ADDRESS TO THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN LEADERSHIP MATTERS BREAKFAST
WEDNESDAY, 15 MAY 2019
Good morning and thank you for that very generous introduction.
I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and I pay my respects to their elders, past, present and emerging.
Goodness me, breakfast with The West Australian. This is the A-list event for aspiring Prime Ministers.
And I acknowledge the work of Anthony and his team for organising this but also I should say of Anthony in his time as editor of The West Australian newspaper a couple of firsts -
The first debate of the current election campaign.
Indeed the first debate of any election campaign in Western Australia so well done to him and Lanai and the others who compered the event.
Now I was just talking to Chloe about the number of times - my wife Chloe is here, lovely to have breakfast with you and 500 other friends.
Today is the 83rd day that I have spent in Western Australia in this job.
That does include a holiday that Chloe and I had up in the Broome, in the Kimberley area as well.
Eighty three days. So I've been coming here a fair bit and I have learnt very much that the West is unique.
The last thing you need here is a wise man from the East coming to tell you what should happen or how it should happen.
But the reason why I highlight to begin with that I have been here so often, and my case to vote Labor at the next election, is that my style in Opposition will be the style of the government I lead.
We will be a listening government.
We will be a government who respects the massive contribution that the West makes.
But indeed I have to say on this trip I do hope that it is my last as Opposition Leader.
I do also want to acknowledge Premier Mark McGowan who is here this morning.
He is generous with his time and advice on the West and I feel optimistic that if I was to be elected on Saturday he and I would form a fantastic pro-West partnership between Perth and Canberra.
Mark is very generous in his advice but he can also be quite forceful.
I remember, to give you one example of one of my first visits here as Opposition Leader, Mark and I caught up for a coffee. It just so happened it was Valentine's Day.
He looked me in the eye and said those magical words, which you always want to hear on such a day: "I'm not going to give you an inch on the GST".
Mark's advocacy - I think does deserve some recognition along with business leaders from the West.
He made sure that federal Labor was leading in the debate to secure a fair share for the West.
And if we win this election I am proud to guarantee that Western Australia will get its fair share of GST funding.
We backed the legislation in Parliament and we will guarantee the transitional funding arrangements in our first budget.
Indeed earlier this year we convened a joint meeting of our shadow Cabinet and Mark's Cabinet.
It was a very informative, very efficient way of building the partnership, working together, making sure we can break down the layers of process and paperwork that can sometimes get in the way.
And we intend to finish as we started.
If we win the election I shall be bringing my federal Cabinet back to Perth for a joint meeting with Mark and his team. We just cover a lot of ground a lot more quickly.
And I do this because we want to start delivering on our plans for Western Australia from day one.
A federal term is three years. The average length of a government is slightly less than three years in any parliamentary term.
That's not a lot of time to get things done.
If you watch our first 100 days, we intend to finish as we start.
We intend to get on with business.
We want to help deliver our plans for Western Australia in conjunction with the West.
If you think about it, in everything from health and Metronet to shipbuilding, tourism, manufacturing - it will be shaped and guided by the local knowledge of businesses and leaders and the West Australian community.
I've asked my Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen to be here today because he and I know that the success of Western Australian business and industry and workers - it is central to our economic plan for the nation, to our vision not just for the West but for the nation.
I've asked Senator Penny Wong to be here because Western Australia faces the world.
Many of the businesses in this room and many of you in this room deal directly with our region.
The engagement that you have with Asia, in particular the leadership of Western Australian business in its engagement with Asia is one of the reasons why we have a successful economy.
West Australians are sophisticated in their foreign policy and I think we all note the departure of Julie Bishop who had a sophisticated grasp of foreign affairs.
But don't worry, Penny Wong will pick up those reins in her style.
But you understand here that you can't just talk about China being either a strategic threat or just a customer.
We need to engage much more deeply with China and other growing complex Asian economies and societies.
We need a sophisticated approach in Canberra to match what you are doing here and that's why I am confident that Penny Wong will fill that bill. She will be excellent.
Now I don't want to embarrass our hosts at The West Australian - not too much - but last week when we were locking in a day for this speech, someone kindly emailed a format to my office.
