Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Dec 11, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Recognise

 

 

SPEECH TO RECOGNISE

SYDNEY

THURSDAY, 11 DECEMNER 2014

 

 

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

 

 

Good evening, everyone.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Prime Minister, it is good to be here with you tonight supporting a cause that we both genuinely believe in.

 

 

 

To Tanya Hosch and to Tim Gartrell and all the sponsors, thank you for hosting us here this evening, and thank you for everything that you and Recognise have done to advance this national conversation.

 

 

 

Earlier this year at the Garma Festival in East Arnhem Land, Chloe and I saw our children dance in a circle of people from all over the peninsula.

 

 

 

We saw through the sea of legs and arms and rising dust our precious four year old daughter, on her hands and knees, in the red dirt playing with two little Aboriginal girls.

 

 

 

As a parent, it was quite a moment.

 

 

 

It reminded me that there is no such thing as instinctive prejudice, that no-one is born in Australia or anywhere else frightened of someone else, disliking someone else because of the colour of their skin.

 

 

 

No person is born that way, no baby of any race.

 

 

 

But our country, Australia, was born that way.

 

 

 

As Bulgun Warra man Harold Ludwick from Cape York said:

 

 

 

“If the Constitution was the birth certificate of Australia, then we are missing half the family”.

 

 

 

It is an omission, and a deep forgetting that speaks to our oldest national failure, the failure to fully include in our national definition the First Australians.

 

 

 

The people who cared for this continent 40,000 years before the first ghost-white sails navigated through the entrance to Sydney Harbour.

 

 

 

Friends, if we had come here tonight to draft our Constitution anew, the first paragraph would be a respectful acknowledgement of the First Australians.

 

 

 

If we were crafting our Constitution in 2014, we would not accept the omission of the first four hundred centuries of our national history from our national definitive document.

 

 

 

Nor tonight would we ignore the dispossession, the tribulations, the discrimination, the various forms of injustice inflicted on the First Australians by those who have followed.

 

 

 

As Yorta Yorta woman Sharon Sowter said, our task is to: ‘put right what has been wrong for too long’.

 

 

 

The exclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from our Commonwealth’s foundation document is a constitutional fault line we must mend, an historical injustice we must address, a national test that we for too long have failed to pass.

 

 

 

I see tonight, friends, as an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to our guiding belief that our Constitution belongs to every Australian and it should hereafter speak to every Australian.

 

 

 

The Prime Minister was right tonight to say that we cannot allow this debate to be run off the rails by extreme views, by a fracturing of national consensus or political games that we have no time for.

 

 

 

Recognition is simply too important for that.

 

 

 

That’s why tonight I’ll be focusing on the process for framing the referendum question, because once we have an agreed process in place, moving towards a concrete proposal, then we can take the politics out of the issue, for the benefit of everyone.

 

 

 

We can campaign together for a change that we all believe in.

 

 

 

We have an opportunity as leaders here to advocate for the general will of the great, generous, silent majority of Australians who want recognition to succeed as soon as possible.

 

 

 

Your movement Recognise has raised awareness that’s helped build the groundswell of support that successful change always depends upon.

 

 

 

You’ve built the community partnerships with the not-for-profits, you’ve reached out to corporate Australia, to our national sporting codes, the AFL, NRL, cricket.

 

 

 

But more importantly you’ve taken the message directly to Australians.

 

 

 

A quarter of a million Australians have already signed their name to this cause.

 

 

 

The journey of recognition, 28,000 kilometres on foot, on bikes, in four-wheel drives, in kayaks, on surfboards and paddle boards – everywhere.

 

 

 

238 events so far, 187 communities.

 

 

 

All of this, though, I submit, has been done in a sense, so far, with both hands tied behind your back.

 

 

 

Because I believe that without a form of words to explain, without that arresting, rallying cry, without a specific change to advocate, it is just not possible to raise awareness beyond the abstract.

 

 

 

Without a concrete proposal, we cannot turn the national goodwill into meaningful momentum.

 

 

 

We cannot engage diverse organisations and millions of Australians eager for change.

 

 

 

Until we have an agreed question, we cannot confront the other things which are hobbling our progress to recognition.

 

 

 

If we allow a vacuum on recognition, the misinformation and misunderstandings will fill that vacuum.

 

 

 

Let’s be clear, there will always be in any generation, a tiny minority who will never support constitutional recognition for the First Australians in any form.

 

 

 

There are a small number keen to exercise political veto, to re-boot the old rhetorical weapons of the history wars, rather than play a constructive role in our national conversation of the future of our country.

 

 

 

Well, that is people’s prerogative, but in advancing the cause of recognition, we cannot afford to submit to the tyranny of low expectations of those who would prefer our Constitution to remain the last bastion of the ‘great Australian silence’.

 

 

 

We cannot allow ourselves to be put off our stroke by those who propose nothing and contribute nothing.

 

 

 

I understand that there are some who believe recognition doesn’t go far enough, if it doesn’t discuss a treaty.

 

 

 

And to those we must make clear that the past injustices of settlement and occupation and dispossession are not thwarted or extinguished by the recognition process.

 

 

 

Recognition is not the end of the road, but one step in the ongoing journey of reconciliation and closing the gap.

 

 

 

We cannot, however, deal with any of the legitimate big questions if we are to work in a vacuum and have no positive, clearly defined proposal to articulate and to advocate.

 

 

 

It is time for Australia to be debating what sort, what form of referendum to support – not whether or not we support recognition, but what form of recognition to support.

 

 

 

I do agree with Catherine Tanna that setting a date for a referendum is a positive step, and of course it is.

 

 

 

But I also believe that deciding, and we must not shirk the hard questions, deciding what we will ask Australians to vote for is the tougher part of the equation.

 

 

 

Recognition cannot be a fact of our nation until we have crafted a process, a machinery for change.

 

 

 

Change that is genuine, meaningful and born of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, silent no longer.

 

 

 

Change that is substantive, not a nod to symbolism or the lazy paternalism that says that something is better than nothing – there has been too much of this.

 

 

 

Recognition is an opportunity for real reform.

 

 

 

An opportunity to help and empower Australia’s First People to be better off than they are now.

 

 

 

It is an opportunity to empower our Parliament to do better and be better, at making fair and just laws for the traditional owners of the land which we all now enjoy.

 

 

 

Laws underpinned by the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous people – and their free and full participation and advice.

 

 

 

This means addressing the First People’s lack of voice, their enforced silence no longer, to shape the strategies and policies that affect people.

 

 

 

I know that many including Pat Dodson through to Noel Pearson and many others here have ideas on how we can achieve this.

 

 

 

I believe that recognition must include acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’:

 

 

 

– continuing relationship with the lands and waters

 

– their enduring cultures, their languages, their heritage

 

– and their ancient ownership of this land, their foremost place in our national history

 

 

 

And the other consistent message from the Expert Panel, the good work of the interim and progress reports of the Wyatt-Peris Committee, reporting finally in the first part of next year – and I also learn from the consistent conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, be they elders, leaders, powerful women, is that we must ensure that there is no place, no refuge for discrimination in our founding document.

 

 

 

I believe that the view of the great and generous silent majority of Australians is there is no home for discrimination in our Constitution, and we should not be rejecting this ambition out of hand.

 

 

 

In particular, if we acquiesce to the ongoing presence of the so-called race powers, we risk rendering recognition meaningless, as the Prime Minister has said, for the very people to whom it should mean most.

 

 

 

And whatever form that recognition takes, we can all affirm, we can all declare there is no place for discrimination in our laws, and in our democracy.

 

 

 

I believe we can find a way forward by building consensus, by bringing justice home, not by drifting down the path of least resistance, because change that challenges no-one is unlikely to inspire anyone.

 

 

 

Above all, the referendum question must involve the complete representative and empowered participation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters.  And this is where the idea of a constitutional convention offers one important, constructive way to ensure that more voices are heard.

 

 

 

And perhaps building upon what we’ve heard, I can suggest the establishment of a formal referendum council to help guide the convention’s important deliberations, to make sure that the convention isn’t captured by one interest or another and provide that broader community level leadership.

 

 

 

A council of elders, if you like, that will ensure that the recognition question is one that all Australians can proudly own and advocate.

 

 

 

Friends it was here in Redfern 22 years ago that Prime Minister Paul Keating said that with some noble exceptions in their treatment of Aboriginal people, white Australians failed to make the most “basic human response”. We failed to ask “How would I feel if this was done to me?”.

