Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Aug 9, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins






It’s great to be with you this morning.


Like many of you, I don’t make a habit of having breakfast at the Casino – so perhaps it would be better if we just think of this as another great, third-generation Australian family business.


I am here today both as Labor Leader, and as Labor’s lead spokesman for small business.

Labor’s commitment to building prosperity and growing the economy depends upon the success of Australia’s 2 million small businesses.


And I took on this portfolio responsibility because I believe that Labor can do more for small business – and we can do more with small business.


We can, and we will.


We will do more to help you grow, to innovate and thrive.


I don’t see this as enemy territory.


I don’t subscribe to some kind of shuttered, narrow political ideology that arbitrarily puts Labor on one side – and small business on the other.


This kind out outdated division, this artificial border benefits no-one.


Indeed I am certain many of you have found, to your frustration, being pigeonholed as a ‘traditional’ supporter of one side of politics – diminishes your influence with that party.


Your support is too often taken for granted, and your concerns are met with vague assurances instead of meaningful Government action.


You deserve better than this – you deserve to be engaged and valued in the decision-making process.


And for my part, as someone who has spent their working life conciliating, negotiating and constructing workable compromise to achieve a better future -  my first instinct is always to find common ground and to build upon shared interests and objectives.


That’s the approach I’ll be taking as Leader – and as Small business spokesman.


Labor and Small Business


For modern Labor, the innovative party of inclusive economic growth, small business will always be a big part of our plans.


As the party of innovation, we know small businesses are hives of creativity and commercial potential.


As the party of jobs, we value small business as an employer of nearly 5 million Australians – and a supporter of their families.


As the party of entrepreneurs, we understand that all of you who start small businesses are taking a risk, stretching yourselves and making sacrifices to build a better future for your families.


As the party of equal opportunity for women, we know that small business gives women the chance to bypass the glass ceiling and bridge the gender pay gap.


And we need only look at the unbelievable success of some of Australia’s inspirational ‘mumpreneurs’ – once dismissed as a fad, now so often leading the way.


These women aren’t looking for a hobby, for something to do – they’ve got great new ideas, they want to run successful businesses, and they are.


As the party of working people – we know how much small business owners value and appreciate the talents and flexibility of their staff.


As the party of safe and inclusive communities, we admire the social investment that small businesses make: the butchers sponsoring sporting teams, the newsagent championing public parks, the fruit shop sponsoring playgrounds and the hosts of retailers campaigning for civic amenities in high streets across Australia.


And as the party of fairness, Labor believes in cracking down on multinational profit-shifting.


Because business owners who do their banking in the local high street, should have the same opportunity to grow and thrive as the multi-billion-dollar operators who do their banking in offshore tax havens.


And as the party of working families, Labor knows that work-life balance can be the first casualty of starting and running a small business.


While there is much we share with all of you, I know that there is also enormous diversity within small business:


-       Family businesses like Ferguson Plarre

-       Franchise owners, sole traders and families working from home

-       And start-ups commercialising innovative new ideas


In short, we understand and value your time, your energy, your investment, and your contribution to Australia.


But your time does not belong to the nation.


Your energy is for your family as well as your customers.


You are investing in your community, but also in your children’s future.


And the Government decisions that affect you, should reflect your views.


As Minister and as Leader


That’s why, as Minister, I worked with Peter and COSBOA to improve dealings between Small business and Government.


Because none of you have time to sit on the phone listening to ‘hold’ music when you have customers waiting.


My focus was on streamlining interactions between small business, the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman.


And also – giving small business owners some of their weekend back – through the creation of the Superannuation Clearing House which has already distributed more than $1 billion of superannuation payments for owners.


That’s the way I and Labor will work with small business – taking concrete, practical steps that deliver tangible benefits.


We know that you can’t build a more prosperous Australia for small business simply by rehashing platitudes, or invoking old Menziean ties that no longer bind.


Because small businesses don’t run on rhetoric.


Politicians and Governments are judged not by what they say to you on mornings like this – but what they do for you in Canberra.


Words come and go – the only measurement that matters is our deeds.


The simple test for Labor and Small business, the first question we will always ask, is: ‘will this decision make it easier for small business to grow, to thrive, to innovate – to do business’.


Economic Policy for Small Business


In Government, Labor made it easier for small businesses to grow by:


-       Creating an immediate small business tax deduction for assets costing up to $6,500.

-       Allowing small business to depreciate assets costing $6,500 or more in a single simplified depreciation pool; and

-       Allowing small businesses to claim an immediate deduction for the first $5,000 for motor vehicles (new or old) and to depreciate the rest in a single simplified depreciation pool – 15 per cent in the first year and 30 per cent in subsequent years.


In this time of economic change and transition, the Instant Asset Write Off helps small businesses make the hard adjustments and the necessary investments to seize opportunity.


And it is also a convenience measure, removing the need to track the deprecation of assets over several years – meaning less time spent on book-keeping and paperwork, and more time serving your customers and growing your business.


Labor made it easier for small businesses to endure tough times by allowing companies in a loss position to carry back losses to get a refund against tax previously paid – a measure which benefited almost 100,000 businesses.


And we made it easier for small businesses to lead innovation in work practices and technology by doubling the rate of research and development assistance available to small and medium-sized businesses.


Small Business and Taxation


Labor also lightened the small business taxation burden – and that is our continuing mission.


We tripled the tax free threshold, providing a benefit to around 1.4 million small business owners who are sole traders or hold an interest in a partnership or operate through a trust.


And we want to extend this benefit.


Indeed, in the Parliament right now, the only party fighting for fairer, simpler taxation for Small business is the Labor Party.


We all know Tony Abbott likes to say that Australia is ‘open for business’ – what he means is ‘open for 6000 big businesses’, while ignoring the 2 million small businesses that keep this country strong.


This Government spruiks its company tax cut – but 93 per cent of small businesses won’t benefit from it.


Either because they don’t operate as a company, or they aren’t in a profit position.


And at the same time the Government is seeking to wind back around $4 billion of Labor’s small business tax incentives.


It’s not just a matter of lightening the taxation burden – Labor is committed to streamlining the taxation process too.


A Labor Government will reduce the number of times small and medium businesses need to lodge GST returns from four times a year to one.


Moving from quarterly to annual returns will ease the paperwork load for around 1.3 million small businesses with a turnover of under $20 million.


And right now, dealing with GST paperwork represents nearly half of the tax compliance cost for business – and it consumes nearly 500 hours a year for small and medium enterprises.


This is a practical change that frees up your time and resources – and that’s why it is Labor policy.


Red Tape


This Government loves to say that it is cutting red tape – as if simple repetition can turn a mantra into meaningful action.


But the test, again, is not what they say – it is what they are doing.


And because small business is so central to our prosperity, so integral to our economy – almost every piece of social and economic decision-making has an impact.


Not just measures that are explicitly labelled as ‘small business’.


This Government loves to say that it is cutting red tape – as if constant repetition can turn a slogan into meaningful action.


Take the Government’s policy to change the work for the dole requirements, so that job seekers now have to submit 40 job applications per month to qualify for their payments.


At one level, this over-the-top targeting of our society’s most vulnerable members, is deeply offensive to Labor’s values.


But it is also short-sighted – and economically damaging.


Just as depriving jobseekers under 30 of any support for six months pushes the price of unemployment onto the Australian family…


…this latest dose of Liberal snake oil shifts the cost of looking for work onto business – especially small business.


It is a half-baked plan that shows no understanding of small business.


A change that seems purposefully designed to make life harder for the engine room of our economy.


For the sake of a couple of tough-talking tabloid headlines, the Government is prepared to unleash a tsunami of unsolicited and underprepared resumes on the small businesses of Australia.


It won’t be Centrelink or job services providers that will have to manage this massive flow of paper.


It will be you – and hundreds of thousands of small business proprietors like you.


Because while large companies have HR staff working full time on recruitment and reviewing resumes, in small business it is almost always the person with their name on the door who has to sift through the CVs.


This takes you away from the business, away from the counter, away from design work, planning and budgeting and it takes away time you could be spending with customers.


And the cost of this process – the burden imposed by what the Minister has already admitted is nothing more than a tick-box compliance exercise – it is staggering.


Using the Government’s own Business Cost Calculator, and estimating that there are around 760,000 employing small businesses….


…and assuming that each of these businesses spends just one additional hour a fortnight processing the increased number of job applications, then this policy will have an economic cost of nearly $700 million per year.


This means a $2.1 billion hit to small business over the three years of the program.


A business cost of nearly $1 for every $2.50 spent by the Government.


This single decision – seemingly taken without a regulatory impact statement – is the equivalent of the total gains claimed by the Government on their now increasingly laughable ‘repeal day’.


A red tape ‘bonfire of the vanities’ that was always more vanity than bonfire.


Of course, these changes are yet to pass the Parliament.


In what is becoming an all-too familiar pattern of shoot-and-scoot, they were loudly announced, widely criticised, timidly defended and then quietly withdrawn.


This is typical of the state the Budget is in three months after it was announced by Joe Hockey.


Small Business and the Budget


Much of Labor’s case against the Budget has been framed by fairness.

Yes, we believe in fairness.


But for Labor, fairness is more than a social value, it is a pragmatic pathway to economic growth.


That’s the problem with the Budget – it’s not just unfair, it’s economically debilitating.


And there is no doubt that small business occupies a prominent place on the long list of those harmed by the new taxes and deep cuts in the first Abbott-Hockey Budget.


The Budget increases your taxes and it reduces your cash flow.


The new petrol tax adds to your costs and at the same time, the Budget is harming business conditions.


Small business people know better than anyone that when Governments cut, family budgets suffer – and the family budget is the bedrock of consumer confidence and economic growth.


As people who make complex budgeting decisions every day – it must be particularly galling to be on the end of Government lectures about lifting and leaning.


As businesspeople engaged in the macro-economic picture, you know too well that the overblown bluster of ‘crisis’ and ‘emergency’ has done far more harm than good.


And as people who interact with customers every day, the hammer blow that this unfair Budget has dealt to consumer confidence has hurt you too.


The Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment tumbled by 7 per cent in the aftermath of the Commonwealth Budget.


Looking to the future – the best driver of consumer sentiment are the results from the quarterly survey on news recalled.


Even two months after the Budget, a record 74 per cent of those survey recalled news on ‘Budget & taxation’, the highest ever recall rate for this issue, swamping all other news items.


The more Australians learn about this Budget, the less they like.


And clearly, this unfair Budget is hitting confidence.


Confidence – and jobs.


