Browsing articles in "Media Releases"
Nov 19, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins




The Abbott Government has failed in its bid to water down consumer protections for investors seeking financial advice, with the Senate tonight fundamentally rejecting the weakening Labor’s Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) laws.


This is a monumental defeat for the Abbott Government and its determination to give the big banks a boost at the expense of consumers.


Today’s vote in the Senate is a victory for common sense, consumers and thousands of victims of dodgy financial advice – and it’s a stinging rebuke to the Government which continues to try to sneak around the Senate to pass its unpopular policies.


The disallowance is a major embarrassment for the acting Assistant Treasurer, Mathias Cormann.  It’s also a reminder of the need for the Prime Minister to appoint a full-time Assistant Treasurer who has the time to give his or her full attention to these serious matters.


The Abbott Government ignored serious community concerns by doing a dirty deal with Clive Palmer to sneak through changes that would have destroyed consumer protections in financial advice.


It is simply unbelievable that the Abbott Government remains so determined to reduce these critical protections, especially after so many Australians have fallen victim to dodgy financial advice in scandals involving Storm Financial, TimberCorp, the Commonwealth Financial Planning, Trio and Westpoint.


The Opposition remains extremely concerned that despite tens of thousands of investors losing their money, the Abbott Government remains determined to weaken – rather than tighten – consumer protections.


The Government’s regulations remove essential consumer protections by watering down the Best Interests Duty, removing the Opt -In Requirement and allowing for the return of previously banned forms of conflicted remuneration.


The Liberals’ changes come at a time when scandals involving inappropriate advice and behaviour, has reduced consumer confidence in the financial advice industry.


Today should be a wake-up call for the Prime Minister – when will he finally get the message that his changes to FOFA laws have failed?


Labor’s FoFA reforms ensured a strong, fair and efficient financial advice sector with strong safeguards in place.  After today’s failure in the Parliament the Government must give up on its efforts to unwind these important reforms.


Labor will always stand for ensuring important consumer protections. We will of course work with the Parliament to ensure that these laws remain effective into the future.





CHRIS RAMSAY (RIPOLL) 0430 009 434

                                      CAMERON SINCLAIR (DASTYARI) 0407 372 711

Nov 19, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins




Malcolm Turnbull today confirmed that more than half a billion dollars would be ripped from the budget of the ABC and SBS despite the Prime Minister promising the Australian people that there would be “no cuts to the ABC or SBS”.


Speaking on SBS World News the night before the election, Tony Abbott promised:


“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to ABC or SBS.”




Since that lie Tony Abbott has cut more than $500 million from the ABC and SBS.


It is absolutely clear now that Tony Abbott stared down the barrel of a camera the night before the election and lied to the Australian people.


He has also confirmed this lie four times as Prime Minister.


1)   QUESTION: Do you stand by commitments not to cut the ABC and SBS?


PRIME MINISTER: I stand by all the commitments that we made prior to the election and that was certainly one of them.


Press Conference – 5 February 2014


2)   I said that there would be no cuts to the ABC, and ABC funding is more this year than last year.


Question Time – 2 October 2014


3)   BILL SHORTEN: My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister’s statement: No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS. Does the Prime Minister stand by this statement?


TONY ABBOTT: Of course I stand by all the commitments that this government made prior to the election. If there is one lesson that members opposite should have learnt from the experience of the previous term of parliament it is that you cannot say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.


Question Time – 13 February 2014


4)   BILL SHORTEN: My question is to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister promised the Australian people on the night before the last election: no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no changes to the pension, no changes to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS. Will the Prime Minister repeat that promise now, and if not how can the Australian people trust anything this Prime Minister has to say?


TONY ABBOTT: I want to assure the Labor Party and all the people of Australia that we will fix the debt and deficit disaster that we were left by the Labor Party, and we will do it in ways which are faithful to the commitments we made pre-election.


Question Time – 13 May 2014


There is no other way to put it, Tony Abbott has lied to the Australian people, both as Opposition Leader and Prime Minister. You can clearly not believe anything he says.


