Browsing articles in "Media Releases"
Oct 9, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


A Shorten Labor Government will ensure mental health is a national priority, with a new regional or place-based approach as recommended by the National Mental Health Commission.

1 in 5 Australians experience mental ill health each year and yet the system is fragmented and incredibly difficult to navigate.
Under Labor, mental health will be person-centred and designed specifically to meet the needs of local communities.
A Shorten Labor Government will build on Labor’s strong legacy in mental health by ensuring investment goes to where it is needed most.
Labor will be guided by the recommendations of the National Mental Health Commission and  outline our priorities for implementation within our first 100 days.
Nearly half of all adult Australians will experience mental ill health in their lifetime.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples suffer mental illness at three times the rate of other Australians.
A Shorten Labor Government will use existing Primary Health Networks to deliver regionally tailored mental health programs, as recommended by the National Mental Health Commission.
Labor will also commit to reducing suicides in Australia by 50 per cent over the next ten years.
Recommended by the National Mental Health Commission, this target will focus the work of all governments on a holistic approach to suicide prevention.
Each year it is estimated that approximately 65,000 Australians attempt to take their own life.
The rate of suicide in rural and remote Australia is 66 per cent higher than in our cities.
As part of Labor’s interim response we commit to the National Mental Health Commission’s target to reduce suicides by 50 per cent over the next ten years through:

  1. The development of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.
  2. The development and implementation of a National Suicide Prevention Frameworkwhich establishes clear incremental targets and measurable outcomes.
  3. The establishment of 12 suicide prevention initiatives– six urban, four regional and two remote – for place based initiatives tailored to local community need.
  4. The development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Planto improve mental health and prevent suicides of Indigenous Australians.
  5. The establishment of thefirst national minimum data set on deaths by suicide and suicide attempts to build an accurate picture of the problem and the effectiveness of prevention initiatives.

If elected, Labor will ensure those living with mental illness, and their carers, who will not receive a package of support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme still receive the support and care they need.
The annual cost of mental illness in Australia has been estimated to be between $20- 60 billion a year including lost productivity and labour force participation.
Labor will actively support and promote the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance to better support mental health and wellbeing at work, and remove the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental ill health.
Labor will also establish a new Heads Up award for excellence in mental health and wellbeing at work, as part of our recognition of the best employers in Australia.
A Shorten Labor Government will restore the independence, integrity and transparency of the National Mental Health Commission.
Labor’s regionally- based approach to mental health and measures to prevent suicide will be funded by the reallocation of funds as recommended by the National Mental Health Commission.
More information on Labor’s mental health plan can be found here.


                                     BELINDA FEATHERSTONE (MCLUCAS) 0408 743 457


Oct 8, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


 A Shorten Labor Government will transform the way infrastructure is funded in Australia, beefing up Infrastructure Australia to unlock tens of billions in capital investment for key projects in every state and creating tens of thousands of jobs.


Labor will elevate Infrastructure Australia to an active participant in the infrastructure market, mobilising private sector finance, Australia’s superannuation industry and international investors to bring a national pipeline of investment online.


Labor established Infrastructure Australia as an independent advisor on nation-building infrastructure, and we now powering it up to create more jobs, boost our productivity and improve our competitiveness.


Infrastructure Australia will be backed by a $10 billion financing facility that will give Infrastructure Australia the ability, as required, to deploy a combination of guarantees, loans or equity to jumpstart new projects.  This will not be a grants program – the Government will receive a return on these commercial investments.


By 2025, Australia’s superannuation savings will be $4 trillion – this is money we should be putting to work on nation-building.


Labor will establish this facility through the proven process for establishing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.


Labor’s plan will leverage $10 billion of government-backed financing into tens of billions of dollars of private sector investment.  For example, in the case of the CEFC, every dollar of government financing is leveraging $2.20 in additional investment.


Using a conservative analysis, prepared by Infrastructure Partners Australia, which assumes no additional leverage, a $10 billion infrastructure investment:


  • Will directly create approximately 26,000 jobs.


  • And add around an extra $7.5 billion every year to our GDP.


We will appoint an Expert Panel to determine a Financing Mandate and advise on the appropriate structure for the new facility within six months of coming to Government.


