Bill's Transcripts

TRANSCRIPT - DOORSTOP - JABIRU - MONDAY, 14 JANUARY 2019

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP
JABIRU
MONDAY, 14 JANUARY 2019
 
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plans for Kakadu National Park and the Northern Territory; Cathy McGowan; Australia Day; border protection; Adani coal mine; Clive Palmer; Federal election.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody. It is a real privilege to be here in Kakadu at Jabiru. I want to acknowledge that we are holding this media conference on the land of the Mirrarr people and I acknowledge the traditional owners and their elders, past and present.
 
I think sometimes in our own country, we can be guilty of taking our country and some of its marvellous features for granted. And for too long I think that Kakadu has been neglected. Now we have a time of - if not crisis, of great urgency. The mine, Ranger Mine is coming to the end of its working life. The park has been neglected for too long, the voices of the people here not heard. 
 
So today, I'm really pleased to announce that if Labor is elected, we will work with the Northern Territory Government and we will work with the people who live here and the traditional owners to rescue Kakadu, to rescue Jabiru. We see a bright future. This is - as I said at the opening of my conference, Kakadu is one of the world's great, unique gifts. We have an obligation; the National Government responsible for the park, working with the local custodians to uplift, to refresh if you like, this marvellous national asset. If we don't do the work now it'll be too late for our kids and our grandkids to see. This is home, this park, to thousands of mammals and reptiles and birds - unique species. The rest of the world want to come and see what happens here, and I want to make it easier for them to do that. I also want to make sure though, that the locals are at the centre of the decisions which get made. 
 
Therefore, I acknowledge the Mirrarr people, the work that they've done over years, the work of the Northern Territory Government more recently, now head by a progressive administration lead by Michael Gunner, the work of Warren Snowdon, Malarndirri McCarthy who are here with me along with Luke Gosling, to put on the national political agenda the need to rescue Kakadu. 
 
So I am pleased to announce today that a Labor Government, from its very first budget if elected, will start rolling out a $220 million rescue plan. $100 million for roads, $45 million for asbestos remediation so that people can live here safely. There will be money for a visitor centre not far from where we meet. Michael Gunner has already come to the party. He is backing in with a promise on power and energy, schools and hospitals. Labor will make sure that we involve local contractors and traditional owners every step along the path of the master plan. 
 
Labor has got a vision for the Northern Territory, which of course is more than just Kakadu and Jabiru, but if you want to anchor the Territory's future, tourism is a vital linchpin. Labor understands that when we talk to the traditional owners, when we involve our First Australians, when we involve our local community, when we back in tourism, when we back in local business, there is nothing that we can't do as a nation. We are the only country in the world who is custodian to a whole continent. It is up to us to make sure that we hand on a better deal to our kids and grandkids. Let the rest of the world see a little bit of what we see here, because that way we can make sure that we hand on a better deal to those who come after us. 
 
I'd now like to invite my friends, the traditional owners, to say some words and of course then Michael Gunner, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. Gentlemen, over to you.
 
SIMON MUDJANDI, MIRARR TRADITIONAL OWNER: Hello everyone. This is fantastic news for Jabiru and Kakadu. We are very proud of our country. It is very special and we have a lot to share with visitors. We want to share our country with visitors. We can do this in a way that benefits everybody. We need to protect the country. Kakadu is more than beautiful as landscape and rock art. Aboriginal culture is alive and very deep. We have our 60,000 years of culture here. We want to share that in a new way with tourists, using new technology in the new visitor centre. That hasn't really been done yet. It is something new and exciting. We are also excited at the Reading Resource Centre. This is the place for all the clans in Kakadu to have office and reading space. There will be a language centre, place to meet business people and universities and to really develop Australian business and jobs. This is for all the clans, not just us Mirrarr. We used to have a lot more people visiting Kakadu. We can have more people come in if we plan it properly. All the clans need to be part of the planning for tourism and for roads. We can't leave that to the Board of Management anymore. Thank you.
 
