Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Jul 18, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

QANTAS SALE AMENDMENT BILL

SPEECH

QANTAS SALE AMENDMENT BILL

PARLIAMENT HOUSE – CANBERRA

FRIDAY, 18 JULY 2014

 

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

 

Madam Speaker

I to rise to speak in support of the amendment to the Qantas Sales Amendment Bill 2014.

I do so against the backdrop of a terrible tragedy.

Today’s bewildering news hangs over our Parliament – and it envelopes our world.

All of us are still adjusting to this wild, tyrannical act – and its horrific consequences.

298 lives – including 27 Australians – lost in the most unspeakable circumstances.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of these people.

No words can capture the depth of our sorrow, nothing we can say will lighten the burden of your grief.

Today is not a day for playing politics.

Today is not the day for division, or some of the adversarial clashes we’ve seen in this Parliament when it comes to the future of Qantas, our national carrier.

Today is the day to recognise that despite the differences in our views, despite the different values we hold, this parliament does have the capacity to build consensus on the challenges facing our country.

There is no doubt that the future of Qantas is one of those big important issues.

The Qantas story is a remarkable story – remarkable in itself, but even more remarkable about how it’s intertwined with Australia’s own story.

In 1920, two World War One pilots, Paul McGinness, W Hudson Fysh, their aircraft mechanic Arthur Baird and business partner Fergus McMaster started Qantas in Longreach, Queensland.

Their fleet consisted of two bi-planes, one of which I understand was purchased for the princely sum of 450 pounds from a local stockman.

They had two planes and one dream – the dream to start Australia’s first air service.

And the very next year, with their first mail flight from Charleville to Cloncurry, Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, Qantas, was born.

94 years on, there are few things more Australian than the flying kangaroo.

Those two planes are now a fleet of 140 aircraft.

Those four Qantas employees now number around 30,000.

Highly skilled and dedicated men and women, who repair and maintain aircraft, look after thousands of passengers and keep the planes running on time.

For Australians, Qantas is more than just an airline.

It is an icon.

It is Australia.

That’s why I am pleased the Government has agreed to the Opposition’s proposal to keep Qantas majority Australian owned.

Our country could not afford to see our national carrier go offshore.

We could not afford for thousands of these jobs to go overseas.

The Bill we consider today ensures some important things:

  • Qantas must be majority Australian owned.
  • Qantas head office always be located in Australia.
  • Two thirds of the Qantas Board will remain Australian.
  • The bulk of Qantas facilities and services must remain located in Australia, that maintenance operations and aircraft housing facilities remain in Australia.
  • And critically, Labor’s amendments will ensure that Qantas jobs will be kept in Australia.

There will be sensible changes to investment rules in the act:

  • Removing the 25% share ownership cap on a single foreign investor
  • And the 35% share ownership cap on foreign airlines.

This will help Qantas access new sources of investment – investment that can be used to purchase new planes for its fleet, or to open routes into profitable new markets.

Madam Speaker, I am proud that this Parliament has been able to reach this consensus.

Indeed, we can all be proud.

We can be proud that MPs and Senators on both sides of the debate have been able to come to this agreement.

We can be proud that when it matters – on a significant issue like the future of Australia’s national carrier – our Parliament has the sense to agree to fair and reasonable changes like this.

This how the big questions get answered Madam Speaker.

This is how the key problems get solved.

Labor and Liberal and National – working in good faith and working together on matters of national importance.

Today, with this vote, we guarantee that Qantas has a bright future as well as a proud past.

By our actions, we ensure that Australia’s Flying Kangaroo will continue to bound across the skies of the world – for generations to come.

Long may it be so.

I commend the bill to the house.

ENDS

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

 

 

Jul 18, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

STATEMENT ON MH17

SPEECH

STATEMENT ON MH17

PARLIAMENT HOUSE – CANBERRA

FRIDAY, 18 JULY 2014

 

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

 

 

 

Madam Speaker

I rise to support the words of the Prime Minister – and I thank him for the conversations that we have had this morning.

This news that we woke up to this morning is worse than shocking; it is debilitating, bewildering, with bewildering losses.

Travelling at six miles height, this is unimaginable. This is a violation of the rules of civilisation. It is a tyrannical, wild act.

And I appreciate that when I rang the Prime Minister this morning, he has been most forthcoming and, in a time when international events require one to put aside partisan issues,  I greatly appreciate it.

I acknowledge too the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and my colleague Tanya Plibersek, who have also been working on this.

As this Parliament convenes, right now and throughout today there will be anxious families having their worst fears confirmed.

3 kilometres from the town of Grabove, near the Russian-Ukranian border, on a patch of disputed ground currently controlled by separatist terrorists, lies the scattered ruin of MH17.

298 innocent people have lost their lives in sudden, unspeakable circumstances.

When I spoke to the Ukrainian Charge d’Affaires to Australia, he believes a surface-to-air missile has shot down the plane.

But most tragically amongst this terrible news, there are at least 27 Australians who have been murdered.

Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, neighbours, colleagues, classmates and teammates.

There are Australians who would have planned to be at the airport tomorrow night to collect friends and family. Amongst them, some of the world’s leading AIDS experts. The cost of this will be felt in many parts of the world.

We grieve for all of them – and it does reach beyond Australian shores.

I spoke this morning with the Ambassador from the Netherlands and conveyed my sympathies for her country’s terrible losses.

154 Dutch nationals were on board this flight – including, as I mentioned, world-renowned researchers and the former President of the International AIDS society, Dr Joep Lange.

This flight is one of the most popular flights between Amsterdam, and Melbourne and Sydney, via Kuala Lumpur.

Undoubtedly, many of the Dutch nationals on this plane were coming to visit friends, and possibly Australian family, in Australia.

In Afghanistan, Australia and the Netherlands stood united in courage in the service of peace.

Today, our countries are embraced in our shared grief.

I’ve also spoken to the Malaysian High Commissioner, whose country is reeling from this sudden blow.

It is truly a tragic day, in a tragic year for Malaysia.

For the people of Ukraine, this is another terrible chapter in a conflict that has already come at a most terrible human cost.

In Australia, we are immune and protected from much of the conflict in the world, and for that we should be thankful.

But on recent estimates, more than 500 people have already died, civilians and Ukrainian soldiers, in the conflict in the Donbass region in the last weeks and months.

This horrific situation can seem far removed from our daily lives – but there is no question that the conflict in this disputed part of the Ukraine has now reached Australia.

The missile that brought down MH17 – and the missiles that have claimed numerous other Ukrainian aircraft could not possibly be made by the people who possibly fired them.

These separatist terrorists are obtaining these instruments of murder from elsewhere.

This must be investigated – and it must be stopped.

The Ukrainian Charge d’Affairs informed me this morning that they will be inviting experts from around the world to assist with investigating this matter – and Labor mostly certainly supports the comments of the Prime Minister with regard to the United Nations Security Council.

And Labor supports the chorus internationally calling for a full, independent, international investigation of this tragedy.

Madam Speaker

This is a time for national unity.

As the Prime Minister discussed with me this morning, it is a time for temperate responses, for cool heads and measured action. That is indeed the strongest possible response that Australians expect from us.

But it is also demands, as I believe the Prime Minister was saying, strong resolve.

I say this to the Prime Minister today – Labor understands the complexity and difficulty of the decisions you will face.

We understand that as people are working through the pain and grief, there will be many understandable calls for all sorts of action.

I say that Labor is prepared to support the Government, and co-operate with the Prime Minister and the Government on what is the right next step that is to be taken in this most bewildering and shocking of events.

Whether or not that involves anything to do with the G20, we say to the Government – we will work with your measured approach.

More generally, Madam Speaker, in relation to the situation in Ukraine, Russia carries a significant and central responsibility in helping manage this crisis and resolving the dispute peacefully.

We will support the Government in vigorously pursuing and asserting this position in, our position at the United Nations Security Council and in representations to the Russian government.

Today the Parliament mourns the loss of all aboard MH17, we pay tribute to their memory.

We are conscious that there are members of our Australian community who do not yet know what has happened to people they love.

And we renew our commitment to a safer, more peaceful world.

ENDS

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

Jul 17, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Speech

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE

PARLIAMENT HOUSE – CANBERRA

THURSDAY, 17 JULY 2014

 

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

 

 

 

This week will be the last week the parliament sits for five weeks. The government has an opportunity over the next five weeks to face the people being punished by its unfair and chaotic budget. This Prime Minister loves to talk about manning up and other references to his courage and strength. Perhaps the Prime Minister of Australia should show the courage to talk to the people being harmed by this budget.

 

Once upon a time, the once great Liberal Party loved to talk about the forgotten people of Australia. Tony Abbott should get out and talk to the people he has forgotten: the people who put him there. He should talk to families who will lose $6,000 a year because of this rotten, unfair budget. Does the Prime Minister have the moral courage to talk to a single mum on $50,000 a year and explain why the family payments are being cut? Does he have the strength of character that he likes to claim he has to talk to parents of modest income working hard who, because their children are older than six and not yet 16, will lose family benefit payments? I think not. Does he have the courage to talk to pensioners to explain why they will lose $80 a week once his full measure of pension changes are done? These are people who have contributed their whole life. This chap opposite, Tony Abbott, wants to take that away from pensioners.

 

Before the last election, this Prime Minister of ours was very keen and always helpfully popping up at a petrol station bowser, talking about the price of petrol. Is he taking any petrol bowser photo opportunities now? I think not. Mind you, I acknowledge that, when he is talking to President Obama, he talks about his new carbon tax—the petrol excise—but he tore down Malcolm Turnbull, the only Liberal with the courage to stick to his convictions on an ETS. Well done you! Well done member for Wentworth

 

Will he talk to students and teachers in the classrooms of Australia? Will he talk to them about the cuts? We think not.

