Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Aug 31, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH TO THE WA ALP CONFERENCE

SPEECH TO THE WA ALP CONFERENCE

 

SATURDAY, 29 AUGUST 2015

 

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Friends, delegates, we’ve just seen exactly why Matt is Labor’s candidate for Canning.

And exactly why Matt should be the next member for Canning.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet.

I pay my respects to elders both past and present.

And I re-commit our party to a brighter future for the First Australians.

Not just overdue recognition in our constitution but an overdue closing of the gap – in health, education, employment and justice.

I acknowledge Mark McGowan, the next Premier of Western Australia.

Mark and WA Labor are taking the fight up to Mr Barnett’s Liberals.

And you are winning the battle of ideas with your positive plans for jobs and infrastructure.

Friends, looking out the window on the flight in yesterday, you could see the bright yellow of the canola flowers…and the deep green of the grain crop.

It’s going to be another good harvest, for Western Australian farmers.

And this is good news for all Australians.

Western Australia’s grain belt is an export driver for our nation.

This is why Labor invested in rail and road projects to help more Western Australian farmers and exporters get their world-class wares onto the world market.

And we couldn’t have made this happen, without Alannah MacTiernan.

And speaking of proud Western Australians, let us take a moment at this conference to acknowledge the passing of one of the West’s greatest sons: Peter Walsh.

Peter sought always to ensure Labor served the interests of people on the land.

And he proved Labor Governments could, and must, be fiscally responsible and fair.

We salute his life of service today.

I know there is a fierce contest already underway in Canning.

But on behalf of all of us in Labor, I want to pay my respects to the life on Don Randall – and offer our party’s deep sympathies to his family and friends.

Friends

We gather at this Conference at a time when our nation is restless and our people are unsatisfied.

Australians can sense our economy is wallowing in mediocrity.

  • Unemployment is too high and growth is too slow.
  • Insecurity at work is common.
  • Inequality is at a 75 year high.
  • It’s tougher than ever before for young people to find a job, or assemble a deposit for a house

At times such as this, politics as usual is not good enough.

But we also live in a world of accelerating change, intense competition and immense opportunity.

There is a moment before us to seize.

If we are smart, if we invest in productivity, we can grow our economy: creating more goods, services and jobs.

We can lift our national output, improve our great Australian fairness and deliver better quality economic growth.

More than ever, Australia needs a government as ambitious as its people.

A government prepared to invest in the drivers of growth, jobs and productivity:

  • Modern infrastructure – unlocking our cities and connecting our regions
  • Schools, skills and universities, preparing Australians for the jobs of the future
  • Science, research, technology and innovation, creating new industries and opportunities – including in small business
  • An industrial relations system that brings interests together, in a collaborative way, not a class warfare world.
  • Equal opportunity for women: in pay, in leadership and in politics
  • Universal healthcare, keeping us healthy and active
  • And renewable energy – tackling climate change and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

A government investing in Australia’s best resource: the skills, smarts and capacity of our people.

Only our party has the courage and imagination to do this

Only Labor ever does.

And now, delegates, Canning is the scene for the opening round of the great contest upon us.

And our candidate Matt Keogh, represents so much of what is good about modern Labor.

Matt has stepped forward to try and make history.

The last time Labor won a by-election in these circumstances.

Robert Menzies was Prime Minister.

And Australia was just beginning the move away from pounds, shillings and pence, over to dollars and cents.

But if anyone can break this drought – it’s Matt.

Matt is someone of great character, integrity and ability.

  • A local boy, born and bred
  • A smart, hard-working WA success story.
  • A proud champion of the Labor values of fairness and compassion in his community

Matt tackled corporate crime and fraud while working for the public prosecutor.

He gave his time and energy to providing legal services for the homeless – and for women and children seeking refuge from homes broken by family violence.

And now he offers his passion for helping others, in the service of a state he has called home his entire life.

Representing the community he grew up in…and has always loved…in our national Parliament.

Matt – all of us in Labor stand with you today.

We believe you can make history – and we’re determined to help you do it.

Friends, as you might know, the electorate of Canning – shares its name with a notable Western Australian.

Way back in 1901, Alfred Canning was responsible for surveying the route of what became the world’s longest unbroken line of fencing.

The famous Rabbit Proof Fence.

And now, perhaps in tribute to his memory, I hear the Liberals have built a new barrier around Canning.

An Abbott-proof fence.

But I’m sorry to tell you, that won’t be enough to keep WA safe.

You’ll be stuck with constant visits from Mr Abbott’s loyal friends and supportive colleagues.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter who they send across the Nullarbor…

As they say here at Ascot – they’re all out of the same stable and they all share the same form line.

Every single Liberal voted for:

A $5.8 billion cut to health in Western Australia: including cuts to Armadale Kelmscott, Murray District, and Boddington hospital.

Every single Liberal voted to:

  • Cut $193 million from schools in Canning.
  • Cut $520 million from Western Australian universities.

Every Liberal voted for two Hockey Budgets that will leave a typical Western Australian family with two kids, around $6000 worse off.

Every Liberal voted to take away the SchoolKids bonus from 7,500 families in Canning.

Cutting extra help for the cost of new school shoes, sports-gear or uniforms for growing children.

And when you’ve got a government making cuts like this, the people of Western Australia need a local champion in their corner.

Someone prepared to stand up, and speak out.

And this by-election is a chance for the people of Canning to choose that local champion.

Friends – wherever I go, here in WA and right around our country – the number one issue is JOBS.

The jobs of today – and the jobs of the future.

Jobs are the ultimate test of whether our economy is growing as strongly and as fairly as it should.

Jobs are the measure of our transition out of the mining boom and into the next wave of future industries and opportunities.

But since the peak of the mining boom, we’ve seen Western Australia lose over 60,000 mining construction jobs.

Unemployment in WA has risen to 6.4 per cent since the election, and it’s now above the national average.

Nearly 95,000 Western Australians are out of work.

In fact nearly one in every four Australians who have joined the unemployment queue in the last two years, lives here in WA.

Youth unemployment has jumped to 10.5 per cent.

In Mandurah, it’s over 14 per cent.

25,000 Western Australians aged between 15 and 24 are looking for work, but can’t find it.

And more than 18,000 workers are under-employed, looking for more hours and greater security – but missing out.

Labor is ready to change this.

And over the next few weeks you’ll be hearing more about our plans for goods jobs in the West.

As a first step, today I announce a Labor Government will invest $170 million in productivity-boosting local infrastructure in Western Australia.

These projects will provide a much needed kick-start for local jobs and create new opportunities for West Australians today…

As well as delivering long term economic benefits by properly servicing the growth corridor in the South East…

As part of Labor’s plan, we will commit $25 million to upgrade the Denny Avenue – and its intersections with Streich Avenue, Albany Highway and the rail crossing.

As Kelmscott has grown, this stretch of road has become more and more dangerous.

In the past six months, there have been many serious accidents, including, tragically, one fatality.

Our investment will ensure Denny Avenue is safer and less congested.

Better serving local schools, industrial districts, and the area’s growing communities.

Labor will commit $145 million to the duplication of Armadale Road and construction of the North Lake Road Bridge.

This project will open up the south eastern corridor of Perth, removing congestion, improving travel times and access to the new suburbs of Piara Waters, Harrisdale, Hilbert, Haynes, Banjup and Forrestdale.

And it will create more than 1700 jobs and inject around $600 million into the local economy.

This a down payment on Labor’s plans to create:

  • more local jobs
  • more liveable suburbs
  • and more productive communities, right here in the West.

We are committed to rigorous and robust infrastructure project decision-making.

Our focus is always on the big picture, maximising the economic benefits of investment.

Against the costs, we balance the positives for the community.

Not just the jobs created, but the productivity gains generated through faster commutes and reduced traffic.

The initial assessment of these projects indicates a positive cost-benefit analysis.

And Labor’s contributions to major projects, such as the Armadale Road upgrade, will always depend on this kind of positive Infrastructure Australia assessment.

Because we want the best value for taxpayer money, and the best projects for our cities and towns.

CHAFTA

Today, I also want to take a moment to address another issue a lot of people have been raising with me…Labor’s stance on the China Free Trade agreement.

Make no mistake, Labor believes in free trade, and trade liberalisation.

We are the party that modernised the Australian economy – and opened it to the world.

We know open markets are the most powerful engine for economic growth the world has ever known,

And economic growth is the best and only way to creating good jobs in productive and competitive enterprises.

More trade with our region is the pathway to a high-skill, high-wage future for all Australians…

In many ways, this is especially important in Western Australia.

As Gary Gray has often said: the rise of China is at the heart of the great modern Western Australian success story.

From iron ore to LNG, Western Australian resources have been part of China’s transformation.

And now, as the demand shifts, we need Western Australian industries and companies to follow the example of our resources sector and engage more deeply and diversely with China.

This means more Western Australia farmers exporting to China.

More advanced Australian manufacturing linking up with regional supply chains centred in China.

Western Australian service-providers in education, healthcare, aged care, financial services and tourism benefiting from closer connections.

And the fact that WA is in the same time zone as Beijing is a massive competitive advantage, a head-start on the world.

The West now has the opportunity to project its know-how and entrepreneurialism to billions of people in the Asian middle class in real time…in everything from medical research to engineering and design services.

This is why I want more investment flowing between Australia and China, creating more jobs.

And this is why we need to get the agreement right.

For Labor it is not a question of whether there should be a free trade agreement or not…

It is a question of how we can get the best deal, maximising the benefits for all Australians.

This deal needs to be good for Australian workers, and for Western Australian workers.

Australia should not be trying to compete in a race to the bottom on wages and conditions, with the countries in our region.

We can win on our terms: as a high-skill, high-quality, fair-wage nation.

This is why I have serious concerns about the current deal.

As it stands, the agreement would allow employers to fly-in temporary migrant workers for infrastructure projects.

Without having to first check whether Australian workers are available to do the job.

It’s there in black and white – and it’s not good enough.

Neither is the proposal to remove mandatory skill assessments for temporary migrants in key trades:

Carpenters, machine and motor mechanics, joiners and electricians.

A proposal contained in a side-letter without consultation or even announcement – dumped on a Government website without explanation.

We understand that sometimes major projects require specialist capabilities.

And we are prepared to negotiate with the government to get this right.

But we will not allow legitimate concerns about jobs, conditions and workplace safety to be brushed aside – or the Parliament to be bypassed.

It not unreasonable to insist on safeguards and standards.

We are not prepared to gamble on safety at work, or at home.

The government should heed these legitimate concerns, and act to protect jobs in WA now and into the future.

And if they don’t, Labor will.

This is not a union issue – it is a job issue.

And for Labor, Australian jobs always come first.

Friends

115 years ago, the future of our nation rested in the hands of the people of Western Australia.

Votes from here made us one country – a Commonwealth in service of a common good.

And in the coming weeks, Australia looks West once again.

The message will come from here.

A message about the sort of future we want for our nation – and our children.

This by-election is the first round in a contest for the future of Australia.

A vote for Mr Abbot’s Liberals in Canning is a vote for more of the same.

More cuts, chaos, lies and division.

More alienation, more of our fellow Australians left out and left behind.

But, friends, there is a better way.

A vote for Matt Keogh and Labor is a vote for a more productive, more inclusive Australia.

An Australia where no-one is expendable and where everyone has the chance to fulfil their potential.

A vote for Labor is a vote for jobs today – and the jobs of the future.

A plan to grow the Western Australia economy more strongly and more fairly beyond the mining boom.

A plan for better schools, training and TAFE.

An Australia where our kids are learning the skills they need to succeed in a new global economy.

An Australia where mature-age workers, can adapt and bounce back from the rough edges of economic change.

A vote for Labor is a vote for a health system where our public hospitals are properly funded…staff are fairly paid.

And your Medicare card, not your credit card, guarantees you access to quality healthcare.

An Australia where university education isn’t a privilege that comes with a $100,000 price tag.

But an opportunity earned through hard work – and good marks.

This is the future we offer the people of Western Australia today.

A future where we are all included in the success of our smart, modern and fair nation.

An Australia with:

  • Good jobs
  • Quality healthcare
  • Great education
  • And fairness for all

This is what we can achieve together.

This is how we Advance Western Australia.

This is how we Advance Australia.

ENDS

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

Aug 30, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH TO THE QLD ALP CONFERENCE

SPEECH TO THE QLD ALP CONFERENCE

 

SUNDAY, 30 AUGUST 2015

 

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I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and I pay my respects to elders both past and present.

 

And for a Labor leader, at a Labor conference – the party of land rights, Native Title and the Apology.

 

Our acknowledgement always carries the great Labor promise of future action on Closing the Gap.

 

Closing the Gap for our First Australians in jobs, in justice, in health and in education.

 

This is who we are.

 

Let me also acknowledge that remarkable woman of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Premier of Queensland.