That included a bit of welcome, free advice. They said regarding the speech and Q&A please be aware the audience is very much the top end of town.
I appreciate that advice.
But I wanted to say and just reassure our email correspondent, I don't look out at this crowd and see a room full of class enemies.
It's not my view of Australia, it's never been my view of Australia.
I think this country works best when we work together.
It's as simple as that.
Now I fully am committed to the proposition that I have said that this election is a referendum on cost of living and wages.
Because when the cost of living keeps going up, when your employees have to pay more and more for child care so they can come to work to pay for child care to come to work.
Healthcare - costs have gone up under this government. The out of pocket costs to see a GP or a specialist. Energy.
Working families do need to have a pay rise and only Labor has a plan to make this happen.
But a living wage is good for business too.
It's good for confidence.
When millions of Australians have a little bit more to spend, that generates economic activity.
The volume of cash moving through the economy increases.
It is a rising tide that lifts all boats.
It's consumption that creates sustainability, broad-based economic growth.
And for those who are concerned that somehow supporting modest and meaningful wage rises will upend business models, I'm not going to pick a particular number of what is the right wage price in a particular circumstance because that's the independent umpire, that's the business's capacity to pay.
But if you look at the average of wage rises under a Coalition Government in recent times, it has been about 2.2 per cent. If you look at the average under Labor Governments, it has been about 3.6 per cent.
That doesn't mean the sky is going to fall in.
Just imagine that extra difference, and I am not saying that that's the number - some journalist will say 'Aha, we've got a number'. The point about it is that lived experience is that when wages are moving more, they have got to be modest, but meaningful, they have got to be within an industry or business's capacity to pay of course.
Then all of a sudden we become a more confident society.
The fact that last quarter we had zero per cent inflation is not healthy.
An anorexic economy is not the shape of a healthy economy.
I spent a lifetime, my adult lifetime, negotiating - although my parents would say I spent all my lifetime negotiating.
But I spent a lifetime, an adult lifetime, negotiating, delivering win-win outcomes for employees and employers.
If I am given the privilege to serve as our Prime Minister I will bring that same consistent view over 30 years to my new task. Win-win.
I genuinely value cooperation.
I understand as well as any person in Australian politics that you have to have a successful, profitable employer to have a job.
There is no other way it can be. I get it. I understand.
And I understand that where the jobs are safe, where people have decent wages, where they have greater agency in their job, greater job security, then productivity inevitably improves.
So in the spirit of this win-win I would like to talk to you about something that Chris and I are particularly proud of. It's called our Australian Investment Guarantee.
It is a great policy. Perhaps doesn't get the attention it deserves. It's a big room and even I can see Chris nodding who thinks it’s a great policy.
It's his baby and he should be very proud of it.
If we win the election, our Australian Investment Guarantee will provide a 20 per cent tax deduction for employers and businesses who invest more than $20,000 in new plant equipment and new machinery and new software.
That's 20 per cent additional deduction - day one.
Now I get for medium sized businesses who may be looking at a piece of machinery which is half a million dollars and it's a marginal call whether to make the investment.
Imagine an extra 20 per cent deduction right up front, it just makes sense.
But it also makes sense for the Labor view of the world.
We are not going to reduce taxes for past investment but we are happy to reward future investment which creates productivity growth.
So we want to help Australian businesses invest in their own productivity.
In one of the more surreal moments of this election it was attacked by a paper on the east coast, somewhere in the middle of Sydney, little paper. And they said we are being too pro-business.
I can't make anyone happy. Never mind.
We get it, we get that we want people to invest. We want to drive productivity.
Productivity growth is the sweet spot.
If we get the productivity growth we can then ensure improvement in remuneration, improvement in profitability and improvement in re-investment and of course the opportunities for more customers and better exports.
What's nice about what we are doing with this Australian Investment Guarantee, this is a business initiative - which the other side of politics are not matching - straight down the guts of what I think is important in a business, support for future investment.
The McKell Institute says it will generate at least another 77,000 jobs.
It also says that through the investment in new, productive technology it will generate at least $1,500 in wage rises.
All within the envelope of what people can afford because they're getting better productivity.
It's a win-win. And that's what I will look for if I am the Prime Minister.
It will deliver a win for West Australian business. It will deliver a win for the whole economy.
