Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Oct 13, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins










It is an honour to be here today and I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land first, and their elders both past and present.

Because you can’t have national unity without national reconciliation and recognition in our constitution for our first Australians.

As I said in the press conference, today is a very timely event.

We do face challenges at home in light of difficult events in recent days and weeks, terrible events. But we face a challenge also of response. We face the challenges of division and exclusion.

I know that people of all faiths – from time to time – have to deal with the shouting of ugly intolerance, the ignorant face of racism and prejudice.

But it is important to remember that this country has faced these sort of challenges in different forms before in our history.

Just ask our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Ask the Southern Europeans arriving here after the Second World War.

The Vietnamese boat people.

Even my tribe, the Irish Catholics.

My mother grew up an Australian Catholic, but barely 60 years ago she was refused work at her local supermarket because of her religion.

Times change but the challenges will always occur.

So for me this day is about distinguishing light from dark, understanding from ignorance.

There is hope in the promise of tolerance, love, harmony and peace.

There is no hope in the promise of racism, intolerance and condoning bigotry and violence, no matter how that promise is seductively offered.

So we should use today in Parliament to declare that the bigots, the racists, the haters, the extremists, do not speak for people of faith in modern Australia.

Modern Australia is our home, it is testament to what good can occur when we unite.

In the last month or so tens of thousands of Australians have celebrate Eid Al-Adha – a feast marking a story of sacrifice actually shared by all three of the Abrahamic faiths: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Also there has been tens of thousands of Australians celebrated Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.

And later this year in November, tens of thousands of Australians will celebrate Deepavali – the Hindu festival of lights.

That is our modern Australia.

When Australians comes together, when Australian’s come together we form an indivisible host of moral strength which gives Australia a better stronger future.

A better future founded upon love, understanding and peace, not conflict and division.

Friends, tradition across all our faiths says each new year marks a fresh start. A chance to make new promises and new resolutions.

Perhaps today we could resolve, that one has every right to have faith and pride in their own heritage, but not to isolate from Australian society and laws and customs.

One’s faith should be a guide to show many Australians from many cultures and religions about the merits and values one’s faith.

We should also recognise that faith should never be a destination to retreat into, but rather a platform to proudly explain to others.

We should also promise and resolve that every Australian no matter what their faith, country of birth or their gender should believe that their background is as equal as every other Australian.

Not superior or more worthy, but simply equal.

Friends, like all of you I have a powerful belief in Australians.

Australian Muslims, Australian Christians, Australian Jews and Australian Hindus, and Australians of all faith and indeed Australians who profess no particular faith.

But what we should all resolve in this national day of unity is that all of us should never surrender faith in Australia.

To paraphrase what someone has said never lose faith in Australia.  Its faults are ours to fix, not to reject.

From the diversity of our people let us draw strength, not weakness.

Thank you.



Oct 12, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins









I offer Labor’s condolences to the family and friends of Curtis Cheng.

A decent, gentle family man.

A respected, well-liked colleague, on his way home from work – gunned down from behind in a murderous act of senseless hatred.

Two Fridays ago, as Australia prepared for a weekend devoted to sport and celebrations, Curtis Cheng’s family and his colleagues were jolted into mourning.

Just as, in the past 48 hours, we have been shocked and saddened by the terrible scenes in Ankara.

The bodies of so many, lying where they fell, covered in flags stained by blood.

Chilling images and proof that all forms of terrorism share the same two objectives: killing innocent people and spreading fear.

In particular, I am sure these incidents today strike a chord with Australians, who recall with sadness that on this day October 12, 2002, 88 of our own were among the over 200 killed by a bomb blast in Bali.

Mr Speaker

A century after our citizens first clashed in a war that did so much to shape our modern identity, Australia and Turkey share a special relationship.

Earlier today, I spoke with the Turkish ambassador-designate, to convey Australia’s sympathies and to say we stand in solidarity with our friends, condemning this act of murder, targeting supporters of peace.

This is a testing time – for the world, and for Australia.

At least 100 dead in the worst attack on civilians in the Republic of Turkey’s history.

And in Western Sydney, a man killed by a person we would all think of as a child, a 15 year old boy.

As a father, I cannot imagine the grief and guilt, the horror of your child, the one you love, choosing to end their own life by murdering an innocent man he didn’t even know.

Truly, it is beyond any parent’s comprehension.

And Mr Speaker, he is the second teenager in two years to die outside an Australian police station, seeking to kill.

Australians, though, can and should have full confidence in our security agencies, their bravery, skill and professionalism are the equal of any in the world.

Attacks on our people are thankfully rare because of their vigilance.

I place on record our commendation of the quick thinking action and courage of the Special Constables of the New South Wales Police Force.

But keeping our nation safe is a job for all of us, together.

We all want these threats to stop, we all want to work for prevention – rather than investigation.

This means co-operating with community leaders, religious leaders, grassroot organisations, parents and mentors to build cohesion.

We must give young people less reason to feel unwanted.

We should not ostracise those at risk, or push them to the margins.

I welcome and support the Prime Minister’s call for mutual respect – there can never be enough of that.

There has not been enough respect shown to the laws and values of our nation – by an extremist fringe.

There has not been enough respect shown to the right of all Australians to live in safety – by those determined to do us harm.

And there has not been enough respect shown for multicultural Australia – by a prejudiced few.

Australia will not defeat the challenge of extremism by allowing majorities to vilify minorities.

We will not overcome those who seek to divide us, or put fear in our heart – if we face them as a nation fearful and divided.

We are a nation made great by migration.

We do not just tolerate diversity, we celebrate it.

Whatever god we worship, whatever flag we were born under, we share a common loyalty to each other.

Our faith and our heritage should always be a platform we build upon, not a cave to retreat into.

This is the test that Australia faces.

If we are divided, we cannot succeed.

If we stand together, we cannot fail.



Oct 12, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins









On Saturday, the Member for McEwen and I attended a community meeting at the Lancefield Mechanics Institute.
It was to do with the Lancefield-Macedon bushfires.
We spoke with families who had lost their homes.
We met people who’d been unable to return home for days, due to the dangers of bushfire and falling debris on the roads.
After this, the CFA took us out to Benloch to see the fire-affected areas.
As ever, it was humbling to witness the resilience and resolve of those who had seen their properties damaged by fire.
It was a privilege to speak to the CFA volunteers whose courage and quick-thinking prevented things from being far worse.
We all give thanks that no lives have been lost in these fires.
Mr Speaker, bushfires have seared themselves on our national consciousness.
Australians have come to accept them as a fact of summer, on the dry continent we call home.
But facing fires in October is a new challenge.
Indeed, this is the earliest fire ban in Victorian history.
Let it be a reminder to all Australians who live in areas vulnerable to bushfires.
Please, get your fire plans ready and in place early.
Make the right preparations to keep your homes and families safe.
And let’s all hope for a summer free from loss.



Oct 8, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins








It is time to be ambitious for Australia.

Ambitious for Australia to be the best in the world.

Ambitious for the best solution on climate change.

Ambitious for the best health care system, and National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Ambitious to be the best in education, skills and innovation.

Ambitious to have the best superannuation system and the best minimum wage system.

On occasion, we are cautioned against vaulting ambition.

But there are other times when we must be ambitious out of necessity.

Now is such a time.

Australia needs to have the best market for our infrastructure.

  • Taking a generational approach
  • Built upon political consensus, not division
  • Drawing on our national savings
  • Priced efficiently
  • Internationally attractive – and competitive
  • And providing a return to the community, directly and indirectly

This is necessary – and it is achievable.

And it is important now.

The mining boom is winding down.

China is shifting from investment, to consumption.

The International Monetary Fund estimates every one percentage point decline in China’s investment – leads to a 0.2 per cent reduction in Australia’s potential growth rate.

Rapid change is the new normal, all around us:

  • Our growing region
  • The rise of services, and the digital economy
  • Our ageing population
  • A changing climate
  • The march of women toward equality.

We must be ambitious in this time of change.

Aiming high.

Creating new jobs, boosting our productivity and improving our competitiveness.

This is why, under my leadership, Labor has examined the whole spectrum of solutions:

  • Smart investments in education, innovation and collaboration
  • Better incentives for start-ups
  • Closing superannuation loopholes
  • A stronger stance on multinational tax avoidance
  • 50 per cent renewable energy, by 2030
  • 3 per cent of our GDP on Research and Development by 2030

We have not just been talking about these issues.

