INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY BREAKFAST
TUESDAY, 4 MARCH 2014
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Good morning everyone, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet.
I’d like to acknowledge my colleague, the Prime Minister, and all the distinguished guests who are here today.
And it would be remiss of me not to congratulate Natasha Stott-Despoja on her appointment as Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls – an appointment of an ambassador which I think everyone in the Parliament can heartily endorse.
I’d also like to acknowledge and thank her predecessor, Penny Williams who established such a presence in promoting equality and giving women a stronger voice in the world.
Next year my beautiful little daughter, Clementine, will be starting primary school.
Next year, my beautiful daughter Georgette will be starting secondary school.
What my wife Chloe and I want for them is what I believe every parent wants for their child in their first year of primary school, or their first year of secondary school:
We want our daughters to be safe and resilient, to make friends and to have their love of learning supported by a great teacher at a great school.
The third Millennium Development Goal of promoting gender equality in education makes that simple, parental instinct a matter of global concern.
I think we can all be proud that all of the 130 countries signed up to the Millennium Development Goals have achieved gender equality in terms of primary education for girls and boys.
But only two out of these 130 countries have achieved equality in all levels of education.
Today I believe our presence here is a reaffirmation of our pledge to continue to work with our friends in the region in pursuit of these goals.
I do not believe we can leave here after a lovely breakfast and great conversation and simply rest until every girl, around the world, has the opportunity to go to secondary school and indeed to further studies afterward.
We cannot say on a day like today that we have succeeded, until every woman has the right to a fulfilling, secure job with equal pay.
I believe on questions as important as these our goal has to be complete success – not relative progress.
I don’t think it’s enough for us to compare ourselves favourably with some other countries.
Australia should lead the world.
That’s why Labor, in Opposition as in Government, is committed to a constructive partnership with UN Women.
And we encourage our Government to re-commit Australia, and Australian resources, to this agency.
A fair go for women is not just a global challenge.
It’s a mission we need to focus on in Australia too.
This morning I would like to say a few words about the recent debate on the gender pay gap.
We do well in Australia, but we can do better.
The gender pay gap is real – and often underestimated. I would submit to you this morning that we don’t just want women to become economic contributors, they’re already economic contributors. It’s just that we don’t pay them the same as men.
If we’re serious about getting equal pay for women, we need to work to lift the pay of occupations dominated by women.
We should understand in this country that we’ve been reasonably good at paying people for their intellectual contributions, and indeed their physical contributions.
But as a nation, we’ve been tardy about recognising the emotional contribution of people at work. And a lot of that work is done by women.
We need to change our attitudes as well as our laws.
We need to recognise that when we talk about the economic contribution of women, that we should recognise the vast amount of unpaid work that is already done by Australian women, just perhaps not appreciated the way it should be.
We need to help working women negotiate hours and arrangements that make it easier for them to juggle work and family, without trading away their workplace rights.
We need to eliminate the idea that women who work part time or flexible hours are having a ‘day off’ or ‘getting in late’ when they’re really just doing their other full-time job.
We need workplaces that encourage men to take on these same responsibilities.
I was interested to read that the Secretary of the Treasury, Dr Martin Parkinson has recently said that many women still miss out on senior roles through an ‘unconscious bias’.
I agree with Dr Parkinson and with the chief executive of ANZ Mike Smith, who said that concrete reporting on gender equality is: ‘essential to making progress’.
The information that reporting requirements provide holds both government and employers to account.
Without data, it is too easy for employers to pay only lip service to the idea of gender equality – women deserve better.
I believe our 21st Century, the lives that we live and our daughters and our sons live, will be defined by the march of women through the institutions of power.
There is no area of Australian life, no sector of Australian community, that does not and will not benefit from the full and equal participation of women.
In business, in science, in the law and in politics women will shape our country’s future.
I acknowledge my own deputy Tanya Plibersek and our leader in the Senate Penny Wong. I acknowledge the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and of course our Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop. Madam Speaker, I seek no clemency for this though. And of course, Christine Milne, leader of the Greens.
We will have more Nobel laureates like Elizabeth Blackburn, more High Court Justices like Virginia Bell and Susan Crennan, more entrepreneurs like Carolyn Creswell – and more ambassadors for women and girls like Penny Williams and Natasha Stott Despoja.
We will be in good hands in this country if we give the women of Australia full and equal participation.
MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – QANTAS JOBS
TUESDAY, 4 MARCH 2014
HOUSE OF REPRESENATIVES, PARLIAMENT HOUSE
This is a most important national debate. For all those Australians who are listening, thinking at last this parliament is having an argument about the future of Qantas and the future of aviation jobs, please be advised that the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Deputy Prime Minister—the people who are advocating the sale of Qantas to foreign interests—have walked out of the chamber. So this is the quality of government we have in Australia. They will not be accountable in the Parliament of Australia to debate the jobs.
The real shame of this debate about aviation jobs is that the Prime Minister and his team have created only one export industry in Australia since getting elected—and that is the export of Australian jobs overseas. It is not good enough for a government of Australia of whatsoever politics to advocate the dismantling of Australia’s national carrier. It is not good enough to tell thousands of Qantas employees that the only plan the government has is you are out of work.
It is not good enough for the government to tell the flight attendants, pilots, the flight engineers, the licensed aviation maintenance engineers and the cleaners that the only plan we have for you is that your job will go overseas. Next time the government flies in a very safe Qantas plane and are served by very professional staff and see the not very well paid cleaners queuing up on the aerobridge to clean up their mess on the plane, I hope they have at least the courage—because they do not have the courage to be here in the parliament—to say: ‘Actually, we don’t care about you. We don’t care about your jobs. We’ve run out of ideas, except ship them overseas.’
This is a government who is in live with Orwellian language. They love that language. They said about the car workers, ‘You have been liberated’—that means you’re unemployed. They have said about Qantas, ‘We will free you from your shackles.’ Obviously the Prime Minister picked up the word freedom at Mandela’s funeral, but he has not understood that there is no freedom in unemployment. There is no freedom in not fighting for Australian jobs.
What we see here is that there is no freedom in dismantling the skills of the aviation maintenance industry. There is no freedom in telling flight crews of the international business that they are probably better off getting a job in the Gulf or in Asia, because we are not going to fight to keep your job here. I for one am grateful—
Mr Whiteley interjecting—
SHORTEN: You can have your crack, sunshine. Your leader’s not even here. Why do you not observe the rules. What we say—
Mr Whiteley interjecting—
SHORTEN: Sunshine, you will get your go. Why don’t we say to every pilot in Australia—they have spent decades training; they have done the courses; their families have done without them: we do not want you here. I know what happened after and sets. Thousands of people had to move overseas. Yes, it is a good thing that Virgin is in Australia, but remember the family had Ansett and Qantas we had thousands more jobs than we do now. I know what happens when you start dismantling an airline. You start downgrade and skills and quality of Australian aviation. Australian aviation served us through two world wars. Australian aviation has served us in helping to get Australians out of Beirut and get people out of Bangkok. I loathe the false patriotism of those people opposite, who say, ‘We’re trying to free Qantas.’ No, you’re not. You are trying to kill Qantas.
