Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Adelaide - Tony Abbott’s broken promise on submarines; Labor’s commitment to Australian jobs

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP

MONDAY, 13 JULY 2015

ADELAIDE

 

SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s broken promise on submarines; Labor’s commitment to Australian jobs; Tony Abbott’s attack on renewable energy; Tony Abbott’s extreme record on industrial relations; Tony Abbott’s $80 million royal commission

 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everyone, it’s great to be here with so many of my federal Labor colleagues standing up for South Australian jobs and standing up for building submarines in Australia. Australia has one of the best shipbuilding and submarine building workforces in the world. They're doing a great job and what they need is for Mr Abbott to keep his election promises and to commit to building 12 submarines in Australia, principally in South Australia. We have seen the Government over the last two years do everything they can to break their promise to the Australian people.

 

But in the future, Australia needs to make sure that we have control of our own security and that's what building our submarines contributes to, and we should be prioritising Australian jobs. So today I've spoken to some of the skilled innovative workforce, some of the apprentices and some of the people who help make Australia's frontline of naval shipbuilding so good and I was able to promise them Labor believes in building the best submarines possible for Australia at the best possible price in South Australia and throughout Australia. I'll ask my colleague Senator Wong to talk about the impact on jobs in South Australia and then Senator Conroy to further talk about the submarine bid in terms of the future of Australia's defence. Penny.

 

SENATOR PENNY WONG, SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Thanks, Bill. Look, I'll just be brief. Last time I was here and a number of you were as well, we were here for the launch of the 'Hobart' on a day where the Prime Minister snubbed us, on a day where the Abbott Government put out a report criticising the workers here and then Mathias Cormann stood up in Perth and had a go at the workers that you just saw us standing with and I think that really epitomises, demonstrates the attitude that Tony Abbott has and his Government has to the workers here at ASC. Now, we all know in South Australia that when it comes to jobs Tony Abbott is simply not with us.

 

He's simply not with us, whether it's the car industry or the promise to build submarines here in South Australia, we know that this is not a Prime Minister who is interested in standing up for South Australian jobs. These are precisely the sorts of jobs that we have to fight to keep here in Adelaide. They're highly skilled jobs. They're well paid jobs, they're jobs which are all about the future of manufacturing, the future of advanced engineering here in this country and they're jobs not just for workers today but for workers in the decades to come. So we are here to stand with these men and women who’ve provided so much to the nation in terms of their work not only as shipbuilders but also the sustainment of our submarine fleet and we're here to stand up for their jobs today and for the jobs of the next generation of South Australians in the decades to come.

 

SENATOR STEPHEN CONROY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Thanks. Well I'm also here with a number of my Senate colleagues who‘ve all been involved in the Senate shipbuilding committee and what that Senate report, which was tabled last week, and I'd like to draw your attention to it for those who haven't had a chance to go through it yet. What that found is the quite deliberate distortion of the process to select our next submarines. We've seen favouritism demonstrated in the way the submarine process of competitive evaluation process has been undertaken. When the Germans and the French came here to go through and have a look at the facilities, they were basically said, "Yep, welcome," shake of the hand, go and have a good look round.

 

When the Japanese team turned up, there was the full Australian Government entourage with them, senior officials from all departments from DMO giving the Japanese delegation the red-carpet treatment. So you just have to look at the way the different bidders are being treated to know that this process is not a fair dinkum process, it's not going to deliver, to quote the most senior DMO official who appeared before the Senate committees, it's not going to deliver a mature submarine actual design. It's not going to deliver a tender document that says, here's three bids with three prices designed to deliver on three dates. It's not delivering that at all. We know that the Japanese have been given the inside running from the regular visits that Australian Government officials have made to Japan.