Now there's a long term purpose behind the Australian Investment Guarantee.
If we win this election we want to help you with the efficiency of your operation by you being able to invest in new generation equipment.
And we want to give you the chance to invest in cleaner technology.
Cleaner technology mean cheaper power for you and lower carbon pollution for our kids.
Now there's been a lot of talk in this campaign from our opponents, and some of their more eager supporters in parts of the media, about the cost of taking action on climate change.
First of all, I know firsthand that there are plenty of businesses in this room and plenty of West Australian businesses who are already acting on climate change, who are already trying to reduce the carbon footprint of their business.
And that's how you do it. In the business world you don't have the luxury of hyperbole.
You can't present to your shareholders a scare campaign and say we're not going to invest.
You make your decisions based on commercial reality, based on what the competitors are doing, based on the best technology.
Based on evidence, based on your desire to lower costs.
In business you know that pretending a problem isn't there does not make it go away.
But simply, not only if you take a commercial mindset with your approach to climate, you understand that there is a price to delay.
There is a cost of inaction.
The longer you stick with old technology as your competitors domestically or internationally move forward with new technology, the harder it is to play catch up.
And the greater the subsequent investment has to be to get back to that position that you were previously in.
You understand that there are commercial opportunities in moving to new cleaner technology and sources of power.
You also get to be on the ground floor of new industry growth and new opportunities.
You're probably aware in the West, but Australia produces 10 of the 16 commodities required to manufacture solar panels - 10 of the 16.
I know Gary Gray and others - because they've told me - are aware that we hold the largest deposits of lithium in the world.
It's exciting isn't it? We mine every commodity needed to produce a battery and the storage technology of the future. Here.
And as a student of history I'm always reminded that in 1945 Australia was the fifth largest manufacturer of aircraft in the world.
We were the fifth in the world.
People thought we shouldn’t really be in the airplane construction business.
So now we buy planes from Brazil, from Sweden, all over the world.
We were very smart - we got out of something that we were a leader in.
Let's not make that mistake again with lithium, with batteries, with solar energy.
We are leaders and this is a theme I will come to at the close of my address.
Australia needs to think like a leader again, not a follower.
We need to say, well it’s not too hard, we have our quiet little duopolies, just get the dividend and move along, hope the world doesn’t get too much harder.
In advanced manufacturing in the West you are already leaders.
You have outstanding scientists.
We have a skilled workforce.
In fact we have everything from the minerals, the resources, the skills of the people, the imagination of the entrepreneurs and business.
The thing which we are not leading in is our politicians.
The will from Canberra.
The global economy is changing so much faster than at any time in recorded history.
The world isn’t going to wait for Australia to have another three years of climate change argy bargy.
The world doesn’t care if Clive Palmer has the balance of power in Australia.
Then want to know what we’re going to do.
They want to see if Australia is prepared to be the significant country in the world that we should be.
That's why our plan for leadership injects more support than ever into minerals exploration and discovery.
Did you know that we haven't discovered a new tier one deposit since 2005?
The rest of the world is discovering at the rate of three a year. We haven’t had one since ’05.
Our share of global exploration, the spending on global exploration, it has halved in the last two decades.
Our share of gold production is down from 13 per cent to 8 per cent.
Most of our 71 gold mines will close in the next two decades.
Nickel has halved to less than 10 per cent.
We need to replenish our pipeline of new projects, right now.
Because it can take decades to turn discovery into an exporting mine.
And because demand for crucial commodities is moving now.
It is why Labor in partnership with industry will invest $23 million into establishing the Australian Future Mines Centre to coordinate and lead scientific research.
To develop the technology for the kind of exploration work that can ensure that current legacy technology simply can’t discover.
This is what I’m all about. This is what our team is all about, working with mining.
We want to create high quality jobs with decent paying conditions, playing to Western Australia's strengths.
Whether it’s upgrading tourism infrastructure to better service the Ningaloo Reef.
I mean Western Australia is such a tourism story.
Or it could be backing Metronet - proper, public transport system.
And the skilled jobs in manufacturing and apprenticeships that will come with it.
Or it’s investing in our shipbuilding both for the Navy and for a new Australian merchant marine.