 

 

 

As our generation prepares for our one chance to get constitutional recognition correct, we cannot risk repeating our forebears’ lack of imagination, their lack of sympathy.

 

“We cannot simply sweep injustice aside.”

 

 

 

We cannot presume that we know best. We must have faith in the ability of the Australian people, that generous and great goodwill of the silent majority, to appreciate the strength of the argument of recognition.

 

 

 

We should not presume failure. We must be guided by the people to whom this means the most. Labor will work with the Government every step of the way.

 

 

 

Let us settle the question before the next election, let us have the referendum following that, let us have the constitutional convention guided by a referendum council.

 

 

 

Let us assume and believe in Australians that we are capable at last of rectifying this national failure.

 

 

 

I believe then we will be ready and I do most certainly believe, then, we will succeed.

 

 

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

ENDS

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 06 6277 4053

 

Dec 11, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH TO RECOGNISE

SPEECH TO RECOGNISE

SYDNEY

THURSDAY, 11 DECEMNER 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

Good evening, everyone.

 

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

 

Prime Minister, it is good to be here with you tonight supporting a cause that we both genuinely believe in.

 

To Tanya Hosch and to Tim Gartrell and all the sponsors, thank you for hosting us here this evening, and thank you for everything that you and Recognise have done to advance this national conversation.

 

Earlier this year at the Garma Festival in East Arnhem Land, Chloe and I saw our children dance in a circle of people from all over the peninsula.

 

We saw through the sea of legs and arms and rising dust our precious four year old daughter, on her hands and knees, in the red dirt playing with two little Aboriginal girls.

 

As a parent, it was quite a moment.

 

It reminded me that there is no such thing as instinctive prejudice, that no-one is born in Australia or anywhere else frightened of someone else, disliking someone else because of the colour of their skin.

 

No person is born that way, no baby of any race.

 

But our country, Australia, was born that way.

 

As Bulgun Warra man Harold Ludwick from Cape York said:

 

“If the Constitution was the birth certificate of Australia, then we are missing half the family”.

 

It is an omission, and a deep forgetting that speaks to our oldest national failure, the failure to fully include in our national definition the First Australians.

 

The people who cared for this continent 40,000 years before the first ghost-white sails navigated through the entrance to Sydney Harbour.

 

Friends, if we had come here tonight to draft our Constitution anew, the first paragraph would be a respectful acknowledgement of the First Australians.

 

If we were crafting our Constitution in 2014, we would not accept the omission of the first four hundred centuries of our national history from our national definitive document.

 

Nor tonight would we ignore the dispossession, the tribulations, the discrimination, the various forms of injustice inflicted on the First Australians by those who have followed.

 

As Yorta Yorta woman Sharon Sowter said, our task is to: ‘put right what has been wrong for too long’.

 

The exclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from our Commonwealth’s foundation document is a constitutional fault line we must mend, an historical injustice we must address, a national test that we for too long have failed to pass.

 

I see tonight, friends, as an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to our guiding belief that our Constitution belongs to every Australian and it should hereafter speak to every Australian.

 

The Prime Minister was right tonight to say that we cannot allow this debate to be run off the rails by extreme views, by a fracturing of national consensus or political games that we have no time for.

 

Recognition is simply too important for that.

 

That’s why tonight I’ll be focusing on the process for framing the referendum question, because once we have an agreed process in place, moving towards a concrete proposal, then we can take the politics out of the issue, for the benefit of everyone.

 

We can campaign together for a change that we all believe in.

 

We have an opportunity as leaders here to advocate for the general will of the great, generous, silent majority of Australians who want recognition to succeed as soon as possible.

 

Your movement Recognise has raised awareness that’s helped build the groundswell of support that successful change always depends upon.

 

You’ve built the community partnerships with the not-for-profits, you’ve reached out to corporate Australia, to our national sporting codes, the AFL, NRL, cricket.

 

But more importantly you’ve taken the message directly to Australians.

 

A quarter of a million Australians have already signed their name to this cause.

 

The journey of recognition, 28,000 kilometres on foot, on bikes, in four-wheel drives, in kayaks, on surfboards and paddle boards – everywhere.

 

238 events so far, 187 communities.

 

All of this, though, I submit, has been done in a sense, so far, with both hands tied behind your back.

 

Because I believe that without a form of words to explain, without that arresting, rallying cry, without a specific change to advocate, it is just not possible to raise awareness beyond the abstract.

 

Without a concrete proposal, we cannot turn the national goodwill into meaningful momentum.

 

We cannot engage diverse organisations and millions of Australians eager for change.

 

Until we have an agreed question, we cannot confront the other things which are hobbling our progress to recognition.

 

If we allow a vacuum on recognition, the misinformation and misunderstandings will fill that vacuum.

 

Let’s be clear, there will always be in any generation, a tiny minority who will never support constitutional recognition for the First Australians in any form.

 

There are a small number keen to exercise political veto, to re-boot the old rhetorical weapons of the history wars, rather than play a constructive role in our national conversation of the future of our country.

 

Well, that is people’s prerogative, but in advancing the cause of recognition, we cannot afford to submit to the tyranny of low expectations of those who would prefer our Constitution to remain the last bastion of the ‘great Australian silence’.

 

We cannot allow ourselves to be put off our stroke by those who propose nothing and contribute nothing.

 

I understand that there are some who believe recognition doesn’t go far enough, if it doesn’t discuss a treaty.

 

And to those we must make clear that the past injustices of settlement and occupation and dispossession are not thwarted or extinguished by the recognition process.

 

Recognition is not the end of the road, but one step in the ongoing journey of reconciliation and closing the gap.

 

We cannot, however, deal with any of the legitimate big questions if we are to work in a vacuum and have no positive, clearly defined proposal to articulate and to advocate.

 

It is time for Australia to be debating what sort, what form of referendum to support – not whether or not we support recognition, but what form of recognition to support.

 

I do agree with Catherine Tanna that setting a date for a referendum is a positive step, and of course it is.

 

But I also believe that deciding, and we must not shirk the hard questions, deciding what we will ask Australians to vote for is the tougher part of the equation.

 

Recognition cannot be a fact of our nation until we have crafted a process, a machinery for change.

 

Change that is genuine, meaningful and born of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, silent no longer.

 

Change that is substantive, not a nod to symbolism or the lazy paternalism that says that something is better than nothing – there has been too much of this.

 

Recognition is an opportunity for real reform.

 

An opportunity to help and empower Australia’s First People to be better off than they are now.

 

It is an opportunity to empower our Parliament to do better and be better, at making fair and just laws for the traditional owners of the land which we all now enjoy.

 

Laws underpinned by the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous people – and their free and full participation and advice.

 

This means addressing the First People’s lack of voice, their enforced silence no longer, to shape the strategies and policies that affect people.

 

I know that many including Pat Dodson through to Noel Pearson and many others here have ideas on how we can achieve this.

 

I believe that recognition must include acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’:

 

– continuing relationship with the lands and waters

– their enduring cultures, their languages, their heritage

– and their ancient ownership of this land, their foremost place in our national history

 

And the other consistent message from the Expert Panel, the good work of the interim and progress reports of the Wyatt-Peris Committee, reporting finally in the first part of next year – and I also learn from the consistent conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, be they elders, leaders, powerful women, is that we must ensure that there is no place, no refuge for discrimination in our founding document.

 

I believe that the view of the great and generous silent majority of Australians is there is no home for discrimination in our Constitution, and we should not be rejecting this ambition out of hand.

 

In particular, if we acquiesce to the ongoing presence of the so-called race powers, we risk rendering recognition meaningless, as the Prime Minister has said, for the very people to whom it should mean most.

 

And whatever form that recognition takes, we can all affirm, we can all declare there is no place for discrimination in our laws, and in our democracy.

 

I believe we can find a way forward by building consensus, by bringing justice home, not by drifting down the path of least resistance, because change that challenges no-one is unlikely to inspire anyone.

 

Above all, the referendum question must involve the complete representative and empowered participation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters.  And this is where the idea of a constitutional convention offers one important, constructive way to ensure that more voices are heard.

 

And perhaps building upon what we’ve heard, I can suggest the establishment of a formal referendum council to help guide the convention’s important deliberations, to make sure that the convention isn’t captured by one interest or another and provide that broader community level leadership.