 

Will he talk to patients in emergency wards? Will he visit nursing homes and talk about the cuts to health care in this country? Of course not. Will he go and talk to the GPs so terribly worried about the poor health outcomes for so many Australians? He will not visit a GP surgery in this country to be told something that he does not want to hear.

 

I think Australia is, after ten months, working out the character of this Prime Minister. What a narrow, prejudiced, unthoughtful person we have as Prime Minister.

Will he be talking to university students about increasing their fees? Will he be talking to women punished for taking time out to raise a family, the women who have to get the tertiary degrees and then pay them off over a longer time period than they otherwise would?

 

We know this Prime Minister loves the flag. He wraps it around himself. He would wear it every day. He loves a good parade. He is always there talking about how patriotic he is—except when it comes to veterans, their pensions and orphans.

 

As for the carers, I congratulate the Prime Minister on one thing: he gets on the pollie pedal. Good on him. If he raises money for carers, he is going to have to ride a lot more to raise more money because he is taking away from the carers.

 

What about Indigenous Australians? I said before that this Prime Minister is a narrow man with a bleak vision. I also say to you that he is the great pretender of Indigenous politics. He will certainly say that he cares, so why is it that he is cutting half a billion from programs to support Indigenous Australians? Will he visit an Aboriginal legal centre keeping young Aboriginal men out of jail when he is cutting their funding? The chances of seeing him visit an Aboriginal legal centre are none. I wish I could be as certain about the winner of the next Melbourne Cup.

 

Indeed, there is another group of forgotten people whom he will not visit – they are some of his backbenchers! I am not sure that Premier Napthine wants him in. I do not think he will get to the Stafford by-election any time soon either. Perhaps, even if he will not talk to the millions of Australians being hurt by his unfair budget, he will sit down with his backbench. Will he ask them one-to-one if they think it is the right budget for Australia? I think not. The Prime Minister will not do that. He will not talk to the Australian people.

 

We have seen new records set in the last 2½ months. The period before the MPI may well be called Question Time; but under this Prime Minister, it will never be called ‘answer time’. He knows that in the last 24 hours his Treasurer, fresh from Fiji, has not helped the budget case. I respect some on the government backbench here, because they have certainly got a degree of loyalty even as the budget ship is sinking. But the Treasurer yesterday embarrassed the whole of the government. For weeks and months Tony Abbott would say, ‘I might be wrong, but I’m dumb enough to stick to what I am doing on this unfair budget.’ The Prime Minister said that there is no alternative and there is no Plan B. Well that’s smart Sherlock – No Plan B! The Treasurer said yesterday that there is an alternative. I believe that Malcolm Farr from news.com has noted that the Treasurer has moved from being ‘cheerful Joe Hockey’ to ‘grumpy Joe Hockey’, but what he really should have said is that he is still empty-headed Joe Hockey. The reason I say this is that this government has no alternative and, if they have alternative, it is in the Commission of Audit. We asked the government today and yesterday to rule out measures. They were happy to rule out some measures but not others. The very fact that they were not prepared to rule out all measures and yet rule out some shows that everything else is on the table.

 

We have sensible alternatives which have been articulated by Labor. We believe in cracking down on multinational profit shifting and tax minimisation. This government has never seen a vested interest it did not want to hug.

 

Fresh from the atrocities of financial planning and the Commonwealth Bank scandal, this government has cut $1 billion in measures to collect tax in Australia.

This government certainly has no shame. They are prepared on one hand to slug all those people I mentioned—the pensioners, the sick, the vulnerable, the low paid—but when it comes to a multinational: it’s too hard, can’t be bothered, or why bother?

 

We have offered constructive compromises on Family Tax Benefit B. I also know the greatest single weakness of this unfair budget is that the Prime Minister is so arrogant, so narrow, so proud that he will not cut the Paid Parental Leave scheme which everyone in Australia, including most of those in the government, knows is a turkey. How on earth can you propose a budget emergency justifying the sorts of atrocities, the creation of a new permanent underclass in this country, yet persist with this Paid Parental Leave scheme which everyone knows is unfair?

 

This government is not serious about its own so-called budget emergency. Labor are prepared to step up. We have seen them say here very clearly they are not ruling out putting a handbrake on the NDIS. This Prime Minister has swallowed the dictionary of weasel words when he says, ‘We want an NDIS, in good time.’ They want to abolish Family Tax Benefit part B. The GP tax, once in, will go up and up and up. And, of course, they love cutting the minimum wage—they have got their minimum wage scissors in their pocket every day of the week. Nothing is safe.

 

This government, though, is so desperate to get through its shonky legislation that we have seen the chaotic week where, if this Government wants to get something done, they have to go and doff their cap, tip their forelock, to Clive Palmer. What a fantastic state for the Liberal Party of Australia and this proud government 10 months ago – so excited to do so much. What we have seen this week is that if the PUP are run by Clive Palmer there is a new party in Australia, the ‘PUPpets’, and these are the ‘PUP pets’. They are being run by Clive Palmer – How embarrassing. They love to say how much they dislike Clive Palmer. They will go to black-tie gala events, rub shoulders with business and say: ‘Yeah, this Clive Palmer—terrible man, terrible man. Quick, is that the phone? Clive’s on the phone—excuse me!’ The Prime Minister is the discredited figurehead of the ‘PUPpet’ government.

 

Labor in the next five weeks, I promise Australians, will stand up for Medicare. We will stand up for a fair pension. We will make sure that higher education is accessible. We will stand up to make sure schools and hospitals do not get cut. We will fight for what is right. This government, no matter how much bluster and bullying it does, will not defeat the will of the people. We will stand up for the people. What the Prime Minister really needs to do in five weeks is change his mind about the budget. He needs to change his mind because we will not be changing ours.

 

ENDS

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

 

Jul 14, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE

In late 2009, this nation was on the verge of making a decision about which we could have been collectively proud.

We could have made this parliament a place of inspiration.

A national response to climate change supported by Government and Opposition.

A policy of government and opposition that built upon the previous government’s decision – a government not of our party – consistent with the best practice in the world.

That debate took this country to a higher level.

The myths, fears and uncertainties would be set aside, not just for the national interest but for all generations, for all future time.

But from that time, that hope of developing a national commitment for action has been frittered away.

For this Prime Minister’s part, he wrested away the leadership of the Liberal Party from the person who believed most in the evidence, and the need for a response.

For our part, we walked away from calling an election which the nation was entitled to have.

We did the second best.

We worked to achieve a national response.

We settled for second best, transforming international pricing into a carbon tax.

But we were right to have international pricing.

We were right to support an emissions trading scheme.

We were right to have climate change as a political priority of the previous government.

We were right to establish the Climate Change Authority, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

We were right to back the Renewable Energy Target.

We were right to listen to the scientific world.

We had a responsibility to work within the political realities to achieve the best national outcomes for the best international response.

For this, we do not apologise.

From this, we do not resile.

We are not skeptics.

We believe the science.

We understand that what is necessary is an effective international solution.

In that international solution, we aim for best practice, to be among the leaders, working with the progressive, continuously testing the facts.

In that international solution, we want practical outcomes – the best solutions – not vague promises.

We would prefer to be part of a national consensus, but where we cannot, Labor shall advocate our position.

We want to nurture the debate.

Last week’s staggering display of this Government’s special blend of blustering arrogance and craven incompetence made one thing abundantly clear.

Only one party in Australia has a serious, substantial and credible climate change policy – the Australian Labor party.

SCIENTIFIC  CASE

Mr Deputy Speaker

There is no doubt our earth is warming and our seas rising – or that humankind is the cause.

The US Department of Energy has calculated that the burning of fossil fuels has caused some 1.3 trillion tonnes of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere.

And researchers from the Woods Hole Centre have calculated that a further 0.7 trillion tonnes have been released as a consequence of de-forestation and changes in land use.

That is 2 trillion tonnes of a heat-trapping greenhouse gas released into our atmosphere – at a rate many times faster than the previous 800,000 years.

Each of the last three decades has been warmer on average than any other in modern times and 13 of the 14 hottest years on record have occurred in the 21st Century.

Sea levels have risen by about 20cm on average over the past century – and the rate of increase has been much greater in recent decades.

There is no evidence to refute any of this – or any genuine scientific counterargument in the climate change debate.

This is not ‘absolute crap’, Prime Minister. It is the inescapable truth.

And if we do not act, the consequences will be severe.

It is predicted we will endure more droughts, more bushfires and more floods, more storms – more extremes.

Indeed we are already seeing more extreme weather events, influenced by the warming experienced thus far.

The damage to our coasts, our farmland, our forests and our animal life will be irretrievable – and irreversible.

In 2014, the question before this Parliament, the question for our nation, the question for humanity is not whether we need to act on climate change.

It is, as President Obama has said:

whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late

We must decide today whether Australia will step up and play our part.

Fulfilling our responsibility, doing our fair share means setting appropriate emissions targets – and building the policy infrastructure to help us meet them.

That is what Labor did.

Because any serious policy solution to climate change must, sooner rather than later, include an Emissions Trading Scheme.

WORLD ACTION

This is where the world is heading.

Next year, in Paris, world leaders will gather to develop the next set of emissions goals for 2030.

Australia can choose.

We can attend that conference proud that we are making our contribution to a global effort, or we can slink in embarrassed by our lethargy.

We can go as a country with an integrated, effective ETS or as a nation with no climate policy.

The Governments of the world, both progressive and conservative, are making their choice clear.

Today, 39 national and 23 sub-national jurisdictions – accounting for almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions – have implemented or are on track to implement carbon pricing instruments, including Emissions Trading Schemes.

Already the world’s emissions trading schemes are valued at more than $30 billion.

China’s seven pilot Emissions Trading Schemes alone cover a quarter of a billion people – the second largest carbon market in the world, second only to the European Union’s.

South Korea will introduce its ETS on 1 January 2015.

Mexico put a price on carbon in 2013.

