TUESDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2013
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
The Opposition supports the Prime Minister’s commitment to national security, and it supports the comments about the importance of our national security. In terms of the comments made about our relationship with Indonesia, the Opposition believes that our relationship can recover. In fact, it will be a relationship prospectively that will thrive and prosper. But it does also require Australia to recognise that our Indonesian friends have been offended. Our nations have many common interests and shared perspectives. Labor is proud that as far back as 1940s the Chifley Labor Government supported the aspirations of young Indonesian nationalists and sponsored their case in the United Nations.
No one side of Australian politics owns the Australia-Indonesia relationship. This is about Australia’s national interests, as the Prime Minister referred to, and should be above party politics. For instance, we acknowledge the importance of former Prime Minister Howard’s gift on behalf of all Australians of $1 billion to enable Indonesia to recover from the tsunami devastation.
We are proud of the work of former Prime Minister Keating in strengthening relations with Indonesia during the Suharto government. We believe that the most recent Labor administrations lifted the level of consultation, rapport and cooperation to new levels, and we are proud of that. Indeed, last week Vice President Professor Dr Boediono had a warm and constructive dialogue with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and myself, and I know he met with many representatives from the Government.
What we must do now — Government and Opposition, Coalition and Labor — is commit ourselves to improving and repairing the relationship. This is a goal we must unite behind. This Parliament respects Indonesia as a successful democracy. The role of this relationship with Indonesia is fundamental to resolving for instance, but not only, asylum seeker boat issues. Labor believes that a timely resolution is called for to help repair our relationship with Indonesia.
I believe, for instance, that the example of the United States and the way that it handled a similar issue with Germany provides the opportunity for us to consider the same course of action. The days ahead remain of the utmost importance in working to remediate issues with Indonesia. We should not allow these matters to fester for very long at all. We should not allow this matter to taint our relationship going forward, and we encourage the Government to redouble its efforts to ensure that this is not the case. We in the Opposition do not underestimate the seriousness of this issue.
We say to our Indonesian friends: it is impossible to imagine our futures without positive and constructive friendship and dialogue between our governments and our peoples. We believe the Parliament should rededicate itself to the task of rebuilding the relationship. This is fundamental to our national interest. I can assure the Prime Minister — and let me be very clear about this — the Opposition will fully cooperate in the task before us.
We are willing to join with the Government in any effort, in any briefings, in any discussions, in the pursuit of the task of rebuilding trust in this most important key relationship. Let me be very clear. Labor wants the Government to be successful in rebuilding the relationship with Indonesia. This is what all sides need and want — a recovery of trust.
MEDIA OFFICE: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
INTRODUCTION REPEAL LEGISLATION
MONDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2013
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
This Parliament’s response to how we handle climate change will either help or hinder the future of this country.
It will define whether the 44th Parliament of Australia is either willing to look forward or backwards.
We will define, in this Parliament with how we vote on this legislation, the generation of parliamentarians to our children and our grandchildren.
The scientists know that carbon pollution is changing our weather and it is harming our environment.
The Australian public know. They know it when they experience more and more extreme weather events.
Economists know that carbon pollution will hurt our economy. And the public and the Labor Party know it is the responsibility of the Parliament to reduce the amount of carbon pollution that is being emitted and going into our environment.
This is why Labor will always support laws which tackle the issues of the future and which will reduce carbon pollution.
This is why we cannot today or on any day forward support Tony Abbott’s laws which would leave Australia with no effective means of cutting carbon pollution.
Greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity are having an adverse effect on our environment and on the economy. If we refuse to tackle the problems, if we put our heads in the sand, if we say that we will put off to the future how we deal with environmental economic issues, then we mark ourselves down for future history to judge what we did at this time in this place when we had another course of action.
The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has confirmed that the world is warming due in part to the burning of fossil fuels. Across the globe from 2001 to 2010, this was the warmest decade on record—and I repeat: 2001 to 2010 was the warmest decade on record. And indeed, every decade since the 1940s has been warmer than the one before.
Labor is concerned that our farmers and primary producers would experience a decline in irrigated agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Labor is concerned that it will see a decline in our wheat production.
Labor is concerned that we will see a decline in our table wine-grape production.
Our world is approaching a population of seven billion people. The threats from a changing climate intensify, not diminish, our need to act.
Labor understands that there are businesses with foresight, already ahead of the climate change curve, moving ahead to capture the technologies of the future to capture the business opportunities of the future.
My position and that of Labor is perfectly clear: we will take action to reduce the amount of carbon pollution being emitted into our environment.
But those opposite led by Tony Abbott do not believe in climate change and its adverse impact upon the environment.
Labor will always make its decisions on policies in this Parliament based on the best available science. That is the Labor way.
Yet those opposite led by Tony Abbott, despite the best available science, are prepared to tear down everything which has been accomplished in tackling climate change up to this day.
We on this side of the House know that Australians expect their Members of Parliament not to sit idly by and see that the future is too hard to deal with; to say that Australia cannot compete with the rest of the world and that Australia cannot reform and change and grasp the opportunities of the future. That is not the Labor way.
What I simply cannot understand is why those opposite cannot understand the future. No-one seriously—or at least no-one serious—believes that we do not have an issue with increasing levels of carbon pollution.
Today in the legislation we are seeing being debated, Tony Abbott is lining up with the militia of climate change denialists and he is taking the Coalition government with him.
The Prime Minister is ensuring his place in history and the place of everyone on that side of the Parliament and it will put them on the wrong side of history.
The Prime Minister is saying to Australians, ‘People of Australia, carbon pollution in our atmosphere is just a political problem and it is one therefore that Australians do not need to act on.’
If the Prime Minister was a doctor and the patient was sick, all I could imagine is that he would say to that patient, ‘Don’t change anything, it is really hard to change. It may involve making decisions about the future which are in your long-term interest but which today you might find difficult’.
That is not the Labor way.
In Parliament the people who put us here expect us not to do everything for them, not to be in every household, not to regulate every aspect of their lives, but they do expect their leaders regardless whether they are Coalition or Labor to at least try and explain to Australians how to navigate a path to the future.
These 11 bits of legislation are not a map to the future; they are an exercise in the rear vision mirror looking back and doing nothing. The Treasury in its blue book prepared prior to the 2010 election said:
A market based mechanism can achieve the necessary abatement at a cost per tonne of emissions far lower than any other alternative direct-action policies.
Say what you like about the carbon tax—and many have—this government is not just repealing the carbon tax; this legislation kills any possibility of limiting carbon pollution pouring into our atmosphere.
There are 11 carbon tax repeal bills before the Parliament today.
The Government’s Bills on climate change represent the unilateral disarmament of the nation’s defences against climate change.
In leaving nothing behind — no other sound or sensible replacement policy — the Abbott government has run up the white flag on climate change. It has surrendered its responsibility to the nation.
It declares in this legislation that this government finds the future too hard; that this government cannot navigate a path to the future; that this government will tell everyone that they can stay as they are—that there is no need to change.
It declares that it will always be blue sky and that, regardless of the science—regardless of the innate knowledge of Australians—the best option is to do nothing.
The fundamental problem with the government’s approach is that there is no limit on how much carbon pollution will be allowed in Australia.
Put simply, this government is saying there will be no cap on emissions. What that means is that this government has no idea about how to control carbon emissions and that any amount is acceptable.
Surely it is a proper role for government to lead and set standards about how much carbon pollution should be allowed. That is a legitimate function of government; it is the leadership that people expect. Tony Abbott’s view—and the view of his denialist cohort—is that there should be no cap and no standard set on carbon emissions into the future.
Even if genuine reductions can be purchased by polluters there is nothing in the Prime Minister’s plan to stop emissions increasing elsewhere in the economy. This leads to the other flaw in the legislation.
Not only do they have no cap, but they will make mum and dad taxpayers in Australia pay their hard-earned taxes to large polluters.
That is the only idea they have.
This is the climate change policy from central casting, if you are a closet climate change sceptic.
There is everything you could want in the Coalition policies if you do not believe climate change is real.
There is no cap on emissions; there is money to be paid to people who emit carbon; and, when we look at this policy, the Prime Minister will not even try to make companies with large carbon emissions accountable.
Leaders across the rest of the world are willing to act. They are acting in different ways but they accept the science. Real leaders take real action.
On Friday, British Prime Minister David Cameron—who had a busy weekend—said:
I am not a scientist but it’s always seemed to me that one of the strongest arguments about climate change is that even if you are 90 per cent certain, or 80 per cent certain, or 70 per cent certain – if I said to you that there was a 60 per cent chance your house might burn down, you would take out some insurance.
Real leaders are not denialists. Real leaders have the courage to tell people things they do not always want to hear. Real leaders have the courage to say to people: ‘We will take you on a path to the future and this involves accepting real facts.’ Real leaders choose to prepare their nations for the future rather than leave it to others in the future to do what the current generation would not do.
This is why the Abbott Government’s response to climate change is a defining issue for our Parliament and our nation. It represents their well-known Coalition disregard for science. It demonstrates their willingness to put short-term politics ahead of long-term national interests.
It is symbolic of their willingness to raise the drawbridge to Australia and say: ‘The rest of the world is a confronting and difficult place, and we will simply try to reassure Australians that if we ignore the rest of the world than the rest of the world will simply go away.’
They will risk the economic and environmental wellbeing of your children and mine with their refusal to act on the science.
That the government will conveniently ignore inconvenient truths is no surprise.
What a marvellous scientific set of achievements this government has assembled in a brief two months: no minister for science for the first time since 1931; no climate change commission; no Climate Change Authority; and a quarter of the staff of the CSIRO are to get it in the neck.
This government and this Prime Minister have never seen an expert that they are not willing to censor, cut or contradict.
In the Prime Minister’s own words, indeed, if he cannot contradict, censor or cut them, he will just eject them.
He has said that climate change is absolute crap.
No serious government, and no serious leader, says these things. No serious leader rebuts serious economists and tells them they are all wrong.
The Government’s direct action policy is a vagrant policy with no visible means of support and no support from economists.
Prime Minister, this is not enough for Australia.
You cannot plant your way out of this problem with trees. There is not enough land in Australia—not enough trees, not enough arborists and not enough water to water all these trees—to plant your way out of climate change.
In dismantling climate change action in Australia this government, and this legislation, undermines our future.
Their direct action policy—what a sham. Why should every Australian household pay $1,200 a year merely because the Coalition is too lazy to accept the science in front of them?
This mob opposite can always tell you what they will cut. They are good at cutting. But they can never tell you what to create with a vision of Australia. That is the difference between Labor and the government. They would ignore climate change and take no action.
The member for Port Adelaide will be moving our amendments to these Bills. We will ensure that the defences against climate change remain in place, in order to not weaken our efforts.
Our amendments will replace the carbon tax with a role for government that says, ‘We have to put in place a legal cap on carbon pollution and then let business—the mighty engine-room of the Australian economy—work it out.’
We trust the private sector to work out how to handle climate change. This mob opposite just want to use taxpayer money to deny the science. We will vote with the government to repeal the price on carbon but only if those opposite can convince us they will genuinely fight climate change, and there is nothing in this legislation to make us see any evidence of any fight against climate change.
Climate change is real. We will stand together with the Australian nation. We will not defer to future generations problems we could deal with now.
Labor, when it is faced with the hard choice of making a decision or not making a decision—of tackling pollution or not tackling pollution—will stand up and be counted.
Under Labor, wind power trebled.
Under Labor, one million houses installed solar power.
Under Labor, 24,000 jobs and hundreds of new small businesses were created.
I am proud that we are sticking to our guns. I am proud we are sticking to our principles and holding the government to account.
We will not be, and will never be, a rubber stamp for this government.
We will honour our commitment to the national interest.
We will honour our international obligations.
We can look our children in the face and say, ‘When we had the chance to do something, we did.’
The government’s policy is toxic.
The government’s legislation is toxic.
Labor will never vote for toxic laws undermining the future of this country.
TRANSCRIPT OF MINISTER BILL SHORTEN
NATIONAL PRESS CLUB ADDRESS Q&A
20 AUGUST 2013
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
Subjects: Better Shools Plan; Federal Election; Tony Abbott’s cuts; Superannuation.
HOST: Well thank you very much, Mr Shorten. Let’s move to our questions now from our media members, and the first one today is from Michelle Grattan.
JOURNALIST: Michelle Grattan from The Conversation. Mr Shorten, the Coalition has promised to pay for four years, the Better Schools money, to all states, including those who haven’t signed up. Your position, I think, is that you have agreed to pay this money to the ones who’ve signed but not the non-signatories. Would you consider matching the Coalition promise on that? And secondly, as candidates in trouble seem to be the flavour of the day, I wonder if I could just put in a political question, and ask you whether you think your former candidate in Hotham was treated justly? And what you think needs to be done to reform the feral nature of the Victorian ALP?