 

We're finding out through the process that the Senate committees are involved in that even if a non-Japanese bid is the best bid, a non-Japanese bid, it's not even a guarantee from this Government that it will accept a non-Japanese outcome. So this is a process that is deeply flawed. This is a process that we all know was put in place to save Tony Abbott's job when he had a leadership crisis earlier this year. So there is just one question left at the end of the day, is Tony Abbott going to keep his promise to the Japanese Prime Minister or to the people of Adelaide and the people of Australia?

 

That's Tony Abbott's one question that he's got to answer. Have a fair dinkum process and ensure that the build is here in Australia. And when Tony Abbott stands in front of television cameras, walks around Adelaide and says, ‘We're going to maximise Australia's build in this process,’ let's be very clear, the tender documents that are publicly available only require a bare minimum of Australian participation, not a high threshold, an absolute bare minimum, so any of these bidders can put in a bid that sees almost no new work in Adelaide.

 

The Prime Minister pulls out the fictitious 500 new jobs in Adelaide and you ask well are any of those jobs in submarine construction? The answer is no. Now we’re hearing rumours he’s going to reduce the build from 12 submarines to 8 submarines. So every step of the way this Prime Minister is breaking his promise, made by him and his Defence Minister, to build 12 submarines here in Adelaide. Well this isn’t good enough, we’re holding him to account. The people of South Australia will hold him to account. I would encourage all of those involved in building and maintaining our ships and our submarines to make their voices heard and make sure that Tony Abbott keeps his promise to the people of Adelaide, not the Prime Minister of Japan.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Premier of South Australia, the Labor Premier is conspicuous by his absence today. Some might say he is doing a pretty good job on his own in fighting the good fight. Wouldn't it be better to have a united front or do think it’s just that he perhaps doesn't even want you here?
SHORTEN: In terms of fighting for jobs, I'm very happy with the job Premier Weatherill’s doing. The person I'm unhappy with about jobs is of course Mr Abbott. You've seen the massacre of jobs in South Australia since Mr Abbott became Prime Minister. But let's just remind people of the names of some of the companies that have shed employees. There is, Caroma, there’s McCain's, there’s Arrium, there was a car industry until Mr Abbott came in.

 

We’ve seen this latest bizarre frolic where Mr Abbott has focused on his very old-world attitudes towards renewable energy, jeopardising the future of wind farms and solar energy and we know that the one person you are never going to meet in front of this building is Mr Abbott because before the last election that Mr Abbott's Liberals were here, promising to be all things to all people and since then we've seen 20,000-plus extra South Australians join the unemployment queues and we’ve got a cloud of uncertainty over the future of the ASC. The best future for submarine building in Australia is a Labor Government in Canberra.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten can you put a minimum level of Australian work on the submarines? Nick Xenophon says 70 per cent would be his minimum. Do you have a particular number?

 

SHORTEN: I’ll ask Senator Conroy to go into the detail of it, but I believe that the 12 submarines can be built here from the keel up. The work was done even under the previous Labor administration had already started to start doing the work on propulsion systems and indeed working on weapons systems. So I have got no doubt that what we need to see, is that the contract for submarines,  that the international tenderers or bidders would have to demonstrate that there was going to be serious work done from here from the keel up. Stephen may have a bit more he wants to add.

 

CONROY: No, no I can only endorse the sort of figures that Nick Xenophon and Bill have mentioned. We believe it can be done here.

 

JOURNALIST: Yep, 70 per cent as a minimum?

 

CONROY: Keel up. We don't think there is any need to contemplate building in France, Germany and Japan. We know the Germans are saying they’re prepared to build 100 per cent here in Australia. They’ll bring their design teams to here in Australia. The French are talking the same sort of thing, now they've not said anything publicly yet. It is the Prime Minister of Australia who has given three options to the bidders to do almost nothing in Australia, to do a hybrid build. I mean, let's be clear, we know that Japan are at full submarine capacity today. They will have to build, subsidised by the Australian taxpayer, an entire new dock to build these submarines in Japan. So, we'll actually be jeopardising the dock here, we'll be jeopardising and closing possibly Williamstown and Forgacs in New South Wales, and the Australian taxpayer will subsidise a dock in Japan, fully built and looked after by Japanese workers at the expense of Australian jobs here, and that is just unacceptable.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you regret the anti-Japanese comments you made the last time you were at ASC?