Let us look at the arguments that those opposite are using. They have never seen an argument they cannot turn on its head, that black is not white and white is not black. They say they are doing Qantas a favour. Qantas does not want your favours. It wanted you to do what you said two or three months ago—give it a debt guarantee. Let us have a look at the cynical, dithering, deceitful conduct we have seen in the last three years from this government.
First of all, they tried to blame carbon. They said carbon is to blame. Then last night, somewhat annoyingly, Qantas said, ‘Carbon is not the issue.’ Is there no shame in those opposite? Even after Qantas said carbon is not the issue these people still believe that if they stick with the big lie long enough people will swallow it. No, they won’t. Not this time they won’t.
They have also tried to say that they are not into chequebook support. Tell that to Cadbury. Why is it that chocolate is a preferred Liberal industry but airlines are not? What is that chocolate has of aviation does not. What an inconsistent bunch of roosters you are. Inconsistency is your watchword.
But if we want to talk about the cynicism of those opposite we should talk about this lie about the Qantas Sale Act. They say that if you get rid of part three of the Qantas Sale Act it will all be happy days and blue skies and planes flying. No, it won’t. I have started to work through what happens if the Coalition get through their job-killing propositions. First of all, Qantas will have to get another air-operating certificate. Each business has to have one.
They have one now; they would have to get a second air operating certificate. That will take a year. Oh my goodness, we have wasted three months. But these brain surgeons opposite are going to take another year. Then of course you have got to demerge the business—did not think about that, did they? The merger of TAA and Qantas in 1996 took one year. Do they think that in Abbott-land you can click your fingers and get a pair of scissors and and free Qantas from the shackles and that they will in fact demerge in less than a year? It will take a year. In the meantime, Qantas struggles.
A government member: Calm down!
SHORTEN: Calm down, he says! You are killing the jobs. You should be more excited about it. Let us look at what else will take time. The employees—did I mention that magic word that never passes the lips of the Liberals? What about the employees? About 25,000 to 30,000 people working at Qantas. When you split the airline in two according to your great plan you will have 10,000-plus will have to be transferred to the new business.
Have you thought about how you will do that? Have you thought about the redundancies? Of course you haven’t thought about them. What a silly question. Then you are going to have to take 10,000-plus employees and reemploy them. You are going to put them on the same terms, you going to make them redundant?
Mr Sukkar interjecting—
SHORTEN: You haven’t thought about a thing, Member for Deakin; not for some time! Furthermore, we then have a look at what else we will do. Let us say that we have spent our year demerging. We have got the air-operating certificate. We have worked out who owns the aeroplanes. We have handled the employees on this great idea to sell the business overseas. Who is going to buy it? The obvious buyers in the industry are from the Middle East or China. They will have to go through a Foreign Investment Review Board process. That will take up to two years.
Ms Scott interjecting—
SHORTEN: It is not a conspiracy; it is just a fact, Member for Lindsay. It is going to take up to 2 years to get some and put in some foreign capital under this great rush of blood to the head that the Abbott Cabinet had last night. Imagine that Foreign Investment Review Board process. You lot do not fill me with a lot of confidence when it comes to the Foreign Investment Review Board. If you panicked on GrainCorp, Qantas is grain call on steroids. You will not have the ticker to do it.
You are proposing as a solution to Qantas to go down a path that will take up to two years to complete and at the end we all have fewer jobs and no doubt, knowing this government in an election year, you will panic when you have a look at who is buying it. Indeed, the reason I am so confident that you will panic, other than GrainCorp? Warren Truss, the well-known luminary, intellectual think of the Coalition said, ‘If one foreign investor has gotten 49 per cent of the airline then its strategic policy is likely to change’.
The attitude of its board would change. We could therefore not be confident anymore that Qantas would put the interests of Australia first. Warren Truss is proof that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. He is correct. He could not be confident of putting Australia’s interests first. There you have it, people of Australia, ladies and gentlemen, we have a government that is proposing a plan which will send thousands of jobs offshore, which has been the product of some cynical blame-everyone-else-except buying a mirror and looking at the real problem, and it has been about a plan which has clearly got more holes in it than Swiss cheese.
Then we get to what I think the real issue of this issue is. They want to turn the spirit of Australia into the ghost of Australia. They are saying, ‘Here’s another company where we won’t fight for jobs.’ Listen to the roll call: Holden, Toyota, Alcoa, Electrolux, Gove, Qantas. How dare they pretend to be interested in Australian jobs. They have not fought for any jobs. When will it end?
The problem with the government is that they are zealots—they are extremists. They have never seen an Aussie job they will fight for. The world is too hard. They tell us about level playing fields, but world aviation is not a level playing field. Most aviation businesses in the world have government support. We have these single-minded extremists who will never fight for a job in Australia, so will the last Abbott government minister on the last job turn the lights out. They will not fight for jobs, they will not stand up for Australian aviation, they know that they have taken too long to get to this point and they know their solution is about politics, it is not about jobs. Shame!
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TASMANIAN LABOR ELECTION CAMPAIGN LAUNCH
SUNDAY, 2 MARCH 2014
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How good it is to be here in Bridgewater, and in Tasmania again.
A truly special place, whose architecture and landscape and skies and green fields are like a retrieved memory of an Australia at its best, before traffic jams and pollution.
A truly special place, the dream of every aspiring artist, and every early retiree contemplating a third age in a sandstone house among blue remembered hills.
A destination for a million tourists, trout fishing, bush walking, sketching on a mountaintop, honeymooning, second honeymooning.
How good it is, how rare it is, a special place with a past that is not just a museum, but a thriving, building engine of the future, and the technologies of the future.
I know that in the last decade, Tasmania has undergone a massive economic change.
I know that some parts of the state, some of you, are doing it tough.
Lara Giddings and Labor know that in hard times, governments have a moral obligation to keep people in work.
That’s why Labor has protected more than 2000 jobs in Tasmania’s major industries, places like Norske Skog, Pacific Aluminium at Bell Bay and BHP Temco.
But this is also a government focused on creating new jobs, leading the way with a $25 million jobs plan – the biggest in Tasmania’s history.
This plan is already delivering results.
3300 new full-time jobs have been created in the past six months.
This is a plan that puts innovation at the forefront.
670 new jobs in small business have been created by Labor’s innovation grants.
A plan that will set Tasmania up for a new wave of prosperity from record levels of mineral exploration and export, a growing dairy industry and nation-leading aquaculture.
Jobs have been the priority – but that’s not all that Tasmanian Labor has achieved for this state.
Lara Giddings and Labor know that governing isn’t about choosing between a strong economy and a fair society.
It’s about building a strong economy so you can create a fair society.
A society that benefits everyone.
