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May 26, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

NATIONAL SORRY DAY

Today Labor joins with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to reaffirm our shared commitment to healing and reconciliation.

 

National Sorry Day is a time to reflect on the profound grief and trauma experienced by members of the Stolen Generations, and to celebrate the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

 

Labor pays tribute to the Stolen Generations and their families and acknowledges the pain and suffering caused by past government policies and practices that robbed the Stolen Generations of family, language and culture.

 

We recommit to the promise made by the Parliament, on behalf of all Australians, to close the gap in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

 

Australia still has further to go in our national journey of reconciliation.

 

Our next step as a nation is one of our most important – the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution.

 

We cannot afford to lose momentum. Labor stands ready to work with the Prime Minister to bring together a gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to advance the next step in achieving Constitutional Recognition of our First Peoples, as well as meaningful engagement on the impediments to achieving the Closing the Gap targets.

 

Today we celebrate the progress we have made and we remind ourselves that there is always more to do.

 

We cannot rest until opportunity belongs to every Australian, until the gap is closed, until our two Australias are one.

 

WEDNESDAY, 26 MAY 2015

 

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

MADONNA OLIVER (NEUMANN) 0416 199 808

                                                CHANSEY PAECH (SNOWDON) 0431 810 758

May 26, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

CRUEL AND HEARTLESS BUDGET CUT THREATENS HEALTH OF SERIOUSLY ILL KIDS

The Abbott Government must immediately reverse its pathetic, unfair and heartless attack on Australians suffering from debilitating Inborn Error of Metabolism (IEM) conditions.

Around 900 Australians are diagnosed with rare genetic conditions such as Phenylketonuria (PKU) and Homocystinuria (HCU) which, require them to have an expensive, and protein restricted diet, to prevent then developing brain damage.

For over decade the federal government has been providing a small subsidy, currently worthy $250 per month, to these 900 families to enable them to purchase the special food they need so children with this condition do not suffer brain damage.

With no warning or consultation, these families were last week informed by The Department of Health that the Budget had ended this payment.

No decision more highlights the unfair and heartless nature of this government, and its Budget.

This is a pathetic and small-minded measure which punishes families reliant on this small contribution to help cover the costs of protecting children with this very rare disease from suffering brain damage or premature death.

That is why Labor has written to the Prime Minister urging him to immediately reverse this decision which has such serious implications for people living with an Inborn Error of Metabolism both now and for the rest of their life.

 

These are the last people that the Government should be going after and they should not have to fight their Government for continued support.

 

We are hugely concerned that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

We’re concerned the Government has hidden cuts like this to small programs for Australians suffering severe health conditions as part of its overall $2 billion cut to health in this year’s Budget.

 

TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2015

 

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

STEPHEN SPENCER 0423 596 573                                     

 

May 26, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

PASSING OF LESLIE ROYSTON JOHNSON AM

Labor mourns the passing of an honoured son of our party and a distinguished servant of our nation, Leslie Royston Johnson AM.

 

Les, as he was known to one and all, gave a quarter century of service to our Parliament and our nation. Between he served as the Member for Hughes, a Minister in the Whitlam Government and later Deputy Speaker.

 

Les Johnson was Labor to his bootstraps.

 

As a child, he knew the hardship of the Great Depression.

 

As a young man, aged 14, he went to work to support his family and later put himself through night school.

 

He fought for the rights of working people on the shop floor and in the community, from when he was first elected in 1955 until his retirement in 1983.

 

Les served our nation in turbulent times, from ‘The Split’ to the dismissal. In many ways he was made for them: tough, resolute and resilient.

 

He was a steadfast and forthright opponent of the war in Vietnam and along with being one of the first to speak against it in Parliament, he also visited allied forces in Vietnam at his own expense in 1966.

 

Les was also a strong supporter of independence for Bangladesh and his commitment was recognised in 2012 when that nation honoured him as a ‘special friend’.

