Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Jul 25, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

 

NEW YORK, USA

THURSDAY, 24 JULY 2014

 

 

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.

 

 

ENDS

 

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

 

Jul 23, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

‘GLOBAL GROWTH: TRADE, EQUITY & OPPORTUNITY’

SPEECH

‘GLOBAL GROWTH: TRADE, EQUITY & OPPORTUNITY’

PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS
WASHINGTON DC, USA

WEDNESDAY, 23 JULY 2014

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

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.

 

INCLUSIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH

 

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.

 

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

 

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.

 

REBOOTING FREE TRADE

 

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.

 

MULTINATIONAL TAX MINIMISATION

 

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.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE & ENERGY SECURITY

 

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.

 

CONCLUSION

 

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.

 

 

ENDS

 

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

 

Jul 21, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

AUSTRALIAN-AMERICAN LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE

AUSTRALIAN-AMERICAN LEADERSHIP DIALOGUE
SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM
WASHINGTON DC, USA

MONDAY, 21 JULY 2014

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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.

ENDS

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

Jul 18, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

QANTAS SALE AMENDMENT BILL

SPEECH

QANTAS SALE AMENDMENT BILL

PARLIAMENT HOUSE – CANBERRA

FRIDAY, 18 JULY 2014

 

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Madam Speaker

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

I do so against the backdrop of a terrible tragedy.

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

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

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

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

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

Today is not a day for playing politics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those two planes are now a fleet of 140 aircraft.

Those four Qantas employees now number around 30,000.

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

For Australians, Qantas is more than just an airline.

It is an icon.

It is Australia.

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

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

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

The Bill we consider today ensures some important things:

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed, we can all be proud.

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

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

This how the big questions get answered Madam Speaker.

This is how the key problems get solved.

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

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

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

Long may it be so.

I commend the bill to the house.

ENDS

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

 

 

Jul 18, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

STATEMENT ON MH17

SPEECH

STATEMENT ON MH17

PARLIAMENT HOUSE – CANBERRA

FRIDAY, 18 JULY 2014

 

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Madam Speaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today, our countries are embraced in our shared grief.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This must be investigated – and it must be stopped.

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

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

Madam Speaker

This is a time for national unity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

Jul 17, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Speech

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE

PARLIAMENT HOUSE – CANBERRA

THURSDAY, 17 JULY 2014

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

ENDS

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

 

Jul 14, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE

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

We could have made this parliament a place of inspiration.

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

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

That debate took this country to a higher level.

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

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

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

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

We did the second best.

We worked to achieve a national response.

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

But we were right to have international pricing.

We were right to support an emissions trading scheme.

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

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

We were right to back the Renewable Energy Target.

We were right to listen to the scientific world.

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

For this, we do not apologise.

From this, we do not resile.

We are not skeptics.

We believe the science.

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

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

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

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

We want to nurture the debate.

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

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

SCIENTIFIC  CASE

Mr Deputy Speaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is, as President Obama has said:

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

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

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

That is what Labor did.

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

WORLD ACTION

This is where the world is heading.

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

Australia can choose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

South Korea will introduce its ETS on 1 January 2015.

Mexico put a price on carbon in 2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          The profound economic risks of doing nothing.

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

It is taking a very radical risk.

This Prime Minister is no leader.

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

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

A disaster for the Australian economy and our environment.

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

ALP POLICY

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

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

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

Under Labor, wind power generation – tripled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it wants to get rid of ARENA too.

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

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

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

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

Tidal Energy in Portland.

Algae as a biofuel in Townsville, Parkville and Whyalla.

Solar thermal energy storage in Newcastle.

Geothermal energy in the Cooper Basin.

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

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

Mr Deputy Speaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giving Australian innovation, Australian ideas the chance to thrive.

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

The intricate, carefully calibrated design work has been done.

The international compatibility is assured.

Labor’s ETS is legislated.

It is ready to go.

DIRECT ACTION

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

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

The logic is baffling and the hypocrisy is staggering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today this Parliament has a clear choice.

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

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

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

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

Today I give Australians this promise.

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

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

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

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

We all have choices in history.

Some are more important than others.

Today we can embrace the extreme risk of doing nothing.

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

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

No apology will suffice.

It will be forever remembered as your greatest folly.

No mistake greater.

No blunder more serious.

Inexplicable.

Unjustifiable.

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

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

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

This parliament has choices.

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

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

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

Constantly striving for higher ground.

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

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

ENDS

 

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

Jul 8, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

STATE DINNER FOR PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE

 

ADDRESS TO THE STATE DINNER FOR PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

TUESDAY, 8 July 2014

 

SPEECH

 

 

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

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

But this was an honour you richly deserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT : LEADERS OFFICE MEDIA UNIT: 02 6277 4053

 

Jul 8, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

PARLIAMENTARY WELCOME FOR PRIME MINISTER ABE

PARLIAMENTARY WELCOME FOR PRIME MINISTER ABE

CANBERRA

TUESDAY, 8 JULY 2014

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

Prime Minister Abe.

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

You honour all of us with your presence here today.

There is so much our two countries share:

Faith in democracy.

Deep respect for the rule of law.

Co-operation in peacekeeping missions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Australians are grateful for these gifts.

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

Or, as the Japanese saying goes:

Juunin to Iro.

 “Ten People, Ten Colours.”

In embracing our differences, we are stronger.

And ours is a friendship that shares hardship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It has long been this way.

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

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

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

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

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

In Bundaberg and Settsu City

Inakawa Town and Ballarat

Geraldton and Kosai City.

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

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

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

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

A partner in prosperity – and a partner in peace.

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

ENDS

 

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

 

 

Jul 7, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

ADDRESS TO THE AUSTRALIAN 2014 ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OUTLOOK CONFERENCE.

 

 

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

I am a reformer.

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

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

Life is not about reforming or not reforming.

Life is not about saving or not saving.

It’s about what you want to reform.

It’s about what you want to save.

That’s the essential choice Australia faces:

What do we want to reform and improve?

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

And what do we want to save?

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

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

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

It’s about

-       Building a broad community consensus

-       Detailed and consistent advocacy

-       Fairness

And each of these elements depends upon the other.

Without community consensus, no reform can endure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australian Labor, he said:

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

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

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

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

We shunned Thatcherite austerity – and Friedmanite doctrine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Australian people are up for hard decisions.

They engage in complex transactions every day.

Managing family budgets.

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

Attending to their health.

Enjoying a life outside work.

Starting and running small businesses.

Paying their mortgage.

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

Smoothing their wealth over long life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

None of Labor’s reforms were inevitable.

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

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

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

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

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

But they did, every time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This includes a commitment to economic and fiscal responsibility.

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

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

Support that the Government rejected.

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

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

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

In response, I would simply say this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decisions that amount to $1.1 billion in foregone revenue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the Labor model for economic reform.

Values and evidence.

Prosperity and fairness.

Principles and pragmatism.

This is our model:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think of the GP tax.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real reform, not reform for the sake of change.

Reform that benefits, and delivers, for all Australians.

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

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

There is no comfort in complacency – only peril.

Complacency delivers no return to investors.

There is no recognition of bravery in complacency.

The world is not waiting for us.

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

Ladies and Gentlemen

I leave you with this promise.

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

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

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

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

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

We will offer Australians policies with depth and detail.

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

Not vague pronouncements that devolve into nasty surprises.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boldly, completely – and fairly.

ENDS

 

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

 

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