 

SHORTEN: Well, I've read the transcript of what I said. I didn't say what you've just put in your question. What I made clear when I was here last year is that only Labor can be trusted to build submarines in Australia. The only regret I have is that Mr Abbott and his team lied to the Australian people before the last election. I don't know if you were there the day of that press conference, but the former Defence Minister did come out here when he was in opposition and said they’d build the submarines here. Mr Abbott and his Liberal team made it perfectly clear before the last election, you could vote for either party and the submarines would be built in Australia. That promise has been broken and not committed to by the Abbott Government. We see real pressure on jobs in South Australia. It is as if Mr Abbott has a set against South Australia, from submarines to the car industry, to renewable energy, why does Mr Abbott hate seeing jobs created and maintained in South Australia so much, that he will do nothing, he will do nothing to defend South Australian jobs?

 

JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the Government that the private sector’s adequately funding wind farm projects and do you think companies will collapse if there’s no other funding?

 

SHORTEN: First of all we’ve got my shadow minister’s here, so I’ll get him to supplement this answer, but, no, I don't agree the with the Prime Minister, that if you just don’t have any government support for the future of renewable energy that the renewable energy will just miraculously grow and increase in Australia. Mr Abbott doesn't get what the rest of the world’s doing. From India to China, to Germany, to Spain, you name it, the rest of the world recognises that part of the energy future for their citizens will involve renewable energy. Mr Abbott seems so focused on the past that he can't work out what the jobs of the future look like, nor does he have any plan for the future. He’s happy to spend all his time talking about the past, but when it comes to solar energy, be it rooftop, solar for commercial purposes or indeed wind energy, all we hear from Mr Abbott is his constant attempts to sabotage the jobs of the future and diversifying our energy mix. The rest of the world is going in one direction to the future, be it in jobs and sustainable energy and Mr Abbott’s stubbornly stuck in the past because of his extreme views, so there is a role for government, and I might just ask my colleague Mark Butler to add to that.

 

MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER: Thank you, Bill. This is the latest instalment in a long running attack by Tony Abbott on the renewable energy industry. Let's be clear about this, directives that have been issued to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation can only be interpreted as a strategy by Tony Abbott to set it up to fail. They’re expecting the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to deliver higher returns on a very limited part of the industry with no change in the risk profile. Anyone from the finance sector will tell you that is nigh on impossible. Tony Abbott is not going to rest until he has destroyed the renewable energy industry in this country and Labor, I can tell you will do everything it can possibly can to ensure that wind energy, solar energy and some of the emerging technologies like wave energy have a very bright future in this country.

 

JOURNALIST: Do you actually believe businesses will collapse, though?

 

BUTLER: Well, I think what's clear is that some businesses won't be able to have access to finance that would ensure they’re able to build new projects. What the Clean Energy Finance Corporation was set up to do is not to support emerging technologies, that's the job of the renewable energy agency ARENA, what it's set up to do is to nurture the development of a mature lending culture in Australian banks. So what the CEFC does is it partners with banks, it partners with companies like Origin Energy to set up financial products that will allow the renewable energy industry, including wind and rooftop solar, to continue to flourish in this country.

 

REPORTER: Mr Shorten, when Labor was in office last, did you consider Japanese technology in a subs build?

 

SHORTEN: I’ll ask Senator Conroy to go to perhaps some of the detail, but let me be very clear and you asked an earlier question about Japan, we welcome Japanese investment in terms of Australia and we welcome it, we welcome it in our car industry, the Abbott Government didn't seem so keen, and when it comes to submarines, the process that Labor has outlined clearly makes it entirely possible for the Japanese government and their submarine building capacities to be deployed as part of an arrangement in Australia, so –

 

JOURNALIST: Sure, but that wasn't the question.

