Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Apr 27, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins










It’s a real thrill to be here this morning.

I always enjoy the chance to visit universities, and to speak with young people.

University was a valued time in my life.

I was only the second generation of my family able to attend.

It helped me work out who I was, what mattered most, and what I wanted to do to help others.

Most of all, what I remember from my uni days is the freedom and the sense of possibility.

I went to uni as a young man – I didn’t even turn 18 until the middle of my first year – I just couldn’t wait to get into it.

Now, when I visit universities, I still get a sense of the same excitement and energy.

When I meet students like you: the leaders, thinkers and problem-solvers who will shape the world of 2025 and 2050…

I’m excited by what you will achieve, the difference you will make, the way you will help our world.

This is my first visit to Turkey, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time as a guest in your remarkable country.

I came here last week to represent the Australian Labor Party at the commemorations of the centenary of the Gallipoli landings – or as its known in Turkish history, the Canankkle.

Sometimes, back in Australia, we can fall into the trap of thinking that the Gallipoli campaign was all about us, the Aussies and Kiwis.

But being there, seeing representatives from Britain, India, France, Ireland, Canada and, of course, Turkey – reminded me that Gallipoli is not just an Australian, or an Anzac story.

The impact of what happened on that rugged stretch of coast a hundred years ago runs deeper and wider than that.

Sometimes, in Australia, we say of our fallen soldiers: ‘If you want to know what they believed in, look around you’ – we point to our free society, our strong democracy, our people safe and at peace.

Here in Turkey, that truth is as powerful.

The First World War didn’t just broaden the identity of modern Turkey – it created the nation you live in, and love.

I find it truly remarkable that the tragedy and senseless death of 100 years ago was an irrecovable milestone in the formation of three nations – Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.

But on my visit to Turkey I wanted to do more than pay my respects to our shared history, important as this is.

I’m here today to talk about our shared future.

The future challenges and opportunities that are in front of all of us.

The big changes, the defining trends and global shifts that will shape the world we live in, in the decades ahead.

  • Security and peace
  • Climate change and clean energy
  • Population change and the equal treatment of women
  • Digital disruption and new technology

It’s true, each of these has local effects and local elements.

But none of these problems can be solved by one country acting on its own.

They all require international co-operation and an international commitment to shared solutions.

They all require global leadership, backed up by actions that set the example.


Right now, all of us are being tested by new threats to our peace and security.

Terrorism is a transnational threat.

It’s an attack on our way of life and our social cohesion.

Overcoming this threat depends upon international co-operation and international consensus.

A consensus built on civil discourse and interfaith dialogue, engaging with leaders from every faith in our community.

Turkey and Spain’s co-operative efforts in the Alliance of Civilisations initiative, is an example of the kind of leadership we need to apply around the world.

In Australia, we’re proud of our tradition of promoting multilateralism and the international rule of law.

One of our most distinguished Foreign Ministers, Herbert ‘Doc’ Evatt played a central role in establishing the United Nations and drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

And ever since, we’ve demonstrated a longstanding commitment to UN peacekeeping missions, including serving side-by-side with Turkish forces in Korea and Somalia.

This co-operation endures in Turkey’s commitment to the international humanitarian effort underway in Iraq and Syria.

I can assure you the Australian Labor Party is fully supportive of the Australian contribution in Iraq.

We’re there to help build the Iraqi security forces’ capacity, allowing them to eventually control their own security needs.

And our ongoing support hinges on the Iraqi government and security forces continuing to act within acceptable international standards.


The second issue we face is demographic change, shifts in our population trends – and the impact this has on inequality.

Right now, in Australia, we’re having a big conversation about our ageing population.

We are living longer than ever before and that is great news.

But it poses new questions for the way our country works.

How can we guarantee people who have worked hard all their lives, and paid taxes all their lives, security and dignity in retirement?

How can we make sure that older workers have the skills to train and re-train as the economy changes, so that they’re not passed over or left behind?

How can we help more Australians enjoy greater retirement incomes, become independently comfortable in retirement, reducing the pressure on pensions and taxes?

The population story here in Turkey is very different.

We’re planning for an Australia where one person out of every three is over the age of 60.

Here, two in every five people are under the age of 22.

This is a good news story too.

Young people are a wonderful natural resource for any country, more valuable than any precious metal or mineral.

And I believe it’s the job of government to help every young person fulfil their potential, to give them the skills, smarts and opportunities to succeed.

You’re going to be the first generation to work entirely in the digital age.

The big winners in this era will be countries that create the machines that make high quality products and deliver specialised services.

Building machines, designing, developing, financing, operating and refining them.

It’s up to government to make sure that everyone gets the opportunity to learn the skills essential to this success.

And this means building an economy that includes everyone in the benefits of prosperity.

This is why I have been greatly impressed by Turkey’s objectives for its Presidency of the G20.

Turkey has said that the 2015 G20 will focus on: “Inclusiveness, Implementation and Investment”.

A fairer, more inclusive global economy, committed to tackling the growing problem of inequality.

The biggest drivers of economic growth in developed nations over the last decade have been globalisation, technological change and market-oriented reform.

These trends have lifted millions of people out of poverty, especially in Asia but also in this region where this is created or compounded by conflict.

But at the same time, they have magnified inequality for those left behind.

Not just inequality of income, but inequality of access.

I’m talking about access to affordable healthcare, quality education, new technology and civic amenities, even to things as basic as clean air and clean water.

Bridging this gap is a challenge for the world economy as a whole: advanced and emerging economies alike.

And this is why Turkey’s leadership on this issue, bringing new urgency to the task through the G20, is so important.

The party I lead, the Australian Labor Party, has never subscribed to the notion that our nation, indeed our world, has to choose between a strong economy and a fair society.

Fairness is not the child of prosperity – they are twins, each one supports the other.

The best pathway to economic growth is not to sit back and hope that wealth will trickle-down from the top, it’s to grow the economy from the bottom up, broadening the middle class and lifting everyone to a better standard.

That’s an objective Turkey, Australia and share – our task is to make this model work for the world.


If the challenge of maintaining peace and preserving national security is an immediate priority…

And re-framing the economy with a focus on giving everyone a fair share in the national prosperity they create is a long term goal…

Then tackling climate change is both – and it is more.

Climate change is an environmental issue, it is an economic issue and it is a security issue.

And frankly, if the world gets climate change wrong, if self-interest and short-termism triumphs over meaningful progress, then nothing else will matter too much, for too long.

Again, this is an international problem that demands an international solution.

And I’m encouraged by the direction the world is moving in.

The historic agreement reached between China and the United States, the world’s two biggest economies and its two biggest polluters has injected new momentum into the global negotiations ahead of the Paris conference.

There’s a passage from their joint statement that I think crystallises the global argument for dealing with climate change:

…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.

When the world’s two economic superpowers and 40 per cent of its global emissions put it like that – then there is simply no excuse for us to drag our feet.

The relationship between climate change and national security is worth emphasising.

Emissions trading schemes will be the fastest growing market of the 21st Century – and they create economy-wide incentives for clean energy, and more efficient energy use.

Effective action on climate change provides a strong price signal to diversify the national, and global, energy mix.