 

A council of elders, if you like, that will ensure that the recognition question is one that all Australians can proudly own and advocate.

 

Friends it was here in Redfern 22 years ago that Prime Minister Paul Keating said that with some noble exceptions in their treatment of Aboriginal people, white Australians failed to make the most “basic human response”. We failed to ask “How would I feel if this was done to me?”.

 

As our generation prepares for our one chance to get constitutional recognition correct, we cannot risk repeating our forebears’ lack of imagination, their lack of sympathy.

“We cannot simply sweep injustice aside.”

 

We cannot presume that we know best. We must have faith in the ability of the Australian people, that generous and great goodwill of the silent majority, to appreciate the strength of the argument of recognition.

 

We should not presume failure. We must be guided by the people to whom this means the most. Labor will work with the Government every step of the way.

 

Let us settle the question before the next election, let us have the referendum following that, let us have the constitutional convention guided by a referendum council.

 

Let us assume and believe in Australians that we are capable at last of rectifying this national failure.

 

I believe then we will be ready and I do most certainly believe, then, we will succeed.

 

Thank you.

 

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 06 6277 4053

Dec 4, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE

SPEECH TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

THURSDAY, 4 DECEMBER 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

2014 is the year that Tony Abbott wants us to forget.

 

Unfortunately for him this is a year Australians will remember for the rest of their lives.

 

The proposition which I advance today as a matter of public importance is this is not what the Prime Minister says is a year of achievement, laughable as that is.

 

This has been a year of underachievement from a government that has let the Australian people down.

 

Every government gets elected with the goodwill of the Australian people – but no government has burnt its bridges so quickly.

 

When we think back to 12 months ago the Treasurer had just goaded Holden into going, losing thousands of jobs and now we find out that was so he could clear the decks for a Free Trade Agreement.

 

But the list of job losses in this country is far longer than just Holden. Rio at Gove, Toyota, Alcoa, Forge in Western Australia – thousands more jobs in smaller business, in manufacturing, defence construction and the renewable energy sector at risk.

 

And when the Australian people were beginning to worry at the start of this year about the issue of jobs – sadly confirmed in the last few days by the National Account figures and unemployment numbers, we discovered in March of this year that the Prime Minister’s plan for jobs was to came up with that idea of knights and dames.

 

It has been a most extraordinary year.

 

But just for the record – the Labor Party will have no problem debating this curly question at our national conference, we have opposed the Imperial Honours system since 1916.

 

Today is the end of a shocking week, in a dreadful year, of a terrible Government.

 

This bunch opposite behave in a dishonest fashion, they have no fidelity between their election promises and what they do in government.

 

They are out of touch – a point I will come back to – and clearly they are incompetent.

 

And let’s think about 2014, some of the earlier months of this year, because the problem with this government is an embarrassment of riches to oppose and every week of problems make you go, maybe it’s a cunning strategy by the government to make bigger blunders the following week so you forget about their blunders the previous week.

 

But remember the Commission of Audit. Indeed it was their plan B, they put it out before their plan A.

 

But I do not expect a single Victorian Liberal member to be saying ‘it’s a good document’ because at least when it came to defending their Senate position in Western Australia, defending the Liberal Party in South Australia, and indeed Tasmania, the Commission of Audit, they sat on it and sat on it and sat on it so as not to compromise their electoral chances.

 

They did not show that same courtesy to the former jewel in the Liberal Crown, Victoria.

 

They couldn’t wait in the first week, they thought ‘dear Denis, just before I come down and hug you I want to put a petrol tax on’.

 

But of course, when you look at the issue of underachievement no discussion of the underachievement of this government can possible go without looking at who gets the trophy of the member of this gang for the biggest underachiever.

 

Possibly, possibly the Minister for Foreign Affairs, gets the top banana – easily the best performed woman in the Abbott Cabinet – she’s going so well that the PMO decided to make her take excess baggage to Lima – the Minister for Trade.

 

Joe Hockey—what a year he has had! Two great publications—he launched a budget and he launched his book. It is hard to know which one his colleagues like more.

 

Then of course we have had his John Farnham style tour—trying to one more time sell his rotten budget. Then we will never forget the gig he had with Jacqui Lambie—that did not end so well!

 

And of course Joe Hockey has memorably given us the arguments that the strong economic reforms need.

 

‘A GP tax? That’s just a couple of beers’— that line worked! ‘Pensioners have never had it so good’—I would not go there again, Joe! And don’t worry about the petrol tax because ‘poor people don’t drive cars’!

 

And in the other house there are some contributors. Senator Brandis made two noteworthy contributions. The first was ‘the right to be a bigot’!

 

And then there was the interview on metadata, which was the most awkward piece of television since the 70-second staring competition the Prime Minister had with Mark Riley!

 

And then of course we had ‘old charm offensive’ himself, Senator Abetz—more offence than charm—bobbing up on the project. That must have been a set up. I have heard the expression first time guest, but this was a first-time viewer. And he gave us some 1950s medical science.

 

And then there was the Minister For The Environment—whose title is sheer irony.

 

He has defended the Antarctic walrus, the Tasmanian tiger and any other animal he finds on Wikipedia!

 

We had of course the Minister for immigration, who was working relentlessly on ‘operation self-promotion’.

 

And then there was the Minister for Communications. He is cutting the ABC and the SBS. I think it might be time to hang up that leather jacket, Malcolm!

 

And speaking of communicators, there is Christopher Pyne. He has been texting in his CV to be the Minister for Communications —or perhaps the minister for unsolicited communications!

 

And this is the mob who want to put the adults back in charge!

 

Of course, 2015 promises to be a potential follow on from this year of underachievement.

 

Will Senator Johnston be the Minister for Defence?

 

Will he keep his rhetorically flourishing canoe up his unparliamentary creek? We know what Stuart Robert is cheering for!

 

Will Barnaby Joyce visit Shepparton? Or has he wiped it off his mental map like Whyalla? And then of course there is the longest ‘position vacant’ stint—will we have an Assistant Treasurer again in Australia?

 

So we look then at the promising contenders.

 

There is the colt from Kooyong, there is the member for Moncrieff or there is that fast-finishing country thoroughbred the member for Wannon.

 

All of this would be even funnier if the following were not true: Australia cannot afford a year like the one that has just passed.

 

We cannot afford to have unemployment at 6.2 per cent went Labor left it at 5.7 per cent.

 

We cannot afford to have a 13-year high in youth unemployment, which is now at 14 per cent.

 

There are 42,000 more unemployed people around the country following the government’s damaging budget.

 

We certainly cannot afford to have another year of the Prime Minister’s broken promises.

 

Australians are better than this government. Australians deserve better than this government.

 

We need a government with vision and a plan for the future, not a government that is adrift both domestically and internationally.

 

Labor in 2014 is standing strong for fairness. We have been standing very strong.

 

We have been defending Medicare.

 

We have been fighting for families who are under pressure from the increased costs of living.

 

We are fighting for a fair pension—and we will keep fighting to we make sure that your cuts do not go through.

 

Dignity in retirement, we believe, is the birthright of all Australians. And yes, despite faux mini-me Churchill on the other side, we will keep fighting the government’s unfair changes to universities.

 

Throughout the course of 2015 we will outline our plan for the future—a plan for inclusive growth and a smart, skilful and fair Australia.

 

We do not believe that growth and fairness are mutually irreconcilable; in fact, each drive the other.

 

We certainly cannot afford to have the destruction of confidence that we have seen.

 

The national account figures yesterday are a most concerning development.

 

This government has slammed us into an income recession. We are dangerously reliant on iron ore and minerals with very little else in our economy to help us.

 

We are seeing wages and profits contract in this country under this government. How long will this government keep blaming everything and everyone else for their inability to do their day job?

 

We have seen higher taxes under this government.

 

Even some of the blue blood supporters of the Liberal Party, surely, are not excited by the fact that they now pay over 50c in the dollar in tax because of this government.

 

Above all, nobody believes in the multi-millionaire paid parental leave schemes.

 

I know that in their beating hearts the government desperately want us to succeed in convincing the Prime Minister to drop that unloved scheme of his.

 

Let’s look at the real challenges of next year. Under this government the deficit has doubled and all the projections are looking grim. The government have colluded with the Greens to extend the credit card.

 

They laugh! They probably do not even know what their leader is doing. They are cutting public investment.