Tasmanian Labor has invested in social housing and helping the disadvantaged.
Tasmanian Labor has led the nation on protecting women and children from family violence.
Tasmanian hospitals have been redeveloped and remade with a $1 billion investment – the biggest in Tasmania’s history.
Tasmanian community workers – 9000 of them – have received a long overdue wage increase.
Tasmanian farmers are reaping the benefits of a massive investment in irrigation.
Tasmanian consumers are enjoying lower power bills because of Labor reforms driving down the cost of electricity.
Tasmanian children are going to new Child and Family centres and learning to be active, healthy and ready for school.
Under Labor, the launch site for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, is already empowering the lives of a 1000 Tasmanians aged between 15 and 24.
Under Labor, the National Broadband Network has reached more than 33,000 premises – connecting Tasmanian schools, businesses and homes to the classrooms and markets of the world.
There is much more you can be proud of.
But we all know that election campaigns aren’t about celebrating achievements.
They’re about defending them – and extending them.
Tasmania’s next four years depend on the next thirteen days.
At this election there may be some people who think it’s time to give the other side a go.
Well I have two words for them – think again.
There may be some voters at this election who think that no matter who is in power, there’s no difference.
There will be those who think that Will Hodgman is a different kind of Liberal to Tony Abbott or Campbell Newman.
Make no mistake – what you see in Canberra and Queensland is what you’ll get in Tasmania.
The service cutting, quality of life reducing tactics that shrinks communities.
Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are listening closely to proposals from the big Liberal States to gut Tasmania’s share of GST revenue and rip $700 million a year out of the State budget.
They’re talking about fundamentally re-writing the rules on GST funding for Tasmania.
This is idea is at the top of Tony Abbott’s list.
A mainland smash-and-grab raid on funding for Tasmanian jobs and vital services.
Lara Giddings has already shown she will fight the Liberals all the way on this.
But what have we heard from Will Hodgman?
Not a murmur. Not a peep.
Will Hodgman has been silent on the Abbott Government’s plans to abandon meaningful Renewable Energy policies.
A target that has already delivered $1 billion of investment to Tasmania – with another $2 billion in the pipeline.
If Renewable Energy plans are scrapped, this investment leaves with it.
Lara Giddings has stood up to fight for this – Will Hodgman hasn’t lifted a finger.
Six months of the Abbott Government has taught us that it’s not what the Liberals say that will hurt Tasmanians- it’s what they will do.
After all Tony Abbott says he’s the best friend Medicare ever had.
Well, with friends like him, Medicare doesn’t need enemies.
He’s more like his idol John Howard, who for a decade said in a similar whingeing tone that Medicare was unaffordable.
A real friend of Medicare wouldn’t spend their time as Health Minister ripping more than $1 billion out of the public health system.
A real friend of Medicare would know that Medicare is an Australian icon because it is free and universal. Free and Universal.
A real friend of Medicare wouldn’t try and slug Australian families with a GP tax every time they need to take their sick child or their elderly parent to the doctor.
A GP tax that will hit Australian families, without adding a single dollar to the health budget.
A GP tax that will in fact place a $2 billion burden on our public health system and put more pressure on emergency department waiting times.
Before the election, Tony Abbott said he was on a ‘unity ticket’ when I came to the Gonski reforms to school funding.
Reforms that would have delivered an extra $380 million to Tasmanian schools by 2019.
I use the word ‘would’ because after the election, Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne ripped the unity ticket to pieces.
They decided to try for a cut-price deal.
A shabby, shoddy knock-off school funding arrangement that robs Tasmania of a much-needed funding boost, and gives no-strings-attached cash to their Liberal mates.
Before the election, Tony Abbott said that his party was committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Now, every day you open the paper and there’s another Minister talking down the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
They’re using weasel words about moving to a ‘cost-effective’ scheme that is ‘value for money’.
They can’t see that empowering people with impairment, giving them a chance to shape their own future, is the value for money.
Because whether it’s up in Canberra or here in Hobart, the Liberal party has the same problem – they know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
That’s why they’re trying to soften Australians up for a promise breaking budget this May.
It’s why they’ve primed their unelected, unaccountable Commission of Audit to recommend the some of the harshest cuts in Australian history.
It’s why they’ve got their sights set on penalty rates, education, infrastructure and health.
And if you want a sneak preview for how things will go for Tasmania with an Abbott-Hodgman double act, their press conference last weekend was a perfect template.
It started with a broken promise.
Before the election, Tony Abbott had said he would complete the roll-out of the NBN in Tasmania as it was intended, fibre to the premises.
Last week he walked away from that commitment.
That’s not a figure of speech.
He literally walked away from the press conference – and from poor old Will Hodgman.
Did Mr Hodgman stand up to Tony Abbott?
Did he criticise him for a broken promise that will leave hundreds of Tasmanians depending on 19th Century copper technology?
Did he at least pop out and ask to come back?
No, he just smiled and carried on.
Tasmania deserves better than this kind of spineless indifference to the broken promises of the Abbott Government.
So I say to all the Tasmanians thinking about voting Liberal: look at the Abbott Government as a warning.
A message in a bottle that has arrived just in time.
Don’t let Will Hodgman do to Tasmania what Tony Abbott is doing to unemployment queues throughout mainland Australia.
On March 15 the voters of Tasmania have a clear choice.
A choice between a party that fights for jobs and one that cuts them.
A choice between a party that believes in free and universal healthcare and one that believes in a new GP tax.
A choice between a Labor Government focused on building the future, and a Liberal party that only has two ideas: slash and burn.
And a third, perhaps, turn off the lights on the lost manufacturing jobs in Australia.
A choice between a strong voice to fight Tony Abbott’s cuts – and a rubber stamp for his heartless attacks.
It’s now my pleasure to introduce the right choice.
The Leader of this Labor Government.
The Premier of Tasmania.
The person who can lead Labor to victory on March 15.
Please welcome Lara Giddings.
TEAL RIBBON DAY BREAKFAST
WEDNESDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2014
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It’s an honour to say a few words to you this morning.
I am proud to wear the Teal Ribbon to show my support for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
We know the numbers.
We know that this cancer claims the lives of too many Australians.
I know survivors of this cancer and I know family and friends of those who have not survived.
I know survivors who go on to raise beautiful children – and that is just a miracle.
Yet I believe ovarian cancer is not as well known, or well understood as it should be in Australia.
Too often it is diagnosed too late – limiting the effectiveness of treatment and increasing the risk of death.
I believe that in the Australia in 2014, a lot is asked of Australian women.
Many of you have to juggle family responsibilities.
Some of you have to juggle family and work.
This means you’re very often left with little time for yourself, or your own health – as opposed to the health of your family.
Today we urge the busy women of Australia not to let the symptoms of ovarian cancer go unchecked.
We know that increased public awareness of breast and prostate cancer plays an important part in Australians getting themselves to a doctor earlier – and more Australians beating cancer.
We need to reach this same level of awareness and understanding for ovarian cancer.