Turkey knows as well as any country on earth that uncertainty or disruption in energy supply can have a sudden and disastrous impact on economic growth.

Investing in reliable renewable energy acts a shock absorber, an insurance policy for natural disasters and political instability that can threaten conventional energy supply. You are showing the way here with significant investment in geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, and cogeneration in industry.

We don’t have all the answers on climate change yet, no country does.

But if we continue to co-operate, if we continue to face up to the scale and size of the challenge, if we maintain urgency in the face of those who would seek to deny there is a problem – then I’m confident we can, and will, find a solution.


I’ve spoken this morning about Security, Inequality and Climate Change – how we respond to each of these will determine our future success.

But I’m here today to listen as well as talk.

I want to hear from you – to learn about your goals, your hopes and what you think about the future.

Succeeding as a global community, meeting the big challenges of this moment, depend on us listening and learning from each other.

There’s a fashion in some parts of the world to talk down international politics, to say that it’s all just photo-opportunities and funny costumes.

I don’t buy into that – and neither should you.

The three challenges I’ve spoken of don’t stop at any border, they don’t recognise a particular flag or a particular faith.

They can’t be held back by digging trenches or building walls.

They affect us all – and solving them depends on us all, working together, talking to each other and agreeing on a way forward.

So my final message is: don’t ever imagine you can’t make a difference, don’t ever think that politics is irrelevant to your daily life, or that getting involved won’t change anything.

You can make a difference, you can help build a better world – we’re counting on you to do just that.





Apr 20, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins









It’s great to be with all of you again, here in this historic building.
Forty-one years ago Gough Whitlam stood here and said of our Liberal-National opponents:
“For the life of me, I can’t decide whether they are worse in opposition or worse in government…”
Tony Abbott has made the answer abundantly clear.
In opposition he was a nuisance for our party, in government he is a disaster for our country.
Of course, we’re not here to talk about the Government’s failures and missteps…two days probably wouldn’t be long enough.
Instead, this forum is another important step in crafting Labor’s positive vision for the future.
We won’t go to the next election with the three-word slogan: ‘Not Tony Abbott’.
We are determined to offer the Australian people much more than an itemised list of Liberal lies.
We will put forward a positive, alternative plan for the Australia of 2025 and 2050.
I said that in 2015, Labor would be defined by the power of our ideas.
Our opponents have taken to levelling this at me as some kind of insult – well, good luck to them.
I’m proud to lead a party that believes in ideas.
I’m proud we are a party with principles and policy ambition.
I’m proud of our commitment to developing and testing the best solutions, in partnership with leading experts.
And in the last 18 months, at every turn, by our actions we have made it crystal clear what we stand for.
We stood against the GP tax, because we stand for Medicare.
We stood against cuts to the pension, because we stand for dignity and security in retirement.
We stood against $100,000 degrees, because we stand for universities that reward students’ hard work and good marks, not their parents’ wealth.
We stood against paying big polluters to pollute, because we’re for real action on climate change.
And we’ve been working on proposals of our own.
We’ve put forward a costed and tested plan to close tax loopholes and crack down on profit-shifting to make sure that multinational companies pay their fair share.
A reasonable, equitable revenue measure, raising more than $7 billion over the next decade.
We’ve called for a national crisis summit on family violence, and promised to convene one within our first 100 days, as part of our determination to ensure every Australian woman is safe in her home, not at the mercy of a postcode lottery of uncertain support.
We’ve offered a constructive proposal for building the next generation of submarines here in Australia – an investment in our national security and our high-skill manufacturing sector.
We’ve offered a way forward for our renewable energy sector –providing certainty for investment and jobs in an industry where we should be using our natural and competitive advantages.
We’ve worked co-operatively on national security, striking the right balance between the liberty of the individual and the safety of our people.
We’ve urged faster progress on Constitutional Recognition for the first Australians, including a national gathering of Indigenous leaders to build consensus for change.
And we have committed to a new community-centred focus on reducing Aboriginal incarceration, including a new justice target in Closing the Gap.
These aren’t half-baked slogans or empty thought bubbles – they are genuine, concrete and constructive propositions.
Proof that Labor is determined to be part of the solution.
I can assure you, we will have much more to say in the weeks and months ahead – and this National Policy Forum will help shape this discussion.
So today, at our third full meeting, I offer you a vote of thanks – and a word of warning.
Thank you, all of you, for the effort and intellectual energy you have brought to this process.
I know I speak for our President Jenny McAllister, our Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek and my colleagues in the Shadow Ministry and Caucus – when I say we are truly grateful for your ideas, and your enthusiasm.
But be warned, we’re going to ask you to do plenty more work in the next two days – and in the weeks and months ahead.
Since you’re all here as volunteers, I’m happy to promise you double-time.
Last time we met, in our Labor Caucus room in Canberra, I said we had reached the end of ‘phase one’.
Today, as we gather to review the first consultation draft of our national platform, we arrive at another important milestone on the road to national conference.
The term ‘consultation draft’ is a bit too bureaucratic for my taste, but what it represents is important.
This isn’t a forum governed by fait accompli – and my colleagues and I don’t imagine that we’ve come to hand down commandments carved on stone tablets.
I said this would be Labor party where your membership entitled you to more of a say, and I meant it.
We stand here ready for your suggestions, changes and improvements.
But it also means we will all have to make compromises over the coming days.
We can’t expect unanimous line-by-line consensus on every semi-colon and sub-clause.
Everyone, on every side, is going to have to give some ground.
This is healthy, this is how it should be.
Our democracy isn’t defined by concurrence, and we shouldn’t be afraid of creative tension and constructive friction.
We will end up with a better and stronger platform if it is forged in the crucible of robust exchange.
In that spirit, I’ve come here to outline chapter one – a statement of Labor’s enduring values.
I hope this can stand as a clear and concise statement of who we are on our best day.
I hope that new members, and life members, can look at chapter one and see where we have been and where we are going.
And I hope that we can draw from this chapter the sense that Labor’s future can be every bit as powerful as our past.
The belief that our activism, our advocacy and our reforming energy can define the 21st Century just as much as the giants of our movement defined the 20th.
This begins with Labor’s vision for the modern economy.
We live in the world’s 12th largest economy, in the world’s fastest growing region.
And, as the biggest mining investment boom in our history draws to a close, we face the challenges of a new era.
An era that will be defined by digital disruption and innovation, clean energy industries and demographic change, equality for women and the rise of services.
Rising to these challenges, answering these questions, seizing this moment, defining our future on our terms demands a new approach.
A new plan for a smart, modern and fair Australia.
An Australia driven by a Labor party working with business, unions and community groups to build an economy and a society that rewards people for their ideas, their effort and their industry.
A strong economy, where people don’t get left behind.
A pragmatic, not dogmatic, approach to driving prosperity.
Unfettered ideology will always be the enemy of reform.
Ideology makes governments brittle when they should be flexible, it makes leaders stubborn instead of strong.
The example of last year’s Budget – the most extreme in living memory – looms large.
For decades, Labor has understood the balance between the contribution of markets and the role of government.
We will always be a party committed to the fair distribution of wealth – but modern Labor also embraces responsibility for creating wealth.
We know that sometimes governments create markets, sometimes they build institutions, sometimes they underwrite stability and sometimes their role is to release assets to allow for better competition and more opportunity.
This is a sensible, real-world position, a view that weighs economic decisions on their merits.
And I believe chapter one should reflect this.
But acknowledging the limitations on government power in the modern world…recognising that not every policy lever still responds to our touch…doesn’t mean walking away from planning for the future, or letting the market dictate our every move.
We will never be a party that says everything is safe in invisible hands.
Instead, in an era with fewer levers at our disposal, it becomes more important than ever for good governments to allocate their resources and apply their power selectively and strategically.
And in 2015, when the most profound economic transformation in world history is occurring on our doorstep, when the world’s economic centre of gravity is moving our way…this is a time that demands a government focused on the future.
A government determined to see Australia get smarter, not poorer.
Preparing for the future means guaranteeing world class education, for every Australian child.
Equipping every Australian with the skills to adapt and succeed in a rapidly-changing environment, to train and retrain throughout their working lives.
Nothing builds self-respect and self-worth like a good job, a job with some sense of security and fair pay.
And nothing matters more than creating the jobs of the future, jobs for our children.
This depends upon building a learning society, committed to lifelong education.
Reimagining Australia as an invention nation, an innovation nation, investing in science to drive new breakthroughs and discoveries in every field and industry.
And nourishing the arts, nurturing our people’s creativity and adding new layers to our nation’s spirit.
Labor’s faith in fairness will always be at the heart of our plans for prosperity.
I notice Joe Hockey has started using the word ‘fair’ a lot more in the lead-up to this year’s Budget – always with a great expression of concentration and no evidence of sincerity.
Mind you, ‘fair’ is a hard word to say when you’re chomping on a cigar.
The fair go will always be a foreign notion to the Liberals – and the language of fairness will always be an unfamiliar dialect.
For us, in modern Labor, fairness is more than a caring arm outstretched to those felled by the shafts of fate.
It is the operating principle for a thriving economy, the key to inclusive growth.
Fairness is never, never a matter of dragging everyone down to some kind of equality of mediocrity.
It is about lifting everyone up, gathering people in from the margins, extending opportunity to make prosperity work for everyone.
Fairness is supporting the march of women through the institutions of power, delivering true gender equality: in opportunity, in pay, in leadership and in the complete elimination of family violence.
Fairness is closing the gap between giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people equal opportunity to get a great education, a fulfilling job, raise healthy children and live a long life full of quality and meaning.
Fairness is dignity and security in retirement for Australians who’ve worked hard all their lives, raised children and built our communities.
Fairness is saving the Great Barrier Reef, conserving old-growth forests and taking real action on climate change, passing on to the next generation a national environment in better shape than the one we inherited.
Fairness is an Australia where farmers, agriculture and the communities in our regions and can thrive, not just survive.
Fairness is an Australia Republic, a place where every citizen, no matter how humble their origins, can aspire to be head of state.
Fairness celebrates the miracle of multiculturalism, it is an Australia where people of all faiths and traditions are respected, valued, welcome and equal.
And fairness is not a narrow, nationalist notion.
Fairness makes us good international citizens, seeking a positive role for Australia in the world, promoting peace and helping the vulnerable.
Fairness is an Australia strong in the world and secure at home, supporting the dedicated, brave professionals of our defence force and security agencies who keep us all safe.
Fairness is who we are, it is why we are Labor.
Chapter one also, rightly offers respectful tribute to the words and deeds of former Labor Prime Ministers and the governments they led.
We revere our Labor history, we venerate our legends – we always will.
We take pride in our place as Australia’s oldest political party.
We draw inspiration from the struggles and triumphs of those who have gone before us.
We will never forget that when a strong minimum wage and a fair day’s work were radical notions, Labor made them universal rights.
Or when half a million Australians came home from serving their nation in war, Labor built the economy that gave them good jobs.
Where once Australia looked only inward, Labor offered a home to migrants whose cultures and traditions enrich us still.
University education was a privilege decided by wealth, until Labor made it an opportunity earned on merit.
For hundreds of thousands of families, sudden illness or injury meant poverty, until Labor built Medicare.
Millions of Australians worked hard all their lives and yet retired poor, until Labor created universal superannuation.
Our nation’s failure to face the dark shadow of our history diminished us all, until Labor said Sorry.
Australians with disability were exiled to a second class life in their own country, their elderly parents wracked by the sleepless midnight anxiety of wondering who would care for their child when they no longer could…until Labor delivered the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
This is a legacy unmatched.
But we are not the prisoners of our past.
We are not captive to tradition.
We can learn the lessons of history – we have and we should.
But what separates us from our opponents is that we want to be more than curators in a policy museum or taxidermists of an extinct tradition.
Our duty is to go beyond echoing and imitating, re-litigating and repeating.
We are here to define the future – of our party and our nation.
To articulate to Australians what 2025 and 2050 will look like.
Labor has always found the courage to reinvent itself, to change.
To stop and ask: is there a fairer way to build a better society?
Are we doing everything we can to prepare our people for what the future holds?
This is what drives us, it always has, it will again.
Fairness will never be a vague notion for us– it is our bugle call, it is Labor’s ‘collective memory in action’, it is a good society on the march.
It is where Labor has been, and where we are going.
It is what we have built, and what we will build.
It is our proudest monument and our best blueprint for the future.
Fairness is Labor’s Australia, writ large.
An Australia that includes everyone, helps everyone, lets everyone be their best and leaves no-one behind.
This is the great objective we share, it is the success we will achieve, together.




