Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Nov 26, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins









Thank you Laurie. Good afternoon, everyone, it’s a pleasure to be here again.


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


I’d like to acknowledge the generous presence of so many of my colleagues, led by my Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek.


The ultimate responsibility of government is translating present opportunities into future success.


This takes vision.


A vision for Australia’s place in the world – and a plan for us to compete in it and succeed.


It takes trust.


Because unless Governments earn and keep the trust of their people, their agenda will certainly fail.


This is the story being played out in front of our eyes.


It’s been the story of this year, this Government.


On every issue – the same problem.


No vision, no plan, no trust.


Tony Abbott has no vision for Australia’s foreign policy future or for our economic future.


And he is deliberately and wilfully deepening the trust deficit, ignoring the wishes and wisdom of the Australian people.


At home and abroad, Tony Abbott and his government are out of touch – and they have let our country down.


First, to Foreign Policy.


Earlier this month, Brisbane hosted the leaders of the world’s largest economies.


Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan worked incredibly hard to elevate the G20 to a leader-level gathering – and to secure the 2014 summit for Australia.


This was a once-in-a-generation chance to showcase our nation to the world – and all of us in Labor wanted it to be a success.


Then, on that Saturday morning, in eight excruciating minutes, the Prime Minister delivered a weird, cringe-worthy, ‘little Australia’ lecture to the global community.


And in those eight minutes, he writ low the greatest foreign policy opportunity our nation is likely to have for the next 20 years.


There he was, boasting about taking Australia backwards on climate change.


There he was, bemoaning the ‘massively difficult’ job he has as Australian Prime Minister.


Whining about the unpopularity of his GP tax and plan for his $100,000 degrees.


And presenting, live to the world, a negative character reference of his own people – the Australian public: blaming them, our people, for his government’s failures.


Damning our country as selfish, anti-modern, anti-reform and anti-change.


This is a room full of experienced journalists and political commentators – can any of you nominate a single Australian Prime Minister in your lifetime who would have embarked on such a mindless melee?


Even Billy McMahon would have drawn the line at such depreciation – to an international audience.


Even Billy Hughes would have thought those remarks narrow and parochial.


But more than that, unbecoming.


It was a moment that shrieked Tony Abbott’s unsuitability for the job of Australian Prime Minister.


And in the end, it became the story of the G20 – missed opportunities and a Prime Minister without bearings.


It is not too much to say that at the G20 Tony Abbott was left loitering.


On the global stage, Tony Abbott was blindsided not once but twice in three days.


On the eve of the G20, the world’s two largest economies announced a historic deal on climate change.


The one economic issue the Prime Minister was determined not to talk about, was thrust to the centre of the Brisbane summit – despite his stubborn isolationism.


President Obama’s call to arms on climate change delivered at Queensland University, invoking the Great Barrier Reef, had Tony Abbott privately seething and Julie Bishop publicly rebuking.


Australians, however, were cheering.


Then, the Prime Minister failed to see China coming.


President Xi, in our parliament, outlined a new idea, “a higher level platform”, a new concept of China-Australia relations – but the Coalition missed it.


Blindsided, the Prime Minister didn’t see President Xi coming, any more than he saw President Obama going.


The Prime Minister awkwardly misquoted and misinterpreted the President’s ambitions for a modern China – demonstrating, to Australia and the world, his incapacity to broaden our relationship with our largest trading partner.


The Prime Minister was lost in space – while real world events were moving around him.


Even the hyped-up ‘shirtfront’ with President Putin turned into a butterfly kiss.


The uncompromising words were left to Germany’s Angela Merkel and Canada’s Stephen Harper, while our Prime Minister settled for a photo with Putin nursing a couple of bewildered koalas.


The ignominy of it.


And it wasn’t just President Obama’s inspirational speech – or his decisive actions alongside President Xi – that threw Tony Abbott’s stubborn reactionism into such sharp relief.


Soon the Tories in Britain were calling him a flat-earther.


Japan and Canada announced their substantial contributions to the Green Climate Fund – an institution our bewildered Prime Minister has previously dismissed as ‘socialism masquerading as environmentalism’.


You know you’ve strayed a long way from reality when you’re accusing your Canadian ‘brother’ Stephen Harper of being a socialist greenie.


You know you’re off your game when you can’t spot China reaching out for new and deeper basis of engagement.


And what defence did the Prime Minister offer for being caught on the wrong side of every question?


How could he explain his lack of bearings – his inability to identify the trends shaping our world?


The best he could offer was:


It’s all very well to talk about what might happen in the far distant future…I’m focusing not on what might happen in 16 years’ time, I’m focusing on what we’re doing now’.


Tony Abbott dismissed the Australia of 2030 – the nation our children will live in, the economy they will work in, the community they will raise their own children in, as the ‘far distant future’.


That’s the real issue with Tony Abbott on the world stage – not that he looked a fool – but that he squandered the opportunities of a lifetime, showing himself to be entirely lacking in vision.


A Prime Minister with no knowledge of where he is – with absolutely no sense of longitude or latitude.


A man adrift.


You might have thought the Prime Minister would have had a clue as to China’s real intent, arriving as President Xi did, with a comprehensive market access agreement.


But even this didn’t tweak Tony Abbott’s intuition.


Instead of anticipating President Xi’s radical, bold ideas for a deeper relationship, the Prime Minister maintained his Government’s clumsy old-fashioned disposition towards China’s rising economic influence.


Dividing every complex foreign and economic policy decision into “goodies” and “baddies” and being satisfied with simply focusing on our significant trade relationship with China rather, than reaching for higher ground.


He missed an unparalleled economic opportunity for Australia.


Forfeiting membership of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a multilateral attempt to fill an $8 trillion infrastructure gap in our region.


If Labor was in Government, we would have got the details right, and we would have signed up.


When we are in Government, we will get the details right, and we will sign up.


Tony Abbott revealed himself as unable to craft a nuanced and sophisticated foreign policy – translating present opportunities into future success.


He showed he has no vision, no plan for our future foreign policy.


He let our country down.




You cannot govern today without a vision for tomorrow.


And we should look at what Tony Abbott’s lack of vision has done to Australia’s economy.


Growth has slumped, the deficit has doubled.


We’ve reached a 12 year high in unemployment, and a 13 year high in youth unemployment.


Confidence is down – and the tax burden is up, on income, super and small business.


Real wages are falling – eroding our standard of living.


And the cost of living is up- in health, education and childcare.


Australians live with these symptoms and they know the cause.


Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget is throttling our economy and starving our future sources of growth.


And oh yes, there are some in the Government who think that this Budget is just the unfortunate victim of a botched sales job.


They play an ‘if only’ sort of game.


If only Tony hadn’t made so many wild, innumerate promises before the election.


If only the Treasurer and the Finance Minister hadn’t been busted savouring a post-fiscal cigar.


If only Joe Hockey would stop comparing the GP tax with a couple of beers, or if Joe Hockey would only stop telling pensioners they’ve never had it so good, or if Joe Hockey would only stop claiming that poor people don’t drive cars…in fact…if only Joe Hockey would just stop.


But it is not about fixing the message really.


It’s not about the awful sales job, or the stumble-footed sales team – it’s the product itself.


The problem is the excuses and the surprises.


The lies and the consequences of the lies.


The spin and the substance it is hiding.


We, the Australian people aren’t stupid.


We don’t recoil from the Budget because we don’t understand it – we recoil from it because we know exactly what it represents.


That’s why none of the much-trumpeted Budget ‘reboots’ have made a scrap of difference.


Every time they scrape off a barnacle, they just reveal another hole in the hull.


A new set of talking points won’t fix this Budget.


It’s like raising the Titanic, or remarketing the Hindenburg – and that’s really hard.


Australians ‘got’ this Budget from day one: an unfair, dishonest, ideological, foul-hearted attempt to bring down fairness in our society.


Six months after the Budget, the Prime Minister is an embarrassment on the world stage, adrift in our national debate and ‘box office poison’ in Victoria.


And don’t imagine that the Prime Minister is dumping any of his Budget measures because he has learned – or changed his mind.


The Government are only talking about making changes because they have been forced to.


In their heart of hearts, they have not changed, they will never change who they are.


And as soon as they get a chance – everything will be back on the table, everything will be up for grabs.


This Government does not understand how much fairness means to the Australian people.


We will never change this Prime Minister’s mind, all we can do is change the Prime Minister.





The word ‘reform’ gets bandied around a lot by this Government – but this Budget is not about reform.


Let’s be clear: putting a tax on the sick and the vulnerable is not reform.


Let’s be clear: leaving young jobseekers with nothing to live on and pushing the price of unemployment onto Australian families, is not reform.