CORBEN NABANARDI, MIRARR TRADITIONAL OWNER: First of all, I would like, you know, to thank the Liberal Party for supporting - the Labor Party! Sorry. Just ignore that bit. I would like to thank them for supporting us. I believe that this will have great benefit for our young ones for the near future to come. Thank you.
 
MICHAEL GUNNER, CHIEF MINISTER OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: This is a sensational day for the Territory, for Jabiru and for Kakadu. We now have a guarantee that after the next Federal election, hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested into Kakadu National Park. We know how important Kakadu is for driving international visitor numbers, for creating local jobs. The best thing about today's announcement, the best thing about Bill's plan - backed by Warren Snowdon, backed by Luke Gosling, backed by Malarndirri McCarthy, the best thing about Bill's plan is it recognises the urgency of action. Under Bill Shorten, under a Federal Labor Government, this money will flow from that first budget in that first term, in that first four years. 
 
It is critical that we act and we act now. We know that the Territory is facing tough economic times and it requires the big decisions. It requires the confidence of an Australian party in the Northern Territory and we get that from Bill and we get that from our local Federal members in Warren, Luke and Malarndirri. We recognise the urgency of action as a Territory Government, that is why one of the very first things we did after being elected was to come back to the negotiating table. I still cannot believe that the CLP formally and deliberately decided last term to walk away from negotiations around the future of Jabiru. And when you pair that with the neglect from the current Australian Government, that is a crippling decision for the Territory economy. We acted, we came back to the table. We had our first community caucus and community cabinet here in Jabiru to make sure locals knew that we were backing them, that we will work with the Gundjeihmi about their vision here for Kakadu and for Jabiru. And we have backed them, we have backed locals and we have backed traditional owners and we have backed the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation. 
 
We have provided that five year service guarantee around education and health. We have provided that guarantee around power and water - those basics that people should know that the Government is there for them on. And recognising the importance of action in a month's time, where we will open the Jabiru futures office here in Jabiru. A one-stop-shop about the future of both the park and what is happening here in Jabiru for locals, for businesses who are looking to invest so we can plan properly for the future. We are doing all this in partnership with the traditional owners because that is the way it should be here on Mirrarr country, the way it should be here through the park and all those traditional owner groups, which is one reason why we have taken the advice from the Gundjeihmi around the Bininj Resource Centre; a place here in Jabiru that looks after all those traditional owners, all those people through the entire park - recognise we have got to work together to deliver this. So the best thing about today's announcement, the best thing is that we now know that under Bill Shorten and a Federal Labor Government, this will happen immediately from that first budget. That is what the Territory needs to hear. Thank you.
 
SHORTEN: Thanks everybody. On my 16th visit to the Northern Territory since I became Opposition Leader, are there any questions?
 
JOURNALIST: Are you surprised that the Prime Minister  rushed here yesterday to try and gazump this announcement? 
 
SHORTEN: Well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so a good start to the year. Listen in all seriousness, if Mr Morrison wants to borrow some of our ideas, it is fine by me. I mean, getting up 24 hours earlier and wanting to help pull a quick shifty manoeuvre - it is actually a bit of what happens in politics. But what I want to do is - I don't worry about the politics, I worry about the ideas. How good is it for the Top End? How good is for Michael Gunner who has had to argue with the Libs in Canberra? How good is for the people here as the mine closes? How good is it for the traditional owners that both sides of Australian politics are saying rescuing Kakadu is a priority. Now of course the devil is always in the detail. I did notice that the Government in their rush has actually said that they will roll out their promise over 10 years. Kakadu doesn't have 10 years to wait. The people who are working here with the closing of the mine, don't have 10 years to wait. That is why our package is front-end loaded. To put it straight, what we're going to do is put more of the money we're promising in our first couple of years from our first budget because Kakadu and Jabiru need rescuing now, not in 10 years time. 
 
