Browsing articles in "Media Releases"
Oct 9, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Labor congratulates Dr Larry Marshall on his appointment today as the new Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said that Dr Marshall’s experience as a physicist and engineer, and as entrepreneur who has served on the boards of more than 20 high-tech companies in Australia, the US and China, made him well suited to lead Australia’s premier research agency.


“At a time when the Abbott Government has drastically cut support for science and research, it is crucial that this great national institution is able to maintain its research capabilities and its distinguished record in fostering innovation,” Mr Shorten said.


“The many triumphs in that record are well-known, including CSIRO’s discovery of the technology that makes WiFi possible and, most recently, the nomination of CSIRO scientists Dr Graeme Moad, Dr Ezzio Rizzardo and Dr San Thang for the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


“We must preserve and build on this legacy of success, which has drawn so many scientists of international standing to work with CSIRO.


“With no science minister and no one in Cabinet to stand up for science, Australians have every right to be concerned that this Government simply doesn’t take science seriously.”


The Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader for Science, Senator Kim Carr, said that the Government had cut CSIRO’s funding by $115 million, leading to the loss of nearly 1000 jobs – the biggest job losses in the organisation’s history.


“Wise leadership is more important than ever for CSIRO,” Senator Carr said.


“The Opposition will do everything possible to support Dr Marshall in his new role.”


Mr Shorten and Senator Carr both paid tribute to CSIRO’s outgoing Chief Executive, Dr Megan Clark.


“Dr Clark has stood firm as a defender of CSIRO and continued to inspire staff at time when science has too often come under attack from people who should know better,” Mr Shorten said.




Oct 9, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins



The full extent of the pain from Tony Abbott’s GP Tax goes way beyond the Doctor’s surgery, with experts revealing cancer patients will now be forced to fork out thousands of dollars upfront to pay for MRI, X-Rays, CAT scans and mammograms.


A hidden trap in the Abbott Government’s GP Tax package will force many cancer patients to  pay extraordinary fees upfront, even those on healthcare and pensioner concession cards.


The trap exposes Tony Abbott’s GP Tax as not just a tax on visits to the doctor, it’s also a Pathology Tax, a Diagnostic Imaging Tax, and an MRI Tax.


That’s because the impact of the GP Tax is compounded by a 10-15 per cent cut in the rebate paid to radiologists, and the abolition of a safety net for high cost diagnostic imaging services such as PET scans and Nuclear Medicine.


According to the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association (ADIA), patients will be forced to pay $90 upfront for every x-ray, $380 for every CAT scan, up to $160 for every mammogram and $190 for every ultrasound. For those unfortunate enough to need a PET scan the upfront cost could be as high as $1,000.


Even after receiving their Medicare rebate, patients could be left with out of pocket cost of up to $160 for every scan, considerably more than the $7 Minister Dutton keeps talking about.


The ADIA estimates the total up front cost of the scans, consultations and pathology required for a patient with liver cancer will be a minimum $1263, for thyroid cancer $1326 and for a patient with liver metastasis $2,207.


New costs for patients – upfront and out of pocket:



Source: Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association (source attached)


For many patients, especially those on extensive courses of treatment, those sorts of costs will be simply unaffordable. They’ll either have to skip crucial treatments or take out a loan to pay for essential life-saving treatment.


Those who do miss important scans are likely to get sicker, require even more extensive treatment, and end up costing the health system much, much more.


As the AMA warns, for a woman who misses a scan because they can’t afford it, only to have the lump on her breast later diagnosed as malignant “that could be the difference between life and death”.


This is a disgrace.  While GPs are the frontline when it comes to heath care, pathology and diagnostic imaging is the backline.


The GP Tax is a disaster for health, and a disaster for the Budget.





Background explanation


The huge jump in fees comes as a result of the Government abolishing the bulk billing incentive from 1 July 2015, as part of its GP tax package. As a result, rebates for X-rays, ultrasounds and MRI and PET scans will be slashed from 95 to 85 per cent for patients who were previously bulk-billed.


Radiologists can continue to bulk bill if they choose and not collect the $7 tax – but if they do, they will be punished by having to cover the costs of a 10 per cent cut in the rebate. On top of this, these service providers will also suffer a $5 reduction in their relevant Medicare Rebate, regardless of whether they bulk bill or not.


Most providers won’t be able to afford this, so will now have to charge their patients for this gap.