Yesterday’s increase in the unemployment rate to 6.4 per cent – 7 per cent here in Victoria – was the first time Australia has had a higher rate of joblessness than the United States since 2007.


And it is our highest level of unemployment since 2002.


In fact, unemployment hasn’t been this bad since Tony Abbott was Employment Minister.


If I could paraphrase Oscar Wilde: presiding over one unemployment peak may be misfortune, presiding over two is beginning to look like carelessness.


70,000 Australians have been added to the unemployment queues since the Budget – and all of you know the impact rising unemployment has on your businesses.


These hits to jobs and confidence are grave short term threats – but in the longer term, the Budget’s cuts to research and development have the potential to be every bit as harmful for small businesses.


Small Business and Innovation


So often, it is small businesses that take the biggest strides in innovation.


Both in modifying and adapting their existing work practices and products – and in the entrepreneurs who embrace risk and seek to turn a great idea into a successful start-up.


And to grow that start-up into a thriving business.


I took on responsibility for Labor’s Science and Innovation portfolio because I believe that Australian creativity and Australian brainpower can underpin our future prosperity.


Nowhere is this more important than in small business.


In 2014, in a world that has never been more borderless, on the doorstep of the fastest growing region in economic history, we have a tremendous opportunity.


We can encourage the genius of our people and help enterprises share in innovation-led growth.


But we also face a pivotal choice.


Australia can get smarter, or we can get poorer.


We can choose to compete in the new, knowledge-driven economy.


Or we can give up on nurturing our own ideas.


Of course, not every new idea will be a good one.


And not every new business will succeed.


Innovative countries know this.


They understand that sometimes failure is merely a marker on the road to success.


And shrewd investors realise that it is often an entrepreneur’s second or third business that will be their most successful.


I believe that Governments play a role in setting this tone, in creating this culture.


The job of Government is not to replace private investment, or crowd it out.


But we should be supporting start-ups, nurturing creativity and rewarding ingenuity.


There is a perception that America is a land of small government.


Perhaps this is true in healthcare – and in social security – but not in innovation.


Today – the rate of patent applications in the United States is at its highest level since the Industrial Revolution.


The US Government supports more basic research than the private sector.


And a recent report from the Brookings Institute shows that patents funded by the US Government are of much higher than average quality.


When the Federal Government provides funding for small business research and development – the result is higher metropolitan productivity growth.


The difference between a high patenting and low patenting area is worth more than $4000 in productivity per worker over a decade.


Above all, the Brookings Institute Report shows us the value of collaboration – of innovation hubs and integrated graduate research.


I have no doubt that Australia can do more to encourage entrepreneurs to do what they do best.


And Labor is looking positively and closely at changes to the Employee Share Scheme, to ensure that the tax burden aligns with the likely realisation of equity stakes in a company.


This would remove a significant drag on innovation – and it would make it easier for small businesses to grow a new idea into a profitable business.


If you’re an Australian with a good idea, you should be able to attract talented employees, and give those employees genuine buy-in.


You should be able to offer good people an incentive to stay with your business on the hard road road to commercialising your innovation.


Australia’s future prosperity – and the future strength of our 2 million small businesses – depends upon getting smarter, on helping our people capitalise on their genius.




Every successful small business is the product of courage, hard work and ambition.


Your courage should be acknowledged and Government should take on the challenge of rewarding your hard work, repaying your effort and encouraging your ambition.


This requires a big picture understanding of our economy, and our society.


And it demands a connection with the interests and values of small business.
For Labor, this means returning to the threshold question I articulated earlier.


We will always ask:


Will this decision make it easier for small business to grow, to thrive, to innovate – to do business?’


And we will continue to back in the family business dream, to support the courage of sole traders – to be on the side of the risk-takers backing in their ideas.


I look forward to talking further with you today – and in the weeks and months and years ahead.


Under my leadership, Labor will always be open to business.


We will always be ready to work together with you to deliver the best outcomes for our country.


For employers and employees, families and communities.


Because when small business succeeds, Australia succeeds.


Let us make that shared success our common goal – and our compass in the years ahead.





Aug 7, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins












Families and friends of those aboard MH17.


Australia shares your sorrow.


Governor-General, Prime Minister, Your Excellencies, my fellow Australians.


We gather in this peaceful sanctuary to pay our national tribute of respect.


We gather as sons and daughters, as brothers and sisters, as partners and parents, as friends and strangers joined in a single garment of grief.


In the sight of all faiths, we mourn all on MH17 – innocent, unoffending and precious – these victims of a most terrible, violent and unimaginable evil.


We mourn 38 of our own, who laughed and learned and loved beneath the Southern Cross that today flies half-mast around the nation that was their home.


There is grief that is known but cannot be shared.


There are loved ones coming home, but not really.


There is hope for an end to the quest for a reason, but this too will not be enough.


Today is not about why, or how – it is about who we have lost, and what we will miss.


Some will call it closure, some will call it acceptance, some will call it letting go – whatever it is, it will take a while.


For some of us, the worst is not hearing their voice again – and knowing that we never will.


The lack of it, the silence, the unfinished conversations, the too-late statements of love, the enduring void in the air, are impossible to imagine, and hard to live with.


Some of us have dreams from which we do not want to wake.


Places we cannot go again, albums and images and movies we do not want to see again, for fear of love bursting out, and breaking once more a heart that is almost healed.


As a father, as a son, as a brother, as a husband, I cannot know – I cannot contemplate – the sense of avoidable calamity, and ill-fated coincidence – the unimaginable hell of alternative possibilities you are going through.


It is almost impossible to say anything that can console you at this painful hour– but I hope you can draw modest consolation from Australia’s affirmation, from our nation’s great, invisible, generous, sustaining sympathy.


From the knowledge that you do not walk alone today – you loved wonderful people, who lived meaningful lives.


Let those of us who pray, pray for the departed, pray for the bereaved, and pray for our country which bears an indelible scar on its soul.


And let all of us remember the names of those lost to us now.


Let us remember their potential and their possibility.


Let us remember them not for how they died, but for why they lived –  for the love and friendship and joy that those of us left behind vow to never again take for granted.


God bless you, god bless your memory.


May the beautiful souls of flight MH17 be taken by a flight of angels to rest in eternal peace.







Aug 6, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins








Friends, four decades ago, in the people’s house behind us, the great Gough Whitlam set a new standard for Australian health – the standard of universality.


Forty years ago, with Medibank, Labor declared that the health of any one of us, is important to all of us.

And ever since then – if you ever wanted to know the difference between Liberal and Labor, have a look at Medicare.


Medicare, friends, is the measure of what Labor does. It is, I believe, proof of what Australia does best.

Medicare friends, is the rock of which we have built modern Australia and we will not allow it be dismantled.


If you have nagging asthma, if your child has a rising fever, or indeed if you are worried that it is something worse than that, you can in this country of ours, see a GP.


It doesn’t matter if you have lost your job or if you are flat broke. It doesn’t matter, if you work hard but it’s the last day of the previous pay period and there isn’t a lot of money to see the doctor.


In this country, unlike most other parts of the world, if you need care, if your beautiful, precious, unique child that you love needs care. If your parent needs care – then we can ensure that because of Medicare that you get that care, and we know that every Australian is healthier when Australian can get care.


We know that Medicare is fair. We know that Medicare works. We know that Medicare doesn’t just make you healthier. It makes us more productive. It boosts the participation.


Our home grown Aussie, smart, preventative system of primary health care means fewer sick days, which is good for business and it’s good for jobs. Our special Aussie home grown system of health funding means less cost for the tax payers. Australians as you know well here, spend less money for more care, longer life expectancy and better access to services.


And as the union reps here would know, it means no cost to employers, no extra burden on business. This gives us a head start on the rest of the world. So if we know that Medicare is fair, if we know that Medicare works, the great question of Australian politics is why do the Abbott Liberals hate Medicare so much?


Abbott Liberals cannot be trusted with the health of Australia. Their attitude to Medicare is a disgrace.


This GP Tax which has brought you here today, it represents an unconscionable assault on the bottom half of Australian society.


It turns our GPs, Australia’s medical front line, into Abbott tax collectors. Taking their time and their attention away from patients.


GPs know what this tax means, they know the pain it will cause. They know that this is a tax on the sick. It is a tax on the vulnerable.


And all of this is for what exactly? The GP tax will not be returned to the bottom line. Not one dollar, not one cent of it. This GP tax is not about money, it is about philosophy. About their Liberal philosophy or more accurately, it is about their rotten Abbott Liberal prejudice. Is it nothing but a plan to destroy Medicare.


It is cynical, it is dishonest, it is an attempt to socially engineer an unfair, two-tiered, US-style health system on to Australians. And like Catherine and like the other Federal Labor MPs here, Labor will not allow this to happen.


We are Labor. We will never allow a system where your wealth determines your health.


As has been said, the Liberal have always hated Medicare. 40 years ago in this place, Billy Snedden, the then leader of the Liberal Party, said of universal health care, “we will fight this scheme continuously and in the end we will defeat it”.


30 years ago, John Howard, still at the letterbox waiting for his knighthood, John Howard said that Medicare was ‘a total disaster’. John Howard said Medicare was a ‘human nightmare’. He said about Medicare that he wanted to ‘stab it in the guts’.


Now we have Tony Abbott, he wants to wreck Medicare, he wants to demolish it, he wants to lay waste to our smart, home grown system of primary and preventative care.


We know and you know that Medicare is fair. We know that Medicare works, and we know that Medicare belongs to all of the Australian people. It belongs to you, it belongs to everyone and we will not let Tony Abbott wreck Medicare, will we?


In 40 years since Medibank, 30 years after Labor introduced Medicare, it falls to this generation, it doesn’t matter if your 17 or 77, we are the generation for whom faith and destiny has made us, yet again, the people who must save Medicare from the Liberal Party of Australia.


Today, let us loudly and proudly make a promise on behalf of the millions of people who count upon Medicare. Let us make this promise. Labor will fight to the death to defend bulk billing. That will fight right down the line for the principle of universal access to healthcare. That we reject that pernicious, cynical mantra of the worst health minister in federation history, Peter Dutton. That he says that nothing is for free, how dare this people, how arrogant. Australians pay for Medicare through their levy, they should not have to pay for it again, Peter Dutton, you joke of a health minister.


So today, we say about Medicare and this rotten unfair budget, we say this:


No compromise, no trading, no retreat, no surrender on Medicare.


We have built Medicare and the people before us have built Medicare. Australians depend upon Medicare. Together, we will stop Tony Abbott’s attack on Medicare.


It’s as simple as this. We will fight for what is right and we will prevail, I promise you that.