We’ve backed our rhetoric with substance.

We take our responsibility to be an alternative government, as seriously as our duty to be a strong opposition.

But more is required.

Australia needs to lift its ambitions in education and skills development, higher education, in research, innovation and commercialisation, in infrastructure and an efficient taxation system.

And today, I want to outline Labor’s plan to create the best infrastructure market,  unlocking investment in productivity-enhancing, job-creating infrastructure.

Quality infrastructure is central to driving Australia’s economic growth, creating jobs and boosting our productive capacity.

The right investments in transport, energy, communications and water infrastructure will deliver smarter, more liveable cities – and better connected regions.

Unclogging our roads, addressing out-dated and overcrowded rail networks and modernising our energy networks.

Not just building a generation-overdue second airport for Sydney, but ensuring transport infrastructure is ready at the same time – not as an afterthought.

Of course, infrastructure investment alone cannot fix the emerging structural weaknesses in our economy:

  • our relatively high costs
  • narrow industry base
  • and ongoing dependence on foreign capital.

But an efficient infrastructure market is an essential part of the productivity solution we need.


Yet right now, capital investment in infrastructure by governments is falling.

Just last week the ABS found that public sector investment in infrastructure has fallen by 20.1 per cent for the June 2015 quarter, compared with the last quarter Labor was in government.

Infrastructure Australia has estimated that the economic cost of underinvestment is projected to reach $53 billion a year by 2031.

Australia’s infrastructure deficit is an economic challenge that demands national leadership.

This is why Labor in government created Infrastructure Australia.

  • Doubled the roads budget.
  • Increased the rail budget more than tenfold.
  • And invested more in public transport than all previous governments combined.

It’s why we developed:

  • A national ports strategy.
  • A national freight strategy
  • And a national urban policy for our cities.

It’s why we introduced national transport regulators, which will boost our national economy by $30 billion over 20 years.

It’s why a Shorten Labor Government will invest in infrastructure in our cities and our regions, as a national economic priority.

Re-booting this investment, lifting productivity and restoring growth – means facing up to the sticking-points and stumbling blocks which stand in the way of good infrastructure projects being financed and taken to market.

Our existing infrastructure market is not clearing.

A combination of:

  • high costs of originating projects
  • commercial risks
  • high costs for development and construction.
  • forecasting errors
  • unrealistic expectations of returns on prices, in a low inflation environment.
  • And long procurement and uncertain processes

Are deterring long-term equity investors, like superannuation funds, with a less attractive ‘risk and return’ profile.

This is not a conventional ‘market failure’, caused by the quality of the project in itself.

It is an imbalance of information, creating uncertainty and delay – holding investors back at the early stage.

Governments – given their sovereign position, and their ability to see the full array of long term benefits – have a role to play in creating confidence and encouraging private investors to back good projects.

But instead of our political system being part of the solution – it is currently part of the problem.

Smart, productivity-enhancing infrastructure like the Managed Motorways program – the best benefit-to-cost ratio of any project recommended by Infrastructure Australia – has been abandoned by this government.

Important, long-term national projects should not be at the mercy of short-term political timetables – or petty partisanship.

It’s time to go beyond vague calls for ‘reform’ – and get serious about tackling the infrastructure deficit and our productivity shortfall.

Australia’s future growth depends upon significant investment in long-term physical assets.

These projects cannot be funded by government revenue alone.

Australia has a deep pool of domestic capital in superannuation, searching for stable and reliable assets to invest funds over extended periods.

And we have a national to-do-list of priority infrastructure projects.

Projects that Infrastructure Australia has either assessed, or is in the process of assessing.

Some projects that were ready to go, in some cases had funding in the Budget – such as Melbourne Metro and the Cross-River Rail here in Brisbane, have lost years as a result of the Coalition’s failure to act.

A Labor Government will work with Infrastructure Australia and the States to revitalise these nation-building projects as our first priority.

Here in Queensland, we will prioritise:

Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, boosting capacity and easing congestion with a second connection to the CBD.

Light Rail on the Gold Coast, finishing the second phase of a very successful project in time for the 2018 Commonwealth games. 

The planning work on the Ipswich Motorway, from Darra to Rocklea,  unclogging one of the busiest stretches of road in Queensland.

Fast-tracking the Pacific and Bruce Highway packages, delivering thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

And nation-wide, Labor will back:

Airport Rail for Badgerys Creek, connecting the Western and South lines. Because Western Sydney’s new airport needs to be served by public transport from day one.

Melbourne Metro, boosting productivity across Melbourne by reducing the pressure on an overburdened train system.

Upgrading Tasmania’s Midland Highway, where the Coalition has cut funding by $100 million.

Investing in public transport in Perth, such as the Metronet plan, a project to improve traffic flows in one Australia’s most congested cities – which Infrastructure Australia should assess.

And the Gawler Line electrification in Adelaide, Labor provided $76 million to get this project moving but the Coalition has cut all funding.

A new Labor Government will ensure the Commonwealth funding to get these projects underway and completed as soon as possible, is found in the current infrastructure budget.

Building these projects is Labor’s priority – because building infrastructure creates jobs.

If we look at the Cross-River Rail, Melbourne Metro and the Perth Metronet for example – these three projects alone would create over 10,000 jobs in construction.

Here in Brisbane, the Cross-River Rail would create an additional 5000 indirect jobs, as a result of productivity improvements.

And if you take the Pacific Highway upgrade as an example of value for money – every dollar we invest, returns three to our economy.

These are the concrete benefits of viable, productive infrastructure investment –  delivering direct and indirect jobs in the immediate and long-term.


Beyond these immediate priorities, Labor will improve the way all infrastructure projects are assessed, structured and selected, to secure a bankable, stable pipeline of long-term work.

We will work with the private sector to get good projects up and going.

The truth is, the traditional Commonwealth grant funding approach cannot guarantee the scale of the work required.

We’ve tried it the old way – on the back of the budgetary process.

It isn’t sufficient for our needs.

We can’t expect to catch-up the shortfall and unlock the infrastructure market through business-as-usual.

Nor can we expect State Governments to simply do more, with less.

Fortunately, by 2025, Australia’s superannuation savings will be $4 trillion  – we should be putting some of this money to work on nation-building.

This is why Labor’s infrastructure focus will be on enhancing participation from the private sector – including superannuation funds and international investors – and more innovative support for State Governments.

As I said in my 2015 Budget Reply Speech, and as Anthony Albanese has consistently championed – an active, independent, Infrastructure Australia will be at the heart of our policy approach.

Just as the Reserve Bank of Australia is the independent authority at the centre of monetary policy, Infrastructure Australia will be an independent authority at the centre of capital investment, driving results in the national interest.

Independent from politics – and accountable to the public.

Our plan will transform Infrastructure Australia from a passive body receiving proposals, to an active participant in the infrastructure and financing market.

  • Identifying and evaluating key projects
  • Working with State Governments and state agencies to make big nation-building projects ‘investment-ready’.
  • Bringing financial modelling and commercial rigour to develop a long term pipeline of  projects for the Commonwealth Government

and ensuring the steady movement of projects through these assessment, development and financing phases.

Under Labor, Infrastructure Australia will evaluate projects on

  • benefits to the economy and the community
  • commercial viability
  • and the capacity to enhance national productivity.

We will build public confidence and community support, through transparency.

Publishing the proper business case for each project, so the value of the investment, and the facts behind the decision are clear.

This independence and rigour will be matched with meaningful authority.


Labor will empower Infrastructure Australia to structure deals, engage private sector partners, and work closely with state governments to take projects on the priority list from the drawing-board to construction.

And to overcome the current obstacles and attract private sector investment.

Labor will establish a $10 billion financing facility for Infrastructure Australia to provide, if needed, a combination of guarantees, loans or equity investment to get new projects underway.

This facility will be created through the existing $3.6 billion in the Building Australia Fund – and further capitalised with government borrowings, taking advantage of the historically low cost of government debt.

Giving Infrastructure Australia the ability to act as an independent, funded project-broker, will provide new and greater certainty to investors.

And it will create a powerful incentive for State governments to propose and approve projects.

The guiding principle for financing would be: ‘least contribution required’.

That is, the minimum necessary to get a project to market.