 

It is so good to be able to say that!

 

And I’d like to add my voice too, to the moving tributes yesterday acknowledging the passing of that great Labor man, that pioneering Premier of this State, Wayne Goss.

 

On Monday I was in Cairns, Jan McLucas and I were privileged to attend the sod-turning of the first ever facility for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have acquired brain injury.

 

Because of a Labor decision three years ago, this innovative new project, will empower individuals, it will reconnect people with their community.

 

It’s going to restore a sense of independence.

 

It was indeed this new house which will be built, an old-fashioned instrument of social justice and it will be boosting participation, it will be creating jobs.

 

The reason why I’ve talked first of this, is it is what Labor does.

 

This is the principle at the heart of the National Disability Insurance Scheme – giving people control of their own lives.

 

Before I became the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities when I went into Parliament at the end of 2007, I thought from my work in the union I’d seen the most of unfairness that I could see.

 

But nothing prepared me for the entrenched, systemic disadvantage that people with disability and their carers and the people who love them endure on a daily basis in our country.

 

There are half a million Australians with severe or profound disabilities.

 

They and their carers are experiencing and living a second class life, I discovered, in Australia, effectively exiled in our own country.

 

You know the story, children with autism and developmental delays, where parent are made to feel like they are bullies and outsiders and bad parents because they want to make sure their precious children get a fair go.

 

We know the story of young Australians trapped in inappropriate accommodation, living out their lives of unfairness.

 

You understand and we understand and Australians understand that impairment can happen to anyone.

 

The American poet laureate Robert Frost called it the ‘shafts of fate’.

 

But in our system in Australia people with impairment have to struggle through the maze of bureaucracy.

 

With different rules in different states, as if somehow crossing the Tweed changes the level of care that you deserve or require.

 

Most of all, I’ve been witness to the midnight anxiety of elderly parents, unsure who will love their precious adult children with disabilities like they do,  when they no longer can.

 

That is why Labor’s National Disability Insurance Scheme can and will change this second class citizenship extended to literally millions of our fellow Australians.

 

In launch sites all around Australia, it’s already changing this.

 

But it’s not really all around Australia is it, as Annastacia said.

 

There are at least 96,000 of your fellow Queenslanders living with profound and severe disability in their families and yet the Liberal Government in Canberra is missing in action.

 

It beggars belief that Mr Abbott’s Liberals have still not yet announced an NDIS launch site in Queensland.

 

Instead, every time when you open a paper you see another Liberal Minister talking down the NDIS.

 

There is another Liberal Cabinet leak, when isn’t there…

 

But you see another Liberal Cabinet leak spreading misinformation about costs and falsehoods about funding.

 

It is more proof that Mr Abbott’s Liberals can only measure the price of the NDIS, they are incapable of understanding the value of the NDIS.

 

So we should use this conference to demand that Mr Abbott promise, with Australia as his witness, the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme on time.

 

No cuts, no delays, no more lies.

 

Now friends we gather at this conference as members of our movement and servants of our party.

 

But we gather knowing that the national mood is restless.

 

Our fellow Australians have a dissatisfaction with politics as usual.

 

We understand and Australians understand that our economic performance is wallowing in mediocrity, unemployment is too high, growth is too low.

 

Insecurity at work and under-employment are too widespread.

 

Inequality is at a 75-year high.

 

And it is harder than ever for young people to find work or to be able to even dream of forming a deposit to purchase a house.

 

And at this very time now we live in a larger world where change is rapidly accelerating, with intense competition for jobs, where we see uncertainty about the performance of the rise of China and concern in our markets.

 

Despite all of this, we live in a time of immense opportunity.

 

There is a moment in the cycle of nations, in the life of our nation where this nation is poised before a door.

 

It is ajar, but can the nation that we love push through that door to a better future?

 

I believe we can.

 

I believe we can do this if we are smart.

 

If we invest in the productive capacity of the Australian people, we can grow our economy, generate more goods, more services and most importantly, more jobs.

 

We can lift our national output.

 

We can extend our national fairness, we can deliver a better quality of economic growth.

 

But Australians deserve a Government that is as ambitious, as optimistic and as brave as the Australian people.

 

Australians deserve a Government that will invest in the drivers of growth, jobs and productivity.

 

You know what needs to be done.

 

Modern infrastructure, unlocking our cities and connecting our regions.

 

Schools, skills, and universities.

 

Science, research, technology and innovation, creating new industries, new opportunities, including for small business.

 

And, of course, we need an industrial relations system that unites us, that creates harmony and co-operation at work in a collaborative way, not in a class warfare way.

 

And not by a polluted Trade Union Royal Commission set up by Tony Abbott to smear his opponents.

 

We need a Government that doesn’t treat Australian women like fools.

 

We demand equal opportunity for women.

 

In pay, in leadership, in politics, in superannuation savings and the total elimination of family violence from our national life.

 

You know, the Liberals they know the price of everything and the value of nothing, don’t they?

 

That’s why we support and recognise that universal healthcare, boosting participation is a mechanism of not just of equity in this country, it’s a driver of efficiency in this country.

 

And then there is renewable energy, tackling climate change, bringing in billions of dollars of investment, creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

 

Labor will present an economic and social program at the next election going to all of these matters.

 

But as we’ve seen, Australians also deserve a Government with a mature approach to national security.

 

Not one chasing headlines with cheap stunts like that shambolic debacle on Friday in Melbourne.

 

We understand the need to crackdown on the exploitation of people on visas.

 

But what is not appropriate is some kind of police state on the streets of Melbourne where people could be picked out of the crowd and questioned.

 

The safety of the Australian people should never be treated as a political play thing.

 

Now Labor is committed to the proper and sensible discussion of national security.

 

We demonstrate, by our record, our commitment to bipartisanship on national security.

 

But I say to Mr Abbott, enough is enough with the weekly diet of press stunts on these matters.

 

All it does, when we need to build community co-operation, community consensus, all this does is make people cynical.

 

It undermines the consensus so vital to our national security on the genuine questions of national security – and it does no favours either to our men and women in uniform.

 

And above all else, Australians deserve a Government investing in the best resource our nation has: the skills, the abilities, the courage of our people.

 

It is only Labor who can do this. It is only Labor who ever does.

 

It’s always up to us.

 

This is the big picture that we understand and we know that there is a local story too.

 

This story begins with jobs.

 

Right now youth unemployment in Rocky, the Gold Coast and Mackay is above 14 per cent.

 

It’s above 19 per cent in Townsville.

 

It’s above 22 per cent in Cairns.

 

Put another way, one in every three Queenslanders out of work – one in every three Queenslanders out of work – is aged between 15 and 24.

 

At times like this, we need a Federal Government working with the Queensland Government and working with Queenslanders to support training, apprenticeships, education and skills.

 

We do not need an extreme right-wing experiment cutting the very things that will make the biggest difference.

 

Investing in skills is always about preparing our people for the jobs and the industries of the future.

 

Not just young Australians fresh out of school, mature-age workers too.

 

Returning to retrain, returning to re-skill for new opportunities in our changing economy.

 

But right now, right across Australia, the pendulum has swung too far in favour of dodgy private providers.

 

A Labor Government will get the balance right.

 

We will back public TAFE in our cities and especially in our regions.

 

Friends, in talking about the future, I wish to take a moment to talk about the free trade agreement with China.

 

Now there’s been a lot of accusations thrown at us so I want to be really straight with you and through you to the Australian people, and establish the facts.

 

First of all, Labor believes in trade liberalisation, free trade and forming trade agreements with other jurisdictions.

 

We understand that open markets are the best way of achieving economic growth and economic growth is the best way to create good jobs.

 

We understand that more trade with our region is the pathway to a high-skill, high-wage future for all Australians.

 

And if we get this agreement with China right, everyone from Australian farmers to our services sector and new advanced manufacturing will benefit.

 

But we need to get the agreement right.

 

The deal needs to do the right thing by Australian workers.

 

Australia should not be entering into a competition, a race to the bottom on wages and conditions with countries in our region – no way.

 

Instead let us compete on Australia’s strong ground.

 

High skills, high quality, fair wage.

 

This is why I have serious concerns with the current deal proposed by Mr Abbott and his Liberals.

 

As it stands, the agreement would allow employers to fly in temporary migrant workers for infrastructure projects without having to first check whether Australian workers are available to do this job.

 

It is there in black and white and it’s simply not good enough.

 

Nor is the proposal to remove mandatory skills assessments for temporary migrants in key trades: carpenters, machine and motor mechanics, joiners, electricians.

 

All of this was contained in a side letter without consultation or even announcement, dumped on a Government website without explanation.

 

Our concerns about jobs, about conditions, about workplace safety are legitimate.

 

And the Government should sit down and negotiate with us to deal on these important questions.

 

We do not oppose trade agreements, we just oppose bad trade agreements.

 

No amount of bullying from conservative vested interests will deter us in standing up for jobs.

 

This Government loves to say it’s a union issue.

 

No, it’s not, it’s a jobs issue, it’s an Australian jobs issue and we know whose side we’re on.

 

And talking of jobs, many of the jobs of the future will come from renewable energy.

 

This is why Labor set a bold new goal last month at our national conference.

 

By 2030, we want 50 per cent of Australia’s electricity to come from renewable energy.

 

This is a commitment that your progressive State Government shares.

 

Because we believe Australia can compete, we can succeed in the world as a clean energy super power.

 

And here in Queensland, we understand the impact of missed opportunity.

 

One-third of Queensland’s renewable energy jobs were lost because of the Liberals’ attack on renewables.

 

While all of the mainland States have been affected, Queensland’s loss of renewable jobs has been the largest of all.

 

How is it that when the rest of the world last year added 1.2 million renewable jobs we’re stuck with a bloke who has reduced our renewable jobs market by 13 per cent?

 

We know that the time for action on climate change is now.

 

If we do not act, if we delay, if we continue to listen to the anti-science crowd, Queensland will suffer economically and environmentally.

 

More devastating floods, more frequent cyclones.

 

Queensland farmers battling more droughts and over 60,000 coastal homes at risk from rising seas.

 

Not to mention the threat posed by climate change to the treasure that Queensland holds on trust for the world, the Great Barrier Reef.

 

I congratulate Annastacia and her Government for the action that she has taken to keep the Great Barrier Reef off the World Heritage endangered list.

 

And I restate today Labor’s commitment to ban the dumping of capital dredge spoil on the Great Barrier Reef heritage area.

 

Friends, it is only Labor, both here and in Canberra, that will act to save the reef and the environmental and economic bounty it delivers all of us.

 

This is a duty we owe our children.

 

This is an inheritance which we must pass on.

 

Every time I come to Queensland since January, I take a lot of heart from the history-making victory that you won here.

 

In 2012 following the toughest of times and the toughest of defeats, you, Queensland Labor, rejected the temptation of recriminations.

 

You, Queensland Labor, got on with the real work.

 

Standing up for the people hurt by the arrogance, the broken promises and the cruelty of the Liberal/National Government here.

 

You took up the fight in the only battle that matters and you won.

 

Annastacia, you and your team didn’t just try to claw back some ground, you didn’t run on the platform of being and building a bigger Opposition.

 

You sought Government.

 

You ran as a big Labor Party, a party determined to deliver for the regions and the reef, the cities and suburbs.

 

You proved once again Labor can understand and speak for all of Queensland.

 

For the bush, our country and our coastal communities.

 

That we can speak to people who live in every postcode in Queensland and Australia, because all Australians deserve support for their hospitals and proper funding for their schools.

 

All Australians share responsibility to preserve our national estate, to look after our environment and to pass it down to the next generation in better shape than what we inherited it.

 

In the great coming contest in the next 12 months, what I’ve outlined today will be Federal Labor’s story.

 

We are not offering ourselves to the people of Australia as a party of protest.

 

We are not aiming to chip a bit of paint off Mr Abbott.

 

We are in this to win it.

 

And we want to win with our ideas, on our terms.

 

We’ll certainly remind Queenslanders, if they need reminding, of Mr Abbott’s broken promises and cuts and lies.

 

But we shall be putting forward our positive plan, our vision for the future of our country.

 

A plan to change Australia in our first hundred days and to build for the Australia of 2030.

 

A growing, productive, job-creating economy, powered by modern infrastructure, skills and renewable energy.

 

A plan for better schools, TAFE and university.

 

A tax system that rewards hard work and makes multinationals pay their fair share.

 

A health system where the quality of your healthcare is determined by your Medicare card, not your credit card.

 

A decent pension and fair superannuation, guaranteeing comfort, dignity and security after a lifetime of work.

 

And real action on climate change, doing our part in the world.

 

And we will offer this plan to all Australians because our vision for the future of this country includes everyone.

 

We believe that every Australian deserves the chance to fulfil their potential, that no Australian should be left out, or left behind.

 

We do not accept that Australians are expendable.