Apr 19, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins





Next week, Australia’s eyes will again be turned to a narrow stretch of rugged coast on the other side of the world.

We will, as a nation, remember the lost generation who fell there, a century ago, far from their homes.

We will remember their brothers, their graves marked by white crosses amidst red poppies in foreign fields.

We will remember 60,000 young people, lost to an even younger nation.

And we will remember those who came home, forever changed by the hardship they had faced and overcome.

The wounded, unable to return to the jobs they left behind.

The soldier-settlers stretched by a harsh land they could not tame.

And those who carried the hidden scars of trauma – the husbands and fathers who could never find the words to tell the people they loved why things could never be the same again.

We remember their families too, the parents, wives and children who welcomed home a different person to the one they farewelled.

The First World War left its mark on our people and our continent like few events before or since.

Across our country, families and communities counted the dreadful cost.

We all know towns where the list of names etched into the weathered white stone seems impossibly long.

We have all paused in front of honour rolls in our local halls where the surnames come in threes, and fours.

The brothers who couldn’t be separated, the strapping sons lost to their families, sometimes in the same hour of bloody chaos.

On days like this, as we gather for the rituals of respect and contemplation as we say together ‘Lest we Forget’, we rededicate ourselves and our nation to the honoured memory of the fallen.

And we declare, once more, that their sacrifice was not in vain.

We remind ourselves of what they fought for – the people they loved and the country they believed in.

One in five of the first Australian Imperial Force were born in Britain.

And our nation had bound itself to Britain’s cause: to the last man and the last shilling…yet what we lost, and gained, in that terrible war did not belong to Britain.

The sacred name of Anzac, the bravery and sacrifice of the young citizen-soldiers we honour today – and every day – belongs to all of us.

It is wholly, utterly, Australian.