 

Les was a local champion as well as a great internationalist; he understood the power of community, particularly as Minister for Housing, which he saw as a powerful economic catalyst as well as a human right.

 

With the loss of Les Johnson, another Labor giant moves into history.

 

The Labor Party offers our heartfelt condolences to his friends and loved ones, especially his wife Marion, his children and grandchildren.

 

We salute Les Johnson’s service, his passion and his never-fading faith in the light on the hill.

 

May he rest in peace.

 

TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2015

 

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

May 25, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

LABOR CONGRATULATES ACADEMY OF SCIENCE’S 2015 FELLOWS

 

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Minister for Research Senator Kim Carr today welcomed the Australian Academy of Science’s election of 21 new Fellows for their outstanding contributions to science and scientific research.

 

The new Fellows were admitted to the Academy today in a ceremony in Canberra, and will make presentations about their work tomorrow at the Academy’s annual flagship event Science at the Shine Dome.

 

“Labor congratulates the new Fellows, who have been elected by their peers for their work across a broad range of areas including diabetes, cancer and kidney disease, advanced fuel cells, and new plastics technology,” Mr Shorten said.

 

“The Academy plays an important role in promoting public awareness of science in schools and the broader community, which Labor strongly believes in.

 

“In my Budget Reply I announced a suite of policies that put science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at the centre of a Labor Government’s agenda, because we know that to create the jobs of the future we must see the future as one defined by science, technology, education and innovation.

 

“It is especially encouraging to see that almost half of the new Fellows elected to the Academy this year are women.

 

“A Shorten Labor Government will build the STEM workforce of the future by encouraging more young people to choose a career in STEM. As part of this measure, we will specifically seek to support more women to take up careers in science disciplines where they are currently under-represented.

 

“To achieve our national goals, we also need upskill existing STEM teachers so they can teach with passion and confidence, and ensure that computer coding – the digital language of the 21st century – is taught in every primary and secondary school in Australia.”

 

Senator Carr said today’s awards were an acknowledgement of world class research of Australian scientists.

 

“Each of the newly elected Fellows has dedicated their working lives to achieving excellence in research and working to solve the challenges we face as a society.

 

“Today, their names are added to a roster of Australia’s best scientists – including Elizabeth Blackburn, Suzanne Cory, Frank Fenner, Mark Oliphant and Brian Schmidt.

 

“Like these science leaders, Labor understands the importance of science in driving innovation across our economy and creating the jobs of the future.” Senator Kim Carr said.

 

Labor’s Jobs For the New Economy package will:

 

  • Work with states and territories, teaching bodies, schools systems and the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to lift the status of coding to a core skill that is part of learning from the start of schooling

 

  • Establish a STEM teacher training fund to support 25,000 primary and secondary school teachers over five years to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines. Coding and programming will be a key focus of this program

 

  • Encourage STEM graduates to teach, by offering 25,000 Teach STEM scholarships over five years to recent STEM graduates, to address the shortage of qualified teachers. Recipients will get $5000 when they commence a teaching degree, and $10,000 when they complete their first year of teaching

 

  • Provide 100,000 STEM Award Degrees – 20,000 a year for five years – that 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. STEM Award Degree recipients will have their HECS debt written off upon graduation.

 

Labor values the significant contribution that science and research makes in our community, and it is important that we acknowledge and value the work of Academy, its Fellows, and their peers.

 

The Australian Academy of Science is a private organisation of Australia’s leading research scientists, elected for their personal contributions to science. You can find out more about the Fellows elected today at https://www.science.org.au/fellows-elected-2015

 

MONDAY, 25 MAY 2015

 

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

THOMAS MOORHEAD 0427 126 355

 

May 25, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

APPOINTMENT OF GREG MORIARTY

Labor congratulates Mr Moriarty on his appointment.

 

He brings a wealth of experience to his new role: in our region, the Middle East and in Australia’s intelligence community.