 

And we know in our house of Labor, what we achieve, will achieve together.

 

Good jobs, great education, quality healthcare and fairness for all.

 

This is how we will advance Australia.

 

Thank you very much.

 

ENDS

 

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

Aug 28, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Doorstop: Perth – Canning by-election; Ice addiction; The Abbott-proof fence around Canning

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP

PERTH

FRIDAY, 28 AUGUST 2015

 

SUBJECT/S: Canning by-election; Ice addiction; The Abbott-proof fence around Canning; Australia Post; Medibank private sell off; ChAFTA; Australia’s lack of trust in the Abbott Government; Australian Border Force

 

MATT KEOGH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CANNING: It is great to be here in Armadale today with Bill and with Mark as part of the Canning campaign.

 

The late Don Randall was a passionate advocate for his local community. He went around, listened to what people wanted. That’s how I have been spending this campaign and if I am fortunate enough to be the Member for Canning, I am going to be spending that time listening to what people want and advocating those issues that are important to them. As part of that, for the last two years, Don Randall had been working with our State Labor member, Tony Buti to push for the opening of public access to the Armadale police station on a 24-hour basis. As I’ve gone around speaking to people in the Armadale area and beyond, this is one of the issues they have been raising with me as well.

 

That’s why I am really happy to be here today after I’ve spoken to Bill and I have spoken with Mark about the importance of that issue, that they are able to come here to respond to those local issues in the same way that Don was trying to raise them. I have raised this issue with them and I am really pleased that Mark McGowan is here to announce that Labor will be pushing for the Armadale Police Station being open to the public on a 24-hour basis.

 

I’ll hand over to Mark to say a few more things about that.

 

MARK MCGOWAN, WEST AUSTRALIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: As you would all know, the issue of amphetamines and crime in the South-Eastern corridor and in Armadale has been very significant. Tony Buti and Don Randall called on the State Government on a number of occasions to have a 24 hour public access police station in Armadale and I am pleased to say today that if Labor is elected at a state level, we will make sure that Armadale is 24 hours a day open.

 

The reason for that is this; a lot of police stations across the metropolitan area are open on a 24-hour basis. There are six of them in the metropolitan area that you can go to the police station after 4 o’clock, at any time during the night or on a weekend and you can get access to the police station, and get seen and assisted. Unfortunately, Armadale isn’t one of those police stations. I think most people would be amazed and shocked that Armadale is not a 24 hour police station. That is why today, I am committing State Labor, if elected at the next election, having a 24 hour open police station in Armadale. That means public access. That means you can go in and you can see someone with your concern, with your issue.

 

Tony Buti advises me that there has been terrible cases of people trying to get access to the police after 4 o’clock on a weekday, not able to get access. They have had to bundle into the car drive up to Cannington to the nearest 24 hour police station. That’s not good enough and I think the people of Armadale deserve better and I think considering some of the crime statistics that have emerged over the last seven years of the Liberal Government here in the South-Eastern corridor, more needs to be done.

 

JOURNALIST: How is this pledge going to help Matt?

 

MCGOWAN: It is about helping the people of Armadale. It is about showing that State Labor cares about the people of Armadale and has listened. Matt has heard the concerns, he has raised them with me. We have been working through our policy process anyway and have listened to Tony Buti as well and we want to help the people here with that significant law and order issue. It is no good just talking about law and order – what you have to do is do something about it and this is doing something about it here in Armadale.

 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Matt Keogh has already scored the first win for his local community. I have no doubt today that because of Mark McGowan’s leadership, respecting the efforts of the late Don Randall and also Tony Buti, the hard-working local member and Matt’s advocacy, now one of the high jump bars for the Liberal Party is they’re going to have to match this promise and the sooner they do, the better for everyone.

 

Mark McGowan has made it very clear that Labor if elected at the State level will deliver a 24-hour police station and that’s because Matt Keogh, the local boy, is pushing hard for these things. I make this point more generally about community safety. A lot of Australians are worried about the scourge of ice. Ice is a real disaster for families, for addicts and for the people who come into contact with ice addicts when they’re on the rampage. A 24-hour police station is a no-brainer and Mark McGowan, Matt Keogh and Tony Buti are making sure this happens as a result of the by-election.

 

JOURNALIST: The WA Police Commissioner has said he doesn’t want Armidale open 24 hours he says that would take officers off the beat, so wouldn’t promising this fly in the face of what the Police Commissioner wants? Isn’t he best placed?

 

SHORTEN: First of all, I’ll ask Mark to talk about the State Police Commissioner’s comments, but I’ll just say this, families, not only in Western Australia but throughout Australia, are concerned about their safety. Any family who’s had a member who is addicted to ice knows the dreadful consequences. People who are the victims of crime know the consequences and police also know the consequences of this terrible scourge of ice addiction. Communities do want to see greater community safety. I do believe that this proposal put forward, it was put forward I might add on a bipartisan basis by the late Don Randall and Tony Buti who is here today, put forward by Matt Keogh to Mark McGowan is definitely a step in the right direction. But of course when we talk about the scourge of ice we understand it’s not just a law and order or justice issue, it’s also a health issue. So we’ll have more to say in coming weeks about how we tackle the problem of rehabilitation, because it’s important that addicts are able to break the habit.

 

JOURNALIST: Just on that issue, Tony Abbott today said that its being considers that ice addicts could have benefits docked or forced into rehab by the Abbott Government, do you support that plan, or is it going to force them into more crime?

 

SHORTEN: First of all, we believe the national task force which has been set up, we want to look at what they propose in terms of not just law and order, but in terms of how you treat addicts. But there’s no doubt the families who have a member of their family who’s addicted to ice, police trying to keep us safe, victims of crime have had to deal with ice addicts, know that you have to look at really serious steps to tackle this and there is no doubt in my mind that there is an insufficient amount of rehabilitation available. Now beyond that we’ll look carefully at what Mr Abbott said today.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you expect to see Tony Abbott here in Canning again before the by-election?

 

SHORTEN: I think Mr Abbott will have to come. You’ll see the fingernail marks as he’s dragged across the Nullarbor to be here. We all know that the last thing that the Liberals in West Australia want to do is remind people that Mr Abbott’s the leader of the Liberal Party in Canberra. Mr Abbott if he comes to Canning should explain what his policy is to properly fund health care in Western Australia in the light of massive cuts. He should explain why he’s not providing greater funding for schools when schools are desperate for resources and most importantly, Mr Abbott and his Liberals need to explain why on earth since Mr Abbott’s been elected there’s an extra 30,000 people who are now unemployed in West Australia. We need to see from Mr Abbott a plan for jobs, a plan for infrastructure, a plan for schools and a plan for hospitals and I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of that so far.

 

JOURNALIST: $1 postage stamps are proposed today, can seniors afford that?

 

SHORTEN: It is a real challenge about how do you on the one hand maintain the effectiveness of Australia Post in terms of its costs and being able to pay for expenditure, but on the other hand making sure that pensioners are not priced out of being able to send mail. There’s no doubt on one hand that Australia Post is having to change its business models because of the impact of technology change. The truth of the matter is Australians are sending far less letters than they ever used to – they all send it by email. But of course the parcels business that Australia Post has is picking up. We’ll look carefully at the proposal they’ve put forward today and we’ll make sure that whatever happens pensioners who are already doing it tough under the Abbott Government don’t do it any tougher. It’s not a simple blanket yes-no issue, because Australia Post is confronting changes of technology which do affect the structure of the business they have.

 

JOURNALIST: So a price rise of some sort is necessary?

 

SHORTEN: A change in the business model for Australia Post is necessary. I don’t think anyone can argue against that, but what we want to make sure is that the way it’s implemented. I firmly believe we want to keep posties on their rounds. We want to make sure that the people working at Australia Post have reasonable conditions. We also want to make sure that people who are less well off in our community aren’t priced out of the market. We’ll work through issues with Australia Post.

 

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about Medibank Private’s plans to reduce the number of fees it covers at private hospitals? The AMA says it’s Americanising our health system, do you agree?

 

SHORTEN: Labor warned Finance Minister Cormann and Mr Abbott that if they were to privatise Medibank the consequences could be drastic for fund members. Everything that Labor is being concerned about appears to be coming true. The Government, in their rush to sell off Medibank, I don’t think has paid conditions to the conditions and the health service that Medibank Private provides. I think it is alarming that reports that the benefits which people used to receive as members of Medibank and the services which hospitals could provide that Medibank has now withdrawn support for, I think the Government has broken its promise when it said it would privatise Medibank – it said there would be no untoward consequences. Clearly this is another broken promise when it comes to the health care of Australians by Mr Abbott and his Liberals

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Bob Hawke has warned today that opposing the China free trade agreement wouldn’t be in Australia’s best interest. Can you now confirm Labor’s unconditional support for that agreement?

 

SHORTEN: First of all, Labor isn’t unconditionally opposing it. What we do believe is that a free trade agreement should be a good deal for Australians. Just because there is a deal, doesn’t mean it is a good deal. I think you understand that Adrian. Our concern is that a trade agreement should deliver jobs and better outcomes for Australians. There are slack loop-holes in the free trade agreement that no amount of wishy it away removes these loop-holes. So Labor will negotiate with the Government in the best interest of Australian jobs. We do not believe that the safeguards, which Mr. Abbott and his Liberals say exist, actually have the ‘t’s crossed and the ‘I’s dotted. Labor is committed to having better trade with China but we don’t want to do it at the expense of Australian jobs. I am sure that if there is goodwill from the government, we will work this issue through, but it takes two to negotiate and if Mr Abbott and Mr Robb simply say the Parliament just has to agree with everything they say well, the Parliament wouldn’t be doing its job.

JOURNALIST: Have you put specific changes to the government yet?

 

SHORTEN: We will, absolutely. We’ve raised our concerns. And again, you don’t have to take Labor’s word for it – Independent experts have reviewed the concerns and the claims made about the Free Trade Agreement and a lot of the experts have said there actually are problems here. Mr Robb and Mr Abbott, if they could climb off their high horse and not be their standard arrogant as usual approach with negotiations with the opposition, we can get a win/win deal for Australians but at the moment, I can’t in good conscience, agree that there are aren’t problems with this agreement when it comes to protecting labour standards in Australia.

 

JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott said this morning that the deal can’t be changed or reopened. Do you think that’s right?

 

SHORTEN: There he goes again, Mr Abbott. As soon as the opposition offer a different opinion to his own, he is just out there trying to bully us into submission. Imagine if we had simply said on the 2014 budget that everything Mr Abbott said had to be accepted take it or leave it. We’d have a GP tax, we’d have unemployed people not getting any money at all for six months. We’d have $100,000 priced degrees at university. Just because Mr Abbott says at first plush that it’s his way or the highway, Mr Abbott needs to recognise that the country’s bigger than him. And what Labor’s motivated about is to make sure that as we achieve a trade agreement with China, we make sure that we don’t sell out Australian jobs and Australian labour standards in the process. Now, it is not beyond the wit and wisdom of the government to negotiate and to work with Labor, but what they have to do is get out of their negative mind set of simply saying that Mr Abbott knows best, because clearly, so many times, his captain’s picks are not the right calls.

 

JOURNALIST: Do you believe that most Australians are being betrayed by the Abbott Government?

 

SHORTEN: I believe that Mr Abbott and his Liberals have proved to be a significant disappointment from the election. The simple fact, the numbers are in. Our economy is wallowing in mediocrity. We have over 800,000 people unemployed, the largest number since 1994. There’s 30,000 extra West Australians who are on the unemployment queues since Mr Abbott got elected. Real wages growth has slumped to its lowest level in a long time. We see real concerns about business and consumer confidence. We see the government trying to introduce new taxes all the time from GST to GP taxes. I think Australians feel that under Mr Abbott, his Liberal government is taking news the wrong direction.

 

JOURNALIST: Australian Border Force officers are joining other agencies to target crime in Melbourne. Does Labor agree with this use of the Border Force?

 

SHORTEN: Labor obviously believes in targeting crime. I do hope that any of these actions are done to try and protect Australian laws, to make sure that people are not overstaying their visas, to make sure that temporary guest workers are not being exploited. Labor’s said for a while we’re concerned that under this government our employment visas, our temporary workers, are becoming too slackly regulated. To that extent we’re interested in what’s happening. On the other hand, if you’re going to do a blitz I don’t know why you’d necessarily telegraph it to the media first. We’ll wait to see if the government is fair dinkum or if this is just a press release to try to draw some positive attention to themselves.

JOURNALIST: Is it going to damage Melbourne’s reputation internationally?

SHORTEN: No.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten what’s your measure of success here in Canning? Are you looking for a strong swing or is it victory? What are you looking for?