This is not new to Labor.

We provided $405 million along with the New South Wales State Government to mitigate risk and ensure the F3 to M2 project – now renamed NorthConnex – moved from a ‘proposal’ of decades-standing to a project under construction today.

Commonwealth investment ensured the success of the Gold Coast light rail.

A project that has exceeded all patronage forecasts, to the point whereby a simple use of the savings from the Moreton Bay Rail Link will ensure that Stage 2 should enter construction early next year.

Once a project is underway and financeable, Infrastructure Australia could sell its equity or debt interests to long-term investors like super funds.

This would maximise the return to the Commonwealth, while allowing it to re-commit this capital to new projects.

And to remove the unintended consequences of Infrastructure Australia taking all the upfront risk the Commonwealth involvement will be priced based on what stage and risk profile the project is at.

The strong emphasis will be on early participation from investors.

Adding a proven financing function is a natural evolutionary step for Infrastructure Australia.

We will develop these expanded functions in consultation with experts and industry.

Within our first 100 days, a new Labor Government will establish an independent Expert Panel to determine the revised structure of the new empowered Infrastructure Australia and to develop the financing mandate.

This will ensure a focus on:

  • commercial return
  • financial rigour
  • corporate governance structures
  • and risk-management procedures

are all in place prior to any funding.

I acknowledge some people will be sceptical about a government taking this course.

But I can assure you that Labor’s proposed model – and the process – replicates the proven success of the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Leveraging private sector participation, financial discipline, credit risk assessment capacities together with an understanding of the importance of nation-building.

Ultimately, our long-term goal is for financial self-sufficiency for Infrastructure Australia.

Empowering Infrastructure Australia to look beyond discrete individual projects to assess, support and promote the delivery of a co-ordinated network of infrastructure.

Tapping into the potential of our regional centres, to create new growth corridors serviced by rail, road, air, the NBN –in addition to good schools, hospitals and aged care facilities.

This approach would help take the pressure off our cities – and deliver productivity boosts for tourism and agriculture.

Better processes to develop productivity-enhancing infrastructure have been backed by a host of experts: the International Monetary Fund, the Reserve Bank, the Business Council of Australia, AiG, Infrastructure Partners Australia and Morgan Stanley.

But, inevitably some critics will seek to make this a scare campaign about debt.

Others might say that our approach will crowd out private investors.

These criticisms are wrong.

This is not a give-away and it’s not a grants program.

Our plan will act as a catalyst, injecting momentum into private sector investment.

Empowering Infrastructure Australia to take a strict commercial approach, based on credible cases – will attract more private investment – not crowd it out.

In relation to debt, it is, of course, important for Australia to manage our debt, to continue to repair the budget trajectory.

But there is a significant – and very real – distinction between debt raised for capital expenditure and debt raised for recurrent expenditure.

Capital expenditure on productivity-enhancing infrastructure – is a fiscally-responsible investment in long-term growth and revenue.

Nation-building creates jobs and drives growth.

Labor’s plan will leverage $10 billion of government-backed financing into tens of billions of dollars of private sector investment.

For example, in the case of the CEFC, every dollar of government financing is leveraging $2.20 in additional investment.

But even using a conservative analysis, prepared by Infrastructure Partners Australia, which assumes no additional leverage:

$10 billion infrastructure investment

  • Will directly create approximately 26,000 jobs.
  • And add around an extra $7.5 billion every year to our

And the IMF has found that when there is ‘economic slack’, such as Australia is currently experiencing, increases in infrastructure spending can boost GDP to the extent that the public debt-to-GDP ratio declines.

So, if a national infrastructure project delivers significant productivity benefits, creates jobs and boosts growth then we should think about how we factor the value of those gains into our decision-making.

The Prime Minister and his Treasurer have spoken a lot about moving away from slogans.

Today is a chance for them to show that this was more than just a clever catch-phrase

A chance to show that “no more slogans” was not just another slogan, in a better suit.

And it is a challenge for our friends in the media too.

Let’s not be afraid of a more confident, more ambitious conversation.

Let’s give the Australian people credit, for understanding that not every revenue measure is a ‘great big new tax’ and not every spending decision is a wasteful ‘black hole’.

Let’s bring on a bigger and better debate:

  • about the future of infrastructure
  • the role of government
  • and the need for investment in the productive capacity of our economy.

An informed discussion about borrowing to invest in our nation’s future.

Australian families borrow money all the time, most commonly to buy their homes.

Australians don’t take the irrational view that because buying a home means borrowing money, they will simply pay rent for the rest of their lives.

Before they borrow, Australians do their research and ensure that they pay the right price for their home.

A home to serve their family’s needs and which will, over time, appreciate in value.

We should bring the same mindset to government investment in national infrastructure.

Nation-building projects should be seen as a long-term investment in Australia’s productivity and prosperity.

And as a short-term driver of jobs and growth – for our economy in transition.

Every facet of Labor’s economic plan is aimed at boosting productivity, including the new approach on infrastructure I have outlined today:

An empowered Infrastructure Australia – making rigorous, rational assessments – backed by the best research.

A new consensus for investing in the long-term projects: –

  • unlocking our cities,
  • connecting our regions,
  • revitalising our country towns
  • and enhancing the liveability of our communities.

All of it designed to deliver an economic dividend for the decades ahead:

  • Boosting productivity
  • Driving growth
  • Creating jobs

Australia’s future prosperity depends upon a government as ambitious and bold as Australians themselves.

A government that believes in writing the country large.

Building the big things, and backing the big ideas.

A government investing in the national interest.

This is what a Labor Government will do: in infrastructure, innovation and education.

And when we get the market right.

Just like when we get the market right for climate change and emissions.

The world will be investing here.

The world will be investing in Australia’s ambition.

This is Labor’s vision – unlocking the great savings of our nation.

Ensuring Australian savings help build: modern industries, liveable cities, vibrant regions, productive enterprises and strong communities.

This is the future Labor will build, to advance Australia.



Oct 7, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins









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

Australia is an energy super power.

We export our gas, coal and uranium.

We lead the world in carbon capture and storage.

Australian resources have helped deliver a decade of prosperity for our economy, while powering Asia and lifting people out of poverty.

And there are exciting new opportunities for us in renewable energy technology.

We can be a clean-energy powerhouse.

We receive more sunlight than any other continent.

And we are also one of the windiest places on earth.

We have enough renewable energy resources to power our country five hundred times over.

And we are also a nation of great universities, innovative businesses and investors, leading research institutes and agencies such as ARENA and the CEFC, and creative people, we have the skills and smarts to put our natural advantages to use.

We can be one of the best markets in the world for jobs and industries powered by renewable and clean energy technology.

And yet, in spite of Australia’s favourable starting position.

Despite our world’s-best barrier-draw Australia has been lagging – not leading – the renewable energy race.

Last year, clean energy investment grew:

  • In the United States, by 8 per cent
  • In Japan, by 12 per cent
  • In China, by 35 per cent

Yet investment dropped by 35 per cent in Australia.

In fact, investment in large-scale renewable energy actually fell 88 per cent.

From over $2 billion to around $240 million.

In the last two years more than 2 million renewable energy jobs were added to the global economy.

But 2,300 jobs were lost in Australia.

This has to change.

And perhaps – at last – the government will stop fighting Labor on this.

Like you, I welcome the fact that the Liberal leadership no longer see wind turbines as a horrifying blight on the landscape a creeping menace lurking on the horizon.

The muzzling of the far-right’s ideological attack dogs in the clean energy debate is long overdue.

And it’s a gesture I’m prepared to accept in good faith.

I’m hopeful our Parliament, our politics, can move past the basic, binary argument of whether renewable energy is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

And instead of having to constantly re-litigate the need for modernising our electricity system, we can start from the scientific evidence base.

We can begin by recognising clean technology and renewable energy is essential to our economic and environmental future.

A creator of the jobs of the future, and a magnet for investment.

A driver of innovation and new technology.

A vital lever for driving our international and regional competitiveness.

And crucial to a low-pollution economy.

And if both sides of Australian politics are now willing to say they support renewable energy, then the test is no longer a matter of competing rhetoric.

Instead it becomes a policy contest, a battle of ideas.

A referendum as to which party has the best plans for a low pollution economy.

A plan for a future of good jobs in new industries, powered by renewable energy.