Let’s be clear: burdening Australians who get a degree with a lifetime of debt, that is worst for women, is not reform.


Building new legislative conveyor belts to shift costs from business to consumers, from government to citizens, is not reform.


If Tony Abbott really believed these measures were ‘reforms’ – then he would take them to an election.


Real reform takes values, vision and courage.


It takes leadership.


And real reforming governments keep faith with the Australian people – not mess around with their heads and let them down.


They take people into their trust – and they repay the people’s trust.


Because the Australian people know when Governments keep the faith.


Because in 2014 the new challenges of the 21st Century are already upon us.


In our world, the economic, environmental and security challenge of global climate change.


In our region, history’s most profound economic transformation: bigger markets, new opportunities, more competition.


And at home, we live in a time of slow yet certain demographic shift, two generations of retirees alive at the same time.


These are the challenges that will define our future.


We cannot ignore them, we cannot spin them, and we cannot delay.


We can’t just hope that the cards will fall the right way for the lucky country – that something will just turn up.


Competing in the new world order, creating jobs in a global economy, building national wealth for the long term depends upon Australia getting smarter.


I believe we can be the world’s smartest, most skilful nation.


An international clean energy powerhouse, a services hub in the Asian century, a knowledge centre for the Indo-Pacific. A social justice model for the world.


We can be, we must be, we have to be.


We have no other historic choice.


And an affordable, accessible higher education system is essential to this vision and this future.


If Australia is to prosper, if we are to thrive, go forward not backwards – if we are to take glad confident steps into this new millenium – our future workforce must be well-educated, highly skilled and internationally competitive.


That is why higher education has never been more important – to our economy, to our prosperity, to our place in an ever-changing, challenging world.


Yet, at this very moment, this tipping point, this crunchtime in our economic destiny, the Government is building high walls around our universities – keeping some of our smartest out.


Labor supports reform in higher education – but dousing opportunity is not reform.


A lifetime of student debt is not reform.


Making your parents’ income an almost perfect predictor of whether or not you go to uni, is not reform.


Keeping the vast majority of families in the bottom half of incomes from going to uni – what we’ve seen these last 40 years in the United States, is not reform.


In a changing economy, where new jobs require higher qualifications – Australia cannot afford to slam the door on aspiration.


For Labor, this is heartland and core belief: we should equip our people for the future, not make it harder to go to uni.


Kids must be able to fulfil their potential – they must have that chance.





In the last year, I’ve visited communities reeling from closures and job losses – from North East Arnhem Land, to the West Coast of Tassie.


I’ve met with the skilled and productive shipyard workers in Adelaide and Newcastle, auto manufacturers in Altona and plant operators in Geelong.


Everywhere I go, I hear the same question:  “Where are the new jobs going to come from?”


By 2020, our nation will need 60,000 new teachers and education assistants.


The Whitlam generation of teachers are over 60 – it’s time to train their successors, in maths and science especially.


We’ll now need 90,000 new technicians and tradespeople.


Engineers, designers, architects and scientists to build the clean energy revolution and modernise our urban life.


100,000 new medical, allied health and carers to help our ageing population and the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.


By 2020, half a million new jobs will require a diploma qualification or higher.


All of us will need the flexibility and resilience to change jobs, to apply skills in different contexts and to keep learning, keep learning throughout our several careers in our longer working lives.


By 2050 there will only be around two and a half taxpayers for each Australian aged 65 or older.


What kind of skills do we want these Australians to have, what level of education will nourish them?


For me, it is straightforward.


I believe in Australians doing high-skill, well-remunerated work – jobs of the future and jobs with a future.


Australia should not be a high-unemployment country, like some vitality-sapping enclave, importing our skills.


I believe the next generation of Australians can – and should – do the jobs our country needs.


And a world-class university system has never been more important to that.


A university system, underpinned by three principles:


One, Accessibility and affordability:  university places for everyone who has worked hard to meet the entrance requirements, and prevailed.


Two, Excellence: because higher education should be life-changing, life-enhancing, world-illuminating.


Three, Balancing autonomy with accountability: engaging with our universities as a system – not just as a random collection of competing enterprises – encouraging universities to focus, as they always have, on their core strengths.


Yet NATSEM modelling reveals the catastrophic injury of the Government’s plans for our universities and our students.


Right now, a young woman who’s just finished her Year 12 exams, and is considering studying science would expect to pay off her HECS debt in around eight years.


Under Tony Abbott’s changes – the repayment would take 20 years.


She would pay, under Abbott, $100,000 more – a debt of $140,000.


She would pay $63,500 in interest alone.


And it is not just science that is so afflicted and persecuted.


For every faculty and in every field, the Government is determined to burden our students with a massive debt.


The Government is locking young Australians into an interest trap.


For people in lower-earning careers – like teaching, nursing and community work, and for women in particular – Christopher Pyne is playing loan shark.


Today it takes a woman social worker around nine years to pay off her degree.


Under Tony Abbott’s changes – she would never pay back her total HECS bill.


Despite making over $300,000 in repayments over her lifetime, she would never be free of the Abbott debt sentence.


She would retire with a student debt – she will die with a student debt.


Imagine dedicating your working life to helping some of the most vulnerable in our community, doing the work of modern secular saints, and having every single paycheck of your career, from your induction to your farewell card, docked by the Government for HECS repayment.


This is the Government’s bleak, nasty plan for higher education.


The examples I’ve used today are about women graduates.


This is because at the very top of the litany of erosion, the Government’s plans will have a catastrophic impact on working women.


Our economic prosperity, the progress of our society, depends on the equal treatment of women, on having more women in the workplace, on assisting the march of women through the institutions of power – yet the Government has designed a system to hobble the advance of women.


The Abbott Plan puts women at a massive financial disadvantage and it inflicts the biggest pain on women who take time off to start and raise a family.


Ratcheting up the interest rate on student debt inflicts the most pain on women who take time out of the workforce.


Each year she spends at home with her children, enlarging and empowering their lives, compounds her debt to Christopher Pyne.


And if she goes back to work in a career that is not high-paying: teaching, nursing, social work…and indeed, journalism.


Then she will find it almost impossible to clear her debt…to Christopher Pyne.


The Abbott plan is not reform – it is regression.


My mum was an educator.


She instilled in me a passion for learning and a belief in the power of education.


But I wonder if she would have been able to afford to become a teacher if it meant 20 years of debt?


Would she have taken time out of work to start a family if she was being slugged with compound interest?


Would she have returned to study law if it meant a $100,000 student debt?


Would, indeed, under the new Abbott punishments – would I and my twin brother had our own opportunities?


When I think about that, it only strengthens my conviction that we must oppose these short-sighted and unfair class-war changes to our university system.


This is part of who I am, and I am not for turning.





Ladies and Gentlemen,
Yesterday’s Question Time was an almost perfect metaphor for everything that is wrong with this government.


A good part of the national debate – and certainly the theme of Question Time – was about the Government’s petty and malicious attacks on the ABC and SBS.


The Prime Minister and his front bench said nothing about their ideas, they offered no explanation for their policies.


The Prime Minister spent almost no time defending his policies – because he knows there is no defence.


He knows that he has let Australians down.


Today, I would say this to Tony Abbott – at some point, leadership is required.


At some point, you have to stop thinking about saving yourself and start thinking about the Australian people.


That’s what Labor is doing.


2014 was defined by the force of Labor’s resistance, today I commit to you that Labor will be defined in 2015 by the power of our ideas.


I am always prepared to work with the Government on matters where there is bipartisan agreement – as I have on fighting terrorism.


But I will never support the creation of an underclass.


I will never accept the Abbott Government’s attempt to dumb-down the national debate or weaken the ABC and SBS.


We cannot allow belief in our democracy, the legitimacy of the political process, to be reduced.


We cannot allow our people to drift from the centre to populism and extremism and the political equivalent of cults.


Searching not for higher ground, but grovelling in the mire of mediocrity.


We know that Australians want to believe in politics, in an authentic, sincere, political process that can speak to their lives and allow people to believe they can make meaningful change to their world.


It’s our job to live up to that – we embrace that responsibility.


I recognise that Labor has to rebuild the nation’s faith in us.


We are determined to earn the trust of the Australian people.


We will earn their trust – and we will repay their trust.


Today I give Australians this commitment.


We will seek a mandate based on a positive plan.


We will not ask the Australian people to vote for us, just because we are not the Abbott Government.


Australians deserve better than the Government they are suffering through.


They deserve better than a Prime Minister and government whose contempt for our people debases our democracy.


But at the next election, Labor will offer the nation more than a list of Tony Abbott’s lies.


It will offer more than what the Government is not.