SHORTEN: My measure of success in Canning is that more people here can find work. My measure of success in Canning is that the schools in this electorate are properly funded. My measure of success is that pensioners aren’t having their pensions cut. My measure of success is making sure that our hospitals are properly funded. These are the questions that Mr Abbott needs to answer. These are the issues which matter to voters in Canning. My measure of success is the fact that Matt Keogh and Mark McGowan and Tony Buti have already upped the ante to make sure that the police station here is 24 hours in terms of public access. This is my measure of success; it’s what makes the lives of people in Canning better off.

JOURNALIST: Is Tony Abbott’s leadership at stake in Canning?

SHORTEN: I think that – I’ll be interested to see how much Mr Abbott’s photo appears on Liberal Party material in the upcoming by-election and all of you are welcome to see if there’s a sort of, Mr Abbott bingo test, you know when you see his photo on material you can go bingo. I don’t think that you’ll be calling that out too often. I think Mr Abbott is something that the Liberal Party want to keep in witness protection. So I think that this is effectively a view on whether or not Mr Abbott’s taking the country in the right direction.

JOURNALIST: Your photo doesn’t appear on the Labor election material, I see?

SHORTEN: I don’t think it’s over yet and this is my second visit within six days.

JOURNALIST: Matt, can we ask you about keeping Armidale police station open 24 hours? The Canning by-election can’t achieve that, so is it an empty promise?

KEOGH: It’s not an empty promise at all. We’ve got a by-election that’s come up in really unfortunate circumstances with Don’s death but this is an issue that he was passionately fighting for with Tony Buti as the state Labor member, and it’s –

JOURNALIST: But Don couldn’t achieve it with his party in office, so how can you achieve it in opposition?

KEOGH: That might be the strong message of this by-election. This is a by-election that provides an opportunity to the people not only in Armidale but throughout Canning to send a very strong message to the Federal Government about their views that the Government is going in the wrong direction. This is a sign that Labor is committed to taking things in the right direction. And that’s why we’re out here today, talking about making Armidale police station 24 hour public access.

JOURNALIST: It is a state issue, though. Are you misleading voters by promising that you can change it in a federal by-election?

KEOGH: The key thing about being a local member is listening to what people want. People aren’t sitting out there and saying I’m not going to talk about this at this time because there’s a federal by-election. They’re talking to me about all of the issues that are important to them, just like they talked to Don Randall about all of the issues that were important to them when he was the member here. That’s why Don was advocating for this issue, because he saw it as important in the community, the community saw it as important, and as a local member I’d be an advocate for all things that are important to the community.

JOURNALIST: You’ve gained a lot of mileage out of the fact that you grew up here and that you’re a local candidate, but you actually live in Mount Orlie don’t you?

KEOGH: I’ve just got a house back in Kelmscott, we’ve moved back into the electorate near my family.

JOURNALIST: Just now for the by-election, why did you move out of the electorate?

KEOGH: My wife and I were both working in the city, it made sense for us to be close to where we worked at that time.

JOURNALIST: So you maintain you’re a better local profile candidate than your opponent?

KEOGH: The way I look at it is I grew up here, I went to school here, my family has been here for three generations now. I know this place like the back of my hand and I have friends from school and from the community living throughout the electorate. I understand what’s going on. I’ve been talking to everyone through the electorate and I’ve got the history of what’s happened through here. So I understand how these issues have developed.

JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop has tagged you a hipster Labor lawyer. What do you say to that?

KEOGH: I have never been described that cool before and I’m not really sure what Julie’s getting at but I think the key thing is as a lawyer I’ve been advocating on behalf of people all my life and that’s what I want to do as the Member for Canning.

JOURNALIST: Mark, can I just ask you on the Armidale police station issue as well, there has been a spark in crime statistics. Police admitted that last month and they said they don’t know why. What do you put it down to?

MCGOWAN: Well, first of all I just want to make this plain: a 24-hour police station that’s open in Armidale is a State Labor commitment for the next election. We’ll do it. I support a 24-hour police station here. We had a plan to announce in any event in the course of the next 18 months. I’m pleased to be able to announce it today. Look, in this part of the world, amphetamines has run rife. It’s run rife and the government, over the last 7 years, has done very little about it. It seems to me that Mr Barnett has only just discovered it as an issue. We have twice the rate of national usage of amphetamines in Western Australia compared to any other State. We have very little action on the part of the Government to do something about it and what I have called for is a whole of government response. In December last year, Mick Murray and I released a consultation paper on the issue and we said you need a whole of government response. It needs to have health initiative, prevention initiatives, enforcement initiatives. But the most important of those are preventing people from taking amphetamines in the first place. We need a massive campaign in schools, TAFE colleges, across the community, on television, on the internet, you name it, to stop people from taking amphetamines in the first place. If they are on amphetamines, give them the rehab options to get off when they’re ready to get off. That’s the way of tackling this issue at the base.

JOURNALIST: The Police Commissioner has said he doesn’t want Armidale police station open 24/7, he would rather officers on the beat than in the station. Isn’t he best placed to make the call?

MCGOWAN: I disagree with him, I disagree with him. There will be a 24-hour publicly available police station in Armidale if Labor is elected. There’s currently 6 24-hour police stations across the Perth metropolitan area. Armidale will be a 7th if Labor’s elected.

JOURNALIST: How much will it cost to man the Armidale police station 24/7?

MCGOWAN: It’s a reallocation of resources.

JOURNALIST: So you’ll be taking officers off the street to man it?

MCGOWAN: No, no. Look, at present there’s lots of police stations around the community. They have police inside the station, it’s just it’s not open. So the Armidale station closes at 4 o’clock of an afternoon. So if you roll up at the door, it’s very difficult to get access and get access to a police officer. So Tony Buti and I think it’s been publicly explained, explained to me about a case where a young woman was sexually assaulted, rolled up at the door, couldn’t get access to a police officer with her father. They had to bundle into the car and drive off somewhere else. That’s not good enough. That station in a major metropolitan community like Armidale should be open to the public 24 hours a day and I will do it if elected.

JOURNALIST: But to open the door, you will have to have officers in that station moved from somewhere or you’ll have to hire new officers.

MCGOWAN: We will have the front desk staffed.

JOURNALIST: Where will those officers come from?

MCGOWAN: It doesn’t have to be police officers it can be civilian staff with access to the offices at the back of the station. It’s a reallocation of resources, we already do it at 6 police stations across the metropolitan area, Armidale will be the 7th and under my leadership they’ll be more.

JOURNALIST: So would the net cost be (inaudible)?

MCGOWAN: It’s a small additional cost or a reallocation of resources, but I think the people of Armidale deserve it.

JOURNALIST: The Premier says he’ll allow shops to open at 9am on a Sunday if re-elected, will you match that promise?

MCGOWAN:  As I said on Sunday I’m going to do a consultation process and in fact I’m signing the letters today to community groups, business groups, the workforce organisations and the like across Western Australia to seek the views of those groups. We’ll announce our position on that later this year or perhaps early next year but before I announce our position I’m not going to be so arrogant as to ignore community concerns. So I’ll be asking the churches, I’ll be asking the sporting groups, I’ll be asking the retailers, I’ll be asking the workforce what do you think, and then we’ll announce our position later this year or early next year. There’s plenty of time, there’s 18 months till the next election.

Thanks everyone.

ENDS

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

Aug 26, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

ADDRESS TO THE NATIONAL REFORM SUMMIT

 

Good morning everyone,

 

First of all, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet and pay my respects to elders, both past and present.

 

The best and busiest period of economic reform in Australia’s history began with a summit drawing on the spirt of inclusion, cooperation and consensus, from a broad cross-section of our community.

 

Back in 1983, it met in uncertain times.

 

As we do again now.

 

Gathering at a time of rapid global change, intense competition and also opportunity.

 

China’s rebalancing has generated a global nervousness in our stocks, currency and commodities.

 

So these are indeed the times of reform.

 

I believe in reform, but reform with purpose.

 

My purpose is for our economy to create more goods, services and jobs.

 

In other words, lifting output, improving equity, and delivering better-quality economic growth.

 

But now is the time for straight talk.

 

I believe our economic performance is wallowing in mediocrity.

 

That’s the reality Australians see.

 

We cannot simply continue as usual without long-term consequences.

 

And even the current consequences are acute.

 

The deficit has doubled. Wages growth is at record lows. Economic growth is nearly a full percentage point below trend.

 

And annual growth has been below trend for 11 consecutive quarters, and all but three of the previous 27 quarters.

 

Australia’s transition from the mining boom has been patchy.

 

Our terms of trade have fallen 32 per cent from their peak in 2011.

 

Unemployment has a six in front of it.

 

Youth unemployment is too high, especially in our regions.

 

800,000 of our fellow Australians are unemployed, the largest number in 20 years.

 

There’s another 1 million Australians who are underemployed, regularly recording they wish they had more hours and job security.

 

And there are 800,000 Australians on the Disability Support Pension, without the opportunity to participate in most cases.

 

Inequality is at a 75-year high.

 

In the year 2000, The Australian put together a week-long series which concluded that inequality was serious challenge for Australia.

 

It was true then, and it’s doubly true now.

 

None of this is about being overly partisan, or needlessly talking down the economy.

 

It is about making the frankest possible assessment of where we are, so that we can openly discuss what we need to do, to get to where we need to be in 2030 and beyond.

 

Our fellow Australians understand the transforming trends and opportunities facing our nation.

 

You know them:

 

  • The rise of Asia
  • Our ageing population, two generations of retirees alive at the same time for the first time now
  • The digital tidal wave making landfall now.
  • The equal treatment of women in our society
  • The surge in our services sector
  • Sustainability, climate change and clean energy.

 

I think we can largely agree on the current economic numbers – and I believe we would agree that these economic forces are transforming us.

 

And we can agree that these times are for reform.

 

The challenge before us now is cooperating to provide that missing ingredient – strong confidence.

 

The confidence for business to invest in the drivers of growth, here and in our region.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

If reform was just increasing taxes, if reform was as simple as increasing the GST, we should all just go home.

 

When has increasing a regressive tax ever been the solution to a nation’s problems?

 

Surely the standard conservative view – save more, produce more – combined with the standard progressive view – distribute fairly – does have some enduring truth.

 

Increasing tax is not tax reform.

 

There are plenty of low-performing economies with high GSTs, where the only net economic benefit here would be a small dividend on consumption.

 

The problem with our current tax system is that it gives discretionary benefits to some, and a high marginal tax rate to all.

 

Reform is not on one hand allowing some access to generous concessions and on the other hand offering tax cuts as well.

 

It is not fair that everyone pays tax, but only a few can claim the full concessions.

 

The problem with our superannuation system is we have a system which does not address inequality to women and the low paid.

 

It is unreasonable for a few to have uncapped tax concessions while it delivers far less advantage to millions more.

 

So reform must always be about increasing Australia’s productive capacity – it is productivity.

 

Productivity is the key to generating new jobs and renovating existing jobs.

 

Building new engines for growth and for investment.

 

And improving the Commonwealth Budget over the cycle.

 

Over many years, I have worked practically and cooperatively with businesses to generate productivity gains.

 

Negotiating annualised salaries to encourage greater efficiency.

 

Improving workplace health and safety to reduce compensation costs and boost output.

 

Adopting more flexible hours and leave arrangements to turbo-charge productivity on major projects.

 

My real-world practical experience over two decades teaches me that for our economy to adjust, productivity improvement depends upon hard work and hard decisions.

 

It is a hard path to tread.

 

Productivity, growth and adaptation is not about writing down the economy.

 

It’s a matter of reform for purpose: increasing output, fairness and equality.

 

And trying to achieve one of these, without the other two is not enough.

 

I want to briefly outline now some of the levers a new Labor Government, if elected, would use to increase productivity.

 

Infrastructure: unlocking the productive capacity of our cities and regions, post mining boom.

 

Securing a pipeline of long-term projects, empowering Infrastructure Australia to make generational evidence-based decisions, quarantined from political bickering and the Greens and the Nats.

 

An effective pricing mechanism is needed: if we pay too much for infrastructure, the government fails the people. But we can’t fund all infrastructure for free.

 

Then there’s higher education.

 

A properly funded university system, centred on equity and quality, with support for basic research.

 

Reform is not about increasing the price of a degree, rather, improving the productivity of universities.

 

And there’s industrial relations.

 

If we live in a class warfare world waged either by ideological governments, or unions, we fail.

 

Our focus should be upon bringing interests together.

 

This could start collaboratively in reforming industrial relations in construction and major projects.

 

Then there’s equality for women – this alone would make Australia a richer and fairer destination.

 

Removing discrimination in the workplace, equal opportunity, pay and leadership.

 

Supporting paid parental leave is a foundation for negotiation between working mothers and their employers.

 

Then there’s technology, a skilled workforce prepared for the jobs of the future, a first-rate NBN connecting businesses to the region.

 

Entrepreneurs supported by a smart investment fund, greater business collaboration with universities, commitment to increased research delivered in part by local Defence procurement.