BILL SHORTEN: Michelle, if it’s alright, before the end I’ll return to questions other than on education. But I’d like the fact that the Opposition’s not here talking about education doesn’t mean I don’t want to not talk about education. I will come back to that before the end though. I’ll get Laurie to remind me when the time’s nearly up. But in terms of your first question, we don’t have trouble matching the Coalition proposition. They’re not matching ours. It’s sort of wrong way round. They’ve got out the microscope looking at education, when they need the telescope. When we talk about our proposition on education, we’re offering funding for six years. Not four.
That’s worth nearly an extra $8 billion to kids and their parents. So when we say can the Government match the Opposition, that’s topsy turvy. The question is why the Coalition won’t match the Government. Because why not give school communities certainty? What was remarkable about the Opposition’s sort of faux conversion on the road to their educational Damascus was that on the Thursday they’re on television calling it Conski, a play on words about their chair on the committee who did the report into needs based funding. So they said on Thursday’s it’s Conski, then on Friday they want to hug it. They’ve spent 1,500 days trash talking Labor on education, now all of a sudden they say oh, we can be trusted on education. So there is nothing we have to match, and indeed, what is interesting, what is truly remarkable about this education turmoil that the Opposition are in, which probably explains their absence today, is this – on Thursday, Liberal Party trash talking our education reforms. Probably got Mark Textor’s polling on the Thursday night, the red light went off in their secret policy bunker – not a lot of people in it.
They went oh my goodness – the Liberal patient’s on life support because on education, it’s not looking good. So Friday they say hey hey hey, we’re a bit of me too. But on Saturday, Dennis Napthine, don’t think he’s ever voted Labor – his brother did, but that’s another story – but he’s never voted Labor. He has a look at the Liberal offer which says no strings attached. You know, the Liberals are like David Copperfield, the magician of education. Don’t look at what the magic trick is, just look at some other disturbance. Well, Premier Napthine looked at the Liberal Party offer on education, his own party, with no strings attached, no strings attached. Look mum, no strings attached in Liberal land. And he signs up with Labor’s policy.
Goodness me. How can that be if ours is such a bad deal, that he crosses the ideological Rubicon, and says we like Labor’s deal with strings attached. And the reasons why there are strings attached are important. And we won’t just simply give the irresponsible blank cheque of these faux educationalists in Liberal land that they want to give the LNP Government in Queensland and elsewhere. In conservative states who haven’t signed up, why on earth would we say to Commonwealth taxpayers that education is important with needs based funding, but here’s the money, no strings attached? The strings that we’ve attached in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, ACT and South Australia is that they can’t cut, the states don’t cut their own funding.
What is the point of the Commonwealth education money walking in the front door, allowing the states to take money out of the system out the back door. That’s the nature of our reforms. Needs based. It’s not an excuse to replace the savage cuts the Coalition governments do in some jurisdictions when they get to power. So we have nothing to match when it comes to the conservatives. We are the only game in town.
Basically, the Liberal education policy is we won’t fund $8 billion extra, we won’t require the states to come to the party, we won’t really back in needs-based funding, because if they did they’d [inaudible] require the states, but in fact, we are just Labor lite.
My advice to every parent in Australia is – just like when you go to Bali and you see those cheap knockoff handbags which look good, maybe that’s good for a couple of weeks. Don’t buy the imitation when it comes to your kids’ education. Don’t buy Labor lite. Buy Labor.
HOST: A question from David Crowe.
JOURNALIST: Thanks Laurie – David Crowe from The Australian, Mr Shorten. Just a follow up on Gonski funding. In the Budget in May there were some numbers set against the Better Schools plan. But now without an agreement with Queensland, does that mean that the financial burden of that policy is lower now because Queensland’s not part of it, WA’s not part of it? Does that mean that the annual cost over the long term is going to be lower? And also on another aspect of education, some of the savings that you’ve made to fund what you’re doing include the self-education tax deduction. You talked in your speech about life-long learning – how do you justify removing that tax deduction and making it harder for people to keep their qualifications up? Would you consider restoring the tax deduction over time if it’s fiscally possible?
SHORTEN: First of all, language is important, isn’t it? We don’t regard education spending as a burden. We regard it as an opportunity, and the responsibility of progressive politics. Our door is open to do a deal with the LNP, with the Territory and with Western Australia. I did find negotiations with them a little unusual. Because, basically, we were offering a deal that for every extra two dollars the Commonwealth was finding to fund the schools and the individualised, personalised learning of the schoolkids in those jurisdictions, we were seeking one dollar from them. Some of these jurisdictions were seeking two dollars and they were looking to find twenty cents to match our two dollars. We’re generous, but we’re not mugs.
So what I say to those jurisdictions, what the Prime Minister has said, is that if Labor is re-elected, we are happy to re-open negotiations and see what they’ve got to do. But we can’t promise to give them money with no strings attached. Because all we are doing is subsidising their savage cuts in education. Governments make choices. When you vote for political parties, you’re getting a series of choices. When you vote Labor, you’re getting a choice that education just happens to be part of our brand. So those governments will just have to either come on board or they won’t. What is interesting though is that, you know, some of these jurisdictions have said oh, you know, it’s all about a takeover. It’s all about a takeover.
Well, if it’s a takeover, why is Barry O’Farrell not worried about it?
Why is Dennis Napthine not worried about it?
The multiplicity of interests which is the Catholic Education Commission- they don’t think we’re about to secularise religious education in Australia. But some of these Queensland LNP [inaudible] and the Territory administration, they can see things which obviously other people weren’t bright enough to see. Or perhaps they’re just wrong. Or perhaps all they want to do is cut costs.
In terms of self-education, we’ve actually delayed that decision to 2014-15. So we’ve delayed it. Secondly, when we go to Labor’s commitment to life-long learning, here’s a couple of numbers. 190,000 more people at university than when Labor was elected in 2007. $14 billion in university revenue now compared to $8 billion when Labor was elected. Under Labor, we have committed to create 645,000 Commonwealth Supported Places in education, which is 50 per cent more than when we took over from John Howard in 2007. 50 per cent increase in the higher ed places. 50 per cent. The population hasn’t gone up 50 per cent in the last ten years.
Again, if you want education – early childhood, primary, secondary or post-school, Labor is the brand in town.
HOST: Just to go back and clarify that first part of the question though – we assume if there is no deal with Queensland and WA the outlays will be lower?
SHORTEN: Well, if they don’t want the extra money, they don’t want the extra money. But what I also say is that we are keeping all existing National Partnerships, and we will go with the AGSRC indexation. So people aren’t going to go backwards. But if I was a parent of a child in Queensland or the Northern Territory or Western Australia, I’d want to say, hey, if the federal mob, Labor, want to provide an extra two dollars for our schools, can’t you guys find one dollar?
HOST: Question from Simon Grose.
JOURNALIST: Simon Grose from Science Media. My question is probably – like, I might have to go in Laurie’s holding tray, because it’s about workplace bullying rather than education. That’s an issue that’s been a concern to you in your previous Ministry, and now that you’re in education, you’re concerned about school bullying. I read your speech to the Bullying, Youth and the Law Symposium last month and I was impressed by that.
SHORTEN: Thank you.
JOURNALIST: That came through. But I also remembered, this bloke Shorten, he’s a factional heavy. And I just wondered how your concern about bullying informs your own behaviour. As – when you’re doing your factional warlord thing, how do you avoid being a bully in the workplace?
SHORTEN: You’ve just got to keep an eye on – and I’m happy to do the ALP questions – well, maybe I’ll just knock them over both now, if you like –
HOST: Okay, sure, sure.
SHORTEN: In answer to Michelle’s question, the Labor Party’s got great candidates. We’ve got candidates who know our policies. To the best of my knowledge we don’t have candidates who are mates of Roger Rogerson. The Labor Party’s got very good candidates. Geoff, who stepped down in Hotham, chose to step down. A tough call by him, but he put the interests of the Labor Party first. And the Labor Party will keep producing high calibre candidates across this nation. And not only have we got calibre candidates Michelle, we’ve got calibre polices.
In answer to your observation, I don’t accept the implication of what you’re saying in terms of ALP negotiations and bullying. But what I do accept is your sincerity about the issue of workplace bullying. So I thank you for raising that, generally. Workplace bullying is a real issue in Australian workplaces. The Productivity Commission has said that it can cost between $6 and $36 billion. Only Labor’s wanted to make it an issue within the federal remit, within the jurisdiction of the federal workplace commission, workplace relations commission. We’ve given them extra money to deal with it.
Bullying can occur on the internet. Bullying can occur at schools. It can also occur in workplaces. And Labor has made this an issue in all of these areas, because we recognise that it can cause great distress and great turmoil. And again, I’ve been spoken to in public forums by lots of people who’ve experienced the problems of workplace bullying. When we commissioned the House of Representatives inquiry into it in 2012, there were 320 submissions. And a lot of it, and talking to Amanda Rishworth, the South Australian Member of Parliament who chaired the inquiry, she said for a lot of people it was the first time they’d had a chance to get a hearing.
My interest in the matter was motivated by the death of Brodie Panlock – I got to know her parents. She was working in a cafe in Hawthorn and was subject to quite horrendous bullying, over an extended period of time. So for people who say that tackling workplace bullying is red tape, just meet someone who’s been bullied. The system isn’t working well enough.
HOST: Melissa Clarke.
JOURNALIST: Melissa Clarke from ABC – if I can ask you an education question, and a political question since they’re now out of the locker? Starting on the education question, will you continue to try and get the remaining states that haven’t signed on to the Better Schools Plan to sign on in a new government, in a new term of government should Labor be returned in September? And what would it take to get that? Would a Labor Government be willing to initiate further negotiations, or would you require the states to come asking to sign on? And on the political side, do you still believe that the result on September 7, whatever it may be, will be better for Labor than it would’ve been had Julia Gillard still been leading the Labor Party?
SHORTEN: In terms of the negotations with the states, again, we are prepared to negotiate with the states. But what we’re not prepared to do as the Opposition will do is to just hand over a blank cheque. The problem with the no strings attached Coalition logic is that there’s no requirement then on the states to increase their funding for schools. There’s no requirement in fact to maintain existing funding for schools. So what sort of person – and this is where I just don’t believe in their sort of faux conversion to education reform – what sort of person goes along and says here’s a truckload of Commonwealth resources, and by the way the people you’re in partnership with, you don’t have to do anything. In fact, you can do less than what you were doing. That’s just silly.
In terms of how we go on the 7th and how we will go in terms of Kevin Rudd, it was a very tough call, those weeks ago. It was a very tough call. Very hard. But what I also believe is that Labor is competitive. We’ve still got a number of days, a number of weeks before the election. What will assist Labor, I believe, is when we can pin down the Opposition on their costings. Because you can’t have the promises they’re making without paying someone. It’s not a game. Politics is not a game of hide and seek where the Coalition hide their policies and the public have to seek them out, and the prize if you don’t get caught is the Government of Australia. It’s too important for that. It’s time that there were two adult political parties in this country, both of whom explain how they pay for what they say.
One thing’s for sure – Labor will not engage in the sustained cuts in healthcare, in education. And in education I’d point to the fact that the Coalition won’t commit to six years. We won’t engage in this nonsense argument that somehow the Liberals say they’ve really seen the light on workplace relations and they won’t touch anything. People know, right down in their core, that the Opposition, when they get into government, in week one or week two will say, oh, we found out some new information, we’ve got to junk all our non-promises, and we’ll have to make cuts, we’ll have to go after penalty rates, statutory individual contracts will come back on.
People just know the truth. And the other thing we won’t do, and Kevin Rudd won’t do, is have an unaffordable, unfair parental leave scheme which sees a very few people receive a windfall. That’s- you know, you’ve got to pay for all these promises.
JOURNALIST: So, no regrets on that tough decision?
SHORTEN: Very hard. But I believe – very hard decision – but I have no doubt that Kevin Rudd is making us as competitive as we can be.
HOST: Joanna Mather.
JOURNALIST: Hi Mr Shorten – INPEX and Chevron have blamed the list of demands from workers, including Qantas Club membership and Foxtel – you know, they’re demanding that as part of their package – and the companies are saying this is unreasonable. Do you think these are reasonable demands?
SHORTEN: I’m a grown up when it comes to negotiations. I don’t think Chevron or INPEX are about to say yes. And I don’t think there’s going to be industrial action over them. But I didn’t come down in the last shower. For twenty years I’ve negotiated cooperatively and constructively representing employees working with employers. This is a perennial old one that gets run out every election, here’s the log of claims. Look, every negotiation has a starting point. For me, it’s where it ends. So, let’s not get too excited about these straw man issues of someone asking for something which can be reported as over the top. That’s not where it’s going to end. We know that. You know that. The Fin Review knows that. INPEX knows that. Chevron knows that. The MUA knows it.