For more information on the Abbott Government’s broken promises visit





RYAN HAMILTON 0414 599 468

Nov 17, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


 Labor welcomes finalisation of negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia and China and calls on the Abbott Government to release the text of the agreement for full public scrutiny.


China is already Australia’s biggest two-way trading partner.


This is an economic relationship which helped Australia to keep growing during the Global Financial Crisis and which will be critical for our future prosperity.


Labor supports freeing up global trade because it drives growth, generates jobs, improves living standards and reduces poverty, both at home and abroad.


We have been the party of trade liberalisation for more than four decades.


A decade of hard work has gone into creating this opportunity for Australia.


That is why we want to ensure this FTA is a high-quality trade agreement.


The fundamental test for any FTA is whether it achieves genuine market access for Australian exporters and supports and creates Australian jobs.


It’s important to look behind the Abbott Government’s political spin and examine the substance of any trade agreement.


Industry and the public need to be provided with the full text of the agreement so they can assess its impact.


It is disappointing that after days of choreographed leaks, the Government has failed to release the text of the agreement.


Improvements in market access for Australian goods and services are good news.


But Labor is concerned that the agreement will fail to improve market access for Australian sugar, rice, wheat, cotton, rapeseed and vegetable oils.


It is also disappointing that the FTA will not completely remove punitive new Chinese tariffs on Australian thermal coal for two years.


The Government must be clear on the details of temporary migration arrangements under the FTA – any provisions on labour mobility must increase, not reduce, jobs for Australians.


Labor has stated consistently that the benchmarks for a genuinely liberalising and high-quality FTA with China include:


  • New Zealand-plus market access outcomes for Australian farmers and other exporters;
  • Elimination or significant reductions in tariffs on Australian industrial goods;
  • Retention of Australia’s anti-dumping safeguards;
  • Major improvements in market access for Australian services;
  • Reduction in red-tape and other barriers to Chinese investment in Australia and to Australian investment in China;
  • No provisions which give Chinese companies operating in Australia superior legal rights to those enjoyed by Australian companies;
  • Retention of labour market testing or comparable safeguards on temporary migration.


Labor will use Parliamentary processes to assess the FTA against these benchmarks and to ensure that it is in Australia’s national interest.





MEDIA CONTACT:                   LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT        02 6277 4053

SACHA FENTON (WONG)                  0467 784 528




Nov 14, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins













Prime Minister Cameron, distinguished guests, veterans.


Prime Minister Cameron, thank you for your memorable address to our Parliament this morning.


Your speech showed such a deep understanding of our nation – and the values that our two countries are so proud to share.


Open economies, multicultural societies, freedom of speech, a free press, and the great gift of parliamentary democracy.


Today at the heart of our Australian democracy, we meet on ground made hallow by those who died for their country.


This building was not part of the original design of Canberra.


The brutal war and fragile peace that inspired its construction were beyond contemplation when the foundation stone of our capital was laid.


Today we cannot imagine Canberra without it –this great secular cathedral, dedicated to the courage, service and sacrifice of all those who risked their lives in Australia’s name.


It has become a focal point for our national memory – a permanent reminder of the dreadful cost that Britain, Australia and all our allies bore in the fight for freedom.


As your great wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said:


‘We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us’


At the official opening of this Memorial, on Remembrance Day 1941, our great wartime Prime Minister John Curtin said:


‘No-one who enters this building can leave it without some deepening and enriching of their inner spiritual life.’


Let that be true for all of us – Britons and Australians both.


Together, let us vow to live up to the standard of those who fought for us, and those now lost to us.


Together, let us celebrate and commemorate the values and ideals that our two countries have always stood for.


As Prime Minister Cameron said this morning:


‘[these values] are the best basis for the fulfilment of human ambitions and dreams, more so than ever in the 21st Century.’


Together, let us remember that, always.


Lest we forget.



Nov 14, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Stand in Australia’s Red Centre and you’ll be confronted with an imposing vista that has no peer anywhere on earth. Uluru is an environmental and historical colossus – unique to our nation and celebrated the world over. It’s our cultural axis.