The other thing is our proposal, and it is courtesy of the Mirrar people, the Northern Territory Government, the local community - it is just simply more detailed. This is a fact, it is not me blowing our own trumpet. Labor's proposal shows the home work that has happened over a long period of time. I flagged it when the Northern Territory business community came down to Canberra last year, we saw Kakadu as a driving force for tourism in the Territory. So we're putting more money into roads. We are putting more money into asbestos remediation of the houses and the local community. And we're certainly going to make sure that we put a strong and solid investment in environmental management because that's as important as some of the physical infrastructure.
 
JOURNALIST: Is that roads infrastructure funding going to ensure that places like Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls can be accessed 365 days a year? 
 
SHORTEN: I will get Warren to go through the detail. In our press release we list the specifics of the four major roads which we will work on. We do want to improve access to some of these falls. There is some marvellous plunge pools, there's some great places to visit, but the nature of these roads is even if we improve some of the access, you still want to use a four-wheel drive. Anyway, I will get Warren to talk a bit further. He has been driving the roads for a while.
 
WARREN SNOWDON, MEMBER FOR LINGIARI: A long while. We'd hope to be able to get access for 12 months but it unlikely that will happen in some cases. But what we are doing is providing the capacity for as much access all year around as we possibly can. The vagaries of the weather here, everyone knows it - it won't matter how much build-up you do on some of these roads, it won't stop flooding. So we have to be very careful about making sure that the roads are safe and are able to be used, and in consultation with the Bininj and the park management, that will be determine when and if these roads may close in the future. But it is our hope, our sincere hope that this investment will provide almost - if we possibly can, 12 months access.
 
JOURNALIST: Is this going to be the major commitment from Labor heading into the Federal election, for the Northern Territory?
 
SHORTEN: No, we will have other policies to outline. For what it is worth, let me remind you though of what we've already promised Territorians. Firstly, we are going to properly fund hospitals, so we are going to reverse cuts that have been made. That is important. We are going to unfreeze the Medicare rebates. Medicare rebates, it's a sort of fancy way of saying it is the patient rebate. So when the Liberals are in power, and this is now my sixth year of opposition so they have been doing this for six years - when they freeze the Medicare payment to the GP, what they are actually doing is freezing the amount of money that mum or dad claim when they go and see the doctor and take the kids. So what it's doing is putting greater pressure on the hip pocket of Northern Territorians. We are going to invest in more renewable energy, we see that as having opportunities for the Territory. We are certainly going to make it easier for Territorians to go to university, by uncapping places at university. So we have already announced some pretty positive policies and of course please don't forget, that if you are a working couple in this country and you earn, maybe one partner earns $60,000 and the other person earns $70,000, in the first three years under a Labor Government, you are going to get back nearly $6,000 as a family in tax refunds. So, we are going to get wages moving, we are going to make sure that you can afford to take your parents or your kids to the doctor. More money for schools and unis and technical training. We are going to spend more money locally, we are going to make sure local contractors access it. We have got a lot more to say about the Northern Territory and hats off to Michael Gunner, he is just interested in an outcome for the Territory. He's just lucky that Labor nationally is listening to him and we have got some good policies which we will work in consultation with local communities. Ultimately, the best thing that we can do in the Territory is attract more people here and that's what we are interested in.
 
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, are you aware of the budget crisis the NT Government is dealing with the moment and I just wondered what your thoughts were on that?
 