This will ensure that Infrastructure Australia operates as a catalyst for private sector investment, with the strictest financial discipline, commercial rigour credit risk assessment capacities and a commitment to nation-building.


Today we are announcing an initial short-list of projects that Labor supports as well as providing a commitment to work with State Government to encourage the development of an ongoing infrastructure project pipeline.


The initial list of projects that Labor will support include:


  • The Airport Rail to Badgerys Creek, connecting the Western and South lines.
  • The Melbourne Metro.
  • The Cross River Rail project in Brisbane.
  • The ‘G’ Light Rail on the Gold Coast.
  • Planning work on the Ipswich Motorway Darra to Rocklea.
  • Tasmania’s Midland Highway.
  • Perth public transport.
  • Gawler Line electrification in Adelaide.
  • The Pacific and Bruce Highway packages, projects that have been underway for several years, but need to be fast tracked to completion.


These are projects that Infrastructure Australia has either assessed, or Labor will work with state government to fast-track assessments – they are Australia’s national to-do-list of priority infrastructure projects.


Right now, capital investment on infrastructure by governments is falling.


Infrastructure Australia has estimated that the economic cost of underinvestment is projected to reach $53 billion a year by 2031.


As the mining boom eases, quality infrastructure is central to driving Australia’s economic growth, creating jobs and boosting our productive capacity.


Labor will work with the private sector to overcome market failures, to get good projects up and going.


The old way of doing business, the traditional Commonwealth grant funding approach, simply cannot fund the infrastructure Australia needs.  We need to look at new ways of securing private sector finance.


Australia has a need for significant investment in long term physical assets to underpin our future growth and productivity, but governments at all levels are not able to sufficiently fund them.


We have a deep pool of domestic capital in superannuation as well as significant global investors that are searching for stable and reliable assets to invest funds over extended periods.


Re-booting investment, lifting productivity and driving growth – requires us to face up to the sticking-points and stumbling blocks currently stand in the way of good infrastructure projects from being financed and taken to market.


Beyond the immediate priorities announced today, Labor will develop a long term pipeline for projects and ensuring the steady movement of projects through the assessment, development and financing phases.


By establishing an independent, funded project-broker, we will provide new and greater certainty to investors as well as creating a powerful incentive for State governments to propose and approve projects.


Just as the Reserve Bank of Australia is the independent authority at the centre of monetary policy, Infrastructure Australia will be at the centre of capital investment, driving results that are in the national interest.


A Shorten Labor Government will properly consult the Opposition on all board appointments and restore faith and confidence in the infrastructure process.


Australia’s future prosperity depends on a better way of securing investment in infrastructure.


A Shorten Labor Government will deliver better infrastructure to ease congestion, create jobs and improve productivity.


More information on today’s announcement is available here.





                                    MATTHEW FRANKLIN (ALBANESE) 0411 659868

Oct 8, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


After years of hard work and campaigning the St Albans community is delighted to see work progress on the removal of the dangerous Main Road level crossing.


Federal Member for Maribyrnong and Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews today inspected the work underway on the removal of Main Road Level crossing this morning, marking the beginning of its construction phase.


“This crossing has claimed far too many lives and there have been countless near misses,” said Mr Shorten.


“We recall Christian Dejanovic’s death at the Main Road crossing, St Albans in January 2012 and since then his mother Dianne has not stopped campaigning to have those level crossings removed.”


“The work we have seen today wouldn’t have happened without Dianne’s hard work and commitment.”


“This crossing is not just dangerous; it has become notorious for causing frustration in our community and wasting people’s precious time.”


“When a community unites, great things can happen. The St Albans community united, and now we see the fruits of good people coming together for a common cause.”


“I congratulate the Andrews Labor Government for listening and acting on our communities concerns.”


Labor has worked together at both a state and federal level, and I also congratulate including State Member for St Albans Natalie Suleyman and all western suburbs Labor Members for their work on having these level crossings removed.


An alliance including Leighton Contractors, Aurecon and Hyder Consulting has been formally announced. The work will be completed in 2017. The package of works will cost $481.2 million.