So let’s not have, you know, artificial debates about negotiations and bargaining. What matters at the end of the day are safe workplaces. What matters at the end of the day are profitable companies. What matters at the end of the day are well remunerated workers who have control over their tasks at work and feel engaged at work. Chevron’s a sophisticated company. INPEX is a sophisticated operation. The workers are not dumb, either. They’ll work this issue out. But let’s not use some sort of nonsense, straw man, you know, look what’s on the log of claim issue and simply say this log of claims is just the fancy IR language for your opening position. Let’s look at where they close the gap, okay?
HOST: Daniel Hurst.
JOURNALIST: Daniel Hurst from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. You’ve been attacking the Coalition on the basis of saying billions of dollars of education cuts. I assume that’s because of that final two years of the six years? But realistically, how rock-solid is your commitment to those final two years, given they’re beyond the Budget cycle, and the Australian people over many, many times, many Budgets in the past few years have seen decisions pushed back, deferred, foreign aid for example, which was a core sort of commitment, kept being deferred. So how realistically can you expect Australians to believe that that substantial extra money that will come in the final two years of the six years will actually be delivered under Labor?
SHORTEN: Let’s not fall for the conservative trap that we don’t have to say anything because no one will ever believe us anyway. Come on. We’ve got a six year, funded proposition. We’ve been working on this for two and a half years. If you have any question which you really believe is a real issue in that question, really a real issue, then you must be scared to death of the Coalition’s false conversion, at two minutes to midnight. We’ve costed six years. If you say that we’re not fair dinkum, then you’re saying that Barry O’Farrell is a mug. Then you’re saying that Dennis Napthine is a mug. Then you’re saying that every other Premier is a mug, the Catholics are mugs, and the Independent Schools Council are mugs. That’s not true.
You’re only a mug if you actually believe the Opposition on education. Also, when we talk about cuts – the SchoolKids Bonus. $410 gone for primary school kids – for their parents. You know, kids grow every year. They need new school shoes. They need new school uniforms. Kids play summer and winter sports. They need help with the cost of living – the parents do. Secondary school, it doesn’t get any cheaper, it only gets more expensive. Labor’s providing a school kids bonus just to help parents stretch a little bit further what they need to get done for their kids. The Libs want to cut that. Bang.
I love the Libs. They want to give Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton a tax refund, but they want the parents of Australia to pay for it. Obviously they must think that, you know, school shoes can last twice as long in Liberal land. And the other cut they want to do is Trade Training Centres. We’ve now got over 1,000 schools in multiple hundreds of trade training centres either operating, being built, or slated for operation and construction. The Libs are not committed to that. Oh my goodness, back to the dark ages with the Liberal Party, because they don’t obviously think that some kids don’t want to go to university. There’s nothing wrong with supporting school-based apprenticeships. Thousands of kids doing it right now.
So when we talk about cuts, and some people say tut tut, the Labor Party’s being negative, as though the only positive form of politics in Australia is not telling anyone about what you’re going to do, ever, and using the fact of policy invisibility as proof that you’re being positive – you know, what Labor’s simply doing is saying what the truth is. There goes the SchoolKids Bonus. Bang. Gone. There goes the fifth and sixth years of education funding. And your question sort of implies that we should have been in trouble for having made a promise, and in fact, there’s almost a degree of policy fatigue that’s sunk into Australia – let’s not even have them make any promises, lets give the Libs a complete free kick, because they’re not going to bother making them, they’re not going to bother costing them. And when they do make them, they’re certainly not going to cost them. So there’s your cuts agenda. We’re not scaring people. It just so happens that the truth of the Coalition in government is scary.
HOST: Matt Dawson, The Conversation.
JOURNALIST: Matt Dawson, The Conversation – just further on that, the Coalition have committed to the first four years, and leaving the last two unknown. Do you think it’s a pretty big assumption to say they’d be cutting billions out of public education?
SHORTEN: Well then, why don’t they say what they’re going to do? What is this, leave pass week? If you’re the Coalition, what are they, right-wing Greens where you’ve never got to prove your promises? You know, it’s almost like there’s one adult party, Labor, we contort ourselves to be able to be sure that when we make a promise we can fund it. Then you’ve got the kids turning up. You’ve got the Abbott Coalition, oh yeah, you know, we don’t really believe in education – and seriously, have any of you reported anything positive they’ve had to say about education in the last five years? Then miraculously, beam me up Scotty, the Liberals have had a personality transplant. Sort of. Not really. And then it’s said – oh well, I guess it’s only billions of dollars. You know what I think about kids in prep? They want to do grades four, five and six. I’ll tell you about kids in year seven – we want them to do years eleven and twelve. Kids don’t go away in year five and six. They’re still there.
So if the Liberals are not willing to commit to it, you have to ask yourself why. Is it because they can’t pay for it? Or because they don’t want to? But either way, it’s a bad answer.
HOST: Mark Kenny.
JOURNALIST: Mark Kenny from The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. Can I ask you about another matter close to your heart, superannuation. And you mentioned the PPL scheme, the parental leave scheme of Tony Abbott’s. It’s been fairly roundly condemned by a lot of people as being overly generous. However, can I put it to you that in one respect, it has an element that I would’ve otherwise thought might be attractive to the Labor Party and to you – and that is the continuation of superannuation benefits for people on maternity leave. Now, we know that women have lower superannuation nest eggs by the time they retire, from a lifelong lower income, generally, and also from broken working lives from having, excuse me, from having children. So I’m wondering is it, is that something that you regret your party not having built into your scheme, and would you consider re-engineering it in the future? And if I could ask you just one other quick question – Rupert Murdoch has tweeted today “conviction politicians hard to find anywhere – Australia’s Tony Abbott rare exception, opponent Rudd all over the place convincing nobody.” I wonder if I could ask you for a response on that?
SHORTEN: Well, on superannuation I really hope this election’s fought on superannuation. Because Labor wipes the floor with the Libs. I’ll tell you what we’re doing to help make sure women have more superannuation in the future – we’re increasing it from 9 to 12 per cent. You know, what are those cartoons – that’s a kapow! The Libs voted against it. The best way to have more superannuation is to have increasing levels of superannuation. We’ve now got it up to 9.25 per cent as of July. The Liberal Party have said nup, we’re going to freeze it there if we’re elected. Well, I’ll tell you what that will cost a hairdresser who’s in her mid 20s now. That’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars. Tens of thousands of dollars gone – thanks Tony Abbott, gender gap in super just blows out. I’ll tell you another clanger that the Liberals are doing on superannuation. There’s 3.5 million Australians who earn less than $37,000 a year. Labor, 1 July 2012 – we scrapped the 15 per cent tax they used to pay on super.
Let me be really clear how it works. Because for some people super’s boring, but the reality is it’s very important for a lot of people. It is this – by the way, Joe Hockey says that costings are boring for some people. I don’t think they are. And I don’t think super is, either.
You pay 15 per cent or used to pay 15 per cent tax on your superannuation contributions going in. So if you earned $37,000 you’d probably get $3,200 roughly in super. Nice. But up to 2012 you were paying 15 per cent, so several hundred dollars in tax. Gone. Goodbye. See you later. Never get to talk to you again. It’s been nice. Gone. But under Labor, you get it back now. Do you know how many women earn less than $37,000? And if you say a number lower than 2.1 million, you’re wrong.
2.1 million. I tell you what. I love the Libs trying to have a beauty contest about who cares more about the gender gap in superannuation. I’ll put my 2.1 million women against the few people who stand to benefit under Tony Abbott’s scheme. And I will put the 8.5 million on 9.25 per cent, many of whom, the majority of whom are women, or many of whom are women – they go up. And the other thing is, it’s Labor who increased the superannuation concessional caps for people over 60 from $25,000 to $35,000. Because the reality is, in one’s life, there are times when you can earn more money, and times when you’ve got more debts, and mortgages, and kids.
Of course, it’d be a little harder in Liberal land if you don’t have the SchoolKids Bonus, won’t it? But sometimes when you get a bit older, you’ve got a bit more money to put aside. So Labor lifted the concessional caps, 1 July this year, so women over 60 if they’ve got a bit more money can put more in and get the benefit of that concessional taxation. And from 1 July next year, it’ll be women over the age of 50 and men. So when you look at who’s doing their job to lift superannuation- plus we’ve put downward pressure on fees and charges on super with our future of financial advice reforms, which has already seen downard pressure on costs – I tell you what, when it comes to looking at the gender gap in terms of superannuation savings, if that’s what floats your boat for voting in this election, Labor is 4 – 0 up on the Libs.
JOURNALIST: And on Murdoch?
SHORTEN: Oh, sorry – Rupert Murdoch. I just saw that report before. It’s a free country. I mean, he’s an American citizen who has a humungous voice in Australia. I’m not sure I can change his mind. I am interested in changing the mind of 15 million Australian citizens. I know that we’ve got an American citizen [inaudible] Australia – this election will still be decided by 15 million Australians.
HOST: We’ll take a final question. We’ll go back to Michelle Grattan.
JOURNALIST: Minister Shorten, sometimes the teachers’ unions have been fairly negative about changes in education, not changes involving money, but other work practices and so on. What do you think of the performance of the teachers’ union at the moment? And what do you think the responsibility of union leaders in that sector when it comes to educational reform, non-financial reform.
SHORTEN: I don’t believe that we would have the extent and the depth of the debate about needs-based funding in Australia without the teachers’ union. So I actually think that they have been a change agent. They’ve been an actor for good. What I also get – and I go to this point, I touched upon it in my speech more generally – be it the Independent Education Union or the AEU, is teachers generally. What they represent as teachers, there has been a lot of involvement in the Better Schools program in which the unions played a crucial role, as have many other thinkers and leaders, school principals, parents, teachers, people in the private school sector and non-government. The one thing I am very convinced about and very clear about, this country does not pay its teachers enough. This country does not sufficiently value teaching.
Once upon a time teaching was way out of the working class. It had prestige. Somewhere along the line we began to value other occupations more importantly. Maybe because that’s because a lot of teachers are women. Maybe that’s because we don’t appreciate that unlike a lot of occupations which just require intellectual – when I’ve represented oil workers and gold miners, and Pinjarra refinery workers, and it’s great the kids from Pinjarra are here. The number one thing I am reasonably sure of is that in a lot of occupations you don’t to be emotionally up throughout the course of your shift. Teachers have to commit emotionally. We as parents and as adults trust our children’s welfare and development and excellence to teachers. Teachers aren’t allowed to have bad days. They’ve constantly got to have the up switch on all the time.
I also recognise that engineering is important, accounting is important, journalism is important, but so is teaching. When I think about teachers who have done their 10 years in the system, who are teaching science and maths to year eights – you shouldn’t have to leave teaching and move into administration to get better pay. So there is a challenge in the future and it’s not an easy challenge. The union is part of working through those answers. Change is inevitable. Change is inevitable. Work practice change is inevitable. Authority for schools is inevitable. But if you do it with your workforce what I also really, really get is that whether you’ve got teachers say, in some of specialist areas, to have to supplement their teaching pay with a part-time job just so they can be teachers.
You know, I think our challenge is – and I will fight this cliché with every breath in my body – you know this cliché that runs around and says that those who can do and those who can’t teach? That ignorant, prejudiced cliché. Well, I’m not on your side of anyone who thinks that. We owe a lot to our teachers. I think that Labor will deliver on some of that faith they show in our kids.
Another thing we share with our teachers at the end of the day is that we can’t ask teachers to be the parents. If parents aren’t engaged in the education of their children then the teachers can only do so much. So our challenge is multi-faceted. If you think that education is one way Australia, a nation of 23 million, in the Australian street of the Asian neighbourhood, can survive and flourish in the future then our teachers are a big part of that and the unions have been a constructive player.
Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111 www.alp.org.au
Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton, ACT, 2600
THE POWER OF EDUCATION
ADDRESS TO THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB
20 AUGUST 2013
*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***
Thanks for that kind introduction.
It’s great to be back at the National Press Club.
This place is a national institution.
It’s where big ideas are brought to life.
And the big debates take place.
Well, most of the time …
‘The absent are always in the wrong’.
Its author was the French playwright Philippe Destouches.
This is one of my favourite quotes of the Enlightenment.
It’s not hard to imagine what Philippe would have concluded from today’s debate. Or lack thereof.
Opposition Education Spokesperson Christopher Pyne refused an invitation to debate.
Here we are in the midst of a federal election.
The dividing lines between the two sides of politics are clear.
Labor has legislated for Better Schools, the most far reaching educational reforms in decades.
The Better Schools Plan will, for the first time in this nation’s history, ensure funding based on need for every student in every school.
And it’s a plan that’s so good, and the benefits so clear, that even Liberal Premiers in NSW and Victoria put partisanship to one side and said, ‘I want that for the kids in my schools’.
And they have been joined by Labor Governments in South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.
And the Independent Schools Council of Australia and Catholic Education Commissions across Australia.
