Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Sydney - Labor’s plan to inspire young women to learn to code; Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals’ plan to increase the GST

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP

SYDNEY

WEDNESDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2015


SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to inspire young women to learn to code; Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals’ plan to increase the GST; Tony Abbott’s comments on Australia’s border protection policies and Syria; Tax reform; Unions; Nuclear energy;
Constitutional recognition for Australia’s first people.

 

ED HUSIC, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY ASSISTING WITH DIGITAL INNOVATION AND STARTUPS: (audio cuts in)...Making sure that young people are starting to embrace computational thinking and so what you are seeing in the room next door to us is young school students that are starting to embark on the journey that will potentially take into the world of technology and in a world of work that will ensure that their skills will give them productive, meaningful employment, but that they make a bigger contribution to the economy.
And today Bill is going to be announcing, and making an announcement that will build on our investment that was made in the Budget and it's a pleasure to be able to join also with my friend and colleague the Member for Griffith but also importantly the co-chair of Parliamentary friends on Innovation, Terri Butler. We both believe that in terms of the type of agenda that Bill's advanced that this is crucial to the future of the economy in our country and I'd like to now invite Bill to be able to provide more detail on what our investment, that we'll be making today.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:
 Thanks Ed, and good morning everyone. It's great to be here with two of Labor's rising stars Ed Husic and Terri Butler. Terri's been working hard about encouraging women to get involved in the digital economy and Ed of course is my Parliamentary Secretary for Digital Innovation. It's also good to be here with Annie Parker, and a lot of the volunteers who are really spreading the word about encouraging our young people to learn computational thinking and coding.
It's projected that as soon as 2020, we're going to need an extra 100,000 Australians with ICT skills – information and computer technology skills. But the problem is that in the last 10 years we've seen a 50 per cent reduction in the number of people enrolling in IT related courses. So this is a real challenge for the jobs of the future, to make sure that Australia's young people can get some of the jobs of the future, good paying jobs.
There's another big challenge of course, not only do we not have enough young people studying ICT or computer courses at university, but women in particular are not sharing the benefits of the digital revolution that's under way. Previously 1 in 4 people studying in IT were women, now it's in down to 1 in 10. So what we've got is, we've got a shortage of skilled people for the future, we don't have enough people studying at university which means that there's a challenge in our school system and women are not sharing equally in the digital revolution. How on earth can Australia succeed in the 21st century of the digital age and innovation if half of our population isn't fully deployed?
So today, following on the announcements we’ve made in the Budget and other announcements we've made since about encouraging students, and women in particular to do science and mathematics at university - in fact we said that 50,000 of the places have to go to women. Following upon our Smart Innovation Funds, our proposal of a Startup Year which we see smart graduates being able to spend an extra year, receive an income contingent loan so they can learn business and entrepreneurship as well as backing their ideas.
Today I'm pleased to announce that Labor will fund $4.5 million to support the sort of clever innovations which we see here: code to clubs. We’re proposing that $150,000 per grant would be made available to organisations like Code Club Australia to help encourage schools to teach kids the skills they need in the future. I know that under the Liberal Government there's been a lot of discussions about back basics but we also need to make sure that we have creative computing as part of the basics. No point educating our kids if we're not giving them the skills for the future.
So today Labor's announcing that we will put $4.5 million to help our teachers and schools take up more coding. In the other room here at the Sydney Town Hall we saw really bright 10 and 11 year olds grappling with the language of the future, computational thinking and programming. We need kids to be interested and we need innovation and in particular this $4.5 million will be aimed at encouraging young girls to take up computing and related courses.

 

See it's no trouble in getting young girls interested in coding, the challenge is in the system to make sure they maintain their interest and don't drift away. Today Labor's committed to making sure that the young women in the future will get their fair share of access to the digital revolution, and after all when you look at some of Australia's best IT companies, they’re run by very successful women. If we can ensure that young girls today are encouraged to follow their role models in business, they too can help drive Australia's digital revolution. I might ask Terri Butler to talk a little bit further about the really important need to encourage young girls and women in particular to take part in the digital revolution.
TERRI BUTLER, CO-CHAIR, PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDS OF INNOVATION: Thanks very much. We know that startups are incredibly important for our future employment, but we also know that only 4 per cent of tech startups in Australia have been founded by women - that has to improve.
This year the Australian Computer Society and Deloitte worked together on a report called 'Digital Pulse' which highlighted some of the problems that we presently have in terms of gender gaps in ICT and getting women involved in tech. The importance of getting young girls coding in schools cannot be overstated.