We are prepared to work on the big policies that go beyond parliamentary terms and go to intergenerational changes – changes which will require the interests of our grandchildren as well as our parents to be considered.


And we will earn the trust, by hard work, of the Australian people – with our ideas, our principles, our vision.


This is what Australians expect, this is what Australians deserve.


An alternative government, reaching for higher ground.


This is what we shall offer, in the year ahead.





Nov 25, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins











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

Good morning everyone.

I thank the Prime Minister for his fine words, and I look forward to hearing Senator Milne’s contribution in a moment.

Thank you Andrew for your passion and your sincerity this morning.

And I’d like to thank the RAAF for the flyover, providing us all with what must be the largest, fastest-moving White Ribbon ever seen.

This morning, I’d like to tell to you about Jane.

Along with hundreds of thousands of Australian women, Jane endured family violence.

For Jane, it was a twelve-year journey: ‘to hell and back’.

Alcohol-fuelled assaults, constant verbal abuse, ever-present anxiety and fear – both for her own life and for the safety of her children.

And on a website where those who have overcome family violence can share their stories, Jane posted a poem that she said helped her through her darkest days:

Too many ‘ifs’, too many ‘whens’
Too many ‘sorrys’ and ‘never agains’
Too many promises, too many lies
Far too many ‘one more tries’
How many were there,
Before I knew
That actions speak louder
Than promises do?

Friends – today, White Ribbon Day, we have to offer more than promises.

We have to show, by our actions, that we are determined to end family violence – forever.

Every number we know about family violence is shameful.

And so are the numbers that we don’t know.

The injuries that go unreported.

The women with disability unable to ask for help.

The intervention orders that are never sought.

The nights when accommodation can’t be found.

The memories seared, right now into children’s minds as they witness acts of violence.

The bruises hidden by scarves and long sleeves.

That is why today has always been about more than wearing a ribbon.

It’s about driving permanent, meaningful change.

A change in our national culture, change in our national attitude.

As long as family violence affects any one of us – it affects all of us.

And defeating family violence is a job for all of us, especially the men of Australia.

Every Australian man has to become an advocate, and set an example.

Every Australian man has to find the courage to call out sexism, degrading language and hateful attitudes.

Every Australian man has to show the character to tell his peers, his neighbours, his teammates, his colleagues and his extended family, tell them that there is no defence, no tolerance for violence against women.

No more turning up the TV to drown out the yelling from the neighbours next door.

No more averting our gaze from unexplained black eyes and bruises.

No more morning-after apologies, no more well-worn excuses.

It’s time for every Australian man to face up to our responsibilities – in our Parliament, in our homes, in our communities, in our nation.

Because there is no acceptable rate of family violence.

And we will not solve this problem without the equal treatment of women in our society.

That’s what we need to commit ourselves to – equality for women in every aspect of our national life.

That’s how we stop family violence – today, tomorrow and forever.


Nov 24, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins






Your Excellency, Prime Minister, Australia’s outstanding Ambassador for Women and Girls – Natasha Stott Despoja.

Police Commissioners of Australia and New Zealand.

It is an honour for all of us to be in this room, with this group, standing together against a problem we are all determined to solve.

Some issues in politics divide this building – but the determination to end family violence unites us all.

The Liberal Party supported the former Labor Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, and we are pleased to offer the same bipartisan support for the Second Action Plan launched in June this year.

All over Australia, important work is being done, and good progress is being made: especially in harmonising family violence prevention orders across our jurisdictions.

And, having met with a range of community leaders and advocates throughout this year, I am more optimistic than pessimistic.

I believe the momentum to make real and permanent change is within our grasp.

Both parties in the upcoming Victorian State Election have made tackling family violence a priority if elected.

And I congratulate the Newman Government for the special taskforce they have established in Queensland, headed by the remarkable Quentin Bryce –personal bias aside, a fantastic choice.

Today is about momentum-building too.

A collective statement, from law enforcement officers and law makers, standing together to eliminate the scourge of family violence – once and for all.

Friends, in her submission to the Senate Inquiry, Rosemary Batty, who tragically lost her son Luke earlier this year, asked:

Why is it that family violence is still so expected within our culture, and that we still maintain deep ambivalence to responding to violence in the home, violence predominantly targeting women and children?’

That’s the question she had to face, but it is a question we all have to face.

We can never be ambivalent about this – we can never accept or expect family violence.

We can never view family violence as an unfortunate inevitability, a fact of life outside of our control.

We can do better, we have to.

Frankly, there comes a time when raising awareness is not enough.

A time when cataloguing the problems will not suffice.

And friends, that time is here, that moment has come.

The moment when we turn our energies to eliminating the scourge of family violence, once and for all.

It is time for a no-tolerance approach.

Not just monitoring behaviour – or punishing it.

We cannot rely on our police to arrest their way out of this problem.

We need a national change of attitude – and that starts with men.

Until we change, nothing can change.

And unless we change, nothing will change.

Women have been talking about this problem for a very long time.

At the turn of the last century, women leaders of the temperance union sought prohibition, to protect women and children from alcohol-fuelled violence.

But family violence is not a women’s issue – it is a men’s problem.

It’s time for men to start talking to men, about family violence.

This is not about a certain type of offender from a particular class or ethnicity, nor indeed is it about ‘powerless’ women

Family violence can be perpetrated in any postcode, it can afflict any woman.

And until we change our attitudes, our behaviours, there will always be women turned away from shelters, there will be always be children who grow up thinking that violence against women is the way of the world.

And until all of us have no tolerance for family violence, there will always be lives lost, childhoods scarred, families torn apart and people looking for accommodation, driven from their homes.

So today, let us declare that one death, one injury, one night of shock and grief as the result of family violence is one too many.

I think this is a very good way for us to start the week in Parliament.

Let us commit to absolute and total success, in stopping family violence.

Let us make this a national political priority.

Let us promise this to each other – and let us deliver it with each other.

Let us vow not to stop until our goals are met, until our job is done, until family violence is no more.

Friends, I thank you for your presence here today – and I look forward to us working together in the years ahead.





Nov 23, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins







There are few institutions in this great country that Australians trust as much as the ABC.

The 80 year-old Majestic Fanfare – that famous signature ABC news theme – the signature for news in this country for 80 years. It is an alternative national anthem.

It is attention grabbing when we hear it. It means to us dignity and anticipation – when we hear the ABC signature theme, we know a guarantee of trust – radio and television – on the hour and every evening.

Over the years, much has changed in Australian life – but the work of our ABC continues to be as important as it has ever been.

When I look at this remarkable crowd – something we have learnt this week – is that there are few institutions in our life which will rouse Australian people to fight as hard for as the ABC.

Friends, it is our ABC.

From Playschool to ABC for kids. From Triple J’s Hottest 100 to Radio National’s Life Matters, we have seen from through our ABC the discovery of modern Australian rock. We have seen the irreverence in Australian sport captured in the Coodabeens and Roy and HG.

You’re gathered here because our ABC has been our friend. It is a constant in our childhood, in our adolescence, our mid-life and our older years.

It’s our ABC – in times of bushfire, cyclone, floods – it is the entity whose information we most trust in emergency.

For many of us, it has been, at some time in our lives our spare university.

It’s in music, in philosophical discussion, in science and the arts, political satire and the relentless pursuit of vested interests – our ABC has few peers on the planet.

Our ABC – in the early mornings throughout the length and breadth of this land. In our bush and in our cities, in the nocturnal hours of trucks driving across our massive continent – it is our ABC which provides us with our wakeful company.

Our ABC, friends, is an indelible part of millions individual memories. From summer cricket to winter football, it is our national identity – it is our national soul.

Ladies and gentlemen, our ABC has always been there for us. It is now time for us to be there for the ABC.

Our national government is attacking our national voice. This is not a government of national competition. This is a government of censorship.

This is a government of savages, ripping at the heart of our national institution.

They are launching a brutal attack despite promising in the clearest, most unambiguous language – ‘there will be no cuts to the ABC.’

Shameful it is and how shameless is it that some of its own Ministers, in a hilarious parody are now launching a petition against their own Government to reverse their own cuts that they voted for.

And what is the cost of this vandalism of our national excellence?

It is five cents a week.  How many of our heroes, Geraldine Doogue and Phillip Adams, Robin Williams, Angela Catterns and the roll call; how many of our heroes, how much of our national conversation do we sacrifice for five cents a week?

This Government is not just cutting the ABC, it is laying waste to the moral basis of our public, democratic life.

And do not be fooled by Malcolm Turnbull – his crocodile tears count for nothing as he lifts the axe.

He is the associate savage to Prime Minister Abbott. Complicit as Hockey, as determined as Pyne to rip the life and weaken the ABC.