Aug 3, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins






It is a special privilege to be here at Garma, where the two waters become one.

To celebrate your culture, everything from: bunggul and didge to manikay.

I acknowledge the Gumatj and the traditional owners and pay my respects to elders past and present.

And I acknowledge all the young people here, the leaders and elders of the future.

And I salute a giant of my party – and a tireless champion of reconciliation who is with us today – Bob Hawke.

The new Garma Knowledge Centre –will be home for the cultural treasures we celebrate today.

Congratulations to everyone who made it possible, and I pay particular tribute to your friend and mine, Jenny Macklin.

In modern Australia, we have gained and grown from embracing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture – in our art, our music, our films and literature.

A 40,000 year old culture daily enriching every facet of our short history together.

But we can do better and we can do more.

This centre – and this festival – show us we can achieve balance and harmony.

When I was here in February, I had the honour of sitting with you, Galarrwuy, and other elders.

It was an uncertain time.

The refinery, shutting down. And a lot of good people under pressure.

But I was inspired by the determination and the high horizons of the leaders I met.

I witnessed in your hearts the same passion that took the bark petitions – and the injustice they sought to overturn – from Yirrkala to Canberra, 51 years ago.

The passion captured in the inspirational words and music of the great friend that this community – and our country – sadly lost last year.

Today I am honoured to return to your country with my family.

My wife Chloe and I wanted our children to see your beautiful, unique homelands.

And your resilient, proud people.

Strong, generous people – working to build better lives for your families.

I am not a stranger to this place – but I seek to learn more and to do more.

Because Closing the Gap, through the recognition and empowerment of the First Australians, is the test of our generation.

I approach this task with humility, knowing that it represents the most profound, enduring challenge of our two centuries together.

Ever since Prime Minister Gough Whitlam said 42 years ago that:

all of us are diminished while Aboriginal people are denied their rightful place in this nation’

National leaders of all persuasions have carried Gough’s statement in their minds as a profound truth.

This truth is unrelenting and will remain un-assuaged in the conscience of our nation for as long as we do not find and restore this rightful place.

I come to Garma not to preach or proclaim, to lecture or dictate.

My colleague Warren Snowdon tells me – and I can see for myself – that the Yolngu know exactly who they are and where they are going.

I know you are anchoring secure, independent economic futures for your people – through your land, through business and industry, and now with the new skills, new jobs and new opportunities of the Rio Tinto mining school.

Friends, I am here to learn.

Partnership and Empowerment

But friends, I know we have been a country and a continent divided in two.

The powerful and the powerless.

The free and the oppressed.

Your people have endured oppression in every form.

Oppressed by settlers, squatters and frontier violence.

Oppressed by segregation, discrimination and exclusion.

Oppressed by a failure to respect cultures, traditions and languages.

Oppressed by racism, prejudice and paternalism – both malign and benign.

Oppressed by short lives and long misery, more diseases and fewer jobs.

At Redfern in 1992, Paul Keating was the first Australian Prime Minister to fully acknowledge these injustices.

His words woke the nation to the haunting stain on our soul.

22 years and 4000 kilometres from Redfern – much good work has been done.

Australia has said sorry for the theft of your children.

And we are on the path to matching words with deeds, to empowering Aboriginal people and Closing the Gap.

Yet too many are trapped in a morass of unfairness and entrenched disadvantage.

We have an opportunity now – and a responsibility always – to gather up the mantle of Redfern and create an accord between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia.

An agreement based on shared goals and mutual respect, on our common rights and responsibilities.

Because succeeding in this national task means working together, as empowered partners and equals.

For me, Indigenous Affairs has never been a ‘victim study’.

I believe that you, the people who have cared for Australia’s national estate for more than 400 centuries – can thrive and succeed in 21st Century Australia.

That is why you should be in control – not passive recipients of bureaucratic guesswork.

I have heard, many times, that Aboriginal people are the most over-consulted people in Australia.

But far too often, the first policy consultation with Aboriginal people is the last time that the people most affected are involved.

This leads to alienation.

To the frustration and angst that comes from feeling your voice has not been heard.

To further disempowerment – or focusing negative energy on the wrong issues.

In education, in health, in childcare, in employment, in legal aid, in communal safety and in land use for economic development- Aboriginal people must be valued, respected and engaged at every stage.

Wherever and whenever Australians – Indigenous or non-Indigenous – are exercising their normal responsibilities to themselves and their families, there is no justification for intervening in their right to manage their own lives.

The great majority of Australians who receive welfare income are responsible.

There are two non-negotiables for Labor here:

  • Welfare measures must not discriminate between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians; and
  • Measures must not interfere with the dignity of the majority of Australians who are exercising their responsibilities and who do not deserve any intervention in their domestic, private lives.

It is time for us to give new thought to formal mechanisms to ensure broad-based representative input – and meaningful engagement with Parliament.

Not just self- appointed committees and one-man bands.

My goal is to build partnerships of mutual recognition, respect and shared responsibility.

Partnerships where the first instinct of government is to listen and learn, not to merely lecture.

Partnerships that recognise that wisdom is not imported from Canberra – it grows here in this earth, what is known as mother earth.

Partnerships that empower Aboriginal people to own their destinies.

Partnerships that see Aboriginal people as part of the answer – not a problem to be solved.

This means moving away from a ‘deficit model’ and towards recognising Indigenous excellence – nurturing achievement and valuing the strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It means engaging with Aboriginal people as cultural beings, capable of navigating the modern world – and of adding value, contributing to, and enhancing the Australian society we all share.

This was the co-operative, community-driven spirit at the heart of the Closing the Gap targets.

This is the cause Labor recommits to today.

We will work with you, we will seek your guidance.

Not out of insincerity, or false morality.

But because we respect your knowledge.

The alternative: a return to top-down, ‘one size fits all’ bureaucratic dictation – is no alternative at all.

We cannot fall back into the old trap of ‘we know best’.

You know – we all know – the problems that arise when the decisions that affect your community, your family, your futures, are made 4000 kilometres away in Canberra – without your participation.

You should be the ones making the informed decisions – at a local and regional level.

You should have the choice and control to build a better life.

You should be able to leverage your resources and your land to develop and create opportunities.

And decisions about the future must draw on the ‘free, prior and informed consent’ of people and communities –upholding the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights.

We will not overcome Indigenous disadvantage by undermining Indigenous diversity, or Indigenous rights.

At the beginning of the 21st Century, Australia cannot afford a 19th Century view of Indigenous Affairs.

We cannot go back down that road – especially when we are at last making real progress.

Education and Early Childhood

Last year, we met the first Closing the Gap target.

Today, every precious unique child living in a remote community has access to early childhood education.

And that first step leads to the next – boosting reading, writing and numeracy, guaranteeing that more Indigenous students will complete school.

Leading to more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with university degrees and training qualifications.

Leading to good and rewarding jobs.

This is the life-changing, potential-fulfilling power of education.

Education begins when we enter the world at home, and we must weave it right through childcare, school, apprenticeships and university.

We must invest in the skills, knowledge and potential of this generation.

Success depends on community leadership – on parents, older siblings, uncles and aunties, elders and role models.

That’s why, in Government, Labor supported frontline, locally-driven services, including Community and Family Centres.

We believe local decision-making requires real dollars – and empowered communities.

Government has to replace control with collaboration.

Labor believes in funding innovation in the delivery of frontline services – not defunding them.

In providing stability and certainty, for communities pursuing long-term solutions

And in always asking whether government is working for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Incarceration and Justice

Looking at all the hopeful young faces here today, it is hard to believe that an Aboriginal boy leaving school is more likely to go to jail than university.

For far too many Aboriginal people, a first offence means a prison sentence.

Prison too often leads to unemployment, unemployment to alcohol abuse, alcohol abuse to family violence – and to reoffending.

And re-offending leads to more incarceration.

It is a vicious, hope-killing cycle – and we have to smash it.

We need a new justice target, developed in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and legal aid groups.

We must reduce the growing numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – especially young men – who are arrested, tried and incarcerated.

The increasing number of Aboriginal men in custody is a national disgrace.

Here, in the land of the fair go and the second chance the colour of your skin should never determine the sentence you receive.

We must support front-line legal aid services – providing qualified advice and proper representation.

We must stop the ‘rivers of grog’ – through community-driven alcohol management plans and local leadership.

We must speak out against family violence, uniting with communities to end cowardly attacks on women and children.

We must support family violence centres and counselling services.

This is about building respect and instilling hope – respect for the very essence of a safe and happy family.

Respect for kinship, respect for community – and self-respect.

And hope that our goals can still be achieved –  our targets can still be met – that the gap can be closed in our lifetimes.

Constitutional Recognition

Labor believes in according Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a place of honour in Australia’s Constitution.

Redressing historical injustice – and facing dark historical truth – demands every ounce of our national will.

I understand that Australian history did not begin at Botany Bay, or Eureka, or Anzac Cove.

Our Australian story begins with you and your ancestors, the oldest collective race of people in the world.

And the sooner our Constitution honours the people who have shared an unbroken connection with this ancient continent – the better.

But constitutional recognition has to involve more than a token gesture.

We need substantive and substantial change.

Symbolic change is not good enough – preambular change will not suffice.

Many Indigenous people have made it clear to me that they believe banning racism in our Constitution is vital.

The Expert Panel on Constitutional recognition proposed a new section 116A for this very purpose.

We are some way from finalising any referendum proposal.

But imagine, striking out old laws tainted by imperialism and prejudice – and replacing them with a safeguard against racial discrimination.

What an uplifting moment for all Australians – not just our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters.

A reminder that, apart from you, the very first Australians, all of us balanda are migrants.

A tribute to both the world’s oldest living culture – and our multicultural society.

A reflection of our Australian soul.

I believe Recognition will succeed– but I am conscious of the difficulties before us.

If we rush, we might move too fast to build community support.

If we wait too long, division, denial and cynicism may fracture this moment of national unity.

The only way to overcome these risks, is to unite behind Recognise.

Ultimately, we will only succeed, if both major parties agree.

The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Recognition – led by Ken Wyatt and the outstanding Senator for the Northern Territory Nova Peris – is taking a bipartisan approach.

And Liberal and Labor must reach a consensus before the next election so that whether I am Prime Minister – or Tony Abbott – all Australians have certainty.

Be assured, Labor – the party of land rights, of Native Title, of Redfern, of the Apology, of Closing the Gap – will devote its energy to making recognition happen.

I know the Prime Minister will have to deal with more scepticism and less understanding from within the conservative moment.