 

The reason why we regard it as a matter of public importance to debate the Prime Minister’s year of underachievement is that I do not believe there is a single Australian who is not disappointed by the Abbott government—from their conservative boosters, right through the spectrum of Australian opinion.

 

We on this side understands that growth comes from extending opportunity—from making sure that kids can go to university, right through to making sure that pensioners get a fair deal—and we will promote this next year.

 

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 40

Dec 4, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Valedictories

 

SPEECH

 

Valedictories

 

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

THURSDAY, 4 DECEMBER 2014

 

Thank you Madam Speaker – and I begin by wishing you and all those who sit in the big chair a very Merry Christmas and a relaxing break from standing order 94A. I’m deeply conscious there’s still one more Question Time.

At this time of year, our first thoughts are with the Australians who will not be spending Christmas with the people they love.

Our Defence Forces – stationed around the world, our emergency services personnel on duty through the day and night; ambos, firies, nurses, police.

And the heroes who don’t wear a uniform – everyday Australians who are working unsociable hours to make ends meet and to make our society function.

I wish to record my appreciation for the work of all of our Commonwealth Public Servants. We are most fortunate with the quality and calibre of the Commonwealth Public Service.

I also want to mention Peter Greste who is – most unjustly – spending this Christmas in his Cairo prison cell.

Australians began this year celebrating an Ashes whitewash, we approach it’s end mourning the passing of Phillip Hughes.

In between, there was joy and sadness.

In an unknown wheatfield in Ukraine, and somewhere in the remote ocean depths, two Malaysian Airliners met a tragic end – and our world grieved for all those on board.

For their families, this was more than a significant international event, it was a life-changing tragedy – and our thoughts are with them, now and always.

In Iraq and Syria, sectarian hatred and evil threatens the vulnerable – and both sides of this chamber worked together in a co-operative spirit, because the safety of our people and the security of our nation unites us all.

Corporal Cameron Baird, from 2 Commando Regiment, became the 100th Australian to be awarded the VC, sadly, like so many of his brave predecessors – it was posthumous.

We welcomed a new Governor-General and we thanked Her Excellency Quentin Bryce and Michael Bryce for their sterling service to our country – you don’t need to be their son-in-law to recognise their greatness.

Our athletes did us all proud at Sochi, Glasgow and in Brazil.

Richard Flanagan became just the third Australian to win the Man Booker Prize, for his harrowing tale, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

The Hawks went back-to-back and after 43 long years it was glory, glory for South Sydney – well done Albo on the redevelopment of Heffron Park.

We lost Doc Neeson, an angel who never pretended to be a saint, and the author of one of our unofficial national anthems.

A generation of movie-lovers mourned the loss of Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman – and we celebrated no less than three Australian Oscar winners.

Brisbane shone for the G20 and this Parliament hosted a cavalcade of world leaders.

Someone introduced a Budget at some stage, but not to worry – we’ll get another practice run again in a couple of weeks and a re-run in six months.

Madam Speaker, as you well know, managing this house and this Parliament depends upon the work of hundreds of intelligent, dedicated, professional people – and none of them are politicians.

To the Clerks, the Sergeant-at-Arms and their office, the Tabling Office, the Parliamentary Library and  Hansard as well as all the attendants in this chamber— this place runs on your patience, your skill and your goodwill. Is there really a Facebook page for Luch.

And this building, our home for 20 weeks of the year, could not operate without the people who come to work here every day.

The security guards, plumbers, printers, switchboard operators, gym staff, nurses and IT support team.

To the Australian Federal Police who look after MPs and Senators – and on occasion our families, thank you for your dedication.

And a special thank you to the officers who keep an eye on the Melbourne CPO.

I want to thank all the Parliament House cleaners, especially Joy, Maria, Anna and Lucia – and I wish them well in their campaign for a modest 85 cent per hour pay rise.

And of course, Dom and his most excellent friendly crew at Aussies who keep the caffeine flowing as the week goes on.

In a building sometimes more known for melodrama and squabbling over the limelight – or indeed problems with the skylight – all of you work backstage to make sure the show goes on we are grateful.

In the same way, I want to thank all the Comcar drivers.

A special mention for my drivers in Melbourne: Steve Smith, Peter Taylor and formerly Bill Foster.

They’re both always willing to listen to my new ideas for short-cuts and navigation, who needs a Navman, or, when the kids are on board, the ‘Frozen’ soundtrack on repeat.

And although Steve was on the wrong end of about five dud tips for this year’s spring racing carnival, he’s kept his sense of humour.

I also want to acknowledge our friends in the Press Gallery – we all benefit from your hindsight, but our democracy is most certainly improved by your diligence and tenacity, and let me not forget the photographers.

Madam Speaker

In 2014, our party – and our nation – lost three political giants.

In mourning the death, and celebrating the life of Neville Wran, Gough Whitlam and Wayne Goss, everyone who shares affection for our movement has been reminded of the timeless Labor values that bind us.

To every member of our party, Australia’s most venerable political movement, I say thank you for keeping the light on the hill burning bright.

I especially thank our National Secretary, George Wright, National President Jenny McAllister and their hardworking team for all their help this year.

And I promise every member of the ALP that all of us will give our very best to live up to the progressive, reforming, bold, reforming legacy of those who have gone before us – to make you proud to be Labor.

To my marvellous Deputy Leader, the Member for Sydney and her family, thank you very much.

Tanya, you mean so much to our party – and your support means so much to me, thank you.

To our leadership team in the other place, Penny Wong and Stephen Conroy – thank you for the wonderful work that you have done standing up for Labor values in the upper house.

To our Shadow Treasurer, the member for McMahon and the Manager of Opposition Business, the Member for Watson, I thank you for your good humour, your ready wit and your wisdom.

To all my Shadow Cabinet and Caucus colleagues –I pay tribute to your hard work here and in the community.

2014 was the year Labor stood strong – we stood strong, because we stood together.

Every day in this job I count myself lucky to be surrounded by people of such talent, people of social conscience and I wish you all a relaxing break with the people you love.

And, as we know, behind every good politician is a surprised and relieved staff member.

Working in politics – at any level – is more than a job, it is a vocation.

Our staff make tremendous sacrifices on our behalf and we thank them for that.

I seem to have been provided with several extra paragraphs of praise for my own staff here – time will not permit me, unfortunately I can’t work it all through and name them individually.

I simply offer a heartfelt thank you to everyone from my office and my electorate office for their effort, their energy and their enthusiasm this year.

Even at the most difficult and high-pressure moments, my team can always find a reason to laugh –sometimes it’s not even at my expense – I am especially grateful for that.

Madam Speaker

In his final speech in this place Kim Beazley said that what our families put up with is the ‘hard secret’ of public life.

Like everyone, I am only here because of my family’s support, their patience, their guidance and their love.

Chloe, Rupert, Georgette and Clementine – I love you, I cannot wait to see you.

Madam Speaker

Last month, David Cameron remarked that sometimes this is a place where ‘the brickbats fly’.

Yes, ours is a chamber of robust exchange.

It has always been that way, it always should be.

Our democracy depends on upon disagreement, on the contest of ideas, on each of us speaking on behalf of the people who elected us.

But perhaps, in 2015, we can all do better, we can all work harder to separate the personal from the political.

In that spirit, I want to acknowledge the work of the crossbenchers for their work in the House of Representatives and the Senate, very important work.

And in that spirit I wish the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Government and their staff a safe and happy holiday.

Madam Speaker

Earlier this year I lost my mother, a wonderful woman who taught me and my twin brother, Robert, so much. The Prime Minister sent me a very kind message of condolence.

In one of those unscripted moments in public life, Prince William was ahead of the Prime Minister, Princess Kate behind, the Prime Minister in between and my wife was talking to Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge was talking to Madam Speaker, and there was the Prime Minister and I, within handshake range, as we did.

I thanked him for his thoughtful words and his message to my mother.

I said that every so often, just when I am at the point of complete frustration with the Prime Minister, he does something nice to surprise me.

I think the Prime Minister was sufficiently surprised at this comment, but he paused and said, ‘Don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll find a way to frustrate you soon.’

Prime Minister, thank you for your generosity.

Please send my very best to your remarkable wife, Margie, and your clever and capable daughters.

I am sure that as you savour a shandy or two this summer, pondering your year of achievement, you will miss us, but do not worry, we will be back, we will be here, ready for the political battle in the year ahead, whatever it may bring.

Merry Christmas everyone and a happy New Year.