But make no mistake, this is a fight the Government has brought on – but this is a fight where they have clearly underestimated the Australian people.

We are in a fight to support the ABC in every city and in every town, in every street and every house.

It has been reported today that the Victorian Liberals have built an Abbott Proof Fence, so petrified are they of Victorians meeting the Prime Minister before next Saturday.

He won’t come here, so I ask you and the hundreds of people you talk to – write, and phone, email, lobby your local member and this savage Prime Minister and his sidekick – the Minister for Communications – and say this to them:

How this, on top of everything else, the GP tax, the $100,000 fees, the climate change denialism – you know the laundry list of ideological extremism – this is the final straw.

Say how this erosion, this depletion, by Tony Abbott of our national politics and our national discussion and our national pluralism.

Say that this from the people of Australia, this is the tipping point of our national disgust with this rotten government.

And finish with this – Say this to this government – Keep your promise.

Keep our ABC.

Or there will be no forgiveness, no way back for this Government because we the Australian people; if we have to choose between the ABC and this rotten government, we will choose the ABC.

Thank you.



Nov 19, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins









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

Monsieur President, I bid you welcome to our capital and to our National Gallery.

Four years ago, these rooms contained a hundred and twenty esteemed French paintings, and nearly 500,000 Australians marvelled at works by Cezanne, Gaugin and many others, viewed gloriously up close for the first time.

Eventually we had to return your precious wonders – the Musee D’Orsay was quite insistent on that point.

But in the final week of this great intercultural revelation, the gallery stayed open for thirty-two consecutive hours to allow entranced Australians a final glimpse.

And the kinship of our two countries, and the mutual magnetic embrace of yours and ours, was again affirmed.

In art, music, fashion, cinema, philosophy, cuisine, wine and cultural commune, France nourishes our soul and enriches our humanity.

And ours was a bonding sealed in blood, and in awful shared suffering, in the First World War.

So many of ours – and yours – were consumed by that most brutal conflict.

Australians often reflect on our Diggers’ role in that faraway war in foreign fields – but we should never forget the bravery of the Poilu.

Every city and town in France lost a generation of fathers, husbands, brothers and sons on the barbed wire and in the mud – 1.3 million war dead.

When peace finally came, and it was time for our soldiers to go home, their pleasure was intermingled with sadness.

They would miss their comrades and new friends in France, the people who had shown them such kindness, and such hospitality.

As one of our soldier-poets wrote:

Adieu, fair France, we leave you now
For tropic, sunny skies
Remembering the kindly smile
That lit your saddened eyes…

That connection, forged in the worst of war, stands unbroken by distance, and a century of life.

Within months of the Armistice, my home town Melbourne began a great fundraising campaign to rebuild Villers-Bretonneux.

By diggers defended, by Victorians mended’ was the rallying cry.

Schoolchildren gave a penny each, and the RSLs and CWAs, the churches and the local businesses gave more, and built from the rubble of that heroic smashed town the Ecole Victoria – a school on which was emblazoned the heartfelt commandment:

N’oublions jamais l’Australie’’

“Never forget the Australians.”

Ninety years later, the children of that school branded the same slogan on the tins they rattled when seeking funds to rebuild the Strathewen Primary School in northern Victoria – after it was destroyed in the Black Saturday bushfires.

As the then Parliamentary Secretary for Bushfire Reconstruction, I witnessed what French generosity meant to the people of Victoria – and I thank you for it.

France did not forget us, and we will always remember France.

Mr President, if La Perouse and his men had reached Botany Bay a week earlier 226 years ago, you might have arrived yesterday in a francophone nation…most likely a Republic –the Code Napoleonic, the tricolore in the corner of our flag and singing songs about ‘Waltzing Matilde’ and ‘Le Pub avec no beer’

Imagine it, more than two centuries of history rewritten by a fairer wind and calmer seas.

Hypotheticals aside, there is much we share.

We must both reach out to our radicalised youth.

We must both strive for inclusive, tolerant societies that embrace diversity.

And we are both nations engaged in the Pacific.

I look forward to France and Australia deepening our engagement to meet the challenges of this region:

-       Disaster response

-       Health initiatives, particularly HIV

-       Illegal fishing

-       And defence industry and security co-operation

Finally, Mr President, we wish you well for next year’s Paris Conference on Climate Change – a bringing-together of world leaders to address one of the defining economic, environmental and security issues of our age.

It simply must succeed.

Mr President, we thank you for your visit and wish you a very pleasant stay in Australia.



Nov 18, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Welcome to Prime Minister Modi






Madam Speaker.


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


Prime Minister Modi, the applauding crowds that have greeted you around our country and here today in the house of the Australian people show how very welcome you are today.


Might I also add – Namaste.


You are here today as the first Prime Minister born in an independent India, the proud son and a distinguished former Chief Minister of your home State, the ‘jewel of the west’ Gujarat.


Your part of India has gifted so much to the world.


Gandhi’s moral and intellectual leadership, centuries of poetry and literature.


Prime Ministers, diplomats, Tata and other industrialists, public sector leaders, the world’s most affordable motor car and countless actors, writers and directors.


The Gujarati have always been travellers and adventurers.


Along with their fellow citizens from every part of the land of light and freedom, they have made an international leap of faith.


They have left behind the familiar songs, sights and stories of their childhood for a fresh start in our country.


This glorious Indian diaspora is one of the great touch tones and powerful success stories of our marvellous multicultural society – thousands of Indian stories joining our great Australian story.


And of course one of the firmest and fastest bonds that Indians form with Australians comes from our love of cricket.


Prime Minister Modi, in Australia we sometimes say that being captain of our Test team is the second toughest job in the country behind Prime Minister.


Some would say that we should never compare cricket with politics.


After all, one is the cause of great national debates, intense passion, endless media commentary on controversial decisions and leadership speculation.


And the other is just about deciding who governs Australia.


But in his 2011 Bradman oration, the ‘wall of India’, Rahul Dravid reminded Australians that on the 28th of June, 1930 when your illustrious predecessor Jawaharlal Nehru was arrested by the British, Sir Donald Bradman was busy decimating the English bowling attack, scoring 254 at Lords.


For Dravid and India’s legendary cricket writer KN Prabhu, this was the motif of the 1930s.


As Nehru went in and out of jail, Bradman just stayed in – and the Australian went after the English like  ‘an avenging angel’.


Dravid also quoted Bradman’s advice to a young Richie Benaud, every cricketer is only a ‘temporary trustee’ of the game.


Indeed all of us, leaders, parliamentarians and citizens are the temporary trustees of our international relationship.


It is our duty to build upon our national and common values, mutual interests, to elevate and broaden our friendship.


The great significance of your visit, indeed your leadership is the paradigm shift in Indian politics – from the politics of welfare to the politics of aspiration.


I believe our task in this parliament is to build upon our economic relationship, the load baring pillar of the Australia-India friendship.


To find that complementarity between what India needs for its growth and what Australia can supply:


  • investment
  • energy
  • skills
  • training
  • services


And our interests at converging more broadly on security and peace in the region.


Because India’s great democratic character is not just about India, it has a resonance in our region and in the world.


Mr Prime Minister there is so much that binds us, so much that we share.


The national day, a colonial past, faith in democracy.


The rule of law, respect for diversity, a love of our vast, varied and fragile environments and a long tradition of bravery and sacrifice.


I promise you Prime Minister that Australians will never forget, 1,300 Indian troops who lost their lives on the Gallipoli peninsula.


I promise you Prime Minister, that Australians will never forget that Indians and Australians served, fought and fell with their face towards the foe from the deserts of North Africa to the prisoner of war camps of south-east Asia.


We’ve shared the duties of good international citizens in the service of peace.


Korea, Somalia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan and other missions.


India has been the largest troop contributor to United Nations missions, providing more than 160,000 troops in 43 United Nations missions.


Prime Minister Modi, today, on behalf of the Opposition, I wanted to pay special tribute to your passion for education and equality.


We applaud your determination to bring dignity to the lives of every citizen, to “ensuring and securing the active participation of Woman Power in development” – and bringing new amenity and sanitation to every community.


And we share your belief in educations hope giving, life changing, transforming power.


We admire your great goal, freeing your people from poverty with the skills and knowledge that guard against the scourge of youth unemployment.


Prime Minister, we know that for you this is deeply personal.


The product and the lesson of your own journey, from hardship to the highest office in the land.


A reflection of your determination to be a ‘prime servant’, a leader at one with the dreams of the people.


A desire to give every member of India’s next generation the chance in Gandhi’s words, ‘be the change they wish to see in the world.’


Or as you expressed it in that memorable equation:


“IT + IT = IT.