Today Members of Parliament from both sides will wear the Teal Ribbon to raise awareness – and as proof of a promise.
A promise to support the search for a simple, effective screening test.
A promise to continue helping hard-working Australian medical researchers find a cure.
A promise to do everything we can to help our mothers, our daughters, our sisters and our friends beat ovarian cancer, once and for all.
I know that women who experience ovarian cancer are extremely brave.
I’ve seen it in hospital wards, and I’ve seen the anguish that families go through.
I believe that Australia is smart enough and generous enough, that, in the future, we won’t have to ask Australian women to be as brave as they are on this particular issue.
Thank you and good morning.
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STATEMENT TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2014
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For health workers who were members of the Health Services Union, Craig Thomson’s actions are a deep and unforgivable betrayal. For all of us in the Labor Party, Craig Thomson’s actions, as outlined by the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 18 February this year, are a deep and unforgivable betrayal. These actions were contrary to the fundamental principles of Australia’s trade union movement and everything it stands for. These actions were contrary to everything that the Australian Labor Party stands for. I have spoken to people who had the privilege to know Bill Dobell, after whom the seat of Dobell is named. Bill Dobell was a staunch Labor man. He would have been horrified. These actions are a violation of the standards that Australians expect of their parliamentary representatives. But, worse than that, as I said at the opening, Craig Thomson’s actions are a betrayal of hardworking Australians whose rights he was duty-bound to protect. There is no question that the members of the Health Services Union suffered as a result of Craig Thomson’s actions, and he owes the members of the union and all those involved with the union that he falsely attacked a deep and heartfelt apology. Mr Thomson abused the trust of this place, his constituents, his colleagues and thousands of hardworking Australians in the health services sector.
Today this parliament expresses our regret for the contents of Mr Thomson’s speech in this place. I hope that this motion can assist the members of the Health Services Union, who have been let down and betrayed by Mr Thomson. We support this motion without qualification or reservation. We support this motion without equivocation, because we on this side of the parliament take our responsibilities as parliamentarians seriously. It is a privilege to represent Australians in this place. Parliamentary privilege is an important, ancient right that must not be abused. Misleading the House is a grave and serious matter. It is incumbent on all of us who stand in this place to uphold the highest traditions of respect and the highest levels of respect for those that we represent, for those who rely upon this institution, and the highest traditions of respect and the highest levels of respect for each other and for this institution, which is fundamental in the exercise of Australian democracy. Mr Thomson failed this most fundamental test and, in doing so, he failed all of those who placed their trust in him.
Australia’s trade unions are overwhelmingly member focused and professional organisations. It is a terrible shame that Craig Thomson’s reprehensible behaviour has besmirched the reputation and cast doubt on the motives of a movement that is dedicated to providing safe workplaces; productive, profitable and competitive enterprises; and decent conditions for so many hardworking Australians. No institution in Australia outside of the parliament has done more to lift the standard of living for working people than unions. As a former union representative and as a member of parliament, I have always supported measures that fight corruption. Two years ago, as workplace relations minister, I supported placing the HSU East Branch into administration. That step was extremely serious and unprecedented. The court agreed that the level of dysfunction within the union meant that it should be put into administration. The court did so because the members of some branches of the HSU were victims of a poisonous culture of dysfunction and corruption among their leadership and it needed to stop. Many HSU members do not earn a lot of money, but they pay their union dues. The end of this torrid chapter in the history of the Health Services Union has come.
Just as Labor will always stand up for low-paid workers and competitive businesses and fight for job security, we will always cooperate with the agencies that are responsible for uncovering the truth and fighting corruption. We supported the reference to the Privileges Committee on these matters previously, just as we supported the reference to the Privileges Committee yesterday. I have committed publicly that the Labor Party will cooperate with the royal commission. Two weeks ago I proposed a police task force led by the Australian Federal Police, working with state police agencies, to tackle criminal behaviour and corruption, including in the building and construction industry. Today I welcome the government’s new indications of support for our proposal. We are pleased that they are adopting our proposal and will now be allowing our police officers in the Australian Crime Commission to do what they do best: catch and prosecute criminals.
We are pleased that, as a result of the work of this task force, those engaging in criminal behaviour, whosoever they may be, will feel the full force of the law. We are pleased that justice will be done. All of us in the Labor Party have no tolerance for corruption wherever it occurs. It is a profound insult to everything we believe in and everything we stand for. Corruption cannot go unpunished. No-one is above the law, not union representatives, not business people, not politicians. It is a clear message and a strong lesson for all of us. Labor will be supporting this resolution without equivocation, without reservation. We will support this resolution because what happened in May 2012 was an abuse of the privilege of parliament in our opinion.
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ANNUAL FEDERAL CONFERENCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION UNION
FRIDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2014
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Thank you for this chance to speak at your conference again.
They say a week is a long time in politics – six months is a lifetime.
Six months ago we were on the cusp of national consensus on a way forward for the future of our country’s schools.
All schools, public and private, Catholic and Independent, city and country.
We had a commitment from the biggest states in the country to invest billions of dollars in new funding to dramatically improve resourcing for our schools.
We had a six year plan to boost investment for every school and every child in Australia.
Now we are on the precipice.
Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott have ripped their education ‘unity ticket’ to pieces.
Their cynical games are rapidly unwinding hard-fought reforms that took years to develop and design and a national consensus that all of us worked so hard to build.
Already today you have heard from
Emeritus Professor Alan Reid, and Dr Ken Boston.
Ken sat on the Gonski Review Panel, and helped build the policy case for a needs-based funding model.
A model that has, at its heart, an emphasis on improving outcomes for vulnerable children, and better resourcing schools in areas of disadvantage.
A funding model that bridges the divide between government and non-government schools.
One that provides funding certainty for six years.
In Opposition, as in Government, Labor believes this is a national priority – a matter of moral obligation and policy necessity.
Rest assured, the Federal Labor Party is not giving up the fight.
We won’t be walking away from Gonski – not now, not ever.
And we are honoured to have you alongside us in this struggle.
Today isn’t just about primary and secondary education.
This morning I was in Geelong, talking about the jobs of the future and the challenges Australian manufacturing is up against.
In these times of economic change, it’s more important than ever that our TAFE system and our TAFE teachers have the support and resources they will need to build up Australia’s skills base.
I firmly believe that Australia can choose to get smarter, or get poorer.
TAFE education is an essential part of us being a smarter and more prosperous nation.
It’s vital that we support TAFE students and teachers, so that we can have a high-skill, high-tech globally competitive economy.
I know the Australian Education Union has always been an important voice and passionate advocate for teachers, principals, and support staff in public education.
As Education Minister, I saw firsthand that the AEU’s advocacy begins from the selfless belief that we must work together to provide the best standard of education for Australian children.
Especially those who are being left behind by a funding model that is broken and a system that is failing the most vulnerable children in our society.
This selflessness, this strength of purpose, has been clear in your refusal to buy into the cynical diversions Christopher Pyne has sought to engineer.
