Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Oct 21, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins




Today our Parliament has some every sad news, and I think regardless of political affiliation, it is very sad news for all Australians.

Edward Gough Whitlam has passed away.

Today our Parliament and our nation pause to mourn the loss of one of Australia’s greatest sons.

I offered my condolences to Gough’s son Nick this morning, he told me that the great man had passed in peace and comfort.

He kept that ‘certain grandeur’ to the very end.

The Honourable Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC means a lot to the story of our country, the story of modern Australia, our home.

Gough’s was a truly Australian life and a life truly lived for Australia.

In uniform, in Parliament, in the Prime Ministership and around the world.

Gough Whitlam was a man for the ages – and a giant of his time.

No-one who lived through the Whitlam era will ever forget it – and perhaps nobody born after it can ever really imagine it.

Gough’s ambition went beyond his desire to serve our nation; he wanted to transform it – completely, permanently – and he did.

Today I submit that like no other Prime Minister before or since, Gough Whitlam redefined our country – and in doing so he changed the lives of a generation – and generations to come.

Think of Australia in say, 1966.

Ulysses was banned.

Lolita was banned.

It was the Australia of the six o’clock swill, with no film industry and only one television drama – Homicide.

Political movements to the left of the DLP were under routine surveillance.

Many Australians of talent: (Clive, Barry, Germaine, Rupert, Sidney, Geoffrey) as a matter of course left their home native country to try their luck in England.

Yet Gough reimagined Australia, our home, as a confident, prosperous, modern, multicultural nation, where opportunity belonged to everyone.

The Whitlam Government should not be measured in years- but in achievements.

Whitlam defined patriotism as seeing things that were wrong about Australia and trying to change them.

In 1970 he was referring to:

-        Our unacceptably high infant mortality rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

-       Our immigration policy based on race

-       Our support for the Vietnam War.

Whitlam said that a true patriot does not seek to justify unfairness, or prolong unfairness – but to change it.

And change it he did.

Our country is most certainly different because of him.

By any test is our country is better because of him.

Gough Whitlam spent his political life reaching for higher ground.

Think of all that he changed, forever and for the better.

Healthcare changed – because of him.

Education changed – because of him.

Land rights for Aboriginal Australians – because of him.

Our place in Asia, particularly our relationship with China changed – because of him.

Our troops home from Vietnam, the birthday ballot ended – because of him.

The death penalty abolished and discrimination banished from our laws – because of him.

No fault divorce and the family court – because of him.

Our suburbs, for the first time, at the centre of national debate – because of him.

Everywhere we look in our remarkable modern country, we see the hand and word of Whitlam.

‘The Program’ lives on.

Gough Whitlam opened the doors to our universities.

He lifted up our schools and training centres.

He said that every Australian should have a choice in education.

But, Whitlam said, this must be a choice between:

systems and courses; not between standards, not between a good education and a bad one, an expensive education, or a poor one, a socially esteemed education or one that is socially downgraded.”

He indeed believed that the health of any one of us, matters to all of us.

And with Medibank, he brought the peace of mind that is Medicare to every Australian.

He was determined to end what he called the ‘inequality of luck’ for Australians with a disability – and his vision is writ large in the National Disability Insurance Scheme now.

He understood that:

“The main sufferers in Australian society –  the main victims of social deprivation and restricted opportunity – have been the oldest Australians on the one hand and the newest Australians on the other.”

And he sought Land Rights for Aboriginal Australians, the end of the White Australian Policy and the passage of the Racial Discrimination Act.

He tried always, to do good.

He strove like the conscientious Fabian he mostly was to leave behind a better world.

His speechwriter and confidante Graham Freudenberg reminded me this morning:

“There are some who say he did too much too soon, but few can say what he did that could have waited longer.”

Gough never lacked the courage for the good fight.

It was this courage, this determination that made him the great reformer of the Labor party – the greatest in Labor’s history.

Gough Whitlam loved the Labor Party, and the Labor Party loved Gough Whitlam, and Gough Whitlam changed the Labor Party.

He shook Labor up, he made our party relevant to the modern, multicultural, fair and reconciled country of his grand vision.

In 1964, Gough entered Trades Hall in Melbourne.

He had a speech prepared for the Labor party – but he said he could not deliver it because there were two Labor parties.

There were the men: the delegates and the candidates.

And the women: making the tea, preparing the meals out the back.

Gough declared then that we did not deserve to be called the Labor party, until we were one Labor party.

Gough declared that until we were one Labor party, we did not deserve to govern.

The result was the women stopped making the tea, they were no longer consigned to the back of the room.

And so began the making of modern Labor.

Gough refashioned our party, he drew it out of its narrow, quarrelsome, partisan divisions into an inclusive social democracy, and stirred with his wit and his capability many brilliant citizens into public service.

Gough presented to the nation and largely delivered a hearty, refreshing, merciful, forgiving, exhilarating New Order.

He was an unusual figure to be doing such things.

Large and regal, with an accent both broad and aristocratic, and a cadence so emphatic, it seemed you dare not oppose him, he appeared both prim and episcopal – and hugely conservative while changing society forever.

Francis James knew him as a schoolboy, when his aim was to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and they truanted from Canberra Grammar to watch the young R.G. Menzies dominating Parliament House. ‘Gough admired Menzies’s lucidity,’ Francis said, ‘but found him insincere.’

He was judged by his acquaintances and political contestants in very different ways. The former Victorian Trade Union Defence Committee  swore blind he was a closet Liberal or, more frankly, a spy.

The Melbourne Establishment believed he was a class traitor, one who had sullied his boots, and his family name, by seeking an easier rise in the stupider party.

The DLP saw him as their bridge over troubled waters back to anti-Communist Chifleyism.

To his friend Jim Killen he was ‘as obnoxious a by-product of the upper middle classes as has ever grafted itself leechlike on the egalitarian movement.’

To Sir John Kerr he was a dangerous megalomaniac.

To Sir Laurence Olivier a hero of the age.

To Gore Vidal the nation’s most intelligent man.

Above all, Gough was an agent for democracy, an agent for tolerance.

Democracy and tolerance are defining features of our country, great leaders can make national character, can actually make national values.

These are very important qualities, democracy and tolerance, that do depend upon the country’s leaders.

Of all leaders, none had arguably more cause to carry an anvil of political hatred – but he actually did not.

In defending democracy, defending tolerance – Whitlam defined his values and his character – and indeed our nation’s.

There will be more to say about the loss of this great man – I know that so many of you will have personal stories and memories of inspiration to share.

And in remembering Gough, we remember his wife Margaret, a great Australian in her own right and their life together – a great Australian love story.

Our thoughts are with his family – a family that has given so much to our nation.

Their long line of public service did not begin with Gough – and it has not ended with him.

I believe that perhaps there will be more tears shed for Gough Whitlam today than perhaps any other leader in Australian history.

And his beloved men and women of Australia will long remember where they were this day.

‘It’s time’ Gough, once told us.

A phrase that captured the imagination of a nation.

A rallying cry for change, for a confident, progressive, fair and modern Australia.

It’s time, he said.

And because of Gough, because of his life and legacy, it’s always time.

It’s always time for a more generous and inclusive and progressive and confident Australia.

It’s always time to help our fellow Australians rise higher than their current circumstance.

It’s always time for courage in leadership and to create and seize opportunity.

It is always time.

On his 80th birthday, Gough Whitlam said

With all my reservations, I do admit I seem eternal.”

He warned, however: “Dying will happen sometime. As you know, I plan for the ages, not just for this life.”

And “You can be sure of one thing,” he said of a possible meeting with his maker, “I shall treat Him as an equal.”

Madam Speaker

The men and women of Australia will mourn Gough Whitlam as a legend – and we shall treasure his legacy.

Gough’s light shines before him – and the memory of his good works will live long in the heart of our nation.




Oct 21, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Remarks to Caucus – Gough Whitlam




I have some very sad news for all of you. And I think very sad news for all Australians.

A giant of our movement, a great leader of our nation Edward Gough Whitlam has left us.

I rang and offered my condolences to Gough’s son Nick this morning, he told me that the great man had passed in peace and comfort.

He kept that ‘certain grandeur’ to the very end.

Gough’s was a truly Australian life and a life truly lived for Australia.

In uniform, in Parliament, in the Prime Ministership and around the world.

Gough did not just want to serve our nation; he wanted to transform it – utterly and permanently – and he most certainly did.