In every direction, we are home to habitats of unspoiled beauty and ecological significance: the Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef; the Kimberley and Kakadu; the Blue Mountains and Flinders Ranges; Tasmania’s Franklin River and its centuries-old forests.


Australia is truly bordered by an environment exceptional for its breadth and diversity.


Our parks, mountains, deserts and reefs are a tourist boon worth billions – and a perpetual source of national pride.


They are the living link to our past and a vital part of our future prosperity. An ancient country tied to a young nation.


In recent weeks, the death of the great Gough Whitlam has given us all cause to reflect on the past and his remarkable achievements as prime minister.


In what was an age of rapid, relentless social change, it’s difficult to pinpoint particular reforms that define the Whitlam era. But crucial to his legacy was his work to protect and preserve Australia’s environment.


Gough was the environment’s first modern, mainstream champion. He dragged environmental issues to the centre of the political debate, where they’ve remained ever since.


He introduced the first national environmental protection legislation, signed us up to the World Heritage Convention –  just the seventh nation to do so – expanded and modernised our national parks and stopped Joh Bjelke-Petersen drilling for oil in the Great Barrier Reef, which is now the largest marine park in the world. He even appointed a Labor government’s first environment minister – himself.


Whitlam did all of this for the benefit of future generations. He saw the intrinsic value in our natural resources, not just as commodities but as irreplaceable natural assets.


Whitlam’s revolutionary work in environmental protection began a proud Labor tradition that continues today.


Under Bob Hawke, Labor protected Tasmanian and Queensland forests, saved the Franklin and created national Landcare.


Most recently, Labor started the Caring for Our Country and Reef Rescue programs, established the world’s biggest marine reserves and added beautiful Ningaloo Reef to the World Heritage list. We also protected 170,000ha of Tasmania’s forests under World Heritage.


But for all that we’ve won, we have all of that to lose because Australia’s precious and fragile environment faces a threat beyond flood, drought and destruction: a Prime Minister who is anti-environment and anti-conservation, who in just one year has tried to devolve environmental controls to the states, banished Australia from meaningful action on climate change, undermined the transition to renewable energy and attempted to delist 74,000ha of World Heritage forest.


In fact, Tony Abbott declared Australia has “enough national parks” and “too much locked-up forest”. It’s antiquated, narrow thinking, and puts at risk the progress we’ve made across four decades to safeguard the best of our natural heritage.


We need much more from our Prime Minister than these destructive, 1950s attitudes towards conservation.


We need what Whitlam gave us – vision and ambition.


This week’s World Parks Congress in Sydney is an opportunity to provide that vision, a once-in-a-decade chance to work on new strategies to ensure Australia’s ecological gems are preserved for future generations.


And an opportunity to tell the Abbott government: don’t take us backwards on environmental protection.


At the congress, Labor’s spokesman on the environment, Mark Butler, will outline our plans, including to keep the Great Barrier Reef off the “World Heritage in Danger” list, keep environmental controls with the federal government and tackle climate change with an emissions trading scheme.


We want national parks to be sacred sanctuaries for rare and endangered species – the last line of defence against new and existing threats. We want them to keep their status as cultural meccas.


The environment is no longer a niche topic; Whitlam made sure of that. It’s an important public policy issue, but it needn’t be subject to division or political rancour.


Environmental protection should always be a bipartisan mission because on no other issue can our decisions have such immediate and irreversible impacts.


Fragile ecosystems don’t come and go with electoral cycles. Once they are destroyed, we’ve lost them forever. We all have a stake in their future, and we all have a say – because what is Australia without Kakadu or the reef?


Our parks and heritage sites are a fundamental part of the Australian story – if they are diminished, so are we. They belong to all of us, and their protection should matter to all of us.


This opinion piece was first published in The Australian on Friday the 14 of November 2014.



Nov 12, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Labor will protect Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) by rejecting Tony Abbott’s plan to cut the target by 40 per cent which will kill thousands of jobs and billions in investment, as well as put upwards pressure on electricity prices.


Labor entered into discussions with the Government in a desperate attempt to re-establish bipartisan support for the Renewable Energy Target and protect Australia’s renewable energy industry.


