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May 15, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

ABBOTT GOVERNMENT RULES OUT MAKING INFRASTRUCTURE AUSTRALIA INDEPENDENT

Labor is disappointed that the Abbott Government has taken less than 24 hours to rule out making Infrastructure Australia more independent.

 

Last night, I announced a Shorten Labor Government will establish a truly independent Infrastructure Australia to broker new investment, create jobs and drive nation building projects.

 

This morning on ABC774, Joe Hockey ruled out supporting the idea:

“The thing I’m always wary of is setting up a new independent body, right, where you just give them money and they determine where the money goes, because ultimately, as a person elected by the people of Australia, I’m accountable for that.  And if I haven’t got control over the where the money goes…”

JOE HOCKEY – JON FAINE, ABC774 – 15 MAY 2015

It’s concerning that the Liberal Party is so quick to dismiss an idea that takes the politics out of infrastructure.

 

The Treasurer is good at telling everyone to ‘have a go’ – he should ‘have a go’ at taking the politics out of infrastructure investment.

 

Infrastructure must be at the centre of any plan for Australia’s future – it’s too important to be held hostage to short-term politicking or squabbling.

 

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

 

Infrastructure is one of the big challenges for Australia for the next decade – it must be at the centre of any credible plan for Australia’s future.

 

For too long, infrastructure priorities have been beholden to the political priorities of governments.

 

Labor will take the politics out of infrastructure and put the nation’s interest at the heart of nation-building.
FRIDAY, 15 MAY 2015

 

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

                                    MATTHEW FRANKLIN (ALBANESE) 0411 659868

May 14, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE FUTURE

A Shorten Labor Government will establish a truly independent Infrastructure Australia to broker new investment, create jobs and drive nation building projects.

Infrastructure is one of the big challenges for Australia for the next decade – it must be at the centre of any credible plan for Australia’s future.

For too long, infrastructure priorities have been beholden to the political priorities of governments.

Labor will end this.

Labor will take the politics out of infrastructure and put the nation’s interest at the heart of nation-building.

We will do this by ensuring a truly independent Infrastructure Australia, with a new central role in Government, more resources and greater authority.

Infrastructure Australia’s mandate will be strengthened to help drive economic growth and Labor will provide a $18.5 million boost to IA to strengthen its role as a pivotal economic body.

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.

Labor will ensure Infrastructure Australia’s will evolve from a passive body collecting priority projects from State governments, to an active participant in the infrastructure market, working in the national interest to bring the right nation building projects to fruition.

Under Labor, Infrastructure Australia will play a key leadership role in facilitating new major infrastructure projects. It will work with the states and private sector financiers, super funds and constructors to broker deals, get more projects underway, get them financed and have them delivered.

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

Restoring trend growth and smoothing the transition in our economy depends upon new, productive investment.

New infrastructure projects boost demand in the short term and lift supply over the long term, creating jobs and generating national momentum back to trend growth.

Not just rail and roads, but new ports and bridges, better social housing, smart energy grids, efficient irrigation projects and of course, the best digital infrastructure.

The Abbott Government has ignored priority infrastructure, focusing instead on political decisions.

In Government, Labor funded all 15 major projects on the priority list, the Pacific Highway in New South Wales, Regional Rail in Victoria and Gold Coast Light Rail in Queensland.

But the Abbott Government has not funded a single priority project, in fact they have cut funding for two and have ripped away half of Infrastructure Australia’s budget.

A Shorten Labor Government will establish a truly independent Infrastructure Australia to drive new investment, jobs and deliver nation building projects.
THURSDAY, 14 MAY 2015

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

May 14, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

JOBS FOR THE NEW ECONOMY: INVESTING IN STEM

Technology is changing our economy.

For Australia to win the future, we have to be a high-skill nation.

STEM disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – will be central to the jobs of the future, and people with these skills will be well positioned to succeed in the future.

As our economy restructures and responds to technological change, it is vital all Australians are skilled to be able to participate, to secure jobs today and well into the future.

Three out of every four of the fastest growing occupations will require skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Targeted investment across the education system to improve skills, increase participation, drive creativity and innovation, and uplift our competitiveness is vital to empowering our most important resource: the creativity and genius of the Australian people.