 

We thank him for his continued service to our nation.

 

Labor believes in a seamless, integrated national security system, at every level.

 

Our goal must be to guarantee the best tactical response for any situation is available, and employed, without qualification or delay.

 

Labor will continue to be constructive, bipartisan and considered in our approach to national security.

 

Nothing matters more to Labor than keeping Australians safe and our country united.

 

Our record – in Government and Opposition – makes this plain.

 

 

MONDAY, 25 MAY 2015

 

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

   MARCUS PRIEST (DREYFUS) 0402 914 466

   KATE HANNS (FEENEY) 0423 974 363

May 25, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

LABOR WELCOMES THE DECISION TO OFFER REPATRIATION FOR VIETNAM WAR DEAD

Labor welcomes the Abbott Government’s offer to repatriate the remains of 25 Australian servicemen who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

 

Of the 521 Australians killed in the Vietnam War, 496 were repatriated to Australia with full military honours.

 

There are 24 Australian servicemen buried at Terendak, Malaysia and one other buried at Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore.

 

These 25 soldiers are the only remaining Australian servicemen killed during the Vietnam War who have not been returned to their families for burial.

 

During the early days of the Vietnam War families would have their son’s body sent home only if their next of kin or benefactor were willing and able to pay 500 pounds for their repatriation to Australia.

 

If families could not afford this, the soldier would be buried in Terendak, Malaysia.

 

In January 1966, the Australian Government resolved that all soldiers killed in Vietnam were to be returned to Australia at the expense of the Commonwealth.

 

Labor has continued to support the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia (VVFA) and the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VVAA) in their campaign to repatriate these remains:  ‘Operation – Bring Them Home’

 

We make special mention of the efforts and advocacy of the coordinators of ‘Operation – Bring Them Home’, Vietnam Veteran Bob Shewring, and former ADF member Luke Gosling OAM.

 

As we move into the 51st year since the first Australian serviceman was killed in the Vietnam War, we must remember that we owe these men, and their families, an enduring obligation and respect for the sacrifice they made.

 

Today, we right a half-century old wrong.

 

We offer 25 families the chance to bring home their loved ones from the far corner of a foreign field.

 

In doing so we honour, equally and anew, all who served in Vietnam.

 

And we remind ourselves of the solemn duty our country owes to the loved ones of the lost.

 

MONDAY, 25 MAY 2015

 

MEDIA CONTACT: KATE HANNS 0423 974 363

May 25, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

TONY ABBOTT’S HIDDEN HIT ON AUSTRALIAN FAMILIES

New independent analysis from NATSEM has found this year’s Budget contains a hidden hit on Australian families.

 

Nine out of ten of the lowest income families lose under the Abbott Government’s Budget, while nine out of ten of the wealthiest families benefit.

 

It also shows that families will be slugged thousands of dollars even when the Government’s new child care measures – that start in 2017 – are factored in.

 

This includes:

 

  • A family with a single income of $65,000 and two children will be $6,164 a year worse off by 2018-19.

 

  • A single mother with an income of $55,000 and two children will be $6,107 a year worse off by 2018-19.

 

  • A family with a dual income of $60,000 and two children will be $3,843 a year worse off by 2018-19.

 

This is proof that Tony Abbott’s promise not to hurt families was only ever a desperate lie to save his own job.

 

This is what the Budget papers refused to tell Australians – the true impact on families.

 

This Budget has all the same unfairness and pain for families hidden in the fine print.

 

This is Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s hidden hit on Australian families – the closer you look, the worse this Budget gets.

 

Tony Abbott promised to make things better, but for Australian families he just keeps making things worse.

 

This proves that despite the spin job, families who can least afford it are being hurt the most by this Budget.

 

It proves that this Budget just isn’t fair.