Indeed, on the eve of the election campaign, the Federal Coalition attempted, unconvincingly, to imitate our Better Schools Plan.
So shallow is the Coalition’s belief in Better Schools, that the prospective Education Minister in a Tony Abbott-led government could not join us today.
What a disappointment to the 3.6 million Australian children enrolled in schools across the nation.
What a neglect of duty to the millions of parents of Australian school children.
What disrespect to the hundreds of thousands of teachers tasked with schooling our children.
But enough about the Coalition.
I want to do three things today.
I want to talk about Labor’s belief in the transformative power of education and why we need to build for and prosper in an education century.
I want to talk about the crucial role of education in Labor’s vision of building the Good Society.
And I want to talk about why Better Schools underpins an education century.
And make no mistake: we can’t build a Good Society without investing in an education century.
The Power of Education
I just quoted you one of my favourite Age of Enlightenment maxims.
We know that the Enlightenment Age was preceded by the Renaissance.
Without the Renaissance there would not have been an Age of Enlightenment.
But did you know that there was an explosion in education in the generation before the Renaissance?
So many schools were popping up, teaching so many students that some people complained there was too much education.
Imagine if the naysayers had been listened to.
World history would look radically different.
It sounds simple and it is.
Education has always been the door through which people have walked to the greatest advances in personal and national progress.
It was ever thus.
The city-states of Ancient Greece.
The Great Roman Empire.
Western Civilisation itself.
These societies were all built on the Power of Education.
Today we live in a new epoch in world history: the Asian Century.
The economic and cultural revolution is happening on Australia’s doorstop, in our neighbourhood.
If we are to take advantage of this once in a generation opportunity – what I have called our greatest opportunity since the Gold Rush – we will need to take a leaf out of the pages of the great societies of the past.
We must build an education century right here at home, to go with the Asian Century abroad.
To do that we need to revere the power of education – and the special role of teachers.
And you don’t need to have studied the great societies of the past to know how important great teachers are.
Take my own experience.
When I was a boy, I knew my mum was a teacher. But just how good a teacher, I did not appreciate.
She’s a smart woman.
She won a teaching scholarship in the early 1950s.
She taught in city and country government schools.
She taught in London as a young woman. Came home to Australia. Raised a family. Attained a PhD. Studied law, her interest was in education and the law.
At heart, though, Mum has never stopped being a teacher.
She taught my twin brother and I everything – in large part, made us the men we are.
For a long time, though, I just thought of her as my mum.
It wasn’t until I grew up that I realised how much she taught me.
It wasn’t until I became a parent that I felt – not just understood intellectually, but felt in my core – the transformational power of education.
And there is no more important profession than teaching.
Like most Australians, I’ve never worked in a school. But, like every Australian, I’m in part who I am today because of teachers.
Every Australian is the product of teaching.
Without teachers, there could be no doctors or nurses or scientists or engineers or entrepreneurs and more teachers.
Or, shock horror, journalists and even Members of Parliament.
But our society does not respect the honourable profession of teaching enough.
The responsibility to educate every child – as every child is a unique and special individual – is great.
And now my family are teaching me, just like Mum did.
What my wife and children are teaching me about – every day – is potential.
Potential: every child has it – but how do we, as parents, as adults, help our wonderful, special, unique children fulfil their potential?
How does their education give them their chance? Their best chance to grow to be resilient, responsible and respective adults.
It’s impossible to quantify. It is one of life’s great intangibles. And – now that I’m a parent – it is one of my passions.
What might that pre-schooler or grade sixer or year seven or VCE student or undergraduate or apprentice or mature age student achieve – given the right setting and circumstances?
It’s a question that can only be answered – one person at a time – if we ensure every Australian has access to the best education. That should be the birth right of all Australians.
If we resolve to not waste, or miss out on, or neglect the talent of one person. That “one” person could be the next Howard Florey, Elizabeth Jolley, Michael Clarke or Sally Pearson – just waiting to be taught and developed.
If we consider human potential a renewable – and precious – resource. Greater and more significant than all our iron ore, gas, coal and every precious metal.
That’s why we need great teachers. Because great teachers build great societies and great moments – student by student.
I believe that great teachers have at least as much power to change society for the better as a Member of Parliament or a mining CEO or a newspaper editor. And probably more.
In Australia we have great teachers and we need more great teachers in order to prosper in an education century.
And only with the coming of the education century can we hope to build a Good Society.
Education and the Good Society
What is the Good Society?
It’s the reason I got into politics in the first place.
First and foremost the Good Society is a prosperous, productive and diverse economy.
An economy where men and women are working in good jobs, treated decently, and are reasonably remunerated.
So that they can look after their kids and lead long lives full of meaning.
Where well-being and resilience are central.
A Good Society means that people don’t merely work hard and retire poor.
Good Society sees a cooperative relationship between business and unions as crucial to the creation of a competitive, dynamic economy.
Housing should be affordable, whether people are buying their own homes or renting.
Our Good Society should have the best health system in the world, accessible to all, regardless of an individual’s wealth.
A Good Society must look out for those most in need – the unemployed, disabled and pensioners.
A Good Society means equal treatment for women.
A Good Society encourages lifelong learning.
Starting from early childhood.
Building through primary and secondary schooling and leading to tertiary education and training.
Not just before our people begin their first job but throughout their working lives.
It’s an ethos I have applied in my own working life.
As a full-time union official I went back to university. Attained an MBA at night school. It’s one of the best choices I ever made.
We also want our communities to be multicultural, tolerant and safe places sustained by respectful relationships, free form fear. We want our communities to be well served by transport and infrastructure.
We want a clean environment so that our kids can one day dream of creating their own good society and not have to remedy problems their parents neglected to address.
Government cannot possibly ensure that nothing bad ever happens to people. But we can build resilient families to help us through when life’s shafts of fate strike.
The Good Society is there to ensure that all are empowered to, and capable of, leading good lives.
I put it to you that Labor has played a leading role in building the Australian Good Society over the past 122 years.
But we can do better. The Good Society cannot be taken for granted in the 21st Century. Nothing is preordained.
If we want to build the Good Society today and for tomorrow it will need to be powered by education.
The idea of devoting years of our lives to learning is what helps makes us distinctive. It makes us human.
Education fosters skills, knowledge and resilience. It fosters self-respect and respect for others.
Making it possible to see beyond the here and now.
Some call that Enlightenment thinking.
As the British publication Education for the Good Society reminds us, this vision of education, for the many and not just a few did not occur overnight.
It had to be fought for over decades and in many respects we on the progressive side of politics persist in fighting for it now.
Better Schools and the Education Century
So is this Labor Government doing to build and prosper in an education century?
Our Better Schools Plan is about lifting up every one of our schools.
Schools, for the first time, to be truly resourced according to their students’ needs.
All children from rich and poor backgrounds deserve a good education and opportunity to achieve and even exceed what they believe is their potential.
High quality teaching that is specially tailored and more personalised. This transforms a child and makes school a joy. Schools need to be inviting places for all to learn.
We know that each school is unique. Each child is unique.
The characteristics of each school determine the challenges teachers and principals face in ensuring every student reaches their full potential.
Small schools, regional and remote schools.
Schools with significant numbers of students whose first language, or indeed second language, is not English.
Recognition of the needs of Indigenous school children.
Students with learning difficulties or disability, funded for the first time, on the level of support they need rather than on their diagnosis, so their level of support will no longer be based on the school they go to, the State they live in or how many other kids are competing for the same bucket of money.
And because of Labor’s reforms, we now know more about the challenges and successes in each and every school.
My School reveals important information about our schools which allows us to see which schools are performing well and which schools are struggling.
The combination of the school characteristics data and national testing in reading, writing and mathematics allows us to identify schools which are excelling.
It’s those schools which tell us so much about what makes a difference to student performance. For example:
- More specialist literacy and numeracy programs for children falling behind in these basic skills;
- A dedicated maths coach; or
- Specialist classroom technology for students with disability.
Our Better Schools Plan would have been impossible without earlier foundation reforms. Reforms championed by Julia Gillard and Peter Garrett. Reforms now championed by Prime Minister Rudd.
Foundation reforms which the Coalition have opposed, every step of the way.
But without these foundation reforms, there is no Better Schools.
Once, there was no way to compare like with like schools.
Once, there was no way to know the unique characteristics of each school and therefore the funding they need.
Once, before this Labor Government, there was no simple or reliable source information about schools in our communities.
Once, no ability to compare them with statistically similar schools across the country.
But now, parents can see how their child’s school is performing on their smart phone and have an informed conversation with their child’s teacher and school principal.
These are the things that underpin our ambitious goal to be in the top five countries in reading, maths and science by 2025.
We want every school to be a great school and every student to receive a world class education.
That’s why we transformed schools right across the country in the face of the Global Financial Crisis through the BER. More than:
- 500 Science and Language Centres.
- 3,100 libraries.
- 4,500 classrooms.
- 2,900 multi-purpose halls.
- 2,900 covered outdoor learning areas.
Because our children deserve the best facilities.
And Federal Labor believes in investing in education because we know that it reaps dividends well beyond the school gate.
It is fundamental to the economic and social challenges our nation faces.
Investing in higher levels of education for your son or daughter means that he or she will more likely than not:
Have a better job.
And, crucially, earn more.
We know that the hourly wage gain from an additional year of schooling for Year 12 alone is around 11 per cent.
When participation effects are taken into account, annual earnings are 30 per cent higher.
9 out of 10 of the fastest growing occupations in Australia require a post school qualification.
But it’s not just the individual benefits that are profound.
A highly educated workforce is more productive, which benefits all of us.
According to one study across 14 OECD countries, a 1 per cent increase in literacy scores means, on average, a 2.5 per cent higher labour productivity rate.
And it’s not all dollars and cents. Investing in higher levels of education for your son or daughter will also means that he or she is more likely to:
Be healthy .
And be more fully engaged in society.
In short our well educated children will be building the Good Society.
Attracting our best and brightest
For Labor this education century is only just beginning.
I spoke before of the value of teachers and the nobility of their profession.
I believe that society must ensure that teachers are paid appropriately for the value of the work they do.
Our doctors, lawyers, accountants and engineers are paid reasonably.
And our teachers commit every day – physically, intellectually and emotionally.
Yet I do not believe their pay reflects the value of that commitment.
Labor knows that teacher quality is the single most important factor behind improving student performance.
It’s why we are promoting the teaching profession by having invested $550 million in the Quality Teachers National Partnership.
This is a plan to attract, train, place, develop and retain quality teachers and leaders in partnership with our universities.
Through the Partnership, we have:
- Developed the Australian Professional Standards for Principals and for Teachers.
- Developed national consistency in the registration of teachers, so that their skills are transferable across the country.
- Improved performance management and professional learning for teachers and school leaders.
- Increased retention through better in-school support and rewards for quality teachers.
In short, whatever school a child attends, our reforms mean they will receive a world class education delivered by quality teachers and school leaders.
And our Better Schools Plan will build upon these reforms by ensuring new graduate teachers are in the top 30 per cent of the population when it comes to literacy and numeracy
But we know that more must be done.
And so I am pleased to announce today that Australia’s most disadvantaged kids will be taught by even more of the very best and brightest minds in the country thanks to a $30.9 million investment from the Rudd Labor Government.
The investment comprises of $22.8 million to extend the successful and award winning Teach for Australia program to more graduates and to new States.
Building on the success of the program Federal Labor will extend the program to up to 275 new graduates from fields such as science, engineering, commerce, and law.
Graduates like Stanley, who now teaches at Charles LaTrobe school in Melbourne’s north, setting up the school’s Chinese language program from scratch, starting with year 7. Now the school is making languages compulsory up to year 10.
Stanley has established links between Charles LaTrobe and a sister school in Nanjing, as well as a close linkage with LaTrobe University’s Confucius Institute.
Federal Labor will also invest $8.1 million into a new program called Initiatives Supporting Innovation in Teacher Education (InSITE) that will provide seed funding for new ways to develop new and innovative pathways into teaching.
Applications will be sought from partnerships of local educational institutions, employers and school leaders.
Projects funded under this program will attract people who may never have considered a teaching career before. Until now.
Until a Federal Government dreamed of building an education century. And dreamed of building the Good Society.
And who knows?
Perhaps our very own Voltaire will emerge as a direct result of getting our best and brightest back into teaching.
The choice on September 7 is between a plan for Better Schools, or no plan at all.
Between a $10 billion investment in our schools, or billions worth of education cuts.
The choice is between building a Good Society, or accepting the status quo.
The choice is recognising the kinds of knowledge, skills and attributes that will be important for life in the twenty first century.
And the questions for voters on September 7 is this:
Who do you trust to fund the education needs of your children?
Who do you trust not to make savage cuts into the education budget for your kids?
Who do you trust to respect teachers and not attack their pay and conditions?
Who do you trust to build an education century?