Australians risked and lost their lives not for the ‘green and pleasant land’ of England but for the free and fair nation they had built here, beneath the Southern Cross.

They sent words of comfort to anxious parents in Bunbury and Launceston, not Bristol and London.

They wrote to sweethearts in Parramatta and Essendon, not Plymouth and Essex.

At Gallipoli they sought race results from Flemington, not Ascot.

It was Australia they loved, it was Australia who mourned their loss.

It was Australia who cared for the loved ones they left behind and it is Australia who honours their sacrifice still.

Ladies and Gentlemen

There is no-one left among us who knew firsthand the courage and chaos of the 25th of April 1915.

Those left to grow old have gone too.

Yet their story will always be part of our Australian story.

The Anzacs will always speak to us, and for who we are.

In the coming years of commemorations, I encourage all Australians to honour the memory of those who served by looking up into the branches of their family trees.

Try and find out, if you can, the history of your family’s service.

Together, let us learn and tell the story of the ordinary people who found the courage to do the truly extraordinary.

Let us, as a new generation, give new meaning to the solemn national promise we repeat today.

Lest We Forget.



Apr 18, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins




Shubho Naba Barsho! 

I’m so pleased to be with you, at this remarkable celebration.

It’s great to see my friends Michelle Rowland and Matt Thistlewaite here – two local champions.

And many of our New South Wales colleagues are here too: Ernest Wong, Jodie McKay and Jihad Dib.

I’ve stood and spoken on many stages, for many years, but nothing quite compares with the view from here today: a great sea of smiling faces, united in joy, optimism and hope for the future.

To all of you who have worked so hard to make today happen, Sheik Haque, Tushar Roy, Surajit Roy, the Bangabandhu Council and the wider community, congratulations.

You can take great pride in what you have achieved and in how far you have come.

Today we gather to celebrate a culture and a people rich in poetry, art, music, dance, song, cinema…and delicious food.

A culture that has outlasted Empires.

A people who have overcome floods and famine, war and persecution.

A culture and a people who, even in times of the greatest hardship and days of despair, have stayed true to the dream of shared happiness and joy, of peace and mutual understanding.

And I know how much the Bengali language means to so many of you.

It was the language that first spoke of Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, the language of freedom and the future.

So I encourage you to teach your children to speak Bengali, as well as English, and to always be proud of your history and your heritage.

Today, all Australians celebrate the gifts you have given us.

We give thanks for people like you, working late shifts and long hours, taking risks, starting businesses and creating jobs.

Loving parents making sacrifices to give their children the best start in life.

Dedicated students excelling in our schools and universities.

And all the while, enriching, emboldening and enlarging Australia’s great, generous multicultural society.

This is your story – and it is the Australian story too.

This is the home we share, a destination made great by immigration, hard work, self-belief and diversity.

An Australia that will never give in to hatred, extremism and fear.

An Australia where we stand strong because we stand together: united, not defeated.

And a nation ready to act internationally: determined to take real action on climate change and committed to boosting workplace safety and workers’ rights around the world.

Friends, Islam is a religion of peace.


I’ve heard you say it, and I know you mean it.

Friends, it is my pleasure to wish you every happiness in the Bengali New Year ahead.

May it bring you, and the people you love, good health, peace and prosperity.



Mar 26, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins













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

Professor Alan Cass, Professor Tom Calma, Minister Nash, Parliamentary colleagues, distinguished guests.

On this tenth World Kidney Health day we give special attention to tackling chronic kidney disease amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It is unfair that this growing problem afflicts disproportionately high number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, many of whom are unaware they have this serious condition, even when suffering some of the symptoms.

And for those in remote communities affected by chronic kidney disease, going ‘off country’ to access treatment, can cause disconnection and isolation.

In recent years, a great deal of good work has been done to measure and map the disadvantage that blights the lives of the First Australians.

Today we can speak, with more informed precision than ever, of the gap that exists between the opportunities, lives and living standards of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – and the rest of us.

And while there have been some improvements in reducing the impact of chronic disease, it remains a serious impediment in closing the gap in life expectancy and other health outcomes.

We know the rollcall of grim numbers, the impact of chronic kidney disease, the rise of other emerging afflictions like cancer on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

Without doubt, this is an advance on than the days when our Parliament adopted a position of wilful ignorance.

But unless our improved awareness and understanding delivers better outcomes – we can’t claim this as real progress.

It will never be enough for our Parliament to merely measure the gap between our two Australia, to acknowledge our shortcomings and gather for formal displays of contrition.

We have to strive to be better.

Now I believe that Closing the Gap, delivering equal opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is Australia’s unfinished business.

It is a test that our generation must face and pass.

There’s been a bit of debate and rancour in the Parliament that somehow talking about someone’s problems of Closing the Gap is not bipartisan. I actually think it’s not bipartisan not to talk the truth because it is not a matter of allocating blame simply, but it’s recognising that in every Closing the Gap target, we can try and do better.

And in Closing the Gap targets in every one of them, we can see a relationship to our health.

After all, if you have problems with your health, you can find it hard to find work and to keep work.

If your children are sick, they will miss school and fall behind, or you must miss work to care for them.

If, because of your own illness, you slip through the cracks of education and employment – then in fact the risk of jail will double and triple, for especially young Aboriginal men.

The point that I make fairly simply about interaction and interconnection is an important junction.

What it means is that health is not just a social justice issue, although it fundamentally is, it’s an economic issue. The beneficial consequences of good health spreads to every other measurement.

Now today we stand here today with solutions in our grasp.

Addressing vision loss alone would close 11 per cent of our health gap.

Tackling smoking by boosting preventative programs reduces the rate of cancer and heart disease, and it increases life expectancy.

Smoking is a key risk factor for developing chronic kidney disease along with poor nutrition, poor living conditions, low birth weight and dare I say it, a lack of empowerment.

The prevention and early detection of chronic diseases must be front and centre in the pursuit of closing the gap in health outcomes.

The full implementation of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan is another irreplaceable step.

My colleague Warren Snowdon played an important part in developing this plan, but he would be the first to acknowledge that it was the product of a partnership.

It was shaped by listening to the voices of local people and local providers.

This ethos must be at the heart of our future action.

Building partnerships, trusting the community, listening to the people that know and live this great shared endeavour.

The Institute of Urban Indigenous Health and their ‘Deadly Choices’ campaign is I think a marvellous example of these values in action.

I love the idea that Deadly Choices is increasing the rates of kidney checks, pushing a strong anti-smoking message and helping tackle the management of chronic disease in South East Queensland.

Best of all the ambassadors for Deadly Choices are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: positive role models, sending a clear message to their people.

Or you could take the combination of research institutes that have clubbed together to fund the Affordable Dialysis Prize.

All of us here in Parliament, Liberal, National, Green or Labor, we understand that sometimes the best ideas that an organisation need, don’t always lie within that organisation.

What I love about the cleverness of the Affordable Dialysis Prize, is it’s challenging the finest medical and design minds to produce a low-cost, more accessible and portable version of a dialysis machine.

Just imagine, imagine this invention that would enable people living in remote communities to get the treatment they need, without being forced off country and away from their support network of families and friends.

It highlights that role that translational research and innovation can play in improving lives of people most in need.