Indian Talent + Information Technology = India Tomorrow”


Mr Prime Minister, one of Australia’s greatest leaders, Ben Chifley, was a key supporter of Indian independence and a close friend of Prime Minister Nehru.


These were two great men of grand vision.


The authors of the ‘tryst with destiny’ and the ‘light on the hill.’


Just hours before his untimely death, Chifley conducted his last interview with the Indian media.


His message that evening was purely Chifley – sincere and unadorned.


He said:


Tell Nehru not to lose heart but to carry on.


India will still show the way to peace.


Prime Minister, you lead a great peace-loving democracy, with a renewed commitment to opportunity and equality, India does indeed, as Ben Chifley said, still show the way.


You lead a nation that will shape our region and inspire our world, and you honour us with this visit to the heart of our democracy.







Nov 18, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Dinner for Prime Minister Modi






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


Prime Minister Abbott, Prime Minister Modi, distinguished guests.




Prime Minister Modi – I’m a lifelong Melbourne boy, welcome to Melbourne.


And in my unbiased view, what a perfect venue for a celebration of our two nations, the birthplace of Test Cricket, the MCG.


For both our homelands, whether it is being played in the charged atmosphere of Eden Gardens or at this great colosseum…


…on the hard-packed sand of our beaches or in the streets and driveways of our cities…


…with a bright red SG and a brand new MRF or a taped-up tennis ball and an old Kookaburra sapphire…


Cricket is the backdrop and soundtrack for our summers.


The stage for millions of childhood fantasies, the prompt for countless animated conversations with total strangers.


It is perhaps too much to say that cricket defines our national characters – but there is no doubt that it reveals something of us.


We are both fierce competitors, we uphold the ethos of fair play.


We may occasionally indulge in gamesmanship – but we put a far greater value on sportsmanship.


Australia and India both respect tradition and we both revere Test Cricket – its icons and institutions.


But we are not prisoners of the past, we are innovators and improvers: Australia pioneered the One-Day game and you have made India the home of T20.


And we both play this sport we love, this global game, with an egalitarian spirit where surnames, backgrounds, wealth and faith mean nothing.


What matters – out there in the middle and in our societies – is merit, ability, hard work and results.


Prime Minister Modi, your marvellous speech to our Parliament this morning drew on these common values – and it went beyond that.


All of us, in the Parliament and around Australia were moved by your oratory. And your optimism, well, it was enthralling.


Your faith in India rang true, as you spoke of a people riding a new ‘high tide of hope’.


A new generation: 800 million Indians aged under 35 “eager for change, willing to work for it” because they believe it is within their grasp.


Let us channel that optimism, let us harness that humanism and idealism –let us combine it with our deep cultural connections, our shared history and heritage.


This combination, this momentum will uplift our economic relationship: the load-bearing pillar of the Australia-India friendship.


We will find the complementarity between Indian “development, demography and demand” and what Australia can supply:


  • investment
  • energy
  • skills
  • education and training
  • and our services sector


I appreciated two of your comments from our personal dialogue today.


Firstly, you graciously acknowledged that today’s announcements could not have been achieved without the hard work of the previous Labor Government – and we thank you for that.


Second, you told me you had noticed the genuine warmth in the welcome Australians had extend to you.


Prime Minister Modi, it’s true that part of this is due to our shared history of military service and sacrifice: from Gallipoli to Tobruk, Al Alamein and UN peacekeeping missions around the world.


Yes, part of this is due to our shared language and history.


And most certainly it is partly due to cricket.


But above all, the credit belongs to the Indian people themselves.


No Australian is ever upset when an Indian family move into their street – they know good neighbours have arrived.


No high street shop is worse off when a hard-working Indian entrepreneur opens a family business next door.


And every year, our school prize-giving nights will feature Indian-Australian children, high in the lists, winning awards, achieving great results and making their parents proud.


Prime Minister Modi, today you promised:


Australia will not be at the periphery of our vision, but at the centre of our thought.


Tonight we thank you for these words – all of us, Labor and Liberal – pledge to do our very best to repay that generosity of spirit, to fulfil our shared ‘tryst with destiny’.


Sir, your visit has brought great joy to the people of Australia – and given us all new hope and confidence in the future of our enduring national friendship, between two great democracies.


Thank you for coming – and best of luck for the series ahead.





Nov 14, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Thank you madam speaker.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet – custodians of our ancient continent for more than 40,000 years before the arrival of the First Fleet – and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.

Prime Minister Cameron, on behalf of the opposition, it is my very great pleasure to welcome you to our country, and to our Parliament.

Your visit is another proud milestone of Australia’s oldest friendship.

And we are all looking forward to your address today, just the second to be made by a British Prime Minister in this place.

Today we celebrate so much that Britain has given us.

Industry, institutions, people and culture.

Generations of British migrants have worked our lands, opened small businesses, raised their families, built communities and started new lives here underneath the Southern Cross.

Like indeed my late father, a Geordie seafarer who came to Australia in 1966.

And our democracy, our faith in the rule of law, our respect for individual liberty and our sense of fair play are priceless gifts from your nation.

Even as we have made them our own, we have never forgotten from whence they came.

I particularly want to pay belated tribute to the British justice system – because without your strong sentencing laws some of my mother’s Irish ancestors would never have come to Australia.

Prime Minister, the first of your predecessors to visit our country did so before Federation – and before he was even a Member of Parliament.

Lord Salisbury, the Conservative icon and one of the great architects of the Empire, visited the colonies as a young man in the 1850s.

Two observations from his lordships journal stand out:

One, his lordship reported there was “less crime than expected”.

Two, his lordship reported that the “customary form of address was: mate’’.

Just over a hundred years later, Harold MacMillan became the first Prime Minister to experience Australian hospitality whilst in office.

As he recalled:

As I drove into Sydney on my first arrival there, I was amazed to see the great numbers of people in the streets and issuing from all houses.

A huge crowd had turned out to welcome me, far greater, I thought, than any similar crowd could ever be in the old country, and I was deeply touched.   

Then someone told me the truth. It was six o’clock…[and the pubs were closing].

Prime Minister, you will be relieved to hear that the days of the six o’clock swill and early closing are long gone.

And much more has changed besides, I can report.

The deep and abiding friendship between our nations has evolved and matured.

Australia no longer looks to Britain out of need, or dependence – we no longer seek to imitate, or echo.

Instead we greet each other as equals and peers – as partners in the world.

Britain has joined Europe and Australia has found our place in Asia.

We sing our own anthems, we celebrate our own cultures.

We enjoy a genuine exchange in education, art, music, cinema, literature and fashion.

And whether it is the Ashes, rugby, netball, the Olympics, the Paralympics or the Commonwealth games, we relish an international sporting rivalry as old as any on earth.

Our sledging can sometimes surprise the uninitiated – but it reflects the depth of our friendship – we can dish it out because we know we will get it back.

We are both good losers – and fantastic winners.

And while Australians may no longer describe a trip to the United Kingdom as ‘going home’ – every year hundreds of thousands of us make the journey to live and work and study in a country that has always made us feel at home.

Prime Minister, I am very pleased that you will have the chance to visit the Australian War Memorial today.

Designed as a tribute to the Australians who fought for their country, King and Empire in the First World War, when it opened our nations were once again embroiled in a deadly global struggle between freedom and tyranny.

In that second terrible war for the fate of civilisation – Britain never stood alone, Australia was with you.

Today, the War Memorial salutes the memory of Australians who have served our nation in every conflict and peacekeeping operation.

So often they have served, fought, fallen, side by side with British soldiers.

From the open veldt of South Africa, to the skies over Europe, most recently in the mountains of Afghanistan and the skies over Mesopotamia, our countries have forged an unbreakable bond of courage and sacrifice – of mutual respect and regard.

Their spirit, their bravery, their shared sense of duty and honour unites our countries in history forever.

Let it – and our shared love of the Westminster tradition, democracy, justice and equality inspire us and guide us in our journey ahead.

Prime Minister, you are most certainly welcome in Australia – and we wish you a happy and memorable stay.




Nov 13, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins








13 NOVEMBER 2014




It’s a great pleasure to be here tonight – and I’m very grateful to Gerard for the kind invitation.

Yesterday we were all witness to something truly extraordinary.

An historic announcement from the President of the United    States and the President of China.

The world’s two largest economies.

The world’s two biggest polluters.

The two superpowers whose actions and decisions will define this century and the next.

The leaders of the United States and China, standing side-by-side.

Declaring, wholly and boldly, that global climate change is one of the ‘greatest threats facing humanity’.

Recognising, without caveat or qualification that ‘human activity is already changing the world’s climate system’.

Acknowledging the effects of global climate change: increased temperatures, rising sea levels, more droughts, more floods, more bushfires and more severe storms.

