing it of course. Gonski is a Labor initiative and we continue to support it and importantly we continue to fund it. What does that mean for New England? It means in just two years an additional $28 million for local schools. Now Labors commitment is very important in another way. About half of the funding - that additional funding - will go to regional schools notwithstanding the fact that only about a third of the students in the state are in regional schools. Why? because we know from a number of research papers that regional students are falling further behind their city cousins and we want to address that critical issue by loading up the funding to regional schools - including schools in Tamworth and Armidale and Scone, and right throughout the New England electorate.
Barnaby Joyce has gone missing on this issue. He continues to oppose this important funding. Thats one thing, but he should stand up in front of his constituents and explain why he is not supporting the Gonski funding and on that basis why he is letting down local kids. Now the Federation and candidates like David Ewings will continue to campaign hard on this until we force Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce into backing the Gonski reforms in full. Ill be happy to take your questions.
JOURNALIST: There is still a big hole over Labors ability to fund this Gonski promises thou, so how legitimate is your promise to the region with I think $9 billion missing in your tobacco tax excise claims?
FITZGIBBON: No, there is no black hole in Labors costings and if you saw the joint press conference between Scott Morrison and Mathias Cormann earlier this week youd come to a appreciate that. It was an embarrassing day for them, they backed away from their allegations. Labor has in its column about $70 billion of savings. Weve made the hard decisions on superannuation concessions for high income earners, capital gains tax changes, negative gearing changes tobacco excise changes and of course there is a Parliamentary Budget Office costing, there is a Treasury costing and there is some debate about that but no matter which way you cut it Labors policies are fully costed and fully funded.
JOURNALIST: Where will you be getting the money for Gonski then?
FITZGIBBON: Well I just took you through a number of
JOURNALIST: Tax excise
FITZGIBBON: No, we do not accept there is a black hole what so ever in our costings or our funding promises and I refer you again to Scott Morrison and Mathias Cormann who embarrassed themselves this week but trying to indicate that there is.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask David where does education sit in your priorities in terms of -
DAVID EWINGS LABOR CANDIDATE FOR NEW ENGLAND : Its top priority, and I think Bill Shorten has made it perfectly clear that the difference between the major parties is that we prioritise kids education, amongst other things but that has got to be top. Its certainly got to be top in an area where weve got disadvantaged schools. Theres no excuse for it, and might I add that the message that we are getting for the Coalition amounts to saying to these children that theyre not worth funding. I dont believe that. They clearly do, they would rather do other things economically, but the Labor Party doesnt support that, we support looking after our kids through all levels of education.
JOURNALIST: How far behind the ball are you as far as campaigning as a candidate when weve seen Tony Windsor and Barnaby Joyce, they have been on the ball even before there was an election date. Youre only making an announcement now. How much ground do you have to make?
EWINGS: Ive been on the ball from day one. You might not have seen me on TV as much, as Joel pointed out, I dont have a helicopter to get around in. Im in my own car driving around the electorate knocking on as many doors as I can; Im talking to real people. Id like to know how many doors Barnaby Joyce has knocked on. I bet you it wouldnt be too many.
FITZGIBBON: That would be none I would suggest.
JOURNALIST: But how serious is your candidacy when youre note taking leave from your employment to take on the seat?
EWINGS: Im taking leave today and Ive got a very understandable -
JOURNALIST: One day in the campaign?
EWINGS: Well thats right, unfortunately I cant be a full time candidate but I do what I can. Ive got a fantastic network of support, Ive got a fantastic campaign manager, Ive got Joel Fitzgibbon in my corner and thats pretty handy to have when youve got someone on your electorates doorstep with Joels ability and experience that you can call any time to get more information on detail or any other type of help. So we are doing everything that we absolutely can and Joels right, we are here to win.
JOURNALIST: Doesnt it show though that youre not taking the seat seriously as a party if youre not funding your candidate enough to take time off work to even run the seat?
FITZGIBBON: Well it is true that David doesnt have the backing of the Gina Rineharts of the world, I concede that, but we are raising -
JOURNALIST: But youre not funding him to the standards where he can take time off work either?
FITZGIBBON: No were giving David very strong support. I will be back here within the week campaigning with him again. We are taking this electorate very very seriously and I suggest that we are doing more work than Barnaby Joyce is doing locally. David has been out door knocking large tracks of the electorate, he has had people like the Mayor of Muswellbrook, Martin Rush who is well known in this area as a former State candidate working with him on the doors. Weve got a good team up here and we are taking it seriously and Barnaby Joyce should be on notice, we are coming after him.
JOURNALIST: David, how hard is it to campaign in an area that is traditionally an independent or National seat?
EWINGS: Its no harder than any other electorate to campaign in I wouldnt imagine. We are just out there doing as much as we possibly can. Im out there to put out the ideas that Labor and Bill Shorten have put forward and people will vote accordingly, but as I said before, this is a question of priorities and there is a clear priority to put to people and I hope they can see that. Id be amazed if anybody with school aged kids, particularly ones that go to public school vote for the coalition in this sort of climate. Going back to your question though, theres no difficulty in knocking on a door and asking people what their issues are, theyre more than happy to let you know and Im more than happy to listen to them and take them on board.