Like no other Prime Minister before or since, Gough Whitlam redefined our country – and in doing so he changed the lives of a generation – and generations to come.

He reimagined Australia – as a prosperous, modern, multicultural nation, where opportunity belonged to everyone.

The Whitlam Government should not be measured in years- but in achievements.

Our country is different because of him.

By any test is our country is better because of him.

Gough Whitlam spent his political life reaching for higher ground.

Think of all that he changed, forever and for the better.

Healthcare changed – because of him.

Education changed – because of him.

Land rights for Indigenous Australians changed – because of him.

Our place in Asia, in particular our relationship with China – changed because of him.

Our troops home from Vietnam, the birthday ballot ended – because of him.

The death penalty abolished and discrimination banished from our laws – because of him.

Our suburbs at the centre of national debate – because of him.

His speechwriter and confidante, Graham Freudenberg once observed:

There are some who say he did too much too soon, but few can say what he did that could have waited longer.

Gough never lacked the courage for the good fight.

It was this courage, this determination that made him the great reformer of the Labor party – the greatest in our history.

Gough Whitlam loved the Labor Party and Gough Whitlam changed the Labor Party.

He shook Labor up, he made our party relevant to the modern, multicultural, fair and reconciled country of his grand vision.

In 1964, Gough entered Trades Hall in Melbourne.

He said he had a speech prepared for the Labor party – but he could not deliver it because there were two Labor parties.

The men: the delegates and the candidates.

And the women: making the tea, preparing the meals out the back.

Gough declared than that we did not deserve to be called the Labor party, until we were one Labor party.

Gough declared then that until we were one Labor party, we did not deserve to govern.

The result was that the women stopped making the tea, they were no longer consigned to the back of the room.

And so began the making of modern Labor.

Gough refashioned our party, he drew it out of its narrow partisan divisions into an inclusive social democracy.

And he stirred with his wit and his capability many brilliant citizens into public service.

He was indeed an agent for democracy, an agent for tolerance.

Democracy and tolerance are defining features of our country.

Great leaders can make national character, can make national values.

These are very important qualities, and their strength depend at every turn on the capacity of great leaders.

He was sacked. Unprecedented in Australian history.

But of all leaders, therefore, none more cause to carry an anvil of hatred – but he did not.

In defending democracy, defending tolerance – Whitlam defined his values and his character – and the nation’s.

There will be more to say about the loss of this great man – I know that so many of you will have personal stories and memories of inspiration to share.

And in remembering Gough, we remember his wife Margaret, a great Australian in her own right and their life together – a great Australian love story.

Our thoughts are with his family – a family that has given so much to our nation.

Their long line of public service did not begin with Gough – and it has not ended with him.

There will be more tears shed for Gough Whitlam today than perhaps any other leader in Australian history.

And his beloved men and women of Australia will long remember where they were this day.

‘It’s time’ Gough told us.

Because of him, because of his life and legacy, it’s always time.

It’s always time for a more generous and inclusive Australia.

It’s always time to help our fellow Australians rise higher than their current circumstance.

It’s always time for courage in leadership and to create and seize opportunity.

It is always time.

Gough’s light shines before him – and the memory of his great works will live long in the heart of our nation.



Sep 27, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins





Good Morning Everyone

To Mike Fitzpatrick and James Brayshaw, thank you for selecting me for my Grand Final breakfast debut.

Lovely to see Julie Bishop here, I’d say she’s been best on ground for the Government – makes you think how much better the Abbott Cabinet would be if it had two women.

It’s great to stand here in the middle of Etihad Stadium, just a few kilometres and a few hours away from the high point of what has been another fantastic AFL season.

Not many people know this, but in my student days, I actually spent a lot of time on-field for my team, Collingwood.

I was a blue coat – a ground attendant for at Victoria Park.

That was back in 1990 – so I prefer to describe myself as a premiership ground attendant.

Sitting in front of the Collingwood cheer squad certainly taught me a lot of new words and expressions.

Though, I can’t repeat half of them.

And I still don’t really understand what the other half mean.

How could an umpire possibly do that to himself? 

And even on the sunniest day at Victoria Park – it was always a good idea to wear your official blue raincoat.

Seemed like there were a lot of Pies’ supporters with nasty ‘bronchial infections’ – especially near the visitors’ race.

But dodging the odd ‘surprise shower’ was a small price to pay for a close-up view of a magnificent team: Darren Milane, Micky McGuane, Tony Shaw, Peter Daicos…there were legends on every line.

It was like watching a black and white cavalry charge.

There’s still plenty of characters at the Pies.

Just this week we saw Dane Swan miss the Brownlow Medal count because he was busy getting a tattoo of Sam Newman on his…bottom.

I’ve heard that back in May the Prime Minister made a very similar bet with Clive Palmer about passing the whole Budget.

I imagine that somewhere in East Brunswick there’s a tattoo artist getting very nervous.

This isn’t a day for long speeches, so I’ll leave you with my tips:

The Hawks are a great side and a generous one too –they kindly pre-trained Sydney’s three top Brownlow vote-getters.

But I’ve decided to keep the faith and back the Old Xaverians – my old school.

The Swans have got three Old Xavs [Daniel Hanneberry, Ted Richards and Josh Kennedy] – the Hawks have only got one [Matt Spangher] – plus they’ve also got one Jeff Kennett.

So I’m tipping Sydney.

As for the Norm Smith, the son and grandson of Hawthorn royalty – JPK – gets my vote.

Most importantly, I reckon Tom Jones will have Meatloaf covered.

Have a great day everyone.



Sep 22, 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.


Thank you, Professor Brendan Crabb, for bringing this issue to our national Parliament – and for allowing me the opportunity to say a few words tonight.


To Michelle Hendel, thank you for making me a little bit more proud to be an Australian.


I pay tribute to Alistair Lucas, who recently stepped down as chair.


I spoke with Alistair a few days ago, he’s currently dealing with devastating news.


He is a special, remarkable person – modest and generous.


And I know he will be surrounded by friends and goodwill in the tough battle ahead of him.


On a happier note, it’s a great pleasure to see Natasha Stott Despoja, our outstanding Ambassador for Women and Girls here this evening to lend her voice to this noble cause.


And, of course, I acknowledge my wife Chloe.


Chloe has been a longstanding friend and supporter of the work of the Burnet Institute, she cares very deeply about this area.


And she has been very influential in my thinking about medical research and science more generally.


One of my favourite writers, speakers and thinkers, Martin Luther King once said:


Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.


That’s the principle that underpins your work, and it has long been the foundation of Labor’s approach to healthcare.


Labor believes in universal Medicare because we believe that the health of any one of us, matters to all of us.


We believe everyone should have access to the healthcare they need – not just the healthcare they can afford.


Yet for far too many people in countries like Papua New Guinea, it not just a question of affordability – it’s also very much a question of access.


Right now, the four kilometres that separate Australia from Papua New Guinea represents a 20 year gap in life expectancy – that’s injustice.


More than 1500 mothers in PNG lose their lives each year – that’s injustice.


More than 5,000 babies in PNG will die in the first month of life and another 10,000 will be a sad memory before the time of their fifth birthday – that is tragic, senseless, injustice.


Worst of all – much of this loss is avoidable.


We can prevent these deaths – and because we can, we must.


That is the call of our network of mutuality, the binding thread of our common humanity.


It is the responsibility that we owe our friends and neighbours as a smart and prosperous nation.


That is why all the work you do, and the Burnet Institute’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program in particular is so important.


The project we support tonight will see life-saving care given to women and children in Papua New Guinea through targeted evidence-based community research.


Burnet Institute has long been a national and international leader when it comes to turning medical research into practical action, with meaningful benefits.


You have a distinguished record of helping to achieve better health for poor and vulnerable communities in Australia and internationally.


And we need to urgently address those issues that directly impact on women and their newborn babies in Papua New Guinea – issues that result in such a huge loss of life: anaemia, malaria, TB, malnutrition and postpartum haemorrhage.


Labor believes the Commonwealth has a role, indeed a responsibility, to support this kind of life-saving, hope-giving research.


This is not a question of replacing private sector investment, or crowding it out.


It’s about nurturing Australian genius and investing in Australian brainpower.


Fostering and supporting medical research – specifically, translational medical research – has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people.


I’m passionate about the importance of innovation and research to our nation’s future – and I’m a strong believer in Australia’s scientific potential.


But I do not accept that Australia has to choose between a thriving medical research sector and a world-class universal healthcare system.


No-one wins when we pit practitioners against researchers, but there is no doubt our nation loses.