The European Union has had an ETS for many years, and many European countries have applied their own carbon pricing on top of the European system, including France in 2013.

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

As does New York and eight other states in the USA’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

This growing international trend means every year more people are trading more emissions in more markets, for more money – and we can vote today for our economy to be a part of this.

We can vote for a flexible and viable ETS – compared to heavy regulation and intervention.

We can vote for an ETS that doesn’t just favour renewable energy – it favours all low emissions energy.

Labor’s ETS provides an added commercial incentive for better carbon capture and storage, natural gas and clean coal – delivering more benefit for Australian industries.

And Labor’s ETS is ready to link to the world’s biggest emissions trading market – the European Union.

Mr Deputy Speaker, our world is moving forward on climate change.

And if Australia goes backwards – we will be going alone.

Nations on every continent are taking new action and creating new economic opportunities for their people.

World leaders recognise, what former Republican US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson recently called:

          The profound economic risks of doing nothing.

Paulson, a powerful conservative has said that ‘Waiting for more information before acting’ is not ‘conservative’.

It is taking a very radical risk.

This Prime Minister is no leader.

He is incapable of identifying the risks and costs of inaction.

He is sleepwalking his way to a major climate policy disaster.

A disaster for the Australian economy and our environment.

A disaster that guarantees Tony Abbott will be remembered forever for his environmental vandalism.

ALP POLICY

While the Prime Minister dithers over his dodgy deals with the crossbench, Labor’s policies continue to deliver economic and environmental benefits.

Since we put a price on pollution two years ago, emissions in the energy sector – the main industry covered by the carbon tax – have dropped by 10.4 per cent

Since the Renewable Energy Target was introduced, $18 billion has flowed into Australia’s renewable energy sector.

Under Labor, wind power generation – tripled.

The number of jobs in the renewable energy sector – tripled.

And the number of Australian households with rooftop solar panels increased from under 7,500 to almost 1.2 million.

Abolishing the RET will put Australia out of step with the rest of the world – and it will cut us off from the next wave of international investment in clean energy.

Already, after 9 months of this Government talking down the RET – and lying about its impact – Australia has slipped from 4th to 8th on Ernst and Young’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index.

Australia is one of 144 countries in the world with a set of renewable targets – and Labor believes we should lead the world as a supplier of clean energy.

If we are strategic, if we are smart, Australia can power our future prosperity with solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy.

This is not just about taking advantage of our country’s natural gifts: the sunlight that bathes our continent and the waves that break upon our coastline.

It means Australian researchers, scientists and investors leading innovation and creating economic growth by developing new energy technology and boosting energy efficiency.

This is precisely what the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) are helping achieve.

The CEFC is a productive and profitable enterprise, generating genuine value for taxpayer money.

By leveraging private sector investment in low emission technology, the CEFC steps up to help Australian start-ups capitalise and commercialise ideas.

Last year, every dollar ($1) the CEFC invested generated two dollars ninety ($2.90) of private sector investment – yet this Government is so blinded by its ideology that it wants to abolish this organisation.

And it wants to get rid of ARENA too.

Right now, ARENA leads the way in supporting Australian environmental innovation and investing in Australian genius.

ARENA provides funding for institutions like the University of New South Wales’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, which has, for the past three decades, set multiple world records for silicon solar cell efficiency.

And alumni and researchers from this Australian institution manage some of the world’s largest solar energy companies.

ARENA grants are also supporting Australian researchers investigating new and more efficient energy sources:

Tidal Energy in Portland.

Algae as a biofuel in Townsville, Parkville and Whyalla.

Solar thermal energy storage in Newcastle.

Geothermal energy in the Cooper Basin.

And the Climate Change Authority has been doing its important job well: providing authoritative, transparent information and policy advice – as does the Productivity Commission, as does the Reserve Bank.

There’s only one reason the Prime Minister wants to abolish the Climate Change Authority – because it tells the truth.

Mr Deputy Speaker

Labor’s climate change policy was shaped by scientific and economic experts.

We enhanced the Renewable Energy Target and we created the Climate Change Authority, CEFC and ARENA, because we are determined to fight climate change on every inch of ground – and with every weapon in Australia’s intellectual, economic and policy arsenal.

Labor has built for Australia the architecture for reducing our emissions in the most efficient, most economically responsible way possible.

Each of our policy elements works in partnership with the others to deliver the best outcome – a market-based mechanism for tackling pollution.

An ETS guarantees the lowest cost for Australian businesses and for Australian families.

An ETS delivers business certainty and it positions Australia to maximise economic benefit from the growing global trend of pricing pollution.

And it puts Australia on the crest of the wave of the unprecedented new market opportunities in clean energy and green technology.

Giving Australian innovation, Australian ideas the chance to thrive.

The Parliament can vote for Labor’s emissions trading scheme today.

The intricate, carefully calibrated design work has been done.

The international compatibility is assured.

Labor’s ETS is legislated.

It is ready to go.

DIRECT ACTION

But this Liberal party, the once great party of the free market and free enterprise wants no part of this solution.

They want to tear down everything that has been built and replace it with an amateur, ill-conceived, centralist, Soviet-style voucher system that gives the nation’s biggest polluters great wads of taxpayer money to keep polluting.

The logic is baffling and the hypocrisy is staggering.

This Liberal Party – the party that, through the GP tax, wants to put a price signal in place to stop pensioners and Australians on low and middle incomes from seeing their doctor, rejects the need for a price signal on the pollution that will determine the health of our planet.

They believe in a market to punish the sick and vulnerable – but they won’t support one that helps the earth.

They are turning their back on the free market and the settled science in favour of Tea Party economics and crackpot pseudo-science.

Make no mistake, Mr Deputy Speaker, this destructive policy will cost Australia dearly in the future.

It will cost our country more, and it will achieve less.

Direct Action is a policy designed solely for the Prime Minister’s personal core constituency – the flat earth society.

It is a policy concocted purely to appease the rag-tag militia of the internet trolls, the cranky radio shock jocks and the extreme columnists.

The ideologues and demagogues who have held the climate change debate hostage for too long.

Direct Action is, as the Minister for Communications said in a more honest time, nothing but a policy fig leaf.

It proves yet again that this is an ignorant government driven by nothing but its book-burning instincts and its tattered ideology.

Above all, the Prime Minister’s climate policy vacuum is a failure of leadership.

A failure of leadership that shows the Prime Minister lacks faith in the Australian people.

He doesn’t understand Australians and he doesn’t respect them.

On climate change, as with the Budget, we see the harmful division between this Government’s mean and narrow view and our generous and decent Australian society.

Australians are bigger, better and braver than this awkward, divisive, backward-looking Government.

They deserve better than this Prime Minister’s lectures and his lies.

They deserve a government that represents their moderate, informed views on climate change –not one that delivers pre-Enlightenment, science-sledging nonsense.

Australians are smart enough to grasp the inevitability of change – they are up for hard decisions.

They can participate in mature debates about the future of our environment and the future of our economy.

And unlike this Prime Minister, Australians can look beyond self-interest and see the national interest, the global interest.

Today this Parliament has a clear choice.

We can enter the history books as the generation that ignored the perils of climate change.

We can be marked down as the generation that surrendered to the selfish, shouting clamour of vested interests.

Or we can guarantee that Australia does its fair share to deal with this global problem.

We can vote for an emissions trading scheme that puts Australia in step with the rest of the world.

Today I give Australians this promise.

Labor will always fight for serious, credible climate change policy.

And we will never surrender to this Prime Minister’s bullying denialism and his government’s extremism.

Sadly we have run out of time to deal with climate change.

The decisions made by us, the representatives of the people, over these final 6 years of the critical decade for climate action, will have an irrevocable impact on the quality of life of future generations.

We all have choices in history.

Some are more important than others.

Today we can embrace the extreme risk of doing nothing.

And when, in the future, it is proved to be wrong.

The costs will not be measured by a wry laugh, an embarrassed smile or a belated and sincere expression of regret from those Opposite.

No apology will suffice.

It will be forever remembered as your greatest folly.

No mistake greater.

No blunder more serious.

Inexplicable.

Unjustifiable.

Not because we were responsible but because this Parliament did not accept our responsibility.

If we embrace the risk of doing something, then we shall take our place in a progressive world.

Supported by a society that sees this issue as political, but above politics.

This parliament has choices.

Each of us here knows that the political process can be exciting and exhilarating – but we all know that it can be cruel and exacting.

On this side of the House, we know that on the other side of the House and in the other house of this place, there are people of character and commitment no less convinced than we are of the severity of the problem.

For Labor’s part, we will be reaching for higher ground.

Constantly striving for higher ground.

In the blink of an eye of earth’s history, we have seen climate change that is staggering and frightening.

In the blink of an eye that responds, let there be no tears for humanity.

ENDS

 

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

Jul 8, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

STATE DINNER FOR PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE

 

ADDRESS TO THE STATE DINNER FOR PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

TUESDAY, 8 July 2014

 

SPEECH

 

 

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

 

Prime Minister Abe, it is a privilege to have this second opportunity to wish you well here in Australia, and to congratulate you on your magnificent speech to our Parliament this morning.

I can assure you, it is rare indeed for speeches in our Parliament to receive applause from both sides of the chamber.

But this was an honour you richly deserved.

Your thoughtful, warm and funny address showed a deep understanding of, and affection for, Australia – and Australia’s icons – like the legendary Dawn Fraser.

And your reflections on the tragedy and trauma of the Second World War were delivered with an honesty and insight that touched us all.

Prime Minister Abe, you are here in the seat of our democracy as our honoured guest and our friend.

And as the representative of a nation and a people that Australians deeply admire.

Australians admire Japanese innovation, the Japanese entrepreneurial spirit, the Japanese aesthetic and Japanese determination.

And Australians have learned so much from your nation’s work ethic and Japanese business practice.