Today, I offer to help him where I can.

And Labor will lead when we must.

Recognition should be a political priority – but it should be beyond politics.

It is a historical wrong that must be made right.

Right now, there are some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people asking:

‘What good is recognition if I cannot find a job?’

‘What good is a statement of equality, when I battle inequality in health and education every day?’

‘What is the point of historical justice, if I am denied basic, natural justice?’

‘What is the value of being included in the Constitution – if I am still excluded from society?

These questions are more than fair.

But Australia does not have to choose between ‘practical’ and ‘symbolic’ reconciliation.

They are tied together – just as our destinies are tied together.

We share a common goal and we must share a future.

Working together, sharing power to achieve success.

I will be back here, in East Arnhem.

And my Shadow Minister Shayne Neumann, my Caucus colleagues and I will be meeting with Indigenous people right around Australia – in remote communities, in our cities and in our regional towns.

Your ideas, your goals, your hopes, your aspirations and your dreams will always be close to Labor’s heart.

Your cause will always be important to Labor – it will always be our cause.

We will listen to you, we will work with you, we will trust you with the power to build better lives for your families.

And we will not rest until the job is done.

Until the gap is closed, until the promise of Australia is fulfilled – until opportunity belongs to all of us.

Until the day when, as Galarrwuy says, our two waters are one.



Jul 27, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins




SUNDAY, 27 JULY 2014




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

And today I reaffirm Labor’s commitment to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first peoples of Australia, in our Constitution.

Tanya, thank you for your generous introduction, and through you, I want to thank the leadership of the NSW Branch.

Your General Secretary Jamie Clements, all your office holders, officials and staff here today – your work of rebuilding and reform is vital – thank you for everything you do.

The State Labor Parliamentary team has worked so hard since 2011 and I know you have more to do between now and March 2015 – in John Robertson you have a great leader and he leads a great team.

Let me acknowledge my remarkable Federal colleagues, who join me on this stage today.

I am so grateful for the support of our united Parliamentary team in Canberra and I am tremendously fortunate in the quality of the delegation from New South Wales.

Let me acknowledge NSW unionists here today, from Marilyn Issanchon and Mark Lennon to every delegate, activist and member – you stand up for working people every day.

Friends, I will never apologise for representing working people – and I pay respect to the work of Australian trade unions.

I did in particular want to acknowledge my fantastic Deputy. She is a lion of this Branch, she is a great voice for progress in this State and this nation – Tanya Plibersek.

And perhaps most importantly, I want to acknowledge rank and file Labor members.

People like George Turner from Tweed Heads: A life member, fighting the Nats in tiger country on the far north coast for years, helping Justine Elliot to her fourth victory in Richmond.

And Scott Rhodes of Frenchs Forest: a 25 year member tirelessly flying the Labor flag in the blue ribbon booths of the Northern beaches and the lower north shore.

No-one gets past Scott without a how-to-vote card – he’d even give one to Bronwyn Bishop.

And Paula Keyes from Hinchinbrook, who made thousands of cold calls to swinging voters across all target seats from the Parramatta headquarters, every day and night of the last campaign.

George, Scott, Paula – like all of you – have shown more than faith alone, you lift Labor with your belief and energy.

The only thing more remarkable than your patience is your passion.

The view from this stage right now is the best view in Australian politics – you inspire me.

Delegates, coming to this hall, to speak to this conference, is one of the great rituals of Australian Labor politics and one of the great privileges of a Labor Leader’s life.

The greats of our movement, the giants of our party have all gathered here.

But I know that many of you this weekend will have reflected with some sorrow that the last time we were in this room was to farewell Neville Wran.

When Frank Forde spoke to a hushed Parliament on the death of John Curtin, he said that Curtin was always a common man, a man for the masses.

He: “strived and struggled among them, and even when he came to the highest place in the land, he was still one of them.” 

In May I told the Parliament that the same could be said of Neville Wran.

This great man of integrity dominated NSW Labor’s substance and defined your style.

From what Paul Keating called his “PhD in poetic profanity” to Wran’s pragmatism in delivering progress, Neville personified the best of Labor in New South Wales.

Federal Labor is deeply indebted to Neville Wran and through him deeply indebted to all of you.

Just as Australia in the modern world is unimaginable without the nation-building reforms of the Hawke and Keating Governments…

…the election and achievements of the Hawke and Keating Governments might have been unthinkable without the leadership, professionalism and judgement of this great Branch under that great man.

I know you are rebuilding and I want you to know why it matters so much to Australia that you do.

Because Neville Wran taught Labor in Canberra one thing above all else – we are only strong there when you are strong here.


We gather at a time when many people in our country are mourning terrible loss.

The past ten days, since the attack on MH17, have been days of sorrow, anger and confusion for so many.

The families and friends touched directly by this loss have already suffered greatly.

The uncertainty, obstacles and indignities of the days since have only deepened their grief.

All Australians share in their sadness – we are all affected, we are all involved.

And on this we are all agreed: we must see the victims identified, the bodies returned, the police investigation concluded and those responsible brought to justice.

MH17 is a scar on Australian innocence.

A catastrophic reminder that the destiny of Australians is joined to the wider world.

And if we ever thought that Australia was a small country far away, without a place in global affairs – we can dispel that illusion.

Together, we have built our nation up – through politics and diplomacy, through the economy and trade, as a global citizen – and it has have served us well in recent days.

And I pay tribute to the work of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard in winning a UN Security Council Seat for Australia.

Today our world is more borderless, our people are more connected and the pace of change is faster than at any time in human history.

And I look to the future with hope and optimism.

Today, our economy is strong, and our people are skilled, independent and tough.

But our nation’s future success is not guaranteed, because delegates, in 2014, our fairness and our prosperity are under siege.

Australia cannot afford national complacency as the pace of international change accelerates.

There is so much for our nation still to do, so much progress still to be made.

  • Creating jobs and growth
  • Moving to clean energy
  • Investing in new technology
  • Standing up for regional and rural Australia
  • Improving education and skills
  • Supporting small business
  • Modernising health and disability care
  • Seizing the opportunities of the Asian Century
  • Saving for retirement
  • And demanding the equal treatment of women

So much to do.

That’s why, as Chris Bowen says, we need an economy which is “innovative, agile, entrepreneurial and embracing of change”.

This is not inevitable, it requires policy and leadership.

To build an Australia that is strong, prosperous and fair – we have to be modern, flexible and innovative.

That’s the big picture.

That’s the Labor project that we must commit to in the decade ahead.

That’s what a Federal Labor Government would do if we were in office today.

But delegates, that is not what we are witnessing in Canberra right now.

This Abbott Government – and this Hockey Budget – they are neither the team nor the plan Australia needs.

The Liberals are cutting where they should be investing – they are hurting those they should be helping – and they are doing nothing at all where they should be doing the most.



If Australians want to know the difference between the Liberals and Labor, just look at Medicare.

There is no better measure of what Labor does – no better proof that Labor is the party that represents and reflects our country at its best.

Medicare is the rock upon which we built modern Australia.

For 30 years, Medicare has set the community standard around Australian health – the standard of universality.

If ever there was one measure which marks us out as a society, rather than a collection of individuals, it is Medicare.

Medicare declares that the health of any one of us, is important to all of us.

For three decades now, every parent, every person, has known this:

If you have nagging asthma, if your child has a rising fever – and you’re worried it’s something more serious – you can see a GP.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost a job or you’re flat broke.

It doesn’t matter if you work hard but it’s the day before pay day.

You can get the care you need, your child can get the care they need, your elderly parent can get the care they need and every Australian is healthier as a result.

Medicare is fair – and Medicare works.

In America, for six long years, President Obama has been trying to introduce universality.

To take the United States away from its two-tier, unfair, internationally uncompetitive system.

It is madness for Australia to go down the American road, just when Americans are finally making a long, exhausting u-turn.

Medicare doesn’t just keep Australians healthy, it makes us more productive and it boosts participation.

Our smart, universal system of primary, preventative care means fewer sick days – it is good for business, and good for jobs.

And our smart, modern system of funding that care means our system costs less for taxpayers.

Australia spends barely half as much on health compared to the United States, as a proportion of our GDP.

That’s less money, for better care, longer life expectancy and greater access.

All of this with no cost to employers and no extra burden on business – giving us a real head start in the world.

Medicare is fair, Medicare works – so why do the Abbott Liberals hate it so much?

Their plans for Medicare are a disgrace.

The GP Tax represents an unconscionable assault on the bottom half of Australia.

And it turns our hard-working GPs – Australia’s medical front line – into tax collectors.

Taking their time and their attention away from their patients.

Two weeks ago, Catherine King and I presented a petition to the Parliament, signed by more than three thousand doctors – 2500 of them GPs.

They know what the GP tax will mean, they know the pain it will cause.

Here’s what Dr Julie McClellan, one of the 3000, had to say.

The Prime Minister should come on a nursing home visit and see if he feels comfortable asking the palliative patient or the confused elderly lady rocking in the corner for their $7.

Something tells me that’s an invitation Tony Abbott – or Joe Hockey – or Peter Dutton – will never accept.

And even in the Abbott-Hockey Budget, none of this is about money.

The GP tax is not being returned to the bottom line – not one dollar of it.

This is about philosophy, their philosophy, or more accurately, their prejudice.

It is nothing but a plan to destroy the universality of Medicare.


Medicare is fair – Medicare works – and Medicare is ours.

Medicare belongs to Australians and we will not let the Abbott Government take it away.

For more than a decade, even the Liberal Party, even under John Howard, knew to keep their hands off Medicare.

But what was good enough for Howard is not good enough for Abbott.

Now Tony Abbott wants to wreck Medicare, to demolish it, to lay waste to Australia’s smart, fair and strong health system.

Delegates – the fight for Medicare is upon us in earnest.

Here today, loudly and proudly, let us make this promise:

Labor will fight to the death for bulk billing in Australia.

We will fight right down the line for the principle of universal healthcare .

No compromises, no trading, no retreat, no surrender.

We built it, Australians depend upon it, and we will stop Tony Abbott’s Liberals from tearing it down.



The crimes in this Budget go beyond Medicare.

Budget cuts to education, training and skills will be devastating.

This Government is cutting $5.3 billion from our universities.

They are doubling and tripling the cost of degrees in science, accounting, veterinary care – pushing the price of a university education beyond the great, good dream of ordinary families.

Forcing young Australians to choose between a mortgage and higher education.

Forcing young women to choose between starting a family and paying off their degree.

And training is hit too – apprentices lose support for their tools and will be slugged with debt instead.