Who do you trust to build the Good Society?
A reforming, progressive Labor Government prepared to address boldly the challenges of the Asian Century.
Or a small target Coalition who’d prefer to bury their heads in the sand. And ignore the Asian Century.
Quite simply, the Coalition can’t be trusted with the education of our sons and daughters. Or with government for that matter.
Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott don’t believe in education because they don’t believe in building a Good Society.
And just as with the Renaissance, the critics of a new dawn for education will eventually be proven wrong.
Because in the end ‘the absent are always wrong’.
Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111 www.alp.org.au
Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton, ACT, 2600
SEIZING THE ASIAN CENTURY
VICTORIA AND THE ASIAN CENTURY CONFERENCE, MELBOURNE
8 AUGUST 2013
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*** UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 7PM ***
Introduction: We’re All Asians Now
Donald Horne is best known for his iconic book, The Lucky Country – first published nearly half a century ago.
The most quoted line from that book is as follows: ‘Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck.’
Quite the provocateur was our Donald. He came to bury the so-called ‘Lucky Country’. Not praise it.
But, tonight, I want to draw your attention to another not-quite-so-famous passage of The Lucky Country.
Horne wrote: ‘We’re all Asians now.’
Standing here, in 2013, they don’t sound like such a big deal.
Back then, they were astonishing.
Remember, this was 1964.
It was the Cold War.
And the six o’clock swill.
And Bob Menzies.
And White Australia.
And when the Beatles performed at Festival Hall they weren’t playing “Helter Skelter”, but “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.
The Australia Horne wrote about no longer exists – we’re more prosperous, multicultural, cosmopolitan and connected.
But it makes me wonder …
What will our world look like in another 50 years?
What future are we building for our children?
And – given the rise of Asia in general and China in particular – are we all Asian now?
With that in mind, I want to do three things tonight.
I want to explain why the continuing prosperity of Australia and Asia are intimately linked.
I want to talk about the need to not just do business in Asia but truly understand the diverse and dynamic Near North as opposed to colonial notions of a ‘Far East’.
And I want to put it to you that if Australia is to seize the opportunities of the Asian Century overseas we need to create an Education Century here at home.
The Asian Century: what does it mean for Australia?
You know, travelling around this country people ask me about Asia all the time.
Is China going to become the biggest economy in the world? Bigger than the US?
And is India going to be bigger than even China?
Are we seeing The True Great Leap Forward – where the economies left behind by the Industrial Revolution don’t just catch up but leapfrog ahead?
In a word: Yes.
Harking back to 1964, the last decade has been the economic equivalent of Beatle-mania in China.
But the Asian Century is about so much more than China.
China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand have a combined population of around 3.1 billion people. That’s nearly half the world’s population.
Those seven nations account for around a quarter of the global economy.
By 2050, they will account for 45 per cent of global GDP.
In other words, China’s economic Beatle-mania is going global.
We are not just talking about growing economic power.
The Asian Century represents a cultural shift too.
See the explosion of India’s Bollywood movie scene.
Or the Korean Wave music phenomenon.
It’s not quite on a par with the Beatles, but the recent success of the Korean pop song ‘Gangnam style’ is breathtaking.
The video has over 1.7 billion views on YouTube, the most ever. Worldwide sales in excess of 5 million copies.
This is a song with only a handful of English words.
This is the global market action powered by the rise of Asia.
And there’s more to come.
By 2030, Asia’s middle class will have increased from half a billion people to 3.2 billion.
That’s a middle class equivalent in number to the current combined populations of China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand.
Donald Horne wrote four astonishing words.
Let me repeat that one astonishing statistic: 3.2 billion people.
Those 3.2 billion men, women and children will be the epicentre of the global economy.
Those 3.2 billion men, women and children will create unprecedented demand for quality services – from health to education to finance to tourism – and unprecedented demand for quality products and produce.
In 2007, Asia’s demand for food was similar to that of the rest of the world—nearly $1.4 trillion.
By 2050 this figure is expected to double—taking it to almost 30 per cent more than the rest of the world.
Our food exports topped $30 billion in 2011–2012 with more than half going to Asia.
Think about where that figure is likely to stand come 2050.
As the largest exporter of food and beverages in Australia, Victoria will play a crucial role in meeting Asia’s ever-growing demand for high-quality food.
That’s why the Treasurer was right when he said the end of the Mining Boom wasn’t a crisis, but a challenge.
It’s a challenge – and an opportunity – because Asia’s super middle class is going to create a boom in goods and services trade that will be measured in decades, not years.
And if we’re smart – if we have the right policies and make the right investments – Australia will be part of that long boom.
Does that mean Europe’s history?
Or that the US will fade away?
Or that we’re still Lucky?
Of course not.
Unlike the Opposition Leader, the world we live in isn’t black and white. Or preordained.
It’s complicated. Messy. And up for grabs.
No one owns tomorrow.
The future – our future – has to be planned for, worked towards and earned. Together.
That’s the truth. And anyone who tells you otherwise – or waffles on about some six-point plan to turn back the boats – is either deluded or dishonest … or both.
The Asian Century is one of the most exciting and unique opportunities in Australia’s history.
It’s the biggest opportunity since the Gold Rush.
But we’re going to have to bend our backs to prosper.
And we need to ensure that all Australians prosper.
Not just a few wealthy individuals.
All of which begs the question: Are we ready for the Asian Century?
How well equipped is Australia to deal with the Asian Century?
In my view, Australia is well positioned to reap the benefits of the Asian Century … but we’re not as ready as we could be.
Let me explain.
In the positive, we have an open, market-based economy, a multicultural society, an advanced services sector, abundant natural resources, a transparent regulatory regime, good governance, and a healthy, skilled and educated population.
We’re also – as George Pappas recently pointed out in The Age – an attractive destination for students from Asia.
For instance, 9 of the top 10 countries that send international students to Australia are from Asia.
Education is a growth industry: International education already contributes $4.8 billion to Victoria’s economy every year – and is responsible for an estimated 50,000 Victorian jobs.
But that’s just the beginning.
Only 10 per cent of Chinese students are currently studying abroad today, but that number is expected to jump to 68 per cent over the next five to ten years.
This will create enormous opportunities for the higher education sector – and strengthen Australia’s links with the region.
For instance, the Melbourne Institute Asialink Index measures our engagement with Asia and the rest of the world.
According to Asialink, our engagement with Asia has multiplied 4.5 times since 1990, compared with 2.5 times for the rest of the world.
Our engagement has grown most strongly with China, India and Korea.
Australia’s three largest trading partners—China, Japan and South Korea—are all in Asia.
Australia’s migration program is also increasingly from Asia: seven of the top 10 source countries are Asian – and almost one-in-four migrants now come from India.
Chinese immigration to Australia in particular should be celebrated.
Chinese-Australians are an enormously positive part of our national life.
As they have been for the last 160 years.
They enrich and stimulate the Australian story.
It is no accident that in so many schools, a Chinese-Australian teenager is amongst the top three or four students when it comes to the best HSC, VCE or equivalent leaving certificate.
It is no accident that among our doctors, academics, computer programmers, working economists, architects and future thinkers, Chinese Australians stand tall.
Some say it’s a work ethic that explains it. I think it’s more than that.
The ability of a child to master not just two languages but two alphabets, two sorts of reading, puts in more brain connections, surely, more interlinkages of the mind, than a monolingual education.
Speaking of lingo, Australia has a population of 23 million people – and 2 million of us speak an Asian language.
What does that tell us?
That we’re not all Asian now – but we’re not all white, either.
We’re Indigenous and non-Indigenous; Australian by birth and Australian by choice. Or, to put it another way, multicultural.
And of course migrants are coming to this country not just for our high living standards but for the social and political institutions that underlie them.
In other words the ‘fair go’.
That’s good news, but it could be better.
To be blunt, more of us need to learn to speak the languages of our neighbours.
Currently, less than 6 out of every 100 Australian kids study an Asian language in their final year of school – and that’s not good enough.
More Aussie kids were studying Indonesian in the early 1970s – back when Ian Chappell was captaining the Australian cricket team – than there are now.
Again, that’s not good enough.
Australia has learned the hard way that you can’t expect to win the Ashes unless you get runs on the board.
The same applies to the Asian Century: you can’t expect to win in Asia unless you understand the region’s languages and cultures. Truly understand them.
Asia is not a dollar sign. Or a market.
It’s a place with different histories, cultures, religions, languages and expectations.
As the new Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has said:
“If Australia is truly to be part of an Asian century, we must be prepared to learn from the dynamism and diverse traditions of the region.”
We won’t succeed with a ‘fly-in, fly-out’ mentality towards Asia.
In relation to China, I’ve spoken before about the importance of relationships built on respect and cooperation. The Chinese call this ‘Guangxi’.
This concept should underpin all our relationships across the entire region.
What is the federal government doing now to prepare Australia?
Labor has a proud history of engagement with Asia – going back to 1971 when, as Opposition Leader, Gough Whitlam led a delegation to China to discuss diplomatic relations.
Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and more recently Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have built on that legacy.
Look at the Asian Century White Paper, which was announced in 2011, launched in 2012 and is being implemented now.
Many of the actions our Government has taken are part of an overarching strategy to prepare Australia for the Asian Century.
Our school system needs to be in the top five in the world by 2025.
This is what the Better Schools Plan is all about.
This signature Labor reform will dramatically improve the quality of learning and teaching and school leadership across Australia – and help prepare the next generation of Australians for the challenges and opportunities of the Asian Century.
Better Schools will help every Australian student get the great education they deserve – and need.
That’s why there will be a focus on improving our engagement with Asia and improving the Asian literacy.
The bottom line is we want to encourage schools to make Asian languages a top priority.
Our schools are working towards the goal outlined in the White Paper, that by 2025 all students will have access to at least one priority Asian language throughout their schooling.
This is why we have funded the Australian Curriculum: Languages.
Curricula are currently being developed for , Mandarin, Indonesian, Japanese, Vietnamese and now Korean from Foundation Year to Year 10.
We’ve funded professional development and resources for teachers and for principals in Asia literacy and Asian languages.
The focus here is on quality. We want students to be taught languages at the same high standards – no matter whether they’re in the inner city or a country town.
It will help ensure the next generation, and the generation that comes after them, are more Asian literate and able to take advantage of the Asian Century.
Of course, the actions we’ve taken aren’t confined to education.
The work of this Labor government means that the Australian dollar is, for the first time, directly convertible into Chinese Yuan. No longer through the US dollar.
Australia’s is only the third currency in the world to be directly traded, along with the greenback and the Japanese yen.
On a recent trip I made to Beijing, this Labor government also clinched a deal to secure regular high-level talks between Australia and China.
Only three other countries in the world have this level of access to China’s leadership. Australia is the only country in Asia that can make this boast.
And we’re making it easier for Australian university students – the leaders of the future – to study in Asia. Starting next year, the maximum loan available for Australian students wanting to study in Asia will be increased from $1250 to $7500.
So this Labor government has been busy out in the region, but we also want Asia to come to us.
This is why we have introduced a new visa for migrants willing to make an investment of at least $5 million in Australia—the Significant Investor Visa.
We’ve extended tourist visas for parents visiting Australian citizens from three months to one year and introduced label-free visas for visitors from China, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
We’ve released Feeding the Future – the first joint study by the Australian and Chinese Governments.
Feeding the Future reports on ways to enhance food security by strengthening investment and technological cooperation in agriculture—and has paved the way for closer agricultural cooperation between China and Australia.
In January, the Malaysia–Australia Free Trade Agreement came into force.
This new free trade agreement builds on the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement – opening up opportunities for Australian investors and businesses.
This year’s Budget allocated $2.8 million to promote partnerships between schools, businesses and the community that increase Asia literacy.
And, through the NBN-Enabled Education and Skills Services grant scheme, we’re funding the Asia Connexions project – which connects Australian and Asian schools via broadband.
Currently, we have 21 partner school ‘connections’ with schools in South Korea and Japan.
And those connections are high definition videoconferencing – allowing for proper cultural exchange and interaction.
Programs in Hong Kong, China and Indonesia are now under development.
We’ve also opened the Asian Century Business Engagement Plan.
This Plan will help member-based business organisations and – through them – small and medium-sized enterprises identify and capitalise on new opportunities.
And this Government is leading the way into emerging markets like Myanmar, where I led a delegation last year of business, financial services and trade union leaders.
We will shortly open a new Austrade office in Yangon, and a Trade Commissioner has already been appointed.
And we’ve announced a $1 billion investment to boost Australian innovation, productivity and competiveness – through the Industry and Innovation Statement.
Our Industry and Innovation Statement is a plan for jobs.
It will help Australian businesses seize opportunities for growth in our region and adapt to changing economic conditions associated with the rise of Asia.
As part of that Statement a new $350 million round of the Innovation Investment Fund to stimulate private investment in innovative Australian start-up companies.