You haven’t been distracted by the tired public v private debate, or the shameless ideological posturing over the national curriculum review.
Or the fatally flawed review into teacher training that is just a smokescreen for funding gaps.
I admire your restraint.
I know how infuriating it must be when the man who is supposed to be Minister for Education has no ideas for teaching and learning apart from refighting the history wars and lecturing hardworking teachers about their performance.
It’s important for us all to stay focused, and resolute.
Because as irritating as these political games are, we cannot let them obscure our main objective.
We have to hold Tony Abbott to his promise to implement Labor’s Gonski reforms.
We have to ensure that the commitment is honoured for the full six years, with state and territory governments also committing their full share of the agreements.
We should never underestimate what we achieved through the Gonski reforms.
A policy where schools will be truly resourced according to their students’ needs, with an extra $15 billion for all schools over six years.
The Gonski reforms spanned political party divides.
The Gonski reforms took us beyond the public vs private school debate.
For the first time, we hold in our hands a national consensus across almost every major stakeholder in the education space supporting a funding model that will deliver more resources to the students who need it most:
Children with a disability or learning difficulty
Children in remote communities
Children from low socio-economic backgrounds.
The alternative – a deal that Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott cobbled together in between press conferences – does nothing to alleviate inequality or address these funding gaps.
The ‘deal’ they announced was just a wad of no-strings-attached cash.
It is a meaningless agreement – one with the sole purpose of provoking another round of the blame game to distract from the vandalism being done to the education system.
Because without the reform framework and conditions that Labor created, there is nothing to stop the governments of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia ripping money out of education.
Let’s be clear – anything less than a commitment to the full six years of funding promised under the Gonski reforms is selling short the future of 3.6 million Australian school children.
It is a betrayal of thousands of teachers around the country who need more resources, more funding so they can deliver the best education for our children.
I believe governments need to revere the power of education – and the special role of teachers.
Governments need to do more than pay lip service to great teachers.
They need to recognise that teachers need support, they need resources and they need flexibility so that they can respond to the individual needs of children.
Society must ensure that teachers are paid appropriately for the value of the work they do.
Our doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers are paid reasonably.
And our teachers commit every day – physically, intellectually and emotionally.
Yet I do not believe their pay reflects the value of that commitment.
I’m worried about this new ‘review’ into teacher quality.
I think it’s another distraction.
Another attempt to walk away from the detailed framework and the mandated continued investment of the Gonski reforms.
When Labor hears mindless platitudes like this from Minister Pyne:
“A quality education system must be underpinned by quality teachers.”
We’re awake to the sinister subtext – the attempt to lay the blame for the effects of funding cuts and ideological games at the feet of hardworking teachers.
Teachers know first-hand the struggles that disadvantaged children face.
They know the role that school resources and location, a student’s family circumstances and language skills play in education outcomes.
Teachers shouldn’t be made the scapegoats for Tony Abbott’s broken funding promises.
Or be made to wear the blame for the problems that will flow from a cut in education support.
The Conservatives have form on this point.
Think of the damage they have done to Labor’s early childhood education regulatory framework.
They have destroyed the quality controls we created and jeopardised the learning of children at the formative period in their education.
A cowardly, short-sighted decision that they snuck out at five minutes to midnight before the election.
This is why I am troubled when we see hardline ideology masquerading as education policy.
Look at Christopher Pyne’s hastily-assembled review of the National Curriculum.
A back-of-the-envelope inquiry being run by right wing zealots.
A rush job that threatens the years of hard work that governments, educators and experts put into developing a comprehensive national curriculum.
A curriculum that provides families certainty and clarity around what their child is learning, and provides schools and teachers with guidance around what they teach children all the way up to year 12.
It was in 2008 that the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians was agreed to by all Australian education ministers.
This Agreement committed all jurisdictions to supporting:
“all young Australians to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens”, and it provided the scope for the development of the Australian Curriculum.
That’s six years of work now at risk because of the Abbott Government’s conspiracy theories about the Australian Curriculum.
Many of you in this room have been involved first hand in the implementation of the Curriculum in your classrooms.
To have that work, and the independence of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, in any way diminished or undermined because of the Coalition’s petty, partisan opposition to the Curriculum would be a travesty.
Similarly, Labor will defend its legacy on giving schools more authority.
Make no mistake, what Christopher Pyne is plotting with his plans on school autonomy goes well beyond local decision-making.
His slapdash plan to create a two-tier public education system ignores the initiatives put in place under Labor and threatens the level playing field that the Gonski plan is designed to achieve.
Pyne’s scheme goes well beyond the evidence of what works.
Even the NSW Minister for Education doesn’t want a bar of the Pyne idea.
It’s a plan to force schools to choose what they go without in the short term, and cut funding over the long term.
If local school decision making is what the Coalition Government wants to achieve, then we have that in the Gonski Education reforms.
If the Government cares about improving student education outcomes.
If the Government cares about improving support for Indigenous students.
If they want to improve outcomes for rural communities, and laying the foundations for an education century.
Then they need to join us in supporting the Gonski reforms – like they promised they would.
This year’s Budget will show us what the Coalition really thinks about education.
There will be nowhere to hide.
No political smokescreen to distract or conceal.
The Budget papers will show us the truth.
We’ll see what level of funding they allocate for what would have been the fifth year of Labor’s plan.
Any reduction on Labor’s commitment will be a cut to education.
Any reduction will be a broken promise from Tony Abbott – and a short-sighted betrayal of our schools, teachers and students.
In the meantime, Labor will keep the pressure on.
We will keep asking questions.
We will remind every parent in the country, every teacher and every child just what is at stake.
Because the opportunity we still have in front of us comes along only once in a generation.
It’s too important to play politics with.
The choice before the Government is simple.
Will we have a better and fairer model of school funding?
Or a failing system where disadvantaged schools fall through the cracks?
Will our children be taught by great teachers in great schools?
Or will overworked staff be forced to go without the resources and support they need?
Will Australia get smarter – or poorer?
We’re counting on you to stand with us.
To make the case for the right course.
To speak up for students, teachers, support staff, principals schools and parents.
To stand with us, as we stand up for the Gonski reforms.
I know we can count on you – and I thank you for it.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADERS OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
TUESDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2014
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Your Excellency, the Prime Minister, the Baird family and other distinguished guests here today.
Cameron Baird’s mates described him as an ‘iconic figure’ in their regiment.
High praise from members of an elite unit recognised the world-over for its professionalism, courage and skill.
Even in that esteemed company – Corporal Baird’s record stands out.
In 2008, Corporal Baird received the Medal for Gallantry.
A decoration that recognised his courage under fire and willingness to risk his own life to save his comrades.
Now, with the awarding of the Victoria Cross, he attains a place of the highest honour in Australian – and Commonwealth – Military History.
The Victoria Cross is our highest military honour.