 

Table One

 

Family: Couple, single income of $65,000 with 2 kids (one in primary, one in high school)
2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 Total
Annual Impact -$ 3,734.01 -$ 4,914.23 -$ 6,012.84 -$ 6,164.62 -$ 20,825.70
Weekly Impact -$       71.81 -$       94.50 -$     115.63 -$     118.55

 

Family: Sole Parent with income of $55,000 with 2 kids (one primary, one high school)
2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 Total
Annual Impact -$ 3,714.86 -$ 4,865.38 -$ 5,959.72 -$ 6,107.80 -$ 20,647.76
Weekly Impact -$       71.44 -$       93.57 -$     114.61 -$     117.46

 

Family:  Couple, dual income of $60,000 with 2 kids (both in high school)
2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 Total
Annual Impact -$     825.56 -$ 2,285.68 -$ 3,648.76 -$ 3,843.44 -$ 10,603.45
Weekly Impact -$       15.88 -$       43.96 -$       70.17 -$       73.91

 

Table Two

 

Lowest income families (first quintile) with children will lose up to 7.1% of the total disposable income under the Government’s unfair Budget by 2018-19.

 

The most well off families will actually be slightly ahead under the Government’s Budget, with a small increase in their disposable income.

 

 

Quintile breakdown by income (couples/children):

 

  • Q1 –        0-$47,000
  • Q2 –        $47,000-$59,000
  • Q3 –        $59,000-$83,000
  • Q4 –        $83,000-$119,000
  • Q5 –        $119,000 +

 

MONDAY, 25 MAY 2015

 

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

                                    LACHLAN POULTER (MACKLIN) 0423 937 655

May 24, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

LABOR WILL HOLD GOVERNMENT TO BUDGET CUTS

This week Labor will hold the Abbott Government to account for its sneaky Budget cuts through the Australian Parliament.

Australians know this Budget was the last Budget repackaged for an opinion poll.

But Australians have largely been kept in the dark on the new cuts and unfairness in this Budget.

Labor will forensically interrogate the extent and the impact of Government’s latest Budget cuts through all of the accountability mechanisms of the Parliament.

The Government has done its best to hide the latest round of cuts to health, education, families, veterans, aged care and security from the Australian people.

While the Government claimed this Budget would be good for families these cuts, on top of cuts to family payments from the last Budget, will leave Australian families worse off.

In fact, ACOSS has estimated that the combined cost of cuts to families in this Budget and the last, to be around $15 billion in total.

There is no doubt that these secret cuts will once again be felt by the most vulnerable in our community.

The Government has cut $2 billion from health and aged care but exactly where those cuts will be felt remains unclear.

We know in part that $2 billion cut to health and aged care includes:

  • $125.6 million cut to Child Dental Benefits Schedule Budget Paper No.2 page 100.
  • $144.6 million cut to the MBS for child health assessments Budget Paper No.2 page 103.
  • $69.6 million cut to dental and allied health for Veterans Budget Paper No.2 page 180.
  • $20.1 million cut from the Dementia and Aged Care Service Fund Budget Paper No.2 page 151.

But it also includes almost $1 billion cut to an undisclosed number of health programs Budget Paper No.2 page 110.

The Government must explain exactly which health programs have been targeted and who will be affected.

Labor is extremely concerned that the Government has dishonestly hidden cuts to small programs for Australians suffering severe health conditions in this $1 billion cut.

Labor will continue to stand up against this government’s short-sighted, unfair cuts that hurt the most vulnerable in our community.

SUNDAY, 24 MAY 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: KIMBERLEY GARDINER 0427 230 685

May 22, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

CODE CLUB LEADING THE WAY IN OUR SCHOOLS  

Schools like St Albans Heights Primary School understand how important it is for children to learn skills for the jobs of tomorrow. And so does Labor.

 

A Shorten Labor Government will ensure coding is taught in every primary and secondary school in Australia.

 

Labor will ensure our great teachers have the opportunity to receive training so they can teach coding with confidence.