Like a good many Australian business graduates, as part of my MBA, I studied the life and work of Soichiro Honda.

A man who, following the destruction of one of his factories by a US B-29 bombing raid, and another by earthquake, started again with a staff of 12, in a shed just 16 metres square, selling motorcycles made from surplus parts.

Within 18 years, the Honda Motor Company was the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles.

His vision typifies the Japanese drive to be the best, to look beyond the horizon, to pursue a competitive edge through ingenuity and sophisticated technology.

Led by people like Soichiro Honda, from the devastation of the Second World War, Japan rebuilt itself into an economic powerhouse.

This remarkable economic regeneration has made Japan a world leader in technological development and advanced manufacturing.

And a world leader in the way we do business, through the rightly famous philosophy of kaizen: continuous improvement through teamwork, discipline and self-analysis.

There is much for Australia to learn as our own nation changes from an industrial to an intellectual economy.

For decades, Japan has withstood financial shocks and recession, to deliver new prosperity for its citizens.

And amid that terrifying combination of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear contamination at Fukushima – Japan displayed a remarkable resilience and courage that won worldwide admiration.

This bravery, this unwavering resolve in the face of adversity is a quality that Australians have always held dear.

Indeed, one of the earliest Australian poets, Adam Lindsay Gordon captured this sentiment when he said:

Life is mainly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone.

Kindness in another’s trouble – and courage in your own.

This is why the Australian people were so quick to lend a helping hand to the people and communities of Fukushima – and so glad to do so.

And I thank you for the most generous acknowledgement you gave to Robert McNeill as the representative of Australian search-and-rescue personnel, and to Prime Minister Gillard.

Australia will always admire Japan – and we will always look to work with, and learn from, Japan as we embrace the opportunities of this Asian Century.

Prime Minister, it has been a tremendous honour for me to meet with you today, to discuss your vision for the future of Japan, the future of our relationship and the future of our region.

As you reflected in your remarks to our Parliament, the friendship between Australia and Japan spans generations and crosses the political divide.

We need only look at the conclusion of the defence technology transfer agreement – work for which began under Labor.

And the continuing benefit of the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement in our defence logistics, and the value of our Information Sharing Agreement.

Both finalised under the previous Government and both the product of a constructive dialogue on strategic matters at leader level and Ministerial level.

This enhanced level of collaboration will aid our response to, transnational terrorism, piracy, disaster response – and help us build on our proud shared UN peacekeeping history in Timor Leste, Iraq and South Sudan.

No matter who forms government in Canberra or in Tokyo, no matter our differences – the friendship between Australia and Japan will continue to grow and thrive, to the mutual benefit of both our great countries.

History has taught Japan and Australia both that there is nothing for our countries to fear, nor lose, from working closely together.

Whether the challenges of the future are strategic, technological or economic, the best path forward will always depend on our co-operation.

We know that in helping each other, we will both learn and grow.

In working together, we will achieve the greatest of success.

As Kaneko Misuzu a poet from your home prefecture of Yamaguchi put it nearly a century ago:

‘We are all different, but we are all wonderful’

Prime Minister Abe, all of us in the Labor party wish you, Mrs Abe, and your colleagues all the very best for the remainder of your stay in Australia.

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT : LEADERS OFFICE MEDIA UNIT: 02 6277 4053

 

Jul 8, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

PARLIAMENTARY WELCOME FOR PRIME MINISTER ABE

PARLIAMENTARY WELCOME FOR PRIME MINISTER ABE

CANBERRA

TUESDAY, 8 JULY 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 On this historic day, I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, the first law-givers of our nation and pay my respects to their elders past and present.

Prime Minister Abe.

On behalf of the Opposition, it is my great pleasure to join the Prime Minister in welcoming you, and your wife Mrs Akie Abe, to our Parliament, and our nation.

You honour all of us with your presence here today.

There is so much our two countries share:

Faith in democracy.

Deep respect for the rule of law.

Co-operation in peacekeeping missions.

Global leadership in nuclear non-proliferation – and I acknowledge today the work of our former Foreign Ministers Yoriko Kawaguchi and Gareth Evans.

And a steadfast commitment to a stable, prosperous and peaceful Asia-Pacific.

For more than a century, Japanese demand for Australian resources has helped build our nations’ shared prosperity.

Japan is an investor, as well as a customer – a true trading partner.

For more than fifty years, Japanese investment has driven the development of Northern Australia, from the iron ore fields of the Pilbara to the North West Shelf and Darwin Liquid Natural Gas to coal mines in the east.

And Japan has long been much more to Australia than a leader in technological innovation or a market for our resources.

We have traded and shared our values and our ideas too.

Australia’s arts and our architecture, our food and philosophy and even the way we do business, have been enhanced and enriched by the Japanese.

All Australians are grateful for these gifts.

We celebrate this diversity, we know that it helps us gain and grow and learn.

Or, as the Japanese saying goes:

Juunin to Iro.

 “Ten People, Ten Colours.”

In embracing our differences, we are stronger.

And ours is a friendship that shares hardship.

When Fukushima was devastated by earthquake and Tsunami in 2011, Australian hearts went out to our friends in Japan.

Within days, Australian search and rescue personnel, defence operations-response officers and three C-17 aircraft were on the scene helping with the international clean-up and rescue effort.

They were soon followed by donations and contributions from hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians.

Prime Minister Gillard was the first world leader to visit the region following the disaster and personally convey our condolences for your loss, and our admiration for your resilience.

In those tough times, Australia was proud to stand by our friend.

We gave our help gladly, knowing that Japan would not hesitate to respond with the same speed and generosity.

This understanding, this care for each other’s welfare, lies at the heart of our friendship.

A friendship that runs deeper than treaties or trade agreements, summits or state dinners.

A friendship built on the open-hearted generosity and wisdom of our two peoples.

It has long been this way.

Three years after your grandfather’s term as Prime Minister, Yamatotakada City and the town of Lismore in New South Wales became ‘sister cities’, the first such partnership between Australia and Japan.

Today 109 communities across our nation – and yours – share this bond.

Joined together in the spirit of friendship, of understanding and of learning from one another.

People from our two countries building personal connections through student exchanges, cultural exchanges and local government visits.

Friendships flourishing through email and Skype and long-planned catch-ups.

In Bundaberg and Settsu City

Inakawa Town and Ballarat

Geraldton and Kosai City.

And, of course, your ancient capital Nara and our capital, Canberra.

Every year, in the Canberra-Nara Peace Park, a patch of Japanese Maples and Cherry Blossoms among the gum trees, Australians and Japanese people gather for a festival.

Surrounded by Japanese sculpture, accompanied by Japanese music and delighting in Japanese food, festival-goers light two thousand candles in celebration of peace and friendship.

In that spirit, by those lights, today we say to you that Japan will always have a friend in Australia.

A partner in prosperity – and a partner in peace.

Prime Minister Abe, you are most welcome in Australia – and the people of Japan always will be.

ENDS

 

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

 

 

Jul 7, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

ADDRESS TO THE AUSTRALIAN 2014 ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OUTLOOK CONFERENCE.

 

 

It’s a privilege to be here, at this important national forum on ‘pathways to growth’ and the ‘reform imperative’.

I am a reformer.

Because I believe in the things that have to be done to make peoples’ lives better.

But I am also a conserver – a conserver because I want to save what is great about our nation.

Life is not about reforming or not reforming.

Life is not about saving or not saving.

It’s about what you want to reform.

It’s about what you want to save.

That’s the essential choice Australia faces:

What do we want to reform and improve?

Healthcare, education, aged care, equality for women, Indigenous rights, the lives of people with disability, our environment.

And what do we want to save?

Nothing less than the essential model that has made Australia great, defined us, and made us different.

The Australian tradition of moderate, adaptive, inclusive change with fairness and caring.

A tradition of good policy, properly debated, conscientiously advocated and fairly applied – responding to a genuine need for reform.

It’s about

-       Building a broad community consensus

-       Detailed and consistent advocacy

-       Fairness

And each of these elements depends upon the other.

Without community consensus, no reform can endure.

Without a detailed and consistent policy message – there can be no consensus.

And if a policy is inherently unfair, then no amount of consultation can or salesmanship can transform the proverbial sow’s ear.

Meeting the reform imperative requires courage, it requires a long-term view and it demands an ability to empathise with the Australian people.

Australians have never been comfortable with zealotry or extremism, we have never embraced ideology masquerading as policy.

Even before Federation, Australia eschewed the extremes of left and right.

As far back as 1913, Labor’s moderate pragmatism earned us the condemnation of Vladimir Lenin.

Australian Labor, he said:

‘does not even call itself a socialist party. Actually it is a liberal-bourgeois party’

In the grip of the Great Depression, Australia avoided self-defeating radical socialism and divisive proto-fascism.

When rebuilding from the Second World War, Australians rejected Ben Chifley’s push to nationalise the banks.

And in the heightened paranoia of the Cold War we voted down Bob Menzies’ attempt to ban the Communist party.

We shunned Thatcherite austerity – and Friedmanite doctrine.

This is not because of an unthinking opposition to change, or an innate Australian conservatism.

It is, instead, a hard-headed, egalitarian common sense.

A rational capacity to look past the rhetoric and make a decision based on reality.

A national characteristic that has served our society – and our economy well.

It is an instinct that means when the times demand reform, political parties who are prepared to make the case, to explain the need for action, will get a fair hearing.

It also means that sloganeering is not enough – and it never will be.

Governments cannot simply sound the alarm of manufactured crisis and hope that the Australian people will be swept up in the tide.

Responsible Governments put their faith in evidence and argument – not lectures and hyperbole.

The Australian people are up for hard decisions.

They engage in complex transactions every day.

Managing family budgets.

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

Attending to their health.

Enjoying a life outside work.

Starting and running small businesses.

Paying their mortgage.

They reasonably expect to live for nine decades, and they save and plan for their retirement and old age.