 

Coding and computational thinking more broadly are important skills for the future, not just because they are skills that are worthwhile in and of themselves, but because it is actually really important that women get a slice of the action when it comes to the future economy of this country and the jobs of the future. If you look at Labor's excellent innovation policy announced recently, you will see that we observe that over the next 20 years there is a potential for 540,000 new jobs in tech startups in the sector. It's so important that women get a share of those jobs and those opportunities. That's why it's so great to be part of a party and party of Bill Shorten's group who is so committed to making sure that young Australians get their opportunities to share in those future benefits, future jobs and why it is particularly great that under Bill's leadership we are focusing on women in tech, we are working towards policies that promote women in tech, so that future entrepreneurs, future Naomi Simpsons are being built here in Australia today learning the skills that they'll need for the future, getting the opportunities, and it will become I hope, unremarkable to see female entrepreneurs. There will be as many female entrepreneurs as there are male entrepreneurs, that's the vision that I'd like to see for the future and it's so great to be part of such a fantastic group of parliamentarians led by Bill who are really working towards that vision. Thanks everyone.

 

SHORTEN: Thanks Terri, are there any questions on this?

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Mr Turnbull this morning said that when it comes to changing the tax system it is not just up to the Commonwealth it's also up to the states as well to help out with any changes, that includes not ruling out changes to the GST. Where does Labor stand on this and are you willing to work with the Government?

 

SHORTEN: I believe that Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals have an undeclared plan to put a GST on everything and to increase the cost of the GST. I represent working people in this country, people who can't afford to pay more taxes. I think that Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party should focus on the existing unfairness in the tax system rather than slugging people who go to work every day and asking them to pay more taxes. Specifically, I think Malcolm Turnbull needs to support making sure that multinationals pay their fair share of taxation. Specifically, I believe Malcolm Turnbull has to get down to business and spell out what he is going to do about the superannuation tax concessions at the top end. It is unreasonable in this country that people who already have millions of dollars in superannuation can earn tax-free income from that pile and yet they receive tax concessions, subsidies from all the other taxpayers.

 

No, I think Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party need to focus on the unfairness in our system rather than slugging millions of people with new and extra taxes. And of course the great myth of the Liberal plan on GST is it's a magic pudding, you know, on one hand, the GST when it goes up all has to go to the States. On the other hand, it's got to remedy the holes in funding of schools and hospitals, and then again it's got to provide, according to the Liberal’s income tax cuts, and help balance the deficit; so I think that the Liberals need to come clean with their plans for Australians. There is no doubt in my mind that the next Budget when it is brought down by Malcolm Turnbull is a real test for the Liberals.

 

JOURNALIST: With regards to Tony Abbott's speech last night in the UK, he raised significant concerns regarding Daesh. Do Western forces need to be sent in to deal with Daesh?

 

SHORTEN: First of all, in terms of what Australian Defence Forces are doing in the Middle East, I think they're currently doing a good job. Our defence forces, in particular the RAAF, the flying missions which, according to the reports I receive, are degrading and diminishing the capacity of ISIL to damage the Government and the people of Iraq. But I'm not sure that the case has been made for any expansion. If Malcolm Turnbull has any plans to expand Australian boots on the ground in Syria as Tony Abbott is suggesting, I think we deserve to hear what those plans are.

 

JOURNALIST: During his speech Mr Abbott also talked about protecting borders and he encouraged European countries to have a look at what the Abbott Government introduced here in Australia. Do you believe European countries need to toughen up their border protection policies?

 

SHORTEN: Tony Abbott's flown to Europe to lecture Angela Merkel, the head of the German Government, to lecture Hollande in France, to lecture David Cameron in England about what to do with this issue. I am not sure European that leaders grappling with a scale and a dimension of a problem which we don't have in Australia are necessarily going to benefit by Tony Abbott's advice. I'd like Malcolm Turnbull to confirm if he agrees with Tony Abbott's lectures of European leaders and  how to run Europe.

 

JOURNALIST:  Do you find those lectures are embarrassing?

 

SHORTEN: Well, as we've seen from the dreadful scenes in the Mediterranean, to the massive border queues and the literally movement of millions of people, I am not sure Tony Abbott on a victory lap giving a Margaret Thatcher lecture is exactly what Europe needs to solve its problems. I don't think European leaders need lectures from Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott or Bill Shorten about what to do. I think the issues there are issues which the Europeans have to grapple with and simply saying that Australia's got all the answers I think isn't the right way to go.

 

JOURNALIST: Should they look at Australia's policies?

 

SHORTEN: I think the challenge is that we've lots of things in Australia which I think other people could look at, a strong minimum wage, a well-funded Medicare system. I probably wouldn't put Tony Abbott giving a Margaret Thatcher lecture as the top of the lecture list for what Europe needs to do.

 

JOURNALIST: Do you agree Tony Abbott's comments along his concerns with regards to Syria falling under Iranian and Russian influence and therefore one of the reasons why the West probably needs to do more there?

 

SHORTEN: I think Syria already has significant influence from Russia and Iran already. I don't think that's a new development. My concern about further engagement in Syria is that certainly ISIL are dreadful, ethno-fascist is one term, a dreadful murderous group of people. But the Government of Syria has got a shocking track record in human rights of killing their own people. I think it's very difficult at great distance for Australia or some other countries to say they've got the answers to Syria. I think the challenge is how do we help the victims of Syria. That's why I think when Labor led by proposing we would take 10,000 refugees and the Liberals then matched that offer, I think that was a healthy development. I am not sure that military intervention alone, extending right through a very complex situation where there is a lot of barbarity and the Government itself has behaved in a shocking manner, I don't know that Australia just wading in with some sort of naive approach is going to add a lot to what's already the misery that's already going on there.

