SUBJECT/S: Labor’s positive plan to boost jobs and education in Tasmania; Manus Island Detention Centre; Second Basslink connection.
JULIE COLLINS, MEMBER FOR FRANKLIN: It's great to be standing here at the Menzies Centre University of Tasmania building with Bill Shorten, Labor's leader, with Ross Hart, Labor's Bass candidate and with Jane Austin our Denison candidate for what will be a big announcement that Bill will make shortly that will change Tasmania's future.
Twelve months ago Bill asked me to embark on the Tasmanian Taskforce which I did with the Tasmanian Senators, with Labor's leader Bryan Green, the state leader, and with our candidates. One of the most compelling submissions we received was from the University of Tasmania and we all know about the poor education outcomes Tasmanians have.
So the announcement that Bill will make shortly is all about improving educational outcomes for Tasmanians and will transform the Tasmanian economy and the future outcomes for Tasmanians, Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Julie and good afternoon again. I am very pleased that following the hard work of Julie Collins and her Tasmanian Taskforce providing Labor, Labor nationally with the ideas and the priorities that best drive the creation and maintenance of jobs in Tasmania. I'm very pleased to announce after the hard work of Ross Hart our candidate in Bass, Justine Keay our candidate in Braddon and of course Brian Mitchell in Lyons, and also supported by Jane Austin our candidate in Denison.
I'm pleased to announce today that if Labor is elected on July 2, we will provide $150 million to help build two new campuses for UTAS in Burnie and Launceston and what we will do is we'll call upon the Tasmanian Government to match our $150 million with $75 million because we understand that the creation of jobs in Tasmania, the diversification of the Tasmanian economy is the best positive plan that Labor can have for Tasmania.
Under these proposals which have been worked on for a very long period of time, this will create over 3,000 new jobs across Tasmania, in particular in the North and the North-West of Tasmania. This will add nearly 300 academic and teaching jobs, during the construction phase it will generate a billion dollars of economic activity, it'll add to the bottom line of the Tasmanian economy nearly half a billion dollars, $428 million.
But beyond the remarkable economic activity, what Tasmanians want from their Federal Government in Canberra is a government who's connected to the everyday needs of Tasmanians. Jobs, jobs, jobs, that is the most important thing that a Federal Government can do. Generate confidence, back in the locals, that's what we're doing with the University of Tasmania.
The University of Tasmania is an important fundamental part of the future of the Tasmanian way of life, the Tasmanian economy. It gives opportunities for people to get qualifications which will help them compete for the jobs of the future. Only Labor has positive plans and this backs up our announcement and our commitment to the West Coast of Tassie yesterday, by providing fibre to Zeehan, Queenstown, Rosebery; Labor's got positive plans be it the NBN, be it supporting UTAS, be it the investment in construction and blue collar jobs and helping train young people and indeed mature age people retrain for the jobs of the future.
Labor is putting its money where its mouth is because we back Tasmania. Happy to take any questions on this or other matters.
JOURNALIST: How soon would that money start flowing, that $150 million and where would you source those funds from?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, UTAS want to get this project going straight away so we're up for it. If you vote for Labor on July 2, then it starts flowing straight away after that. We don't need more enquiries, we don't need more investigations. Sometimes you've just got to lead. Now in terms of the source of the funding Labor unlike the Liberals have got fully-funded policies which also help reduce the troubles in the Budget, but we use the scarce taxpayer money which we regard as precious to generate the best quality outcomes. The UTAS proposal ticks all the boxes; Ross has been tireless talking to me about how this proposal ticks all the boxes. Does it create jobs? Yes it does. Does it add to the productive nature of the Tasmanian economy? Yes it does. Does it provide opportunity in Northern Tasmania and North-West Tasmania? Most certainly it does. We regard this as one of the premier projects which as Federal Government can help Tasmania, so we want to get on with business.
JOURNALIST: Is it entirely contingent on the State Government chipping in their $75 million or will you contribute those funds regardless?
SHORTEN: Well, it's a $300 million project. Tasmanians pay their taxes to Canberra, they rightfully expect that there'd be some of the investment come back to Tasmania. The University of Tasmania is willing to put in or got the plans to put in their $75 million. I would be stunned if the Tasmanian Government, which only has to spend $1 to grab $3 of investment in this project generating 3000 plus jobs. I know that Tasmanian Labor would certainly get behind this. I expect the Liberal leader in Tasmania to do the same. It's a good deal isn’t it, if the Tasmanian Government only has to find $1 and there's $3 to match it, that's good business.
JOURNALIST: The location is controversial, there's a vocal group in Launceston that opposes the relocation and agues it hasn't been thought through properly, that there's not enough student housing or parking, amenities. What's your comment to them? Is there going to be some serious issues if this goes ahead?
SHORTEN: Tasmania can't afford to miss out on this opportunity. Now, I'm always mindful of the community. That's what the Labor Party does best. We consult, we talk to people, we empower them. But I've seen what happens when people lose their jobs in northern Tasmania, or north western Tasmania. I've seen what it's done both in mining, I've seen what it's done in manufacturing. I've see what it means not to have hope and when you see the best and brightest of Tasmanians future having to leave and go to the mainland. I believe that Tasmania deserves leadership. I will not be deterred from securing more support for better quality education outcomes, for people able to grab the jobs of the future. In terms of legitimate issues in the community we'll work through them. That's why I've got Ross Hart. Ross Hart is a guy who listens to the community, he leads but he listens. He won't be arrogantly lecturing people. The best chance this community have, is to have someone like Ross Hart, who understands that if you're going to have change you've got to bring people with you. But 3000 extra jobs, nearly 300 academic and teaching positions. This is an opportunity and Labor won't let this one slip from our grasp.