And dispelling, once and for all, the false dichotomy that says we have to choose between growing the economy and protecting the environment.

One section of yesterday’s historic declaration is worth quoting in full.

…smart action on climate change now can drive innovation, strengthen economic growth and bring broad benefits – from sustainable development to increased energy security, improved public health and a better quality of life.

Tackling climate change will also strengthen national and international security.

Yesterday, China and the United States – more than one third of the world’s economy and 40 per cent of its emissions renewed their commitment ‘to work constructively together for the common good’.

And they matched their words with actions, they put forward an ambitious set of new national targets for cutting pollution.

As a result of yesterday’s landmark agreement, the United States is committing to cut pollution faster and deeper.

For its part, China will be cutting CO2 pollution sooner rather than later, and is setting a new target for non-fossil fuel power of approximately 20 per cent of electricity generation by 2030.

To give you some sense of the enormity of that commitment, China moving to 20 per cent non-fossil fuel, is the equivalent of closing every coal-fired power plant in China.

Make no mistake, the depth and breadth of ambition is entirely deliberate.

The China-United States intent is twofold:

First, to restore much-needed momentum to global climate action negotiations.

To resuscitate the urgency, intent and co-operative spirit that took such a battering at Copenhagen.

And second, to prepare the ground for a substantial and ambitious international agreement at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris next year.

China and the United States have signaled their preference: they believe nations should adopt an emissions reduction agreement with international legal force.

Not a voluntary code of conduct or a set of unconnected aspirations – a protocol that binds every nation that is party to it.

This marks a momentous change of course.

Until now, in the climate change debate, multilateral solutions have been dismissed as ‘irrelevant’ or ‘meaningless’ because they lacked the endorsement of the United States and/or China.

Those days are behind us.

The argument that Australia should wait upon the world before addressing climate change has run its course too.

The world is not waiting for Australia – because the economic, environmental and security challenges of climate change cannot and will not wait.

And the trillion-dollar clean energy revolution will not wait for us either.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

This landmark moment in world affairs offers Australia an historic chance.

Just imagine, in the lead up to next year’s Paris Conference we could be talking about the ‘Brisbane Declaration’ as the turning point in global climate negotiations.

The Brisbane G20 could become famous for the fusing of the economic, environmental and security imperatives for climate action.

As G20 President, we have an opportunity to marshal co-operation on climate science – driving discovery and innovation for mitigating and managing the consequences of climate change.

We have an opportunity to forge a global consensus on renewable energy.

Negotiating with the world for a new focus on clean energy sources that create jobs and bolster global energy security.

Australia should do everything in our power to utilise our international comparative advantage in renewable technology.

The sheer magnitude of China’s new commitment to renewable energy means that if Australian firms only capture a small percentage of China’s growth, it will massively grow our industry – an industry that already employs tens of thousands of Australians in high-skill, high-wage jobs.

And we should use the G20 to enhance market mechanisms for reducing emissions.

Labor is committed to an Emissions Trading Scheme because we are determined to fight climate change in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible.

We believe in harnessing the power of the market to reduce emissions and grow our economy, driving investment in clean energy and creating new high-skill jobs.

And we support an Emissions Trading Scheme because it represents a global economic opportunity for Australia.

In 2014, the world’s emissions trading schemes have a collective value of more than $30 billion.

China’s seven pilot schemes are the second largest carbon market in the world.

South Korea will introduce its ETS on 1 January 2015.

Some commentators complain that the United States does not have a national ETS, but New York and eight other North-Eastern states are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Oregon and Washington are exploring carbon pricing options, and California – itself the world’s 8th largest economy – already has an ETS in place.

Science, innovation, renewable energy, emissions trading are essential to 21st Century economic growth, and all of them have been deliberately excluded from the Abbott Government’s G20 agenda.

How can this be?

How can it be that just as the world’s biggest players change the game, Tony Abbott is doubling-down on denial, and dealing Australia out.

The progress of China and the United States only highlights our failure.

Their focus on the future exposes the Government’s short-term approach.

Today the Prime Minister said:

“I’m focusing not on what might happen in 16 years’ time, I’m focusing on what we’re doing now”

I fear it will not be long before this stubborn isolationism takes a toll on our international competitiveness.

To put it in the Government’s language, Australia cannot expect the rest of the world to do the heavy lifting on greenhouse gas pollution, while ignoring our inaction.

Sooner, rather than later, Australia’s refusal to act on climate change will affect our trade negotiations.

I would not be surprised if future international trade agreements included a carbon-price equivalent as a mandatory condition.

This could become all-too-relevant if any impending Free Trade Agreement with China becomes subject to a two-stage process.

Yesterday certainly proved that 24 hours is a long time in geopolitics.

On any analysis, the China- United States agreement poses two fundamental questions for the Australian Government’s foreign policy.

One – given the weight placed upon next year’s Paris Conference by the President of the United States and the President of China – does the Prime Minister of Australia still plan on playing truant?

Or will he now change his mind and attend one of the definitive international meetings of the decade?

Two – given that the world’s two largest economies chose an economic forum announce a climate change agreement and made the effort to explicitly identify climate change as an economic issue, how on earth can Tony Abbott argue that climate change is not central to the G20 agenda?

Surely Tony Abbott, the man who infamously described himself as a ‘weathervane’ on climate change, can tell which way the international breeze is blowing.

Throughout this year, I and Labor have consistently advocated that climate change should be at the core of the G20 agenda.

Its inclusion shows that Australia and the G20 forum are capable of rising to the challenges of the 21st Century:

Addressing global climate change – and tackling inequality by building inclusive growth.

Using international co-operation and a multilateral framework to:

  • revitalise free trade
  • drive innovation
  • tackle youth unemployment
  • and crack down on multinational tax avoidance

That’s what I want from the G20.

International collective action on the problems that confront every nation.

Making the G20 Work

And as we prepare for the final weeks of our G20 Presidency, Australia must ask itself:

Have we provided the leadership and vision that the G20 needs?

Have we left this international forum in better condition than we found it?

Have we done enough to put the global economy on a pathway to strong, sustainable and inclusive growth?

Make no mistake – these are the questions the world will be asking of us.

In the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, the G20 proved its value as an international crisis-response body.

President Obama described the 2009 London summit as the ‘turning point’ in the world’s efforts to avoid ‘international catastrophe’.

Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan overcame significant international resistance to elevate the role and responsibility of the G20, and they should be proud of that historic meeting – an unprecedented collaboration between the most significant developed and developing economies.

As much as it was then lauded for the rapidity of its response – the G20 has since been criticised for its inability to plan for the long term.

Increasingly, the G20 has been portrayed as a forum more adept at tactics than strategy.

Brisbane gives Australia the chance to correct this perception.

To lay out a plan for strong, sustainable and balanced global growth.

Making the G20 work is our international responsibility and it is a national economic necessity.

More than ever, the strength of our economy depends upon the health of the world economy.

Australians are engaged, we are involved in the world economy in a way unimaginable 20 or 30 years ago.

Our national pulse beats in time with the heart of the world economy – and it’s in our interest to keep it healthy and strong.

There is another fundamental reason why Australia must enhance the relevance and worth of the G20.

Because if we fail to do so, any alternative or replacement forum will not include Australia.

If the G20 is deemed incapable of delivering substantial results, the most likely outcome is a reversion to the G8, with the G20 convening on an ‘as-needed’ basis – if at all.

Even an expanded or ‘outreach’ group, a G8 plus China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa – would see Australia excluded.

I believe that Australia’s interests are always better served when we actively involve ourselves – when we take a seat at the table.


That’s why foreign policy success belongs to leaders who broaden Australia’s role in the world.

John Curtin put Australia’s strategic interests first – and ‘looked to America’ after the fall of Singapore.

Ben Chifley drove mass-post war migration and supported an independent India and Indonesia.

Doc Evatt served as the first President of the United Nations – enhancing the role of smaller nations and helping draft The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Menzies and McEwen reached out to Japan, signing the historic 1957 trade agreement.

Gough Whitlam preceded the US in recognising China.

Malcolm Fraser took on elements of his own party to condemn Apartheid, a very brave decision.

Bob Hawke and Paul Keating built APEC and sought security in Asia, not from Asia.

John Howard drove international action in East Timor.

Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard elevated our dialogues with China and India and secured Australia’s seat on the UN Security Council where we serve as President this month.

They also expanded the East Asia Summit and enhanced the G20 forum, leading to Australia’s presidency.

This is a bipartisan tradition I aspire to.

It is the foreign policy framework I believe in.

I am an internationalist, but I am not an adventurist.

I acknowledge the importance of rational risk assessment – but I firmly believe in our global responsibility.