 

Education starts with improving teacher quality and support.

 

Adopting world’s best practice, including better pay for our teachers.

 

Computational thinking and coding available to all children from primary school age.

 

Incentives to study STEM courses at university.

 

There’s healthcare: an efficient Medicare system enhances participation and drives productivity.

 

So does greater focus on primary care and prevention and the empowerment of individuals and their families through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

 

Small business, being supported with microfinance initiatives and new taxation structures to allow benefits of incorporation without costly processes and red tape.

 

And then there is climate change.

 

It is a big lever for a Commonwealth to pursue opportunity for the nation.

 

It’s a strategic decision worth billions of dollars and it will develop new industries in Australia’s future.

 

Cutting pollution and driving investment in renewable energy lifts productivity in energy generation, distribution and consumption.

 

A recent Climate Works report shows Australia could nearly double our energy productivity by 2030 by investing in the modernisation of our electricity system.

 

Al Gore has described renewable energy as the ‘biggest business opportunity in the history of business’.

 

Opposition to this economic reform often borders on the hysterical.

 

As leaders in our business and think-tank world, you can play a critical role in elevating this conversation.

 

40 per cent of the world’s economy, and more than 1 billion people, have already embraced the opportunity of an emissions trading scheme.

 

Australia needs to settle on and lock-in an appropriate design for ours.

 

If we do not get serious about tackling climate change, if we don’t get serious about investing in renewables then we cannot say we are serious about economic reform.

 

I’m a practical person.

 

I believe that Australia works best when we are governed from the centre, paid for in our democracy by moderation and compromise.

 

I believe in social welfare but it should be paid for by increased economic output.

 

I believe in well-paid workers, paid for through increased productivity.

 

Our economy requires measures which deliver fairness but the ultimate economic capacity to pay for this will always depend upon the productive capacity of this nation.

 

Otherwise, we will exist in a zero sum game.

 

Reform must always be for purpose.

 

Lifting output, improving equity, and greater quality.

 

Thank you.

 

ENDS

 

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

Aug 22, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

ADDRESS TO TASMANIAN LABOR CONFERENCE

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I come here this morning with one message.

We can win the next election.

And we can win five seats in Tasmania.

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet, and pay my respects to their elders both past and present.

It’s great to be here in Tasmania.

This is a remarkable state – a place of incredible natural beauty.

But Tasmania’s best resource has always been its people: strong, creative, resourceful and courageous people.

And I know Tassie people also have long memories.

When I was in Queenstown last year, a bloke called Jim came up to me in Orr Street.

I first met Jim more than ten years ago, when I was in Queenstown helping out miners.

I was looking forward to hearing about old times, or catching up on some news from the mine.

Instead he said: “Bill, you still owe me a beer”.

Jim, if you’re watching – next time I’m in town, my shout, I promise!

Friends, I know Labor in Tasmania has endured some hard times.

And I want to congratulate Bryan Green on the work he and his State colleagues have done.

Rebuilding Labor so that we can stand up to Will Hodgman and Tony Abbott’s $2.1 billion cuts from Tassie hospitals and schools.

And I couldn’t be more pleased with, or proud of, the great Labor team we have assembled for Tasmania.

Julie Collins has been the driving force behind our Tasmanian Taskforce, travelling around the state with our Shadow Ministers.

Listening to local businesses and communities, shaping the best policies for jobs, skills, schools, training, technology and aged care.

Brian Mitchell was the first candidate we pre-selected, anywhere in Australia.

He will be the champion regional Tassie deserves.

In the North, Ross Hart is already taking the fight up to Tony Abbott’s personal favourite, another Liberal with a glass jaw.

Ross lives and breathes Launceston – and he’ll be a great local member.

In less than two months, Justine Keay has already shown more initiative, more care and more understanding for North West Tassie than Brett Whitely has shown in more than a decade of talking-down Tassie people looking for work.

And Jane Austin, a person who has dedicated her life to helping the vulnerable, has put her hand up again in Denison.

She will give the people of Hobart real say in our Parliament – in a Labor Government.

Along with all our strong Senators, this is the Labor team that will deliver for all Tasmanians.

And friends, we’re not just up for the contest – we are in this to win.

Because when it comes to jobs, health, education and fairness, the stakes have never been higher.

And the difference between a Prime Minister stuck in the past and a Labor party building for the future…has never been greater.

Friends, if there’s one thing Mr Abbott is good at, and let’s face it, there’s probably only one thing.

It’s parroting a slogan.

Endless repetition, like a bargain-basement busker.

It used to be ‘debt and deficit’, until Joe Hockey doubled the deficit and blew out the debt.

Now Mr Abbott has crafted a couple of new mantras.

He’s started talking about his “two great years” in government.

A government, that he says, is about “jobs and growth”.

“Two great years”

“Jobs and growth”

These two slogans prove our Prime Minister lives on a different planet, in a parallel universe.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away from reality.

And Tony, here’s a tip:

When you have to provide your Praetorian Guard with a daily reminder, telling them you’re going ‘exceptionally well’ and that leaks aren’t a problem, and then that gets leaked.

It’s official, you’ve got a problem.

Friends, you and I know the truth about Mr Abbott’s last two years.

Two years of breaking almost every single promise he made before the election.

Two years that have delivered neither jobs, nor growth.

Right now, unemployment is above 6 per cent – higher than at any time under Labor, including during the GFC.

For every month of the Abbott Government, Tasmanian unemployment has been above the national average.

After 700 days of Abbott-Hockey Government, 800,000 Australians are in the unemployment queue.

1 million Australians would like more work, but can’t find it.

800,000 on disability support are looking to get back into the workplace – and this government just sees them as a target for demonising.

In places like the South East, youth unemployment is 22.8 per cent – a full nine per cent above the national rate.

The average Tasmanian job-seeker is 37.

And the average period people are looking for work is 36 months – three full years, well above the national average.

But when Australia – and Tasmania – needs a plan for jobs more urgently than ever before…the Liberals are only interested in fighting to save their own jobs.

And we should never forget the damage Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey’s grotesque crusade against renewable energy has done to jobs and investment.

Already 20,000 Australians work in renewables – and this will more than double in the next fifteen years.

More jobs in advanced manufacturing, installation, maintenance, programming and development.

And by 2030, there’s going to be $2.5 trillion of investment in renewable energy up for grabs in our region.

I want Australian companies – and Tassie companies to get a share of this.

This is why we have set our bold new goal for 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

A goal that will back-in job-creating success stories like Haywards Steel outside Launceston.

A goal delivering projects good for farmers and communities like the new Granville Wind Farm on the West Coast.

Over 21,000 Tasmanian homes have embraced solar power – saving around $12 million on their electricity bills.

And our goal will help more homeowners and more small-businesses take control of their power prices.

This is the renewable future we believe in: new industries, new opportunities and more jobs.

But this government have done everything in their power to smash renewable energy, just because Tony Abbott rode past a windmill once and didn’t like it.

Friends, there is a better way to a better future.

A stronger, more productive economy.

An economy where growth is stronger, because it is fair.

This is the Labor way.

We invest in people.

We support great schools and childcare to give our kids the best possible start in life.

We back vocational education and training, because we want young people learning the skills they need for the jobs of the future.

And we want mature workers getting the chance to re-train and find new opportunities.

We back public TAFE – because the pendulum has swung too far to dodgy private providers.

We believe in higher education available to all…because UTAS students in Hobart, Launceston and on the North West Coast shouldn’t have to pay $100,000 for a degree.

We stand for a health system where your Medicare card, not your credit card, guarantees you access to quality healthcare.

We fight for a decent pension and fair superannuation, because Australians who have worked hard all their lives, raised children and built communities deserve security in retirement.

We believe in building the best infrastructure: encouraging tourism and boosting productivity.

And this includes the best digital infrastructure.

A National Broadband Network connecting communities like Scottsdale, Smithton and Midway Point to the digital economy, in our region and the world.

Friends, there is a final matter I want to address today.

Something close to my heart – and yours.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme.

When I became Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, my eyes were opened to a world of disadvantage I never imagined.

Australians exiled to a second-class life of lesser opportunity.

Elderly parents and carers living with the sleepless midnight anxiety of worrying who would love their profoundly disabled child when they no longer could.

Young people spending their days in retirement homes, because there was simply no alternative care available.

People moving interstate, battling a maze of different rules, standards and support.

The NDIS is changing this – breaking down the high walls of disadvantage.

Under Labor, Tasmania is a launch site for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

A plan already empowering 1000 young Tasmanians aged between 15 and 24 living with disability.

Before the election, Mr Abbott said he was committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

He promised it would be delivered in full – and on time.

But ever since this government came to power, they have been running a cynical whispering campaign against the NDIS.

Minister after Minister, talking down the scheme, leaking misinformation about costs and cobbling together weasel words as they crab-walk away from their promises.

This is a disgrace – and it has to stop.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a measure of our national conscience.

A test of who we are as a people.

It speaks for the Australia we want to see in the mirror: decent, fair and caring.

And we will fight, all of us in Labor, for an NDIS delivered on time – and in full.

People with disability and the people who love them, have waited long enough.

So I call on Mr Abbott to repeat the promise he made before the election – no cuts, no delay, no more lies.

Friends at these conferences, we gather not just as a Labor party, or a Labor movement, but as a Labor family.

From time to time we will have differences of opinion.

It has always been thus.

We are an open, accountable and democratic party – stronger and richer because we can, on occasion, respectfully disagree with each other.

But what binds us together is more powerful than any point of difference.

We are joined by more than just the words of a pledge or a common membership card.

Ours is a shared faith in fairness.

A Labor tradition older than Federation –yet more relevant to Australia’s future than ever before.

We all know Tasmania will be a key battleground in the next election.

We have the team to win this fight, in this state.

We can do this.

We can deliver a better future for Tasmania – and for Australia.

A future of:

  • good jobs
  • great education
  • quality healthcare
  • and fairness for all.

This is what we believe in.

And this is what we can achieve, together, for all Australians.

Australian Labor.

Advance Australia.

ENDS

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

Jul 17, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

MH17 MEMORIAL SERVICE

MH17 MEMORIAL SERVICE

 

THE GREAT HALL, PARLIAMENT HOUSE

 

CANBERRA

 

FRIDAY, 17 JULY 2015

 

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Families and friends of those lost on MH-17,

Today, around the world strangers unknown to each other before this tragedy have marked together a long year, lived in sadness.

A year of unfinished conversations, of pondering what if and why, of familiar places changed forever.

A year where you have probably put up more photos of your loved ones than ever before.

A year when birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries have come and gone.

Remembered but not shared, commemorated but not celebrated.

This is a grief our nation knows.

As children, as parents, as brothers and sisters, Australians have walked the lonely road of mourning.

But none of us can truly understand the added burden that you’ve had to share.

That cruel unfair shaft of fate, those anxious first few hours checking and rechecking flight times and numbers with disbelieving eyes and mounting dread.

The glare of a public spotlight on private grief, the faces of the people you love rolling across our television screens .

And the unfinished journey to justice, waiting for the perpetrators of this incomprehensible crime to be brought to account.

Grief is a solitary emotion.

It can come up behind you like a following wave, in unguarded moments.

There is no right or wrong way to mourn.

For all of us who have lost someone we love, as much as we might feel in those first few immediate days of shock and grief as if time is frozen and all clocks must stop, perhaps the hardest part for those who are left behind is accepting that life does go on.

Something else becomes the news, the daily routine reclaims us somewhat.

Our children grow up, we grow older.

The rawness of scars heals.

In time even acute memories fade.

Memories fade, but memorials endure.

So even though no set of words, no inscription on a plaque can remotely capture the depth of loss or the sense of sadness that you feel.

Even though no memorial can truly speak for the love and the laughter taken far too soon, the potential and the possibility left unfulfilled.

The memorial that we dedicated earlier today will stand for all time in tribute to the people you loved and lost.

It is a way whereby all Australians can at least know who.

It speaks to the warm embrace of our country that we offer you, now and always.

It will ensure that the family and friends you mourn are never forgotten.

May the souls of flight MH17, join the flight of angels in eternal peace.

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

Jul 17, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH TO COSBOA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS SUMMIT

SPEECH TO COSBOA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS SUMMIT

SYDNEY

THURSDAY, 16 JULY 2015

 

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Good evening everyone

I thank Peter Strong for his kind invitation to be here tonight.

When I became Labor Leader I also chose to take on responsibility in two portfolios: Science and Small Business.

I’m lucky to have the support of my dedicated colleague Bernie Ripoll, who has worked extremely hard to engage with small businesses across Australia.

I and Labor see small business and science, as enablers of our economy, engines of future growth, creators of new jobs and drivers of innovation.

I understand that small business is not just the backbone of our economy, it is a barometer.

You are more informed than most about the health of Australia’s economy – and have more invested in its success.