The McKeon Review which was commissioned by my deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, as health minister, noted the importance of strong healthcare systems which facilitated research through embedding it in delivery.


Indeed, the review said “levies probably do not present a suitable mechanism for funding health and medical research”.


There are many of other ways to fund important medical research – alternative debt finance such as a special-purpose bond issuance program or social bonds akin to those used in the United Kingdom, further and targeted R&D tax incentives or research prizes such as DARPA’s Grand Challenge.


Another way is leveraging private finance and public investment in partnership. Working together, rather than robbing Peter to pay Paul.


We have previously supported equity co-investment arrangements where the Government and investors commit capital to medical research.


This kind of model has been used in other contexts to support the growth of Australian firms like Seek, Bionomics, Pharmaxis and Benthic Geotech.


You all know that medical research is not just about dollars and cents.


It is also about the system which underpins it – research excellence, commercialisation pathways, clinical environments, enabling infrastructure and workforce capabilities.


That’s why, under my leadership, Labor will take the time to get this right.


We will listen to the experts.


Our Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King and I have asked Andrew Giles, the Member for Scullin and Anna Burke, the member for Chisholm to kick-start this process.


They will be sitting down with health sector leaders, with clinicians and researchers as part of a proper and thorough consultation process.


We’re looking forward to hearing more from you and to working closely with you to achieve the important goals we dedicate ourselves to tonight.


I congratulate Brendan, the Burnet Institute and everyone involved with the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program.


You inspire us, you make us proud and we wish you every success on the road ahead.




Sep 22, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Speech to Parliament – Iraq








I thank the Prime Minister for updating the house – and I am grateful for the direct dialogue he and I have shared in recent days and weeks.

Last Thursday, at RAAF base Williamtown and RAAF base Amberley, the Prime Minister and I together farewelled some of the brave men and women of the Australian Defence Force who were leaving for the Middle East.

That is as it should be.

Keeping our people safe is above politics.

The security of our nation runs deeper than our differences.

We all admire the courage and dedication of the Australian Defence Forces.

And we are all committed to supporting the families of those serving overseas.

We will stand by these families while the people they love are far from their sides.


As we did last Thursday, again I promise those serving overseas or due to be rotated to service overseas, that the Parliament will stand by the families of the people whilst they are far away from them serving us overseas.


Labor fully supports Australia’s contribution to the international humanitarian mission in Iraq.

We do not offer this lightly.

Sending Australians into harm’s way is the most serious of decisions.

Our support for the Government on this issue is not a matter of jingoism or nationalism – it is a calculation of conscience and national interest.

There are four key principles that underpin Labor’s approach.

Firstly, we do not support the deployment of ground combat units to directly engage in fighting ISIL.

Second, Australian operations should be confined to the territory of Iraq.

Third, our involvement should continue only until the Iraqi government is in a position to take full responsibility for the security of their people and their nation.

Fourth, if the Iraqi Government and its forces engage in unacceptable conduct or adopt unacceptable policies – Australia should withdraw its support immediately.

These four principles will guide our response to the evolving situation in Iraq.

They represent the conditions we have set for our support – and the line we have drawn for Australia’s engagement in the region.

Again, this is consistent with Government’s approach.

We want Australian military personnel to carry out a clearly defined mission in Iraq, at the request of the Iraqi Government – and then come home safely.

Madam Speaker

Military involvement to achieve humanitarian objectives is not our first instinct, and it is never our preferred solution to geo-political problems.

But we recognise that sometimes there is simply no alternative.

Put plainly, we cannot negotiate with ISIL, because there is nothing rational about what they seek to do.

ISIL and their like wish only to do harm, to spread the bitter hatred that fuels their genocidal intent.

And they are a breeding ground for terrorists bent on causing havoc not only in the Middle East but throughout Australia, throughout the world and in Australia and our neighbouring countries.



They are intent only upon desecration and destruction – with an insatiable appetite for crime and sectarian violence.



Right now, across Northern Iraq, families are being driven from their homes.



Innocent people are being murdered.



And women and girls are being oppressed, raped and forced into sexual servitude.



The vulnerable communities of Iraq must be protected and it is right and proper for Australia to make a contribution to this international endeavour.



Let us be clear about the differences between the situation in Iraq today – and the conflict Labor opposed in 2003.



The 2003 Iraq war was based on a flawed premise and false information.



It was a war embarked upon without a meaningful plan to win the peace.


And in part, it created some of the conditions that have necessitated this international response.

It was a war against a hostile Iraqi Government without the support of the United Nations and the international community.

As Labor said at the time, the foundations for possible military intervention were simply not there.

Today, a democratically elected national unity government of Iraq is seeking help from the international community to protect its people from genocide and other mass atrocities.

Today, we are part of an international effort that includes countries from the region.

We are fulfilling our responsibility as a good international citizen, our duty as a humanitarian, peace-loving nation.

By our involvement, Australia declares that we will not tolerate the spread of hatred.

We will not allow the contagion of hatred – the disease of fanaticism and extremism – to afflict the innocent.

We will not meet the brutality and ruthlessness of ISIL with silence.

But we face a long and difficult task.

Labor understands we can never drain the swamp of terrorism by military means alone.

Defeating jihadist terrorism requires extensive international cooperation in intelligence sharing and criminal law enforcement, and strong domestic homeland security measures backed by strong community support.

We go to Iraq not to topple a dictator but to support a democracy – to exercise our global responsibility to protect men, women and children at risk of mass atrocity crimes.

Our mission is not to pursue territory but to protect the vulnerable.

Our goal is not to assert the supremacy of one faith, or to advance the interest of one people.

It is to defend the rights of all people, to preserve the freedom of all faiths.

Ultimately, building enduring peace in Iraq, depends upon the people of Iraq.

No matter the size of the coalition, our involvement cannot, by itself, guarantee the stability of this region.

If freedom and democracy are artificially imposed from the outside – they will not last.

Above all – a stable Iraq depends upon an inclusive unity government.

A government that rejects sectarianism and the alienation of minorities.

A government able to move past ancient hatreds – and unite the nation.

Helping the Iraqi Government protect its citizens from the threat of ISIL is vital to the long-term security and stability of Iraq, the broader region and the international community – including Australia.

The humanitarian assistance we offer should not be confined to military aid.

As a safe and prosperous nation, made great by immigration, Australia should take more refugees from Iraq and Syria.

We should reach out a caring arm to people who have been traumatised by this brutal conflict.

For more than two centuries we have given those who’ve come from across the seas a second chance.

We should be part of an international effort to offer safety and security to vulnerable people who have been displaced by the ravages of this conflict.

Madam Speaker

These are uncertain times and that uncertainty can breed suspicion.

That is always the insidious goal of terrorism.

To spread division and to nurture intolerance.

To create a world where people fear the unknown – and resent difference.

They want to change the way we live, the way we see ourselves, the way we treat each other.

We cannot allow this.

Prejudice and bigotry jeopardise the harmony of our society, and they feed the fanaticism that it thrives on.

We must jealously guard our diverse, tolerant, welcoming and caring society.

Multiculturalism is one of our nation’s greatest gifts.

It is a miracle of modern Australia.

And we should never make the millions of Australians or people who have become Australians – people of every nation and every faith – feel less safe, or less welcome.

We will not overcome hatred, with hatred.

We will not overcome intolerance, by being intolerant.

Ill-informed and inflammatory comments about Islam are as unhelpful as they are unfair.

Muslim-Australians should not be stigmatised for the crimes of ISIL.

And ISIL have no right to use the name of Islam.

The medieval barbarity that they are inflicting upon the innocent has nothing to do with religion.

The twisted ideology of ISIL bears no relation to a faith of peace and tolerance followed by millions of people.

And that point should be made, time and time again.

Labor will study the government’s new security legislation in detail – and we will continue to be constructive.

Because the safety of our people, of our nation, is a priority that unites us all.

Like the Prime Minister, I clearly reject the assumption that our engagement in Iraq has made us more of a target – I accept, however, that Australia must always be vigilant in the face of extremist threats.

Very few Australians, poisoned by fanaticism, travelling to this warzone with the intention of participating in this conflict, represent a threat to our national security.

We will give legislation that addresses the problem of these foreign fighters the careful consideration it deserves.

Labor believes that our security agencies and national institutions should have the powers and resources they need to keep Australians safe from the threat of terrorism.

But we also believe in safeguarding fundamental democratic freedoms.