 

SHORTEN: The issue  isn't Japanese technology at all, that's most welcome. The issue is can Mr Abbott keep his promise about prioritising jobs in Australia and submarines in Australia?

 

JOURNALIST: Can you just address the question.

 

SHORTEN: I’ll ask Senator Conroy to just further go to this technology question.

 

CONROY: If I can respond very specifically to that. The Japanese licensed Swedish technology, not Japanese technology, on the propulsion system is considered world-leading. We would welcome Japan and all its technology and it’s licensed technology building here in Australia. So yes, we were looking at the propulsion system. So be very clear, the propulsion system, which wasn't Japanese technology, it was a license from the Swedes who actually built the Collins with. So we’re very comfortable with taking the best, we want the best sub for the best price and the existing Japanese submarines do not have the range, they do not have the capacity and that is acknowledged.

 

There’s no submarine expert, even when the Defence officials sit in front of me, they acknowledge that the existing Soryu submarine needs to be enhanced and changed to meet Australians needs. We’ve got a unique set of circumstances. This is like saying, you know, we need a Holden Commodore for Australian conditions, but we’re getting a cut-price Subaru. That’s not what Australia needs for its defence capacity. We need the most lethal asset to be the best and the best value for taxpayers in Australia.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, can I get your response to reports that the Prime Minister is potentially looking at the royal commission as a possible trigger for a double dissolution?

 

SHORTEN: We all know that Mr Abbott will do whatever he can to save his job. If he wants to have, if Mr Abbott wants to have a debate about workplace relations in this country, I challenge him to debate me in the Parliament, challenge him to debate me in any Australian workplace or indeed any Australian town hall. But what I do say to Mr Abbott is spending $80 million of taxpayer money to engage in a political attack on your opponents, that doesn’t cut it. What we are here today and what you’ll see from Labor every day between now and the election is a commitment to fight for the best possible jobs for Australians. The question which Australians are asking themselves is where will the jobs of the future come from? The question which Australian parents are asking themselves today is what sort of work will our kids have in the years and the decades ahead. Labor is committed to answering that question and if Mr Abbott wants to debate workplace relations, bring it on.

 

JOURNALIST: Are you ready to fight a double dissolution election on industrial issues?

 

SHORTEN: Well Mr Abbott’s ruled out a double dissolution election, he says that he’s happy with the way the Parliament’s going now, but if he wants to have an election on industrial relations, absolutely. We all know that he was the Minister for WorkChoices. Happy to compare my record of standing up for workers against his record of cutting away the conditions of millions of Australians and I'm more than happy for us to have a debate about the jobs for the future. But I certainly would encourage Mr Abbott if he wants to talk about jobs and workplaces of the future, please come down to the Australian Submarine Corporation in Adelaide and explain his plan for the future of Australian jobs here because he doesn't have a plan for the future. Last question, please.

 

JOURNALIST: The CFMEU has boycotted the royal commission

 

SHORTEN: That's up for the CFMEU and the royal commission to sort out.

 

JOURNALIST: Do you support that?

 

SHORTEN: I was happy to willingly cooperate myself, it’s a matter for other people how they work with the royal commission. But let me be really straight with the Australian people about workplace relations. The current Prime Minister, Mr Abbott, when he was minister introduced WorkChoices which saw literally millions of Australians lose conditions, lose minimum conditions. Labor is the only party who will stand up for Australians in the work place, and today we are here to talk about the jobs of the future. We’re committed to renewable energy jobs. We're committed to jobs in South Australia. We're committed to submarine building jobs in South Australia and the shipyards of Australia. Australia deserves a plan for the future of jobs. Only Labor is offering a plan for the future of Australian jobs. Thanks, everyone.

 

ENDS

 

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