This new debate can only be a good thing for Australia.

Policies for the future being weighed and measured by the Australian people.

As you know, Labor is committed to an Emissions Trading Scheme – a market solution for tackling climate change.

And we have also set a bold new goal for renewable energy.

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

Yes, this is ambitious – but it is not impossible.

This isn’t about recklessly dashing ahead of the rest of the world.

This is a plan for Australia to catch-up and cash-in on the opportunities of the Asian Century.

Last year, China set a new target for non-fossil fuel to make up 20 per cent of its energy by 2030.

And if Australian firms only captured a tiny percentage of China’s growth in clean energy, this would still be a massive boost for jobs and investment in our country.

The same is true of India’s pursuit of a ‘saffron revolution’ in solar power, and Prime Minister Modi’s ambitious new goal for renewable energy.

In fact, across the Asia-Pacific Region, $2.5 trillion in investment in renewables is expected by 2030.

But our proximity to this opportunity is no guarantee.

After all, Australian researchers played a key role in early solar panel development.

But a lack of consistent support from the Howard Government, meant we lost our head-start.

Our nation cannot afford to repeat those mistakes.

There is a constructive role for government – indeed the whole Parliament – to play in securing renewable opportunities for Australia.

Creating market certainty for energy efficiency and renewable technology: investment, development and deployment.

Sending the right message to investors and creating the right climate for investment.

This is why a clear national goal is important.

Labor’s goal for renewable energy is not a matter of locking-in specific technology, or mechanisms.

Instead it stands as a declaration of intent:

  • Providing certainty and confidence for investors.
  • Spurring our researchers, innovators, start-ups and entrepreneurs on to new ideas and solutions
  • Creating the right regulatory framework for industries
  • And encouraging consumers – householders and businesses – to take charge of their power bills.

Labor is also determined to ensure an orderly transition to a clean energy economy, in a fair way, without leaving Australian workers behind.

Throughout my adult life, in 20 years of representing working people, I’ve seen more than my share of economic change and transition in industries and workplaces right across our nation.

I’ve learned we can’t turn back the hands of the economic clock.

We can’t close our eyes to change and hope it will pass us by.

We have to embrace change, to make sure it includes everyone.

And the best way to manage an economic transition, to create good jobs with a future, is to act early.

Being prepared is just as important as being adaptive.

A Shorten Labor Government will work with the industry, unions and communities to develop an Electricity Modernisation Plan.

A plan that:

  • delivers on our economy-wide emissions reduction targets
  • minimises the cost impacts on business and household consumers
  • provides opportunities for affected workers to be redeployed, retrained and supported through the transition
  • and helps local communities adapt to changes in key industries.

We will take a consultative and consensus-building approach, maintaining investment confidence and certainty for workers.

Above all, our priority is a managed, predictable long-term modernisation process for our electricity sector.

And we are determined to ensure that the energy intensive trade exposed sectors of our economy remain globally competitive.

Minerals production and sophisticated value-adding to minerals and hydrocarbon exports are part of Australia’s economic and energy future.

And recognising the special needs of these sectors in the re-negotiating of the RET was an important, bipartisan statement or support for jobs in these industries.

So often we underestimate the speed of technological change.

I’m sure you all know the stories.

The Western Union executive who told Alexander Graham Bell there was no market for an ‘electric toy’ like the telephone.

The President of IBM who foresaw a world market for ‘perhaps five’ computers.

There’s another one, which Al Gore shared with me in our meeting earlier this year.

In 1980, American telco, AT&T commissioned a study to forecast cellphone use by the year 2000.

They predicted 900,000 users.

The actual figure was 109 million.

Today it’s 6.9 billion.

The same under-estimations and constrained ambitions have been played out in the renewable energy debate.

Critics who confidently assert solar, or wind, or ocean energy will never be cheap enough, or reliable enough, or accessible enough to power our world.

I’m sure you’ve encountered this prejudice – often deeply ingrained.

But the evidence on the competitiveness of renewables is mounting every day.

At the start of this century, experts predicted that worldwide wind capacity would reach 30 gigawatts by 2010.

In fact, this goal was exceeded by a factor of 6.

By the end of last year, a factor of 12.

At the same time, it was said that the solar energy market would grow by one gigawatt a year by 2010.

This year, it will be exceeded by more than 50 times.

In investment, in capacity and in cost – renewables will continue to thrive.

In 1976 the cost of a solar cell was $79.40 a watt.

Bloomberg’s latest estimate puts it at around 50 cents.

In the last five years, solar photovoltaic prices have fallen by 75 per cent, and wind power costs have fallen by 14 per cent.

And over the next five years – costs are projected to halve.

Solar power will become the cheapest form of electricity generation in many parts of the world.

And the cost of battery storage has been halving every 18 months.

It is consumers – not government – who are driving this change.

A new generation of self-generators – mums and dads, small businesses and local councils.

Price setters – not price takers.

Gaining greater freedom and more choice.

Already, over 15,000 Australian small businesses have already taken up small scale solar, and taken control of their bills.

And this will only accelerate as the installation costs drop.

More than 1.4 million Australian families have embraced household solar power.

Bloomberg have said that within five years, the right combination of solar panels and battery storage will give you cheaper electricity than you get off the grid.

A host of manufacturers, providers and retailers have already announced their plans for battery storage in Australia.

And a new generation of innovative smaller retailers and start-ups are supporting solar energy management.

Christiana Figueres from the UNCC has praised the South Australian company ZEN Energy as a world leader in storage technology.

And Morgan Stanley has found that the solar and battery storage market could grow to 2.4 million Australian homes.

This shift in how Australians get and use our energy will be driven by the most fundamental economic precepts:

Demand: electricity costs and very high household solar penetration

And supply – ongoing, dramatic falls in costs of production, and better management of congestion.

But whether this change takes the form of a revolution or a series of incremental, hesitant steps depends on having the right policy settings in place and an unequivocal vision for the future.

The role of Government is to create the conditions for these opportunities – so markets can work effectively in the interests of the community.

To support innovation through the CEFC and ARENA, and to provide clear market signals for your companies to invest here and to expand here.

Labor will always send that message.

Because renewable energy is at the heart of our view of the jobs, industries and environment of the next century.

Friends, I firmly believe in the opportunities embracing a future of clean energy creates:

  • Innovative new industries
  • New technology, which Australia can export
  • New investment
  • Good jobs
  • Empowered consumers

An Australia competing and winning in the world.

An energy super-power and clean energy power-house.

A leading innovator and a growing, productive modern economy.

Your ideas, your investment and your businesses will be at the heart of our national success.

Thank you



Oct 6, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins










Good evening everyone.


I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and pay my respects to their elders both past and present.


Amongst the many distinguished guests here tonight I would like to acknowledge Philip Ruddock representing the Prime Minister, Minister Stuart Ayres, representing the Premier, my colleague representing the Opposition in New South Wales, the leader Luke Foley and indeed other people, members of parliament that are here including Chris Bowen, Senator Sam Dastyari and David Coleman.


As the leader of the Federal Labor Party I want to emphasise the deep friendship that my party treasures with the Chinese community here, abroad and in China.


It was my predecessor the great Gough Whitlam who opened up Australia’s relationship with China.


I also lead a party that has introduced and continues to uphold the Racial Discrimination Act.


It is a law in Australia that speaks for Australia’s deep respect for diversity and embracing multiculturalism.


And I look forward to joining with many of you tonight in celebrating its anniversary later this month.


Acknowledging the work of Mr Huang and Ambassador Ma, I wish to say tonight that Labor shares a history and governmental friendship that which goes back decades.


But Australia and our society has been the beneficiary of Chinese involvement for nearly two hundred years.


The first recorded migrant started working not far from where we are gathered here tonight.


He built his own business in Parramatta.


Since then, Australia’s been fortunate to have hundreds of thousands of people who have followed from Guangdong in the following two centuries.


Australia is lucky because we are like every other country in the world and we have enjoyed the benefits of the great Guangdong diaspora and so many citizens of that most amazing region of China who’ve chosen to come to Australia.


People from Guangdong have enriched Australia with new skills and enterprise, in medicine, finance, business and banking.


Chinese Australians generally have built our nation through their hard work, their ingenuity, their patience and their intelligence.


Friends, the Chinese migrant story will always be part of the heart of Australia’s story.