Just as health underpins every element of the Closing the Gap framework, meaningful, tangible progress on Closing the Gap is essential and twinned with delivering constitutional recognition of First Australians.

Recognition will be an uplifting moment, a long overdue act of justice, but it cannot occur in a vacuum, offering just words alone.

The last thing we want is for a rising generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be asking:

“What good is recognition if I cannot find a job?’

‘What is the point of historical justice, if I am denied basic, natural justice?’

‘What is the value of being included in the Constitution – if I am excluded from opportunity?

‘What good is a statement of equality, when I battle inequality in health and life expectancy every day?’

Now I believe constitutional recognition is important. I believe it helps set the space for further demands on closing the gap.

But I do not wish to insult intelligence of those for whom constitutional recognition would most affect.

If we don’t match our determination to deliver constitutional change with an equal effort to close the gap in health, life expectancy, education, employment and of course justice.

Anything less runs the very real risk of rendering recognition meaningless for people to whom it should mean the most.

I do not believe that we should go back down the dry gully of the false debate between ‘practical’ and ‘symbolic’ reconciliation.

We must ensure that each one works to enhance and amplify the other.

I say to our guests in Parliament today, the presence of so many Members of Parliament from all sides of politics should give you some quiet pause for confidence, because all of us are under no illusions as to the scale and the scope of the challenge, and also the opportunity.

But when we, and I’m sure I speak for the others here, get a chance to attend events like this, to listen to smart people talk, talk to people with real world experience.

When we can learn from the impact of community controlled services, the direct involvement of our first peoples in the planning and delivery of health services, in particular.

When I think about the goodwill and energy and vision that moments in the day such as this bring out in our Parliament, I am confident that we can rise to the challenge, I’m confident that we can be more ambitious than we are.

I’m confident that we meet the moment before us with a co-operation, creativity and the commitment that it demands.

We can and surely will close the gap, for now and for always.




Mar 25, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins



Good Morning Everyone

“Whatever has been done; whatever must be done; and all that we can hope to do in the future, are predicated by the stern realities of war.”

This is what our great wartime Prime Minister, John Curtin said, as Opposition Leader in 1940, making the case for a modern, evolved and well-equipped defence force.

More than any of his predecessors, Curtin was focused on Australia’s independent strategic capability.

He looked over the horizon, he understood Australia’s need for the technology, flexibility and agility to act for our own interests, and in our own defence.

And Curtin’s truth endures.

Today, this conference assembles to discuss a keystone of our next generation of Australian defence capabilities: our future submarines.

As another great Australian leader, former Chief of the Defence Forces, and current Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove has said:

“Submarines are essential strategic defence assets.

They are covert, have long reach and deploy a powerful set of weapons and sensors.

On the seas, they are our most effective deterrent.”

The term ‘next generation’ has an important meaning in the context of this debate.

Because building and delivering Australia’s new submarine fleet is an inter-generational decision.

We are talking about a project that will develop and evolve until halfway through this century – beyond the life of any one government.

Future Prime Ministers, from both sides of politics, will have to live with the consequences.

Two generations of workers will contribute to this project – some of them haven’t even been born yet.

And it will be, without doubt, the most significant procurement decision of our time, with billions of dollars’ worth of construction  and maintenance over the life of the project.

One early error, committed in haste, would be compounded and magnified over the life of the project – and its costs could total in the billions.

To me, all this underscores one simple truth: it is essential that we take the time to get this decision right.

Yet despite the scale and significance of the moment before us.

In the last 18 months, we have witnessed this project…worth tens of billions of dollars, and thousands of jobs…used as a bargaining chip to save one job.

We have seen a decision encompassing years of intellect, industry and effort…fall victim to uncertainty, secrecy and misinformation.

A decision central to Australia’s national security…degraded by internal party politics.

We live in hotly contested political times, and many speak longingly of a lost golden age of bipartisanship.

But before the last election, the future construction of Australia’s submarine fleet was bipartisan.

Labor and Liberal were of one voice: the next generation of submarines would be built here in Australia.

Since the election, we have all suffered through the unedifying spectacle of the Government trying to crab walk away from this solemn commitment.

In the process, a Defence Minister has come and gone…but the paralysis has persisted.

So, I have come here today to offer the Government a way forward, a bipartisan solution to the gridlock that currently holds sway.

A solution that will deliver the best submarines, at the best price.

A solution for high-quality Australian submarines, and high-skill Australian jobs.

A solution that begins with a competitive tender process.

Labor is proposing a twelve to eighteen month process, involving a Request for Proposal, followed by a Request for Tender.

Under this process, Australia would invite the most prominent relevant submarine designers from Germany, France, Japan and Sweden to participate.

Each would receive $7 million from the Commonwealth to be involved in this process.

Following the request for proposals, the Government would down-select two submarine builders to provide full design definition and fixed priced contract bids.

The two parties selected would receive an additional $8 million to provide more detailed final tender bids.

There are three non-negotiable conditions for these tenders:

  • a guarantee of submarine performance
  • Australian ownership of all intellectual property
  • And the next generation of submarines must be built, maintained and sustained in Australia

Labor’s proposed process would deliver a final decision by the end of 2016, ensuring that the first future submarine in the fleet would be in the water by the middle of the next decade.

This morning, I want to take the time to step through the detail of each of these commitments.

  • The importance of an Australian Build
  • The best way of guaranteeing value for money
  • And taking the time to make the right decision

In doing so, I hope to address the misinformation and myth-making that has lately distorted this important conversation.

Australian Build

First, let me explain the full meaning of ‘built in Australia’.

We will always have to co-operate with overseas firms, as we have no design or weapons systems of our own.

A tender process that guarantees an ‘Australian build’ would include the construction of the submarine hulls, and the installation of the combat and communications systems in Australia.

It would mean that all of the through-life support and maintenance would also be done in Australia.

In times of peace, this local support capability is a valuable efficiency, as well as an important investment in Australian jobs and skills.

In times of conflict, it is central to our national security.

We have to build here so that the expertise for self reliance in times of conflict is here, not dependent on overseas interests.

I think the head of the Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox put it best when he said:

“We can hardly be towing submarines across hemispheres for repairs”.

We cannot predict every future threat to our security, we cannot foresee every future conflict.

But we do know that Australia will always be an island nation, with critically important maritime trading lanes and approaches.

And we can say, with certainty, that we will always need the skills, industry and workforce to build and maintain our own submarines and ships.

Value for Money

I want to turn now to the question of value for money.

The first and most fundamental point here is that the best way of guaranteeing value for taxpayer money is a robust, transparent and competitive tender process.

I want the four best submarine builders in the world, competing for our contract.

We all accept that competition produces the best value in every marketplace – why would we reject it for such an important decision, with such large sums involved.

I also want to say a word or two about the Australians I believe should build our next generation of submarines.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting hardworking men and women at ship-building yards around our nation.

They are highly-trained, highly-skilled problem-solvers, doing intricate and important work.

Yet, as a terrible consequence of this recent turmoil, their abilities, their professionalism and their dedication to task have been unfairly impugned.

Often this injustice has been perpetuated under the cover of ‘cost’.

A range of wildly inflated pricetags have been affixed to the Australian build – but none of them have been substantiated.