Smoothing their wealth over long life.

Australians know that in a rapidly-changing global economy, our future national prosperity depends on working smarter, boosting productivity, driving competitiveness and innovation.

Australians understand all of this – they can see the big picture.

They know that, in the end, what is best for our national interest is in their best interests too.

And the great success of the Hawke-Keating generation was to put their faith in the good sense and judgment of the Australian people.

That great reforming Labor Government made the case for their hard decisions, over time, but they never lost sight of fairness.

They appealed to both the common sense, and the generosity of the Australian people.

For instance, the Hawke and Keating governments reduced the top marginal rate of tax from 60 per cent to 47 per cent.

But at the same time, they imposed a capital gains tax and a fringe benefits tax, they brought equity and decency to the tax system while underwriting opportunity.

It was textbook economic reform: broaden the base, lower the rate.

They made cuts to Commonwealth spending as a percentage of GDP – by imposing an assets test on the pension – while simultaneously improving the adequacy of the pension.

The Accord delivered wage restraint, tackling the high inflation and high unemployment of the previous decade.

The trade-off was an unprecedented expansion of the social wage: Medicare, family payments and universal superannuation.

A world-leading safety net that gave people the confidence to embrace change, without fearing they would be left behind or fall over the edge.

And contrary to Tony Abbott’s latest foray into re-writing history, none of this was easy, much of it was opposed.

The Liberal party campaigned against universal healthcare at every Federal election until 1996.

And a decade after the floating of the dollar, Tony Abbott was still unconvinced on the benefits, saying, in 1994, that it:

“[makes] no more sense than altering the price of cornflakes every time a buyer takes a packet off the supermarket shelves”

The Liberals fought universal superannuation – and their latest round of freezing super increases, and their abolition of the Low Income Super Contribution shows they still don’t understand the value, or the importance, of this pillar of the Australian retirement savings system.

None of Labor’s reforms were inevitable.

They depended on political courage and policy resolve, on patient and careful explanation, on coalition-building and leadership from within the union movement, Labor and business.

And if Tony Abbott imagines that he can arrogantly force his unfair Budget through the Senate by division and bullying, he is wrong.

He has learnt nothing from the history he shamelessly seeks to re-write.

The reform journey of the 80s and 90s was also made possible by a media that took a genuine interest in the substantive policy debate and the national interest – rather than acting as a megaphone for sectional interests.

All of this would count for nothing, if the Australian people had not repaid the faith the Government put in them.

But they did, every time.

Today, it is not enough to revere the past, or pay lip service to the legacy – it is the responsibility of modern Labor to take up the task, to fulfil the reform tradition.

Nick Dyrenfurth has said that many members of the Labor movement are captive to a ‘1983 and all that’ view of history.

And that replicating the reforms of the 80s and 90s is as difficult as persuading Australians to swap their SatNav for a Melways.

Yes, Australia has changed dramatically in 30 years – in large part because of Labor’s social and economic reforms.

There is no way for modern Labor to simply update and reintroduce the changes implemented in that famous era.

For example, both the economic conditions that made the Accord necessary and the structures that made it possible no longer exist.

Our economy is not, as it was then, burdened by high inflation or double-digit unemployment.

Our workforce no longer depends upon centralised wage fixing, and – despite the alarmism of some members of the Government – there is no danger of a wage explosion.

The specific closed economy, tariff-protected, highly regulated world of 1983 does not exist today.

My leadership and this Labor generation have different dragons to slay.

We will, however, be guided by their values, their spirit, the process they used to build the consensus for the changes that made our modern, prosperous and fair Australia possible.

This includes a commitment to economic and fiscal responsibility.

Labor is committed to making Australia’s national budget sustainable – of striking the right balance between government expenditure and revenue.

We will support reasonable savings measures – indeed we have already offered our support for stronger means-testing for the Family Tax Benefit B payment, worth more than $1.2 billion over four years.

Support that the Government rejected.

Labor is conscious of making sure that scarce taxpayer resources are distributed fairly, on the basis of need.

It is one of the reasons we have been so critical of the Prime Minister’s extravagant Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Recently Labor have been criticised by some individuals for invoking ‘vague notions of fairness’.

In response, I would simply say this:

Focusing exclusively on cutting spending inevitably leaves the heaviest lifting to Australians least able to carry the load.

For families on $50,000 and $60,000, who are losing more than 10 per cent of their family budget, north of $6000 a year, these cuts are not theoretical – they are dreadfully real.

For Australians under 30 who lose their job and are forced to live on nothing for six months, there is no ‘vague’ inequality – there is only real injustice.

And for older Australians, who have worked hard all their lives and paid taxes all their lives, who have made a contribution to our nation – and yet are losing their seniors supplement and having their pension cut, the unfairness in this Budget is all too real.

At the most basic level, the fairness in our system stems from the fact that Australians who primarily receive benefit through transfer payments are those on low and middle incomes, while Australians in high income households can access benefits through the tax system.

As the OECD – and indeed the Melbourne Institute have again recently confirmed – Australia has one of the most targeted welfare systems in the world.

And any Budget strategy based solely on cutting expenditure will always hit those who can least afford it, the hardest.

To make our Budget sustainable and fair, we need to examine both sides of the fiscal coin – expenditure and revenue.

And any sensible discussion of revenue needs to look at the integrity of Australia’s company tax base.

Unlike some, Labor has not come to this view in the past 48 hours.

Increasingly, companies are minimising costs through technological progress, innovation, outsourcing and automation – maximising their performance through sophisticated software and computer modelling.

And because successful businesses are always looking for a competitive edge, many of the biggest multi-national corporations are leading the way in tax avoidance too.

This substantially erodes a nation’s company tax base – and distorts the market, unfairly disadvantaging local businesses.

This is why, in Government, Labor announced reforms to close these loopholes and cracking down on profit-shifting.

We introduced business tax integrity measures that are now worth more than $5.3 billion.

Yet not once, but twice, the Abbott Government has moved to water down these provisions.

Decisions that amount to $1.1 billion in foregone revenue.

The Treasurer’s claim that the Government will be legislating to close multinational tax loop holes is not a bold statement – it is nothing more than political camouflage.

After delivering a Budget that has targeted: pensioners, families, students, carers, veterans and the sick – the Government needs something to balance the credibility ledger.

But is no additional revenue attached to these measures, because the Government is merely legislating Labor’s policy from the 2013-14 Budget – and the figures are already included in the forward estimates.

This fleeting fashion of talking tough to elements of the big end of town is all the more galling when you consider the only genuinely new action the Government has taken in this area since last year’s election is to weaken Labor’s tax integrity measures.

Their fiscal lethargy comes at a cost to our Budget bottom line – and it comes at a cost to Australian business.

While technological developments will mean that the physical location of some businesses matters less and less with each passing year – the principle of paying tax on incomes earned in a jurisdiction remains.

This is true for the local newsagent, the local tradie and the local pharmacists.

Bricks and mortar businesses earning an income in our cities and regional towns, and paying their taxes.

And our computer games developers, iPhone app developers and software designers that are working domestically and marketing globally.

As we speak, millions of Australian small and family businesses like these are preparing their tax returns.

Small business people taking risks for their family and our economy – creating jobs, driving growth and giving back to our community.

They don’t have the luxury of avoiding tax through complicated international loans.

They do their banking in the local high street, not on some offshore tax haven.

This is just as true for many larger businesses, which operate exclusively in Australia.

These companies employ thousands of Australians – and they pay the full measure of taxation in Australia.

It is not right that Australian businesses, big and small, shoulder an unfair share of the taxation burden, while highly profitable companies who benefit from our skilled workforce, our stable investment environment and our growing economy make only a minimal contribution.

It is not right for companies that report billions of dollars in profit, to pay less than 100 thousand dollars in company tax.

Many of the world’s advanced economies are grappling with this challenge.

That’s why, when the G20 meets in Brisbane this year, it will discuss a new global effort to reduce base erosion and profit-shifting and increase international tax transparency.

But Australia cannot sit at the G20 table and make the case for co-operative international action on this important question, if our national Government is winding back legislation and re-opening loopholes for profit-shifting.

We will simply not be taken seriously – how could we be?

And how can we take this Government’s commitment to a sustainable Budget seriously, while they undermine the integrity of our tax base?

Cracking down on multi-national profit shifting is fiscally responsible – and it is fair.

It’s about giving Australians the best chance to grow their businesses, create jobs and lead innovation.

And it ensures that our Budget is made sustainable, by a fair and proper contribution from everyone.

This is the Labor model for economic reform.

Values and evidence.

Prosperity and fairness.

Principles and pragmatism.

This is our model:

Building business certainty – by consulting widely, and making a detailed and comprehensive case.

Driving growth by extending opportunity, boosting productivity and encouraging social mobility.

Giving people co-operative ownership of change, rather than handing-down decrees from on high.

This is the approach and philosophy I have employed my entire working life.

I believe in empowering people, drawing on their good ideas and constructing the best compromise.

The hundreds of negotiations I was involved with as a union representative taught me that no-one has a monopoly on the good ideas – no individual, no organisation, no side of politics.

And if you don’t consult, if you don’t empower people by taking on their views and responding to their needs, then you are just setting your target very low.

If you are only interested in settling political scores, then any success can only be a pyrrhic victory – and any change can only be short-term.

Because the next time the issue comes up, you will have drained the reservoir of goodwill and trust that sensible compromise depends upon.

And when the balance of power shifts, whatever you have done will be undone.

This is true for employment agreements; it is true for boardroom deals, for negotiating with contractors and clients – and for economic reform.

This is why I, and Labor, are committed to engaging in a constructive dialogue with every sector of our economy.

It is why I will never allow Labor’s relationship with business to be defined by moments of disagreement or points of contention.