Digital proficiency will be a foundation skill, as important as reading and numeracy. It will increasingly be the determinant of employment prospects and opportunity.

A Shorten Labor Government will make this a national priority.

  1. Coding in Schools

A Shorten Labor Government will ensure that computer programming and digital technologies – coding – is taught in every primary and secondary school in Australia, by a teacher who has had the opportunity to receive training in coding.

Labor will work with the states and territories, teaching bodies, school systems and the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to examine the best way to lift the status of coding to a core skill that is part of learning from the start of schooling.

But we can’t do this without great teachers.

  1. Teach STEM      

Labor will do more to support Australia’s great teachers so that they can deliver STEM courses in a way that will inspire and engage young Australians.

A Shorten Labor Government will deliver a two part plan to upskill teachers as an urgent priority, and create a pipeline of future STEM qualified teachers to join the teaching ranks.

Currently, around 20,000 teachers in science, maths and IT classes never studied these subjects at university.

Labor will support 5,000 primary and secondary teachers per year to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines. Coding and programming will be a key focus of this program.

Labor will also provide 25,000 teaching scholarships over 5 years to new and recent graduates of STEM degrees to encourage them to continue their study and become a STEM teacher.

Teach STEM will provide an incentive payment to attract more STEM graduates to become teachers.

Students that have just completed a STEM degree, or graduate within 5 years, will be able to apply for a $15,000 incentive payment. $5,000 will be paid upon commencement of the course of study, with the remaining paid after their first year in the classroom.

  1. STEM Future Workforce

Employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow at almost twice the pace of other occupations.

A Shorten Labor Government will give the next generation of Australians an incentive to study science and a head start in their working life, free of student debt.

Labor will provide a financial incentive for students to enrol in and complete a STEM undergraduate degree, in recognition of the significant public benefit of growing Australia’s STEM capacity.

Labor will offer 20,000 STEM Award Degrees every year for five years, which upon graduation will see the entire students HECS-HELP debt written off.  These students will graduate HECS debt free.

This policy reflects Labor’s policy focus for higher education – structuring assistance to encourage and incentivise completions at university.

The policy will also reflect Labor’s equity objectives, with the selection criteria to target increasing enrolments in underrepresented groups like women.

Labor will consult with the Chief Scientist, and work with universities and state governments to develop criteria, and selection criteria  around access to the scheme and the eligible courses and use of the grants.

Economic growth cannot be sustained without inquiring and capable people, a steady pipeline of specialist STEM skills in the workforce, and general science and mathematical literacy in the community.

A Shorten Labor Government will invest in STEM to ensure Australians are equipped for the jobs of the future.


THURSDAY, 14 MAY 2015

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

May 14, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

LABOR’S PLAN FOR INNOVATION

Labor believes our potential as a nation comes from the creativity and ingenuity of Australians.

We know our future prosperity depends on harnessing Australian entrepreneurship and defining a new global market for world-leading Australian products.

Australia has an unprecedented opportunity to transition from an economy based on resources, primary industries and domestically focused businesses to one based on high-growth, knowledge-intensive businesses that can compete globally.

A Shorten Labor Government will work hand in hand with banks, the finance industry, venture capital and tens of thousands of Australian entrepreneurs to harness the smarts and skills of our people to drive economic growth and create the jobs of the future.

The recent Startup Economy study undertaken by PwC and commissioned by Google Australia projected that in the right conditions high-growth technology companies could contribute 4 per cent  of GDP (or $109 billion) and add 540,000 jobs to the Australian economy by 2033 from a base of approximately 0.2 per cent of GDP today.

  1. Start-Up Finance

Currently Australian micro-businesses either struggle to get a loan or may borrow via other means, such as residential mortgages, in the absence of cheaper, more appropriate financing alternatives.

We want to help more Australians convert their great ideas into good businesses. We will enable entrepreneurs to access the capital they need to start and grow their enterprises without them having to take risks on the family home.

Labor will work with the banks and finance industry to develop Start-Up Finance, a partial guarantee scheme which will improve access to finance for Australian micro-businesses.