Every small business is an act of personal courage, and personal risk.

Revenues are volatile, progress can be slow, the chance of failure is always there.

And small businesses are often financed by the owner’s second mortgage, their family savings or a credit card.

The sacrifices you make can take a toll on your life outside work, on your family and your mental health.

Beyond Blue research tells us that mental health costs Australian businesses around $11 billion a year.

This is why Leanne Faulkner’s work – and your recognition of it – is so important and so worthwhile.

And because you’re invested and informed – you all know the Australian economy is not going as well as we would hope, or growing as fast as we would like.

Growth at 2.3 per cent is still nearly a full percentage point below trend.

Australian annual economic growth has now been below-trend for 11 consecutive quarters, and all but three of the last 27 quarters.

Australia’s unemployment rate has a six in front of it.

The number of people trapped in long-term unemployment has hit a 16-year high.

The number of people out of work for a year or more has risen by 18 per cent over the past year to 188,000.

That’s the highest number since the late 1990s, and almost three times more than before the GFC hit.

And while unemployment has been rising – so has under-employment.

The labour force underutilisation number takes into account those seeking more work – and it has risen to its highest level since November 1998.

More and more Australians – whether they be small business owners or small business customers – are starting to wonder if economic growth is delivering for them, if the model we have is working the best way it can.

To put it another way, if we were having this dinner in 1991 and I told you we were in line for 24 years of uninterrupted growth.

You wouldn’t expect to be sitting here in 2015, with a 6 per cent unemployment rate an 18 per cent long term unemployment rate sluggish wages growth, and tepid investment.

And consumer confidence in the doldrums.

The Westpac–Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment fell by 3.2 per cent in July, demonstrating clearly that pessimists outnumber optimists in the economy.

This has been the case for 15 of the last 17 months, with confidence now a staggering 17 per cent below September 2013 levels.

We urgently need a plan for building the next two decades of prosperity.

We need a plan for the jobs of the future, a plan to deal with the five big, non-negotiable shifts which will define the Australia of 2025.

  • Climate change and a clean energy economy.
  • The rise of Asia – the world’s biggest consumer class on our doorstep
  • The march of women to equality: in pay, opportunity and leadership.
  • Population change: two generations of Australian retirees living at the same time
  • And the digital technology revolution, fundamental changes in the way we live, work and communicate.

A strong, growing, diverse and innovative small business sector will be essential in helping Australians respond to these challenges.

I see small business as a key driver of Australia’s economic growth, in the immediate and long-term.

Your growth is hard won, it involves pursuing more top-line revenue and greater efficiencies in cost control.

And if we’re going to ask you to fill some of the void created by the end of the mining boom, then it is only fair to offer continued, meaningful support for the small business sector.

As you know, Labor backed the Government’s 1.5 per cent tax cut for small business, and their temporary, two-year, instant asset write-off.

In fact, we were the first party in the Parliament to vote for it.

We supported these small business measures, because we are committed to helping small businesses grow and thrive.

And we voted for these measures, because we remember how frustrating it was, for so many of you, when Labor proposed a 1.5 per cent tax cut for small business – and the Liberals opposed it.

We remember how disappointing it was, for millions of small businesses, when Labor introduced an instant asset write off – and the Liberals unwound it.

We remember how unfair it was, for three-quarters of a million small businesses carefully counting every dollar, when Labor introduced loss carry-back – and the Liberals abolished it.

We were determined to be better than this kind of petty negativity.

We supported the government’s proposals – from Budget night on – because we don’t automatically say ‘no’ to an idea, just because it doesn’t come under a Labor letterhead.

This has always been my philosophy: as a union representative and a parliamentarian.

Don’t search for the point of contention, focus on building a basis for consensus.

Begin by looking for the value in the other person’s proposition and work from there.

This was the approach I took at the AWU: striking the best agreements for workers – and business.

Delivering better pay, and greater productivity.

Safer workplaces, and a more flexible workforce.

My time at the AWU taught me about one of the most important agents for improving the living standards of working people: the good employer.

I took the same approach as Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities.

The idea of a better deal for people with disability wasn’t new.

But for decades, no-one could agree on a way forward.

Until the ‘Every Australian Counts’ campaign, every group had approached the politics of disability in a different way, depending on whether they were advocates, carers or disability service providers.

The NDIS offered a common objective to unite around – and the newly formed National Disability and Carers Alliance took the debate from an internal conversation – to a national one.

Instead of worrying about the 10 per cent they didn’t agree upon – they concentrated on achieving the 90 per cent they did.

This is the leadership I believe in: initiating consensus, not instigating conflict.

I believe our system works a lot better when we focus on the quality of the idea, not who owns it.

When leaders act in the interests of the whole nation, rather than tilting at windmills, riding their own hobby-horses, or servicing the ideological fixations of their rusted-on supporters.

Of course, ours is a multi-party democracy.

And our Westminster system isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

There are always going to be fundamental differences in philosophy, in our values, in the way we look at the world.

So, I’m not advocating – or expecting – a mass chorus of ‘kumbaya’.

But, in Opposition, Labor has made a conscious effort to take a more constructive approach than Mr Abbott’s Liberals.

We believe you can hold the government to account, in a practical way.

Whether it be on budget repair, national security or support for small business.

I think empty, backward-looking negativity has consumed too much of Australia’s national energy in recent years.

Australia won’t be ready to face the challenges of the future, to build the long-term prosperity we need, if governing is reduced to a democratic tit-for-tat.

If new Prime Ministers spend the first half of their term trying to undo and dismantle everything their predecessors built and the second half promising everything, to everyone, to cling onto power.

All this does is create uncertainty for the Australian people, for business and investors.

We’re seeing this play out right now in the renewable energy sector, with potentially devastating consequences for billions of dollars in investment – and thousands of jobs.

Small business will pay a price too: in energy costs and supply.

This is why the role the Clean Energy Finance Corporation plays, in partnership with the major banks, helping small business finance new energy-efficient equipment and solar power is so important.

And this is why we need to preserve this co-operative relationship.

Because we won’t secure our future prosperity by picking fights.

This is, why in my Budget Reply speech this year I made Tony Abbott and the government an offer.

I said, let’s work together.

Let’s find a fair and fiscally responsible way to give small business the lowest corporate tax rate in Australian history.

Not a 1.5 per cent cut, a five per cent cut.

A real fillip for cash-flow.

A confidence kick-start for planning and investing in the long term.

Now I didn’t expect a pat on the back from the Prime Minister, or a spontaneous round of applause from Joe Hockey.

But I was surprised the government dismissed the idea out of hand.

Surprised – and disappointed.

Especially since I had made it clear I understood it might take more than the life of one parliament to achieve.

Nevertheless, my invitation stands.

And I’m interested in other ways of helping small business get ahead.

Today, more and more small businesses are moving towards becoming companies, with the legal protection of limited liability.

Incorporation helps promote asset protection, retaining profits for working capital, access to CGT discounts, succession planning and income distribution.

Currently, a series of very complicated structures are used to achieve these outcomes.

Setting these structures up takes time and money – and maintaining them is even more expensive and even more time-consuming.

We need to ask ourselves: how can we deliver the ongoing benefits of incorporation, without the ongoing burden of red tape, for more small businesses.

How can we create a single, simplified structure, tailored for small business – instead of the current complicated and expensive arrangement.

How can we maximise advantage for you, while minimising the hassle?

One option, adopted with success in the United States, is a change in the corporate structure, to create a specific class of corporations for small business.

This differentiated approach recognises that compliance measures should be tailored to match the size of businesses.

I understand, this is a complex change.

But Labor is up for a discussion with small business, representative organisations, accountants and the legal profession to make this arrangement work for Australia.

Backing-in small businesses also means better support for business lending and start-up finance.

Right now, it is still too hard for Australians to get the financing they need to start – or grow – their small business.

We need to change this – because so much of our future prosperity depends on harnessing Australian ideas.

Australian entrepreneurs, creating new markets for their world-leading products.

I want ideas born here, to grow up here – so we can create jobs here.

A Labor government will create a new $500 million, Smart Investment Fund, to back-in Australian innovators.

An incentive for entrepreneurs to develop their ideas – and scale them up.

Our Smart Investment Fund, will partner with venture capitalists and fund managers to invest in early stage and high potential companies.

This is a model has a definite, proven record of success.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the story of Seek.com

A $2.5 million investment in 1998, helped grow what is now a $5 billion company, employing over 500 Australians.

We’ve also put forward our positive plan to work with Australia’s banks and finance industry to introduce a partial guarantee scheme: Startup microfinance.

I want to make it easier for Australians to turn good ideas into successful businesses.

To take their product from prototype, to market.

So many of our competitors for the jobs of the future already have a scheme of this kind in place: the UK, the US, France and Germany.

Singapore and Hong Kong are leaders in our region.

In the new economy, small businesses and start-ups will drive growth and create jobs.

This is why we’re also leading efforts to promote crowdfunding initiatives.

And why Labor is determined to support our next generation of designers, refiners, manufacturers and creators.

Better support for start-ups will also be particularly important for the women of Australia.

Two out of three women use their personal savings to finance their start-ups.

And four out of every ten women who start a small business, do so with less than $5000.

Our partial guarantee scheme carries minimal risk for government and private lenders, but it will make a tremendous difference to these up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

I see support for start-ups as an investment in success.

After all, as recently as three years ago, people spoke about ‘mumpreneurs’ as just a fad, women looking for a hobby or something to do…today they are rightly recognised as industry leaders.

These are Australians with great new ideas, running successful businesses and harnessing new technologies and social media to launch their products and services.

And the more women we can help succeed in small business, the faster we can close the gender gap – in pay and in retirement savings.

Friends, not for a minute do I underestimate the economic challenges facing Australia.

There are, undoubtedly, hard questions in front of us.

But none of you got to where you are by shrugging your shoulders and saying ‘it’s all too much’.

None of you built your success by waiting for something to turn up, or just hoping for the best.

You rejected pessimism, and complacency alike.

You didn’t hang back to see which way the crowd was heading.

You took risks, you made sacrifices, you led the way.

Of course, there will always be those who think the Australian model of inclusive growth, of prosperity and opportunity shared, can’t cut it.

There will always be nay-sayers who would prefer an Australia run for the strong at the expense of the weak, the big at the expense of the small.

But to all those cynics and the critics who doubt Australia’s ability to face the challenges of the future.

To all those who think the world has become too tough for Australia to compete in.

I say, go and visit a small business.

Spend half an hour at an Australian workplace.

Talk to any of the millions of Australians who go to work every day.

People adding to our national wealth, with their efforts.

Raising families, and building communities.

It is this spirit, this belief in reward-for-effort and the value of work.

This belief in innovation and enterprise, which will help deliver the new wave of long-term growth in the decade ahead.

There is nothing Australia cannot achieve, if we work together.

Employers and employees.

Businesses and unions.

Commonwealth and states.

Government and private sector.

Together, we can build a prosperous future, beyond the mining boom.

Together, we can compete and win in our region, on our terms.

Together, we can prepare Australia to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the next decade.

Together, we will succeed.

ENDS

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

Jun 26, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

ADDRESS TO THE ACOSS NATIONAL CONFERENCE

ADDRESS TO THE ACOSS NATIONAL CONFERENCE

 

SYDNEY

 

FRIDAY, 26 JUNE 2015

 

Good morning everyone.

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet and pay my respect to their elders both past and present.

I want to thank you very much for inviting me here to talk about really important matters.

 

It is, I understand, the end of a week of deliberation and it is, I understand, fundamentally important to Australians that you meet and talk about the issues that you do.

 

I think there are two great tests for a nation such as ours, and they measure our character.

 

It is how we handle wealth and how we handle poverty.

 

We are undeniably a wealthy nation, amongst the richest on the planet.

 

But we have persistent levels of poverty that might bring that might sometimes bring our character into question.

 

It is not just a handy maxim that the measure of a society, the measure of a nation is how it treats its most vulnerable.

 

It is a test.

 

It is a character test.

 

And are we passing?

 

I believe it is our mission to tackle inequality.

 

I believe too often in our politics of this nation, the poor are ignored, relegated to the back, or simply squeezed and indeed vilified.

 

Now, there are a few gatherings, as I said, more important than ACOSS to talk about this subject.

 

We have a story in Australia, don’t we, that we are a ‘lucky country’.

 

That we believe that our society should be organised in such a way that it allows an individual’s capacity to transcend the destiny that others prescribe by inequality, money and power.

 

And have no doubt, friends, inequality is on the national agenda.

 

Ever since the Global Financial Crisis rocked the foundations of our world economic order, a host of leaders from across the political spectrum, titans of industry, respected academics, have urged a rethink of a relationship between equality and prosperity.

 

Diverse voices, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Bank of England, the OECD, and the Vatican are all saying the same thing: Inclusion is the key to growth.

