FRIDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2016
SUBJECTS: End of car manufacturing at Ford; Australian manufacturing jobs; banking Royal Commission; South Australian storms; renewable energy; domestic violence
TIM WATTS, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GELLIBRAND: Good morning and welcome to Socobell in Altona North in Melbourne's west. I'd like to thank Ross for having me along today, Tim Watts the member for Gellibrand, as well as Bill Shorten and Kim Carr from the opposition. It's a day of significant anxiety for workers in the auto supply industry in Australia. We see what's going on at Ford today with some fear and trepidation. Socobell is a company that has done right by my community, by its employees and by the Australian economy. It's invested in its employees in training them up, it's invested in the capital in the equipment and the robotics that you can see behind you so that they can be a competitor on the international stage. It's a company that’s been growing, employing people in three sites across my electorate. It's a good news story in a lot of ways.
Unfortunately while Socobell has done the right thing by my community, the Australian Government hasn't done the right thing by it. The failure to support both the Australian auto manufacturing industry and the supply parts manufacturing industry has left this company with a lot of challenges ahead of it. What this company needs now is a Government that will do the right thing by Australian manufacturing and make the investments that we need so that both the Australian community and international purchasers can have confidence in the future of this industry and that's why I am really pleased that Bill Shorten and Kim Carr are here today to show the Australian Opposition, the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to delivering this. On that note, I will hand over to Bill Shorten, thank you Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks. Good afternoon everybody and it's great to be at Socobell, an impressive family business employing hundreds of people, competing with the best in the world and winning.
Whilst it's good to be here, it is a sad day for Australia. I never imagined that the day would come that we would be a country who no longer makes motor vehicles. It is a sad day for literally hundreds and hundreds of automotive workers and indeed thousands of automotive workers and component workers who face losing their jobs over the next 12 months.
For nearly 100 years Australians have been making motor cars and now we see instead hundreds of Australians losing their jobs as the last Ford Falcon rolls off the assembly line at Broadmeadows. Now more than ever Australian manufacturers, Australian family businesses, manufacturing workers, blue collar workers, engineers and designers need a Government in Canberra who is not out of touch, who actually respects and rates the role of "Made in Australia", who believes we can be a manufacturing superpower and that we can compete with the world.
I know when you come to a company like Socobell, that just given a modest degree of encouragement, sensible government policy, encouraging "Made in Australia" that Australian companies can compete with the best in the world. What we don't need is a Liberal government who treats manufacturing and manufacturing jobs as a second-class industry in this country.
Now it is time for Mr Turnbull to stop fighting for the jobs of bank CEOs and start fighting for the jobs of Australian everyday workers. Labor will never give up on the manufacturing sector. We will campaign, even in opposition, to keep Mr Turnbull and his out-of-touch Government honest about standing up for manufacturing. It’s a sad day today that so many of our fellow Australians are ceasing work and losing their jobs. I want Mr Turnbull to come out of his ivory tower, stop worrying about the welfare of the big four banks and the CEOs, and start focusing on the welfare of everyday Australians. Kim Carr, Tim and I are happy to take questions on this or other matters.
JOURNALIST: Will you be visiting one of the Ford factories today?
SHORTEN: No, that's not on my diary for today.
JOURNALIST: You don't feel it's necessary to offer your support to the workers in person?
SHORTEN: Well as a matter of fact, and you've been conscientious in covering my Victorian visits and I thank you for that, but in the last three weeks in between when Parliament last rose and when it resumes next Monday, I've visited 10 different factories and manufacturing sites around this country.
Labor is the only political party speaking up on behalf of car workers. We are very sad that tonight people will go home and explain to their families that they no longer have a job, but we will not give up keeping pressure on Malcolm Turnbull. The Liberals and some of their right-wing vested interests want to say that the only future that Australia has is by backing in big banks and big mining companies. Financial services and mining are an important part of our economy, but this economy, Australia's future, is more precarious when we just rely on two sectors of the economy to drive Australia. Manufacturing employs nearly a million people, despite the lack of attention from the Turnbull Government. Manufacturing in Australia can export its goods; we need a diverse economy. Blue collar jobs are worth just as much as bank CEO jobs. We will stick up and stand up for the manufacturing jobs and yes, we will keep on the Government's case to support the automotive component suppliers to make sure they are given support to transition and compete in new sectors. The skills of the workforce here, the robots, the injection moulding machinery, the design, the toolmaking, and the people who do all of those tasks, they are capable of making medical products, defence products, they are capable of being in a whole range of sectors, they just need a Government in Canberra who will work as hard for Australia's future as the people on the factory floor right around Australia.
JOURNALIST: Do you think a tribunal is a good way for banking victims to seek justice?
SHORTEN: Another day, another excuse from Malcolm Turnbull on why he won't hold a royal commission.
What a circus this week was.
You've got the CEOs of the big four banks, all in surprisingly similar lines, being spoon fed questions by their political party, the Liberal Party, where they say, "We're sorry." Every banking CEO has said they're sorry for the things that have gone on, even though no one has seemed to have lost their jobs in the banks for the conduct that's gone on.
What we've seen this week, irrevocably, for the case for a royal commission to be established beyond any reasonable doubt. If every leader of every major bank concedes there have been major problems in their bank, then what on earth can be the reason not to have a royal commission? To understand what's driving these problems.