Oct 6, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Labor welcomes the finalisation of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).


Today’s news comes at the end of five years of negotiations under both Labor and Liberal Governments.


The TPP has significant potential benefits for Australia including improving market access for our goods and services in 12 countries accounting for 40 per cent of global GDP.


The TPP could also be a stepping stone to closer economic engagement across the Asia-Pacific region.


The Government must release the text of the agreement as soon as possible.  Right now, the Government is asking Australians to take its word for it.


Labor notes the assurance that no element of the agreement will increase the price of medicines for Australians or undermine the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.


We will hold the Turnbull Liberal Government to that assurance.


Labor opposes the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions in all trade agreements, and will carefully scrutinise relevant provisions in the TPP, including claimed carve-outs.


We will examine the agreement in detail once the text has been released.




   ANNIE WILLIAMS (WONG) 0428 040 522

Oct 3, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


This is a truly shocking incident in one of Sydney’s busiest CBDs.


Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Curtis Cheng, particularly his colleagues in the NSW Police Force who are in mourning today.


As NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said this morning, there is no doubt lives were saved yesterday by the heroic actions of three Officers from the NSW Police Force.


Our thoughts are also with the family of the alleged young perpetrator. Like all Australians, they will be struggling to comprehend how someone so young could be part of such a terrible crime.


Australians should be reassured that our security and police agencies are among the best in the world and its important fans are not deterred from attending this weekend’s AFL and NRL Grand Finals.


This incident is being urgently investigated by the NSW Police Force, the NSW Coroner and security agencies.  At times like this, it’s critical that we guard against dangerous division – we are stronger and safer when we stand together.


We must not surrender the very qualities and liberties that we seek to protect.


Labor will continue our bipartisan approach to the most important responsibility of government – ensuring the safety of Australian citizens.





Oct 1, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


If you’re reading this on the way to work, there’s a better than 50:50 chance that within 10 years you’ll be working for a business that doesn’t exist yet.

The majority of jobs created in Australia over the next decade will be in companies that don’t exist today.

The rise of these new businesses and the creation of new opportunities is just one part of the disruptive, creative force of the digital revolution.

Change is coming, and in many cases is already here.

If we are smart, if we are bold, Australia can own the benefits of this transformation.

We can make change work for all Australians.

We can build new prosperity and discover new ways of learning from each other, working with each other and caring for each other.

As Labor leader, I’ve put our focus on positive plans to prepare Australia for the future.

Labor’s vision is built on ­investing in schools, skills, universities and technology, giving every Australian a head start in the race for the jobs of the future.

Our vision is for a smarter, more prosperous Australia, a more productive economy growing more strongly and more fairly.

In Sydney last week, I ­announced the next steps in our plan to support a new generation of Australian innovators, attract the best minds from overseas and encourage our great expats to return home.

I want Australia to be the start-up capital of Asia.

Our policy, Getting Australia Started, will offer start-up loans to 2000 Australian students through the HELP system each year.

An extra year, similar to a graduate year, to build and fine-tune a new business and prepare it for the marketplace.

It’s a plan to support enterprising graduates with good ideas, helping them to ­develop and commercialise their ­concepts in partnership with universities, as well as private sector mentors and ­investors.

Building this co-operation is important because, right now, Australia trails the world in collaboration between its universities, researchers and businesses.

There’s far too big a gap ­between the world-class ­research we produce and what our businesses use.

Far too many enterprising Australians end up going overseas in search of a first opportunity. My plan is about making sure ideas born here, grow up here and create the jobs here.

There are more than 500,000 new jobs up for grabs in start-ups.

Government has a role to play in securing these opportunities for Australia.

This is not about replacing private investment, or crowding it out.

It’s a matter of fostering a culture of innovation, rewarding people for their good ideas and getting behind Australian creativity and enterprise.

With the mining boom at an end, Labor believes it’s time to invest in Australia’s best ­resource: the ingenuity and talent of our people.

Whether it’s backing startups, teaching coding and computational thinking in schools, supporting technology at TAFE or science in our universities, Labor’s plans are built around a central idea and a simple message.

We believe in the innate ­capacity of the Australian ­people. Our goal is to reward hard work, support good ideas and help every Australian fulfil their potential.