SHORTEN: We are very lucky today to actually have the man who is running the NT Government, I am running for Prime Minister. But what I promise the Northern Territory is we're not going to neglect Kakadu. We're not going to leave Jabiru to work it out on their own. We're not going to leave Michael Gunner to have to deal with the reckless spending of his profligate CLP predecessors who left the books of the Territory in a shocking situation. So we are going to be partners to the Territory. In schools, in university, in training the apprentices, in making sure that we have got the proper investment in our health care system and our hospitals. But as I said, we have got the Chief Minister here so I am sure he's happy to deal and talk about the legacy which a lazy, divided CLP Government in the Territory left Territorians, and of course I'm happy to talk further about how the Federal Government has presided over a slowing economy nationally. I mean, when you take out export of mining and commodities overseas, the national economy is not pretty. If you take out the number of public service jobs that have been created, the rate of jobs growth in recent months in the private sector - not pretty. If you look at the fact that in the south-east part of Australia, we see housing prices falling under this Government, in part because the regulators and the banks haven't been able to do their job properly, it is not pretty. When you look at wages growth - stagnant. I mean everywhere you go in Australia, the most common sentence you hear over the BBQ is everything is going up except my wages. But anyway, you didn't ask me about the national economy, I will hand over to Michael.
 
GUNNER: We know that the Territory is going through tough economic times at the moment. We have got to do everything we can to create local jobs. We have to have that plan that we are putting in place around the post-Inpex days. Now the CLP last term sold everything, spent everything and left $900 million deficit. That is the exact opposite of what you do if you want to have a plan in place for the post-Inpex period. That has left us a difficult rope to walk. The things that we can expect from an Australian Government that cares about Territorians is that you recognise the importance of things like health. Now, Bill touched on health just before. The current Australian Government walked away from a deal around 50/50 funding around hospitals and they are looking to place a cap and activity-based funding and make that retrospective. Those are crippling decisions for the Territory budget when it comes to how we manage health here in the Northern Territory. You need an Australian Government that understands the basics, understands the importance of investing back into health, and that's what we will get under a Bill Shorten Labor Government. As a territory, we are doing everything we can to keep creating those local jobs, recognising support and to cushion the blow post-Inpex and we will do all that in these tough budget times. But we want and need a government who understands, in Canberra, the importance of the Territory, the importance of acting now and the importance of investing in the right things, and we will get that under a Bill Shorten Labor Government.
 
JOURNALIST: The CLP delivered two budget surpluses in four years in power and left a similar amount of debt that they were left by the Henderson Government. You can't seriously stand here can you and blame four years of the CLP for the budget crisis that your government is in?
 
GUNNER: It sets the context for what we're doing right now. So Inpex winding down was not breaking news and it's something that you had to plan for. The CLP going to the last election got desperate and they sold everything, spent everything and left a $900 million deficit. There was no money in the bank for that important area that you need to do when something winds down, that stimulus funding to create those jobs and soften the blow. So we have had to walk this tight rope about putting money into stimulus projects to create those local jobs, from $100 million into public housing and turbo charging tourism to other stimulus projects to cushion that blow. We have had to do all that, based off the fact that the CLP had no plan in place for post-Inpex. So we have had to put our economic plan in place through tough budget times. We are going to make those tough decisions, we have made the tough decisions. The next budget will be a difficult one and a challenging one. We are going to make it knowing that Territorians are doing it tough and they need local jobs and that is our priority as a government.
 
JOURNALIST: Scott Morrison basically ruled out any prospect of a Federal bailout from a Liberal Government, will you be asking a Labor Government for a bail out?
 
GUNNER: So for me, I do not expect a ‘Hail Mary’ from Canberra. What I want is an Australian Government that recognises the priorities of the Northern Territory, our social challenges, our economic challenges and investing in those things that create jobs, develops the north, and investing in those things that closes the gap. We will get that under a Bill Shorten Labor Government. This is not about begging, this is about fighting for what is fair for Territorians. We are part of Australia, we need a Government that recognises that and invests in that. And I know we will get that under Bill Shorten supported by Warren Snowdon, Luke Gosling and Malarndirri McCarthy.
 