There is too much of national importance that we agree on:

  • Enhancing Australia’s economic competitiveness by boosting our participation and productivity.
  • Encouraging small business and family enterprise
  • Putting science and innovation at the centre of Australia’s economic growth strategy.
  • Helping older Australians find fulfilling work
  • Assisting professional women to balance their career and family responsibilities with affordable, quality childcare.
  • Increasing skills and flexibility through our TAFE and University sectors
  • Building on our targeted and sustainable social safety net to help Australians transfer into work.
  • And guaranteeing the security and dignity of retirement with the world’s best superannuation system.

These are the defining social and economic challenges of the 21st Century – and we have to address them together.

Reform cannot be hostage to partisanship or ideology, it has to come from consensus, from diligent design and extensive consultation.

Sadly, this is not the approach the Government took in framing its Budget.

Think of the GP tax.

Seven weeks after the Budget, I think the vast majority of Australians are still unclear as to what the GP Tax is meant to do.

We know the money raised is being funnelled into a Medical Research Fund that was only thought of a month before the Budget.

A fund the Government rushed without consulting the CSIRO, Australia’s Chief Scientist or AAMRI.

A fund that is just a shiny needle in the haystack of a Budget that triples the cost of a science degree and cuts billions from research and development and the CSIRO.

And as any scientist will tell you, we won’t find the cures of tomorrow without world-leading mathematics, quantum computing and nano-technology to support our medical researchers.

How can the GP tax ‘fix the Budget’ or make Medicare sustainable –if it doesn’t return a single dollar to recurrent health spending, or the bottom line?

How will hard-working GPs, the front line troops who keep Australians healthy, collect this tax and account for it?

How will the tax apply to Australians with chronic conditions – like diabetes, asthma or osteoporosis?

If the GP tax is designed to deter people from seeing their doctor – won’t it, in fact, add costs and pressure to our health system by overburdening our hospital emergency rooms and reducing access to preventative diagnosis?

Will putting a cost barrier between Australians and their doctor add to the 88 million days of work that are missed a year- at a cost of around $27.5 billion in sick leave and lost productivity?

And, in the bigger context of the reform imperative, how will the Government explain to the Australian people that the new tax it is imposing on their healthcare, without warning or consultation, does nothing to guarantee the future of Medicare?

Make no mistake pushing up the price of healthcare is not health reform.

Medicare was health reform – a reform that rejected the American model of higher costs, lower quality and reduced access.

A reform that took healthcare out of the industrial lexicon and made it a universal right.

A reform that remains a source of national competitive advantage for Australian employers.

If the Government was serious about medical research – then Australian clinicians would have been at the heart of the design process – not consulted five weeks after the Budget.

Australian researchers and scientists would have shaped the focus of the Medical Research fund, not learned of it on Budget night.

And they certainly would not have signed off on the Government’s cuts to science and research.

And Australians should have been treated like adults, trusted to make their judgment on this policy before the election.

All of these important principles were foregone in favour of a page torn from the Hollowmen script:  a big ‘surprise announcement’, the ‘showstopper’, the ‘centrepiece effect’.

Every time a Government plays games like this, it feeds the voter cynicism that disturbs and undermines our democracy.

Every time a politician breaks a promise and denies their breach of faith, the Australian people lose a bit more belief in the mainstream of Australian politics.

This voter suspicion, this distrust, makes it easier for extremists to cast themselves as anti-establishment.

Or for populists – and dare I say it, the Pupulists – to present themselves as a legitimate alternative.

To promise everything, to everyone, confident in the knowledge that they will never be called upon to deliver it.

All of this makes it harder for us to focus on what matters – the real reforms that drive economic growth.

The challenge of the reform imperative is timeless – and so is its importance.

Labor has never lost its faith in the value of reform.

Real reform, not reform for the sake of change.

Reform that benefits, and delivers, for all Australians.

Creating jobs, rewarding hard work, raising living standards and extending opportunity.

We believe in reform because our world does not stand still.

There is no comfort in complacency – only peril.

Complacency delivers no return to investors.

There is no recognition of bravery in complacency.

The world is not waiting for us.

If Australia chooses not to change, we will be battered and bettered by a world that is always changing.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I leave you with this promise.

Labor will not waste the next year and a half in Opposition – we will not fall into the complacency trap.

We will not shirk from holding the Government to account for its broken promises.

We will always speak out against unfairness and inequality and speak up for Australians who depend on Labor to be a genuine Labor party.

We will be a strong Opposition – and we will be an alternative Government.

We will do the hard yards, the detailed policy development, the intellectual spadework.

We will offer Australians policies with depth and detail.

Not empty promises conjured up to please one audience, or another.

Not vague pronouncements that devolve into nasty surprises.

Not vacuous slogans more honoured in the breach than the observance.

Under my leadership, Labor is ready to listen, to see things from your point of view, to engage in a constructive dialogue, to look at workable compromises.

We won’t always agree, but we will always give the experts the respectful hearing they deserve.

We will put the people who know at the centre of our policy design process.

Our policy plan won’t be short-term tactics crafted for getting into government – it will be a plan for the next Labor Government.

A Labor Government that understands the reform tradition – and stands ready to fulfil it.

Boldly, completely – and fairly.

ENDS

 

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

 

Jul 6, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

New Zealand Labour Congress

SPEECH

NEW ZEALAND LABOUR CONGRESS

WELLINGTON

SUNDAY, 6 JULY 2014

 

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

In Australia we like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet – I’d like to pay my respect to the Māori people.

 

And thank you Clare for that introduction.

 

I know when I am in the presence of true believers.

 

You are true believers.

 

Thank you for inviting me to be here today to be your witness.

 

Next year will be the 100th anniversary of ANZAC.

 

ANZAC has deep meaning of course, for both our nations.

 

58 per cent of the serving men of New Zealand were casualties of Gallipoli, and Flanders, and France.

 

And as a former New Zealand Labour Prime Minister said in Washington recently -

 

‘Crisis and hardship don’t just build character, they reveal character.’ 

 

The kind of character revealed by New Zealand and Australian fighter pilots and bomber crews in the Battle of Britain and the battle for Europe after D-Day.

 

And in the parallel and like-minded Labor administrations in both countries afterwards.

 

Norman Kirk and Gough Whitlam both abolished conscription and concluded our involvement in the Vietnam War with dignity.

 

And they fought the obscenity of Apartheid from 1972 to 1975.

 

As did David Lange and Bob Hawke in the 1980s, who also led the way in campaigning for the preservation of Antarctica.

 

Both Labor governments took action against French nuclear tests in the Pacific in the International Court of Justice, which helped end the atmospheric atomic tests.

 

But only New Zealand sent a vessel into the testing area with a Cabinet Minister on board.

Under Labor, New Zealand and Australia have always punched above our weight in international matters.

 

And we are rightly proud of Mike Moore, running the World Trade Organisation.

 

The work of Helen Clark with the United Nations Development Program.

 

Gareth Evans with the International Crisis Group.

 

And Australia’s seat on the United Nations Security Council, supported by New Zealand.

 

Not to mention Peter Jackson’s contribution to world cinema, that brought the Lord of the Rings to a new generation, and a new generation of tourists to New Zealand.

 

And the inspirational work of Fred Hollows, who will always belong to both of us, improving health in the developing world.

 

New Zealand got to female suffrage before we did – by a few months.

 

But in old age pensions, fair pay, the 40-hour week, the right of unions to organise, and the ongoing fight for a safe workplace, we share a story of tragedy endured, of bereavement comforted and hardship fought to the final inch of effort.

We in Labor, in our two countries, have led the world so often beneath this shared patch of sky.

 

We have shown a neighbourliness, and a courage, and a lack of prejudice, and a love of the outdoors and a life of the mind that has drawn to our region – not just tourists attracted by our natural wonders – but all those who admire our civilisation, our society.

 

At its best a society working, without panic, without snobbery, without cultural warfare, in a spirit of affable consensus and decent communal care.

 

We believe in the fair go, and a chance for all.

 

A pleasant neighbourhood, rewarding work, and a life outside work, great schools and quality healthcare.

 

Our countries share so much.

 

A profound respect for the traditional owners of our lands.

 

A colonial past, a democratic present – and an independent future.

 

Communities and economies enriched by every culture and tradition, from every corner of the world.

 

And what we share goes beyond friendship.

 

Australia and New Zealand are family.

 

For thousands of years –people in our lands have looked up at the same stars, and slept and dreamed beneath them.

 

When bushfires rage or floods wreak havoc or earthquakes strike, we are there for each other – without question, without hesitation.

 

Side by side.

 

And our two great Labor parties share an unbreakable bond.

 

A bond of common cause, and shared belief.

 

Our belief in equality, our faith in fairness.

 

Ours is a universal mission – it is a global summons– a calling that reaches back more than a century.

 

Reaching down to lift up those who have been struck by what Robert Frost called ‘the shafts of fate’.

 

We are the defenders of the vulnerable.

 

The voice for the voiceless.

 

The hope of ordinary people.

 

And our work is never done.

 

There is always more for us to do.

 

There always will be.

 

There will always be another baby being born – whose parents need the right support.

 

There will always be another child starting school – who deserves the best education.

 

There is always another self-made small business owner aspiring to do more – to grow their ideas and create jobs.

 

There is always someone who has lost their job – and needs the skills and training to find a new one.

 

There are always older workers looking for comfort and dignity in retirement.

 

There will always be hardworking nurses in public hospitals, counting on Labor for a fair deal.

 

There will always be dedicated teachers in public schools, looking to Labor for the resources they need.

 

No matter what side of the ditch they call home, these are our people.

 

People working hard, making sacrifices – building a better nation and a better future.

 

Parents, small business people, teachers, carers, nurses, veterans and children.

 

These are our people.

 

The people who depend upon the Labor party.

 

To look after them, to support them, to help them be their best.

 

And if we are going to serve our people, to represent their interests, to fight for their hopes – we cannot just be Labor parties, or a labour movement.