All patients will now be required to pay for their services upfront.

Oct 8, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Labor’s new Cost of Living Caucus Committee has kicked off locally, with Opposition Leader and Member for Maribyrnong Bill Shorten visiting Braybrook and Maidstone Neighbourhood House to speak with residents and staff.


Mr Shorten said that as part of the Committee’s process, residents, community organisations and charities would be invited to attend forums and provide submissions on the growing cost of living.


“Braybrook residents are some of the worst affected by increases to the cost of living, and under the Abbott Government’s Budget it will be even harder for them to make ends meet,” Mr Shorten said.


“By introducing a GP tax, increasing prices for petrol and medicines and making cuts to pensions and family assistance, this Government is just creating a heavier burden for local families.”


Mr Shorten said the Committee has been established as part of Labor’s policy development program and would inform future policy outcomes.


“I know that many people in our community are genuinely fearful about what the future may hold. I say to them, Labor is listening and we want to hear from them about how they are being impacted.”


“This is an opportunity for Maribyrnong residents to help build Labor’s policy for our future.”


Mr Shorten invited members of the local community to make a submission, via



Oct 3, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins




We send our warmest greetings to Muslims celebrating Eid al-Adha in Australia.


Eid Al-Adha is a celebration of faith which demonstrates to all Australians the important symbolic nature of sacrifice; a lesson observed from Ibrahim’s example and the strength of his faith.


Today in Australia we are lucky that the sacrifices we make in our daily lives are not as great as the ones our parents, grandparents and ancestors made. Our country has grown to ensure that we are able to find work, prosperity and benefit from a strong social safety net provided by Australia that allows us to live educated and healthy lives.


It is during these prosperous times, that the celebration of Eid Al-Adha is so important not only for Muslims but for the entire Australian community. It’s a time when we can all reflect on the sacrifices we must continue to make to become better people and the sacrifice many people around the world continue to make in order to live a free and happy life.


We have been very distressed by recent reports about the Australian Islamic community being wrongly blamed for the crimes of ISIL, including assaults and other forms of vilification.


In light of the ugly debate that has intensified in the last week from some elected representatives, Labor will continue to stand with Australia’s Islamic community to stop misinformation, bigotry and prejudice.


We must always remember that a few loud, ill-informed voices do not speak on behalf of all Australians.


Especially at times like this, our nation’s leaders have a responsibility to stand up against prejudice and intolerance.


Now more than ever, Labor is committed to tolerance, social cohesion, mutual respect and multiculturalism.


As we have previously stated ISIL has no right to use the name of Islam.

The Australian Labor Party has always recognised the extraordinary contribution that the Muslim community makes to our country. With the Muslim population in Australia growing each year it is hard to imagine the shape of our nation today without the valuable contributions that Islamic Australians have made.


This reflects modern Australian multiculturalism: a story of cultural enrichment, social cohesion and economic growth and it is a story that the Labor Party is committed to and will always defend.
We strongly believe that multiculturalism has transformed Australia into a vibrant and prosperous nation. We have communities such as yours to thank for this transformation.


We commend Muslim Australians who have completed the incredible pilgrimage of Hajj in Mecca and Medina and wish them a safe return home.


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


Eid Mubarak!





Oct 3, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins



Today we wish the Australian Jewish community an easy fast on the occasion of Yom Kippur.


Yom Kippur translates to the Day of Atonement and is considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.


From sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday members of the Jewish community will fast as we reach the peak of the four weeks known as the High Holy Days.


Yom Kippur is a time of self-reflection and repentance. It is a day where many Jewish Australians, whether they are secular or Orthodox, observe the sanctity of the day.


Given the debate on social cohesion that we saw this week, Yom Kippur is a perfect time to reflect on and reaffirm our commitment to our rich multiculturalism and diversity.


On behalf of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party we wish Jewish Australians G’Mar Chatima Tovah – may you be inscribed in the book of life – and a Gut Yontif for Saturday evening – a joyful breaking of the fast.






Oct 3, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Earlier today, Prime Minister Tony Abbott informed Labor of the Government’s decision to commit Australia to military action against ISIL forces in Iraq.


Today, our thoughts are with the brave men and women of our defence forces – and their families – who will undertake this mission in the name of the defenceless.


We wish them a safe and successful mission and a speedy return to the ones they love.


These decisions are never made lightly – the most difficult decision for a nation is to send its military into harm’s way.