This is how we grow our economy, boost productivity and create jobs.

This opinion piece was first published in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, 1 October 2015


Sep 26, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Nominations for the two positions within Labor’s Shadow Ministry made vacant by the retirement of Bernie Ripoll and Senator Jan McLucas have now closed.


Two nominations were received, from the Member for Rankin Jim Chalmers and from Senator for the ACT Katy Gallagher.


Both are outstanding nominations and will be welcome new additions to Labor’s frontbench team.


The addition of Jim and Katy allow Labor to present our team for government to the Australian people, whenever the election may be.


Labor is ready for an election; ready to put forward our big ideas to the Australian people to judge.


Senator Katy Gallagher, the former Chief Minister of the ACT, brings a wealth of experience to the Labor team.


Katy replaced former ACT Senator and Labor Minister Kate Lundy and epitomises Labor’s core values through her relentless pursuit of quality health care and education for all Australians.


Dr Jim Chalmers was elected as the Member for Rankin in 2013 following the retirement of longstanding Labor member and former Minister, Craig Emerson.


Jim’s rise can be put down to his capacity for hard work and his determination to see Australia seize the opportunities of the future.


These two highly talented, highly intelligent individuals will bring new enthusiasm and ideas to Labor’s future focused agenda.


Labor will continue to do the hard work of opposition by putting our evidence-based, detailed, positive policies on the table.


Once again we acknowledge the outstanding contributions of Queenslanders, Bernie Ripoll and Senator Jan McLucas both in government and opposition over almost two decades.


The allocation of portfolios will be announced following the next Labor Caucus meeting in Canberra on Tuesday 13 October.





Sep 24, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Malcolm Turnbull has capitulated to his conservative backers on marriage EQUALITY  

Why is it so hard to just say Yes?

In a solemn address at the defeat of the 1999 Republican referendum, Malcolm Turnbull lamented that history would remember John Howard, who campaigned relentlessly against abandoning the monarchy, as “the Prime Minister who broke this nation’s heart”.


We all got behind that “Yes” campaign out of a shared conviction and commitment to an Australian republic. To allow Australia to have its own head of state and stand equal with other nations.


Today we are faced with a similar campaign for equality, for recognition and to stand globally as a modern, progressive nation that supports marriage equality.


Until last week Malcolm Turnbull and I were, as with the republic, on the same page. We both said Australia didn’t need a plebiscite sometime in the future but instead a vote in this term of the Parliament to make marriage equality a reality now.


Prior to his elevation to Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull spoke often to the LGBTIQ community promoting support for marriage equality. Unfortunately now, that all looks like a cynical attempt to present himself as a moderate alternative to Mr Abbott and to gain the support of progressive voters.


Mr Turnbull was so committed to achieving marriage equality through a free vote of the Parliament that he expressed dismay at his predecessor Mr Abbott for trying to impose a plebiscite on Australians. At the time he said “it really is Parliament’s responsibility to deal with [marriage equality] and we have the means to do so”.


Sadly now, in one of his first acts as the new Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull has renounced his support for marriage equality legislation, abandoned his commitment to a free vote in the Parliament and embraced Tony Abbott’s plan for a plebiscite.


We all know this is not only an expensive delaying tactic, funded by Australian taxpayers to the tune  of around $150 million, but a cynical attempt by marriage equality opponents to sink reform.


Mr Turnbull has long been seen as a champion of marriage equality. We know he believed in it, he’s said so hundreds of times. But now as Prime Minister he has reversed his view and in doing so has sold out supporters of marriage equality as a sop to the conservatives in his Coalition.


When it comes to marriage equality, the right wing of the Coalition are now pulling Mr Turnbull’s strings. Malcolm Turnbull’s capitulation to his conservative backers fails the test of leadership, and every Australian who wants an end to discrimination has a right to be angry at him.


There is now a very clear difference between myself and Malcolm Turnbull on marriage equality.


Labor is committed to making marriage equality law before the next election through a vote of the Parliament. Failing that, a Shorten Labor Government will introduce a Marriage Equality Bill within the first 100 days of being elected to office.