Meanwhile, both TKMS and Saab have confirmed that they are prepared to build Australia’s new submarine fleet, in Adelaide, at a competitive price for taxpayers.

I have already acknowledged the significance of the sums involved here.

Not for one minute am I suggesting that building the first submarine in Australia’s new fleet will be cheap.

As with any new major project, there will be a steep learning curve.

But the history of defence builds is that they get better as they go – Collins shows us that.

Every lesson learned on the first vessel becomes a productivity gain on the second.

And this process accumulates and amplifies over the life of the project.

Construction gets better, faster and more efficient each time.

And in addition to the strategic benefits I mentioned earlier, it is, of course, cheaper and easier for our people to maintain and sustain a vessel that they have built themselves.

Labor’s Future Submarines Industry and Skills Plan, released in March 2013, would have delivered this outcome – and put us on the path to a sustainable shipbuilding industry.

Investing in making the right decision

Just as ‘cost’ is used as code for talking-down the capabilities of Australian workers, the term ‘capability gap’ is often invoked as the justification for undue haste.

The process I have outlined today will deliver a considered decision by the end of next year.

And when we consider the rapid improvement and revitalisation that flowed from Labor’s investment in the Collins Class submarine.

And the extension of service life it delivered.

Plainly, any talk of a ‘capability gap’ is just not true.

Given the immensity of the undertaking we are planning – and the decades that the design, construction and maintenance processes will span – it is only sensible to take a few extra months to ensure the decision we make is the correct one.

Labor’s competitive tender process including a funded definition study will cost $44 million.

When the most bare-bones conservative estimate for the cost of the project is $20 billion – we’re talking about a percentage of 0.22

A tiny fraction that could ultimately save billions in the long run.

Skills and Manufacturing

The final substantive point I would make today is about skills and manufacturing.

I believe in utilising essential defence procurement investment to generate broader industrial capacity.

This is not about using defence policy as industry policy.

Our defence industry capacity is about national security, it always will be.

We owe it to our defence force to give them the best equipment we can, to never send them into danger with anything but the very best.

But we can – and should – look to leverage Australia’s defence industry and its workforce to deliver  a safer nation, better ADF assets and the skills and technology of the new economy.


Ladies and Gentlemen

I have come to Adelaide today offering a solution and a circuit breaker.

I extend this offer in good faith – and I sincerely hope the Government are prepared to accept it in the same spirit.

I have outlined Labor’s proposed process – and made clear our objectives:

A competitive tender, delivering value for money.

An Australian build and Australian maintenance, drawing on local expertise and supporting local jobs.

Investing in our strategic capability – and the skills of our workforce.

And the time to get this moving is today.

We cannot afford to drift, or delay, any longer.

This decision is bigger than day-to-day politics, it’s too big a question for partisan pride.

So if, by some crooked twist of fate, the Government brings Labor’s proposed process to the Parliament, under a different name and without attribution or acknowledgement – I won’t care.

Indeed I’ll be the first one to vote for it.

My concern is not getting credit – it’s solving the problem.

We can’t wait around for a second attempt at an intergenerational decision, merely in the hope of getting our name in the Parliamentary record book.

Finding a way forward is more important than all of this.

The next generation of Australian submarines don’t belong to Liberal or Labor – they belong to the nation, to the Australia of 2025 and 2050.

And I hope in that Australia, the Australia of the future, people will look back at this summit and this day – the 25th of March 2015 – and say this was when Australia put aside partisan differences and got on with delivering next generation of submarines.

This was when our country set itself up for the future.

We can, we should, we will.


Mar 24, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins




Labor pays tribute to the father of modern Singapore and a principal architect of harmony and prosperity in our region.

Lee Kuan Yew owns a giant legacy of many dimensions and today we recognise briefly what he accomplished.

Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore was born in turbulent times – at home and in the region:

  • Nations across Asia felt the ragged edge of the British withdrawal and decolonisation.
  • The Malayan Emergency, Konfrantasi and the Sukarno split threatened peace and stability.

And there were internal, as well as external, perils.

As Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Lee Kuan Yew’s great friend on the world stage and friendly rival on the golf course, recalled, ‘Harry Lee’ faced profound challenges at home:

To quote Bob Hawke, “He found himself leading a country deeply divided on religious and ethnic lines, surrounded by powerful potential enemies, with a weak economy and no natural resources at all.”

And indeed, from that uncertain platform, he built a modern, prosperous nation – a leader in the region, especially through ASEAN and a trading powerhouse in the world.

But his ambitions for his people and his country reached higher than this.

In 1997, at a celebration of the Chinese New Year, Lee Kuan Yew reflected on how far his nation had come – and the measure of true success.

He said, “We cannot measure our happiness just by our GDP growth. It is how our families and friends care for each other, how we look after our old and nurture our young, they are what make for a closely-knit society, one we can be proud to belong to.”

Australians in fact owe a debt to Lee Kuan Yew, he built modern Singapore, and modern Singapore and modern Singaporeans are a dynamic people amongst the first rank of Australia’s friends and allies.

So Lee Kuan Yew, the proud father and tireless servant of the nation he brought forth is now at rest.

Our condolences to his family, his friends and all the people of Singapore who share grief at his passing.



Mar 23, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins




We give thanks for Malcolm Fraser’s six decades of service to our nation, as a parliamentarian, Prime Minister and statesman.

And we farewell a person of hidden depths and many parts, a man often misunderstood.

For some Malcolm Fraser was a hero who became a villain, for others he was a villain who became a hero.

But neither of these simple sketches are fair – and in time history’s judgment will be kinder than either.

The good that Malcolm Fraser did will live after him, to his great and enduring credit.

Malcolm Fraser came to public life as a man in a hurry.

A candidate for parliament at 24, the Member for Wannon by 25, a Minister at 35 and Prime Minister at 45.

His appetite for hard work, his formidable intellect and his healthy ambition drove this rapid rise.

But Malcolm Fraser was always more than the sum of his aspirations.

He was broader and bigger than his opponents imagined possible.

He was both shyer and smarter than people appreciated.

Beyond the stern visage and the Easter Island jaw beloved of cartoonists, beat the heart of a humanitarian.

His concern for the welfare of the vulnerable and his belief in the equal treatment of all, won Malcolm Fraser many new admirers in the long third act of his public life.

Yet as both Bob Hawke and Paul Keating remarked in their warm tributes last week, Fraser’s belief in racial equality was a lifelong article of faith.

It was a golden thread of integrity that began in the lonely days of his childhood in the Riverina, where his closest friend was a young Aboriginal girl.

An experience that had not left him when, as the Minister for Education, he would ease that great patrician frame of his into the red dirt of the Territory to sit with community elders.

A memory that abided when, as Prime Minister, he passed the Whitlam Land Rights Act, the Racial Discrimination Act and kept faith with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

And as an elder statesman, resplendent in pinstripe suit and waistcoat, he continued to champion the cause of reconciliation.

But Fraser’s commitment to human rights ran deeper even than this.

As Prime Minister, he led Australia’s independent condemnation of the evil of Apartheid.

He took a principled stand, declaring that South Africa’s regime of racial prejudice was “repugnant to the whole human race”.