 

Teachers with the support, skills and knowledge they need, will inspire more young Australians to go on to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

 

Three in four of the fastest growing occupations already require qualifications in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

 

St Albans Heights Primary School is one of around 75 schools, community centres and libraries already engaging teachers, parents and students on coding, by hosting a free Code Club after school for children aged 9-11 years.

 

Code Club is a fantastic program, led by teachers and volunteers, aiming to teach children the basics of computer programming and logic, to help them develop creativity and problem solving skills.

 

In addition, Code Club Australia works with classroom teachers to help them build their computer programming and code skills.

 

To ensure children are taught coding from the beginning of formal learning, Labor will work with states, territories and the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to lift coding to the status of literacy and numeracy in the Australian Curriculum.

 

To drive and promote innovative teaching of coding in schools, Labor will establish a National Coding in Schools centre (NCIS) where business and industry can connect with teachers.

 

To prepare for future demand, business and industry have been calling for immediate action to improve digital literacy in schools by embedding coding in the Australian Curriculum from primary school.

 

Telstra helped establish Code Club Australia because they understand that future jobs and future economic growth will depend on the skills of today’s school students in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering.

 

A Shorten Labor Government will make coding in schools a national priority to drive innovation and creativity, while preparing young Australians with the skills they will need for the jobs of the new economy.

 

For more information about Labor’s plan for the jobs of the future visit www.futuresmartaustralia.org.au

 

FRIDAY, 22 MAY 2015

 

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

May 22, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

WE MUST TEACH OUR KIDS LANGUAGE OF THE FUTURE

I learnt Latin at school.

 

Don’t get me wrong, it does come in handy. But whenever I go overseas I wonder if I would have been better off learning a language people actually speak.

 

This week, at Springwood Central Primary, I visited a classroom full of kids learning the language everyone will speak in the 21st Century: coding, the language of computers.

 

We all know how quickly kids adapt to new technology; I’ve lost count of the number of times my children have showed me how to download an app. But coding is the difference between kids playing with technology and understanding what makes it tick.

 

As one of the students said to me yesterday: “My parents thought I was just playing computer games, until I explained to them what it’s really about.”

 

Right now, Springwood Central is one of only eight schools with a “Code Club” in Queensland – and it’s the only government school in the state offering this great opportunity.

 

The Springwood Central Code Club was inspired by an email from the local Labor MP, Jim Chalmers. But right now it’s an after-school activity, relying on hardworking teachers putting in extra time as well as competing with sport, music, drama and all the other activities kids love.

 

A Shorten Labor Government will make sure coding is taught in every primary and secondary school in Australia, as a core part of the normal school day.

 

Coding isn’t the end of the story. Just like students need to know how to read and count before they can study literature or algebra, coding will help our kids design new technology, adapt it, create it and, most importantly, use it in the workplaces of the future.

 

The good jobs of the future will need new skills. Three out of every four of the fastest growing occupations in Australia will require skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

 

 

This doesn’t mean everyone will grow up to be a computer programmer or a professor -it means smarter farming and more advanced manufacturing, new technology used by our plumbers and electricians and new, more efficient ways of doing business.

 

Last week, in my Budget reply speech, I outlined Labor’s plan for a smarter Australia over the next five, ten and fifteen years.

 

We will provide training for 25,000 current primary and secondary maths, science and IT teachers, scholarships for 25,000 new teachers in those subjects and debt-free degrees for 100,000 science, technology, engineering and maths students.

 

At the end of the biggest resource boom in our history, securing a strong economy and maintaining our living standards depends upon investing in our best natural resource: the skills and smarts of the next generation.

 

Great schools like Springwood Central are already on the right track, they’re giving our kids the best start at competing for the high-wage, high-skill jobs of the future.

Let’s make this happen in every Australian school, university and TAFE. Let’s start preparing our kids for the jobs of the future.


This opinion piece was first published in The Courier Mail on Friday, 22 May 2015.

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

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