And today in terms of workplace relations I think it is time to start a conversation and look at it carefully.
How do we support - how does government create a framework of certainty so that you can go and attract the global comfort where we compete for global investment that the Australian workplace relations story means that you are competing when you are bidding for global capital for the mega projects.
And I’d like to do that by providing greater certainty for companies, workers, unions in the industrial relations framework
So what I mean specifically is that if I’m elected Prime Minister I would work with all involved.
The big companies, the constructors, the unions to consider amendments to the Fair Work Act which would allow companies undertaking major resource construction projects – so beyond three to four years, but longer, project life.
We would look at companies undertaking these mega projects and the multiple billions of dollars, we will be competing with the rest of the world for that investment.
We want to look at the ability for companies to negotiate with unions for extended greenfields agreements, project life, you can go to the global investors who will back it.
They’ll be good paying jobs. You get the certainty of the arrangement, the union gets the certainty of the arrangement, the workforce get the certainty of the arrangement.
No one else in politics is talking about that and if you want to deliver these outcomes you have to vote Labor because this current government doesn't have an industrial relations policy.
You won't find them standing in front of you saying let's get the unions on the big projects and the companies together saying how do we create longer term certainty for the mega resource projects which the West is so justifiably proud of.
If you think that certainty and investment, if you think that paying people properly, if you think being able to talk to the global money men and women and say okay, you can build the next big train, the next big development, and we’ve got a system which gives you certainty for the whole life of the project.
Whatever your politics may be, if you think that's a good idea you should vote for me on Saturday.
Because I’m the only one who’s going to deliver you that sort of certainty.
This is what the West needs.
And we do it because of the win-win philosophy I bring.
I’m not promoting that so you can tie down or you know or get a whole lot of cheap labour or anywhere else to work at the award rate.
It's about doing it properly.
Safe jobs, good jobs.
Jobs in which people know there’s a commitment so they can get a mortgage or move to the West.
You know I think win-win only happens when everyone plays by the same rules.
Where we have some multinational tax minimisers treating our tax laws in Australia as a mere detail.
The role of the budget of money is to be invested in schools and hospitals and aged care.
But also I think it puts Australian businesses and companies who do the right thing at a competitive disadvantage.
It’s the same story on so many fronts.
Today we’ve announced a small claims tribunal to help workers ensure that if they have been ripped off it’s not a long and cumbersome legal process and we can help people sort out matters quickly, efficiently and effectively.
Of course it's not just people who get ripped off from sham contracts and from abuses in the labour hire system.
The vast majority of the employers, the good employers take a hit too.
It’s very hard to pay people properly if you’ve got competition down the road, you know operating like a bottom dweller without any respect for proper safety or paying proper wages.
Good businesses lose contracts to those businesses.
So I understand the importance of making sure that we have solid industrial relations which applies to everyone equally.
You know I reject the notion of confrontation in industrial relations.
I think a take it or leave it approach damages long term productivity in workplaces.
All of the efforts that many of your companies are have taken get undermined if someone can open up a shed or a yard down the road and just pay the minimum.
So we've got to do better at getting that system right.
And of course when people don't get paid properly it's not just the people that don't get paid properly by dodging those who foot the bill.
When Clive Palmer for example plays fast and loose with the rules and the truth, he's insulting all the workers to whom he owes money.
He's insulting all the taxpayers who are effectively subsidising his billboards and text messages to you because the taxpayers of Australia have stepped into the shoes of Mr Palmer to pay the workers the money they owe them and it means the taxpayers owe them money.
But the good news is rather than you getting repaid the money, you're getting it through his billboard campaign.
I also think that he's effectively a cynical laughter and all of your businesses who wouldn't dream of not paying your debts.
We've got to do better.
It's one reason why I believe we can't afford to have Clive Palmer calling the shots in the Morrison Government for the next three years.
I mean the ads he's running in the West warning of a Chinese invasion of Australia, how does that help?
And this is the person who the Government wants to give the balance of control.
One thing I find when I travel around Australia is people say stop the chaos, just stop the chaos. Three years of certainty would be a big start on the last number of years.
And I want to say that we have learned our lesson in that regard.
I say that loud and clear to people who have never contemplated voting Labor previously there can be no doubt Labor is the most united party at the national level.