And he matched his words with deeds: visiting Mandela in prison, imposing international sanctions and, perhaps most famously in our sport-loving nation, refusing to allow the Springboks plane to stop here on its way to New Zealand.

Later, Fraser delighted in telling the anecdote of Mandela’s first question to him at their meeting:

Mr Fraser, can you tell me, is Donald Bradman still alive?’

And when Mandela became President, Fraser took him a bat inscribed by the Don: ‘To Nelson Mandela, in recognition of a great unfinished innings,’.

Malcolm Fraser laid the broad foundation of our great, generous, modern multicultural society.

He had the wisdom to understand that there was nothing for Australia to fear, or lose, in embracing people from every culture, faith and tradition.

He knew that diversity would enrich our nation and our lives.

Under Fraser, Australia offered refuge to tens of thousands of Vietnamese people driven from their homes by the terror of war and dictatorship.

Many of these families, who made Australia their second home, have paid touching tribute to Malcolm Fraser as their ‘second father’.

Fraser’s Australia also quietly moved to the reality beyond White Australia, giving a second chance to people from South Africa, shut out of their nation by apartheid.

The new nation he built was given voice, music, news and stories by SBS.

For some it was a glimpse of another, wider world – for others it was the songs and sound of the home they left behind.

Multicultural Australia will always stand as the tallest monument to the life and legacy of Malcolm Fraser.

It is an achievement we celebrate, enjoy and give thanks for every day.

Madam Speaker, much has been said and written about the central role Fraser played in the dismissal of the Whitlam Government.

Never, before or since, have political passions run higher in this country.

Even now, the acrimony, the vitriol showered on each side by the other, the sheer ugliness of those days leap from the pages of old newspapers and bark at us from old footage.

But the passing of the last of the protagonists of the drama of 1975, is not the time for re-litigating old arguments or resuscitating old grievances.

As Malcolm’s great friend Ian McPhee said, Malcolm never spent time regretting the past, he was always looking at the future.

So let us take our inspiration from Malcolm Fraser and Gough Whitlam…

Let us remember Whitlam and Fraser standing together on the steps of Victorian Parliament in 1999, arms aloft, rallying support for the Republic.

Or that wonderful ad created for the ‘Yes’ campaign, where Whitlam, looks at Fraser, eyes twinkling and says: ‘Malcolm, it’s time’.

And Malcolm looks back at Gough, with that same good-humoured glint of irony, and says ‘It is’.

Let us remember that the second Whitlam Oration was given by Malcolm – at Gough’s insistence, with a video introduction by Gough Whitlam.

Most fittingly of all, let us remember Whitlam’s hand resting on Fraser’s shoulder, on the morning of the National Apology by the Rudd Government.

Two champions of the rights and opportunities of the First Australians, standing with their successors, united in celebrating a day of justice and healing.

If those two titans could find it in themselves to make peace and build a friendship, to campaign together for their shared beliefs, then none of us have the right to hold onto the bitterness of that bygone era – this chapter in our nation’s life is closed.

We will always remember Gough Whitlam for so much more than the way he left office, and we will remember Malcolm Fraser for much more than the way he came to office.

This is not to pretend that Malcolm Fraser was not a political opponent of Labor for a major part of his public life, or that he was not antagonistic to many of our policies and principles.

He would not want us to minimise our differences or disagreements.

But when we look at Malcolm Fraser’s life and legacy

  • The humane treatment of Vietnamese refugees
  • An independent foreign policy for Australia
  • Support for a Republic
  • Australia’s active role in the resolution of international situations

There is no disputing that he was involved in the creation of good values.

If that is what you leave behind – acting for good in the name of the public good – then that is a truly remarkable contribution.

Madam Speaker, the passing of a former Prime Minister always gives us pause.

Last year, Labor farewelled the author of our modern identity.

It was a time of sadness, joy and contemplation, a time to revisit the standards Gough set for us and to ask ourselves how far we had come to fulfilling his vision for Australia.

So it is with the passing of Malcolm Fraser, a transformed political leader, Gough’s fierce foe who became his firm friend.

Perhaps all of us in this place can ask ourselves if we can do better by each other and the people we serve.

Perhaps we can recognise that while we are all people of different beliefs, we share a common faith – we all believe in the value of public life, the noble calling of politics and the greatness of the nation we love.

Let this respect for each other, and our democracy, be Malcolm Fraser’s final act of public service.

My final words today are for Malcolm’s loving wife Tamie and their children.

I should confess that about a dozen years ago, Tamie Fraser told me that her grandfather was one of the first graziers in the district to employ union shearers in their woolshed – and ever since then I’ve had something of a soft spot for her.

Tamie Fraser once described herself as ‘just someone in the back row’.

But she was so much more than that, she performed the public duties of a Prime Ministerial spouse with poise, class and verve and her contribution to our nation continued long after she and Malcolm had left the Lodge.

She is in our hearts today, as are all the members of the Fraser family.

Farewell Malcolm Fraser.

His duty done, may he rest in eternal peace.



Mar 21, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins













Members of the Australian Defence Forces, members of the Australian Federal Police and civilian agencies that served in Afghanistan, reservists, your families, fellow Australians and other distinguished guests,


It is fitting we are assembled here at the Australian War Memorial to honour the contribution of our veterans from Afghanistan.


When our great wartime Prime Minister, John Curtin, opened this Memorial, seventy four years ago, he said:


“No one who enters this building can leave it…without being brought one step nearer to the ultimate meaning of all this courage, all this sacrifice, all this faith.”


Today, at this memorial dedicated to those who fought tyranny, and indeed all around Australia, we salute all of you who have brought new honour to the Anzac tradition.


We honour your steely professionalism and your conspicuous personal bravery.


We renew our promise to remember your brothers, who lost their lives in the mountains and green valleys of Afghanistan.


We pledge our support to the wounded and to all those who have come back to Australia forever changed by what they experienced.


We pay tribute to your families who have known the long, lonely anxiety of a loved one in harm’s way.


And in all this, we bring our nation a step nearer to the ultimate understanding of courage, sacrifice and faith.


It has been said of the first Anzacs: ‘if you want to know what they believed in, look around you’.


Look at our free society, our people safe, our nation at peace.


And many thousands of kilometres from here – and for many years to come – the people of Afghanistan will say, if you want to know what the Australians of Operation Slipper believed in, look around you:


10 million children at school, up from 1 million under the Taliban.


3 million girls going to school, up from none at all.


Look at towns in Uruzgan province with electricity and new schools – light and learning where once there was darkness.


Look at young Afghan men learning a trade and new skills, where once they were taught only violence and hate.


This new hope, this new chapter in the story of Afghanistan is your monument.


You were guardians of our nation at a time when Australia needed you.


And you made it possible for the people of Afghanistan to restore peace to their lives and their country.


Of this you can always be proud, and Australia will always be proud of you.


But we owe you more than praise and pride.


Words of gratitude for your service must be matched by deeds of practical resolve and meaningful help.


We recognise that your war experience did not end when the Australian flag at Tarin Kowt was lowered for the last time.


The return to life in Australia, the return to civilian life, the journey from a war zone in southern Afghanistan to a suburban home in Australia can be a difficult one.


It can bring stresses and strains for you and the people who love you.