Under Start-Up Finance, Labor will examine partially guaranteeing small loans from banks and finance institutions to give start-ups the affordable capital they need to get going with their business.

Australia is one of the only countries in the developed world without such a scheme in place.

  1. Smart Investment Fund

Labor will create a new, $500 million Smart Investment Fund which will back-in great Australian ideas and help them compete on the world stage.

The Smart Investment Fund will partner with venture capitalists and licensed fund managers to co-invest in early stage and high potential companies, providing a Commonwealth investment of up to 50 per cent of the start-up capital needed to help Australian companies commercialise their smart ideas and innovations.

The Smart Investment Fund will open two rounds over five years, with the intention of making it a rolling program, to develop an ecosystem for ongoing innovation and jobs.

In addition to providing a co-investment, businesses supported by the Smart Investment Fund will gain access to expert advice in commercialisation and access to international networks.

The Smart Investment Fund will be based on the successful Innovation and Industry Funds (IIF) which were created by the Howard Government in 1998 and cut by the Abbott Government in last year’s Budget.

The IIF operated to support the establishment of long-term funds to develop high-growth, globally competitive Australian companies which leveraged our strong research capabilities. More than 100 companies, in industries as diverse as manufacturing, clean technology, software and biotechnology, were supported by the IIF before its abolition.

These investments included the world’s largest online job ads company, seek.com, which was created in Australia with the support the Australian Government. A $2.5 million investment, provided with the assistance of the Australian Government in 1998, has helped to grow what is now a $5 billion company with 500 employees in Australia.

THURSDAY, 14 MAY 2015

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

May 12, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

CONDOLENCE MOTION FOR RICHIE BENAUD

CONDOLENCE MOTION FOR RICHIE BENAUD
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, 12 MAY 2015

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

Richie Benaud was the voice of the Gatting Ball, the heartbreak at Edgbaston, the first and last word on the underarm controversy.
He was the voice of the all our summers.
And with the passing of Richie Benaud Australian Cricket lost a legend, Australia lost an icon and Australians lost a dear friend.
A brilliant and daring captain, a cool head in the controversy of the World Series Cricket and the undisputed doyen of the commentary box.
In a profession that can lend itself sometimes to hyperbole and histrionics, Richie was always an island of calm understatement.
When he spoke, we listened.
For millions of Australians, Richie Benaud was cricket – the personification of our great game.
The Richie Australia first knew was a dashing all-rounder, striking boundaries and bowling leg-breaks with his hair slicked back.
From young tyro, Richie became a captain whose sportsmanship helped revive and enrich test match cricket.
He took, very seriously, Don Bradman’s instruction that every cricketer is only ever a trustee, no-one is bigger than the game that we love.
Richie kept faith with this idea to the very end.
Richie Benaud will be mourned by millions, not just here in Australia but wherever cricket is followed around the world.
But no-one will miss him more than the wife and family he adored so deeply – and we offer them our heartfelt condolences.
I suspect our nation will not see his like again, but he will live forever in the endless summer of our shared memory.
ENDS
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 405

May 8, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

LABOR ANNOUNCES PLAN TO TACKLE YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

As the national unemployment rate has continued to trend upwards, Australia’s youth have continued to be hit the hardest – with 284,700 young Australians in jobless queues.

 

The Abbott Government has presided over the highest youth unemployment rate since the mid ‘90s.

 

It is clear that urgent action is needed to avoid this generation slipping into disadvantage.

 

Labor understands that without a successful transition from study to work, young people will experience life-long employment disadvantage.

 

That is why Labor is pleased to announce the first part of our plan to tackle youth unemployment: Youth Jobs Connect.

$21 million will be provided to pilot Youth Jobs Connect in locations of high youth unemployment to help 3,000 young people  move from unemployment to work.

 

Training in core employability skills – reliability, communication, self-management and willingness to learn– along with basic literacy and numeracy when needed, will provide the foundation skills for young people to find and keep a job.

 

There will be a focus on developing strong links with local employers to provide young people with work experience and employment opportunities in their business.

 

Through work experience young people will get a practical understanding of what employers expect and what career the young person could pursue.

 

Young people will receive tailored careers advice and coaching that relates to local labour market conditions and ensures they make informed decisions about the training they might need to find and keep a job.