And we have committed to establish up to 10 Industry Innovation Precincts across Australia. Two precincts have already been identified, Manufacturing and Food – both will have bases in Melbourne.
And yesterday the Prime Minister launched the Australia in the Asian Century Country Strategy for the Republic of Korea.
The strategy outlines the Rudd Labor Government’s vision of what Australia’s relationship with South Korea should be by 2025 across education, culture and business.
As you can see the government has been busy. This is heady stuff. But only the beginning.
In conclusion, let me go back to the four astonishing words of 1964 and the one astonishing statistic of 2030.
We may not all be Asian – but we live on the Australian Street in the Asian neighbourhood.
But – if we want to prepare for Asia’s super middle class of 3.2 billion people – we need the right policies and investments.
In short, we have to be bold.
We should aspire to make Australian tertiary education the ‘Oxbridge’ of the Asia-Pacific, attracting the best and brightest scholars of the region.
The chances are the next Galileo will be born in Asia. Imagine if we could educate that child in Melbourne.
Why not develop an Asia-specific grant scheme – a 21st century Rhodes scholarship-in-reverse?
Why not move towards an American-style residential model for Asian students?
Why not look at making this institution, Victoria University, Australia’s leading ‘Language University’?
What’s holding us back?
My point is this: now is the time to think creatively about what we can do to make sure Australia prospers during the Asian Century.
Our future prosperity depends upon the national conversations we have and the national decisions we make.
Everything matters. Everything’s at stake. Nothing can – or should – be taken for granted.
Together, let’s seize the Asian Century.
The Hon Bill Shorten MP
Minister for Workplace Relations
Minister for Education
Bullying, Young People and the Law Symposium
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation
Sir Zelman Cowen Centre, Victoria University
295 Queen St, Melbourne
11am Friday 19 July 2013
I acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land we are on and I pay my respects to their elders, past and present. And to those other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are here today.
Since I got your invitation, I was made Minister for Education, so the workplace bullying I was to speak of now extends to the schoolyard, and to everyone from five to sixty-five, and even beyond.
Bullying is one of the few things we all know about. We have been there. It is as vivid in our memories when we were kids as a broken arm or a stay in hospital away from our family.
Bullying tortures the souls of our kids at a time when they seek to assert their own identity, their own place in the world. It undermines our children’s confidence not just in themselves, but in those around them, in an environment where being able to seek help and guidance from peers and teachers is essential to learning.
It is worse than disempowerment. It can be, in a schoolyard, the end of almost everything.
In the workplace, it is nearly as bad with just as serious consequences. According to the Productivity Commission it is costing between six and thirty-six billion a year. Small businesses and big businesses lose that much, probably, by the delays, the inefficiencies, the stupidities and the legal costs it occasions.
And it sometimes costs lives. My friends Damien and Rae Panlock know this, and it’s something they found out too late.
Their daughter Brodie, aged nineteen, lost to them forever after suffering months of relentless bullying in the cafe she worked at.
The staff and the owner were eventually fined over one hundred thousand dollars in total but Brodie isn’t here anymore, and Damien and Rae, bereft of the memories, and the grandchildren they now won’t have, will have to learn to live without them.
Money can never compensate, can never restore things to the way they were before.
It never should have happened.
No parent deserves to go through that. No sister, no brother, no cousin.
Bullying and harassment have no place in the Australian workplace, nor in Australia; the home of the fair go.
You should be able to go to work, and come home safe.
That is the Australian way.
Last year about three hundred people and companies gave evidence to a government inquiry on workplace bullying.
And it proved workplace bullying to be a hidden pandemic. So many people said, ‘It’s happened to me.’
It meant for some, not just psychological injury, and physical injury, and misery in the staff canteen, but the loss of a job and a good and worthwhile career.
Workplace bullying reduces employee morale and productivity, increases absenteeism and staff turnover, increases workers’ compensation costs and results in a loss of business reputation.
In February 2012, I tabled the Government’s response to the report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment – Workplace Bullying “We just want it to stop”.
The Committee made 23 recommendations to prevent bullying in the workplace and help the victims and their employers to respond to it effectively.
The Committee recommended the Commonwealth Government encourage state and territory governments to ensure criminal laws are as extensive as Brodie’s law.
The Attorney General, Marl Dreyfus has already written to his state and territory counterparts asking them to consider reviewing their criminal laws in relation to bullying.
The Committee recommended Safe Work Australia urgently progress the draft work, health and safety Code of Practice on managing the Risk of Workplace Bullying.
That draft Code has been released for a period of public comment, which has just closed this week.
Public comments are currently being considered by Safe Work, which includes representatives from each state and territory.
The Committee recognised that the draft Code provides significant practical guidance to employers and workers about prevention and resolution strategies.
I understand the concerns of a quality assurance system for workplace and is a different approach to having a code of practice applying to everybody, no matter the size or type of business.
Within a quality assurance framework you would expect each business to develop their own code of practice, appropriate for their organisation, no matter what size and type.
They would be expected to implement this and would be audited to ensure it has been effectively implemented and they are dealing with bullying appropriately.
The Committee also recommended the Government provide a fast, individual right of recourse to focus on helping people stop and resolve bullying matters quickly and inexpensively.
Fair Work Amendment Act 2013
In June 2013 the Australian Parliament passed the Fair Work Amendment Act 2013.
Regrettably, the legislation did not receive bipartisan support. The Opposition missed an opportunity to stop the negativity.
This Act, for the first time in this country’s history, gave jurisdiction to our workplace umpire, the Fair Work Commission to hear and resolve a workplace incidence of bullying.
We know that harmony in the workplace means the business does better. An unresolved complaint, if not dealt with, and left to fester, contaminates an entire office, erodes team spirit, and hurts everyone in connection with it.
So we’ve made it easier to get to the Commission, and easier for them to deal with it.
Under the new laws, bullying is recognised as repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker, or a group of workers of which the individual is a member, that creates a risk to health and safety.
Reasonable management action, conducted in a reasonable manner, is completely excluded. These laws are clear and do not prevent performance management and employee discipline.
To assist the company to an earlier outcome and a swifter resolution, the Fair Work Commission will be required to commence dealing with a matter within 14 days of an application being made. This may include seeking further information from the parties, conducting a conference to try and resolve the matter, or conducting a hearing.
Where a negotiated resolution proves impossible, or difficult, the Fair Work Commission will have the power to make an order to prevent bullying there in the future.
A breach of an order made by the Commission will attract a fine of up to $10,200 for an individual or $51 000 for a body corporate.
This doesn’t replace existing work health and safety obligations on employers and workers and the work done by work health and safety regulators.
It does however shift the focus to stopping and preventing what in some is a human tendency and in some a sadistic pleasure.
The Fair Work Commission can dismiss applications and order costs on the grounds that they are frivolous or vexatious or without reasonable prospect of success, despite some recent media commentary to the contrary.
And the Fair Work Commission does not have the power to award compensation.
To support the Fair Work Commission’s new jurisdiction, the Government provided $21.4 million in the last Budget to support its work to prevent workplace bullying.
Bullying in Schools
Merely talking about it is, of course, a big step towards its eradication.
But we need, I fear, to start where bullying starts – in, and around, our schools.
A study by the Queensland University of Technology of over 3000 school students found almost half of young Australians surveyed report being bullied face-to-face, online or both.
Bullying in the school grounds is perhaps as old as the concept of school.
Yet the digital age has extended its insidious reach well beyond the school gate.
Through social media, mobile phones, chat rooms and the internet, it is now possible – quite literally – to be bullied 24 hours a day.
- About 30 per cent of students reported they had been ‘traditionally’ bullied compared to 15 per cent of students who said they had been cyberbullied.
- But cyberbullying victims reported significantly higher levels of social problems, anxiety levels and depression than those who were bullied face-to-face.
There is a generation of our kids who are entering school having known only the digital age. From birth, their every move has been photographed and documented through Facebook or YouTube.
They have grown up with aps and iPhones, and texts and emails, and they are more connected, more hooked up, more hooked in, than many of us can comprehend.
And as the digital age marches on, it is incumbent on us to ensure that the schoolyard bully doesn’t march on with it, and begin to prevail.
Alannah and Madeline Foundation
I salute the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and their role in helping to look after children so threatened, and bruised, and sometimes physically hurt.
The Australian Government provided $3 million to the Foundation for a national pilot of its eSmart cyber safety initiative to help schools create a culture of the smart, safe and responsible use of digital technologies.
E-smart is now in 1,600 schools and its success has meant state governments are also funding this program now.
National Safe Schools Framework
Federal, state and territory governments are all at work on the problem in schools.
The overarching entity, the National Safe Schools Framework, is made up of nine key aims for a safe environment for protect student wellbeing and safety. Importantly, it provides:
- an online audit, advice and resource system for all Australian schools
- examples of how policies on student wellbeing, building resilience and preventing bullying can be put into practice
The Safe Schools Hub
In addition, a safe school hub provides schools, parents and communities with a single destination for information and resources and counselling on school safe strategies underpinning the National Safe School Framework.
The Government has put up just under $4 million in funding to Education Services Australia, which is a body supported by all levels of government to develop and manage the Hub.
It includes a Safe Schools Toolkit with video case studies and lessons and lectures and interviews designed specifically for teachers, and a Safe School Audit Tool to help schools review, improve, refine and refocus their current approaches.
Other initiatives supporting wellbeing
On a broader note, the Australian Government is putting in over $125 million towards a range of cybersafety measures to address online risks.
This helps parents and educators protect children from inappropriate material on the internet.
These include educational, international cooperation, research and law enforcement measures.
The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy offer the Cybersafety Help Button provides internet users, particularly children, with central access point for cybersafety advice and information.
In part, the Government’s Better Schools Plan is about providing a safe environment for every kid by delivering new resources to tackle bullying and help teachers get on top of behaviour management.
We want to ensure every Australian student gets the very best start in life, which means they need to feel safe at school, and as much as humanly possible, safe on the way home from school, and safe at home when their phone rings, or when their computer signals an incoming message.
We want our kids to leave school and go out into the great world as resilient and balanced young adults.
The needs based funding model allows us to better understand what our teachers and principals are going through in the classroom and the playground and the gymnasium and the sporting field.
I passionately believe that providing schools and teachers with the tools and support they need will go a long way to preventing bullying in the first place.
We are all creatures of the past, and we all remember witnessing or being part of things that shameful or confronting in what should have been our golden years.
We remember, of course we do, the bullying of the kid who could never quite keep up in class, or make the first 18.
Of a person with disability who was left out, sneered at or spoken down to, simply by virtue of having been born with an impairment.
Or the colleague who was harassed into retirement because they didn’t, quote, ‘fit in’.
In 2013 Australia, it is no longer acceptable to turn a blind eye, or to claim ‘innocent fun’, or ‘kids will be kids’, or ‘we didn’t realise it meant that much to him’, or ‘to her’, or ‘they didn’t have a sense of humour’.
The National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, held in March each year, calls on school communities across Australia to ‘take a stand together’ against the bullying and violence, and the stripping down of pride to bone and marrow and nerve ends till it snaps and terrible things happen.
I think the response to this initiative shows a good deal. It shows that people do want to take a stand against what we all remember being diminished by, and wounded by.
Like most difficult challenges, victory is not measured in miles, it is measured in inches. But the first inch counts, and it starts a movement onwards, to a better place in the heart of humankind.
Today is another crucial step forward in that direction.
We can and we must put an end to this form of torture, this ignorant, careless hurt of our fellow creatures in our workplaces and, more importantly, in our schools.
I very much look forward to working with you in achieving that common goal.
FSC PARLIAMENTARY FUNCTION
CANBERRA, 18 JUNE 2013
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
It’s a pleasure to welcome you all back to Parliament House for this annual event.
This building, like the country it represents, is vast but always full of industrious people working to make Australia a better place.
And like Australia, its Parliament is always welcoming.
In fact the design of the forecourt out the front of this building was designed by Aldo Giurgola to reflect open arms.
So it’s a pleasure to welcome you here this evening.
This building is at its best when it spends its time debating ideas.
Most Australians might catch a glimpse of the theatrics of question time – and at times they may be delighted, disappointed and perhaps amused.
But question time is just a glimpse of what goes on here.
The daily contest of ideas in this building or more broadly in politics for me is all about what Australia will look like on September 15 but in fact in the next 20 and 30 years.
That’s why I strongly believe, as Joseph Joubert once put it:
“The purpose of argument should not be victory, but progress”
So I want to briefly report the progress we have made to date in superannuation and financial services and some ideas we as a Government are advancing which I believe will shape the decades to come.
First things first – it looks like the financial services industry, and millions of Australians with retirement savings, can reasonably hope for some good news this year.
SuperRatings data released yesterday shows Australian superannuation funds are back to pre-GFC returns with the average fund forecast to report at least a 13 per cent profit this financial year.