My party Labor has always supported prosperous, mutually beneficial relations between Australia and China and we are very positive about the bilateral relationship between Australia and China.


Indeed as I stand here tonight, Australia is about to write a new and exciting chapter in this strong relationship.


I speak of the China Free Trade Agreement.


The Labor Party I lead supports the China Free Trade Agreement and we are positive about the benefits of the China Free Trade Agreement.


We embrace the opportunities that will be shared by our two great nations.


I believe that our economic and cultural ties will only grow stronger as a result of ChAFTA.


And in supporting the agreement we also support clear laws to provide opportunities for all Australians.


It is critical therefore, that the wider Australian community supports this agreement for its long term success and being explicit in our Australian laws will indeed enhance this.


It should be clear friends that on the Chinese Free Trade Agreement it is not a matter of whether the deal get’s done, but simply how it is best enabled.


None of Labor’s ideas will affect the actual ChAFTA agreement with China – and we intend to help spell out how the agreement would work in partnership with Australia’s laws.


Labor’s principles simply state the protections for Australian jobs that all communities would expect in any agreement.


I’m confident that as we resolve positively the China Free Trade Agreement our nations will come further together.


Labor is positive a resolution will be achieved and achieved soon.


Tonight we meet as friends to celebrate the work of nearly two centuries of working together.


Hundreds of thousands of Chinese Australians in our communities as Australian citizens.


Hundreds of thousands of younger students from China in our universities.


Australian researchers, engineers and designers helping drive solar technology in China.


Chinese violinists playing in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.


I list these because China and Australia and more importantly the Chinese people and the Australian people have built enduring friendships and personal connections.


I can assure all of those visitors to Australia, be it from Guangdong or other countries from around the world that in Australia no Australian is ever unhappy when a family from Guangdong move in next door.


No business in the high street of Australia is ever unhappy when we have Chinese entrepreneurs, someone with a business idea improving the overall prosperity of our country.


And I can promise you, as visitors and welcomed guests to Australia, doing us the great honour of your eighth conference being held in Australia, I can promise you that when younger Chinese Australians receive the prizes on school nights right across Australia, as they invariably do, every parent in Australia is grateful for the values of family, hard work and respect for learning which Guangdong Australians, and indeed all Chinese Australians, bring to this very happy country.


Have a lovely conference.





Oct 3, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


I’d like to acknowledge my colleague Malcolm Turnbull. I think after his speech this morning I can reliably say that if his current gig doesn’t work out, he does have a career as a commentator.

But when politicians talk about football, it’s a bit like a mix of:

  • That Hawthorn silver power-ranger jumper
  • Meatloaf at half time
  • And the sub rule.

It looks wrong, it sounds wrong, and people want it to stop as soon as possible.

But even I was surprised this year at the Queen’s Birthday clash when the big screen showed Gil, yours truly and Tony Abbott – we were sitting together …and the whole crowd started booing.

I have to say, Gil, I wasn’t aware you were so unpopular.

Now my main job today is to give you my selection.

I’m tempted to tip West Coast, for three reasons:

First, the Hawks have been in charge for more than two years, and I firmly believe Australia needs a change.

Second, I see that the AFL store is already selling ‘Nic Natanui Norm Smith’ merchandise online.

And third, Julie Bishop is tipping the Eagles – and let’s face it, she always ends up on the winning side.

In fact, Julie’s already told me she knows the exact margin.

But, in the end, you have to back the proven champions – and I think the Hawks will be just too good today.

But friends, this has been a testing year for the game which we all love.

Personal tragedy has struck the Walsh, Riewoldt and Ratten families.

Adam Goodes – a great Australian and an inspirational leader – was subjected to shocking, ignorant abuse in the final year of his magnificent career.

Essendon fans and players have had to live under a cloud of uncertainty.

But, time and time again, the AFL has shown that it can rise above this.

Footy retains its special capacity to inspire us, to move us, to make us laugh and cry, cheer and weep.

And the AFL leads the way in promoting important causes: from respect for women and the elimination of family violence to Neale Daniher’s incredible fight to freeze Motor Neurone Disease.

So friends, my favourite moment – it doesn’t matter if you’re in the grandstand, or at a BBQ with friends watching it on TV – my favourite moment in every Grand Final is when those final strains of the national anthem fade into the roar of the crowd.

At that moment, I think all of us, doesn’t matter what your politics are, young and old, city and country, first Australians and first-generation migrants…

…we all get those goosebumps.

That’s what we celebrate today – it’s an amazing game in a remarkable country.

Have a great grand final everyone.


Sep 28, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Doorstop: Casino – County Labor; Divisions in the Coalition






SUBJECT/S: County Labor; Divisions in the Coalition; China’s announcement of an ETS; Regional Australia; Syria.


JOEL FITZGIBBON, SPOKESPERSON FOR COUNTRY CAUCUS: Today in Casino, 200 rank and file members of the Labor party gathered to express their support for rural and regional Australia To plead a Labor commitment to those communities in rural and regional Australia. To hold the Nats and Libs holding rural seats to account for their complacency and their misguided policies which are having such an adverse impact on rural and regional communities.


More particularly, we heard from our federal leader, Bill Shorten who outlined a plan for regional and rural Australia. A better deal for regional and rural Australia. It was an inspiring speech. Well received here and we welcome him to Casino, into the national Country Labor Forum.


Thanks Bill.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Joel. It’s great to be in Casino on the North Coast of New South Wales at the Federal Country Labor Forum.


Today, Labor has made it very clear that Labor is a party for all Australians; cities and the regions. Whilst the Liberal party take the National party for granted and the National party takes their voters for granted, Labor is getting on with the job of offering a positive alternative for all Australians. Only Labor will stand up for schools in the regions, proper hospital funding in the regions, making sure that kids from the country can get to university and of course, that regional Australia gets a proper National Broadband Network; not the more expensive but slower version that the Liberals are giving them. So when it comes to Schools and Hospitals, access to universities and the NBN, Labor has got the interest of regional Australians at heart.


And today, we’ve seen the first public appearance or reporting of the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments on the change. Tony Abbott has said that the salesman has changed, but not the policies. Labor agrees with Tony Abbott that the salesman has changed but not the policies.


And it couldn’t be any clearer than the dramatic news overnight that the world’s fastest-growing economy has decided to embrace an Emissions Trading Scheme to deal with the harmful effects of carbon pollution. Now what is the case that China, the world’s largest economy by people, the United States, the world’s largest economy by output, and indeed Labor, have all got similar policies to deal with climate change. Yet Malcolm Turnbull’s turned his back on everything he said when he was previously the leader of the Liberal Party and he is the only person practically in the world who is backing in Tony Abbott’s discredited policies on carbon pollution, which Reputex, a leading agency has said, will actually not see any reduction in carbon pollution. So for regional and rural Australians, Labor’s here today in force committed to making sure that there are better schools, better hospitals, access to universities not $100,000 degrees, a better NBN and of course real action on climate change.


We are happy to take any questions people might have.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, choosing the beef capital of Australia; is that part of Labor’s push back into National Party heartland?


SHORTEN: Well, the National Party is showing real signs of division. Whilst youth unemployment in regional Australia is above the average, whilst unemployment in regional Australia is unacceptably high, the only job which Barnaby Joyce seems focused on is Warren Truss’s job. So it is good to be here in Casino, which is one of the beef capitals of Australia, and when I’m in Rockhampton I’ll also recognise that they do a lot of beef up there too.


But very importantly, Labor’s here because we don’t take voters for granted. We don’t accept that any political party has a monopoly; that it can treat voters like their personal property and that this is National, this is Liberal or this is Labor areas. The truth of the matter is that all Australians want to see better policies on jobs, better chance for their kids to go to university or TAFE, better chance to make sure their parents get proper aged care facilities in their later years. They want to see real action on climate change. Our farmers are the best environmentalists in Australia. That’s why it’s very important we treat the processes to protect our environment, including the developments in the Liverpool plains and the Shenhua mine, that we treat the processes with respect and don’t right roughshod over country Australia.


JOURNALIST: What chance do you have of grabbing those seats?