 

Equality is not a dividend of economic growth, it is a pre-condition.

 

And that we can only plough the fields of prosperity by acting to end inequality.

 

I make this point that around the world there is another name for the Global Financial Crisis.

 

It is a name that we don’t use in Australia – the Great Recession.

 

Because it didn’t happen here as it happened elsewhere in the world.

 

The pragmatic, targeted response Labor instituted in government prevented the kind of consequences that we’ve seen unfold in the United States and Europe.

 

Double digit unemployment, mass foreclosures, a generation of young people cut off from work.

 

It is fair to say, and the record reflects this, that Australia weathered the storm and emerged in better shape than any other nation in the world.

 

But now we face a new set of challenges in the decade ahead.

 

We must plan for the non-negotiable changes that are heading our way.

 

The trends which will define our future:

 

  • the economic transformation of Asia
  • digital disruption and technological change
  • a clean energy economy
  • the equal of treatment in women in our society
  • the unprecedented demographic change with two generations of retirees living at the same time in Australia

 

And all underpinned by the constant requirement for social justice.

 

This is the great task of the next 10 years.

 

Turning these factors to our national benefit

 

Smoothing the transition from a commodities-based economy, to a high-tech, high-end serviced-based economy

 

Competing and winning in the world on our terms with the application of our values.

 

A strong system of targeted social investment is a pre-condition.

 

It is essential to the progress of our economy and our society.

 

People need to be supported to make transitions in and out of the workforce between sectors, careers and industries.

 

Opportunity must be shared. Growth must be inclusive.

 

Your latest report confirms that we have sadly known for too long – more than 20 years of economic growth, an unprecedented stretch of national prosperity simply has not delivered for every Australian.

 

We have more riches than nearly any other nation, but we have less fairness than we should.

 

In the midst of our great wealth, many Australians do not feel safe, nor do they have secure work, nor do they have access to permanent homes.

 

There is undoubtedly a growing disparity in wage rates and working hours.

 

From 1975 to 2014 real wages have risen by about $7,000 for the bottom tenth of income earners, but they have risen by $47,000 for the top tenth.

 

Put another way, the top 10% of income earners have received a national pay rise greater than the total pay of the bottom 10%.

 

Now, some argue that this inequality is tolerable because we are a mobile society, that anyone can make it, if they just have a go.

 

But far too often the socio-economic profile of a person born into disadvantage determines their life chances.

 

I said earlier, more directly, do we have a myth in this country that individual capacity can transcend the barriers of money, power and discrimination?

 

Is the Australian dream real?

 

For all of us?

 

This kind of pay gap carries serious consequences.

 

An OECD report concluded:

 

““The rise of income inequality…is estimated to have knocked 4.7 percentage points off cumulative growth between 1990 and 2010, on average across OECD countries.”

 

Inequality damages growth.

 

This is especially significant when we consider annual economic growth in Australia has been below trend for 11 consecutive quarters and in all but three of the last 27 quarters.

 

And as recent research from the Melbourne Institute has reconfirmed, wages and salaries are by far the dominant source of household income in Australia.

 

Therefore, a robust and rising minimum wage is always central to tackling inequality.

 

It is why in 2015 for the first time ever, Labor from Opposition put a submission in the annual wage review in defence of a strong minimum wage.

 

I believe that the minimum wage in this country is an irreplaceable driver of consumption and dignity for hard-working Australians.

 

Undercutting our minimum wage does not boost our competitiveness.

 

It does not enhance this society.

 

We will never be able to go low enough in wages to compete with some of the economies in our region.

 

The truth is, as you well know, that the cause of poverty for those wanting to work or working, is when a person receives less than sufficient to satisfy their needs.

 

The undermining of the minimum wage – all it will do is create a poverty trap for millions of Australians.

 

It is not the future that I want for my children, nor for the country.

 

But as you know, a minimum wage, a fair minimum wage, a strong minimum wage is only part of the story.

 

Needs-based school funding, aka Gonski, strong TAFE and training, and affordable universities are all instruments of social mobility.

 

School funding, TAFE, training, university places.

 

And a decent, sustainable safety net is also essential.

 

There is a fashion in this area to talk tough about bludgers, rorters, frauds, cheats, double-dippers.

 

You know the abuse, the people you represent frequently receive it.

 

In the United Kingdom, the Conservatives talk about ‘skivers’ and ‘strivers’.

 

Imaginatively our own Conservatives talk about ‘lifters’ and ‘leaners’.

 

Different words, same game.

 

The creation of a false division between ‘us’ and ‘them’.

 

There are, of course, easy points to be scored against the straw man of the bloated welfare system.

 

Indeed, the word “welfare” itself was almost exclusively used in many parts of our media and conservative government as a pejorative, as a code word for laziness and waste and undeserved income.

 

It frustrates me.

 

I’m sure it annoys the heck out of you.

 

Not because of the cheap, chest-beating rhetoric masquerading as government policy,

 

Not just because of the bullying of people who are often doing it tough,

 

It is also because of the facts tell a very different tale.

 

Australia already has one of the best targeted systems of social investment in the world.

 

We spend less on welfare than almost every other advanced country in the OECD, and yet our system still works reasonably well.

 

Forget the long lectures about people living a life of leisure on benefits.

 

How is it that people who have millions of dollars get so jealous of people getting $20,000?

 

What is so spiritually bankrupt in our debate, when I watch people who earn more in a week than people with disabilities or the unemployed or carers will earn in a year…people who will claim more on their tax deductions than lots of the people they criticise will ever claim.

 

It seems that for some people what they have is not enough; they have to worry about what you have, too.

 

Melbourne Institute HILDA survey showed around 50 per cent of people on income support are back in work within a year – 75 per cent are back in work within three years.

 

There is a reason, friends why Labor calls this social investment.

 

Professor Peter Whiteford from ANU estimates that for every dollar we spend on welfare, we reduce inequality twice as effectively as any other nation.

 

And on the flipside, cutting social security payments in Australia increases inequality twice as fast.

 

NATSEM modelling has found that the least well off 20 per cent households were hardest hit by last year’s Budget, and this unfairnesses that been locked in and entrenched in this year’s Budget.

 

When one considering any aspect of an economic program should be to build confidence and opportunity and hope, it does not matter if it is the grandest manoeuvre or the smallest detail.

 

The right decisions cannot be made whilst fairness is discouraged.

 

This morning, I tell you that this Government is fighting for their own power, their own jobs, their own privileges, which I submit to you; it is irreconcilable with the national interest.

 

Instead of taking steps to address Australia’s growing inequality and therefore enhanced growth, the Government is continuing its savage attack on low and middle-income earners.

 

One of the previous speakers this morning, and I refer not to the Leader of the Greens, wants to slash $8.5 billion from the pockets of Australian families along with his leader, Mr Abbott.

 

Family payment go to families to help with the costs of raising children.

 

They help to ensure every child has a good start in life.

 

Mr Abbott’s cuts are bad for families, they are bad for children, they make it much harder for Australian families to make ends meet.

 

And of course those families with the least, will lose the most.

 

Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison want to push young people into poverty leaving young job-seekers under 25 with nothing to live on for a month.

 

‘Quick,’ I can just imagine them saying to their metabolism, ‘Shut down for a month’.

 

Labor believes these propositions are fundamentally unfair and we will continue to fight against them, as we have in last year’s Budget.

 

Now, it is no secret that ACOSS and Labor took different views on the Government’s second incarnation of pension cuts.

 

I would like to take the opportunity today to explain the reason behind our decision.

 

You know the Government; they love to find a bad guy to justify their own badness.

 

And this year much of their rhetoric was focused on the so-called ‘millionaire pensioners’.

 

All those pensioners out there with the supposedly high asset bases, somehow selfishly drawing down on the pension.

 

We have new research in from NATSEM today.

 

The fact is only 0.3 per cent of all pensioners have assessable assets beyond $1 million.

 

That’s less than 9,000 pensioner families out of 3 million people.

 

And there are only 165,000 pensioners were assessable assets of greater than $500,000.

 

That’s barely 5 per cent.

 

The vast majority of 330,000 pensioners affected by the Government’s cuts do not have high incomes.

 

Many are living on a superannuation income of $25,000 a year.

 

That’s a modest sum.

 

Industry superannuation analysis reveals that once these pension cuts are in place, the impact gradually creeps down the income and assets scale.

 

I submit it will be low-income people, the people who ACOSS serve and represent very well, who will be hit by these changes over time.

 

There is another powerful factor in Labor’s discussions.

 

The serious long-term problem this round of pension cuts creates for future retirement savings.

 

Coalition rhetoric aside, the parliamentary voting record shows that it has been Labor who has built the superannuation system and increased mandatory contributions.

 

And we also made in in the last term of government, historic investments in the pension system.

 

But when we consider issues around the aged pension, we step back and take a holistic look.

 

The latest NATSEM report released today shows that under the asset taper, pensioners now lose $78 per year for every $1000 in assets beyond the threshold.

 

Double the previous loss of $39 per year.

 

The loss of pension income is likely to be greater than the typical returns a pensioner could expect on their superannuation assets.

 

So you lose more on your taper than you will gain on the income from your superannuation assets.

 

So under the Government’s new policy, a pensioner has a lower annual income from the aged pension at equivalent annuity on their asset base on $900,000, than they do at $400,000.

 

Now you might say, “Who cares?”

 

But we do want to create a system where some people have some incentive to save for their retirement.

 

Because what it now means is that the system has built in a magnet, an inbuilt incentive to draw down on assets in the short term so you can claim the full pension over the long term.

 

The immediate consequence is to reduce assets more quickly or move assets to non-assessable assets like the family home.

 

Do we think humans won’t change their behaviour based upon this Government’s measures?

 

This is introducing a new and massive shift of incentives in the system away from funding your own retirement to relying more heavily on a full pension.

 

That’s the wrong message.

 

And with half of all retirees set to be affected by these changes in the next 10 years, I think this perverse incentive will place massive new pressures on our pension system.

 

What this proves to me and my team, is that when we formulate retirement policy, we must always look beyond the headlines and map out the true consequences.

 

This is the clear principle behind Labor’s policy to tighten excessively generous tax concessions given to the very wealthy superannuation account holders.

 

This measure alone will return $9 billion to the bottom line and based on average long-term rates of return, it will only affect people with more than $1.5 million in their superannuation account.

 

I am pleased that ACOSS has been very strong in its support for this and probably encouraging us to go even further.

 

But our measure is sustainable, it is fiscally responsible.

 

The Government loves to dumb a debate down to its crudest slogan.

 

They say Labor wants to put your hands – I think the verb which the Prime Minister seems unhealthily addicted to is ‘trouser’.

 

He says that people want to ‘trouser’ people’s superannuation savings.

 

We don’t.

 

But when John Howard and Peter Costello in the 2006 Budget, said that unlike other forms of income which you might earn when you work, if you put all your money into the superannuation phase, the income can be tax-free, they created an unsustainable proposition.

 

Because what it means is if you have $5 million or $10 million, put it into your super in retirement; draw down on the income from that and you get a full tax concession.

 

Superannuation tax concessions in the next four years are going to pass the price of the aged pension.

 

So somehow we have this Government who likes to make out they are an ill-fitting Robin Hood and the Merry Men of Sherwood forest sort of garb when they talk about the pension.

 

But as soon as they can get to the policy issues, off comes their costume in their disguise, far more Sheriff of Nottingham than Robin Hood, this crew.

 

They won’t tackle the big issues.

 

We are not anti-superannuation.

 

I just don’t think that tax concessions funded by the taxpayer, when you have a very big comfortable pile, needs to be as high as they currently are.

 

Now, all of this though, goes to the issue of the broader policies in the next election.

 

In the broad social policy, many of you will know that I’ve asked Jenny Macklin to lead a comprehensive review of Labor’s approach.

 

She will deliver that report towards the end of the year.

 

She and I intend to focus upon investing in the early years, workforce participation, helping families manage care and work responsibilities, and dealing with the challenge of insecure work.

 

From my own travels, and discussions around the country, there are certain recurring themes.

 

The importance of targeted support for low-income and disadvantaged Australians to get job-ready and to connect with potential employers.

 

The need to support people in and out of the workforce, particularly regarding the need for skilling, re-skilling and life-long learning.

 

A strong and sustainable system of family payments and childcare support to help low and middle-income families with the cost of raising children.

 

I must say there is a critical need for a properly supported community sector that is free to advocate without fear of retribution or losing government funding.

 

The culture of bullying has to stop.

 

But what I would also say, to borrow and paraphrase – someone once said our democracy is not a spectator sport.

 

And the future is not pre-ordained.

 

There is no cycle in politics which means that conservativism has a go, and then progress has a go.

 

There is no ‘inevitable’ change.

 

Our democracy is something which every person has the ability to make a contribution to.

 

That every one of us has the chance to decide what will happen in the future.