We must ensure that in legislating to protect our national security, the Parliament is careful not damage the very qualities and liberties that we are seeking to defend from terrorist threat.

As we work through the Government’s legislation, Labor will continue to ensure that the national security imperative is appropriately balanced against the importance of protecting our democratic freedoms.

Parliamentary scrutiny and oversight of these proposals is essential.

I welcome the Intelligence and Security Committee’s recommendations to improve the first bill dealing with national security law reform, which is due to be debated in the other place this week.

I thank the Government for accepting the Committee’s 17 recommendations to improve scrutiny and oversight of that legislation.

I know that this constructive approach will be maintained as we finalise this bill and deal with further national security legislation.

Madam Speaker

All Australians would have been shocked by the events of last week.

Shocked by the closeness of a threat that is often seen as remote.

Shocked at the thought of the scenes from the towns of Northern Iraq and Syria being played out in our streets.

We do take a certain comfort in our distance from other parts of the world.  But we should also take comfort from the success of our security agencies.



Their professionalism, their expertise keeps Australia safe.


Their response to these threats has been swift and sure.

Our police and our security agencies are more committed and better equipped than the people who would seek to threaten our way of life.

This should reassure us – it should give Australians the confidence to enjoy their lives, without anxiety.

Australia will not be intimidated by the threat of terrorism.

We will be true to ourselves.

Australians never give in to fear – and we will not start now.

We do not back down to threats.

Whenever we are challenged, we prevail.

Our values of peace and tolerance and love will overcome hatred.

They always have, they always will.




Sep 14, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins









Family and friends of those we gather to remember.

Today, we share our tears and we grieve our loss.

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

I acknowledge National President Tony Maher, District President Peter Jordan, District Secretary Grahame Kelly.

Federal and State colleagues.

Friends, one and all.

It is an honour to be here.

It is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of the great leaders of our party and our movement who have spoken here since Paul Keating began this noble tradition in 1996 – alongside the late, great Jim Comerford.

We meet today to renew the pledge carved in the stone of this wall.

To ‘remember before God the men and boys who gave their lives in the northern district mines’.

Tragically, it is also our solemn duty to add four new names to the list of those lost.

And we can no longer speak only of ‘men and boys’.

Ingrid Forshaw, who was killed at the Ravensworth open cut mine on 30 November 2013, was the first woman to die in the northern district coalfields.

We light a lamp for Ingrid today – and for Phillip Grant and Jamie Mitchell, who lost their lives at the Austar underground coal mine on 15 April this year.

And for Mark Galton who died at the Boggabri open cut coal mine on 21 May.


I did not have the privilege of knowing the people we mourn today.

As a father, as a son, as a husband, as a brother – I cannot imagine, I cannot know – the pain, the loss, the bottomless chasm of sadness brought on by a sudden, fateful phone call or knock at the door by sombre police officers bearing the worst news of all.

But I do know that words of consolation and condolence are never enough.

They are merely the start of the process of going on, in slow time, with a heavy heart full of memories.

I do know that whether you call it closure, acceptance, or simply ‘moving on’, it takes a very long time, a lifetime.

I do know that there is no memorial, no ceremony, nothing we can say or do to fill the void left by the sudden, tragic theft of the people who loved you, the people you loved.

No words can restore the birthdays that are marked but not celebrated.

No words can make up for the empty chair at Christmas, the encouraging voice missing from the sidelines of weekend sport, the smiling face absent from the parent teacher interview at school.

But I hope you can draw comfort from the knowledge that you do not walk alone today – you never will.


There are no strangers here.

We are mates, we are family.

On days like today – we look around and see the true meaning of that great, grand word – solidarity.

We stand here wrapped in the great and generous embrace of our party and our movement.

Whether or not we knew the departed, we feel the loss, the absence, the unfinished conversations, the empty air.

We are all diminished, because we are all involved.

We are a living community, a country and a society – joined together in a single shared destiny.

That, that is solidarity.


Ours is a bond that reaches back beyond Federation.

A connection forged here – and in every place where hard-working people endure deep hardship and high risk for modest pay and little reward.

Mining, coal mining has been difficult and dangerous work for centuries.

It kills regularly in explosions, in gassings, in collapses, in water in-rushes and on, and on.

Before Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson crossed the Blue Mountains, before the Rum Rebellion brought down Governor Bligh, before John Batman decided that the banks of the Yarra would be ‘the place for a village’ – people had worked and died in the mines of the northern districts.

Against the backdrop of this history of danger and death and suffering, it is no wonder that coal-mining has such a long and proud tradition of strong unions, of enduring mateship.

This is the heartland of workers who dared to say, with one voice: “We are not expendable”.

They stood and said:  “We are not fodder, we will not be carelessly discarded and quickly replaced.”

They stood up for their mates, knowing, demanding, that their health mattered, their safety mattered, their lives mattered.

They stood together for a fairer deal, a safer workplace, a better future – and their victories defined our modern nation.

They still do.

They wrote their chapter in our Australian story – a story so often authored and anchored in adversity.


It is a chapter that deserves to be better known.

Our nation has always held a special regard for the extraordinary courage of ordinary people.

Fighting bushfires, battling floodwaters, making a life in rugged and remote locations and, of course, serving our country in war.

Last Thursday marked the centenary of the little-known Battle of Bita Paka.

A hundred years ago, seven Australians were killed during the capture of a wireless station in what was then German New Guinea.

Those seven were the first of more than 60,000 Australians to die in the Great War.

A war that left a vivid wound on the fields of Europe and an indelible scar on the minds of all who lived through it.

A war that claimed more than 16 million lives – and ruined millions more.

It was a war fought, for the most part, with 20th Century technology and 19th Century tactics.

As Winston Churchill grimly noted, generals on both sides seemed intent on:

‘fighting machine-gun bullets with the breasts of gallant men’

This was a war that left an unbridgeable divide between the men and women who had known and endured its horrors, and those who could only guess at the trauma and the tragedy.

As the poet John Masefield said, the scale and depth of mass warfare created the need for:

‘a new term for mud, a new word for death’.

And this senseless loss, this awful waste of a generation’s potential, only served to sow the seeds of a second terrible conflict that began 75 years ago this month.

In our capital cities, and in every country town and coastal village, white markers, stone monuments and tree-lined avenues of honour record the names of citizen-soldiers who left behind their homes and loved ones to risk their lives in Australia’s name.

In the five years of commemoration ahead we will pause, time and again, to remember all who served.

People who fell in foreign fields far from the land they loved – and people who came home forever changed by what they had seen.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, Australians everywhere will utter our nation’s enduring promise: ‘Lest we Forget’.

It is a declaration that their lives were not spent in vain.

It is our shared oath to remember their sacrifice.

And it is a unifying affirmation of our country’s love of peace.


On this day, at this memorial, we remember different people and a different cause.

But their deaths are no less tragic, their lives were no less meaningful, their story is no less central to the country we know and love.

More than a hundred years before the first shots of the First World War – men and boys were mining coal beneath the soil of this nation.

They went down into the earth not out of love for King or country, not in pursuit of a grand adventure or patriotic duty.

Theirs were more modest goals, theirs was an uncomplicated love.

A love of the people they knew.

A duty they felt to support them, a desire to give them a better life.

But their loss was just as cruel, the bereavement of their loved ones just as deep.

And their lives were just as full of quality and meaning as the ones laid down for our country on the other side of the world.

It is not for us to compare, or to weigh one lost life against another.

No-one has that right, no-one can do that.

But just as commemorating the sacrifice of Australians in war spurs us to seek and protect peace.

Today, in remembering those lost to danger, we re-affirm our commitment to safety.

We promise to remember them – and to do better by them.

We vow to continue the fight for the most basic, the most essential workplace right of all – the right to come home alive.

Until that is assured, until there are no more new names on this wall – the work of our movement is not done.


This is an Australian mission – and an international task.

The International Labour Organisation has Convention Concerning Safety and Health in Mines, known as Convention 176.

Australian laws already exceed these standards -  thanks in no small part to the hard work of your union.

But as a mining nation, we have a responsibility to lead, to make a strong statement.

The next Labor Government will ratify Convention 176 – and we will work with our friends and partners in mining nations around the world, to encourage them to ratify it too.


Friends, there are those who say that all the great battles of have been fought.

They say our great race has been run and won.

That the sun has set on the labour cause.

They say that health and safety is the curse of the nanny state, that every compliance measure is ‘red tape’, that every hard-fought reform is a brake on their profits.