SHORTEN: Well Janelle Saffin is our candidate in Page. She is the former member for Page and she will hopefully be the future member for Page.  Everywhere I travel on the north coast, be it in Justin Elliott’s electorate or Janelle Saffin’s area she is running for, you see what Labor’s done. It is Labor that’s put the funding back into local hospitals. It’s Labor who wants to make sure country kids get the same chance in life that city kids get. It’s Labor who is committed to ensuring that we can connect our regional communities, not only with our metropolitan cities, but the world. Labor wants to have a National Broadband Network which is amongst the best in the world. Australians deserve nothing less. And people like Justin Elliott and Janelle Saffin are very committed to real action on climate change. We don’t have to keep the Tony Abbott supporters of the Liberal party happy. We don’t have to get involved in the internal arguments of the National party. People like Justine and Janelle, they know what’s going on in their communities and they’re committed to making sure the north coast, and indeed led by Joel in terms of regional Australia, that all Australians in regional Australia get treated equally and with the same consideration that voters do in the city.


JOURNALIST: How will Labor be targeting those seats during the election campaign?


SHORTEN: Well, I’m going to get Joel to supplement this answer but what I would say is people in the country want to make sure that their schools have the same resources as schools in the city. I think it’s fair enough that if you need emergency help at your hospital, that your regional hospital has facilities which will look after you in the same way which you could hope for in an emergency ward in the city. It is reasonable if you live outside the three big cities of the east coast, that you get access to comparable National Broadband Network capacities, it’s really important that we have an environmental policy around renewable energy which actually go towards providing jobs in the bush. One of the things which the conservatives in the Liberal and National parties forget is that renewable energy policies create manufacturing jobs in regional Australia that they give new options for new industries in regional Australia. Labor understands how real people live their lives. We are not out of touch. We understand how people need, the importance of a good industrial safety net and minimum wages and penalty rates. We get that farmers want to be able to export overseas. We have got to deep downward pressure in terms of the costs that they face.


JOURNALIST: Speaking of candidates, have you got a candidate ready for the North Sydney by-election which will happen after Joe Hockey leaves Parliament?


SHORTEN: I wasn’t aware that they’d announced that Joe Hockey was going to be given the consolation prize of our senior diplomatic representative in America. But what we do know is that I think Australians aren’t happy if they just think that their MPs will hop in and out of Parliament when it suits themselves. We believe that it’s important that MPs try and do their terms. So at this stage we don’t know if there will be a by-election in North Sydney, but when there is, Labor will certainly weigh up what is in the best interests of the voters in North Sydney. I know one thing, if you are a voter in North Sydney or if you are a voter on the North Coast, you want to make sure your kids get a good education, you want to make sure it’s your Medicare card not your credit card that gives you good quality health, you want to make sure that the public TAFE system in this country  isn’t being trashed by a rush to privatisation, you want to make sure pensioners don’t get promises broken at elections and we see pensioners who have worked hard their whole life being stranded with unfair pension cuts. Doesn’t matter where you are in Australia, you want good leadership focused on jobs, schools, education and fairness.


JOURNALIST: What about the seat of Warringah, Tony Abbott says he’ll decide his future after Christmas?


SHORTEN: I’m still dealing with Tony Abbott’s comments today where he confirmed what Labor has been saying. Tony Abbott has let the cat out of the bag which I don’t think Malcolm Turnbull and some of the other new sales people wanted out. It’s the same Government with the same policies. They have just got different people selling it.


JOURNALIST: Do you think he’s white-anting in the wake of the leadership spill?


SHORTEN: I think the fact that several of the senior Liberals didn’t even tell Mr Abbott what was going on, on the day before the challenge, I think he’s probably feeling a bit bruised but that really is a matter for the Liberal Party. I think it seems that the next challenge that’s going on; Barnaby Joyce is desperate for Warren Truss’s job. I just say this again to Australians, we understand that the Liberals take the Nationals for granted, we understand that the Nationals take the bush for granted. But Labor is here, and we don’t take any voter for granted. We want people to consider us seriously on the basis we’ll make sure your kids get the best education at school base according to need, that your kids get the chance to go to TAFE or university, that we don’t have $100,000 degrees. For all those mature age students who are thinking about changing their jobs, Labor has a plan which means that you have downward pressure on fees for going to university. We are also very committed to making sure that we win the race of jobs to the future. That’s why today be – sorry, on Thursday, we announced new policies to help small business and start-up enterprises, be able to compete with the rest of the world and win.


JOURNALIST: What about a new Cabinet? Because the Liberal Government; Coalition Government has shown a little bit of generational change and recognising the need for that. Why won’t you move out some of the old hands and factional warriors from your side?


SHORTEN: First of all, I don’t accept the assumption of your question. What the Liberal party has done is discover that there are women in politics other than Julie Bishop. They make a big play of putting more women into the Cabinet. We already have more women members in our Cabinet. When we talk about generational change, we are already a younger Opposition than the Government. And I don’t think that’s particularly changed. So I do applaud Malcolm Turnbull for recognising that women are in the workforce and they deserve to be in positions of power. I do like the idea that we can have a debate in the future about policies, not personalities. But I also have to say that the Liberals are now engaging in two years of catch-up and just when they think they are drawing level pegging with us, watch this space, because Labor’s committed to making sure that women are half our members of Parliament by 2025, we are committed to improving the diversity of our MPs, but we have some good things to announce too coming up.


JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) In terms of leadership and stability in the past under Labor, given that you led the way in terms of leadership and stability in this country?


SHORTEN: First of all, we have changed the rules of our party. What you saw done with the Liberals or previously in Labor just can’t happen. That’s a concrete fact. But I would also offer to you and through you to your readers and to Australians, for the last two years the Labor Party has been very united. I’m very fortunate with the team that I’ve got. And we’ll keep obviously improving our team and working on new blood. But Labor has been united for the last two years. We understand that a party that can’t govern itself can’t govern Australia. We would perhaps invite our conservative competitors to have a good look at what’s going on at the moment in the National Party. And you have to conclude, when regional unemployment is so high, when infrastructure resources are diminishing in the bush, when the schools and hospitals are crying out for continuity and consistency of funding, the last thing regional Australia needs is an unedifying fight within the Nats. Indeed, if we want to talk about change, I might just ask Mark Butler to again explain how when we are talking about the Liberals catching up on people, or personalities or policies or on what we have learnt, I am just going to get Mark to further talk briefly about climate change being an example of how Labor is leading the way and we are in step with the rest of the world.


MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER: Thank you, Bill. Well, Labor’s been making the case now for years of the importance of putting a cap on carbon pollution that reduces over time and then letting business work out the cheapest and most effective way to operate. That is an Emissions Trading Scheme. You see this model working among our oldest trading partners, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, many places in North America, but as Bill outlined, we are starting to see it emerge in our own region. Our third largest export partner, South Korea, started an emissions trading scheme this year and we have seen spectacular news overnight that China will be joining so many countries around the world, working on this market mechanism. A mechanism that the Australian Labor Party has been arguing for, for years now in this country. Now, we see a leader in the Liberal Party who in years gone past argued the merits of an Emissions Trading Scheme but has now swallowed Tony Abbott’s Direct Action policy hook, line and sinker. We know this is a policy that will not work. We know from modelling done by independent agencies, and the Government’s own agencies, that carbon pollution will rise by as much as 10 per cent between now and 2020. It will rise by 20 per cent between now and 2030, without that Emissions Trading Scheme in place. We recognise that there were many Australians who held out a hope that if Malcolm Turnbull returned to the leadership, that he would drag his party back to the sensible centre on climate change. Over the last couple of weeks, all of those Australians have had their hearts broken. They have seen that Malcolm Turnbull has done a deal with the hard right of the Liberal Party and National Party to keep in place holus-bolus, to keep in place Tony Abbott’s reckless Direct Action policies and his opposition to the expansion of renewable energy. Only Labor is going to get with the rest of the world. Join this momentum that’s building towards the conference in Paris and put in place a mechanism that will actually deliver meaningful reductions in carbon pollution in Australia in the most effective and cheapest possible way.


SHORTEN: Are there any final questions?


JOURNALIST: Does Labor agree that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is part of that solution in the Syrian war, or do you believe that he must go?