I thank the House.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 677 4053

Dec 1, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Speech: Peter Greste

SPEECH TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

PETER GRESTE

 

MONDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2014

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Today is Peter Greste’s 49th birthday.

 

Instead of celebrating it with the people he loves – he will mark this day, as he has the last 337 days – in an Egyptian jail cell.

 

Our first thoughts today are with Peter, and his family.

 

His parents Juris and Lois and his brothers Mike and Andrew have won millions of admirers for their optimism and character throughout this ordeal.

 

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I wrote to Peter in June and we were touched to receive a reply from Peter from his Cairo prison cell, thanking Parliament, press and the Australian people for their overwhelming support.

 

The imprisonment of Peter Greste is a grievous injustice.

 

As Peter himself put it: ‘it is an affront to the freedom of expression’.

 

No journalist, no servant of the free press, should be put in jail for doing their job.

 

Until Peter Greste – and more than 200 other journalists around the world who currently languish in jail – are free – the freedom of all of us is diminished.

 

Let us all rededicate ourselves to the persistent and consistent diplomacy that will deliver Peter Greste’s freedom.

 

Let us all resolve that Peter Greste will spend his 50th birthday a free man.

 

ENDS

 

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

Dec 1, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Speech: Phillip Hughes

SPEECH

PHILLIP HUGHES

MONDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2014

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On the weekend, at grounds around our country, the Australian cricket family wore black armbands to mourn the loss of one of their own.

From the manicured wickets of the first grade to the local synthetic…from young Kanga cricketers just beginning their love affair with the game to wily old veterans putting their backs through one last test of optimism…everyone paused to remember Phillip Hughes.

In our suburban streets and country towns, tens of thousands of Australians ‘put their bats out’ to remember the piercing cut shot, the fantastic cheeky grin and the fighting qualities of a country boy who loved playing for his country.

In Sharjah, New Zealand and Pakistan took a day off from their Test – and when they resumed, they played in a very different way.

The players didn’t celebrate their personal victories; their thoughts were with Phillip’s family and friends, that was what was most important – not the Test match.

At Twickenham, the Wallabies and the English fans celebrated Phillips’ life with a minute of applause.

In the A-League game between Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory, the crowd rose as one at the 63rd minute.

What is it about Phillip Hughes, his career, his passing that captured worldwide attention?

This morning I spoke with Dave O’Neil, the President of Western Suburbs Cricket Club at the time Phillip joined as a boy from the bush, chasing his dream.

He paid tribute to Phillip’s brilliance and his potential – the records he holds and the records he would have set.

Dave also told me something of Phillip’s qualities and his values – and the wonderful family who gave them to him and to whom we offer our heartfelt condolences.

Phillip Hughes had courage, he had resilience, he had an extraordinary work ethic – dropped four times from the Australian side but bouncing back, piling on the runs in the Shield competition.

A fantastic team man – a quality obvious from the universal reaction of his devastated teammates.

And – perhaps unusually in the ultra-competitive world of ultra-professional modern sport –Phillip was deeply admired and respected by his opponents.

Madam Speaker

In remembering Phillip Hughes, Australia and indeed the world cricket family has been at its generous, compassionate best.

But perhaps for Australian Captain Michael Clarke this has been his finest hour in a very distinguished career.

He has found the words to describe our sadness, to speak for Phillip’s family, for his teammates and for his country.

And we commend Michael for the way he reached out, on behalf of all Australians, to Sean Abbott, offering to pad up and face the first ball that Sean bowls on his return.

Our nation will remember Phillip Hughes not for how he died – but for how he lived, for what he loved.

And perhaps today all of us should remember to tell the people we care for, how much we love them.

Because life is bigger, more precious and more fickle than any game.

May he rest in peace.

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 677 4053

 

Dec 1, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Opening Remarks: Urban Policy Dialogue

OPENING REMARKS

URBAN POLICY DIALOGUE

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

MONDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2014

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Now, more than ever, Australian cities matter.

Australia remains a nation in love with its cities.

–       89 per cent of our population is housed in urban areas.

–       By 2060 our population is expected to double, Sydney and Melbourne will be approaching eight million people.

Economically, our cities are places of incredible opportunity, knowledge and advancement. They are the incubators of innovation and productivity.

–       Engines of national economic growth, producing 80 per cent of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

–       Hives of artistic creativity, excitement and diversity.

If we care about planning for the future, it is absolutely vital that we get our cities right.

Good cities reflect back to us the best of Australian values: opportunity and inclusion.

–       Good jobs, affordable housing, ease of movement and safe streets, underpinned by sense of trust and community.

–       Protecting our living standards and building a secure economic future

If we fail to get our cities right, that too is reflected back to us.

–       Division, injustice, inequality and alienation.

–       Poverty, crime, economic and social injustice and fear.

Well-designed cities can unite our people, providing secure, sustainable environments where creativity and productivity can thrive.

Lucky enough to have cities which regularly rank in the top ten best places to live in the world, in some ways Australia has become the victim of its own success.

Take the daily commute.

Aside from the enormous cost to the environment, next year traffic congestion will cost the economy $8 billion dollars a year in lost productivity.

This is not to mention the cost to our daily lives – time that should have been spent with family or friends is instead being spent behind the wheel, or waiting for a train.

The new Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, won Saturday’s election with a clear commitment to public transport.

He has a mandate from Victorians to deliver on his commitments – improving rail services and easing congestion by eliminating 50 level crossings.

Labor believes in investing in roads and public transport, with investment decisions based on proper cost-benefit analysis.

Take housing affordability.

A recent BIS report found that Australian house prices are among the world’s most expensive when measured against incomes and rents, second only to Norway.

In a single year to July 2014 the median house price climbed by $100,000 to $812,000 in Sydney and $609,000 in Melbourne.

The economic difficulties this presents not just for first home buyers but for low-income renters can be monumental.

Labor has established this forum because the future of Australia’s cities cannot remain, as they are under the Abbott Government, somebody else’s problem.

This is why I have formally added the role of Shadow Minister for Cities to Anthony Albanese’s portfolios, to reinforce Labor’s commitment to developing strong, engaged and effective urban policy.

I want this to be a genuine dialogue.

We need your energy, your knowledge and your passion.

We want to partner with you in developing Labor’s urban policies leading into the next election.

Our Federal Government must be engaged in the development of Australia’s cities.

State Governments alone cannot meet the major infrastructure challenges that our big cities present.

For the Australia of the future:

–       Creating jobs

–       Protecting living standards.

–       Environmental sustainability

–       And a fair society

All depend on the future development of our cities.

Thank you all for being part of this dialogue and I wish you all the very best for today’s inaugural meeting.

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 677 4053

Nov 29, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

VICTORIAN LABOR ELECTION NIGHT FUNCTION

VICTORIAN LABOR ELECTION NIGHT FUNCTION

 

SATURDAY, 29 NOVEMBER 2014

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They said this couldn’t happen. They said that a first term government never loses.

Please remember tonight for the rest of your lives, because we are witnessing history in the making.

This is a sensational outcome for everyone who believes in a stronger and fairer Victoria.

Dear friends,

Daniel Andrews and Labor offered Victorians a clear choice this election.

And Victorians have made a clear choice that will be heard all around the nation.

They wanted a Leader who will end the ambo crisis.

A Leader who will fight for our nurses, teachers and firies – not against them.

A Leader who will fix our schools, save our TAFEs and secure the jobs of the future.

They wanted a Leader who will take orders from Victorians – and not from Tony Abbott.

Tony Abbott wouldn’t come to Victoria this election – so Victorians have gone to him – with a clear message.

Tony Abbott: no to your GP Tax; no to your $100,000 degrees; no to your cuts to schools and hospitals; and no more lies.

Victoria how has a state leader who will stand up for Victoria.

Daniel Andrews has put forward a positive plan; his vision for our great state – town and country.

And he could not have done it without his committed Labor colleagues, and his amazing family.

I think I speak on behalf of all of us when I say to Cath Andrews, Victorians have liked getting to know you in this election, and we are indebted to you.

And he couldn’t have done this without all of you.

You are the true believers. You are the history makers.

The pivotal and powerful Community Action Network.

You knocked on the doors; you made the calls – thousands and thousands.

You made a difference.

You were the difference.

Dear friends,

The Victorian people have spoken today.

Voting for a new Leader and a new plan.

A Leader that we trust and a vision of fairness which includes everyone.