 

We have to be Labor Governments.

 

It is only in Government that we can do the big things, make the big changes, drive the reforms that make the lives of our people better, longer, healthier and happier.

 

It is only in Government that we can make our countries fairer – more equal.

 

Countries where everyone is included, and everyone is welcome.

 

Citizens by choice, and citizens by birth.

 

People born under the Southern Cross – and people who have come in search of a better life here under our southern skies.

 

New Zealand and Australia – the lands of the second chance.

 

It is only in Government that we can build a fairer society, and a stronger competitive, productive economy.

 

It is only in Government that we can drive the economic growth that creates jobs, raises living standards and extends opportunity.

 

Only in Government can we share the benefits of national prosperity with the people who are counting on us.

 

That’s why Labor seeks government.

 

We believe in the difference it can make to people’s lives.

 

For us, governing is never about exercising power over people.

 

It is about empowering people.

 

Breaking down the barriers of poverty, discrimination, disadvantage and inequality.

 

For Labor, engaging with young people does not begin and end with some hashtag.

 

It’s about listening to their concerns, and speaking to their issues.

 

Caring for our environment, and acting on climate change for future generations.

 

Helping our neighbours and doing our duty as good global citizens.

 

Opening doors to classrooms, lecture theatres and training centres.

 

And when I hear David Cunliffe speak of his vision and passion for education – I hear the words of a true Labor leader.

 

A man who understands the Labor mission – and stands ready to fulfil it.

 

In Wellington, in Canberra – and in every community across our two countries – Labor is the party of education.

 

We know the power of education.

 

The lifelong benefit it brings – to our people, our economy and our society.

 

Education embodies the Labor mission.

 

Extending opportunity, and giving everyone the chance to fulfil their potential.

 

Tackling the challenges of the 21st Century.

 

Creating jobs, rewarding hard work and raising living standards.

 

Giving people the skills, and the confidence, to adapt to change, to embrace it, to make it work for them.

 

That’s the Labor way – embracing the future with confidence and optimism.

 

Labor embraces change because our world does not stand still.

 

We reject the lazy lethargy of those who say that the great races have been run and won.

 

That the great battles have been fought and that the only job for government is to preserve the status quo.

 

This is not conservatism – it is complacency.

 

There is no comfort in complacency – only peril.

 

Complacency delivers no return to investors.

 

There is no bravery in complacency.

 

No reward for effort.

 

No way to better yourself, to build yourself up, to give your children a better life than the one you led.

 

Complacency means apathy, it means decay, it means the gentle erosion of progress by the power of vested interests.

 

Complacency means entrenching old problems, reinforcing old obstacles – the barriers that restrict our people, and limit our countries.

 

Complacency is simply not an option for true believers.

 

The world is not waiting for us – it never has – it never will.

 

If we do not change, if we stand still, if we opt for complacency – we will be battered and bettered by a world that is always changing.

 

That’s the message Labor has to spread – that’s the case we have to make.

 

We have to be what we have always been – a force for change, the party with a vision for a future that includes everyone.

 

Labor’s ability to tell that story, the story of change, of renewal, of reform of a better future for New Zealand, depends upon you.

 

This is the task for each and every one of us.

 

To tell the Labor story on every street, in every city, suburb and town, every day –

 

Then New Zealand and Australia will have governments as ambitious, as fair, as bold and as generous as the people of our great nations.

 

ENDS

 

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

 

 

Jul 1, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

‘THE STATE OF AUSTRALIAN POLITICS’

SPEECH

 

CRAWFORD AUSTRALIAN LEADERSHIP FORUM

‘THE STATE OF AUSTRALIAN POLITICS’

 

AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY

CANBERRA

TUESDAY, 1 JUly 2014

 

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

 

It’s great to be here, among such distinguished company, to discuss the health of our current political and policy debate.

All of us – parliamentarians, business, media, academics, unions, public servants and the community sector – play a part in driving an informed, high-quality policy debate.

It is the duty we owe our nation and our citizens.

If Australia is to meet the economic and social challenges of 2020 and 2030, our conversation must go to policy, and policy substance.

That’s where I, and Labor, will seek to lead the discourse – to the battle of policy ideas.

I’m ambitious for our democracy, I have faith in our political system.

And in considering, as you do today, whether we have reached some kind of low point – I would offer two observations by way of context.

Firstly, commentators frequently lament a surplus of division and a deficit of political consensus as a major factor in voter disengagement.

Not just in Australia, but around the world.

Last month, 25 years after his famous essay on The End of History, Francis Fukuyama reflected on the current state of democracy in the United States:

In the polarised – indeed poisonous – political atmosphere of today’s Washington, the government has proved unable to move either forward or backward effectively.

There is no doubt that Australians, like Americans, are frustrated when they perceive our politics falling hostage to deal-making and obstructionism.

And if they only see 30 short seconds of Parliament a day on the news, it will always contain more Question Time nastiness and brutishness than earnest policy conversation.

Yet it is wrong to think that the quality of our debate will be improved by both sides of politics flicking the switch to mutual admiration.

Or an acquiescent Parliament.

Ours is an adversarial system, by default – and by design.

Churchill gloried in it, Gladstone, Disraeli, through to Whitlam and Keating.

Its purpose is to counter extremism, zealotry, the hubris of brief, high-strutting Bonapartes, and government by executive decree.

In our democracy, a government’s policies are meant to be tested in the community, sharpened, re-worked and improved by amendments and by Senate negotiations.

This is for the good and benefit of the people, and quite often the government too.

As Disraeli said 170 years ago:

No Government can be long secure without a formidable Opposition

This holds true today.

After all, John Howard’s Senate majority delivered only WorkChoices and election defeat.

A second fundamental operating principle of our democracy is healthy scepticism.

Ours is a system designed for the voters to sit in judgment.

In our democracy, on average every two and half years, the electorate determines if the parties’ words match their deeds, and if they deserve the privilege of governing in the name of the Australian people.

But it doesn’t take too much for rational scepticism, to spill over into debilitating cynicism.

People are quick to say that:

‘The fate of policies now is decided in secret conclaves, which contain representatives bound hand and foot to vote as a majority decides…’

That was how George Reid described the Deakin Government during the 1906 election campaign.

Or:

The hardest things for politicians to do is to get behind the policies of the other side, no matter how sensible they might be’

That’s what the Canberra Times said in 1989.

I cite these two examples not to dismiss concerns for the quality of today’s debate, but only to show that nostalgia for a lost ‘golden age’ of politics is as old as Federation, and so are predictions of irretrievable decline.

Even taking into account the global context, there is no doubt today there are historic challenges facing our democracy.

The first and most fundamental is the question of participation.

Right now, millions of Australians are failing to take the most basic step of participation in our democratic process – voting.

Consider this:

At the time of the 2013 election, there were about 14.7 million Australians on the electoral roll.

The turnout of nearly 94 per cent means around 1 million enrolled Australians did not cast a vote.

Add to that number the more than 800,000 informal ballot papers – either incorrectly completed, defaced (occasionally with words of rancorous wisdom), or left blank.

And then add the estimated 1.2 million Australians classed as ‘missing’ from the roll.

Even allowing for the approximately 250,000 people who submitted valid excuses to the AEC because of illness or incapacity…

We still end up with around 2.8 million Australians who were eligible to participate in last year’s election, whose votes did not count.

2.8 million.

More than the population of Western Australia or South Australia and Tasmania – indeed all of Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn.

Among them, 400,000 Australians who turned 18 between 2010 and 2013 and did not enrol to vote.

How is it that nearly 3 million adult Australians – small business people, farmers, job-seekers and home-owners – don’t see the value in voting?

The fact that nearly 3 million Australians of voting age consider politics irrelevant to their days, politicians oblivious to their concerns and our political machinery impotent, incapable, uninterested in the problems of their daily life – should be a wake-up call for all of us.

Increasing fines won’t fix it.

We can’t any rely on ‘push’ factors – we have to empower people, giving them a reason to vote and a sense of ownership.

Above all – we have to foster the belief that politics is still capable of changing the world, or at least our local lives.

This is why, in April, I launched a campaign to modernise and rebuild the Labor party – to re-shape the structures of our party and to encourage a more empowered and more diverse membership.

Rebuilding Labor means attracting new members from all walks of life: small business people, people from regional towns, professional women and young people.

Labor has to rebuild as a membership-based party, not a faction-based party – a party that boasts every section of the Australian economy, and every tribe of the Australian community.

A party as modern, confident, democratic and outward-looking as the country we aspire to lead.

A party where your membership card entitles you to a say in our policies and preselecting our candidates.

That’s the core of my agenda: a party where more people…are more involved…more often.

Because it is that sense of ownership – of having your voice heard in policy debates– that is far more powerful than any sense of civic obligation.

Dare I say it – cynicism and apathy are more difficult opponents for us than even Tony Abbott.

Our democracy needs to be better at debating what matters, and deciding what matters, to the lives of Australians.

These days the internet gives our generation, our time-poor generation, more data to inform political choices than ever before – and also more distractions more diversions, more capacity for snap judgments in the place of meaningful engagement.

Today, more Australians than ever are engaged in the world – 8 million of us travel overseas every year and more than 40 per cent of us have at least one parent who was born in another country.

And more are engaged in variable home loans and superannuation exposed to financial markets and are therefore actively engaged with the economy.

In the Australia of 2014, a hundred years from Sarajevo, unlike our Anzac ancestors, we monitor the gold price, the Aussie Dollar and ASX movements on the evening news, when once it was only the sport.

Achieving this same level of engagement in our politics requires a foundation-level consensus on what will shape the future Australia of 2020 and 2030 and beyond.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

Calling for consensus in politics is easy – especially from a position of strength.

The real test of political leadership is a willingness to build consensus, as a general nationwide habit and practice, not just demand it.

To earn agreement, not just yank the bell in Downton Abbey and expect a servant class of obedient Australians to carry out your will.