They say fairness is guaranteed, our rights at work are secure, and the unfettered free market can take it from here.

They say Australia has no more need for unions.

I say – let them come to Cessnock.

Let them stand before this wall.

Let them look upon the roll-call of those who lost their lives, just doing their jobs.

Let them pause in front of the name of Robert Irving – an 11 year old boy sent down the mines to die before the union won the fight against child labour.

Let them see the names of men aged over 70, who urged their fading health and failing strength to work each day because security in retirement belonged only to the rich.

Let them reflect on the 21 names from 1923, men who were killed in the Bellbird Colliery explosion.

The worst single disaster in the district’s history – that’s what it took to convince Parliament to amend the Mines Rescue Act to include explicit mention of ‘health and safety’.

And let them reflect on what the union movement has contributed to this nation:

  • Fair pay and equal pay
  • Loadings that recognise the sacrifice of working unsociable hours
  • Parental leave, carer’s leave and annual leave, giving people the right to enjoy a life outside of work
  • Compensation for injuries
  • And universal superannuation – a national promise that you won’t work hard all your life just to retire poor.


None of this came easily.

None of it was given willingly.

At every turn, on every issue, our forebears had to fight a hundred incremental battles.

They measured their success in inches – but they took their cause, and our country, miles.

Their story should be told, their achievements should be known.

This is why it is important for our kids to study our Australian history.

Our children should know that modern Australia, the fair, prosperous and inclusive nation we are lucky to call home was not the product of good fortune or happy accident.

They should know that we are the beneficiaries of a generational struggle to seek the fair go and embed it in our national life.


Friends, there will always be people who devote their energies to denigrating the work of the union movement.

Powerful, privileged voices who seek to diminish the role of unions and the labour cause.

People who throw ‘union’ at your feet like an insult.

And when they do – I think of days like this, I think of people like you.

I think of Beaconsfield gold mine.

When Larry Knight’s body was found and the management wanted to halt the search so the coroner could have a protected site.

I saw the grim determination in the eyes of the hard rock miners there, I heard the steel in their voice when they said:

“No. This is still a rescue operation – not just recovery. Until we know different, there are men down there who are still alive.”

When I reflect on these moments, I take that title – union – I pick it up and I wear it as a badge of honour.

Because the union movement is the fair go on the march.


I finish today, where I began, with the people we remember.

My daughter, Georgette and I were on the 7am flight from Melbourne this morning which means being out the door before 6.

We tiptoed out so as not to wake the rest of our family, we patted our two bulldogs and that was it – out the door, through the gate, into the car and onto the plane – confident that we’d be back tonight in time for dinner, Sunday night TV and bedtime stories.

Today we mourn and honour more than 1800 people who went out their front gates to work one day and never came home.

More than 1800 partners and parents, children and friends who had no idea that the usual mad scramble of the morning routine would be their last moments with the people they loved.

So when we leave here, when we return home tonight.

We will remember all those lost.

We will remember their potential and their possibility, their qualities and their character.

We will remember them not for how they died but for why they lived.

And today we promise to go beyond remembrance.

We vow to do better, we vow to do more.

We vow that the deaths we mourn today were not in vain.

We rededicate ourselves to making every workplace a safe and healthy one.

We set ourselves a simple, defining goal.

We will work every day to stop more names being added to this wall.

Thank you






Sep 2, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins






Madam Speaker


There is one political test no politician can ever afford to fail – the test of education.


No parliamentarian, no political party, no government should ever look back and say that they have made our education system worse.


Opportunity in education is a pact between generations.


A solemn promise to pass on an education system that is better than the one you inherited.


By its very nature, education is a generational decision.


You do not meddle carelessly with one of the great markers of life – and education is indeed one of the great markers in the line of life.


In the line of life, it starts very early, what you think you can and can’t do.


Governments make very big changes to our education system, but they must be undertaken carefully.


Very carefully.


Remember – education affects people’s lives, it affects whole generations.


The great Gough Whitlam argued for the best part of a decade about the role of education before he changed our system.


Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s great contribution was initiated by a special inquiry first.


The best leaders, the real leaders, the genuine article – they get involved in the education sector, they argue their position – a position that relies upon care and forethought and listening and respect.


None of this legislation today that we are debating is careful or thoughtful – none of it.


This government does not know, this government does not understand the impact they seek to have on the lives of Australians.


The truants opposite do not understand that education is an irreplaceable, essential ingredient of a tolerant, caring, adaptive, growing economy.


For Labor, universities are not just research centres – though their research is crucial.


For Labor, universities are not just places of teaching – though we revere our educators.


They are the foundation on which we will build a better Australia.


For Labor, education goes beyond mere utility.


Education is a catalyst for change, it is the provider of confidence, tolerance and hope.


And the opportunity of education is an Australian right that belongs to us all.


As Prime Minister Gough Whitlam said, 40 years ago:


People should be free to choose the kind of education they want, but this choice must be one between systems and courses; not between standards.


Not between a good education and a bad one.


Not a choice between an expensive education, or a poor one.


Now, 40 years after Whitlam Labor brought the great, good dream of a university education within reach of a generation of Australians – that dream is now in peril.


I and many Labor members have been visiting the universities of Australia.


In every state, at every campus, our message has been clear.


And I repeat it today, here in the house of the Australian people.


Labor believes in equality of opportunity.


Labor believes in affordable, accessible higher education for all Australians…that is why we will vote against 100,000 dollar university degrees.


We will vote against the doubling and tripling of university fees.


We will vote against a real and compounding interest rate on student debt.


We will vote time and time again against this government’s cuts to university research.


We will never consign the next generation of Australians to a debt sentence.


We will not support a system where the cost of university degrees rises faster than the capacity of society to pay for them.


We will never tell Australians that the quality of their education depends upon their capacity to pay.


Madam Speaker


Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Dawkins carefully built a sustainable financial future for our university system, without imposing upfront fees – this government is trying to tear this remarkable architecture down.


The Rudd and Gillard Governments extended new opportunities to low income households and to rural and regional Australia – and this government is selling out ordinary Australians and betraying the bush.


There are 750,000 students on Australian university campuses today.


And one out of every four is there because of the previous Labor Government.


We removed the cap on student places, creating new opportunities for 190,000 Australians.


We increased the number of Indigenous students attending universities by 26 per cent.


We boosted funding for regional universities by 56 per cent – and we boosted regional student numbers by 30 per cent.


And over 36,000 extra students from low income families got the chance to go to university because of Labor reforms.


We did indeed make record investments in Australia’s greatest resource – the creativity and genius of our people.


The University of Western Sydney, which I visited with the Deputy Opposition Leader and the Member for Greenway, is living proof of the Labor legacy


At UWS, 65 in every 100 of their domestic students are the first member of their family to go to University.


One in four of their domestic students come from poor families.


One in three of their domestic students speak a language other than English at home, representing the best of 140 different nations.


Nearly one in every three of their Australian students are mature-age. Remarkable, gutsy Australians re-training and acquiring  skills to adapt to our modern world.


They are who we fight for today.


I’ve been and seen La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus, with Senator Carr and the member for Bendigo.


A university giving young people from the bush and regional Victoria the chance to get a degree close to home and attracting new people to Bendigo.


Between 60 to 80 of every 100 graduates from regional university campuses, start work in that region.


They make a social contribution to the community that has supported them – they give back what they have received.


That’s what we’re fighting for today – to stop the drain of country people to the city. Regional universities in university towns in the bush add to the fabric of our nation.


This Prime Minister, this shameful Prime Minister – who knowingly promised ‘no cuts to education’.


This so called Minister for Education, the great pretender – who promised not to increase university fees.


They have used this Budget to ambush the people of Australia with one of the most profound economic and social policy shifts in a generation.


There was no green paper to discuss the issue, no white paper – no public consultation as occurred under the Dawkins changes.


These changes which we oppose today are purely the product of private lobbying, personal ideology and the careers of frustrated student politicians.


Madam Speaker


Labor is always prepared for a constructive discussion about higher education reform.


By you never start a negotiation with our universities by cutting nearly $6 billion from their teaching and research funding.


The shameful Minister boasts of apparent university support for his proposals – but it is support drawn from extortion.


He airily says that because universities are full of smart people, they’ll work out how to deal with his cuts. Why should they?


It’s like he thinks the reason they got a PhD was in case they ever had to deal with a neo-Luddite like this imposter.


His patrician attack on high quality public universities threatens the essence of our higher education system.