JOURNALIST: How many doors have you knocked on in Tamworth?
EWINGS: UM none yet, Ive done 10% of Armidale though and 85% of Aberdeen and Ill be back in Armidale tomorrow to possibly do another 20% and then Ill do Scone and Im sure we will be in Tamworth at some point before the election finishes.
JOURNALIST: The Greens Richard Di Natale down on the plains was saying that if you dont vote for the Greens, vote Tony Windsor and that casts some dispersions. Would Labor be offering Labor preferences?
FITZGIBBON: No, Ill answer that question. Preferences are determined by the party office in NSW and we dont get involved in it, thats a matter for them. But I just want to make this clear point, we will do whatever deal is necessary to give Labor the best chance of winning New England. Thats my interest, thats David Ewings interest. Thats why we are here today. Thats why we are working so hard, thats why we are promoting Labors positive policies and Barnaby Joyce needs to front up to Tamworth and explain why he wont back Gonski and why he is supporting cuts to hospitals in his local electorate.
JOURNALIST: So based on that you are backing Tony Windsor?
FITZGIBBON: Oh Im not backing Tony Windsor, we are here to win. We are pleased that Tony Windsors candidature is splitting up the primary vote which gives us a real in in this electorate. Thats why Im here. Tony Windsor can run his own race but we are here to contest the electorate hard and we are here to win.
JOURNALIST: What impact do you think then you have to affect the vote and percentage, are you putting a percentage on it at this stage?
FITZGIBBON: Look I think this election is really going to be about policies, not about individual candidates. As good a candidate that David is, and people will look at what we are doing in health and in education and in jobs, not just current jobs but jobs for our children for the future and of course in connectivity including the NBN. Malcolm Turnbull has destroyed Labors NBN. The people of Armidale know how good Labors plan was and how good our structure is and how good of delivery its providing to them and we want that to come to Tamworth and right throughout the electorate we want a 21st Century NBN plan not the 2nd rate thing that Malcolm Turnbull is offering.
JOURNALIST: Telecommunications this week was probably the first announcement from the Coalition for the Black Spots funding. Are you willing to equal that as the ALP, theres a lot of money being promised for black spots in the region.
FITZGIBBON: Absolutely and well be having more to say on mobile blackspots in the not too distant future but Ill make two additional points. First of all the Coalition is very good at rebadging funding. Now theyll take roads funding that already exists, which existed under the Labor Government and theyll call them beef roads when its not new money its just a rebadging of money and this is happening in telecommunications too. The renaming of existing money but go and ask Barnaby Joyce about his mobile phone towers and ask him how many have actually been switched on. In the 3 years that he has been in office ask him how many new mobile phone towers have actually been switched on and are actually serving peoples needs think youll find its a very small number indeed.
JOURNALIST: So youll be meeting, will you be expanding the black spot promise for the region?
FITZGIBBON: Jason Clare our spokesperson - I know because Ive been in conversation with him -will be having more to say about this in coming days.
JOURNALIST: Where would you rate telecommunications / internet speed as an election issue for you David?
EWINGS: Well I think the New England area has got a few that are right up there and that is right up there. I visited a family in Glen Innes who were running a lapidary business from their own property - if you dont know what lapidary I didnt its stone polishing and gem polishing one of their customers is NASA and they are Glen Innes with a customer like NASA and they are struggling to do business because of their internet connection is not good enough. Now, the Coalition - Malcolm Turnbull in particular - like to wax lyrical about the innovation revolution but they cant seem to tell us how thats going to happen or give us any detail about how we might achieve it. These people are out there trying very hard to be a part of that they are right on the forefront and they are being let down so things like the NBN amongst other technological advances is something that the regions need to have.
JOURNALIST: Do you think it is hypocrisy saying that they are going for innovation and yet not funding the Gonski program.
EWINGS: Of course, the simple question is yes, I do think its hypocrisy.
FITZGIBBON: All innovation locally starts with students. The way that we make sure that we are a smart country or smarter or at least as smart, whatever way you want to put it in the future is to make sure of children get the best possible education, thats what Barnaby Joyce is denying local students here in Tamworth and right throughout the New England electorate. Ok.
JOURNALIST: Caroona Coal Action Group have wrote to the ALP after the budget in reply speech asking for some commitments on Shenhua. In a response the ALP media team said Shenhua mine was not to proceed, its only after some media seeking clarification the ALP has been forced to correct its statement on that issue. Why would the ALP make such a claim when it has no part to play in the approvals process? Why would it mislead the Caroona Coal Action Group on a comment like that?
FITZGIBBON: Well Im not familiar with the statement that youre talking about but I know that Barnaby Joyce has been running around saying that Shenhua is not an issue anymore. One because its no longer in his electorate and two because he believes that principals have decided there is not value in the investment anymore. On that Im make two points, first of all It still matters, these questions still matters whether they are on one side of Barnabys boundary or on the other, and second while it may be true that the principals the investors- are walking away from the investment, Im not sure that that is true but even if it were true, it doesnt mean that Barnaby Joyce isnt allowed to have a view about the coal mine. Thanks everyone.