We have got six years to demonstrate that.
Most of my shadow ministers have either served in a Cabinet or been ministers.
So we are the most experienced, more than the Whitlam government, more than the Hawke government, more than the Rudd government.
Many of them have been in the same portfolios the entire time.
I mean it can't be good for defence when the current Government has had five defence ministers.
People are looking for stability and I just say to people at this upcoming election, we've put forward our policies. You know we have available our plan to deliver the fair go for the West. It's there, you can hold us to account to it
Chaos. I wouldn't have thought that in Australia that an argument to vote Labor would be based in part on stopping the chaos. But I think that is where we are at in the last two or three days of this election.
Imagine a situation where One Nation and Clive Palmer hold the balance of power in the Senate.
It's not the way this nation needs to go.
We're two decades into the 21st century. We just need to start aiming up, not down.
I can only imagine if the Government, and the Government did say yesterday to the independents, you must tell us who you vote for in the event of a minority government.
Which signalled to me that the Prime Minister is contemplating trying to get back in on the back of a minority coalition.
But what will this coalition have us do on climate and energy policy? Economic policy? To the fabric and function of our democracy?
I think that is one of the big risks in this election. Chaos, a coalition of chaos.
I don't want to make Australia an international laughing stock.
This is a test for all of us.
Can we decide after the last number of years of chaos that we are just going to pick one united team which has outlined their policies, prepared to work with all parts of the Australian economy and Australian community?
You know, two years ago the people of the West had the wisdom to reject the Liberal-One Nation alliance and chose a responsible, reforming West Australian Government.
I'm asking the same question to the West Australian people.
Do you want to have a Liberal, One Nation, Palmer Party Government in Canberra?
Or, do you want to vote for a stable, united and talented team with policies which were made in conjunction with the people of Western Australia.
You know, elections are very complicated.
But I want to put to you and I want to ask you as leaders to exercise your judgement.
We're 20 per cent of the way through the 21st Century, but is our nation currently heading in the right direction?
Are we doing enough on climate change? Are we defending our quality of living?
Are we making the long term decisions in our infrastructure? Are we backing our strong industries in the manner which I outlined we'd do today?
Are we educating our children well enough for the jobs of the future? Are our millions of pensioners getting the support they should get when they have got bad teeth.
Are we helping parents with child care enough to let them go to work?
This nation can do better.
For me this election isn't just about the cost of living or wages or climate change or looking after the pensioners.
It's about a country which will make a decision.
Can the Liberals' fear campaign trump our positive campaign?
And that's a only a judgement you can all make.
You know the Government is running a scare campaign.
We have chosen for the first time in a generation to put the most ambitious policy forward and a platform probably not since Whitlam in 72 have there been so many ideas on so many fronts.
From an Australian arts industry, culture, through to education, through to our First Nation people, through to the equal treatment of women, through to accepting the massive transition happening in the global economy on energy.
We'll have more independent foreign policy.
We want to see our education system be the best in the world, our health care system to be second to none.
It is very interesting and very important on Sunday morning, what choice the Australian people make.
Will we have chosen hope over fear?
Will we have chosen a united party prepared to push through the slightly ajar door on the nation into a bigger future.
Or will we stay where we are?
Scared? Scared of immigration? Scared of the world around us?
Scared of making tax reform? Scared of helping our young people? Scared of doing anything which upsets anyone?
Business is crying out for leadership.
You want from Canberra not someone to run your business, you want someone to be alongside you, you want someone to outline what the future looks like in 2030 and 2040.
My party can answer all of those questions.
And in the journey we make together, we will do it with you.
My party is the Labor Party in the finest traditions of the Labor Party.
We represent working people in this country, people who want to work, people who have worked, people who seek work and people who are working.
We are a party who believes fundamentally that this country works best together.
We are a party who is united. We are a party who not only wants to be trusted by the Australian people, but we trust and respect the Australian people so much that we've put our promises out there.
These are all your choices.
But I ask you to vote.
Vote Labor to end the chaos, to vote for real change, real change in climate, real change for the future, real change in our education, real change to help our businesses and our people fulfil their potential.
To vote for a government that is worthy of the people of Australia, as the people of Australia are worthy.
Thank you very much.