It’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to stop delaying marriage equality. To stop embracing the policies of Tony Abbott and pandering to the ultra-conservative elements of the Liberal/National parties.


It’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to act, not just talk. To follow his oft-stated convictions, not the politics of a conservative rump in his party room.


The cause of marriage equality does not need more political gamesmanship; it needs action.


It’s time to simply say “Yes” to marriage equality.


To deliver the same rights we all enjoy for our brothers and sisters in the LGBTIQ community. To improve our nation, to stand for equality for all.

This opinion piece was first published today on Fairfax websites.





Sep 24, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Today Labor announces our positive plan to get Australia started by investing in the creation of an innovation and education economy.


A Shorten Labor Government will invest $17.8 million in important reforms to drive a new generation of innovators, risk-takers and wealth-creators.


In a time of economic change and transition, the choice before Australia is clear: we must get smarter – or we will get poorer.


Labor believes Australia can be the startup, technology and science capital of Asia by supporting a new generation of innovators here, bringing great expats home and attracting the best minds from around the world.


This positive policy will help more Australians make breakthroughs and adapt technology here in Australia because our future prosperity depends on harnessing Australian ideas and defining a new global market for world-leading products.


It is estimated that we will need another 100,000 ICT workers in Australia by 2020.


But Labor wants Australians to have the skills and support to create the jobs of the future, not just fill them.


The majority of jobs to be created over the next decade and beyond will be in companies that don’t exist today.


Australia has some great startups – they are also significant and growing employers – but we need more companies like this.


Australia currently has one of the lowest rates of startup formation in the world.


Labor believes government has a role to play – not replacing private investment, or crowding it out but by fostering a culture of innovation, rewarding people for good ideas and getting behind Australian creativity and enterprise.


For the past two years, Labor has been working with industry on a comprehensive plan to take advantage of the transition to the digital economy to secure today’s jobs, tomorrow’s jobs and ensure that no one is left behind.


A Shorten Labor Government will create a Startup Year at universities so students can develop their idea, get business knowhow and connect with finance.


We will also create two new visa classes to attract the best global entrepreneurial talent to help build Australia’s growing startup ecosystem.


Labor will create a new platform for government to engage our best and brightest minds in the challenge of public policy problems, based on the US Government’s


Labor will also establish an Innovation Investment Partnership, bringing together VC, superannuation fund and startup stakeholders – designed to identify and overcome barriers to investment in Australian-based VC funds.


Of course all of this requires Labor’s first rate NBN for all Australians – the biggest, most important infrastructure investment Australia will make this century.


Today Labor has announced the next stage of Labor’s positive plan for a smarter, more prosperous Australia.


We know that in the future, 2 in 3 jobs will require a university degree.


That’s why Labor announced our positive plan for higher education – A plan for more university graduates, not $100,000 degrees and a lifetime of debt.


This also builds on Labor’s Budget-In-Reply commitment to:


  • Coding in every primary school and every secondary school across Australia
  • Student debt wiped for up to 100,000 young people who study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at university, especially women;
  • 25,000 teaching scholarships for highly skilled STEM graduates go on to teach in our schools; and
  • $500 million Smart Investment Fund to back-in great Australian ideas and help them compete on the world stage.


Labor will boost productivity and growth with science, skills, knowledge and a culture that supports innovators, risk-takers and wealth-creators.


This is part of Labor’s plan to secure the jobs of the future today by investing in an innovation and education economy.


This policy has been fully costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office and more details are available at





Sep 24, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


On behalf of the Federal Labor Party it gives us great pleasure to send our best wishes to all those celebrating Eid al-Adha.


Eid al-Adha is a time to come together and acknowledge the discipline and integrity that faith can instil in us.


Throughout Australia the Muslim community will recognise the discipline and sacrifice of Ibraham and reflect on their own self-control and commitment to the values they hold dear.


Importantly, this is also a time to give generously to those in our community who need a helping hand.


In the spirit of egalitarianism, let us use this time to consider what we can do to assist our fellow Australians who are in need and recommit to a more equal and prosperous society.


On behalf of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party we wish you a joyous and memorable celebration.


Eid Mubarak!






» Stay in touch