The Victoria Cross is unique in our military establishment, all ranks of the Australian defence force are required to salute a Victoria Cross recipient.
It has been described as
‘the most democratic, and at the same time the most exclusive of all orders of chivalry’.
‘there is only one standard, the human standard of valour and deadly peril’.
The Victoria Cross speaks to the way we see ourselves as nation.
The Victoria Cross speaks to our best qualities, the way we would like to see ourselves – through the eyes of heroes.
Above all the Victoria Cross is part of our proud military tradition, a tradition that reveres the courage to sacrifice one’s safety for one’s friends.
I did not have the privilege of knowing Corporal Baird, but I suspect he was a modest man.
I am sure that today he would want us to acknowledge his many comrades who may not have received the same level of recognition.
Including the 40 Australians who have died in the mountains and green valleys of Afghanistan.
And the hundreds more who have been wounded – or come home bearing psychological scars.
Corporal Baird – and all his fellow soldiers are heroes.
But there is no doubt that Corporal Baird was the sort of man that every soldier would aspire to be.
To his father Doug, his mother Kaye, his brother Brendan and his nephews Riley and Max, we offer our deep and heartfelt condolences.
Our nation owes Cameron Baird, and his family, a debt that we can never repay.
Rest assured the award of this Victoria Cross places your son, your brother, your uncle, and yet again the 2Commando Regiment in Australian military history forever.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADERS OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
LAUNCH OF ‘AUSTRALIA: OUR EXTENDED DREAMS’
I’m delighted that former Prime Minister Bob Hawke could be here – along with the former Minister for Immigration in the Keating Government, Nick Bolkus.
Bob, Nick, all of us know that tonight would not have been possible without your vision, compassion and decency.
It’s a pleasure to be with you tonight – and to be able to wish so many members of the Chinese-Australian Community a Happy New Year.
Or, if you’ll forgive my pronunciation:
Kung Hei Fat Choy!
It’s an honour to be here for the launch Australia: Our Extended Dreams for the Australia Pacific Media Group.
Tonight I am breaking the habit of a political lifetime.
Because I normally never agree to speak at a book launch unless I’ve read the book myself.
But when I discovered this particular volume is around 800 pages long – and in characters – I decided that it would be ok if I made a few general remarks.
As Australians everywhere celebrate the colour and movement of the Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival.
We give thanks for the contribution of thousands of Chinese-Australians to the peaceful, multicultural society we love.
Tonight is also a celebration of the transformation China has achieved.
Historic levels of economic growth and trade liberalisation have been accompanied by real and important progress in the advancement of political freedoms and the rule of law.
Tens of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty – and given new opportunities at a longer, happier and healthier life.
Australia’s strong relationship with China, established by the great Gough Whitlam in 1972, means that we have been both a witness to, and a beneficiary of, this more free and prosperous China.
And one of our greatest national assets, one of our best conduits to China and all the opportunities it holds are the thousands of Chinese immigrants who have made their home here.
In the pages of this new book, we are reminded of the rich and varied contribution your generation of Chinese-Australians have made to our society.
You’ve opened the doors of our universities to your region, and given governments a new sense of the opportunities that a world-class tertiary education system can bring Australia.
You’ve worked the late hours and holiday shifts, driving taxis and stacking shelves.
You have been the entrepreneurs and the risk-takers.
You’ve opened restaurants, law firms, market gardens and corner stores– creating jobs and building national prosperity.
You have added your cultural energy to ours – and enriched our national identity.
Above all, this book reminds us that for all the statistics and data, the only number that has ever mattered in our immigration story is one.
If one life is made better by the embrace of our peaceful and tolerant democracy, then we can know that we have done our job.
If one person can find new happiness and opportunity here – then we have fulfilled our founding promise as the land of the fair go and the better chance.
If one person can add their history, their faith, their culture, their beliefs to our complex and diverse nation – then all of us are enriched.
Tonight we also celebrate another auspicious 20th anniversary – and I congratulate everyone involved with the Pacific Media Group.
For so many Chinese-Australians who have started again here in Australia, you have been more than just a source of news.
You have been a familiar comfort in an unfamiliar land.
A link with the life left behind and an insight into the new world of the Chinese-Australian community.
I congratulate you for what you have achieved – I thank you for the pleasure you have given so many and I wish you all the very best in the years ahead.
I close by saying that I believe Australia: Our Extended Dreams will, in years to come, be seen as a tribute to all of you who have made the choice to embrace our country as your new home.
Our country is a bigger, better, brighter, smarter and happier place for your presence.
And all of us are delighted that you decided to stay.
I wish Australia: Our Extended Dreams all the very best on its journey into history.
Thank you and good evening
SATURDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 2014
FRIDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2014
Being at events like these always gives me a lift.
A sense of renewed energy, and purpose.
Here, at United Voice, I am reminded of what all of us are fighting for, and how important it is.
A fair Australia, for all Australians.
I’m not here to make a long speech, I’m here to bring you a simple message: I know how hard you work.
I know what a valuable difference your work makes to the lives of others.
I know we are lucky to have you.
Many of you give hope (and rest) to mothers and fathers whose precious, beautiful child has been born with an impairment.
Many of you give peace of mind to millions of Australians who fear for the health and happiness of an aging parent.
I know that each and every one of you makes Australia a better place.
Labor and United Voice share a core mission and a defining purpose: getting a fair deal for people like you.
All of us in the Labor party were shocked – and angered – that Tony Abbott used his first weeks in Government to deny carers a modest – and richly deserved – pay rise.
We could not believe that Ministers were out there encouraging child care workers and aged care workers to ‘hand back’ the negotiated, legislated salary increase to which they were entitled.
I think that decision was a mean and cowardly sneak attack on working people.
I’m as angry – and frustrated – as you are every time I open the paper and see another Coalition Minister talking down the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Before the election Tony Abbott promised he wouldn’t tamper with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Now hardly a day goes by where a Minister isn’t in the media complaining about how the NDIS costs too much, or how they need to get ‘value for money’.
This government still can’t see that giving people with a disability a better future is the value.
They know the price of everything – and the value of nothing.
Make no mistake – any change to the NDIS will be a broken promise to hundreds of thousands of people with disability, their families and their carers – including people in this room.
It’s a great Labor reform – but it’s also an economic reform.
One that will give people with an impairment the chance to choose their own future, participate in the community and gain the benefit and dignity of work.
And one that will give carers the chance to take a well-earned break.
The chance to save for their own retirements – and re-engage with the workforce.
The Government doesn’t see this – because they’ve never lifted a finger to help people with a disability, or their carers.
The negative way they talk about the National Disability Insurance Scheme tells us everything about this Government’s warped priorities.
They just don’t get it.
Tony Abbott doesn’t understand that people on forty, fifty, sixty thousand dollars aren’t overpaid.
But be assured, we know how hard you work to make ends meet.
Labor knows that penalty rates, leave loading and extra duty allowances are not some kind of glossy bonus.
They are hard-earned and much-needed.