SHORTEN: Sorry, just to finish on that, let's face it, the CLP had an Inpex party and then when they were running out of money, they sold the TIO and the port and they, you know basically left the Territory poorer than when they found it with fewer assets. Everyone knew that Inpex was coming to an end. The CLP did not prepare for anything except more debt for Territorians and this is in the Liberal Party's DNA nationally. Did you know, that since Abbott and then Turnbull and now the current fellow that got elected, that net debt for every Australian was about $9,000 - net government debt, now it's north of $21,000. This is classic Liberal Party stuff and I am worried this year that they are getting so desperate, they are just going to spend the farm and leave nothing for anyone who comes after the next election, and they are doing it at a time when our economy is not as healthy as it should be. The reality is that wages are flat-lining, your power bills are up, your private health insurance premiums - if you can still afford private health insurance, are going up and up and up. You know, the problem is, this is a Government who is out of touch, and the reason why they are out of touch in Canberra is the same reason that Michael Gunner inherited problems from the CLP in the Territory -  they are chaotic and divided. They spent the whole summer focusing on themselves and not the people.
 
JOURNALIST: While we're on federal issues, Cathy McGowan won't recontest her seat at the next election, what is your reaction to that?
 
SHORTEN: I congratulate Cathy McGowan for being an active Member for Indi. The Liberals took it for granted for a very long time. She got a lot done in that area and no doubt the new independent they are running, Helen Haines, is a distinguished health practitioner and midwife, and no doubt she will give the conservatives a run for their money in north-eastern Victoria. But I congratulate Cathy. She leaves on her terms and she has made her mark and there's little more that you can hope for in politics than to be able to do some of those things.
 
JOURNALIST: Alex Hawke said he would be open to changing Australia Day if a majority of people supported it. Would you support a potential date change through a popular vote, or putting it to a popular vote?
 
SHORTEN: What is it with the Nationals and the Liberals and Australia Day? Do you know how you know Australia Day is coming up each year, other than looking at the calendar?The right wing of Australian politics get themselves into a lather about it. Like it's a day where you catch up with your family and friends and you celebrate that we live in a great country. Listen, I'm not going to down every rabbit hole of every thought bubble of every right wing Liberal politician about Australia Day. You know, I did say yesterday, so long as it is a public holiday and if Australia Day falls on the weekend, so long as it is on the nearest Monday, that is pretty much where I think we need to go.
 
JOURNALIST: So you're open to changing that date?
 
SHORTEN: No, I'm just not going to engage. If all the Liberal Party is offering Australia in 2019 is what day we have a public holiday on, well they have run out of ideas, haven't they? Why is it that I can never get the Liberals to talk about making sure that Aussie kids get apprenticeships? Why is it that we never have a debate with the Liberals about the fact that first home buyers are forced out of the market by an unfair tax system? Why is it that they're not getting upset that you have 120,000 older Australians who can't get packages for aged care? These are the issues that matter. Why is it they ever fire up about rising power bills or low wages growth? Why is it they couldn't, you know raise a pulse when it comes to tackling the banks on a Royal Commission? I will never forgive the Liberal Party and the current Prime Minister for voting 26 times against having a Royal Commission into the banks, 26 times they ran a protection racket for the banks. When it comes to Australia Day, they have got a queue a mile long wanting to talk about it.
 
JOURNALIST: So do you oppose changing that date or not?
 
SHJORTEN: I am happy to keep Australia Day on the 26th of January.
 
JOURNALIST: Four Aboriginal children committed suicide recently, what's your government's plan to do something about that?
 
SHORTEN: Well I will get Warren and Malarndirri to supplement this answer, but the first thing to say is the death of any child is simply a tragedy. There is no doubt in my mind that we need to invest more working with First Australians, to change those alarming rates. I might hand over to both Warren and Malarndirri who between them have got decades of service in this very important issue.
 
MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: Thanks. That's certainly a real concern right across the country, and as Bill says any child, any person that we lose through suicide is one with deep sorrow right across the country and for families who experience it. In terms of First Nations people, we know that through our First Nations Caucus, that we are trying to deal with policies that impact directly on our communities. Policies around mental health, certainly with rheumatic heart disease, with issues with gay and lesbian First Nations people. We know that Black Rainbow is something that is important in terms of supporting mental health and counselling. We just have got to keep working and implementing these policies so that they are about making a difference for families and their lives right across Australia and not just for First Nations people but for all those who lose family members to suicide.
 