Labor believes a strong Renewable Energy Target is a critical part of Australia’s response to climate change and transitioning our economy to a clean energy future.


The Renewable Energy Target has been the driving force behind billions of dollars in investment in clean energy and delivered thousands of new jobs in Australia.


Since its election, the Abbott Government has undermined confidence in the renewable energy sector, putting billions of dollars of investment and thousands of new jobs at risk by abandoning its commitment to the RET.


The Abbott Government has ensured that Australia is the only country in the world to reverse action on climate change – a fact that won’t be missed at G20 meetings in Brisbane this week.


Labor has today ensured that Australia’s Renewable Energy Target will remain in place.


After several meetings with Government Ministers, it was clear to Labor that the Abbott Government was committed to cutting the Renewable Energy Target by 40 per cent, putting existing and future projects in doubt.


A reduction of the Renewable Energy Target by 40 per cent would cost jobs, stall investment and see Australia’s electricity prices and carbon pollution rise.


In discussions with the Government, Labor proposed additional support for the aluminium industry and raised serious concerns about restrictions on the rooftop solar industry.


Labor will continue to fight for support for the aluminium industry and a strong rooftop solar industry.


In government, Labor established a policy framework that supports the growth of renewable energy in Australia. Since 2007 -


-       Renewable energy jobs tripled,

-       Homes with rooftop solar panels soared from 7,400 to 1.3 million, and

-       Pollution levels started to decline.


By 2013, Australia was rated one of the four most attractive places to invest in renewable energy, alongside China, the US and Germany.


Labor established the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, both of which Tony Abbott is seeking to abolish. Labor will not support the abolition of either agency.


Already Tony Abbott has abandoned his own election commitment to provide $600 million in funding for Solar Towns and Schools programs by reducing the funding to $2.1 million and has scrapped the One Million Solar Roofs program entirely.


Tony Abbott has no commitment to meaningful action on climate change nor has he any interest in transitioning the Australian economy to a clean energy future.


By protecting the existing Renewable Energy Target, Labor has ensured that renewable energy has a role in Australia’s future.





            JO MEEHAN (BUTLER) 0408 803 428

Nov 11, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Remembrance Day

Today, our nation stops to remember all Australians who have lost their lives serving our nation and those who returned bearing the deep physical and mental scars of war. We also acknowledge the sacrifice and resilience of their families.


We pay tribute to them all, knowing that no words or honour bestowed can fully express the depth of our gratitude and respect.


A century ago this month, as 1914 drew to a close, more than thirty thousand soldiers from every part of Australia and New Zealand, left the shores of Western Australia, beginning a journey that would take them to the fatal shores of Gallipoli, the mud of the Somme and the dust of Beersheba. They would soon be joined by many thousands more in the months and years ahead.


From the stern of their transport ships, thousands of volunteers caught their last glimpse of the country and continent that was their home.


There, a hundred years ago in King George Sound, Albany, the bond that was soon to become the Anzac legend was born – the bravery and sacrifice of so many that we honour every day, but especially today, 11 November.


This is the first Remembrance Day as part of the Centenary of Anzac commemorations, which began on 4 August, 2014 and which will continue until 11 November 2018.


Today, and in the weeks, months and years ahead, we declare again that age shall not weary the Anzacs, nor the years condemn.


We remember the first Anzacs and the tens of thousands of Australians who have served and died in war since.


We shall remember them and honour their sacrifice, always.


Lest we forget.







Nov 10, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Wayne Goss was a proud Queenslander, a dedicated servant of his state and a lifelong champion for social justice.


Wayne Goss was a truly great Labor man.


Today is a very sad day for the Labor Party – it’s an especially sad day for Labor in Queensland.


Beginning his working life as a solicitor for Aboriginal Legal Services, it was the injustice of the Whitlam dismissal which drove Goss to join the Labor Party in 1975.


Like Gough before him, Wayne would go on to achieve a drought-breaking electoral triumph, bringing with it a mandate for landmark progressive reforms.


His victory in the 1989 state election marked a new era – an end to the malaise and corruption that had eaten away at Queensland’s democracy in the final stretch of 32 years of Conservative rule.