 

Young people are crucial for Australia’s future, however young people who are not either earning or learning risk long-term disadvantage.

 

Labor has continually called on the Abbott Government to present a jobs plan for Australians, they have failed to do so.

In the last Budget, Tony Abbott announced plans to punish young people who can’t find a job. His changes to Newstart would have made unemployed people under 30 forced to live for six months without any income.

The Liberal Government would rather sentence young people to a cycle of poverty than invest in the skills they need to find and keep a job.

Youth Jobs Connect will be delivered as part of the Commonwealth’s employment and training commitments and mutual obligation will apply to participants.

Youth Jobs Connect builds on the principles underpinning the well-regarded Youth Connections program that was discontinued by this short-sighted government.

The pilot Youth Job Connect has been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office and will have a fiscal impact of $21 million.

FRIDAY, 8 MAY 2015

 

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

ERIN SMITH (O’CONNOR) 0458 950 010

May 8, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

LABOR TO ESTABLISH TASMANIA TASKFORCE

Labor will establish a Tasmania Taskforce to urgently address the challenges facing the Tasmanian economy and Tasmanians.

 

The Tasmanian economy is in flux following recent job losses, as well as a rising unemployment rate, particularly youth unemployment, and growing disadvantage for low-income families.

 

The task of revitalising Tasmania’s economy, facilitating a transition to new, growing industries and importantly, lifting the education and skills of Tasmanians is now urgent.

 

These challenges have been compounded by decisions of the Liberal Government in the last Budget, including almost $2 billion cut from Tasmanian schools and hospitals.

 

The Liberal Government’s attack on higher education has disproportionately affected the University of Tasmania, putting the Burnie and Launceston campuses at risk of closure.

 

And despite his many promises, Tony Abbott has failed to deliver a clear, consistent plan to boost the Tasmanian economy and support jobs.

 

The Tasmania Taskforce will consult widely including with local communities, industries, chambers of commerce, regional development organisations, education providers, unions and economists in the coming months to develop a comprehensive understanding of the key priorities for the creation of a sustainable, prosperous future for Tasmania.

 

Labor’s Tasmania Taskforce will focus on four key areas:

 

  1. Economic development – supporting Tasmania to transition to new and growing industries including but not limited to renewable energy, boutique food production, aquaculture and eco and cultural tourism;
  2. Employment – growing employment throughout the state, including high-skill jobs of the future with a particular focus on working with business and the community to improve opportunities in areas of high youth unemployment;
  3. Education – expanding the education and skills of Tasmanians; improving attainment rates to ensure the next generation have the skills to drive the new economy, as well as provide retraining and upskilling opportunities for experienced workers seeking to transition; and
  4. Promoting Tasmania – building upon the clean, green, safe and premium reputation of Tasmanian goods and services.

 

The Tasmania Taskforce will be established by Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Local Government, Shadow Minister for Employment Services, and Member for Franklin, the Hon. Julie Collins MP. The Taskforce will comprise of Tasmanian Labor Senators, the Leader of the Opposition in Tasmania, Bryan Green MP and a representative of Local Government.

 

Labor’s Tasmania Taskforce will report by October this year, bringing forward recommendations informed by its extensive consultations with experts and throughout Tasmania.

 

FRIDAY, 8 MAY 2015

 

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

May 2, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

QUEENSLAND STORMS

Labor sends our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of those who have tragically lost their lives in the storms which have lashed Queensland.

 

We stand shoulder to shoulder with all Queenslanders as they begin the difficult task of cleaning up and rebuilding their homes, businesses and communities.

 

We salute the tireless courage of emergency services personnel and SES volunteers who have put the lives and safety of others above their own.

 

The Federal and Queensland Governments can count on our full support in doing everything necessary to support Queenslanders at this difficult time.

 

SATURDAY, 2 MAY 2015

 

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

 

Apr 30, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

ENSURING FAIR RETIREMENT FOR AUSTRALIANS

I’m being upfront and honest with the Australian people about Labor’s plans for superannuation. We’re proposing fair changes that will boost the budget bottom line and reduce reliance on aged pensions while supporting the right of all Australians to dignity and security in retirement.