JOURNALIST: Members of your own party are calling for Manus Island to be shut down. If you win power will you be forced by the Labor left to back down on this issue?
SHORTEN: Well, what's happened here and lets - before we talk about Labor let’s talk about the Government. The Government have really blown it. In order to have regional processing, offshore processing and to deter the people smugglers -
JOURNALIST: But what about Labor -
SHORTEN: Sorry, you've asked a really important question and I'm going to do you the respect of answering your question and deal with the issues at stake. Let us be clear here, the story isn't Labor, the story is Liberal incompetence. If you're going to have offshore processing, if we're going to beat the people smugglers, you can't do that by having a situation of indefinite detention. Papua New Guinea's a sovereign country. They’re happy to help Australia defeat the people smugglers but the prospect of indefinite detention because of a lazy Liberal Government not negotiating regional resettlement. I understand why PNG is frustrated. I understand why the Government of Nauru is frustrated. Labor is determined to defeat the people smugglers but you can't do that with a system of indefinite detention. We expect the Government to resolve this issue. If Labor was elected on July 2, we will deliver regional resettlement. Labor has no interest with indefinite detention. So, I understand that there are some people who are, many people, me included who are legitimately critical of indefinite detention in Nauru and Manus Island that is unacceptable. But the answer is not to give in to the people smugglers.
JOURNALIST: But you're not saying like your own Labor politicians that Manus Island in inhumane and should be shut down?
SHORTEN: What I'm saying is that it's inhumane to have people in indefinite detention. What I'm saying is that the Liberal Government, Peter Dutton and Malcolm Turnbull, should have done a lot more in the last three years than they've done. What I'm saying is I will not stand by in all conscience and allow the people smugglers to get back into business and cause the death and drowning of vulnerable people seeking a better life. Indefinite detention is not the answer, nor is giving in to people smugglers. Peter Dutton needs to get on with this issue. It's their incompetence that's caused this meltdown of a situation. It's possible, I believe under a Labor Government, to negotiate with resettlement nations to supply the opportunity to resettle people in third nations.
JOURNALIST: So you won't be forced by the Labor left to change your position in Government?
SHORTEN: We debated this issue at the national conference. Labor hasn't shirked any of these tough issues. There's not a single person in Labor who wants to see the boats start again or wants to see indefinite detention, and I understand the legitimate concerns by many in the community, and I share those concerns with the prospect of indefinite detention. But the Liberal Government has been simply incompetent. They focused on boat turn backs and have neglected the necessary work of regional resettlement. The deal with regional resettlement and offshore processing is that you don't have indefinite detention in Manus Island or Nauru, and that's the current prospect, because this is a Government who's just not dealt with the issue. I'm amazed, that Peter Dutton, you know, he said this morning on breakfast TV that he's known about this impending problem for months. I'm amazed he's left it to the death knock before the election to try and deal with this issue. That is negligent and that is incompetent.
JOURNALIST: Would a Federal Labor Government consider investing in a second Bass Strait interconnector as it looks to see more renewables on island here in Tasmania exported?
SHORTEN: Well, I think that Mr Turnbull is again playing catch up politics with my Tasmanian Labor team. We've been up for a feasibility study about a second Basslink connection, and what we see is Mr Turnbull just, sort of, wafts down here, makes a few airy pronouncements and no detail. What Labor's said that we will do for Tassie is of course we support a feasibility study, but we're also black and white committing $150 million of scarce taxpayer money to a really sensible project which is going to deliver better academic and educational outcomes, better job outcomes for northern and north western Tasmania. We've also committed to honour a promise which Malcolm Turnbull's never kept about providing access on the west coast of Tassie to fibre. We're the only party offering to properly fund the schools of Tasmania so that every Tasmanian child in every school gets every opportunity. We're the only people in this election who are offering to defend bulk billing of the Medicare system. We're the only people who've got a story in town about not privatising Medicare. When you look at it from hospitals to jobs, to education, to renewable energy, Labor has the positive plans for Tasmania that Tasmanians deserve and need. Perhaps I might take one more question if there is one?
JOURNALIST: Just looking at Basslink cable, is the second cable actually needed? There are lots of concerns that there isn't enough supply or demand for it.
SHORTEN: My very capable colleague Julie Collins just said the answer to your question is why we need a feasibility study. What I promise Tasmanians is we'll always rely upon the evidence and the best argument. What we will do is fight hard for Tasmania. We'll fight hard for Tasmanian jobs. We'll fight hard for high quality education for Tasmanian kids and Tasmanian adults seeking to retrain. We'll make this election a referendum about the privatisation of Medicare, because we will fight for better health outcomes for Tasmanians. We'll fight to maintain and create new renewable energy jobs. We will fight to make sure that Tasmanians get their fair share of access to high quality NBN. That's who Labor is, we're a fighting Tasmanian party. We're proud of what we can do. We're proud of what we've done and we've got positive plans. We just look forward to 2 July, because we've got the only positive plans for Tasmanian jobs, schools, universities, TAFEs, higher education, Medicare, bulk billing, you name it - we've got the positive plans, because I've got the best team running in Tasmania.