THE WORLD TODAY - 15 September 2015






SUBJECT/S: $100,000 degrees, Liberal leadership.

ELEANOR HALL: The Labor leadership is already trying to counteract Malcolm Turnbull's public appeal by painting him as a "sell-out" on policy.

They concede a Turnbull Prime Ministership will give the Coalition a bounce in the opinion polls but point to his refusal to shift on key policies.

Labor's higher education spokesman, Kim Carr, told Louise Yaxley that Mr Turnbull's gloss won't last when voters look more closely.

SENATOR KIM CARR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH, INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY: The Australian people want to know what policies are going to be implemented that affect them directly. The new leader of the Liberal party is committed, as far as more recently as June, said “I support unreservedly and wholeheartedly every element in the budget, every single one”, “I support the reforms to higher education.”

So he supports the $100,000 university degree package; he supports the cuts of 20 per cent funding to universities. He talks a lot about innovation and the new economy, but supports the $3 billion worth of cuts that have been imposed upon our industries as a result of this Government's last two budgets.

So the big questions for the Australian people is, will we see a question here of style or substance?

LOUISE YAXLEY: Well Mr Turnbull actually gets on pretty well with the crossbench, are you worried that he'll be able to negotiate on some of these policies that will be blocked in the Senate and be more effective at implementing them.

CARR: Well we'll see if that happens. The question again is whether or not the detail of his policy positions are going to sway anybody. The unfair and unnecessary cuts to the universities, the $100,000 degrees is not something that's likely to find favour in the Australian Senate, because the Australian people have so obviously rejected it.

Now there's no doubt he'll get a bounce in the polls immediately. But the substance of the question is, what will the long term impact be? And, we are talking here several months, I've absolutely no doubt that the Australian people - particularly in the southern states - appreciate what's happening to the manufacturing industry, what's happening to the universities, what's happening to the TAFE system, what's happening to schools, and they know that what's needed is a change of the policy, not a change in personel.

YAXLEY: There are unconfirmed reports that Christopher Pyne could be swapped out of education into defence, and promising to deliver submarine jobs in South Australia, does that worry you, given it's been such a big issue there?

CARR: Well if it's true, the speculation's true, then I think Christopher Pyne will be as ineffective in defence as he has been in higher education. The fact is, he's talked a lot but delivered very little.

YAXLEY: Does that put Labor on the back foot, when it's been counting on picking up seats in SA?

CARR: Well we'll see what happens with the public response to these changes, but I know that if you're an auto-worker you know the reality of the loss of the automotive industry as the deliberate policy direction of this Government.

Does Mr Turnbull change anything in that regard? The answer is no.

If you're a ship builder, you know that the policies of this Government are what's causing you distress. And you won't change your attitude based on whether or not the new leader of the Liberal party is the latest recycled product the Liberal party has to produce.

What we need here is a plan for the future of the nation, for new jobs and for prosperity that's actually shared by all, not just by those very wealthy people, particularly in Sydney, that this new Prime Minister represents.

YAXLEY: He's been talking about a new and more confident approach to the economy.

CARR: Mr Turnbull's smoother; he claims to be a better communicator, but all he does is tell you how clever he is. He claims to be more unifying, yet there is massive division within the Liberal party.

Let's just see what happens after the initial afterglow of this change, and whether or not anything of substance has changed in the body politic of this nation.

YAXLEY: You called him the latest recycled leader, but of course Labor's just been through a period of change from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard, back to Mr Rudd, then Bill Shorten.

CARR: Everything the Liberal's have said about us they've now done. We have the Turnbull, Abbott, Turnbull leadership of the Liberal party. They have jettisoned all of the things that they said were so reprehensible and have done it exactly in a way that highlights that the ambition of the Liberal party is about saving their jobs, not the jobs of Australians.

YAXLEY: And is the danger now for Labor that Mr Turnbull will show up some of the weaknesses in Bill Shorten?

CARR: Well we'll see that, we will, that the policy differences between the parties will take a more prominent role now. I've got absolutely no doubt that the Labor party will come up trumps in that regard.

Does the Liberal party stand for the positions that the new Prime Minister has said he's committed to? That is he was part of a cabinet to resolve those policy positions.

HALL: That's Labor's higher education spokesman Kim Carr speaking to Louise Yaxley.

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