Super fund returns continue to improve, with the average growth fund returning 15.4 per cent for the financial year to date and the average balanced fund returning 11.6 per cent.
This is welcome news for all those who work in the superannuation industry and it’s also a reason for optimism among millions of Australians who work hard to save for their future.
Progress to date
Thanks to successive Labor Governments along with the financial services sector, the total pool of superannuation savings has grown from $140 billion in 1992 to $1.6 trillion – or equal to Australia’s GDP.
Rice Warner’s latest Superannuation Market Projections Report projects the total market to grow to over $3.1 trillion in the 15 years to 2027, in 2012 dollars.
According to Rice Warner, this quick growth is due to the “significant compulsory component within that market, driven by the Superannuation Guarantee”.
We have abolished the 15 per cent tax paid on superannuation for 3.6 million Australians earning under $37,000.
And the downward pressure on fees and charges triggered by the My Super and Super Stream reforms will add to the bottom line of every working Australian’s superannuation savings.
1 July changes
There are important improvements commencing July 1 delivering significant savings increases for individuals and the nation.
Universal superannuation will finally begin to move to 12 per cent – a long overdue reform.
- This means a 30 year old on average earnings today will be $127,000 better off by the time they retire at 67.
- And 8.4 million Australians who currently get less than 12 per cent superannuation will have their savings boosted.
It’s an often forgotten fact that John Howard went to the 1996 election promising to increase universal superannuation to 15 per cent.
It’s a matter of record that promise was broken and a full 6 per cent of national income was lost to individual retirees and our national savings forever.
My fear is that history will repeat itself and a promise to stall superannuation at 9.25 per cent will become an indefinite suspension under a Coalition government.
As I mentioned previously, we have cut the 15 per cent tax paid on superannuation for 3.6 million Australians earning under $37,000. The first of these payments will be made into Australians super accounts after 1 July 2013.
- Unlike the Howard Government’s co-contribution scheme, which only 1 in every 5 of those eligible actually used, 100 per cent of the 3.6 million Australians eligible for the LISC will automatically receive it.
- 2.2 million of those hard-working low-paid Australians are women, perhaps working part-time.
In the spirit of bipartisanship I invite the opposition to revisit their policy to put a great big new 15 per cent tax on low income earners.
On July 1 Australians over 60 will be able to put an extra $10,000 into their savings.
On July 1 the upper age limit on superannuation is gone.
On July 1, thousands of Australians and New Zealanders who move across the Tasman Sea each year will be able to consolidate their retirement savings in their country of residence, as super becomes portable.
These reforms, delivered by Labor, will add $500 billion to the pool of savings by 2037.
These substantial reforms, and the positive outlook for superannuation fund performance, is a great story.
The way ahead
This Labor Government wants to build on the great legacy of Hawke and Keating – to build on our before-its-time, world-class superannuation system that is now delivering for the retirement of everyday, hardworking Australians.
In just four years, 20 in every hundred Australians will be over 65. Australians are living longer and in this context, our superannuation system needs to be fair and needs to be sustainable.
As a Government, we recognise the need to provide superannuation policy certainty.
We recognise that community confidence in superannuation is important – not just for the industry or the markets – but for all of us.
We want to de-politicise superannuation.
No retrospectivity, no uncertainty.
A charter that says, we will help you save for your retirement through mandated employer contributions and tax concessionality, and in return you are part of a wealth creating, job generating, GFC-proofing, age protecting idea that sets Australia apart from much of the developed world.
The discussion paper the Government has released on the Charter of Superannuation and Council of Custodians seeks the views of the community on the best way ahead for our world beating system.
The purpose of the Charter is to enshrine the core objectives, values and principles of our superannuation system for the long term.
I said earlier the Charter is being developed against the core principles of certainty, adequacy, fairness and sustainability.
The Charter needs to help establish how much super costs the nation and getting better measurement of the tax concessions.
The Charter Group is also seeking input on the establishment of a Council of Superannuation Custodians.
The Council will report annually on the adequacy, performance and sustainability of superannuation, as well as make recommendations to Parliament for improvements.
The Council will act as an impartial, expert superannuation body which protects the integrity of the scheme and ensures the policy settings are consistent with its core objectives, values and principles.
The Charter and the Council will assist in this task – by ensuring an independent body casts an eye over all superannuation policy changes from all sides of politics to ensure they are consistent with the long-term interests of all Australians.
Not the short term budgetary or political interests of the government of the day.
In an ideal situation changes to superannuation could be guided by updates to the Intergenerational Report and avoid annual or sporadic changes.
It is an eminently sensible idea.
I’m pleased this proposal enjoys the support of the Financial Services Council and again hope the Opposition respects the legitimate aspiration of the community to see superannuation depoliticised.
I’d like to extend my thanks to you all.
You have worked co-operatively and diligently with the Government to deliver a reform program will improve retirement outcomes for Australians for generations to come.
What I have appreciated is the professionalism of your approach; this includes the good work of the FSC and the individual regulatory and government relations experts in the companies themselves.
Naming names is always risky, but the good work of the FSC policy team, led by Martin Codina, Helen Brady at MLC, Al Kinloch at AMP, Nicolette Rubinstein at Colonial, Allan Hansell at OnePath and Alyson Clarke at BT should be acknowledged.
And I of course acknowledge the leadership of John Brogden, who is always willing to offer his counsel – whether or not it is sought – but who has proved himself to be an effective advocate for his members.
We should also like to acknowledge Treasury, ASIC and APRA and my staff who are the coal-face of many policy interactions with you.
As you can see from my comments this evening, I’m hugely optimistic about the future of our superannuation system and the future of Australia.
I believe I share that optimism with those gathered here this evening.
I know that we all cherish and strive for progress.
I look forward to this positive and productive relationship continuing for many years to come.
Please enjoy your evening.
I thank you.
THE HON BILL SHORTEN
LAUNCH OF ANZIIF ‘KNOW RISK’ INITIATIVE
SYDNEY, 12 JUNE 2013
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Someone wise once said if you’re careful enough nothing good or bad will ever happen to you.
And I think this a good way to think about risk and how we manage it.
I myself am an eternal optimist – if nothing else because it’s not much use being anything but optimistic.
But we all know in this room that risk is a constant in our lives.
We’re gifted with long lives. But with that gift comes, what the poet Robert Frost called the ‘shafts of fate’. These indeed make us perhaps more human but also require us to be resilient.
I know and you know that disasters and risk doesn’t just come in the form of terrible floods and catastrophic bushfires.
It can come from something as mundane and tragic as a sporting injury or a young man jumping off a pier into shallow water and forever having their life changed.
We know that risk can come in the form of a dear parent who all of a sudden takes a fall in their mid-seventies.
This is why I have been such a passionate advocate of a national disability insurance scheme and a national injury insurance scheme.
Traumatic injury or profound and severe disability is a fact of life. What we in a civilised society need to do is not let that define a person’s life.
We know that there can be a cruel lottery in life. Diving head first into shallow water, losing control of your car in a micro second or having a beautiful baby who at 12 months does not develop in the way in which you’d hope. It doesn’t change the amount of love that you feel but it certainly changes some of the challenges.
I believe we shouldn’t allow these shafts of fate to be a one way street into charity and second class citizenship.
A national disability insurance scheme – DisabilityCare Australia –which I believe ranks equal first amongst the Government’s proudest achievements – cannot eliminate impairment but it can go a long way to soothe the midnight anxieties of aging carers who wonder who will love their adult child in the same manner that they have.
I think that our national disability insurance scheme confers a collective responsibility on every Australian to support those most in need, with the promise that if those shafts of fate should occur in life, that in fact society and community will be alongside you.
In creating DisabilityCare, I believe we are challenging the last great civil rights puzzle in Australia.
I know that there are people in this room today that have been advocates of the long overdue reform; making disability a matter for the national political stage.
And I’d ask you, when you’re debating the merits of the next election, consider that is was a Labor government led by Prime Minister Gillard that has championed a national disability insurance scheme which will make our nation the envy of the world.
But today is not just about national disability insurance, it’s about other steps the Government is taking to help Australians manage risk.
I thank Joan Fitzpatrick for all of her work and her committee’s work.
Innovations such as Know Risk can assist Australians in managing risk.
The role of insurance
We are, as Dorothea Mackellar put it, we are a land of both drought and flooding rains. The eternal beauty and the terror of Australia is something we have all been reminded of in recent years.
We came together as a nation during the terrible Queensland floods of 2011.
And I think the articulation of our desire as a nation to help Queenslanders was in large part motivated by the stoicism and the strength of Premier Anna Bligh.
I know we’ve all had reason to pause and think of Anna in the past week and I know we will all recall her leadership during that difficult period for the nation.
It was through the flood levy, we have as a nation shouldered the financial burden of helping those communities in Queensland and Victoria rebuild and recover.
I think the Queensland floods also identified some significant problems with underinsurance in Australia which we have addressed as a Government.
o We’ve committed $100 million to the National Insurance Affordability Initiative which will make investments to reduce flood risk and drive down premiums in Sydney’s Hawkesbury River plain and in Roma and Ipswich in Queensland;
o We are creating a National Flood Risk Information Portal – to give Australian businesses and communities access to flood risk information to protect their homes;
o We’ve developed for the first time a standard definition of ‘flood’ and a key facts sheet- to assist consumers and households in understanding their insurance risks;
o We’ve created a National Financial Literacy Strategy – to create opportunities for Australians of all ages to learn about money through schools; further education; in the workplace; in the community; and independently; and
o The Government has launched a consumer website called ‘MoneySmart’ – conceptually similar to ‘Know Risk’, a central reference point for consumers in understanding money and getting guidance about how to make good money choices.
As a result of our reforms, flood insurance coverage has increase from three per cent to 83 per cent across the nation.
However there is an ongoing task.
I am particularly concerned about research that shows a significant link between Australians on lower incomes and rates of underinsurance and non-insurance.
It is these households that, in the face of an unforeseen loss, will find it most difficult to recover.
The Know Risk initiative
So I’m very pleased to launch this initiative.
I’m not going to go so far as to suggest this initiative makes insurance sexy – but it does make it much easier to understand.
Know Risk is a good idea because it empowers individual consumers with information, allowing them to make better decisions about how they manage the risks in their lives and advance the communities in which they live.
It provides the tools consumers need – literally in the palm of their hand – through things like the Insurance Tracker phone app.
I want to congratulate the Institute for Know Risk, and thank you for your ongoing efforts to better equip Australians and New Zealanders with the information that we need to take greater control of our life, so that when those shafts of fate occur we’re much more resilient; to go forward, to learn, to benefit.
I thank you.
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When I introduced the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 into the House of Representatives, I made the point that the Labor Government fundamentally believes that the prosperity of Australia relies largely upon the creation of production value in Australian workplaces. This Labor Government encourages productive, collaborative, innovative, profitable, safe and cooperative workplaces. This Bill and the amendments the Government has put forward reflect these priorities.
Productivity should never be about cutting wages or entitlements. We do not support a workplace relations system that allows important protections be undermined through a ‘race to the bottom’ brand of flexibility. We understand that the drivers of productivity improvement at the enterprise level are stimulated by innovation and creativity. We understand that engagement at all levels of the enterprise needs to occur not just during bargaining for an agreement or contract once every three or four years but on a day-to-day basis. Engaged employees are productive employees.
Increased productivity in enterprise cannot be achieved if you disenfranchise your employees. If your highly trained employee needs to leave because they have caring responsibilities, or if a worker with a strong track record cannot return to work on a particular day because they need to balance their family arrangements, this is important. On this side of the House we understand that, for the modern family, balancing work and family time can no longer simply be described by the 1960s paradigm of 9 am to 5 pm.
This Bill implements several of the recommendations of the independent Fair Work review panel, and it is the result of extensive consultation with both employer and employee stakeholders during the review and since the review report was published last year. It reflects recommendation 1 of the independent Fair Work review to include in the functions of the Fair Work Commission that it should promote cooperative and productive workplace relations.
It includes new family-friendly arrangements such as further flexibility in relation to unpaid parental leave and the right of pregnant women to transfer to a safe job. It provides an expanded right to request flexible working arrangements, including for working parents, workers with caring responsibilities, workers who are of mature age or have a disability, and those suffering from family violence. It provides greater clarity about what reasonable business grounds are for employers considering and responding to such requests.
Our Bill makes it clear that this Labor Government believes in the value and utility of penalty rates by reflecting the Government’s position that work at hours which are not family friendly is fairly remunerated. This is done by amending the modern awards objective to ensure that the Fair Work Commission, in carrying out its role, must take into account the need to provide additional remuneration for employees working outside normal hours, such as employees working overtime or on weekends.
This Bill includes new consultative arrangements to recognise that employees have family responsibilities outside work that can be adversely affected when changes to employees’ rosters and regular working hours are proposed. Furthermore, this Bill provides for reforms to the right of entry regime in response to the independent Fair Work review panel recommendations, with amendments to better balance the ability of registered organisations to represent their members professionally with the need for employers to go about their business productively.