I am honoured to introduce him to you tonight.

Our friend.

Victoria’s new Premier.

Daniel Andrews.

 

ENDS

 

Nov 26, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

BILL SHORTEN – TRANSCRIPT – NATIONAL PRESS CLUB Q&A – WEDNESDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2014

SUBJECT/S: Labor Government; Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget; Tony Abbott’s broken promises; Economy; Immigration; Higher education; Superannuation; G20; Mini-Budget; Shipbuilding in Australia; ADF pay; Mining Tax.

 

LAURIE WILSON: Thank you very much, Mr Shorten, time now for our usual round of questions. There’s a very long list of questions today, I doubt we’ll get through all of them. But I would appeal to my media members to keep their questions to a single question and keep them short if they could, please. And the first question today is from Mark Kenny.

 

JOURNALIST: Mark Kenny, Mr Shorten from Fairfax Media. I wonder, you’ve been quite frank about the Government’s failings, I wonder if I can invite you to be frank about your own party’s failings. If you could outline the main policy reasons why your party was tossed out in 2013 and yesterday, given that you finished on the question of trust, yesterday I believe you withdrew an interjection where you said you will see our cuts when we’re in government. Is that an accurate reflection of what you said and what do you mean by that?

 

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, BILL SHORTEN: Taking your second part first, I didn’t say it, so that’s why I insisted the Government stop saying that. In terms of the debate yesterday, though , and the Government’s tactics. We know yesterday, as I said in my speech, as a metaphor for this Government, you know, we all know, Australians know that this is a Government uncomfortable in the skin of a government, much preferring the uniform of Opposition. They would much rather talk about us than talk about their vision for the nation. Tony Abbott would be better advised to focus on the future of Australia than play politics all the time. We know this is what he does so I expect the Government to attack Labor, I just wish the Government would do its day job. I do not believe after a year and a quarter that the Abbott Government has made the translation from Opposition to Government. The G20 was an unqualified failure when it should have been an unqualified success. What on earth was the Prime Minister and his minders thinking giving that eight minute excruciating Little Australia rant? Imagine telling the Prime Minister of Turkey that you’ve got problems with a GP Tax, when they’ve got 2 million refugees. Imagine telling China the challenge, or Germany that we want to actually increase the cost of going to university when they’re desperate to make sure that people, be in developed or developing economies, go there. This is a Government who is most comfortable in Opposition.

 

We didn’t ask Tony Abbott before the last election to make all the statements he did, but he did. He did because he wanted to win the votes of Australians. But there is indeed a trust question in this country. The question of Tony Abbott’s trust and what he did before the election, like no other politician in the contemporary era, he put himself on a pedestal, he tried to crucify Julia Gillard and he said that with Tony Abbott what you see is what you’ll get. He said famously before the last election when he was asked will you use the Budget upon coming into power as an excuse not to keep your promises? He said, I’m not that sort of bloke. And then yesterday he just assumes that the nation suffers political amnesia and that he can say that black is white and white is black. So when it comes to the questions of trust, what Australian people want and what I’m determined that Labor does, is that they want to see people engaged with the ideas of Australia and navigating a plan to the future. His Budget, his Budget is lost in space. His foreign policy reactive, lost in space. These are the challenges for the Government and if the Government seek to attack Labor for being a fierce opposition that is their prerogative but Australians elected this Government to keep its promises and to work on the future. The attack on higher education is not a future-focus policy. Not accepting or wanting to work with the multilateral institutions that a rise in China is seeking to put out in our region, that is not the future. It is not the future for productivity and workplaces to slam a GP Tax discouraging people from going to the doctor. So if they want to have a debate we will give it to them on their policies and a plan for the future.

 

JOURNALIST: What about your own policies as I asked you earlier?

 

SHORTEN: Well certainly before the next election we will advance the case and what I have said today is that we are sufficiently ambitious for this nation. We are sufficiently ambitious for Australian democracy that we will submit a platform which is not just ‘we are not them’. It is not just a list of Tony Abbott’s lies, compendious as it is. We will submit a view that at the next election a post grad science student will look for the Labor how to vote card because we’ve got the best science policies. Mum and Dad who’ve educated their kids through 13 years of school will know that at least with Labor there’s a reasonable chance that their kids can go to uni and not have a lifetime of debt. We want people who are worried about the care of people with disabilities, their family members, the midnight anxiety of the 80-year-old parents wondering who will love their children like they have, their adult children, at least they know when they go to the polling booth, whenever the next election is, they will know what Labor stands for. But it will also be the case in small business, it will be the case in our foreign policy, it will be the case in innovation. We’re ambitious for this country and we want to have an election based on the best ideas.

 

JOURNALIST: David Speers from Sky News. Mr Shorten, in the vision that you’ve outlined for Australia’s future I don’t think you mentioned the debt that we all share as a nation. I’m just interested in the priority you give that in paying it off and whether you will be honest about how long that’s going to take and whether you’re prepared to take longer than the Coalition to pay it off. And just to repeat Mark’s question about the policy problems Labor had at the last election, are you willing to acknowledge what policy mistakes there were?

 

SHORTEN: Good, sorry, I should have addressed that, sorry, Mark, thanks. Just going to that point, there’s no doubt that, and we’ve taken responsibility for various matters over the last year and a quarter. But we missed an opportunity in 2009 with the collapse of Copenhagen and in hindsight, and I’m not saying I had this view at the time but in hindsight, and hindsight’s an invaluable tool, we’ve all used it. Is that we should have pushed for a double dissolution. And there is no doubt that Tony Abbott ran a very effective campaign against the high-fixed price on carbon that we put in that term. So yeah, I get that we need to rebuild trust. We embrace our responsibility and that’s why in the Opposition that we’re leading and we are pushing for Australia, you will see us put forward positive propositions before the next election. And then you asked, what was the second part of your question?

 

JOURNALIST: About debt and priorities?

 

SHORTEN: There’s no doubt the Budget faces pressures. Chris Bowen, who is here today, has made that point, we all have. Commodity prices are down and we’ve seen, though, with the Budget the current Budget that they’ve put, they have torpedoed confidence, no-one who deals with the high street of Australia thinks that business confidence is there, so there’s external factors. But there’s also the dilemmas in the Budget caused by this current Government. First of all they’ve got the wrong priorities. What they’ve done, and you can talk to people, high street traders across Australia. But two or three weeks before the election when the Government brains trust decided to cleverly, they were dragged kicking and screaming to drop their Commission of Audit, they deliberately held off after the South Australian and Western Australia elections, they didn’t provide that same courtesy to the Victorian Liberals I might add with the Petrol Tax. But they held off on the Commission if Audit but really from when they started leaking that, through to leaks in the Budget, confidence has just flat lined. It has flat lined. So I think they’ve got to take some responsibility for what they’ve done there. We’ve seen our wages growth shrink, so I think the challenge in the medium term is to make sure that our revenues match our expenditures, but what I also recognise is that the policy prescription to ensure we deal with the issues that you raise is not to make the income, the bottom half of income earners in this Australia do the heavy lifting. We need to go for a productivity agenda which involves making our people smarter. It’s the creation of wealth rather than an argument about who should get what. It’s the creation of wealth, it’s the building of opportunity for small business. It’s support for the many women who are starting their small businesses. That’s the game in town. It is having a search or a reach for higher ground, that is how we deal with the issues that you refer to today.

 

JOURNALIST: Sophie Morris from the Saturday Paper. Mr Shorten you’ve spoken a lot about fairness and I want to ask you about Labor’s approach to fairness to people who come here seeking asylum. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is pursuing various bits of legislation to reintroduce temporary protection visas, make it easier to cancel citizenship, to revoke citizenship and cancel visas. Do you see merit in these proposals or do you think that he’s gone too far?

 

SHORTEN: Well, when we talk about fairness and we talk about immigration, we talk about refugees, let me put down some markers which the Labor that I lead believes in. First of all, we believe unreservedly that immigration has been a benefit for Australia. We believe that it’s contributed, continues to contribute from great citizens to broadening the diversity of our community, to entrepreneurs, to a deepening of Australian culture. Now we recognise that our immigrants come by various means. Family reunion, skilled migration and refugees. We do not seek to demonise refugees, but we do also believe that we need to discourage the people smugglers’ model and I think that Labor, and I don’t think, I believe, that Labor’s push for regional resettlement has been the cornerstone upon which the people smugglers’ model has been broken. In terms of this Government and what they’re doing in terms of their temporary visas, we need to look at the detail carefully. I don’t particularly trust this Government about treating people fairly. On the other hand, we will do what we’ve always done. We will weigh up the interests of the nation and the interests of individuals and we will review the legislation, and we will debate it as it is presented to the Parliament.