His two-pronged assault is forcing universities to support rampant deregulation, instead of better funding and equity of access.


This Government is seeking to blackmail our universities – and in doing so, they are robbing a future from a generation of Australians.


And just as the GP tax represents the thin edge of the wedge for this Government’s destruction of universal Medicare.


The introduction of a real and compounding interest rate on student debt threatens our fair and equitable income-contingent student loan system with extinction.


When John Dawkins and Bruce Chapman designed the HECS system, they created a piece of public policy genius – just like Medicare.


Like Medicare, the Australian university system imposes no prohibitive upfront cost, no deterrent.  Like Medicare, our efficient higher education system gives us a home-grown source of international competitive advantage.


Ours is a classically Australian smart system of manageable student debt and sustainable universities.


It lifts the productive capacity of our nation – without submitting to the erratic, unfettered forces of the market system.


And like Medicare, this great public policy initiative faces destruction from this government.


Tying student debt to the government bond rate will put the burden of student debt back onto families.


And it’s not just future university students who will lose out.


Every Australian with a student debt – nearly a million people – will have their interest rate retrospectively changed from CPI to the long-term government bond rate.


This is a government who rejects the principle of retrospectivity – it’s a great Liberal notion, ‘we don’t believe in retrospectivity’ – except when it comes to nearly a million students.


As Associate Professor Jeannie Paterson has said, this is like a bank forcing a mortgagee onto a variable loan – after they had signed up to fixed interest rates.


Australians who have made responsible decisions about how they will manage their lives – will have the goalposts unfairly and dramatically shifted.


The people hurt most by these changes will be women who take time out of the workforce to start and raise a family.


NATSEM modelling estimates that an increase of just 20 per cent in the cost of degrees, combined with the changes to the interest rate will mean:


A woman with a nursing degree is looking at the doubling of her student debt – from $23,000 to $46,000.


A woman graduate teacher is looking at a debt $63,000 and 16 years of repayment, compared with $32,000 over nine years.


A woman with a science degree will be looking at a near-tripling of student debt from $44,000 to $123,000.


But the HECS-HELP system also contained a built-in insurance mechanism.


Approximately 25 per cent of students start university but don’t graduate – they have a student debt but no degree.


Tying student debt to CPI protects these people, it means that their debt can never increase in real terms – even if they earn below the repayment threshold for long periods of time.


Switching to the government bond rate will mean people on low incomes – whose debts last longer and accrue more interest – will pay more in absolute terms than the richest graduates.[1]


That’s the unfairness of Tony Abbott’s Australia writ large.


The less you earn, the more you pay.


We know this Government cannot begin to imagine what life is like for the people they seek to lecture. They have no idea how 90 per cent of Australia structure their lives.


Going to University was easy for this Minister – it was easy for his colleagues on the front bench – it was easy for the Prime Minister.


And so they assume it is easy for everyone.


They know nothing, those who sit opposite, of the sacrifices that families and young Australians make to pursue a university education.


They know nothing of the panic, the uncertainty that they have unleashed on parents and children at open days across this country which have just been conducted.


I say to the Government, don’t turn your back on young people, instead for once, just once, put yourselves in the shoes of the people your decisions will affect.


Respected commentators have warned that the cost of degrees will hit the same level as international students currently pay.


That means a law degree at the University of Adelaide – like Christopher Pyne’s – would cost $126,000.[2]


Imagine how much that would balloon if you indexed it at 6 per cent per year.


A student doing a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws at Sydney University – like the Prime Minister – would be looking at a cost of $175,000.[3]


And if that student chose to spend time after graduating studying abroad – like the Prime Minister.


And then time out of the workforce, maybe pursuing a vocation in the priesthood – like the Prime Minister.


The interest on their debt would continue to compound, it would go up and up and up.


And if the Government gets its way, ballooning debt and decades of repayment will be the inescapable, crushing reality for millions of our fellow Australians.


The Liberal plan for higher costs, higher debt and higher interest rates is a trifecta – it is an attack on our past, present and future university students.


$100,000 degrees will wipe out the expectations and aspirations of a significant proportion of the population right from the outset.


The Minister says his proposals are about giving Australians a choice – and in one sense he is right.


This government’s plan to double and triple the cost of university education will certainly force the next generation of Australians to choose.


Choose between university – and a mortgage.


Choose between higher education – and owning a home.


This government’s plan to ratchet up the interest rate on student debt, will force women to choose between starting a family and paying for their degree.


The Minister, in his well known, trademark undergraduate fashion, says:


I’m not asking for students to give up their left kidney”


No – but he is asking young Australians to lower their sights.


And in doing so, this reckless, cavalier Government is jeopardising our nation’s future.


They love to talk about productivity, this mob opposite. They are undermining productivity. They love to talk about competitiveness and they yet undermine our nation’s competitiveness.

And it is our productivity, our competitiveness that will determine how Australia fares in the 21st Century.


Australia can get smarter, or we can get poorer.


We will not compete with our region as a supplier of cheap labour.


We will not grow and thrive as a crude, low-wage, low-skill economy.


There are no winners in this kind of race to the bottom.


Labor knows in its DNA that Australia’s future – on the doorstep of the fastest growing region in human history will be defined by our knowledge economy.


In a century of global supply chains, it will be the quality of our ideas, the quality of our genius, the quality of our people that determines our success.


It is only upon the expression of education that Australia will fully develop our economic potential, our scientific potential, our artistic potential – our people’s potential.


But this Government’s threats of deeper cuts to research will erode the world rankings of our universities and it will grievously injure our third largest export industry – international education.


It is no wonder that Australia’s banks and financial markets are apprehensive about a so-called reform agenda that places at risk an inbound market worth billions of dollars every year.


As with so much of this Budget, the Government’s attack on universities and students is not just unfair, it is economically irresponsible.

Labor does not believe that Australia has to choose between equity in education or quality in education. They are twins of education – equity of education, and quality of education and neither can exist without the other.


But the Liberal party that we know so well after the last 12 months, they always seek to profit from the politics of division.


Dog-whistling is their stock-in-trade.


For months, this cynical Minister has been asking the divisive question:


‘Why should the 60 per cent of taxpayers who don’t attend university, contribute to the fees of the 40 per cent who do?’


Let me provide this cynical man with the simple answer he craves.


Education is not just a private privilege – it is also a public benefit.


University graduates already pay for their education – with an economic contribution, and a social contribution.


It is our doctors who keep us healthy – they went to university.


It is our teachers who educate our children – they went to university.


Our architects and engineers and town planners who shape the infrastructure and the face of our nation – they went to university.


Our scientists making the discoveries that will determine our future health and prosperity – they went to university.


This nation, which we are privileged to be representing in the parliament, is smart enough, it is generous enough, it is rich enough to know that the whole nation benefits from a strong, accessible, affordable university system.


And let me tell this Minister something else which he clearly does not know.


There’s another reason that the Australians who did not go to university, believe in supporting universities.


It’s because they want their kids to go university.


I have never met a parent or a grandparent who did not get the opportunity to go to university who begrudges their child or grandchild the opportunity to go to university, and this divisive man, this divisive minister and his divisive Prime Minister – they fundamentally underestimate the spirit of Australians when they say that the 60 per cent who did not go to university do not want the 40 per cent to go to university.


You are wrong, you are grievously wrong, you are terribly wrong.


The parents and the grandparents who did not go to university want the best for their children. They want their children to grow up in a nation and a society where opportunity in education and hard work are the rewards – not your postcode, but how hard you work.


They want to see good marks, not the old boy tie of the school they went to determine opportunity.


And parents and grandparents who did not go to university want their kids to get good jobs, they do not want this Government to stand in the path of their children from having a better life than they did.


The parents and grandparents of Australia, they work hard every day, they pay their taxes, they build good communities. They do so so their children can get a better start in life than they had, and this government has set its face against the natural tendency of all Australians to see this country progress


Our Parliament, our nation, has to choose.


The Liberals opposite can vote for $100,000 degrees, for the doubling and tripling of fees but Labor will vote on the side of students, we will always be on the side of families and we will always be on the side of people who want the great good dream that their kids will do better than them.


That is the great Australian story.


This mob opposite can vote for an unfair two class education system – but Labor will be voting for the fair go.


The Liberals can vote for a country where a university education is a privilege available only to the few – but we will be voting for an Australia where the opportunity of education belongs to everyone, town and country, man and woman, mature and young, regardless of your postcode or the wealth of your parent.