But in the face of evil, nations of good conscience have a responsibility to act.


ISIL is not the enemy of one nation, one faith or one people – they are the enemy of all, because they are the enemy of peace.


The long term security of Iraq depends upon Iraqis – both the Government and the people.  Peace and stability depends upon the resolute action of Middle Eastern counties.


In the face of this threat, Australia  has a responsibility to join a broad international coalition – and we have a role to play in the global response.


Labor’s support for this action continues to be underpinned by our key principles:


  • We do not support the deployment of Australian ground combat units to directly engage in fighting ISIL.


  • Australian operations should be confined to Iraq.


  • Australia’s involvement should continue only until the Iraqi government is in a position to take full responsibility for the security of their people and their nation.


  • If the Iraqi Government and its forces engage in unacceptable conduct or adopt unacceptable policies – Australia should withdraw our support.


These four principles represent the conditions we have set for our support.


I thank the Prime Minister for his willingness to engage with the Opposition on this most important issue.


We will continue to put the national security of our country above politics.





Oct 1, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


There are two particularly extraordinary things happening in Parliament this week that give Australians a telling insight into the Abbott Government.


In the House of Representatives, the Abbott Government is trying to explain why it’s reopened loopholes to allow multinational companies to avoid paying tax.


In the Senate, the very same Government is trying to ram through legislation that will make every Australian pay a GP tax whenever they visit the doctor, or extra tax whenever they fill up their car.


It seems as though under Tony Abbott, taxes are only certain in life if you’re not a multinational company, with the ability to offshore profits.


There’s no doubt that sensible discussion of revenue needs to look at the integrity of Australia’s company tax base.


Companies are minimising costs through technological progress, innovation, outsourcing and automation – maximising their performance through sophisticated software and computer modelling.


And because successful businesses are always looking for a competitive edge, some multinational corporations are leading the way in tax avoidance too.


As we’ve seen in the pages of the Herald over the past few days, these efforts can substantially erode a nation’s company tax base. Further, it distorts the market, unfairly disadvantaging local businesses.


This is why, in Government, Labor announced reforms to close these loopholes and crack down on profit-shifting.


We introduced business tax integrity measures that would have clawed back more than $5.3 billion from these companies.


Time and time again, the Abbott Government has moved to water down these provisions.


After delivering the most unfair Budget in living memory, one that has targeted: pensioners, families, students, carers, veterans and the sick – the Government belatedly claimed it would legislate to close multinational tax loopholes.


But as Australians have learnt the hard way with the Abbott Government, the words mean nothing.


And when it comes to cracking down on companies avoiding tax, the Government’s actions don’t speak loudly at all.


That’s because every time Joe Hockey and the Coalition had the chance to work with Labor to close tax loopholes in the past few years, they voted against it.


They voted against Labor’s Countering Tax Avoidance and Multinational Profit Shifting Bill 2013, which plugged loopholes in Australia’s transfer pricing rules and anti-avoidance provisions.


They attempted to block Labor’s Cross-Border Transfer Pricing Bill 2012, which cracked down on companies overvaluing assets in international transactions.


Now they’re in government, they’ve walked away from Labor measures which would have delivered $1.1 billion to the budget bottom line.


Worse still, for all the huffing and puffing at the G20 from Joe Hockey about the need to crack down on tax avoidance, he’s signed Australia up to a timetable that puts us behind over 40 countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.


This means Australia won’t sign up to the automatic exchange of financial information across borders until 40 other nations are already doing it, leaving Australia lagging behind.


Australia cannot sit at the G20 table and make the case for co-operative international action on this important question if our national Government is winding back legislation and re-opening loopholes for profit-shifting.


This protection racket for corporate tax avoidance comes at a cost to our budget bottom line – and it comes at a cost to Australian business.


While technological developments will mean that the physical location of some businesses matters less and less with each passing year, the principle of paying tax on incomes earned in a jurisdiction must remain.


This is true for the local newsagent, the local tradie and the local pharmacist.


Bricks and mortar businesses earning an income in our cities and regional towns, and paying their taxes. And our computer games developers, iPhone app developers and software designers that are working domestically and marketing globally.


Small business people taking risks for their family and our economy – creating jobs, driving growth and giving back to our community.


They don’t have the luxury of avoiding tax through complicated international loans or structures.


This is just as true for many larger businesses, which operate exclusively in Australia.