Malcolm Turnbull has now proposed a sixth measure to avoid and stave off and fob off a royal commission: a tribunal. But the problem is, the review establishing this tribunal and what is does hasn't concluded but Malcolm Turnbull is so scared of the calls for a royal commission, he has prematurely rushed out and said, "We're going to have a tribunal." But furthermore, if you look at the questions this week, we saw the shameful spectacle of the elected representatives of the Australian people, the Liberal Party, checking with the banks, "excuse me Sir, is it alright if we have a tribunal, do you agree with a tribunal."
This tribunal I wouldn't trust the Liberals to set up properly. It’s a tribunal designed by the banks, for the banks and implemented by their political representatives, the Turnbull Government.
JOURNALIST: Energy ministers from right across the country are meeting currently in Melbourne for a snap COAG meeting. What are you hoping will be achieved from this meeting?
SHORTEN: It appears it has taken a super-storm in South Australia for the Turnbull Government to discover the need to have energy security and a national energy market. We support measures which improve energy security and continuity of supply.
But what we are not going to do is stand by and watch Malcolm Turnbull do a 180 degree backflip on everything he has ever believed on the need to take action on climate change and watch him demonise renewable energy to keep the hard-right climate sceptics of his party happy. Energy security is a fundamental priority, I believe, for our government, and for the nation and for all levels of government. But it was a super-storm with cyclonic winds, 80,000 lightning strikes, which interfered with the power in South Australia and we saw Mr Turnbull I think rather scandalously in the middle of a natural disaster start playing politics.
We support proposals to investigate how we can belt and brace the continuity of supply and energy security in this country, but we are not going to allow Malcolm Turnbull to turn his back on taking real action on climate change. In 2010, Mr Turnbull was the fiercest advocate for action on renewable energy. As recently as the last part of last year or earlier this year, Malcolm Turnbull came out and congratulated the South Australian Government on what they were doing on energy. But now, when there has been a terrible storm, farmers, businesses, individuals inconvenienced, Malcolm Turnbull is responding to the storm event and trying to make political capital out of it, it's not good enough, Malcolm.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just on the energy sector, can you retain absolute confidence that the transition to renewable, while welcome, has not created weakness in the energy supply system that needs to be addressed?
SHORTEN: I think a nation who's not looking at diversifying its power supply beyond coal is a nation which is being short-term in its energy policy. There is $2.5 trillion of investment for renewable energy in the Asia-Pacific region in the next 10 and 15 years. I want Australia to attract some of that investment to Australia. I want Australia to attract that investment to us, to create our jobs. The fact of the matter is that renewable energy, along with existing sources of energy, give us a stronger energy mix than the status quo. We've got to take real action on climate change and what we've seen with the development of solar technology and other forms of renewable energy, is not only are we seen diversifying our energy supply and taking real action on climate change, but what we also see is also the creation of thousands of blue collar jobs, we see Australian inventors and designers and innovators leading the world in technology.
Renewable energy is a source of jobs, new sources of energy and tackling climate change, and whilst I think we need to have an intelligent conversation about energy security, I do not want to see renewable energy with the technology, the action on climate change and all those extra jobs and all that extra investment - I don't want Australia to miss the boat on renewable energy.
JOURNALIST: Linda Burney says the discussion of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities needs to become a national conversation. Do you agree with her?
SHORTEN: I think that domestic violence full stop needs to be at the top of our priorities. Certainly the levels of domestic violence in Indigenous Australia are completely unacceptable.
I believe, though, when it comes to tackling domestic violence that what we've got to do is understand that one of the drivers is the attitudes and discrimination which occurs against women, full stop. So yes, I agree with Linda. One more question, if there are no more.
JOURNALIST: Do you foresee a future Labor Government actively encouraging a return to automotive manufacturing in Australia?
SHORTEN: What I'm going to do is get Kim to address the question and I’ll finish up the presser.
CARR: The Government today is saying today that there's companies such as this, has access to $155 million. That's simply not true, simply not true.
For a start, that money has been exhausted. Of that $155 million, $55 million has come from the companies and has come from the state governments. The Government has underinvested in building blue collar jobs in this country.
We know there are a number of proponents that want to invest in the automotive industry. We will have an ongoing automotive industry in this country. What it requires is for the Government to get behind initiatives to be able to build new skills and new capabilities in this country.
In the United Kingdom, the same question was asked after the devastation of Margaret Thatcher. And what occurred there, was that the parties right across the board came to recognise how important the automotive industry was to the British economy. And so today, all the parties agree to investment in the automotive industry and as a consequence, the British now have the largest automotive export industry in Europe. We know that in this country we can build upon what will remain of the automotive industry in this country.
Even after today's decision at Ford, Ford will remain the largest employer in the Australian automotive industry after 2018. I have every expectation we can grow the industry if we have the right government policies to attract new investment and new skills for the Australian automotive industry.
SHORTEN: I will just wrap up the press conference. I just want to thank Socobell again for hosting us here.
This is a truly sad day for Australians. No more car manufacturing and thousands of people are going to lose their job in coming months, including today. But the automotive manufacturing industry can supply into global supply chains, we can diversify our manufacturing sector. All that the manufacturing sector in Australia needs, if you want to ensure that "Made in Australia" is not just a label we see in the museums, all that manufacturing workers, employers, family businesses need is a government that will fight for blue collar and engineering jobs.
Malcolm Turnbull's got to stop fighting for the jobs of the bank CEOs and start fighting for the jobs of millions of everyday Aussies, and this country will be a lot better off than we currently are. Thank you.