 

Because sadly too many people in Australia, too many people feel alienated in Abbott’s Australia.

 

Alienation, you understand this well.

 

It is the feeling of people who are excluded from the processes of decision-making and disempowered by insecurity, lack of income, discrimination, unemployment, family violence.

 

As has been observed by others, too much alienation is dehumanising.

 

It creates divisions.

 

It wastes people’s potential.

 

It devalues human relations.

 

Profit without fairness cannot be the driver to evaluate national progress.

 

Simply telling people, in their late 40s and 50s, that they are redundant, with little prospect of another job, is cowardice.

 

No Australian is expendable.

 

Simply telling the homeless, the substance-addicted, the battered wives, the disability pensioner, the underprivileged, simply telling them to ‘have a go’ is not enough.

 

It is time to unleash the possibilities, the unharnessed possibility of all Australians.

 

This means treating people with respect, not finger-wagging blame.

 

The mining boom is nothing compared to the potential of the Australian people and the potential they offer the future of this country.

 

Simply letting Australians believe that they should journey through life with no prospect of faith in what they can contribute to their fellow Australians is weak, is wasteful and it is a tragedy.

 

We can do better.

 

ENDS

 

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

Jun 25, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,CANBERRA


THURSDAY, 25 JUNE 2015

 

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

Thank you Madam Speaker.

Another Question Time and again, no answers.

Another day like every day under the Abbott Government.

New Liberal lies, new Liberal lows.

Every day we see the quality of the Parliament and the debasement of the Government of Australia continue downwards.

Now there will be six weeks away from this place, where we will all be able to have the opportunity to be amongst the Australian people.

But we know what the Liberals will be up to.

We know those opposite will continue their trademark politics of fear and smear.

We know the bar is never too low for those who sit opposite.

Just have a look at their form in Victoria.

Never in my wildest imagination, would I imagine that the Liberal Party of Australia or any of its divisions would stoop so low, crawl so low, to be raising money on the back of national security fear.

And quite frankly it was an unsatisfactory answer today from the Prime Minister when he says of course one would go down to ASIO for briefings, probably true. Of course that may be true.

But he could never explain: why does he need a TV camera in tow?

And then what he sought to do when the Opposition legitimately questioned him on these matters – he says it’s an attack on ASIO.

This man is addicted to wrapping the flag of patriotism around him and then saying no one has the right to ever question the judgements of this Government on that basis.

But we know that every dirty trick will be played by this Government, by this Prime Minister in the next 12 months.

They will keep going down the low road of character assassination.

They will stick with the same bullying, the same base politics of division and suspicion.

The last day of this sitting fortnight has been typical of every day under this government.

This Government and Mr Abbott will say anything to get your vote.

They will say anything, they will do anything – they will promise everything.

But his word means nothing.

Tony Abbott’s promises mean nothing.

Let me tell the Government and Mr Abbott about this:

If Tony Abbott wants to lecture us about lying.

If Tony Abbott wants to talk about keeping promises.

If Tony Abbott wants to make the next election about trust.

Have a go. Give it a try. Bring it on.

Today Mr Abbott postured in Question Time – in the style which only he thinks befits a Prime Minister of this country with his faux indignation and finger-wagging – about an interview I did with Neil Mitchell two years ago.

As I’ve said, more than a couple of times: I made a mistake, I regret it.

I did what Tony Abbott is incapable of doing.

I apologised.

Tony Abbott has never apologised for the lies he told the Australian people.

The fraud he perpetrated on millions of hard-working people who trusted him with their vote.

Never apologised for saying on the eve of the election – right down the barrel of the camera – capable of probably even tricking a lie detecting polygraph – he said to millions of Australians on the eve of an election:

“No cuts to health, no cuts to education.”

‘No cuts or changes to the pension”

“No cuts to the ABC or SBS”

Five broken promises in ten seconds.

One lie every two seconds.

And Tony Abbott’s lies have real consequences for all Australians.

His lies are hurting people, every day.

  • $30 billion cut from schools
  • $50 billion cut from hospitals

And for once and for all, will the Government finally acknowledge the authorship of their own Budget papers which demonstrates the change in their spending profiles and the cuts behind it?

This Prime Minister thinks that Australians are as silly as some of the people who back him in his parliamentary party. The truth is in black and white, green and blue.

He’s also hurt 300,000 pensioners in this last sitting week.

Modest incomes – he talks about some people getting $30 a fortnight being better off.

But what he neglects to do – he presses the delete button at that point – he never mentions 330,000 pensioners who are having their pensions cut.

He said before the election ‘No cut to pensions’ – 330,000 people are going to have their pensions cut and he says because it doesn’t happen until a certain date – that’s not really a broken promise.

This man has too many excuses and not enough truth in his election promises.

He’s frozen the superannuation of  8.4 million working Australians

He says that there’s no adverse consequences that they would administer of superannuation, but what he’s done is he froze superannuation for 3.5 million Australians, low paid Australians.

He’s taken away their tax support for the superannuation contributions they make. But it goes further than that.

The Prime Minister for Indigenous matters has cut $500 million cut from Aboriginal services .

The Prime Minister for women has cut $270 million from community services, including counselling for victims of family violence.

And now we know this is just the beginning.

This is a most miraculous Government.

They get their public servants, paid by tax payers, working for months to talk to other senior offices all around the country.

They prepare a Federation Green paper and then they say it is just a ‘sensible discussion’.

Prime Minister, there is nothing sensible about an option saying you will take every dollar out of public hospital funding.

Prime Minister, there is nothing sensible about cutting the 15 hour minimum per week guarantee to 4 year olds.

There is nothing sensible about means-testing public schools and the parents who go to public schools.

But he has form on this.

Because before the last election, he said there would be ‘no cuts to health’.

In fact, he continued to do it all around the streets of Brisbane – before the Griffith by-election where he said, of his GP tax on the sick and the vulnerable he said:

“nothing has been proposed and nothing is being considered.”

“nothing is being considered, nothing has been proposed, nothing is planned.”

Mr Abbott’s pattern is always the same.

Promising all things to all people before the election – and afterwards, ‘please don’t bother me, I am about to break my promises’.

I know what the next six weeks will be like with the Government members.

They will get out there and whip up fear and they will whip up smear.

They will make it such that Australians feel more worried about their future than they should be.

This is a government obsessed with the Opposition.

They don’t want to stand up for Australia and fight for a vision of the future.

The Prime Minister is never any happier than when he is attacking us.

But he never more unhappy than when he has to run the Government in the interest of the Australian people.

They are fixated on the past.

They are spending $80 million of taxpayer money, trying to denigrate the reputation of the union movement.

They are trying to turn baseless allegations into a headline.

And on that subject – let me say to the most appalling acting Minister for Employment that the Commonwealth has ever had the disservice to have serve in that position.

He has said more than once, in recent weeks, he said of my time in the AWU representing working people:

Oh, he was there for the good times in Beaconsfield.”

He has implied that Beaconsfield was a ‘good time’.

Well, Christopher Pyne, I was at Beaconsfield.

A man died – two men were trapped for 14 days not knowing whether they would be rescued.

For the first five days, their families did not know if they were alive and for the next nine days, ordinary men dug through hard rock to rescue them.

It was a remarkable effort by hundreds of people.

Their families went to hell and back.

And  Christopher Pyne is so out-of-touch, he calls it the ‘good times’.

How dare you Christopher Pyne.

You are not fit to tie the shoelaces of the people in that rescue.

So I say to the Prime Minister, to the Government.

We will never apologise for standing up and  giving service to working people.

Every day you talk about Labor…

Every day you talk about me…

Every day you look back to yesterday…

Is another day that confirms you have nothing to say about the future.

Nothing to say about Australians, their concerns, their priorities and indeed, the future of this country.

Labor is better than that.

It lasted a day.

We saw that Minister for Immigration getting back into the gutter with his interjections and mindless contributions.

Yesterday, we were his best friend because they needed Labor to do the right thing for the nation.

But these people have short memories like I predicted yesterday.

We are different.

We will support Budget measures that we think are in the best interest of the nation.

We will not be mindlessly negative as this Prime Minister made his trademark in Opposition.

We’re interested in the Australia of the future and setting up Australia for the future.

That means making sure there are jobs and skills for the workforce of the future and our young people of today.

We want great schools, and yes, we want great coding in our schools.

We want proper funding for our hospitals not these rubbishy federation green-papers which you propose with your madcap options.

We want universal Medicare. Australians are sick of you trying to wreck the Medicare system.

We want accessible and affordable universities – not $100,000 degrees.

We will fight youth unemployment and we will back TAFE all the way – training and apprenticeships

We believe in a fair pension and we believe in strong superannuation.

In the next 6 weeks, we will outline our positive agenda for the future.

You can play your cheap political games all you like.

You can take the low road.

You can do your very worst.

But we will see you off.

We will not only endure

We will prevail.

ENDS

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

Jun 24, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

NATIONAL TAFE DAY RECEPTION

NATIONAL TAFE DAY RECEPTION

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

 

WEDNESDAY, 24 JUNE 2015

 

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

Good evening everyone, welcome to parliament house.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet, and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.

It’s great to see so many of my friends and colleagues from caucus here tonight, to celebrate national TAFE day.

Their presence is a sign of the commitment we share, as a Labor team, to vocational education.

The value we place on skills, apprenticeships, training and re-training, the jobs and opportunities created by learning, the self- respect that success instils.

And the respect we have for the dedicated, hardworking people who teach our TAFE students, helping unlock potential and inspiring new confidence.

Friends, this is a tough time for TAFE and training, I understand that – all of us in Labor do.

You’ve endured funding cuts and campus closures.

You live with the uncertainty of contract and casual work.

You operate in an era of greater competition.

And yet, I am wholeheartedly optimistic about the future of our public TAFE system.

Why?

Because as our world changes, as our economy transitions and our region transforms – Australia will need TAFE, more than ever.

In the second decade of the Asian Century, TAFE has never been more important.

  • to our nation’s economy
  • to our people’s wellbeing
  • and to our country’s future.

I believe TAFE can be a bridge between careers and industries.

  • Helping school-leavers learn the skills and gain the qualifications they need to find good jobs.
  • Empowering people with disability through new knowledge.
  • And helping mature-age workers re-train and re-skill, applying the abilities, leadership and problem-solving they honed in one industry, to a new challenge.

In South Australia, for example, where, as we all know the manufacturing industry has faced significant pressure…

TAFE SA has had a 15 per cent increase in 4 years for students aged over 45, as older workers seek career changes.

I believe TAFE can be a bridge between the regions and our cities.

  • Tackling youth unemployment where it is highest
  • Offering opportunity for students in the bush to study locally.
  • Building links with local industry to maximise the chances of young people in the regions to get a career

Hunter TAFE, for example, the largest regional vocational education and training facility in Australia, offers free Business Health Checks for local businesses to determine the right mix of courses to meet business needs.

And to ensure graduates gain work-ready skills to suit local employers.

In Victoria, the Andrews Government is reinvesting in TAFE.

Mildura’s SuniTAFE, is now building partnerships with the local food production industry, which employs around 12,000 people in the region.

And I believe TAFE can be a bridge between the old economy, and the new.

  • A pivot-point for industries and workforces in transition.
  • A constant source of upskilling and adaptive knowledge, boosting our productivity and competitiveness.
  • In our regions especially, an accessible, affordable training provider.
  • And a signal of a new national mindset: a focus on preparing the next generation for the jobs of the future.

All of this demands energy and urgency.

In just five years, two-thirds of all jobs created in Australia will require a diploma qualification or higher.

Before our eyes, whole industries are changing their profile – just consider manufacturing.

45 per cent of Australians who currently work in manufacturing don’t have a qualification beyond secondary school.

Yet nearly 90 per cent of all new manufacturing jobs require one.

And this is just part of a bigger global story.

Australia is a fair wage nation, in a low wage region.

And as the economies around us transform and industrialise, the competition for low-skill, low-wage work will only accelerate.

But this is not a race Australia should rush to join.

We can’t compete on volumes, on quantity, or on wages with our neighbours.

They will always have more people, willing to do more work, for less money.

And the low-skill, low-wage road is not a sustainable path to the future – it’s a dead-end.

In the next 10 years, around the world, there’ll be 100 million unskilled workers who won’t be able to find unskilled jobs.

And there’ll be 40 million skilled jobs, without skilled workers to fill them.

The answer for us, as a nation, is to get smarter.

To be a value-adding country, engaged in advanced manufacturing.

A quality link, in a global supply chain.

To invest in skills, training and technology.

To prepare our people for the good jobs of the future, the jobs with a future.

And TAFE is at the very heart of this.

TAFE is what will help our people adapt to new technologies, identify opportunities and thrive in an era of automation.

TAFE will help Australians design, refine, operate and maintain machines, instead of being replaced by them.

ENDS

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

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