These companies employ thousands of Australians – and they pay the tax they should pay in Australia.


It is not right that Australian businesses, big and small, shoulder an unfair share of the taxation burden while highly profitable companies who benefit from our skilled workforce, our stable investment environment and our growing economy make only a minimal contribution.


It’s not right that the government will look to hit families and workers with new GP and petrol taxes, and cut pensions, before it looks to make multinational companies pay their fair share of tax.


The government has the opportunity to actually do something meaningful here and ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax before hiking up taxes on everyone else.
This piece was published by the Sydney Morning Herald on September 30, 2014.  



Oct 1, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins



Labor welcomes today’s announcement of Mr Andrew Colvin as Australian Federal Police Commissioner.


Mr Colvin will replace Tony Negus, who served a five year term as AFP Commissioner from September 2009.


Labor thanks Mr Negus for his distinguished record as AFP Commissioner. He has given a lifetime of service to the Australian community. His advice to the former Labor Government was greatly valued.


Mr Colvin has previously served as Deputy Commissioner for National Security.


He has been instrumental over recent weeks as acting AFP Commissioner, overseeing some of the largest counter-terrorism operations in Australian history, as the Public Terror Threat Level was raised to High.


Mr Colvin is a counter-terrorism expert, who founded the AFP counter-terrorism portfolio and has overseen domestic and international AFP terrorism investigations.


Labor congratulates Mr Colvin on his new position and looks forward to working with him.





                             ANNIE WILLIAMS 0428 040 522

Sep 30, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Thousands of local residents have signed Labor’s petition to save Medicare, Opposition Leader and Member for Maribyrnong Bill Shorten said today.


“Local residents are standing up and saying ‘no’ to the Abbott Government’s $7 GP Tax and ‘no’ to the $5 price hike on prescriptions,” Mr Shorten said.


“The people of Maribyrnong know that Medicare belongs to them – and to every Australian – and they will not let Tony Abbott destroy it.”


Mr Shorten encouraged local residents who were still to sign the petition to do so by visiting


“Our community will be hit hard by the Abbott Government’s GP tax, and harder still by the cuts to our hospital system. My Labor team and I will keep fighting the Abbott Government’s attacks and I urge local residents to keep fighting too.”



Sep 26, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Open Letter to the Islamic Community

Bill Shorten and Michelle Rowland have written an open-letter to the Islamic community following concerning reports about Australia’s Islamic community being assaulted, vilified, and being wrongly stigmatised for the crimes of ISIL. 

In such difficult times, Labor will continue to speak out against ill-informed and dangerous views and stand up for tolerance and multiculturalism. Read their letter here:

To whom it may concern,

We have been very distressed by recent reports about the Australian Islamic community being wrongly blamed for the crimes of ISIL, including assaults and other forms of vilification.

Labor stands shoulder to shoulder with Australia’s Islamic community and, now more than ever, we are committed to tolerance, social cohesion, mutual respect and multiculturalism.

Labor will continue to work with you to stop misinformation, bigotry and prejudice directed at the Australian Islamic community.

Regrettably, some in our community, including a very few elected representatives, have made comments which have the potential to damage community harmony and inflame tensions. Labor strongly opposes these ill-informed and dangerous views and we will continue to speak out against them.

We know that the twisted ideology of ISIL bears no relation to a faith of peace, love and tolerance which is followed by millions around the world – and we will continue to make this point.

ISIL has no right to use the name of Islam.

We will work with you to help stop ISIL spreading division, radicalising disaffected and vulnerable young people. We will not allow them to nurture intolerance and create a world where people fear the unknown and resent differences.

The Islamic story in Australia has a rich history and grows stronger each year. Australia’s Muslim community continues to do our nation a great service by fostering enduring cultural and religious harmony, and making a substantial contribution to our national prosperity.

This reflects modern Australian multiculturalism: a story of cultural enrichment, social cohesion and economic growth and it is a story that the Labor Party is committed to and will always defend.

We are keen to engage with you and your organisation, to listen to you about how we can further these goals together. Please contact Ms Rowland’s office on 02 6277 4833 if you would like to make such arrangements. We look forward to hearing from you.

Finally, on the upcoming occasion of Eid Ul Adha, we wish you, your family and your community a heartfelt Eid Mubarak.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Shorten
Leader of the Opposition

Michelle Rowland
Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism


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