To create a consensus that goes beyond the two chambers of our Parliament and the columns of the newspapers – a community consensus and a national one.

This does not mean offering identical policies – far from it.

What’s needed is a consensus on the challenges facing our country.

This consensus has long been the driver of Australian greatness – working and striving together, fighting bushfires together, and sharing in the success.

Without it, we end up with parties talking at cross-purposes in an unrewarding definitional debate.

And we risk falling further into the empty politics of division and resentment – typified by the Budget.

The false language of ‘lifters’ and ‘leaners’.

The dangerous division between people who go to university, and those who don’t.

The powerful against the powerless.

The States against the Commonwealth.

This division fractures national political argument, frustrating voters young and old, and guaranteeing that disengagement is the default setting.

One fault-line in our current political debate can be traced to 2009, when Malcolm Turnbull was deposed as Opposition Leader, and the bipartisan consensus on the need for an Emissions Trading Scheme perished with him.

At the 2007 election, John Howard and Kevin Rudd both promised to implement an emissions trading scheme – and until the very end of 2009, the debate focused only on the shape of the model.

Within a year of the Abbott coup – by one vote – ­and the Greens deciding to vote with the Liberals in the Senate to defeat Labor’s CPRS, the political climate changed dramatically.

We in Labor found ourselves in a minority government, a hung Parliament and caught up in a bitter, three-year debate about a carbon tax.

Tony Abbott played the politics of division hard– and he prevailed.

With bewildering speed, the debate changed from how and when Australia would implement an ETS – to whether any real action on climate change was needed at all.

Suddenly, the settled science was back in question and years of painstaking policy work, intellectual effort and international negotiations were put aside.

And the denialists, the flat-earthers, the internet trolls have ruled the roost ever since.

Today, Labor has to live with our failure to prosecute the case, to take the public with us on the need for action on climate change.

There’s no shrinking from that.

But I know there are many leaders in the business community, who spoke against an ETS at the time and now look back with more than a hint of regret at five years of lost certainty and economic opportunity.

Many academics who wonder now if they mistook their own inter-campus agreement for a broader community consensus on the need for serious action to tackle climate change.

Many members of the Greens – and the broader environmental movement – who lament choosing the purity of impotence over the practical benefits of reasonable compromise.

And many members of the Liberal party, who rue passing up the chance to move forward, together, on an issue that will define this century.

We can learn by looking back – but we can engender hope from looking forward.

Amidst the hoopla and showmanship of last week – significant points of climate consensus emerged.

The Palmer United Party has now declared its support for three key pillars of Labor’s climate change policy, namely

  • Retaining Labor’s Renewable Energy Target
  • Keeping the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a $10 billion fund which co-invests with the private sector in renewable energy projects and low emissions technologies
  • And maintaining the Climate Change Authority, which provides expert, independent advice on emissions reduction targets, caps and trajectories, and other Australian Government climate change initiatives

 

Seven days ago, none of this was assured. Today, all of it is welcome.

I also welcome Clive Palmer’s in-principle support of an Emissions Trading Scheme, and would remind him that Labor already has an ETS, legislated and ready for implementation.

The three concrete measures now welcomed by Palmer United are efficient and effective policy reforms that deserve bipartisan support.

Since the Renewable Energy Target was introduced, around $18 billion has flowed into the renewable energy sector.

Under Labor, wind power generation has tripled, the number of jobs in the renewable energy sector has tripled and the number of households with rooftop solar panels increased from 7,400 to almost 1.2 million.

Australia is one of 144 countries in the world with a set of renewable targets – and we have the potential to be a world leader in solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy.

But 9 months of the Abbott Government undermining the RET has seen us slip from 4th to 8th on Ernst and Young’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index.

Policy uncertainty undermines our international competitiveness and harms jobs and investment – and I hope we can put an end to it very soon.

The CEFC is a model that leverages private sector investment to overcome barriers to supporting renewable energy.

This is a thriving enterprise, delivering value for taxpayer money.

Last year, the CEFC’s investments mobilised, on average, $2.90 of private sector investment for every $1 of fund investment.

And, if properly resourced, the Climate Change Authority will be pivotal in monitoring Australia’s progress toward our emissions reduction goals – and provide independent advice on how to best transition our economy to a market-based climate change solution.

As for an Emissions Trading Scheme, Labor’s position has not changed.

It is the position we took to the last election.

It is the position we hold now, and it’s the position reflected in the amendments Labor has twice moved to the Government’s repeal bills.

Labor believes climate change is a problem that demands a serious response.

A global response. A considered, thoughtful, intelligent response.

A response that has to include a market-based framework capable of interacting with, and benefiting from, similar schemes in the United States, Europe and Asia.

This is a complex area where international developments will play an important role, alongside extensive national consultation on detail and implementation.

But I still have faith in the good sense of the Australian people.

I still believe that good policy, clearly articulated and explained and argued will win the support of the electorate.

I know it can work – because I have seen it work.

As the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities – I saw a marginalised, disempowered group of people, Australians who had been exiled into a second class life in their own country, take centre stage in our political debate.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme was a long-term, complicated policy that focused on an under-reported and little- understood though widely experienced problem.

But with the passionate, co-ordinated, grassroots advocacy of people with disabilities, carers and community groups – supported by Labor – we were able to raise public awareness and understanding.

And with a comprehensive policy formulation process that drew on the detailed work of the Productivity Commission and sector experts, we were able to make the economic case for reform.

Our argument became so compelling that we were even able to pass a tax to fund it – through an increase in the Medicare levy.

That last point is worth emphasising – a government low on political capital, pilloried on tax for three years, had the courage to fund this reform by increasing revenue.

The roll-out of the NDIS, the empowerment it is bringing to thousands of Australians with disability, and the people who love them, is something Labor – and Iwill always be proud of.

Especially today, as we celebrate the first birthday of the NDIS – and see the roll-out of new launch sites in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and here in the ACT.

For me, it is an instructive model for policy reform and policy leadership.

The lesson I learned from my work on the NDIS is that the Australian people have not lost their appetite for reform.

Australians are still willing to back in new ideas if the case is made that they are good ideas.

From the beginning of the NDIS debate, Labor acknowledged the complexity, the expense and the difficulty of a solution.

We took the electorate into our confidence, we engaged in a frank and mature discussion.

We retailed the benefits of change to individuals.

We explained to people where they fit in on the journey of change, and their destination.

And we won people to our cause by the quality of our ideas, and the moral foundation they were built upon – backed up by the expert number crunching of the Productivity Commission and their advisory panel.

Labor’s position on the NDIS was so strong that the Abbott Opposition had no choice but to fall in behind us.

But since the election, their lukewarm language, and their daily redefinitions of what the disabled deserve, and who they are, has given us cause for concern.

There is a risk, amidst their talk of ‘value for money’ and ‘cost effectiveness’, that as with climate change, we slip back into re-litigating first principles.

That we retreat to re-fighting the case for an NDIS, rather than overseeing its progression.

And the only way to prevent this is for Labor, the community, business, the media and the public sector to remain resolute in explaining the need for an NDIS – and the value it adds to our economy and our society.

This is the Hawke-Keating tradition – serious, nation-changing reform well-argued.

Not treating the electorate as mugs, capable of being wooed and won by simplistic slogans, but rather as intelligent, concerned equals.

As people who want the best for their country, their own futures, and their children’s futures.

Labor can do this.

Again.

We have to.

For the sake of our economy, our society, our community and, as I have argued today, our democracy.

That’s the job of all of us in politics – and all of us here today.

To assess ideas on their merits, to look at the evidence and to base our judgments on the long-term, what we want the future Australia to look like.

To match our principles to what works best.

To blaze the trail of good policy with passion and conviction and with credible evidence-based reasoning.

That’s the path forward – for better policy, better politics, better discussion of politics, and a better future.

 

ENDS

 

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

 

Jun 24, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

STATEMENT ON INDULGENCE: PETER GRESTE


STATEMENT ON INDULGENCE

PETER GRESTE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

TUESDAY, 24 JUNE 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

Madam Speaker

 

Like all Australians, I and Labor were appalled by the grievous injustice dealt to Peter Greste last night.

 

Our first thoughts today must be for Peter Greste and the entire Greste family.

 

The family were shocked by the totally devastating news.

 

Peter’s parents Juris and Lois, have won a nation of admirers for their optimism and stoicism throughout this ordeal.

 

His brothers, Mike and Andrew, have been strong, and were among the throng in an Egyptian courtroom yesterday, to hear their worst fears confirmed.

 

All the Grestes should know that the Australian Parliament will stand with them for however long it takes to free their beloved son and brother.

 

We believe fundamentally in the freedom of journalists to be able to do their work.

 

It was Thomas Jefferson who said that:

 

Liberty depends on freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.

 

No journalist should ever be imprisoned for doing their job, for reporting the news.

 

And for as long as Peter Greste – and more than 200 journalists around the world languish in jail – the freedom of all of us is diminished.

 

Madam Speaker, I agree with the Prime Minister in the need to a calm approach.

 

Moments like this stir something elemental in the spirit of all free people.

 

These are times when passions run high – but the best interests of Peter and his colleagues will not be served by inflammatory rhetoric.

 

This is a time for diligent, calm and focused diplomacy.

 

It is what Australia owes the Greste family – and it is the duty all of us owe to a fellow Australian unjustly imprisoned far from home.

 

This morning, I wrote to the Prime Minister to advise that Labor will be taking an entirely constructive and bipartisan approach to this situation.

 

Today, I say to all members of the Government, on behalf of the Labor Party, we are ready and willing to assist your every effort.

 

We will do whatever we can to help.

 

But I also recognise that for all our fine words, Peter Greste is still in jail in Egypt.

 

The real challenge is to bring him home.
ENDS

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

Pages:1234567...13»

» Stay in touch