I regret this, but I often say that the Liberal Party—the conservatives—cannot be trusted on workplace relations. It is a fact. It is a matter of record. There is ample evidence to support this assertion. There were employees who were ripped off under the last conservative government. There were employees who were sacked for no reason with no compensation under the previous conservative government. There were employers who were promised simpler workplace relations laws and better economic outcomes under the conservatives. All of these businesses and employees were betrayed.
I acknowledge the position of the members for Lyne and New England in seeking through their skills to achieve consensus on workplace relations matters. That has been my approach as well. For as long as I have been advocating for workers in workplaces, I have been trying to find harmonious cooperation between employees and employers.
It has certainly been my approach since becoming the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. We have reviewed legislation and provided the opportunity for all to have their say. We have consulted on policy and we have also provided information to committees reviewing the Government’s legislation. As a result we have introduced and passed legislation through this parliament that has had, and will have, a profound and positive effect on Australian workers and employers.
I wish to recognise and commend the member for New England’s comments reported in the media on Wednesday. He said:
This pre-election environment is not conducive to reasonable discussion on industrial relations. People on both sides have retreated to their entrenched viewpoints, with the result that the debate in the House does not have a lot of relevance to the actual content of the legislation.
This, I think, is further evidence that the conservatives on workplace relations are not all they seem to be. There has been misinformation peddled about this Bill and there doesn’t need to be. There has been needless fear whipped up about this Bill when there doesn’t need to be. This has continued after the opposition spokesperson has been briefed on the Bill by my very professional department—and I should at this point acknowledge their very hard work in preparing this legislation. The Opposition has continued to peddle misinformation about provisions on right of entry that have been introduced into the Parliament not last week but in March of this year.
Despite all of this, the Opposition was writing to the Independent members of parliament making up stories and fairy tales about helicopter joy-rides, about employers paying for union officials to invade their lunch rooms. The letter actually has a heading called ‘The joy-ride scheme’. All of these things are simply untrue. The conservatives know it. Their desire to attack freedom of association and to have unions be able to represent their members knows no bounds. Their only industrial relations policy is to have a royal commission into trade unions. All they wish to do is silence dissent in the community. They will say and do anything.
We have seen this before: when they told employees that their award conditions would be protected by law, or that Work Choices was ‘dead, buried and cremated’. I think a better title for their workplace relations policy would have been ‘Never let the facts get in the way of a good story’. ‘Never let facts get in the way of a good story’ should be the description of the conservatives. They are desperately trying to be a small target on industrial relations. They certainly have extremists in their ranks, but the pragmatic – keep a small target before the election, don’t tell the voters what’s going on, hope they vote for us and don’t know what we are actually going to do – faction would appear to be winning in terms of some aspects of their industrial relations policy.
But we have been here before. Before the 2004 election the then government never revealed Work Choices. They never put it before the people. They simply promoted their existing policies. The rest is history. They got into power and the power went to their heads. They used their numbers in the Senate to pass laws which were just simply bad for people—and there is not a lot of repentance on behalf of the opposition. Indeed, if you look at the republication of the Leader of the Opposition’s book Battlelines, there is a chapter in its called ‘Unfinished business’. And would you believe that in the chapter entitled ‘Unfinished Business’ it talks about Work Choices not being all that bad.
This is a reflection of what has been done before and it is an omen of things to come: broken promises, untruths and outcomes that disadvantage Australian workers. The proposed right of entry changes are sensible and reasonable and they deserve support of the Parliament.
This Labor Government will always stand up for the right of employees to be represented by a union if they so choose and to be represented by their union in the workplace. Those opposite resort to vilifying an entire movement by the actions of a few. It is a shameful and deceitful approach. I have been here in this parliament for any number of years and I have never heard the Opposition have a good word to say about trade unions. They fail to recognise the trade union movement’s advocacy for employees who have lost pay and conditions through Work Choices—for the workers at Ford. Indeed, they fail to acknowledge the work of the trade unions standing up for the victims of asbestos, asbestosis and mesothelioma.
We recognise on this side hat in a free and democratic society there is a role for a democratic, independent trade union movement. We recognise the role that trade unions have played in our industrial and social history in the past and also the present. We on this side recognise that in a functioning democracy you do need to have a strong and vibrant trade union movement. Employees do need a voice. They need it in the Parliament, they need in the community and they need it at work. With the best will in the world, sometimes bad things happen to good people and this can happen at work. Work is where we make our living. It is important that people have the right to be able to be represented when they have issues and concerns about their conditions.
The Government will also shortly introduce technical and clarifying amendments, including amendments to clarify the operation of the bullying provisions in respect of members of the ADF, the AFP and our security agencies. Clarifying amendments will explain the powers that the Fair Work Commission currently exercise in conferences.
This does not extend the powers of the commission; it simply clarifies the existing powers. It provides for the transitional arrangements for registered organisations disclosure and reporting obligations for a limited transitional period, and to clarify the provisions relating to the disclosure of remuneration and reimbursement to avoid unintended consequences with the amendments passed by the parliament in the last year.
We wish also with these amendments to allow the Fair Work Commission to deal by consent with unlawful dismissal claims and general protection claims relating to dismissal to avoid the complexity and expense of the parties going to court. The commission can only exercise these powers by the consent of both parties. Following discussions with the Fair Work Commission and the opposition, we also recognise that we should confirm that the commencement of the Fair Work Commission’s bullying jurisdiction would be on 1 January 2014.
This Bill reflects the Government’s commitment to improving the lives of Australian workers. We are committed to supporting business flexibility and profitability. We support productivity. I would note that, under Labor, in the last seven quarters labour productivity has increased on each occasion over seven quarters. I am pleased also to report that the average of lost time industrial action under Labor has been one-third of that under the Liberals—and, in the construction sector, and even lower rate.
This Bill reflects the Government’s priorities. We believe in modest, balanced and pragmatic enhancements to the Fair Work Act to encourage productive, collaborative and clever workplaces. The Bill reflects the Government’s priorities to make our workplaces safer, more cooperative and more productive. We provide certainty to employers in key areas whilst ensuring workers, especially those with family and caring responsibilities, effectively participate in the workforce.
ADDRESS TO IPAA BUDGET BREAKFAST
CANBERRA, 15 MAY 2013
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Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome to Parliament’s Great Hall.
Welcome to that special time of year in Canberra.
The leaves have turned; many of you are devoting your weekends to raking them up.
And the nights are getting cooler.
It’s a sign, its Budget season.
And that’s what brings us here this morning.
Last night Treasurer Wayne Swan delivered the 2013-14 Budget. The Government’s 6th Budget.
This morning I’d like to talk to you about some of the key themes. The major decisions.
For some, that comes down to one number.
But I believe that the picture is much broader.
Over the past 5 years, our economy has emerged as one of the strongest in the developing world.
The Australian economy is now 13 per cent larger that it was when the Labor Government came to power – and we’ve grown 5 times faster than countries like the US and Germany.
We’ve seen around 950,000 jobs created in the same time – while around the rest of the world 28 million joined unemployment queues. This is to the credit of businesses like those represented in this room.
For the first time in the history of our Federation we have a AAA credit rating from the three major ratings agencies – on this we are in an elite group of eight other nations.
Government debt – which will peak at 11.4 per cent of GDP – is very small compared to the rest of the developed world. It is a small fraction of other western countries.
Unemployment is low.
Inflation is low.
Our economy is expected to outperform most advanced economies over the next two years.
As former Prime Minister Howard said on Friday:
“When the Prime Minister and the Treasurer and others tell you that the Australian economy is doing better than most – they are right,”
So I’m optimistic about Australia’s future.
But we are seeing some unprecedented circumstances in the global economy, combined with a large degree of structural change at home.
The unusual combination of a persistently high Australian dollar and lower terms of trade defies economic orthodoxies.
The insulating effect a falling currency would normally have on falling terms of trade has frayed.
Company profits and prices growth are both being put under pressure by this phenomenon – and this has obviously flowed through to lower tax revenues and subdued nominal GDP growth.
To put it simply – the country is working harder but earning less, commodity prices have fallen and the world has given us a pay cut, and the high dollar is making us feel the full force of this in our hip pockets.
Since last years’ budget, revenue has been revised down by $17 billion this year, bringing to total revenue write downs since 2008-09 to around $170 billion.
Since MYEFO last year, revenue looking out over the forwards has been revised down by $60 billion.
Despite this, yesterday’s Budget charts a course to surplus through $43 billion of responsible savings and natural increase in tax receipts.
Our savings deliver on our priorities – and mean that cumulatively the bottom line will be over $300 billion better off by 2020-21.
To govern is to choose, and the Budget handed down last night contains some big choices about our priorities as a Labor Government.
We have made the choice that after a number of years of major global turbulence we have had to take the short term as it comes and focus on the future.
This Budget is a watershed moment in our federation of states, our national story.
It delivers a decade long blueprint for the most profound piece of social justice policy since Medicare.
This is our chance to turn to the millions of Australians with disabilities and their carers that face daily struggles and say to them `your country will not leave you to fight each day alone`.
We see you. You have worth. And with a bit of help from your people, your society, your tribe, there is a chance things can change.
It is in this Budget that Australia undertakes to give every child – from Dandenong to Double Bay, be they first or fifteenth generation Australian – a greater commitment from their country towards their education.
We all know our kids are going to do remarkable things. They’re the generation which is going to put a person on Mars, and 20 per cent of the jobs they’re going to do haven’t been invented yet.
We owe it to them all to give them the opportunities they deserve to become all that they want to be.
They need our love – which they’ll always have and always hold for us, despite the grunts you might get from your teenagers.
But they also need an education system which sets them up for our bright, exciting and uncertain future.
This Budget maps the next decade of this system.
To capture the opportunity presented to our nation by the Asian century we have to invest in our people and our economy.
That’s why the Budget is focussed on building a stronger economy, a smarter nation, and a fairer society.
Embracing change, equipping Australians to manage change, whilst always supporting those who fall off the pace.
We know that you have to invest in the enablers of growth, in the productive capacity of the economy, in order to generate wealth.
After more than a decade of neglect, we’ve made significant inroads into the nation’s infrastructure backlog.
Labor has doubled annual Federal infrastructure spending from $141 to $269 per Australian.
The Budget makes a further significant commitment to putting right the decade of underinvestment prior to coming to office and begins building for our future.
Making the big investments in the economic drivers – not based on the margin of the electorate but in the benefit to the nation.
We‘re building on our massive $36 billion investment in road, rail and ports with a further $24 billion of investment in the next wave of nation building infrastructure.
We’re funding the missing links, and starting the investments in the transformational infrastructure needed in our biggest cities to ensure they will be able to meet the challenges of the future.
These investments matter to all of us.
There is a major cost to our economy of lost opportunities if we don’t get the capacity in place.
If we wait to invest, till the time is better, we put at risk the needs of our economy now and into the future.
The costs of congestion are estimated to reach $20 billion per annum by the end of this decade if we don’t invest, and invest now.
We know for business, this is opportunity lost.
You can’t sell when you’re stuck in traffic, you can’t grow if you can’t meet clients’ needs.
Businesses also lose on another front.
You need people to grow.
For families time commuting is time lost investing in your children.
Time lost connecting with them and with the community.
Investments that yield fruits for businesses, families, communities, the nation.
Businesses know that their greatest resource is their people.
Without skilled workers Australia can’t compete.
Now, and especially in the future.
You need a smart nation in order to have a truly strong economy.
We should be making our own luck, not digging it up.
We already earn far more as a nation mining what’s inside our heads than what’s under our feet.
That’s why I’ve been saying the future of Australia is a good job.
Every challenge and opportunity we face as a nation – the re-emergence of Asia, the easing of the mining boom, the digital economy – will come down to our people.
And the three big things I’ve discussed today are all about unlocking and improving the productive capacity of our people.
Getting our kids ready for the future.
Giving Australians with disability and their carers the right to an ordinary life – by helping them participate more fully in the economy and society.
And undertaking the nation building, job creating infrastructure projects.
We could face the current circumstances on the revenue side and shy away from our obligations, to shrink our ambitions.
That is not the Government’s choice, that’s not the Australian way.
To build a strong economy you need to invest in its capacity.
You don’t cut your way to prosperity.
You need to summon the courage to make the choice to grow our economy, to advance our nation.
So we’ve taken the hit to revenues, and to strengthen our economy in the future we are investing in making our economy stronger.
Investments in the foundations to create prosperity, investments in ensuring that opportunity can be accessed by as many people, as many ideas, as possible.
That’s what we’ve done in this Budget.
That’s what we do as a Government.
That’s what we’ve done for 125 years as a Labor Party.
These are our choices – and we’re extremely proud of them.
I thank you.