And right now – they are under attack.
Make no mistake, the Government has these basic entitlements in its gun-sights.
I’m worried that the Liberals’ narrow, hardline ideology will lead to more cruel cuts.
When they say nothing is off the table – they really mean everything is on the chopping block.
I’m worried that their only plan for healthcare is a GP tax – an assault on families with sick children and elderly parents.
Most of all I’m worried that last week, a week when Tony Abbott completed wrecking the car industry.
When thousands of workers were cast onto the scrap heap.
When 1300 workers at Forge here in WA were sacked overnight.
I’m worried last week was only the beginning.
I have spent my life fighting for a fair go for people like you.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So today I give you this guarantee.
When times get tough, we will never seek to point the finger of blame at you.
We will never attack your wages and conditions.
We will never suggest that the problems with our economy are the fault of good people who work hard.
And we will never stop fighting for jobs.
We will never run up the white flag, we will never shrug our shoulders, we will never insult workers who have lost their jobs by offering them nothing but glib lines of cold comfort.
We believe every Australian job is worth fighting for.
Because we know that once jobs get sent overseas – they don’t come back.
Thank you for having me today.
Thank you for what you do.
Thank you for inspiring me to go back and continue the fight.
For being living proof that Labor – like United Voice – is on the side of real people.
We won’t forget you.
We won’t let you down.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADERS OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
FRIDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2014
Thank you for inviting me and to our generous hosts, it’s a great pleasure to be here in Perth.
I particularly thank The West Australian, Murdoch University, Woodside and Channel Seven.
I don’t get here often enough and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to address such a distinguished and accomplished audience.
This is my second visit to WA as Labor Leader – and I intend to make many more.
Both the nation and the party I lead will only flourish if we know, respond to and contribute to the challenges and opportunities of Western Australia.
Without proper representation from Labor, you run the real risk of your support being taken for granted.
Standing up for Western Australia will be a key priority for me as Labor Leader, so I look forward to seeing more of you in the year ahead – and listening to your ideas.
Perth is unique among Australian cities.
Perth benefits from tremendous export wealth of its hinterland, from sheep and cattle farming, and from broad-acre cropping.
This year, Australia’s wheat production will increase by 17 per cent to 26.2 million tonnes.
An increase underpinned by a bumper harvest in Western Australia of more than 14 million tonnes.
My experience in the wheat belt, from Lake Grace to Moora, has given me an acute appreciation of how hard farmers have it in this tough country – so I am pleased that it has been a good year.
Wheat exports account for nearly 10 per cent of Australia’s entire agricultural exports.
National wheat exports are worth nearly $50 billion – and Western Australia is responsible for over a third of wheat exports.
Earlier this month, the Western Australia based Co-operative Bulk Handling Group exported the largest ever grain shipment, taking 78,000 tonnes of feed barley to Saudi Arabia.
Western Australia is also a leading exporter in education, services, design and, of course, mining.
And it’s mining and hydrocarbons that I want to focus on today. I believe in mining, and I want mining to prosper.
Australians want mining to be successful – and I want Labor to foster that success.
Mining, the technology and science of sophisticated minerals processing, petroleum and hydrocarbons are a key element in the regeneration of 21st Century Australia.
I acknowledge that the previous Government didn’t always get it right in this area.
The extent of our dialogue did not match the size of the reform.
This is not a mistake I intend to repeat.
But Labor was also well served by two fine Ministers in Martin Ferguson and Gary Gray.
And we have a proud record of encouraging investment in mining during our time in office – and indeed our history in Western Australia.
Hundreds of billions of dollars in new investment flowed into this state from investors during the Labor Government – and the nation reaped the benefits.
Like you, I believe in mining, and I want it to succeed.
When our mining sector thrives:
- The kids of tomorrow have an exciting profession
- High-skill, well remunerated jobs are given life
- Aboriginal Australians enjoy rewarding work (and hope) in their own communities
- Innovation, research and development are pioneered by companies keen to find a competitive edge.
- Superannuation funds, and the millions of Australians who have trusted their retirement savings to them, benefit from strong dividends.
- Developments benefit and look after their local communities
- And State and Federal Governments can fund the best possible services and infrastructure with the increased revenue that a thriving mining industry delivers.
Today, Perth is the iron ore capital of the world.
May there be no limit to our ambition.
I want it to be the mining capital of the world.
The iron ore, nickel, copper, LNG and floating LNG capital.
The mining technology capital of the world.
I believe both the quantity and quality of Australia’s natural gas reserves can help us become a world resources capital.
To make Perth what Houston or Aberdeen are in oil and gas.
We know that this is possible.
Because we’ve seen this kind of transformation before.
50 years ago, in The Lucky Country, Donald Horne described Perth as a city that:
‘works as hard as it can, but takes it a bit easy when the sun flares’.
Today it is the very definition of new industry.
A place of innovation and science and the search for the new.
In 1967, the year I was born, Western Australia exported less than 10 million tonnes of iron ore a year.
By 2018 we will export over 800 million tonnes of iron ore.
May there be no limit to the future prospects of our mining, infrastructure and gas sectors.
There is a world of opportunity waiting for us across Asian nations; India, Indonesia, Thailand, Mongolia.
And there is no way that China’s demand for our natural resources, our pioneering innovation and our value-adding metallurgy has run its course.
To put the China growth in perspective, Chicago took 180 years to reach its current size, New York took 400 years.
But consider this: today, there are 170 cities in China that are home to more than a million people.
China will grow new cities the size of Chicago and New York at a pace previously unimagined in human history.
Today only four: Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are currently classified as ‘first tier’ mega cities.
It was their rapid expansion, development and urbanisation that fuelled the record levels of Chinese demand for resources in the last decade.
Imagine if you will, the next 50 cities in China (they are often called the ‘China50’) as an independent country.
This country of 630 million people, would be the world’s fifth largest economy.
This China50 is already a US $2.9 trillion economy.
It’s only just beginning.
And it’s home to the world’s ten fastest-growing cities.
The China50 is projected to account for 12 per cent of global economic growth this decade, and 6 per cent of all global output by 2020.
Like Perth in 1829, the future growth and opportunities are difficult to conceive.
But the opportunities for our nation and the contribution of this state will make history if we chose.
As these 50 cities develop, and their semi-rural outskirts urbanise, the demand for iron ore, copper and nickel will form the foundation for a new wave of Australian mining prosperity.
And in helping the China50 to emerge and prosper, Australian mining will be supporting the creation of a large segment of the new Asian middle class. A hopeful pioneering group aspiring for a quality life.
A new group of consumers with purchasing power and a keen interest in Australian services and products.
Now as vital as the opportunities offered by China’s modern class are, they are not the whole picture.
That’s why I was pleased to see the Western Australian Government visit Africa recently.
Africa offers Australian mining companies a different, but no less exciting, set of opportunities.
Just as mining operations in the eastern states already know to look across the Nullarbor for best practice.