 

JOURNALIST: Just going back to the GST issue, Malcolm Turnbull did say if changes were to be made, then the States and Territories would also have to alter other taxes to ensure that those people aren't left worse off. So if that's the case, would Labor look at that option and is there any room for movement?

 

SHORTEN:   Malcolm Turnbull's got a very ambitious agenda, fresh from running Australia, he now wants to tell the States how to run the States. I understand that this nation needs tax reform but I'm putting forward the tax reform we need isn't making lots of people pay a lot more taxes. What I actually think we need is a fairer tax system, a simpler tax system. I'd like Malcolm Turnbull to address concrete propositions.

 

It's been interesting over the last six and seven weeks to hear a whole lot of thought-bubbles and ideas. The next Budget thought will be a test of the Liberal thought-bubble machine. What are they actually going to do?

 

The truth of the matter is that unemployment unacceptably high. The truth of the matter is that infrastructure investment in this country has stalled. The truth of the matter is we've been moving from the mining boom we're not seeing enough policies to create other jobs. The truth of the matter is that our schools aren't well funded and we should be funding them according to need. The truth of the matter is that the Government has cut $3 billion from science and research while we're on the front of talking about the importance of science and research. There's been $115 million cut from the CSIRO. There's been a $107 million cut from Cooperative Research Centres. We see our Government twice now in the last two years, with Malcolm Turnbull voting for this following measure, cutting money from tax R&D funding. I think it's important that the rubber hit the road in the Turnbull administration. That's why the next Budget is really, really important and that is to me the test which Labor will be studying most carefully. Is this Government managing the Budget properly so that Australia can have growth rather than wallowing in the sorts of economic mediocrity which we currently are.

 

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned by union figures showing union membership is declining?

 

SHORTEN:  Union membership and its levels is an issue for unions. What I also recognise is that traditional organisations across this country from organised religion to service groups to unions are experiencing declines in membership. Of course what I do also see is what happens when you don't have unions in the workplace, it is called 7-Eleven. Thousands of people being paid far less than the minimum wage.

 

JOURNALIST: Now the government has indicated that the Philippines have said that it's not going down the line of permanent resettlement. Should we continue trying to get into the Philippines or are there other options?

 

SHORTEN:  I've seen that report. I think it is important that Australia for its regional resettlement engages with the larger economies and societies of Asia which includes the Philippines. So I don't think Australia should simply give up. It does make me shake my head though and realise the opportunity that was squandered by the Liberals when they were in Opposition with the Malaysia solution which would have seen people having the opportunity to resettle in Malaysia. To me, the Government needs to redouble its efforts with Thailand, with Malaysia, with Indonesia, with the Philippines.

 

JOURNALIST: Malcolm Turnbull says he doesn't think Australia would be powered by nuclear power stations and has pointed towards Australia's uranium stores. What are your thoughts on that and what do you think Australia should be powered by in years to come?

 

SHORTEN:  I think Malcolm Turnbull is probably right. I think the cost of setting up a nuclear industry from scratch is quite expensive. There is a South Australian Royal Commission underway, I guess it will be interesting to see what they propose out of that. That's a discussion about nuclear power, and it might put some of the evidence on the table. All the research and data I've seen is if you are going to start with a nuclear industry, that decision should've been made decades ago.

 

The other thing I believe is that we've got the opportunity to go into the second part of your question, we do have renewable energy. We are a continent with more sunlight per square metre than any other continent. I think, when you look at the prospects for investment in the Asia Pacific region, $2.5 trillion is estimated to be available for investment in renewables in the next 15 years. I don't want Australia to miss the technological and economic opportunities of embracing climate change and renewable energy. Labor's the only party who has proposed that 50 per cent of our energy mix by 2030 should be powered from renewable energy. Quite frankly I'm excited by the opportunities of battery storage, I am excited by the ability to expand solar power into small businesses, so more companies can go off the grid and be price setters as opposed to price takers. I think renewable energy offers pretty exciting prospects, for an energy revolution in Australia which generates jobs, investment and of course a cleaner environment. Last question.

 

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned a referendum council hasn't been announced yet for the referendum recognition?

 

SHORTEN:  Labor strongly believes we should include our first Australians on the Australian Constitution. Our first Australians should be on the national birth certificate. It is important that the change we push for is not just symbolic, it's not just empty poetry or a pretty preamble, it has to be real and meaningful, not just symbolic. I think an important step towards building a national consensus is to have a referendum council which would include Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian leaders. I've met with Malcolm Turnbull to discuss these matters, I'm optimistic we will see progress on that in the near future. Labor's up for changing the Constitution, I think it is long overdue. I think Australians are rightly proud of the Indigenous background of Australia and I do believe we should include that in our Constitution. We should get rid of the race powers. It's an anachronism for, you know, from two centuries age and it's time we junked that old stuff. It is not relevant to the future or including Indigenous Australians. Thanks everyone.

ENDS

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