There is insult added to this injury.

Not only did the Liberals ambush Australians in the budget, they lied to Australians in the election campaign.

Delegates, they aren’t just cutting higher education and training for the future, they are trying to change school education to make it look like the past.

We spearheaded crackdowns on bullying and violence in schools – they want to bring back the strap.

We expanded the teaching of Asian languages- they want to expand learning about the Kings and Queens of England.

I don’t know if you know the Education Minister Christopher Pyne – if you’d met him, you’d remember him – but he must be the most backward-looking, extreme and out-of-touch Education Minister since Federation.

Education is the driver of our future – yet this Minister has told his chauffeur to put us in reverse gear.

The difference between Liberal and Labor on education is wider than the Nullarbor.

We believe in needs-based funding for all of our children.

The Abbott Liberals believe in the old private vs public arguments.

Yesterday, John Robertson made it clear that State Labor would do things very differently as well.

Robbo, your plans for schools, TAFE and skills are exactly what New South Wales needs – and we’ll work with you to deliver these plans.

The Abbott Government’s cuts to education and training take Australia in the wrong direction.

These cuts are not the exception, they are the Liberal rule.

In fact, more than fifty billion dollars will be cut from hospitals in coming years.

This is worth repeating – fifty billion; fifty thousand million.

These are enormous, unprecedented cuts – the equivalent of sacking 1 in 5 nurses – or 1 in 3 doctors – or closing 1 in every 13 hospital beds.

There is no doubt – waiting lists will grow, waiting times will go up, the sick and the injured will be turned away.

Under the Liberals, the pension age is going up, while the pension rate is going down, the seniors supplement is gone for good and superannuation has been frozen.

Frugality is their motto.

This Government’s only retirement plan is to make Australians work longer and harder and retire later with less.

There are cuts that hurt families – a family which lives on
$80,000 per year will be $4000 worse off, and worse off every year.

And a family on $65,000 will be over $6000 worse off.

In Tony Abbott’s Australia, the less you earn – the more you pay.

And there are so many more victims of these Budget cuts – our veterans, our Indigenous people, carers and people with disability.

None of this happened by accident – this Government knew exactly what it was doing and who it was doing it to.

And the only thing more terrible than the impact of these wilful cuts is that the Liberals now think the cuts haven’t gone far enough.

Two weeks ago, Joe Hockey blustered that if these cuts are blocked, he’ll go further – with cuts that bypass the Parliament.

And now we read in his new biography that the Treasurer believes the Budget should have been tougher.

If this is what an authorised biography reveals – imagine what the un-authorised biography looks like!

This arrogant, cigar-chomping Treasurer’s hopeless biography reveals that it took Tony Abbott to block him from deeper, harder cuts.


If it’s up to Tony Abbott to tell you that you’ve gone too far, you’ve really gone too far.

The Liberals can’t blame Joe Hockey.

He’s only a symptom, he’s not the cause.

This is a Government unravelling from the centre and rotting from the top.

If it’s not Ministers talking about secret plans for cuts, or Liberals speculating about leadership succession, it’s a $22 billion dollar paid parental leave scheme – where only Rupert Murdoch was consulted, and a plan for knights and dames where even John Howard was out of the loop – but he’s still waiting at the letterbox!

Joe Hockey’s talk of more cuts is hardly a surprise.

We already knew the Government wants to drive further down this road, because we’ve seen the Government’s roadmap – the Commission of Audit drew it for them.

The Commission of Audit report is the plan Tony Abbott asked for, the plan Joe Hockey paid for, and the plan the Liberals are hungry to implement.

Here’s the destination the conservative side of politics has set for itself.

Completely abolishing Family Tax Benefit Part B.

A fifteen dollar GP tax.

A hospital tax.

A lower minimum wage.

Delaying the NDIS.

When the Liberals talk about looking for alternatives, these are their alternatives.

When they say they want to go further, this is where they want go.

Believe it or not – this is the Australia the Liberals believe in.

Of course it’s unfair – they’re the Liberal Party.

But the Budget doesn’t just hurt Australians today, it will hurt Australia tomorrow.

It is not just conservative, it is regressive.

It is capital C conservative.

This is a Budget brought to you by a conservative Prime Minister who doesn’t see it is as his duty to care for everyone.

By a conservative Treasurer whose personal comfort in life has completely robbed him of charity. And, I might say, judgment.

By a conservative Government which governs only for those it sees as its core constituency.

We know the Budget failed the fairness test.

The Budget fails the future test as well.

Take just one example: climate change.

It is no coincidence that one of the fundamental questions for our future is one of their fundamental policy failures.

They believe in a price signal to punish the sick and the vulnerable – but not to punish polluters.

They love freedom so much they’ve made pollution free.

Delegates, Labor will “fight and fight and fight again” for action on heat trapping greenhouse gasses.

The Fraser Government abolished Medibank for a while but it couldn’t kill the dream of universal health care.

The Abbott Government may have stalled action on climate change – but they can’t stand in the way forever.


Australians are better than this Liberal Government – and Australia deserves better than this Liberal Government.

That’s where we come in.

Only Labor can modernise Australia – only Labor ever does.

The responsibility always falls to us.

And only a modernised Labor party can modernise the country.

Only a Government which sets aside vested interests and outdated thinking to seize the future can succeed in our country today.

Labor has to be as modern, confident, democratic and outward looking as we want Australia to be.

No person, no group, is immune from self-interest – everyone on every side has to give some ground.

If we want to change the country, we have to change.

And if we want to change the Government, we have to change.

In so many ways, New South Wales is showing the way.

I congratulate you on the lead you have taken on rebuilding Labor.

You’ve made enormous progress over the past two years, and you’ve made important progress over the past two days.

That’s good – because this is urgent.

We all know what has to be done and we don’t have forever to do it.

There is a lot of detail and lot to debate, as there should be.

But I am here to state a very clear direction.

Labor has to rebuild as a party of members, not factions.

A bigger, bolder, broader party – 100,000 strong.

A party where your membership card entitles you to genuine participation in our party: in the choice of our leaders, our candidates, our policies and our dreams of Australia.

A party where more people, are more involved, more often.

That’s the direction this branch has set – but we now have to complete the schematic – to make it obvious to everyone what Labor stands for and how we conduct ourselves.


Change in our society never stops – and the work of our movement is never done.

There are always new threats to our security, new competitors for our economy – and old unfairness in new forms.

And to all those who say that the great battles have been fought…

That the great races have been run and won…

That our society is fair, that the politics of progress are fulfilled, that the free market can take it from here, I say:

Tell that to a young jobseeker in our suburbs, or to a worker retrenched in our towns.

They’ll tell you as long as there aren’t enough jobs for people who want work, we still have work to do.

Tell that to a young student who’s been racially abused on public transport.

They’ll tell you as long as long as there are still people who want the “right to be a bigot” – we still have work to do.

Tell that to a tourism operator watching the Great Barrier Reef die through the glass bottom of her boat.

She’ll tell you until we have real action on climate change, we still have work to do.

Tell that to a teacher without the resources to teach the children who need the most help how to read and write and count, much less fulfil their potential in the modern world.

He’ll tell you while we don’t have great schools, we still have work to do

Tell that to a country person waiting for the NDIS to reach their town.

They’ll tell you that as long as Australians living with disabilities are exiled to a second-class life in their own country …

… Labor in Australia still has work to do.

And until the only test of whether you can get married, is whether you love each other – Labor still has work to do.


We reject complacency – this is no time for lethargy or shoulder-shrugging.

As long as there are Budgets like this Abbott-Hockey Budget…

As long there are Governments like this Liberal Government…

As long as there are leaders who think it is their job to cut jobs, cut wages, cut pensions, cut education, cut health …

… then Labor in Australia – you, me, all of us – we still have work to do.





Jul 25, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins








I am very grateful for this second opportunity to speak at the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue.


And for the chance to thank all those who have worked so hard to make this year’s dialogue another outstanding success.


There is always so much for us to share, and celebrate, together.


For more than two centuries, our national stories have been intertwined.


Our two nations are like parted cousins, who went with similar dreams across vast oceans to different countries and ways of being.


Australians and Americans fought and fell, side by side, in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.


A million US soldiers passed through Australia, on their way to winning the war in the Pacific.


12,000 brought Australian brides back stateside.


And another 10,000 stayed in Australia to start and raise their families.


For generations, American music has been the soundtrack to Australian adolescence.


Our actors and film directors have invaded your Oscar nights, your great picture palaces, your Broadway theatres.


One of our singers, Helen Reddy, gave the American feminist movement its anthem.


One of our writers, Tom Keneally, wrote modern classics on your Civil War, and the Holocaust that yet haunts so many of your citizens.


Americans and Australians died in the Twin Towers on 9/11.


Australians and Americans were shot from the skies over Ukraine last week.


We are bonded, we are blood cousins, we share, as Rick Blaine said in the favourite film of a million Australians, ‘a beautiful friendship’ – in history, literature, music, film and sport.


Cate Blanchett has played Katharine Hepburn.


Judy Davis has played Nancy Reagan.


Russell Crowe has played James J. Braddock.


This year, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks played at the Sydney Cricket Ground.


Last month, Paddy Mills and Aron Baynes won championship rings with the San Antonio Spurs – following in the footsteps of Luc Longley and Andrew Gaze.


Victorian Dante Exum was taken at pick five for the Utah Jazz while Queensland’s Cameron Bairstow was taken in the second round by the Chicago Bulls.


Ben Graham played in an AFL Grand Final for the Geelong Cats – and in a Superbowl for the New York Jets.


Saverio Rocca left the North Melbourne Kangaroos to become a punter for the Philadelphia Eagles.


And Eric Wallace left North Carolina basketball for a spot at North Melbourne.


Laver, Rosewall, Court, Rafter, Hewitt and Stosur have achieved the ultimate success at Flushing Meadow.


Connors, Navratilova, Sampras, Agassi, Seles and Williams have won legions of admirers at the Australian Open.


And for years, millions of Australians have set their alarms for Augusta.


We have watched, bleary-eyed, as Greg Norman endured heartbreak – and Adam Scott basked in glory.


And in 1784 – four years before the First Fleet entered Sydney Harbour – General George Washington joined soldiers in the Continental Army at Valley Forge in a game of cricket.


He was on the winning side – of course.


Australia, like America, has a great tradition of stand-up comedy, of long, rambling rhymed verse.


We are multicultural societies that glory in good food and street dancing and music and literature.


We, like you, understand the difficulty of those coming burnt-out of terrible wars and persecution into the forgetful tranquillity of our suburbs, becoming Australians, becoming Americans.