More and more operations in South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana are looking across the Indian Ocean.
Companies with their headquarters in Perth are helping drive a smarter and safer, more efficient African mining industry.
These companies pay their workers a living wage.
They’re building houses and roads.
They’re bringing electricity and a reliable supply of clean water to communities that have always seen these basic amenities as luxuries.
They are building a modern future.
They’re demonstrating that our mining industry can also export its expertise, its world-class skills and knowledge.
And they are building the foundation for a new wave of mining wealth for Australia.
That’s why I want to congratulate the West Australian Government for having the foresight to attend INDABA.
The visit recognises the importance of Africa, and the economic opportunities it holds for Australian industry.
So it is always good to see the West embracing the advantages of their state’s unique place on our continent.
I’m pleased that Mark McGowan can be here today.
Because I know Mark has a deep belief in Western Australia’s potential – and a strong vision for its future. He will be a great Premier of Western Australia.
I talked earlier about wanting all mining companies and the services sector, the contractors, engineers, software designers and geologists – big and small – to succeed.
This means continuing Labor’s record level of infrastructure investment, delivering the roads, rail and ports that speed the export process and boost productivity.
Another key element of that will be striking the right balance in workplace relations.
This area can sometimes be troublesome, and there has been a shortage of trust on both sides, particularly in east coast coal mining.
But too often discussion of workplace relations in the mining industry is reduced to an argument about whether employee wages are too high.
Or the flawed notion that passing a law in Canberra will drive productivity growth in an individual enterprise.
This isn’t about cutting wages.
It’s about productivity.
I’ve never met a CEO who begrudges a good wage to the truck driver or shovel operator who can produce a higher tonnage in working a shift across good quality ore.
I’ve never met a CEO who wants their geotech underpaid compared to the competition.
Leadership in the workplace is when the focus is on employee engagement – and on getting the best from the workforce.
I want middle management, and the shopfloor, to be given new leadership skills, to drive better workplace activity.
I want your employees to want to come to work – and to go home satisfied with the value of their efforts.
Under my leadership, Labor’s focus will always be on getting the best possible outcome for employers, employees – and investors.
Labor too must be persistent and consistent in helping reduce red and green tape – in a responsible, not reckless, way.
I appreciate we want business – the private sector, the wealth creators in our society – to be able to spend more time making money and less delayed by onerous form-filling.
All of this will generate a boost to productivity, and lower our cost base.
A thriving mining sector means greater support for innovation, science and research.
This is something about which I am passionate, to the extent that I am responsible for the Shadow Science portfolio myself.
I believe the science race, the race for the jobs of the future, has started. A race to the top.
But if Australia is not careful we will be stuck on the blocks.
History shows Australia can either get smarter or get poorer – we can rise to the top, or sink to the bottom.
I don’t subscribe to the view that it is the role of government to replace private investment in innovation, or crowd it out.
But government can play an important role in covering investor risk, helping to create a climate of confidence and risk-taking that will encourage entrepreneurs to pursue the breakthroughs that will define this century.
And I think governments, and other businesses, can learn a lot from the way the mining industry encourages – and employs – innovation.
Because innovation in mining isn’t just about finding faster ways to dig things out of the ground.
It’s about pioneering new technologies, breakthroughs and specialist science to mineral processing and metallurgy, developing world class methods of transportation, improving workforce skills and the best site safety in the world. A place everyone wants to work.
Innovative resource companies aim to be a primary and a secondary industry.
They are always looking for ways to value-add through sophisticated mineral processing and metallurgy.
They constantly update and evaluate their training methods to ensure their employees are learning new skills that boost their productivity.
They see workplace safety as both a moral obligation and as a key driver of productivity.
And mining also benefits from innovation in other industry – especially secondary industries like manufacturing.
The best example of this is a connection drawn by Sam Walsh, the CEO of Rio Tinto between his company and the automotive industry.
Sam has spoken about ‘shamelessly lifting’ the car industry’s business improvement model and adopting their
‘intense, laser-like focus on value and efficiency’
This comes from the recognition that every business is driven by the same question.
They all want to know how they get the maximum benefit from their time, their labour, their workforce skills, their energy consumption, their resources and their money.
This thinking is reinforced by data that shows the overwhelming factor that underwrote the success of the top 100 companies was their focus.
By this, I mean that 97 of Australia’s 100 most profitable businesses operated in only one defined class of industry.
21 of these 100 were in manufacturing.
Proof positive that Australian business can succeed in any field – and that companies in every industry can argue a case for government support, in the right circumstances.
Because mining companies are prepared to generously reward good ideas, they provide us with concrete examples of the commercial benefits of research and development.
Take the LANDTEM technology developed by CSIRO and led by the remarkable Dr Cathy Foley.
An innovation that has helped unearth $6 billion dollars in mineral deposits
It is Australian technology that would be familiar to many in this room – a portable exploration tool that uses magnetic sensors to differentiate the ore from other conductive material.
Some of you use this technology – and some of you co-invested in its discovery.
The underpinning technology has been applied to industries as diverse as mineral exploration, oceanography, security and defence.
In the past eight years, ten LANDTEM systems have been built and deployed successfully on four continents.
LANDTEM’s development is a great example of science teams and the private sector collaborating to deliver new technologies to multiple industry sectors.
And an illustration of the great potential of Perth to act as a home for research and an export base for innovative technology.
We’re seeing this surge in science already.
The technology park in Kensington is now home to the Pawsey supercomputing centre.
A project funded by Federal and State Governments, the CSIRO and four universities.
The purpose-built facility that will play a crucial role in one of the most ambitious projects in Australian scientific history.
The world’s largest radio telescope: the Square Kilometre Array.
This project will be co-located in South Africa and Australia – with its headquarters in London, with a further 17 countries playing a role in gathering information on our universe.
To give you a sense of the scale of what we are talking about, if you were to sit down with the intention of listening back to a single day’s worth of data collected by the Square Kilometre Array – it would take you two million years.
But with supercomputers – and the new optical fibre link Labor built between Geraldton and Perth – we can sift through these vast quantities of information and unlock that most fundamental of mysteries: the origins of our universe.
For thousands of years, humanity has looked up at the boundless expanse of space and wondered how it all began.
The Square Kilometre Array will help us find the answers.
In all these examples, we see the wisdom of that great Western Australia Member of Parliament, and possibly our greatest
Prime Minister, John Curtin, who said:
“The pursuit of knowledge is far more important than even knowledge itself.”
This why I believe in mining, and why I want it to succeed.
Because the mining industry is not just about sustainably developing parts (with better and better technology) of the vast long term, high quality resources buried in the earth, especially in Australia.
It’s about drawing on Australia’s greatest natural resource – the genius and creativity of our people.
Driving us to be a smarter, more productive and more prosperous nation.
Driving us in a race to the top, not the bottom.
When mining succeeds, Australia succeeds.
And when Western Australia succeeds, Australia succeeds.
And that is the goal that we should all share, and strive for.
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