The Goss Government rebuilt Queensland: restoring fairness and transparency to the electoral system, bringing in merit-based appointments for the public service and implementing many of the recommendations of the Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption.


Goss’ reforms modernised Queensland: decriminalising homosexuality, creating new national parks, preventing logging and abolishing the anachronistic Imperial Honours system.


And the Goss Government proudly appointed Labor’s first female Cabinet Minister and Queensland’s first female Governor.


After leaving politics, Wayne continued to serve the state he loved so much, most notably as Chairman of the Queensland Art Gallery for nine years.


Today, all of us in Federal Labor give thanks for Wayne Goss’ life of service, and offer our condolences to his wife Roisin and his children, Ryan and Caitlin.


May he rest in peace.




Nov 10, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


From today, every Australian will pay more for petrol because of Tony Abbott’s new $2.2 billion petrol tax.


Despite promising no new or increased taxes before the last election, Tony Abbott is making Australians pay more petrol tax.


The Abbott Government snuck this tax hike through, bypassing Parliament to ensure the petrol tax goes up and up and up.


The indexation of the petrol tax to CPI by the Abbott Government means Australians will pay around $19 billion more for petrol over the next decade.


Within the next five years, the average Australian will be paying an extra $135 for petrol every single year because of this new tax from Tony Abbott.


Australians are already struggling to make ends meet with the cost of living – the last thing they need is to pay more tax every time they fill up the car.


The regressive nature of the tax means low and middle income Australians will be hardest hit by the increasing petrol tax with a greater proportion of their income now going towards filling up the car.


Research from The Australia Institute shows that the poorest 20 per cent of households spend about three times the proportion of their income on fuel (4.45 per cent) than do those in the richest 20 per cent (1.37 per cent).


Australians in rural and regional areas and running small businesses will also be particularly hard hit by Tony Abbott’s increasing petrol tax.


No amount of spin from the Abbott Government will change the impact of this increasing tax on the cost of living – not even the Treasurer suggestion that poor people don’t drive cars -


“The poorest people either don’t have cars or actually don’t drive very far in many cases. But, they are opposing what is meant to be, according to the Treasury, a progressive tax.”




Tony Abbott promised that -


“Taxes will always be lower under a Coalition government.”




From today, every Australian who drives a car will pay for Tony Abbott’s broken promise from their own pocket.





Nov 5, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins



Labor welcomes the Abbott Government’s announcement of additional support to fight the Ebola crisis.


But by Mr Abbott’s own admission, it is possible no Australians will be involved in providing that additional support.


“Most of them [running the Ebola treatment facility in West Africa] will be locally engaged. Some will be international, and it’s quite possibly even likely that some will be Australian.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, press conference, 5 November 2014


Labor has been saying for weeks that the Abbott Government needs to do more, including supporting Australian health workers who are willing and able to fight Ebola at its source in West Africa.


Today’s announcement does almost nothing to facilitate that.


That’s despite calls from around the world for personnel to be supported to go to West Africa, including the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, Médecins Sans Frontières, the American President and UK Prime Minister, the President of Sierra Leone, Oxfam, the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, and the Public Health Association of Australia.


A UN Security Council resolution, which the Abbott Government both co-sponsored and voted for, calls on nations to:

” …facilitate the delivery of assistance, including qualified, specialized and trained personnel and supplies, in response to the Ebola outbreak…”.


Australia has some of the best trained, most dedicated health workers in the world.  We have been inspired by the many doctors and nurses who have selflessly offered to assist.


The Australian Medical Association says many Australian doctors are willing and able to go.


The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation says more than 350 Australian nurses are willing and able to go.


Of course, going to help fight Ebola in West Africa would not be without risk.  That’s why we continue to stress how important it is that safety protocols are in place to support Australian personnel who volunteer.


But if, as an international community, we are to have a chance of getting this crisis under control, there isn’t a moment to lose.


The Abbott Government must do more to support Australians who volunteer to serve. Today’s announcement does very little to address that.





DAN DORAN 0427 464 350 (PLIBERSEK)

                                       STEPHEN SPENCER 0423 596 573 (KING)



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