We, like you, do not underrate that difficulty.


We understand the whole world is a melting pot now – and we celebrate that.


We are two of the world’s oldest political democracies, but in each case there was not full suffrage till the 1960s.


For each of us social justice has a way to go.


We know that each of our countries could do better, each of us can do more.


We can do more to extend opportunity, to nurture the dreams of our citizens, to give the next generation a better life and a greater chance.


This is our great shared goal.


This week, we have gathered in pursuit of all of this.


And today, at the New York Academy of Sciences, this monument to the pursuit of knowledge, our focus is on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


There is no better proof of America’s ability to look beyond the horizon and test the limits of the impossible than the way it has led the world in science and innovation.


As Labor’s lead Science and Innovation spokesman, I am very fond of Michael Shermer’s definition:


‘Science is not a thing – it is a method, a process, a way of thinking.


Science is a verb, not a noun.


Science is a method for understanding the world – a process that involves evidence, reason and especially testing claims.’


Long before Shermer said this, Americans embodied it.


They looked at the world around them and they sought to understand it, to harness it for progress.


People like Franklin, Goodyear, Edison, Whitney, Ford and Firestone – driven by a spirit of curiosity and enquiry to build a better world.


That’s what needs to remain at the heart of our science curriculum – respect for curiosity.


Encouraging discovery.


It’s what Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society means when he says there is:


‘a little bit of the scientist in all of us – especially when we are young children’.


He’s right.


Chloe and I have three marvellous children, one of whom is our four year old daughter – and every day I am amazed by her limitless imagination and her boundless curiosity.


She shares a determination common to all young children – the desire to ask why, and how – and to keep asking.


That’s the spirit of science – it is in-built, hardwired into our human nature.


Our job, as leaders, as policy-makers, as educators, as champions of science and innovation, is to foster this fascination, and to broaden and deepen it in our classrooms.


Because we all know the biggest factor in getting children to study science in secondary school – and beyond – is the training their teacher has had.


We all know that inspired teachers inspire children.


But, in the hands of hardworking, but underqualified, teachers who lack the confidence and knowledge to go beyond the set materials, Science can be re-cast as a dry, rigid series of rules, formulae and equations in textbooks.


In reality, science is so much more than the accumulated weight of centuries of discovery.


It is a cast of thought.


A way of thinking.


A mindset that allows our citizens to critically evaluate information – a skill that has never been more important.


We live in a time-poor, data-rich age.


We carry in our pockets a more sophisticated computing system than the one that landed Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins on the moon 45 years ago this week.


And because of this, no people in human history have had instant access to the quantity of information we do.


Quantity – but not necessarily quality.


In a world awash with self-published, self-proclaimed experts, a respect for credible evidence helps us sift through the conspiracy theories and Dr Google’s latest instant diagnosis.


A scientific mindset reminds us that uncertainty is not the enemy.


That framing the question is sometimes just as important as seeking the answer.


That doubt drives discovery.


Preserving this spirit, encouraging this worldview will be just as critical as nurturing our research institutes and higher education centres.


Without question, many of the breakthroughs that will define the 21st Century will come from our university laboratories, our research centres and large-scale collaborative projects.


These research and development centres compete for limited private investment and scarce government funding– and they know that, more often than not, the money follows ‘results’.


They need achievements to point to, benchmarks, milestones, projected returns.


This framework of accountability is important.


The last thing we want is a grants system where investors are duped into an investment in alchemy or taxpayer funds are frittered away on perpetual motion machines.


But a short term cost-benefit analysis should not constrict us.


Not all research has an immediate, obvious commercial benefit – and making that the sole criterion sells short unknown potential.


For example, early Australian research on the axon in the giant squid had no demonstrable commercial potential.


Yet it has deepened our understanding of the nervous system – priceless knowledge.


Not all ground-breaking discoveries will involve orderly, sequential progress toward a clearly sign-posted outcome.


And not every invention that changes our world will come from the laboratories of NYU, Stanford, Berkeley or MIT – or ANU, UWA, Monash or Sydney University.


Even in the 21st Century, great ideas, future-shaping change will come from the workshops, garages and garden sheds, studies and school desks in our suburbs and country towns.


And it is our duty to ensure there is still room in our world for individual innovation, for creative genius.


That it is still possible for an American or an Australian, to turn a great idea into a successful start-up.


And to grow that start-up into a thriving enterprise.


Not every new idea will be a good one.


Not every new business will succeed.


The greatness of America is that it knows this.


It knows, that:


‘the only thing to fear, is fear itself.’


It was the same lesson I took from my visit to Israel in 2012.


Israel has made high-tech exports and entrepreneurship their point of competitive advantage.


Israel, with a population of less than 8 million, fosters a thriving venture capital industry that produces more successful start-ups than much larger economies like Japan and Korea.


Israel’s commitment to innovation – and commercialising that innovation – is hard-wired into its key institutions.


Like America, the Israeli government embraces science and innovation – and like America they understand that sometimes failure is merely a marker on the road to success.


Investors realise that it is often an entrepreneur’s second or third business that will be their most successful.


I believe that Governments play a role in setting this tone, in creating this culture.


Not replacing private investment, or crowding it out.


But in supporting start-ups, nurturing creativity and rewarding ingenuity.


Here again, America shows us the way.


Today – the rate of US patent applications is at its highest level since the Industrial Revolution.


The United States Government supports more basic research than the private sector.


And a report from the Brookings Institute shows that patents funded by the US Government tend to be especially high quality.


When the Federal Government provides funding for small business research and development – the result is higher metropolitan productivity growth.


In fact, the difference between a high patenting and low patenting area is worth more than $4000 in productivity per worker over a decade.


Above all, the Brookings Institute Report shows us the value of collaboration – of innovation hubs and integrated graduate research.


Of course, when science seeks to make history, or change the world…there are always some risks that are greater than others.


Sometimes the price of failure is truly terrible.


No country knows this better than the United States of America.


At 6:34 pm, on Friday 27 January 1967, during a training exercise on the launchpad of the John F Kennedy centre, a flash fire broke out in the command module of Apollo 1.


The fire only burned for 30 seconds – but it claimed the lives of all three astronauts aboard:


Lieutenant Colonel Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom, a member of the original Mercury Seven.


Lieutenant Colonel Edward White, the first American to walk in space.


And Roger Chaffee, who was preparing for his first space mission, were the first Americans to die in pursuit of the grand national goal of:


landing a man upon the moon and returning him safely to the earth’. 


Two and a half years later – and 45 years ago this week – as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin prepared to leave the Sea of Tranquillity, they reverently placed the mission patch from Apollo 1 on the powdery surface.


There, amidst the ‘magnificent desolation’, lie the names of Grissom, White and Chaffee.


Remembered forever, not for how they died – but for why they lived.


Without Apollo 1, there could have been no Apollo 11.


Without that terrible risk, there could have been no reward.


Without pioneers with the courage to risk it all, humanity’s greatest journey could not have been made.


This is America’s example.


This is America’s legacy.


It is from this that Australia takes our inspiration.


In science, in innovation, in discovery.

Thank you.







Jul 23, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins







In February 1942, after the fall of Singapore, Australia stood isolated and alone.


In those dark days, the great Labor Prime Minister of Australia, John Curtin spoke to our nation of what he called: ‘The Task Ahead’. Curtin said:


Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.


And so, amidst human history’s most destructive struggle between freedom and tyranny, Australia looked to America.


72 years later, the ‘task ahead’ for our generation is very different – but we still look to America.


We look to America as a partner in prosperity, a driver of global growth and a leader in free trade.


And we look to Asia too.


As another former Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, memorably said:


Australia looks for its security in Asia, not from Asia. 


In 1942, the Australian city of Brisbane was the headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur.


In November this year, it will host the G20.


In Brisbane, President Obama and President Xi, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Cameron and Prime Minister Modi, will sit around the same table, leaders who represent:


-       Two thirds of the world’s population

-       85 per cent of the world’s gross product, and

-       80 per cent of world trade


The G20 forum has grown in significance and stature since the Global Financial Crisis, due partly to the work of Prime Ministers Rudd and Gillard.


And now, in the second decade of the 21st Century:


When we stand on the cusp of the most profound economic and demographic transformation in world history.


When a child born today will live in two centuries: the 21st and 22nd.


When money has never flowed faster, when our world has never been more borderless, when our possibilities have never been more limitless…


The leaders and nations of the G20 have a new opportunity.


Having acted to help the world economy withstand the worst financial crisis in three generations – our task is now to build the architecture for the next three generations of prosperity.


For the world economy of 2030, 2050 and beyond.


The G20 has the opportunity to set meaningful reform objectives – and achieve them.


The G20 has the opportunity to ensure that complacency is not used as an excuse to put off essential reform.


That protectionist retreat does not prevail over economic advance.


That short term vested interest does not obstruct global benefits.


Today, I submit to you the five key areas of action for the G20:


1.)          Inclusive Economic Growth

2.)          Youth Unemployment

3.)          Rebooting Global Free Trade

4.)          Multinational Tax Avoidance

5.)          Climate Change and Energy Security.


These are not easy challenges – but I believe we should be setting ambitious goals.


Before I discuss these priorities, I would make this brief comment on the current international context.


The recent UN Security Council Resolution is a most welcome step.


Effective international cooperation will be essential to investigating the tragedy of MH17.


Right now, our first priority must be to assist families in their grief, and to identify and bring home the victims’ remains.


So far, President Putin has indicated Russia will fully cooperate with the investigation.


These words must be matched with actions.


We must see those responsible brought to justice.


Getting to the truth of the matter may require Australia – and the other members of the G20 – to consider whether Mr Putin attends the Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane.


In any event, it is still four months before the G20 commences – and the way Russia conducts itself between now, and then will be very relevant to the decision we make.




The 2 per cent global growth target set by G20 Finance Ministers is a worthy starting point.


But without real and concrete action – it is merely an empty gesture.


More than ever, we need to examine not just the conditions that create growth – but the methods we can employ to include our citizens in its benefits.


In formulating a global growth strategy, our focus needs to be on inclusive economic growth, growth that eliminates poverty and enhances equality.


These two objectives are interrelated, but they are not identical.


Consider China:


In the three decades between 1980 and 2010, 680 million Chinese people were lifted out of poverty – more than the entire current population of Latin America.


China alone accounts for around three quarters of the world’s total decline in extreme poverty over the past 30 years.


This is an economic achievement without parallel in human history.


But it is not solely due to economic growth.


The degree of pre-existing income equality within a country is a major factor too.