SNOWDON: Can I just add that suicide and mental health generally, are key issues for Aboriginal and community-controlled health services right across this country and for public health practitioners including the Northern Territory Government. We have been trying to develop and working in partnership with them, around suicide action plans and we will continue to do that and indeed with the current Government around what we can do to address the horrific rates of suicide across many Aboriginal communities -  First Nations communities across the country. It is not an easy solution and I don't think anyone believes it is. But we have got to be working with communities at the local level. We have got to be working with the health providers at the local community level and working in partnership with the traditional owners. If we can do that, then we can get some solutions which may work. We won't get them, the solutions will not be found by me or someone else pontificating on what needs to be done. It needs to be working with people to try and get solutions which they can manage in their own communities. We are working with – as I say we have already been working with the current Federal Government, Ken Wyatt, around those issues. But we are in constant conversation around health strategies to deal with mental health and suicide prevention.
 
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Peter Dutton has said that Labor will abandon Operation Sovereign Borders and be soft on people smugglers – what’s your thoughts on that?
 
SHORTEN: Just complete rubbish. The Home Affairs Minister is sounding more desperate every day, a lot like his colleagues. What they do when they say these lies is that they are actually encouraging people smugglers to try their hand against the Australian system. We do support strong borders. We will do everything we can to stop the people smugglers getting back into business. I mean, if the Federal Government was fair dinkum, they should perhaps reverse the funding cuts they have made which have seen a reduction in the number of Australian Federal Police officers working in the region. So it is rubbish, we want to keep our borders safe. The Government's just saying this stuff to encourage the people smugglers and to basically try and get some cheap political point of difference. 
 
In 2019 I hope that this ramshackle Coalition of divided people, who spend more time arguing with each other than thinking about the nation - I thought they would have got the message over the summer break. Don't come back with the old politics of always just being negative about your opponents, offer us your own positive ideas. That is why we are here up in Kakadu. And I'm rapt, if the Government want to back in the same ideas we are pushing, I mean, they should look at our detail as well as just the headline, well that's fine by me. But this negativity, where they are trying to make up stories to scare Australians, it is just rubbish.
 
JOURNALIST: How much damage has the Government done to our relationship with Fiji by cancelling Neil Prakash's citizenship without consulting the Fijians?
 
SHORTEN: Yes, it just seems to me it was a summer stunt. Like, don't get me wrong, everything that I have read about Prakash, not a good man – bad man, full stop. I don't want him back here, the Home Affairs Minister and I, we agree on that. But you don't stop the criminals and the terrorists by fluffing the legal procedures. You don't rush out and say we're going to stop this fellow by one particular legal mechanism and close the back door and square it off with the Fijian Government. I hope the Prime Minister is able to sort out this particular embarrassment and incompetence, because for me, stopping terrorists isn't just about a headline to you know, pump up the tyres of your opinion polls, it is about every day, 365 days of the year, stopping the bad people from doing bad things to this country and do it right the first time rather than constantly having to do patch up and band-aid jobs.
 
JOURNALIST: What should the Government do about the fish that are dead?
 
SHORTEN: Well I was on leave when I heard about the million fish in the Murray Darling Basin just dying. This is shocking. This is not another day at the office. Now, I think the problems are complex, don't get me wrong. From algal bloom to the hot weather, you know, I get that it is not a simple solution, otherwise someone would have simply solved it. But I think the Government should set up an emergency task force, involve the Opposition because we are close to an election now. That is all the Government talk about, so I think we should be partners in this. I have actually asked Tony Burke, my Shadow Minister to come off leave and go to Menindee today, and that's where he is, talking to the locals. You're not going to sort out anything by sitting in an office in Canberra - an air-conditioned office in Canberra. Get out on the ground. My bloke's out there on the ground right now. The Government and us should work together because you can't ignore a million dead fish. That is a shocking development.
 