I believe Australia has an obligation to do more than assert our view and defend our interests.

We should be good international citizens, a nation and a people engaged with the challenges facing the world – doing our part to deliver solutions.

This is why Australia has fought wars, joined peacekeeping missions, ratified human rights conventions, facilitated economic co-operation, supported free trade, protected our wilderness areas and oceans and set emissions targets.

And our global responsibility doesn’t just overlap with our national interest – it serves it.

Former Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans has argued that being a good international citizen – and being recognised as one – is a ‘mainstream national interest’, every bit as valuable and as important as geopolitical security and economic prosperity.

Enhancing our reputation as a nation that acts on its principles and meets its obligations delivers long-term benefit for the Australian people: in trade, aid and security.

Put simply, by following our values we advance our interests.

By fulfilling our ‘responsibility to protect’ the vulnerable in Iraq, we are preventing the spread of extremist hatred in our region and in our communities.

Taking action against Ebola means helping desperate people in West Africa and tackling the contagion before it reaches our shores.

Foreign aid alleviates poverty and raises living standards and it also creates new economic partnerships.

50 years ago the Republic of Korea was one of our major foreign aid recipients – today it is one of our biggest trading partners.

And doing our fair share in fight against global climate change, underpins new investment and new jobs in clean energy

As our world becomes more interconnected, as more and more barriers and borders are broken down, Australia cannot afford to narrow our approach, we can’t afford to pull up the drawbridge and abandon internationalism.

It is not good enough to say yes to Iraq, but no to action on Ebola.

It is not good enough to say yes to free trade agreements, but no to global action on climate change.

It is not good enough to attack the unemployed, yet ignore tax havens.

All these problems demand an international, co-operative approach.

Only an international approach can address climate change.

Only an international approach can deliver action on multi-national profit-shifting

Only an international approach can deal with refugees.

Only an international approach can eradicate poverty and inequality.

Only an international approach can secure peace.

In the 1980s, some on the far left never appreciated that peace can never be unilateral – it must be international, it must be multilateral.

That same lesson now holds true for the isolationism of the far-right anti-science climate sceptics.

I reject both extremes.

I believe in an Australia that serves its national interest by playing its part in international action.

An modern, outward-looking Australia, a country not afraid of the world or our place in it.

A nation of confidence and conscience.

An Australia confidently asserting our interests and conscientiously fulfilling our responsibilities – knowing that one reinforces the other.

An Australia that rejects the false choice of Jakarta or Geneva, and the self-defeating, self-perception of a small country far away, waiting on the sidelines for the verdict of the world.

We are not an outpost, a branch office, we are no-one’s ‘deputy sheriff’ – and we should never see ourselves in those constricting terms.

We should not shrink from big ideas as ‘above our station’.

We should not deal ourselves out of global opportunities – on climate change, or forego enhanced multilateral engagement in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

I believe we should be ambitious about our role in the world.

I want Australia to reach for higher ground.

We should be prepared to use our values and our vision to address the challenges of the 21st Century.

Building Inclusive Growth

In the same way that yesterday marked a seismic shift in global climate change policy – the fall-out from the Global Financial Crisis has reignited debate about inequality.

A growing legion of leaders from politics, private enterprise, academia and the public sector are recasting the relationship between growth and fairness.

The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Bank of England, OECD and the Vatican – are sending the same message: fairness and inclusion drive growth.

Equality is not an option – it is essential.

Tackling inequality creates prosperity.

We don’t build a strong economy just to pay for opportunity – we create opportunity to build a strong economy.

This principle is at the heart of our fundamental Australian institutions of fairness:

Decent wages: delivering strong living standards and empowered consumers.

Affordable and accessible higher education: enhancing social mobility – preparing the skilled and productive workforce of the future.

Medicare: universal healthcare boosting productivity and participation.

Universal superannuation: creating a pool of savings for the nation – and providing security and dignity for individuals in retirement.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme: empowering hundreds of thousands of Australians with disability and their carers.

Increasing participation of women in the workforce: delivering an extraordinary boost to our GDP.

And an Emissions Trading Scheme: opening new global markets for Australian firms and creating jobs and investment in clean energy.

These aren’t feel-good, bleeding heart gestures.

They are economic reforms.

They are acts of wealth creation, not distribution.

They are the foundation of inclusive economic growth.

They underpin the modern Australian economic model.

They’re not relics of the past, they’re the building blocks of the future – at home and abroad.

And if we fail to apply the lessons of our success – then we will soon deal with the consequences of failure.

Because neglecting inclusive growth weakens demand and consumption.

It frustrates the dreams and aspirations of the global middle class.

It creates perverse incentives for enterprises to move from value creation to value extraction – undermining investment in innovation or productivity.

Yet, just as the world’s economies are recognising the centrality of fairness and inclusion, Tony Abbott offers up some of his Budget’s most unfair and regressive measures as the core of Australia’s G20 ‘growth plan’.

Surely this is not the extent of his vision?

Surely Australia can offer the world’s leading economies something better than a GP tax, slashing support for jobseekers and a plan for $100,000 degrees?

This narrow view, this “little Australia” approach sells us short to the global community.

It sets us against the grain of the new economic consensus.

It neglects the strategic value of the G20, the opportunity to use global cooperation to build prosperity for the next generation, for the world we will live in, in 2020, 2030 and 2050.

Free Trade

Meaningful progress on global free trade would deliver trillions of dollars of income gains – substantial, sustainable, inclusive growth.[1]

And the best way to achieve trade liberalisation – is a coordinated, co-operative global approach where every country agrees to reduce barriers.

Labor supports bilateral agreements but a true commitment to free trade goes beyond market access deals done on a give-and-take basis – and latterly on self-inflicted arbitrary media deadlines.

Regrettably, right now, global momentum for free trade negotiations has stalled.

The G20 provides Australia with a unique opportunity to help break the current impasse over the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

WTO member countries agreed to a series of trade facilitation reforms at the Bali Ministerial conference last December.

The OECD estimates that the Bali agreement would reduce the cost of moving goods across borders by 10 per cent, creating millions of jobs around the world – and the benefits are estimated to be greatest for the world’s poorest countries.

Failure to make progress on Bali Agreement would be a lost opportunity in Brisbane, and a further hurdle to genuine global free trade progress.

We have to work together – business, unions, government, community.

We need to inject new co-operative ambition into multilateralism.

Which is why we have to look again at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank what Paul Keating has called China’s attempt to ‘multilateralise itself’.

Multinational Tax

In that same co-operative spirit, we must strive for real action on multinational tax avoidance.

How can we ask our people to work hard, to grow the economy, to improve their productivity – when they know there are multi-billion companies that don’t pay tax?

How can we ask Australian businesses to pay their fair share – to be lifters – when multinational enterprises can shop around for lower taxing jurisdictions – and be rewarded for leaning?

Australia cannot entirely fix this problem alone.

But, building off the work of the OECD, we can make use the G20 to begin meaningful action on multinational tax avoidance.

We can bring the world’s biggest economies together to close the loopholes that are inhibiting growth and undermining fairness around the world.

Youth Unemployment/Higher Education

Perhaps the most fundamental test of inclusive growth is job creation.

A few months ago, I visited the town of Burnie in North West Tasmania.

Burnie is the youth unemployment capital of Australia.

Over 20 per cent of young people in Burnie cannot find work – many of them have never had a job.

Last week it was revealed that Australia’s youth unemployment rate has jumped to 14 per cent – the highest level since 2001.

In the United States, youth unemployment is double the national rate.

In the UK it is nearly three times as high as the national rate.

The International Labour Organisation has warned of a ‘scarred generation’ – a wave of young people lacking the skills, confidence and sense of self-respect that work brings.

And economies and societies deprived of their contribution, their energy, and their ideas.

Overcoming this growing problem requires a new commitment to job creation as well as the right support for skills, training and higher education.

If we fail to co-operate, if we fail to lead, our economies, our communities will pay the price.


The G20 offers Tony Abbott a choice – and a test.

Will he continue the tradition of an engaged, international Australia – or offer the world a reduced, narrow vision?

Will our presidency enhance our reputation as a good international citizen, driving co-operation – or diminish it?

Will the Brisbane G20 be remembered for what it delivers?

Or will it be marked down for what it ignored – inclusive growth, participation and jobs, global free trade and climate change.

Will Tony Abbott show the leadership that this moment demands?

Or will he be bested by history?

Will he be marked down as the Billy McMahon of the 21st Century?

A foolish hostage of outdated ideology, unable to tell which way the tide of international affairs is flowing.

The G20 is a unique chance for Australia, not to lecture but to lead.

An historic opportunity to showcase the Australian model of inclusive growth to the world

building prosperity by extending opportunity.