One economic survey found that a 1 per cent increase in incomes in the world’s most unequal societies delivers a 0.6 per cent reduction to the poverty rate.


In the world’s most equal countries, that same 1 per cent increase cuts the poverty rate by 4.3 per cent.


To borrow a favourite economic metaphor – a nation’s income distribution, its equality, will determine how many boats are lifted by the rising tide.


As Piketty wrote in his extraordinary, in-depth analysis of income distribution, Capital in the 21st Century:


“For much of human history, the rate of return on capital significantly exceeded growth in the economy.”


An economic trend that meant the only way to become wealthy, was to inherit wealth.


In the late 19th Century, America broke this nexus.


In the relative blink of an eye, the United States became famed as the self-made nation, the home of the small businessman with big ideas, the entrepreneur with boundless optimism and the inventor of devices that the world didn’t know it needed, then decided it couldn’t live without.


And as the developing nations of the Asia-Pacific emerge from poverty, in so many ways it is the United States of America they will be emulating.


It has been this way for generations – ever since talking films gave aspiration an American accent.


For many, these are modest ambitions: a life where your hard work is rewarded and your children enjoy a better standard of living, and greater opportunity than you.


Yet in China, America, and the world over, inequality looms as a threat to growth.


Paradoxically, the same factors that have driven economic growth in developed nations, and lifted millions out of poverty in the developing world: globalisation, technological process and market-oriented reform – have magnified inequality.


Not just inequality of income – but inequality of access.


Access to affordable healthcare, to quality education, to technology and civic amenities and to clean air and clean water.


This is a challenge for advanced and emerging economies alike – to give people more equal access to the drivers of economic growth.


A strong minimum wage – and delivering real wages growth is so important to achieving access, particularly for those on the lowest incomes.


Australia has a proud tradition of supporting a reasonable minimum wage that is a genuine living wage – not a life sentence of working poverty.


Not only does a strong minimum wage reward people for hard work, often in physically demanding jobs.


It also, as President Obama has put it, helps:


‘grow the the economy from the middle out and the bottom up so that prosperity is broad-based’


An increase in the value of real wages creates more consumers, in bigger markets – and it drives stronger growth.




Investing in the capabilities of individuals, improves our aggregate performance.


That is why the economies of the G20 need to re-engage young unemployed people, and empower them to fulfil their potential.


Right now, in the United States, youth unemployment is double the national rate.


In Australia, it is more than double.


In the UK it’s nearly three times as high as the national rate.


Every year a young person spends out of the workforce is not just a year of personal loss but a year of lost economic output, and a marker on the road to a future of missed opportunity.


Our future competitiveness, our future productivity, depends on the skills, flexibility and experience of our workforce.


This means removing barriers to higher education, investing in training and re-training.


And it requires us to see learning as a public investment in the future, not a short-term expense.


Without sincere, genuine action, we risk shutting the next generation of employees out of the workforce, and letting their talent and potential go unfulfilled.


And we will not achieve lasting growth, without action on youth unemployment.




The World Trade Organisation estimates that progress on free trade would deliver trillions of dollars of income gains.


And the high road to trade liberalisation is multilateral trade deals in which all countries agree to lower trade barriers.


In 2014, we live in a world of global supply chains, where trade in services and IT agreements are essential to economic growth.


A world where the majority of trade is conducted in semi-finished components – not finished goods or resource-based starting materials.


In such a world, modern open market trade arrangements and infrastructure are vital in enabling the free flow of the best ideas, eliminating poverty, tackling youth unemployment – and even preventing war.


Our challenge today is not just to argue the case for these reforms– it is to deliver them.


The last global trade deal of significance – the Uruguay Round – was concluded twenty years ago.


As it stands, global free trade negotiations have ground to a halt, frozen in the Doha round.


It is overdue for the economies of the G20, nations who represent 80 per cent of the world’s trade, to consider a re-boot.


We need re-ignite the trail to multilateralism.


The G20 cannot, and must not, blithely accept a limited, realpolitik view where bi-lateral and free trade (market access) agreements are the only options on the table.


I recognise that FTAs are not without value, indeed they can be stepping stones to multilateral agreements.


Labor progressed Australian FTAs with Korea, Japan and China when in Government.


We also finalised agreements with Malaysia, Chile and a comprehensive arrangement with the ASEAN economies and New Zealand.


But as instruments of compromise and the product of pragmatism, bilateral Free Trade Agreements will always offer unproven market access, inferior to global free trade rounds.


Re-booting multilateralism demands a two-pronged assault on overt and covert protectionism.


The 2008 Washington summit – widely viewed as the meeting that made the G20 the world’s premier forum for economic cooperation – agreed to a standstill on protectionism.


This is was an important statement of principle – especially in the context of the GFC.


After all, the understandable national reflex at a time of global financial instability, rising unemployment and plummeting investment is to revert to populist, short-term protectionism.


But this standstill has sometimes been honoured more in the breach than the observance.


Between May and November 2013, the WTO reports that G20 member nations introduced 116 different trade-restrictive measures.


Only 20 per cent of protectionist measures introduced amidst the GFC have been wound back.


A level of progress on par with the world’s next ten biggest economies – hardly leadership by example.


Redoubling our efforts on overt protectionism, needs to be accompanied by a new focus on covert, ‘behind-the-border’ protectionism.


Andrew MacKenzie, the head of BHP Billiton and the Chair of the B20 trade task force, has labelled this ‘murky protectionism’ – the true enemy of free trade.


The 2009 Trade Ministers meeting in Bali identified measures such as: currency manipulation and unduly burdensome registration procedures.


This process, initiated by former Trade Minister Craig Emerson, was designed to inject new momentum into the Doha round.


The G20 should champion the Bali principles – and move for their rapid implementation.


Right now, the G20, speaking with a single voice, is probably the only institution that can re-boot genuine free trade.


And it must.


For the party I lead, the Australian Labor Party, our commitment to open markets has never been an ideological, or theological one.


It sprang from the realisation that ‘fortress Australia’, sheltered behind its high tariff wall, was not delivering for our people, for ordinary Australians.


The high tariff wall kept prices elevated, and isolated firms from global competition.


Australian businesses that might have thrived on the global stage were kept cosseted.


Labor’s three waves of tariff cuts in 1973, 1988 and 1991 –delivered over two decades of continuous economic expansion.


We look at open markets as the most powerful engine of growth the world has known.


And we know that growth is the best way of creating good and fulfilling jobs in productive and competitive enterprises.


But we recognise that while trade liberalisation boosts overall growth in the medium and long term, it can also deliver short term pain for industries formerly protected by tariffs.


Labor believes that governments have an obligation to not leave behind the workers from those


industries during periods of economic transition – to make sure that people have the skills and flexibility to adapt to change, and benefit from it.




In this modern, knowledge-intensive economy, companies are minimising costs through innovation, outsourcing and automation.


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


Whether it is elaborate transfer of patents and transactions through the memorably titled ‘Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich’…


…or the use of intra-company lending to effectively shift profit from high-taxing jurisdictions to low-taxing ones.


Shrewd companies are pushing the boundaries in pursuit of ‘tax arbitrage’, for maximum benefit at minimal liability.


These practices substantially erode a nation’s company tax base – and they distort the market, unfairly disadvantaging local businesses, big and small.


And they create a perverse incentive for nations to compete for initial international investment by hollowing-out their own tax systems.


The 2013 G20 summit in St Petersburg endorsed the OECD’s action plan on Base Erosion and Profit-Shifting – Brisbane should maintain the international momentum on this issue.


The viability and credibility of the G20 depends on implementing what was agreed at previous meetings – not setting and forgetting new goals each year.


In the near term, a concerted push to reduce base erosion and profit-shifting is an obvious and immediate method for bolstering the fiscal position of advanced economies.


In Australia alone, Labor acted to improve the Budget bottom line by over $5.3 billion in this area.


In the longer term, it is evidence of the fact that Governments cannot ensure fiscal sustainability purely through austerity-style cuts or Keynesian stimulus.


Sound economic policy always demands careful consideration of both expenditure and revenue.


Getting the maximum efficiency from our corporate tax base is especially important when we consider the demographic realities of the next century.


When I was at school, there were 7.5 taxpayers to support every Australian aged 65 years or older.


When my daughter was born in 2009, that ratio was five to one.


By 2050 it will be around 2.5 to one.


This is not a unique quirk of Australian demography – it will be one of the dominant themes of the world’s advanced economies over the coming decades.


And at the same time as the personal tax base is contracting, our citizens will be requiring more and better services from their Governments.


Breakthroughs in medical research will create higher expectations in healthcare.


The growing number of high-skill jobs will increase pressure on the availability and quality of higher education and vocational training.


And senior citizens, people who have worked hard all their lives, paid taxes all their lives and made a contribution will rightly believe they are entitled to dignity, security and comfort in retirement.


Incremental reforms that remove loopholes and tighten tax arrangements are important.


But former Australian Treasury Secretary, Dr Ken Henry, is among those who have argued that we need to take a more ambitious approach – by looking at rent-based taxation arrangements.


In the UK, the Mirrlees Review has considered the idea of a unitary tax model – treating a multinational corporation with numerous legal subsidiaries as a single entity.


Other experts have proposed the option of destination-based cash flow taxation – levying the income from the ‘real’ transaction, less all expenditure on associated transactions, to reduce profit-shifting.


Of course, these are highly complex arrangements, rife with difficult implementation issues.


And practicalities are especially important when we consider the revenue collection difficulties, governance issues and other ‘shadow financing’ concerns in developing nations.


Simply put, any progress on a more comprehensive, effective approach to tackling multinational tax evasion depends on international co-operation.


The G20 will have to drive progress to a more efficient corporate tax system for the future.




The fifth, and final, priority for this year’s G20 must be climate change.


Make no mistake, climate change is an economic issue, an environmental issue and it is a security issue – and for all these reasons, it belongs on the G20 agenda.


Just as global growth, global free trade and multi-national tax avoidance require international consensus – climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution.


For my party in Australia, this has been a politically difficult issue for some years now.


Having been unable to secure support for the first incarnation of an Emissions Trading Scheme, Labor introduced an economy wide price on pollution – the first step in moving Australia to an ETS.


Australia’s ETS was designed to link to the world’s largest carbon market – the European Union – and internationalise our carbon mitigation.


The price on carbon was recently repealed by the current Australian Government – which ran a long, highly effective negative campaign against a ‘carbon tax’.


So this month, Australia gained regrettable worldwide attention for moving backwards on climate change.


Labor remains committed to effective action on climate change through policies like an ETS because it imposes the minimum cost on Australian businesses and Australian households.