Today reminds us all of our obligation to help through this, to provide you support for the next phases and challenges of life with confidence and optimism.


This is our shared national mission now, it is the promise I believe is being made today.


And it is at the heart of the words we say every time we meet on this hallowed ground.


Lest we forget.



Mar 19, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins












I move that so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving the following motion forthwith.


That this House condemns the Prime Minister for:


One, leading a chaotic and incompetence Government which seeks to

  1. slug Australian students with $100,000 degrees,
  2. rip $80 a week from pensioners
  3. rip $6,000 from the budget of a typical Australian family,


Two, putting Australia’s AAA credit rating at risk through his own incompetence and mismanagement, and,


Three, having no economic plan for Australia’s future.


Tony Abbott is the Captain Chaos of Australian politics.


He is the captain of a team who has no economic plan for Australia’s future.


They have no budget plan.


It has been 39 days since 39 Liberal MPs voted to get rid of this Prime Minister, yet I’ve heard in the PMO bunker they look back on that as the golden age of this Government.


This Government has no adoptable economic strategy.


This is why standing orders should be suspended,


Listen to the Government, say that they want to talk about anyone else’s plan.


Where is the Government’s plan?


This Government is running the classic defence, “don’t look at us, look everywhere else”.


Let’s have a look at the plan which they say that they want to maintain.


They want to put forward $100,000 degrees for Australian university students and it has failed in the Budget and it has failed when it has gone to the Senate and it will keep failing whenever you call your election.


The real issue why we should be suspending standing orders here is that Australians have had a deep concern that they couldn’t trust Tony Abbott.


They’ve deep down wondered “can they trust Tony Abbott?”


Many of us have thought “you can’t” but what has been revealed in recent days in the Government’s misfortune is this Government has now junked even any pretence of a surplus.


I love hearing these people talk about surplus.


In 2012, Tony Abbott said – the Prime Minister – the current Prime Minister I should call him – he said in 2012, “An incoming Liberal and Coalition Government will bring to surplus in their first year.”


Remember that promise?


Then they said – then we’ve seen the old Liberal slip and slide and they’ve said “we’ll do it in the first three years” but the slide isn’t finished, this is one of the big slides like you see at the show.


They’ve then said, Tony Abbott who has made many contributions to the English language, has invented broad balance.


Let me decode what the “broad balance” Budget within 5 years will be.


It is not a surplus.


Then Treasury let the cat out of the bag yesterday, this honest Treasury official on the way through disowning that piece of propaganda called the Intergenerational Report, they said there would be no surplus for 40 years.


No surplus for 40 years. Australians have heard that right.


The Treasury has said that this Government cannot generate a surplus for 40 years.


What we’ve seen, and the reason why we’ve seen this, is this so-called braveheart of Australian politics, this crusading Prime Minister.


Many of us have had doubts about can we trust him but one thing he’s always had as his mantra, as his holy grail, as the item he politically genuflects before is surplus and what we’ve seen is a slip and slide away.


Why? Because he wants to save his own job.


There is only one policy of this Government – save Tony Abbott’s job.


There is only one Budget strategy – save Tony Abbott’s job.


Now the Prime Minister says it will be a dull Budget. There is going to something good for families, something good for childcare, it will be dull.


One thing about this Prime Minister is he’s never dull. He is never dull but what he has done is he’s given up his commitment to ever getting to surplus.


This was a core belief.


We know that Tony Abbott has trouble keeping his election promises but at least on surplus we mightn’t have liked the way he would get to it but what he does is that’s what he’s always pushed.


What I have to say to be fair to Tony Abbott here – to be fair to this Prime Minister here is this is not a captain’s pick to dump everything they believe or to try and save their job, it’s a team vote. It’s a team vote.


See, this Government leak on each other about whose idea it was to knight Prince Philip but when it comes to leaking on each other who opposed the bad ideas in this Budget, unusually for this rag-tag mob, radio silence.


Because no-one anywhere can seriously say they ever disagreed with each other on any of it – the $100,000 degrees, the cuts to families, payments and of course the pensions.


The thing about this Government is at their heart they don’t believe it’s the unfairness of the Budget which is the problem, they just blame the salesmen.


Let me tell you you’ve got half the answer. You do have a problem with your salesmen but much more than just who’s selling it, it’s the unfairness you’re selling.


What we see is the so-called economic first officer of the nation – I’m referring to the Treasurer in case anyone was confused about who I was speaking about- they have got less than two months to go for their Budget and they are adrift.


What the Government often says is that it’s just gossip, the inside talk about the problems they’ve got.


Treasury officials have made it clear it is five minutes to midnight, less than two months before this Budget and there is no Budget plan, there is no Budget plan.


But standing orders should be suspended because…there’s the Agriculture Minister. You’ve done enough this week, son.


Standing orders should be suspended because we’ve got an Education Minister. He is not a fixer, he is a failure.


Arguably the worst higher Education Minister that we’ve ever seen since we had higher education in this country.


$100,000 degrees. What a stupid idea. $2 billion from vocational education, skills and training and of course the vandalism that they are committing to Australia’s schools by cutting $30 billion from schools over the next 10 years is a disgrace


But standing orders should be suspended as well because the Health Ministers have no plan for health. What mind would have dreamed up a GP tax on the sick and the vulnerable? $50 billion from Australia’s hospitals and that’s an important point to remember.


This Government’s last Budget, which none of the would-bes, could-bes or never-weres opposite have not repudiated, contained a $50 billion cut to our hospitals.


The damage this Government is doing to Australia with their lack of economic plan to our hospitals is absolutely appalling.


The real problem here is that this Government, unlike predecessor Governments of Liberal or Labor persuasion, have no adoptable strategy.


They cannot convince the Senate – they act as if having a Senate not of their own political persuasion is a new phenomenon.


For many years in Australian history there’s been a Senate of a different political complexion to a government but this the first time we’ve had a government who hasn’t got an adoptable economic plan.


Australia has no budgetary plan because this government has no budgetary plan which Australians want.


So Prime Minister, the man who loves to get up and say one thing and then apologise, I’m really sorry, and then do it again and apologise again as if life is one huge “I make a mistake, I’m a fool and then I repent,” this is not good enough.


Your budgetary policies, your $6,000 cuts for families are just a bad idea.


Your $100,000 degrees are just a broken promise.


Your cuts to pensions are an outrage and your cuts to hospitals and schools, $80 billion worth in the next 10 years, is absolute economic vandalism.


So if you want to take these rotten ideas to an election, please do it.


Give the Australian people an opportunity to have a say on your policies rather than trying to intimidate the Senate with your broken promises.


And I also advise the Prime Minister it doesn’t matter when you bring the election, the battle lines are most certainly drawn.


You love to talk about Liberal can do this and Liberal can do that.


You haven’t done much in the last 18 months.


You have taken 18 months of the nation’s life and wasted the time of the nation.


We believe in universal health care versus your GP tax and health care cuts.


We believe in access to higher education for all, not $100,000 degrees.


We do not share the narrow-based extremist philosophy of the Education Minister who says that people who haven’t been to university begrudge paying taxes for those who have.


I have never met a parent or grandparent who begrudged it.


This is a Government with no economic plan and you most certainly do stand condemned.




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