We are going to vote on this side of the house for an Australia where it doesn’t matter if you’re born in a commission flat, or if you live 100km from the nearest town – you will go to university if you so desire under a Labor government.


Where it doesn’t matter if your children are the children of first-generation migrants or if you got here with Arthur Phillip on the first fleet.


We’ll be voting for our vision of Australia – an Australia where a child’s future is determined by their aspirations.


We will vote for an Australia where education is a right for all of us.


And because of this, Labor will vote against this legislation and we will vote against it every time it is presented until the defeat of the Abbott Government.


We will do so with a clear conscience.


We will vote in the knowledge that our Labor generation has kept the faith.


And when this legislation is surely defeated, which it surely will be.


When these proposals fail, as they surely will.


Labor will do what this Government is incapable of doing.


We will sit down with the universities of Australia, we will reach out to the sector, we will consult the experts and the teachers and the parents and the students before we release our proposals.


Labor believes the Commonwealth has a role – and a responsibility to support our universities.


We believe it is a responsibility that must be shared – it is why we designed the HECS system.


The Labor I lead believes in reform, we believe in efficiencies, we believe productivity, we believe in a role for markets – but always, ever always, with generous, Australian-style safety nets.


We know that as demand for university places grows, the challenge is to guarantee the right of access, without sacrificing quality.


Today on behalf of Labor I give the people of Australia this promise: at the next election when you look for the how to vote cards of the competing parties you will have competing visions for higher education.


We will make the next election a competition for the best university policy.


We declare that the game is on for who has the best policy in higher education. We are ambitious for this nation and we will do so on the basis that when people who care about higher education attend the thousands of polling booths all over Australia, if they care about higher education, if they care about the dreams and aspirations and hopes and a smarter, greater nation – they will reach for the Labor how to vote card.


We will make the next election a higher education election.


We will stand up for young Australians and give them a voice in the national political debate of this nation. We will stand up for mature age Australians dislocated by economic change, we will give them a voice in Australian politics.


We will keep the pact that we owe to the next generation.


We will most certainly pass the one political test that no parliament should ever fail.


We will pass the test of education.






[1] ‘HELP Interest Rate Options: Equity and Costs’, Bruce Chapman and Timothy Higgins, July 2014

[2] Annual figure, for four year degree:
[3] Annual figure, for a five year degree:



[1] ‘HELP Interest Rate Options: Equity and Costs’, Bruce Chapman and Timothy Higgins, July 2014

Sep 1, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins






Madam Speaker

I thank the Prime Minister for keeping me updated as events unfolded over the weekend, and I thank him for agreeing to Labor’s request for a statement to the House today.

Labor’s support for the Government on this question is underpinned by three key principles:

One, responding effectively to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, to prevent genocide and relieve suffering.

Two, promoting a unity government in Iraq that is inclusive and can achieve national cohesion, a Government that would reject sectarianism and the alienation of minorities – enabling effective security and control of Iraqi territory. We must not act in a way that would leave Iraq in a worse position.

Three, denying motivation and opportunity for Australian Foreign Fighters.

We must reflect carefully on what to do.

We should not confuse empty jingoism and aggressive nationalism with steady decision-making.

Neither can we ignore the dreadful consequences of fanaticism and extremism.

Today, all members and all parties have the opportunity to express their views, in this place and in the Federation Chamber.

And today is also an important opportunity for all of us in the Opposition to place on the Parliamentary record:

Labor’s support for the dedicated and professional men and women of our Australian Defence Force

Labor’s unreserved condemnation for the evil of ISIS and the genocide it is inflicting on minorities in Iraq

Labor’s promise to take a constructive and co-operative approach to this most important question

And the fact that Labor regards the role of international co-operation featuring gulf and regional nations engagement as crucial. Especially after a new Iraqi Government is formed on or around September 10.

Madam Speaker

For Labor, national security is – and always will be – above politics.

And while we deplore violence and war as instruments for achieving solutions to geopolitical problems.

We acknowledge that sometimes it is necessary for the international community to take strong steps to end death and destruction.

The decision to send Australian men and women into harm’s way is never taken lightly.

Carrying out this mission in a region torn by violence – and under the risk of attack from an aggressive enemy capturing weaponry as it advances – brings with it a deadly risk.

But we can have full confidence in the skill and bravery of our Australian defence personnel.

In providing assistance to the people of Iraq, Australia will be represented by some of the best trained and best equipped servicemen and women in the world.

Australia, along with the air forces of several countries will be resupplying Kurdish Peshmerga troops – the front line against the terrorist incursions in northern Iraq.

Australians can be proud of the part we have already played in this international mission.

Our Australian forces in Iraq are assisting an international humanitarian effort to prevent genocide against beleaguered minorities in northern Iraq.

And let there be no doubt about the use of the word genocide.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, is a barbaric organisation, driven by poisonous hatred and extremism, engaging in the wilful massacre of innocent people and the unforgivable degradation of forcing women into sexual slavery.

Theirs is a most egregious abuse of the name of Islam, their every action is a betrayal of the millions of good people, of good conscience who follow that faith.

And that point deserves to be made again.

The Islamic State does not represent the Islamic faith.

No follower of that religion of peace and tolerance should be made accountable for the crimes of these fanatics – especially in suspicious times when unfounded resentment can run high.

No citizen of Australia – or any nation – should be driven into the arms of extremism, by intolerance.

Madam Speaker

The events unfolding in Iraq have horrified the international community.

A United Nations report, based on 480 interviews and documentary evidence – reveals the breadth and depth of the atrocities being perpetrated:

The report says:

“Children have been present at the executions, which take the form of beheading or shooting in the head at close range … Bodies are placed on public display, often on crucifixes, for up to three days, serving as a warning to local residents.”

Madam Speaker, the evidence is overwhelming.

The Islamic State is an enemy of humanity, engaged in crimes against humanity.

For the forces of ISIS, the enemy is not one nation, one faith or one people.

Their enemy is the very existence of peace, it is the presence of justice.

It is freedom of worship, freedom of association, freedom of speech – freedom itself.

Madam Speaker

More than a decade ago, Simon Crean stood at this dispatch box as Labor leader to support our troops, but oppose a war.

History has vindicated his judgment.

The decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 was based on false evidence and a false premise.

It was a rushed decision, devoid of an effective plan to win the peace, devoid of clear objectives and devoid of widespread international support.

As the Government has said, the situation we face today is very different.

This is not 2003.

In 2003, we went to Iraq without international support and without the support of the majority of the Iraqi population.

Today, the Iraqi Government is speaking with the international community, seeking our humanitarian assistance.

Today, we have a United States administration adopting a more methodical, more internationally inclusive approach.

Today, we can look to the nations of the region, the Arabic leaders, for their part in a solution to this problem.

Madam Speaker

It is truly terrible that more than a decade after a war which inflicted so much damage on the Iraqi people – and divided the international community – fanaticism and sectarian and ethnic hatreds have again pushed this region to the brink of disaster.

I am conscious that there is still detail to be worked through – but Labor’s principles on this question are clear:

We must respond effectively to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq – preventing genocide and alleviating suffering.

We must promote an inclusive unity government in Iraq that eschews sectarianism and the alienation of minorities, that builds national cohesion, enabling effective security and control of Iraqi territory.

And we must deny motivation and opportunity for Australian Foreign Fighters.

We are committed to these principles, just as we are committed to the support of our brave service personnel, just as we are committed to taking a constructive approach to this question.

Madam Speaker

Australians listening to this Parliament and throughout the country can be certain that Labor and the Coalition stand as one on the importance of national security.

We share a resolute commitment to keeping our people and our country safe – now and always.

When Labor declares its Opposition to ISIS and all its works, we understand we are not dealing with rational people.

The religious hatred we are seeing is not rational – it never has been.

Religious factions who violently hate one another are an anachronism for Australia and we certainly expect people who come here to leave such causes and arguments behind.

Our citizens are rightly shocked by the brutality of this sectarian struggle.

But the inescapable fact is that genocide is being perpetrated against defenceless people.

And we cannot co-operate with this evil by refusing to support the innocent.


Aug 26, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Remarks at AFL Parliament House Cocktail Party


Prime Minister, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, and club representatives.


Co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of the AFL, Richard Marles and Steve Irons.


Friends and Colleagues.


Thank you for making the journey to Canberra at a time when some of you are worrying about getting players up for finals – and the rest of you are worrying about what the players will get up to on Mad Monday.


It’s good to see Gary Pert here.