SHORTEN: I don’t think it’s as simple as a yes or no. Labor has no time for the administration or the government of Assad. It has been a terrible government and it’s done terrible things to its population. So that’s one thing we really do believe that Assad and his government have been dreadful. We also understand that we are combatting ISIL and the terrorist organisations which are occupying parts of Iraq and Syria. We have supported the principle of collective self-defence in Iraq to see the Australian Air Force as part of a Coalition effort to go after the ISIL terrorists across the border, such as it is, into north Syria. I think this argument which we have seen advance, I have seen advanced for the first time not from the Government to myself, but through the newspapers, saying that there might be some greater support for Assad. We are going to be very careful before we go down that path. We want to hear what the security experts’ logic is in this. I do not believe Australia should be picking sides in Syria. As far as I can tell, between ISIL and Assad there’s not a great deal to separate them. What I also get is that the refugee crisis that’s been caused in Syria is a combination of a whole lot of bad operators and factions in that country. So we’re pretty cautious about this latest development in the doctrine which we are seeing and we will expect the Government to explain to us how this helps Australia’s long-term security.


Very last question.


JOURNALIST: There’s talk that he needs to be part of a political solution there, that’s the development today. Is Labor open to having that conversation about that?


SHORTEN: We’ll hear what the Government has to say to repeat my previous answer. But I want to put very clearly that Australia needs to be pretty careful about trying to inject ourselves into understanding Syrian’s civil war, Syrian politics. But it is a matter of record that Assad has been a dreadful dictator. There are a whole lot of people in that part of the world, ISIL and the other terrorist groups, which are genocidal, ethno fascists for want of another word – they are dreadful people. I’m very wary about Australia trying to pick winners. What we’ll do is hear what the logic is, hear what the intelligence is from European and American allies, but we are very cautious about trying to engage in some sort of moral debate about the benefits of any particular side here. I think a lot of them are very poor.


Thanks everyone. Cheers.





Sep 21, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Higher Education Reform












It’s great to be back at Monash, this campus holds a special place in my heart.

Not just the beautiful buildings, a living tribute to East Germany – or the refreshing breeze that blows through the place.

My Mum studied here, she taught here, my twin brother and I played here when we were kids.

I always wanted to study here, and I count myself lucky that I did.

That feels like only a couple of years ago…but a lot has changed.

After all, this time last week, Tony Abbott was still Prime Minister.

Now, the Liberals have changed their sales team and they’re promising a new style.

But elections are not about style – they are about substance.

I want the next election to be a battle of ideas, a referendum on the future.

A choice as to who has the best set of policies to advance Australia beyond the mining boom.

There will, undoubtedly, be policy areas where Malcolm Turnbull and I agree and can work together.

For example, on Friday I wrote to him recommending he abolish Knights and Dames…and he has agreed to ask his colleagues about that.

But there will be issues on which we fundamentally disagree.

And Higher Education is one of them.

Labor will never support this government’s plan for $100,000 university degrees.

We have a very different view of higher education.

We believe higher education can be a transformative life experience.

It offers people a new and greater sense of themselves and their abilities.

And we know education is – and always will be – much more than an instrument of social justice.

It is an essential source of economic growth.

And we urgently need to lift growth.

Because for the past two years, our economy has been wallowing in mediocrity.

  • Rising unemployment and under-employment
  • Record youth unemployment
  • A 75 year high in inequality
  • Falling confidence
  • And stalled wages

And there is a bigger transformation underway, around us:

  • A changing climate
  • A growing region
  • An ageing population
  • An evolving digital economy
  • And, at last, the move to the equal treatment of women in our society.
  • The emergence of services industries.

This is not a political list – it is an inevitable one.

Australia cannot choose the challenges we face.

But we can choose whether we see them as opportunities or risks

We can choose to participate and engage.

We can choose to be active, confident, adaptive players in the future of our region…

My vision is for an Australia competing and winning in the world on our terms: as a smart, innovative and creative country.

Exporting our knowledge and our services – such as international education – to the world’s largest consumer class.

An education and innovation economy.

A wealth-creating, competitive, productive Australia where everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless their parents’ income.

Investing in universities is an investment in our national productivity – and our international competitiveness.

We cannot afford a deficit of ambition for higher education

In 2013, the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency found that every extra dollar invested in tertiary education would, on average, grow the economy by $26 within the decade.

The OECD estimates the real rate of return from investing in tertiary education was over 13 per cent, per annum.

By any measure, money well spent.

Australian universities are research and innovation leaders.

We are less than 0.3 per cent of the world’s population but we account for over 3 per cent of the world’s scientific research.

And every day millions of people around the world rely on Australian discoveries:

Well-funded universities and TAFE are central to the jobs and economy of the future.

The real economic winners in the digital age won’t be countries with big workforces and cheap labour.

Prosperity will belong to countries with a highly skilled, highly adaptable, technology-literate population.

People who create the technology and know-how to drive high quality products and deliver specialised services.

This is the second machine age – and I want those machines to be designed and built in Australia, by Australians.

Developed, tested and improved here.

Financed and operated here.

Australia needs a new era of collaboration between university, research and industry.

A new generation of manufacturers, designers, city-planners, programmers, medical researchers, data scientists and environmental engineers.

A generation ready to adapt to jobs and industries we can’t yet identify or imagine.

Not just filling the jobs of the future – creating the jobs of the future.

If government is going to expect that of you, then we have to do our bit in return.

But I don’t think the Liberals understand how hard life in modern Australia can be for young people.

You are the first generation to deal with the full combination of:

  • Paying the Medicare levy
  • 5 per cent in superannuation, out of your wages
  • A HECS debt
  • And a housing market where the best chance of you owning a home, is inheriting one.

Yet whether it is increasing the GST, or jacking up uni fees,  the Liberals are always asking young people to pay more.

Pay more and,­ through their attacks on penalty rates and wages, earn less.

Labor will offer young Australians a better deal.

A Shorten Labor Government will invest in you, the students of Australia.

We will put you first.

We will help you prepare for the new reality of working life in the 21st Century.

We will keep downward pressure on the price of university.

Not long ago, women weren’t encouraged to have a career – and men were not expected to change careers.

Today, the average time spent in a job is 3 years and 4 months – many of you will spend longer at uni.

Australians already average 17 different employers in a lifetime and at least five separate careers.

And as our economy continues to diversify and adapt, those numbers are only going to increase.

This creates new opportunities for individuals – and new responsibilities for government.

You will need to embrace a lifetime of learning – and governments will need to create a society that supports lifelong learning.

A Labor Government will deliver an education system which invests in you – giving you and your fellow Australians the skills and knowledge to secure the jobs of the future.

A system which supports a knowledge economy, growing through science, innovation, research and collaboration.


When last in government, Labor’s university policy was focused on equity, access and a commitment to research.

We stand by our commitment to Australian science, research and innovation.

Under my leadership, we have set a co-operative national goal, aspiring together – universities and government, public sector and private – to devote 3 per cent of our GDP to research and innovation by 2030.

And equality of opportunity in education, will always matter to Labor.

We want to open the doors of our universities to more students from disadvantaged families, more first-generation migrants, more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, more Australians with disability.

More mature-age students, upgrading and updating their skills.

And more students from the regions – and from our growing suburbs.

That’s why this campus was created – to bring the dream of a degree within reach of Australians from suburbs like Dandenong, Pakenham and Hampton Park – and to unlock the new potential of those communities.


But the next wave of university reform must put new emphasis on completion and quality.

I want Australian students who start university – to finish university.

To graduate, not just with a piece of paper, but with a passport.

A qualification which helps you cross borders, and the skills and knowledge to succeed in the global economy.

Right now, too many students are leaving university with a student debt and no degree.

The national drop-out rate reached 14.84 per cent in 2013, the highest since 2005.

If we look at 2006 enrolments as an example: one in three students from low-income families who entered university that year, left without a degree.

One in two Indigenous students, dropped out.

Right now, there is a six per cent gap in completions between students from the regions and students from the city.

There are some who see this exclusively through the prism of university places, who argue the only way to improve quality is to jack-up the price of a degree, and freeze enrolments.

Not me, not Labor.

Every step of the way, we have fought the Liberals’ plan for $100,000 degrees.

We have stood against the government’s plan to impose a real, compound interest rate on student debt.

A policy that would have inflicted the harshest punishment on women who took time out of work to start and raise a family.

Some experts have estimated as much as an extra $10,000 in debt, per child.

I believe university education is an opportunity earned on merit – not a privilege determined by your parents’ wealth.

A university degree is going to be needed for two out of every three jobs in the future.