JOURNALIST: Clive Palmer has a new computer game that shows you as a cockroach getting squashed. Do you have any reaction on that? 
 
SHORTEN: I find that all I would like Clive Palmer to do is pay the workers the money he owes, and repay the Australian taxpayers the money they have had to pay, to pay the workers that he won't pay. I wont take him seriously, and I don't think any of you should either. He can find money for billboards with a vacuous sort of message, or he can pay the workers the money he owes them. To my way of thinking, you look after the workers who have made you the money, you don't look after yourself. The taxpayers had to step in and help look after these workers. He owes the workers of Townsville and the taxpayers of Australia, he owes them a cheque before he starts playing his other sort of silly games which actually put Australian politics into the ridicule bin.
 
JOURNALIST: There's lots of workers up there who are desperate for work, and one of the projects up there is the Adani coal mine. Why won't you support that project?
 
SHORTEN:  First of all, when you talk about it, the number of people who are to be employed in this coal mine has dropped from 10,000 to just over 1,000. So I have heard a lot of figures being mentioned, even sometimes in the media. But you know, I will believe it when I see it. What Labor has got for jobs in Townsville is we propose widening the port - that'll mean that bigger vessels come in, tourism vessels and cargo vessels. It'll mean that truck trips down south to southern Queensland puts less wear and tear on our roads. I think that's a sensible development. It was Labor who led the way to build the Townsville stadium, but what we've insisted on is local contracts. So I've got practical proposals from the widening of the port, to improving the road infrastructure which will lead to real jobs. In the meantime, I am not putting all my eggs in the basket of the Adani coal mine happening. I think what people expect from their politicians is real practical plans, not just believing other people's promises. And never forget, that Adani has missed plenty of deadlines, so you know, what sort of person would one be if we said just trust this happening and ignore all the other marvellous opportunities that North Queensland has. 
 
***MICHAEL GUNNER DISCUSSING STATE POLITICAL ISSUES***
 

JOURNALIST: Do you think you'll be returning to Parliament or going to an election?
 
SHORTEN: This is a government who has run out of steam. Now, I've started the new year, I'm refreshed, I'm re-energised, I'm pretty excited by 2019 and putting forward Labor's positive vision. This is a government who spent their summer - I think the Home Affairs Minister paid out on Malcolm Turnbull again, having got rid of him. You see them complaining about the lack of women in the Liberal Party and the National Party. I'm afraid they're still focused on themselves. We're ready whenever the election is called. I think the Australian people just want stability. I had plenty of people come up to me over summer who said I don't normally vote Labor, or I voted conservative, or voted for someone else, but we're just sick of the instability, when will you politicians put us first and not yourselves. So I've come up to the Northern Territory, it's by 16th visit I'm pleased to say, I've been here for 32 days since I've been Opposition Leader. I've learnt a lot in that time, I've learnt about the important issues - I've learnt that the Northern Territory is more than just Darwin and Palmerston. I've also learnt the importance of having a diverse economy, and also that the Federal Government has a role to play in the Territory, working with conscientious government, and working with locals. 
 
Whenever Mr Morrison calls the election it'll be a hard fight for Labor. Did you know that Labor has only won from Opposition to Government nationally, three times since World War II? So it is a pretty difficult issue, it is difficult. But I have a united team, I've got a talented team, I've got a team who are focusing on policies. We can explain to you how we'll help lower your power prices, how we'll help make sure that your health bills go down not up. We've got a plan to help boost people's wages, we've got a plan for infrastructure, we've got a plan, for example today, to help promote tourism, cultural environmental values in Kakadu. We've got a plan for all of Australia from our First Australians and giving them a greater voice, right through to helping reduce the aged care waiting lists for our older Australians. 
 
Whenever the Government calls an election, they'll be worried about calling it when they think they can win, what I'm going to worry about is how I can provide the best possible government for the people of Australia. Thank you very much. 

ENDS


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