 

JOURNALIST: Paul Osborne from Australian Associated Press. Thank you very much for your speech. Just wanting to pursue the question of your budget philosophy. In Government, what areas would Labor quarantine from cuts or efficiency dividends, and I’m thinking of things like defence, pensions and so on, and would you deliver a surplus earlier than Mr Hockey plans?

 

SHORTEN: I think a lot of this is a hypothetical because we need to see what Joe Hockey’s going to do. I note that he’s trying to leave his mini-budget until the last possible moment in the year. I think that the Government’s got some numbers to front up to the Australian people and present to us. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’ve worsened the deficit since they came into power. You know, it’s been 445 days for those of you who haven’t been keeping count, since the Government got elected and at some point in that time there going to have to stop being able to blame the rest of the world or blame their predecessors and start dealing with the issues. In terms of how we present our economic policies for the next election, as much as I’d like to win the good will of the people here, at the Press Club today, these are still early days for us. But when we talk about priorities and part of your question went to priorities, the Government needs to dump its Rolls-Royce paid parental leave scheme. They’ve got to stop going soft on multinational tax evaders. I think they need to hand back some of the superannuation tax breaks they’re give to the very wealthy, who simply don’t need the assistance of the taxpayer to move from $2 million to $2.5 million in savings. I do also think that if the Government has troubles with its Budget, which it does, they should stop paying polluters to pollute and introduce a market-based system.

 

JOURNALIST: David Crowe from The Australian. Thanks for your speech, Mr Shorten. There was a startling fact in your speech which was that by 2050 there will be 2.5 workers only for every person who is over 65. The trend has got to put more pressure on the pension system, it’s got to make pensions a bigger share of government outlays than they already are. Do you see that as a problem that needs to be addressed? Are you saying that a Labor Government would do anything to stop that increase?

 

SHORTEN: There’s a number of levers which governments who think – I mean your question is dangerously conflicting with the Abbott doctrine of not just today but thinking about the far distant future 16 years’ time. I think you’re asking me to think 36 years in advance, don’t ask the Prime Minister. In terms of how we deal with that, the most successful nations with participation rates are ones who have the highest education, the highest rates of education. You look at some of the Nordic countries, you look at nations with high participation rates their people are well trained, that allows people to work older in life. The second thing is, of course, the Government likes to talk about people working longer, but have they ever tried to change the workers’ comp laws in States so the workers’ comp will cover employees over 65 years of age? This is a Government who is long on the thought bubble and short on the detail. But one of the key changes which this Government’s dragged us back and, you know, I call upon that journal of record, The Australian, the join me in this issue. It’s the reduction in superannuation, it’s the freezing of superannuation at 9.5 per cent. What a backward, backward, backward decision. You know, they said that there’s 3.5 million Australians who earn less than $37,000 a year. Currently the Government’s reinstituted a system where they’re putting more tax on their compulsory savings than they pay on the income they earn. Labor got rid of that but there’s sort of the F Troop of this Government, the barnacle removing brigade, decided to remove a beneficial tax treatment which will allow people who earn less than $37,000 a year to save super. So what we have now, this Government has introduced an involuntary arbitrage where if you are compelled to save and you earn less than $37,000 , you pay more tax on your savings than you do on your pay-as-you-go income. Ridiculous. Only the Conservatives could have dreamt that up. So the other issue though is by freezing super at 9.5 per cent and not taking it through to 12 per cent as they promised before the election, of course, they’ve so traduced our expectations of keeping  promises, that’s just one on the list, that’s under the letter S, you know. What they should do is allow superannuation to go up in the increments we proposed so we have a larger pool of savings. The beauty of superannuation is this; the more that we encourage people to save for themselves the less of a drain it will be on the pension. I think the other thing they need to do is work on how they treat women equally because the more that you can encourage women to work, the more money that people will amass in their time at work, so the less they’ll have to rely on the savings. So I look with great interest at what the Government’s going to do on the question of child care. They’ve spent a lot of time working on the first 9 months of a child’s life, what are they doing on child care? These are all challenges, they’re long-term levers and of course there’s higher education generally.

 

JOURNALIST: Laura Tingle from Financial Review Mr Shorten. You’ve talked in the speech today about the fact that the economy’s not doing very well at the moment and you’ve had a particular focus on higher education. So what I wanted to ask you was, we’re expecting the mid-year review of the Budget out as you mentioned next month. What’s the appropriate fiscal policy for – or the appropriate economic policy for that statement? Should the Government just let the expected deterioration in the Budget go because things are a bit weak or should they be trying to offset it? And on higher education, would you be looking to unwind any changes that the Government does get through on its higher education reforms?

 

SHORTEN: Let me deal with your second question first. There’s a big hypothetical in that. If the Government gets their changes through. At this stage there is no prospect of that. We believe the best thing we can do for our universities is defeat these rotten changes and we start again in the process. So we are not contemplating failure on our defence of higher education. As Laurie generously said at the start, you know, Labor’s certainly got its act together this year. We have been fierce this year. I’m discovering as Opposition Leader it’s a thin line between being too strong or too weak and some of you helped me navigate that line imperfectly. But what I do get is that when it comes to higher education this Government has got a snowflake’s chance in that hot place where bad people go to get through the doubling of the bond rate. If they want to get through a 20 per cent cut to universities that will be the greatest act of vandalism we’ve seen a political party do to higher-ed. Now I wonder if one of the barnacles that the Government’s going to remove is higher-ed. I hope for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of year 11 and year 12 kids who went to open days this year that is one of the barnacles that the barnacle-removing Government are going to take off the hull of their higher education policies.

 

There was the first part of your question about how Treasurer Hockey should handle it. Well the first thing is he should just go down to Bunnings, not Bunnings, go to Kmart or Target, buy himself a white tea towel, put it on a wooden broom and wave surrender on his silly changes. The GP Tax, silly, silly, silly. Who on earth – I mean I just assumed it was a new government and they just, either – actually, they’re a new government who’s never really liked Medicare and then what they’ve done is they’ve said well we’re going to somehow find ways to discourage bulk billing. They should drop their changes to Medicare full stop. Then while they’re at it, if they don’t do it before their mini-budget, they should drop the higher education changes. I think that need to revisit what they do about breaking their promise to pensioners around Australia. I think they should tidy up the defence pay deal while they’re there. This Government needs to work on policies which, as I’ve outlined, they should also drop their paid parental leave scheme for millionaires. I think there’s opportunities for them to re-invigorate their auditing of multinational organisations and in terms of tax, profit shifting. I think they need to reconsider the tax break they’ve given to a few thousand of our wealthiest citizens who have multi-million dollar superannuation accounts. I think they do need to revisit Direct Action. One, Direct Action won’t achieve the targets they say they will without the expenditure of billions of dollars more money and two, there are far cheaper alternatives to achieve the same environmental outcome. So I think in terms of general approach, we’ve been willing to work in the past on means testing, the baby bonus means testing, the PHI rebate. But what they need to understand is that if they want to create value in the Australian economy they need to invest in people. If they drop the Medicare, I still think they need to question what they do with research, getting rid of 900 CSIRO scientists is just shocking. So I think they need to – the reality is they got into Government without doing much homework except a very narrow right-wing ideology. And now a year and a quarter in, or 445 days in, they’re adrift.

 

[inaudible]

 

SHORTEN: Sorry, I’m happy to talk to you again later.

 

JOURNALIST: Nick Pedley from ABC News. Mr Shorten you described Mr Abbott’s opening speech to G20 leaders as weird, excruciating and cringe worthy. You had a celebrated speech at Adelaide ship yards which could be described as, well, celebrated. You made pledges at that speech that the submarines and the ships would be built there. Do you stand by those pledges even if the Government enters into contracts before the next election?