So, at every age and every stage, access to education should depend upon your hard work and your ability – not your capacity to pay.

Labor’s support for a demand-driven university system gave an extra 190,000 students the opportunity to attend university.

We believe if you study hard and get good marks, then you deserve the chance to be your best.

If you’re 40 or 50, and lose your job, you should not live in fear of never finding another one.

If you’re an Australian from an industry, disrupted and dislocated by economic change, then you deserve support to re-train, to gain new knowledge and new skills so you can access new opportunities.

Rather than throwing new walls up around our campuses, making it harder to study at uni – our priority is lifting standards.

Making sure our universities keep up with growing enrolments and greater demand.

This means shifting the way we measure success, to recognise both enrolment and completion.

And we must chart our progress.

This is why Labor is setting an ambitious new target.

We want to dramatically cut the rate of non-completion, so that an extra 20,000 Australian students are graduating every year.

Of course, every degree is different – some of you might complete your study over a longer period, balancing family responsibilities, taking up an opportunity overseas, changing campuses or universities…

These are all success stories.

The real test comes when you leave university.

Are you equipped with the confidence, the skills and the knowledge to succeed in your careers?

Our universities need to have the resources and the certainty to focus on quality teaching.

I don’t want our universities to be forced to operate as businesses, with an interest in education.

I want students to get the right individual attention, preventing them from slipping through the cracks.

This means acknowledging the complexity of this challenge.

Working with universities, to ensure our new focus does not create the wrong pressures for admissions or selection…or greater casualisation, lower wages for teaching staff and passing students who shouldn’t be passed.

Recognising the different issues faced by universities in our regions, or mature-age students, or working parents seeking to enhance their qualifications.

The Commonwealth already invests $14 billion of taxpayers’ money in universities every year.

Australians are right to expect outcomes that benefit the entire community; young Australians from graduate and postgraduate study becoming teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers and scientists – enhancing our society and our economy.

And in asking for greater accountability, Labor is offering better support.


A Labor Government will put Australian students first, because university funding is an investment in the future.

We will reverse the Liberals’ proposed 20 per cent cut to student funding and introduce a new ‘Student Funding Guarantee’.

Our plan goes beyond reversing harmful cuts, it represents an increased investment in every Australian student.

From the first semester of 2018, Labor will boost university funding by more than 27 per cent.

On average this is an additional $2500 per student, per year, compared with the Liberals’ plan.

On average, over the next decade, a Shorten Labor Government will invest an additional $9,000 in each Australian student’s education for a typical 3-year degree.

And to ensure the value of this investment is protected over time, not eroded, Labor will ensure it is indexed and sustainable into the future.

We will also maintain the student income support system – and the essential income contingent loans scheme.

These are vital for student access and support – and will not be unpicked by a Labor Government.

We will not increase the burden on graduates by changing how HECS debts are indexed, or applying the GST to university fees.

Our new Student Funding Guarantee underpins our commitment to students and to the future.

But this is not a blank cheque – Labor is expecting universities to step up.

We must work together to ensure that all of you here today, graduate ready for success in the new economy and ready to contribute to our society.

All of us, government, parents, employers are entitled to expect the best for Australian students.

And with additional funding, comes a greater expectation on our universities.

A new Labor Government will work with our universities to improve the quality of your education.

We will invest an extra $31 million into Tertiary Education Quality Standards Australia to ensure more Australians graduate ready to win the jobs of the future.

Studying at university should open the way to a good job – a job with some security, opportunity for advancement and fair pay.

And our graduates should be ready to succeed: from the day they pose for photos in their gown, to their second and third career.

This requires an understanding of the labour market, and the needs of students.

Labor will co-operate with our universities, industry and science agencies to get the incentives right, to fill the gaps in our workforce: from skill shortages in key occupations to new productivity opportunities in new industries.

This isn’t about dictating enrolments at our universities, or undermining the demand-driven system.

It’s a question of improving the incentives we offer to universities, so students are equipped with relevant, beneficial skills and learning.

This isn’t an exact science- but there are jobs we know we will need, now and in the future.

And Labor will work together with universities to establish an independent Higher Education Productivity and Performance Commission to deliver the right labour market outcomes.

We will build a better partnership between the Commonwealth government, and universities – upholding a new focus on accountability and performance and lifting productivity in our universities.

And if we think of the demand-driven system as a marketplace for students, I want you to be the best-informed consumers.

Picking a degree suited to your skill, interests and abilities.

You should know, before you enroll in a degree in engineering, what the average salary is upon graduation and the career opportunities which exist.

Technology can help empower informed choices.

The Government has taken a good first step with the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website.

But there is more we can do, learning from initiatives like President Obama’s new ‘college scorecard’.

These are the reform priorities that would be pursued by a Shorten Labor Government.

  • Access to university
  • Quality education
  • Informed choices for students
  • Job-ready graduates
  • Support for science, research and innovation

The cost of these policies will be offset by some of the responsible budget choices Labor has already made: cracking down on multinationals, closing superannuation loopholes and abolishing the wasteful emissions reduction fund.

And by our decision not to proceed with some of the government’s low-priority policies in higher education.

Our policy seeks a better return on public investment.

An investment which will boost productivity in teaching and research.

But we should also give new thought to broader funding options.

Encouraging universities to better utilise their assets.

New sources of investment in research and teaching infrastructure, including from superannuation funds.

Re-balancing public funding, back to public facilities.

We will work together with our universities, through a genuine green and white paper consultation process.

No more moving the goalposts or redrawing the lines.

This is why I am making Labor’s intentions clear.

  • No $100,000 degrees
  • More productive universities
  • More students going to university
  • And more students completing university.

We are, absolutely, committed to a demand-driven system.

A system that puts downward pressure on prices, keeping degrees affordable.

A system which ensures more hard-working students get a high-quality university degree, without a lifetime of debt.

A system that puts productivity at the centre of universities.

A system of innovative universities preparing graduates for new and very changed industries, organisations and professions….an essential source of economic growth.

The challenges of life after the mining boom: boosting economic growth, creating jobs, enhancing productivity and nourishing our national creativity demand more than rhetorical flights of fancy.

Governments must match their words, with deeds.

And a Shorten Labor Government will demonstrate our faith in the future, by investing in the next generation of Australians.

We will back our people to compete and succeed in the world.

Securing and creating the jobs of the future, winning the knowledge race.

Creating an education and innovation economy.

Setting our nation up for a new wave of prosperity, in which we all share.

This is how we succeed, together.

This is how we advance Australia.




Sep 15, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins








Thank you, Mr Speaker, I too want to add my remarks to the events and the departure of Mr Abbott as Prime Minister.


Politics is a privilege for we who serve here.


It is a vocation.


But, as we know, it can be very hard as well.


Now it is part of the Australian spirit not to score points when someone is down.


So I just want to say that public life is hard on people who serve and it is hard on their families.


It is not for me to be partisan about Mr Abbott’s record.


But he certainly led the Liberal Party formidably, for well in excess of five years.


He is a fierce proponent of his views, a formidable proponent of his views, a ruthless advocate for what he believes in.


From his first victory in 2009 to become the leader of the Liberal Party, right through to last night, he is a fighter, a formidable fighter.


I have exchanged harsh words with him in my time as Opposition Leader.


I’ve disagreed with his politics and decisions on many occasions.


But I also wish to record that he had this frustrating ability on occasion, just when you were really frustrated with a particular decision he might have made, to do something unexpected and generous and personal.


From the time when my mother passed, he was very sensitive to that.


I said this to him and I explained the conundrum of his frustrating behaviour, he just smiled at me and he said “I’m sure I’ll frustrate you again” and he did.


It is a very tough day for Tony Abbott.


I say to him, to Margie, to his remarkable daughters, that we wish you well.


To Mr Abbott’s personal staff led by the formidable Peta Credlin, you have served the boss loyally and according to your code and we recognise this.


And In conclusion I just say to Mr Abbott I had the privilege on several occasions of being with you when we would address serving men and women of our Defence Forces.


And what I thought was remarkably humble of the Member for Warringah, is he would frequently introduce his remarks to them and say: “I have never served” and he was conscious, I think of this, even disproportionately.


What I say to Mr Abbott is you have served.


I don’t think you need to judge yourself any less for not having actually worn the uniform of this country.


You have represented and been the Prime Minister of this country.


That is service indeed.






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