We continue to support tax concessions for all levels of the superannuation system because Labor has always believed in encouraging Australians to save for retirement, but at the top end the growth in tax concessions and lost revenue is unsustainable and unfair.

How unfair? The recent Financial System Inquiry found that the wealthiest 10 per cent of Australians currently receive 38 per cent of all superannuation tax concessions.

It’s ironic the man responsible for this imbalance, Peter Costello, bobbed up in these pages yesterday to criticise Labor’s superannuation policy.

Ironic, but hardly surprising. Costello has never been able to admit the short sighted largesse he presided over as treasurer blew a long-term hole in the Australian budget.

Even though Costello took more taxes as a proportion of the economy than any treasurer in a generation he used these rivers of gold to turn superannuation into a tax haven for the wealthy few instead of a means for a comfortable retirement for all of us.

Labor has fair policies, which will address this. Our two proposals are straightforward.

First, right now, retirees with millions of dollars in their superannuation accounts pay no tax on the money they earn in their accounts during the retirement phase. Labor’s plan will apply a concessional tax rate of 15 per cent to earnings in the retirement phase of more than $75,000.

Make no mistake, every dollar of interest earned up to $75,000 is still tax free, and the 15 per cent rate is still a very healthy 30-cents-in-the-dollar discount on the top marginal rate.

This change is fair and it is fairly targeted. The Parliamentary Budget Office has calculated it will affect approximately 60,000 account holders, just 0.25 per cent of our population.

By contrast, Tony Abbott’s cuts to the age pension hit more than three million Australians with little or no superannuation.

Second, Labor will tighten the tax break on the superannuation contributions of very high income earners.

Our policy will lower the threshold for the 15 per cent High Income Superannuation Charge from $300,000 to $250,000. Together, these changes will raise $14.3 billion over 10 years. When you include our policy to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax in Australia, Labor has already outlined policies that will save more than $20 billion.

Planning for Australia’s future demands a commitment to building the world’s best retirement savings system.

Yet last year the Abbott government broke its promise and froze superannuation for nearly 11 million Australians – twice. An average income earner, aged 25, will retire with $100,000 less in retirement savings because of the decisions of this government.

If Labor wins the next election the two measures here are the final and only changes we will make to the tax treatment of superannuation. We are determined to offer all Australians certainty in superannuation and security in retirement. This is exactly what our fair and targeted policies will achieve.

Bill Shorten is Leader of the Opposition.

This opinion piece was first published in The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, 29 April 2015.

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

Apr 29, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

THE EXECUTION OF ANDREW CHAN AND MYURAN SUKUMARAN

 

Our best hopes have been dashed and our worst fears realised.

 

Labor condemns the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, in the strongest possible terms.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to all who mourn the loss of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

A decade ago, these two young men made a dreadful mistake.

By all accounts they spent every minute since seeking to mend their ways and to steer others on the road to redemption. Proof the justice system could reform wrongdoers, not just punish wrongdoing.

Yet today, they were made to pay for one stupid decision of ten years ago with their lives.

Indonesia has not just robbed two young men of their lives but robbed itself of two examples of the strengths of its justice system.

 

These executions significantly weaken Indonesia’s ability to plead mercy for its own citizens facing execution around the world.

 

As a close friend and neighbour of Indonesia, Australia is deeply hurt that our pleas for mercy were ignored.

 

It was completely unacceptable for Indonesia to proceed as it did when critical legal processes were yet to run their course, raising serious questions about Indonesia’s commitment to the rule of law.

 

Indonesia’s actions demand a strong response from the Australian Government.

 

Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran committed a terrible crime. They deserved serious punishment, but not this.

This morning’s news will fall heavily on the many hardworking and courageous people working for their cause.

We acknowledge also the tireless efforts of our diplomatic corps, our embassy staff in Indonesia and the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.

At all times, the Australian government and opposition have worked together and stood united, against the death penalty and in pursuit of clemency.

Labor opposes the death penalty in every circumstance, in every country. Its continued existence diminishes us all.

 

The international community must renew its resolve to rid the world of this barbaric practice, and Australia should stand ready to lead this work.

 

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

                                       DAN DORAN (PLIBERSEK) 0427 464 350

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