 

SHORTEN: Well, I also described Tony Abbott’s speech as a missed opportunity for Australia. I also said about Tony Abbott’s speech that he didn’t see Obama going or Xi coming. I also said that his much hyped up shirtfront with Putin turned into a kola photo opportunity. So I do think that Tony Abbott missed the biggest peace time foreign policy opportunity that we’re going to get in the foreseeable future. Yes and I did cringe and I think that a lot of ordinary Australians cringed. When he complained about the, you know, difficultly – he gave a negative character reference about the Australian people. We invite the leaders of the world here and he says ‘I’m have trouble convincing Australians’. You’re not having trouble convincing Australians, they just don’t like your ideas. So I don’t think he was in order at all to give a negative reference about the Australian people.

 

Then we get to submarine corporation and talking about pledges. Let me remind you of a pledge that you didn’t go to in your question. May 8th 2013, David Johnston the beleaguered, is he still the Defence Minister? Anyway, the beleaguered Defence Minister, he promised the 12 submarines would be built in South Australia. He promised it. He promised it. And then yesterday he made that dreadful comment, that the ASC, you know, you wouldn’t trust them to build a canoe. Well if he really believed that, if we want to talk about authenticity of pledges, does that mean that the Australian Government should now ask all the submarines built in that time, because he’s tried to back track ineffectually after who knows who in the Prime Minister’s office has said you better get up, you know, and try and mop up the stain of what you said. Then he said, ‘I wasn’t talking about today, I was talking about previously, historically.’ Well the Collins class submariners are our deadliest form of defence. They are crewed by system of our most trained submariners and representatives of the Roya Australian Navy. I’ve had the privilege to be on them. And what I know is that if he thinks that these are nothing better than canoes, because they were built in the time when he was still describing as canoes. If he has any conviction about what he said, because his subsequent statement has buried him as much as much as his first statement, they should recall these submarines right now. They should not put submariners in harm’s way if they think that the ASC has built bad submarines.

 

They are providing $500 million a year to the ASC to upgrade our military hardware. The ASC is in alliance building the AWD, three AWD destroyers. If they really think that they’re that bad they should stop right now. This is a Government addicted to politics. As for what I said, and in the implication of what you said, I do think that they should build the submarines in Australia. This idea that somehow this Government’s going to do a contract for 40 years for X billion dollars, this Government’s not down that path so the question you raise about contracts is a moot point. It’s a hypothetical. This Government with its C-1,000 future submarine program has for 15 months literally been at sea. Their Land 400, the replacement of our armoured vehicles, hopeless, just all over the place.

 

And you want to look at the Defence pay while we’re talking about pledges? The Opposition, now Government, when they were in Opposition, criticised Labor when there were three years of 3 per cent pay rises. Stewart Robert, I don’t know, he’s the Assistant Minister, I think. He attacked Labor when in Opposition said ‘shameful’ that Labor would only give 3 per cent for Defence per year. This mob are giving 1.5 per cent, 1.5 per cent. Not even keeping up with real wages. And as for the Defence Minister, didn’t he famously say in October the 22nd that he didn’t attend the National Security Council because he didn’t think he had anything to add? So when we talk about pledges, this Government who loves wrapping themselves in the flag of patriotism, they love a parade, they love a photo-op with the military and that’s okay, that’s fair enough. But when it comes to the real things, long-term decisions, not trashing the reputation of Australia’s manufacturing, sorting out the matter of pay which they’ve already Budgeted for, this is a most ineffectual government and a most ineffectual Defence Minister.

 

JOURNALIST: Tim Lester, from the Seven Network Mr Shorten. You say that Tony Abbott’s broken promise’s debase our democracy, you of course also were in a Government that lost office partly on the back of an infamous broken promise with regards to carbon. What has this taught you, how has it informed you about the promises, of the way you will make promises in the next two years, not whether you’ll keep them, but your approach to what you’ll promise on and how many you’ll make. And is it even possible for a leader like you these days to under promise and over deliver?

 

SHORTEN: Yes, that is exactly the strategy, under promise and over deliver. Tim, that will be our strategy.

 

JOURNALIST: You can do that?

 

SHORTEN: Yes, I can answer questions quickly too.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Andrew Probyn from the West Australian and you can be more expansive in answering mine. I note that you’ve suggested that the 2016 election will be a character contest, but I imagine the economies going to be heart and soul of that election too. You’ve suggested that there might be, or you’ve said there should be on changes on superannuation, can you tell us what other changes aside for millionaires? And on the mining tax you’ve said that you want to bring that back, how would you do that given that iron ore in now under 70 bucks which is pretty close to breakeven?

 

SHORTEN: Well you raise and number of points and in reference to your sort of first humorous reference about being expansive to yours and Tim’s question, I’m not going to announce our election policies today. But we understand that the process of forming our policies is important. One of the things I’ve found instructive about the passing of Gough Whitlam is not necessary even what happened to them in 74’ and 75’ but in Opposition the way that he worked on his polices and indeed having a clear plan upon getting to government how they implement them. So I do believe, in all seriousness, that you don’t have to make a promise on everything and I’m sure that there’s a lot of political rule books being rewritten after the debacle of Tony Abbott’s SBS interview on the night before the election. But we do have to make sure that we anchor our policies in listening to the Australian electorate. We do have to make sure that we do it by expand the ranks of the Labor Party to include groups and segments and voices that haven’t traditionally been heard. My shadow ministers are working on policies as we speak; we’ve got a process working in with our National Conference in July of next year.

 

So in all seriousness, both Andrew and Tim, we are interested in the best, broadest, anchored views, talking to people before we make the promises, listening to the Australian community. That’s what will win respect. I notice for instance that one of the big debates, to use a live example and I’m quite impressed by, is the Victorian election. Tony Abbott’s interested to give $1.5 billion to East-West Link without a business case, whereas Daniel Andrews has said that through the privatisation of the ports they’ll build 50 level crossings. Now these 50 level crossings, some of you have raised in Victoria, Melbourne’s a flat city. It is a ripper of a policy, it’s costed, it’s paid for and it goes towards improving productivity, the utility of both our roads and public transport. Public transport in cities is a topic that the Federal Government has an aversion to. So I think that’s a good example of what to do.

 

In terms of mining tax, we’ve made it clear that there were mistakes and, this perhaps even goes to a couple of the earlier questions too, it’s another example, where the scale of our aspiration, of my predecessor ‘s aspirations outstripped the level of detail and of course we saw the resulting hue and cry about that. So in terms of a mining tax, we would not do anything before we speak with states and mining companies and furthermore when we look at these issues you’re quite right, with commodity prices where they are it’s just not an issue on the table. But thank you very much for your question.
ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 6277 4053

 

Nov 26, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH TO THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB, CANBERRA

SPEECH TO THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB, CANBERRA

 

“REACHING FOR HIGHER GROUND”

 

WEDNESDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This takes vision.

 

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

 

It takes trust.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

On every issue – the same problem.

 

No vision, no plan, no trust.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

First, to Foreign Policy.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

But more than that, unbecoming.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Australians, however, were cheering.

 

Then, the Prime Minister failed to see China coming.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The ignominy of it.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The best he could offer was:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A man adrift.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

He missed an unparalleled economic opportunity for Australia.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

He let our country down.

 

THE BUDGET

 

You cannot govern today without a vision for tomorrow.

 

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

 

Growth has slumped, the deficit has doubled.

 

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

 

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

 

Real wages are falling – eroding our standard of living.

 

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

 

Australians live with these symptoms and they know the cause.

 

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

 

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

 

They play an ‘if only’ sort of game.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

But it is not about fixing the message really.

 

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

 

The problem is the excuses and the surprises.

 

The lies and the consequences of the lies.

 

The spin and the substance it is hiding.

 

We, the Australian people aren’t stupid.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

REFORM

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Real reform takes values, vision and courage.

 

It takes leadership.

 

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

 

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

 

Because the Australian people know when Governments keep the faith.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

These are the challenges that will define our future.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

We have no other historic choice.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A lifetime of student debt is not reform.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

JOBS

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

For me, it is straightforward.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A university system, underpinned by three principles:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

She would pay $63,500 in interest alone.

 

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

 

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

 

The Government is locking young Australians into an interest trap.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Abbott plan is not reform – it is regression.

 

My mum was an educator.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

He knows that he has let Australians down.

 

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

 

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

 

That’s what Labor is doing.

 

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

 

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

 

But I will never support the creation of an underclass.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Today I give Australians this commitment.

 

We will seek a mandate based on a positive plan.

 

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

 

Australians deserve better than the Government they are suffering through.

 

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

 

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

 

It will offer more than what the Government is not.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

An alternative government, reaching for higher ground.

 

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

 

ENDS

 

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

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