Gary had an extraordinary career, Fitzroy team of the century, All-Australian and a Collingwood star.


The main reason I mention Gary is because I want to talk about myself.


Before Gary made the move across from Fitzroy to Collingwood, I was already taking to the field at Victoria Park most Saturdays– as a ground attendant.


It was 1990 – so I guess you could say I was a Premiership ground attendant.


It was low paid, minimum wage and in my case – highly unskilled labour.


I suppose you could call us ‘the front line’ – I think the police thought of us as more like a ‘human shield’.


Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a diehard Collingwood man.


That 1990 side – with Tony Shaw, Darren Milane, Micky McGuane – it was like watching a cavalry charge down the wing.


But there were plenty of times at Victoria Park, if the Pies were having a tough day – and the umpires were getting it wrong…you could just feel the terraces shaking.


The hardest bit was always the gap between the first siren, when the game ended – and the second siren when people were allowed onto the ground.


I’d be there, standing on the ground, with nothing but my blue coat and AFL badge to protect me – and there’d be blokes, looking a bit like extras out of Mad Max,  in the crowd with their wrap-around servo sunnies and handlebar mo’s yelling:


‘We’re coming through you mate!’


And I used to think, ‘the chances of me being here when you run on are zero’


This has been another fantastic season for the game we love – right around Australia.


Buddy Franklin has well and truly got his swagger going for the Swans.


Crowds have packed the redeveloped Adelaide Oval.


The new indigenous-themed jumpers were a wonderful addition to Indigenous Round.


And who could forget the Pies stunning comeback on ANZAC Day?


It’s an old sporting cliché that ‘you only get out what you put in’.


But footy gives our nation, our communities, our people so much more than it takes.


From young hopefuls at 3,500 Auskick clinics around Australia, imitating the goal-kicking technique and the goal-celebrating technique of their heroes.


To the old blokes putting their hammy through one last test of optimism on a Sunday arvo.


We’re all caught up in the magic of football, of being part of a team, of savouring success that is all the sweeter because it is shared.


And for those of us who are mere spectators, there is nothing quite like the joy and despair, the ups and downs of a footy season.


And the AFL and it’s 804,000 members – and all the clubs – deserve credit for using their power, their influence, to support so many worthy causes and charities.


I congratulate Steve and Richard for establishing this group – the Parliamentary Friends of the AFL.


I think there is a lot of good we can achieve together, in the seasons and years ahead.


Thank you very much – Go Pies – in 2015 of course.




Aug 26, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins






Before the last federal election, when he was Opposition Leader, the Prime Minister campaigned on trust, on honesty, on keeping promises. He famously said: “The government has no mandate. There should be no tax collection without an election.”


Now we have the pot calling the kettle black. Now he is in government, he believes in taxation without elections.


Five weeks ago, I and Labor challenged the Prime Minister and his merry band of gaffe-sters to go out and listen to the voices of the mighty Australian people. The last five weeks has shown time and time again that there is no mandate for this government’s Budget because it is built upon lies and lies and more lies.


This government has the exact opposite of a mandate for its Budget. Its Budget is illegitimate. This is a government trapped in its Budget, and this is a nation’s Budget trapped by this government.


We asked the Leader of the Opposition – the Leader of the Government – and his team to go and talk to families about the $6,000 they are losing.


Go and talk to pensioners about the $4,000 they are losing.


To talk to the motorists, paying more – even some of those poor motorists.


Students and teachers, losing $30 billion.


Patients and health care workers, losing over $50 billion from the Budget.


We asked them to talk to the GPs collecting the GP tax from aged care and palliative care facilities.


We asked them to talk to university students about the doubling and tripling of university fees.


Ask veterans, how did they feel about having their pensions cut?


We asked, could you find some carers to talk about cutting payments?


And what about unemployed people under the age of 30? No income for six months.


Indigenous Australians, half a billion dollars from programs.


The Government had five weeks to change their mind, but in the last five weeks, all they have done is change their tactics. They had five weeks to listen to people and dump their dishonest, rotten and unfair Budget.


This is an incompetent government led by an incompetent Prime Minister and an incompetent Treasurer.


I am sure, in quiet moments of reflection that Government members have, they wonder, ‘surely, is it possible, can we get a new Treasurer?’ Every day, a new disaster for this government, every day.


Let me remind the Australian people about the accomplishments of this government in the last five weeks.


We have Mr ‘right to being a bigot’ himself, the Attorney-General. He went out to defend watering down the anti-hate laws less than 24 hours before he dumped it himself. Then he followed up with that interview on metadata – surely one of the most bizarre and awkward pieces of television since the John Hewson cake interview.


And of course, Senator Abetz, Leader of the Government in the Senate, did not like the attention his deputy was getting, so he decided, in an act of political bravery, to go onto The Project, a show I am not sure he had ever watched before he went on it, to re-investigate the latest in 1950s medical science.


And of course we have the Monday, Wednesday, Friday ‘Budget emergency’, interspersed with the Tuesday and Thursday ‘not such an emergency’.


But there is no doubt the star of this government’s sitcom over the last five weeks is none other than ‘No Average Joe’. He is an albatross around the neck of this government, but the Prime Minister must keep the Treasurer, because it is very careless for our Prime Minister to lose a Treasurer. Because once you lose your Treasurer, you have no one else to blame but yourself.


I did certainly enjoy the book reviews. We have a Treasurer, in his famous book, in his must-buy book, according to him, ‘I was a little too soft in my Budget’. What planet does this Treasurer live on?


But what I liked, what I really admired, is the marvellous Hamlet-esque, Shakespearean quality of our Treasurer, who says, ‘woe unto me. Why is it that everyone is against me? My backbench, the commentators, the people, Peter Costello.’ What an ungrateful ex-Treasurer he is.


The real problem with this unfair Budget is that this government does not know where it is going or what it is doing. They’ve has relied on lies. It is a bits and pieces Budget, devoid of very much other than a ruthless, right-wing ideology.


But today, just when I thought nothing else could this government do to surprise me, they declared war on the War Memorial. It is the 100th anniversary of the start of World I – do not shake your head over there. It is your problem because he is your Treasurer.


What they have done is an utter disgrace. On the anniversary of World War I, they have decided to cut the travelling exhibition because, of course, ‘we will fight to the death for the rolled gold paid parental leave, but I think we need to net $800,000 spent on a travelling program.’


This is a great program, a great program. 3.8 million Aussies have seen this program – I do not mind you muscling up to me, I just wish you would do it in your caucus room.


Now what they have done, in galleries in communities all over Australia, in towns some of these city-based Liberal MPs have never heard of, they are going to be disappointed by this heartless decision.


Because what a clever government. Why wouldn’t you take away the story of our soldiers on display in Perth? Why did we never think of that? Why wouldn’t you take away from display in Brisbane and Adelaide the story of the forgotten diggers of World War I? Of course, the brain surgeons writing the script for this sitcom government said to each other, ‘let’s take away the story of the nurses going from Zululand to the modern time.’


Our veterans deserve better than this government. We deserve better than a government that will cut the funding to its own War Memorial. Where this travelling exhibition goes is a map of Australia and you are seeking to erase it.


These cuts must be reversed. I call upon those members in the Government to find a little bit of spine on this question. We do not mind if you get the credit for this. Reverse this decision.


The real issue, though, in the last five weeks is that the Government has had the chance to demonstrate it can be trusted. The truth of the matter is that in the last 105 days, Australia has learned you can’t trust Tony Abbott, you can’t trust Joe Hockey and you can’t trust this government.


This is a government who has then said, in what can only be regarded as a feat of some remarkable foolhardiness, has said to people, ‘if you don’t vote for our unfair Budget, we will tax you more, we will cut research more, we will punish you more.’


This is a government who will stoop to pressuring the Australian people, saying that unless the Senate takes on our unfair Budget proposition, then we will go harder and worse.


Let me be clear. This Prime Minister loves to quote to us about mandate – ‘mandate this, mandate that’ – well where was the mandate for this Budget?


He made himself very by famous criticising the former government, ‘there was no mandate, there should be no new taxation without an election.’ Well Tony Abbott, what was good for you then is good for you now.


I state here clearly and loudly and unequivocally, you have no mandate for your Budget.


You have no mandate for your cuts.


You have no mandate to punish pensioners.


You have no mandate to punish the schools and hospitals.


You have no mandate to hurt ordinary Australians.


If you really believe in what you say, test it at an election. But in the meantime, do not punish ordinary Australians because you told lies before the last election.







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