It’s a once-in-a-generation chance for Australia to show leadership on the defining economic and environmental issue of our generation.

That’s the higher ground I and Labor want us to reach for.

An Australia facing the world with confidence, and acting with conscience.






[1] According to UNSW economist Tim Harcourt, exporters pay 60 per cent higher wages on average compared to non-exporters. They provide higher standards of: OH&S, education and training, job security and equality of opportunity for women.

Oct 31, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins



Today is the product of a great deal of hard work by everyone here.

I’m grateful to all of you.

I thank Jenny McAllister for the leadership she has provided to the National Policy Forum (NPF).

I thank our Deputy Leader, Tanya Plibersek and indeed the entire Shadow Ministry for the energy, enthusiasm and intellectual rigour they have brought to this process.

I thank Michael Cooney, head of the Chifley Research Institute for the work he has done drawing together the thoughts of more than 1500 Labor Members, from 25 Member-run workshops around Australia.

Every one of you, every member of the NPF has made an outstanding contribution to what we might call ‘phase one’ of this policy process.

And I’m genuinely interested in your views, as we begin the task of turning hundreds of individual ideas into a cogent statement of Labor values.

Next Wednesday, at Sydney Town Hall – the home of so many great moments in the history of our movement – true believers will bid a fond farewell to the great Gough Whitlam.

Gough remade our party, and transformed our nation.

And his passing has caused so many of us to reflect on his legacy.

Beyond the substance of every particular reform, beyond the policy decisions of the time, Whitlam set a simple, bold ambition for his Government.

“To liberate the talents and uplift the horizons of the Australian people.”

A goal that is still relevant today.

A goal that will be relevant as long as there is a Labor party.

For all the soaring grandeur of his rhetoric, the electricity of his idealism – Gough Whitlam was also powerfully pragmatic.

Not a pragmatist in the sense of a particular policy – but in his realisation that Labor was not conceived as a party of protest – and we would not succeed as a party of protest.

We are a party of government – because we seek always the power to do good.

We strive to deliver a better deal and a fair go for the millions of Australians who depend upon us, who count upon Labor governments.

So today goes beyond the technical job of updating and reviewing documents – it is a moral task, renewing our ideas and our sense of moral purpose.

It is a call that every generation of Labor before us has answered.

At every turn, we have found the courage and leadership to remake ourselves.

And in doing so we have made our nation – and the Australian people – the beneficiaries of change, not its victims.

Now, in 2014, new change and new challenges are upon us.

Two retired generations living at the same time, a changing climate, a global market, a borderless world.

On our northern doorstep, the greatest economic transformation in human history is underway.

In our businesses and workplaces, new technologies have changed the way we work.

They offer greater flexibility but can reduce security.

In our streets and suburbs, we face the social problems of the 21st Century: a sense of isolation, loneliness and a loss of community.

And alongside the new problems – stand the old ones.

Teachers robbed of the resources they need.

Nurses and doctors pushed to the brink by a hospital system cut to the bone.

Indigenous Australians denied opportunity.

People with a disability seeking empowerment.

Exhausted carers receiving high praise but not necessarily high resources.

Apprentices who cannot find a start.

Older workers who fear, because of the grey in their hair, they will never find another job.

‘For Lease’ signs spreading like weeds on the main streets of country towns.

A growing army of Australians who feel as if they have lost their place in our nation.

People who feel like the system is set against them, that the Government has forgotten them, that politics lacks the capacity to speak to their daily lives.

And just at the moment when the nation’s leaders should be reaching out to these Australians, the Abbott Government is driving them away.

They are withdrawing their opportunities, undermining their hopes and discouraging their aspirations.

In doing so, they risk entrenching a forgotten generation.

Australia cannot afford this.

We cannot risk squandering our national potential through division and exclusion.

Injustice and unfairness to any Australian hurts us all.

In a time of global change, Australia cannot afford more of the same.

It is for Australia to decide – will we be swept along in the wake of the modern world, or will we lead?

Labor is ready to lead.

We should not be daunted by this task – we should not shrink from this responsibility.

We should embrace it with optimism – we should face it with ambition.

We should be optimistic for what Australia can achieve, ambitious for what our people and our nation can do.

We can overcome any challenge.

We can meet – and master – these moments.

We can still define our future.

Australia can be strong and safe in an uncertain world.

We can share in the growth and prosperity of the Asian Century.

Australia can be a hub for research, we can invest in science and innovation, we can compete for new industries and technologies.

Australia can grow.

Labor can prioritise the creation of national wealth and economic growth with greater equality.

Our economy can support jobs today and create the new jobs of tomorrow.

We can incubate start-ups and stimulate small businesses.

We can build world class schools and hospitals.

We can offer young Australians opportunity and quality in higher education.

We can give older Australians dignity in retirement.

We can do our fair share in global action against climate change – and create new jobs and prosperity through clean energy.

We can reinvigorate our regions, modernise our cities and enhance our communities.

We can close the gap and end disadvantage for Indigenous Australians.

We can succeed, we can thrive.

We can succeed as a nation that is prosperous and fair, smart and strong, diverse and united.

Indeed, that is the only way we will succeed.

So, friends, today is not about tactics for the next election.

It’s not about drawing up a plan for the defeat of the Abbott Government.

It’s about developing a vision for the Australia of 2020 and 2030.

A vision built on the lived experience of Australians: the product of community ideas and the broadest possible range of voices.

It’s a different way of doing policy – because we recognise that wisdom doesn’t emanate exclusively from this building.

Some of the crucial ideas Australian Labor needs are not to be found solely within our organisation.

We need to step outside the echo chamber of modern politics – to take the task of government to the community.

We want to work with the best experts, we want to hear from the people who know.

We are committed to an authentic national conversation, a genuine exchange of ideas.

It’s a reflection of our faith in the genius and generosity of the Australian people.

Because Australians are already organising their lives for the 21st Century.

They engage in complex transactions every day.

Managing the family budget.

Smoothing their prosperity over long life.

Raising their children, supporting their education and coaching their netball and football and soccer teams.

Attending to their health.

Enjoying a life outside work.

Starting and running small businesses.

In TAFEs and at university, learning new skills to go from what they have done to what they can do.

Paying their mortgages.

Building resilient communities – the resilience to deal with fire, flood and natural disasters.

And the resilience to cope with divorce, sudden illness, grandparents who have to become parents again because their own children succumb to drugs or worse.

That’s the resilience Labor needs to reward and nurture.

In 2014, Australians reasonably expect to see a ninth decade of life, and they manage their wealth in that expectation – saving and planning for their retirement and old age.

Our variable home loans and 28 million superannuation accounts are exposed to financial markets, we are actively engaged with the economy in a way unimaginable 20 or 30 years ago.

Labor is an internationalist forward-leaning movement, we see and seek a role for Australia in the world: in Foreign Aid, in our humanitarian intervention in Iraq, in dealing with Ebola and trade.

More Australians than ever are engaged in the world, eight million of us travel overseas every year, and more than 40 in one hundred of us have at least one parent who was born in another country.

The job for Labor is to construct a platform that speaks to the reality of Australians’ lives.

A platform as modern, confident, generous and outward-looking as the people and the nation we seek to serve.

Framing that vision requires a new chapter one – a redrafted, re-energised statement of Labor’s enduring values.

That’s exactly what this National Policy Forum process is designed to achieve.

During the first round of consultations, I know many of you were asked to complete the statement:

‘On its best day, Labor is…’

On our best day.

That’s exactly right – that’s exactly the aspiration we should bring to this process.

We should aim for chapter one to be more than just a declarative list – our goal should be to inspire, not just articulate.

We should reach for higher ground.

For an Australia that includes everyone, that helps everyone, that lets everyone be their best, that leaves no-one behind.

It is not my intention today to be prescriptive.

I’m here to invite your views, not dictate my own.

But I think that chapter one must begin with Labor’s belief in fairness.

Fairness drives prosperity, it underpins growth, it lifts living standards, it creates jobs – it gives everyone the chance to fulfil their potential.

Fairness insists upon the equal treatment of women, supporting their march through the institutions of power.

Fairness demands we care for the vulnerable, it demands we speak up for the powerless, include the marginalised and uplift the disadvantaged.

And fairness is a pact between generations.

That means opening the doors of education, from the earliest years giving every young Australian the chance to go on to a great school and onto university or training.

Fairness between generations means that Australians should not have to work hard all their lives, only to retire poor.

And fairness between generations means caring for the environment – passing on to our children a healthier national estate than the one we inherited.

That’s the higher ground I want Labor to reach for.

This is a task for all of us.

To think about what sort of party we should be on our best day.

And to make it happen.






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