And because opting for inaction on climate change is both environmentally, and economically, reckless.

A view supported by, among others, former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson who has warned of:


‘The profound economic risks of doing nothing’ on climate change.


According to Paulson:


Waiting for more information before acting’ is not ‘conservative’.


It is ‘taking a very radical risk’.


It is also, I would submit, another form of false economic protectionism – a damaging economic isolationism.


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


In 2014, the world’s emissions trading schemes are already valued at more than $30 billion.


The seven pilot schemes in China are the second largest carbon market in the world.


South Korea will introduce its ETS on 1 January 2015.


Mexico put a price on carbon in 2013.


New York and eight other North-Atlantic states are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.


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


President Obama has made his preference for an ETS clear, but the political dynamic in Congress has meant that the United States will focus its national effort on reducing emissions through heavy regulation and intervention.


As the world moves to take action, it will not be long before a lack of climate policy is an obstacle to finalising trade deals.


In fact, it is entirely possible that trade negotiations will mandate an effective price on carbon to ensure a level trading field.


Just as the 2015 Paris Climate summit will give world leaders a chance to formulate their emissions targets, the G20 offers the opportunity for stronger, deeper economic links in the emissions market.


The benefit of emissions trading is the economy-wide incentives it creates for clean energy, and more efficient energy use.


Effective action on climate change provides a strong price signal to diversify the national, and global, energy mix.


As we all know, a disruption in energy supply can have a catastrophic impact on a nation’s economic growth.


Reliable renewable energy acts a shock absorber for the unforeseen natural disasters and sudden geopolitical shifts that can imperil conventional energy supplies.


For G20 governments, energy security depends on creating an environment of regulatory certainty and encouraging innovation and investment in renewable technologies.




Delivering prosperity with fairness, rebooting global free trade, closing tax loopholes for multinationals and making progress on climate change action are ambitious goals, I recognise that.


The diversity of views between G20 nations – and within G20 nations – only enhances the difficulty of the task ahead.


But rehashing reasons to fail will not help us face the challenges and opportunities of this century.


This is not a time for incrementalism, patching or pandering.


We need to break the mould of short-termism and sectional interest.


We need to start planning for the long term – and investing in the long term.


Our people expect no less from their leaders.


If we are to take up the task of reform, to build prosperity that will stretch beyond our lifetimes – then we must be bold, we must be ambitious and we must be optimistic.


I began today with the words of John Curtin, a great Australian leader and a hero of mine.


I conclude with the words of another man I deeply admire –President Theodore Roosevelt.


Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.


That must be our goal – to dare the mighty things, to win the glorious triumphs and to build a better, more prosperous world.







Jul 21, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins



MONDAY, 21 JULY 2014


Ladies and Gentlemen

Tonight we gather in celebration of our countries’ deep and enduring friendship – and in the shadow of new global tragedy.

Tonight, in a building that houses monuments to some of the greatest feats of aviation daring in history, we mourn the loss of 298 people whose lives were stolen from the skies.

Here, at the home of Orville and Wilbur’s Wright Flyer, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St Louis, Chuck Yeager’s Glamorous Glennis and the cramped command module of men who went to the moon ‘in peace for all mankind’, we reflect on new proof of the fragility of all human life.

The shooting down of MH17 touched every corner of our world.

As President Obama put it:

An Asian airliner was destroyed in European skies, filled with citizens from many countries.

Of the 298 innocent people murdered a little more than 100 hours ago, it is reported that 80 were children.

At least six of those on board MH17 were leading researchers bound for the International HIV/AIDS Conference currently underway in my home town of Melbourne.

It is entirely possible that the cure for a disease that has claimed the lives of 20 million people – and afflicts another 35 million – was on that plane.

At least one US Citizen is among the dead.

And Australia is in mourning for 37 of our own – citizens and residents.

No country knows better than America, the pall of shock and grief that currently grips so many nations of the world.

Nearly 13 years ago, the skies and streets of New York were filled with the smoke and ash and dust of the World Trade Centre.

The twin towers reduced to rubble, nearly 3000 lives claimed in an act of unspeakable evil and hundreds more cut short by a cancerous cloud.

Outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, United Airlines Flight 93 was brought to ground when the passengers on board rose in revolt against the hijackers.

They sacrificed their own lives to spare the plane’s intended target –possibly the Capitol Building at the top of this mall, or the White House less than two miles from here.

And this morning, at Arlington National Cemetery, I paused in front of the granite marker that bears the names of the 184 people who perished when American Airlines Flight 77 was piloted into the Pentagon on that dreadful day.

13 years ago, in that moment of violent horror, Prime Minister Howard stood shoulder to shoulder with our friends in the United States – as did Labor leader, and now Australia’s outstanding Ambassador to the United States, Kim Beazley.

For generations, our friendship has been strengthened and deepened by shared hardship.

As believers in peace, liberty and democracy – we have fought together in wars against tyranny and oppression.

I laid a wreath today at Arlington, to honour the sacrifice of generations of Americans to the cause of peace and freedom.

So often, they have fought, and fallen, alongside Australians.

In July 1918 on the Western Front, at the battle of Hamel, Diggers and Doughboys fought side by side under the command of the great Australian General, Sir John Monash.

Two months later, at the pivotal battle of St Quentin Canal, Monash again led Australian and US troops, achieving the first full breach of the hitherto-impregnable Hindenburg line in the Allies’ ‘100 day offensive’.

In that First World War, the Australian Federation was in only its second decade.

Australian soldiers still enlisted in the name of ‘King and Country’.

And many, if not most, members of the Australian Imperial Force would indeed have seen their young country as an outpost of the old Empire.

The Americans had a very different perspective.

As Sergeant Fred P Jones of the 108th Engineers put it:

The British still remembered the Revolutionary war – and if they didn’t we reminded them of it.

And yet from the outset, American and Australian troops formed a spontaneous and special bond.

Then, as now, we saw something of ourselves in each other.

Lieutenant Kenneth Gow from New Jersey said that Australians:

were more like ourselves than any of the other allies

And an Australian Private who fought alongside the Americans in the Battle of Hamel wrote of his ‘lavish admiration’ for the Americans’ ‘dash’.

Few battlefields have borne more bloodshed than the Western Front, and few have played host to more inspiring acts of selfless courage.

Historian Dale Blair recounts the story of New York Sergeant Merritt D Cutler, from the 107th Regiment, who fought in the battle of St Quentin Canal, and described the aftermath of the German artillery assault as resembling: ‘a scene from Dante’s Inferno’.

Cutler would win a Distinguished Service Cross that day, when, in the face of heavy machine-gun fire, he went in search of a stretcher – and a fellow stretcher-bearer – to bring the wounded and dying back behind the line.

The first soldier he encountered was an Aussie.

When Cutler asked if this soldier was prepared to join him in risking his life to rescue wounded comrades, the Australian replied, as only an Australian could:

‘Sure, Yank, I’ll go – we’re in this bloody thing together’ 

And in the century since, that promise has endured.

From its very beginning, ours was a friendship built on the extraordinary courage of ordinary people.

This mutual respect, this returned admiration for American and Australian bravery in adversity, is the human thread that runs unbroken through our shared history.

In February 1942, in Sunda Strait off the coast of Indonesia – the USS Houston and the HMAS Perth stood alone against a Japanese invasion convoy of more than 50 ships.

696 American and 375 Australian sailors paid the ultimate price that night, in a fierce battle that claimed both ships.

A simple plaque in Western Australia’s Rockingham Naval Memorial Park pays tribute to the memory of crewmen from the Houston and the Perth with the words:

Still on watch in Sunda Strait.

In Korea, pilots from Australia’s 77 Fighter Squadron flew almost 19,000 individual sorties in Meteors and Mustangs to support General MacArthur’s UN forces on the ground.

American respect for the skill and dedication of these Australian pilots helped drive the signing of the ANZUS Pact – the foundation of our two nations’ security partnership.

And most recently, in the southern Uruzgan province of Afghanistan, our service men and women have worked seamlessly together, often in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances.

First under Dutch command, then American, now Australian.

More than two thousand US soldiers made the supreme sacrifice in Afghanistan.

Along with 41 Australians.

Among them, Corporal Cameron Baird who was posthumously awarded Australia’s 100th Victoria Cross.

The Victoria Cross, or VC, is our nation’s highest military honour – just as the Congressional Medal of Honor is yours.

In the US Army, the inscription for the Medal of Honor is one world ‘Valour’.

Our inscription is twice as long, it reads: ‘For Valour’.

The Victoria Cross is a decoration open to all ranks, and all ranks of the Australian Defence Force are required to salute a VC recipient.

It has been described as:

‘the most democratic, and at the same time the most exclusive of all orders of chivalry’.

And proof that:

there is only one standard, the human standard of valour and deadly peril’.

Four Australians have been awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery in Afghanistan and nine Americans have earned the Medal of Honour.

13 men from our two countries who, when confronted with deadly danger and inescapable peril, thought only for the safety of their friends.

Their bravery, and the bravery of all their comrades-in-arms, is the latest and most vivid chapter in the tale of our countries shared history of courage, friendship and sacrifice.

Tonight, we honour their memory.

I leave you with a final thought from the hallowed ground of Arlington, where an eternal flame burns alongside the immortal name of John F Kennedy.

53 years ago, in that memorable inaugural address, Kennedy told tens of thousands of Americans on seats swept free of snow – and millions listening around the world – of humanity’s new mission:

Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need.

Not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”.

A struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen, for as long as those enemies remain, America’s mission, Australia’s mission, humanity’s mission endures.

Whatever our future holds, Australians and Americans know that we will always face it together.

As old allies in war.

As unwavering partners in peace.

And as steadfast friends in times of need.



Jul 18, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins





FRIDAY, 18 JULY 2014




Madam Speaker

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

I do so against the backdrop of a terrible tragedy.

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

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

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

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

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

Today is not a day for playing politics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those two planes are now a fleet of 140 aircraft.

Those four Qantas employees now number around 30,000.

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

For Australians, Qantas is more than just an airline.

It is an icon.

It is Australia.

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

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

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

The Bill we consider today ensures some important things:

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed, we can all be proud.

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

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

This how the big questions get answered Madam Speaker.

This is how the key problems get solved.

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

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

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

Long may it be so.

I commend the bill to the house.





Jul 18, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins





FRIDAY, 18 JULY 2014






Madam Speaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, our countries are embraced in our shared grief.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This must be investigated – and it must be stopped.

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

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

Madam Speaker

This is a time for national unity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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