THURSDAY, 19 JANUARY 2017
SUBJECT/S: Manufacturing jobs; Mike Baird; housing affordability; Mark Latham; immigration; Australia-US relations
CLARE O'NEIL, MEMBER FOR HOTHAM: Welcome everyone, my name is Clare O'Neil, I'm the Federal Member for Hotham and it's great to welcome you all to my electorate and particularly the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten. Bill Shorten is a boy from the south east from way back and we saw a lot of warmth on the factory floor today when he was greeted by workers. We're here today at MtM which is a local manufacturer and a real success story for us, both in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne but also in Australia more broadly. This is a firm that is doing everything that we want to see from manufacturers. It's being innovative, it's getting very creative ideas, it's building partnerships, and most importantly, its exporting to many, many countries around the world. MtM shows us that Australian manufacturers can compete and they can win globally, as long as they have the right supports in place.
Now, one of the key messages that Bill and I spoke to workers about today was the importance of protecting local jobs, and that is pivotal to us in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. We are very dependent here on the car industry. In the four local government areas that I represent, 6,000 workers are directly employed in the car automotive manufacturing supply chain. It's very important that we put those workers first. And in the first year I was a Member of Parliament, I was absolutely shocked to see the reckless way in which the car industry was voted out of the country.
I'm really proud to be here today with Bill because we've got a really good story to tell and a lot of good policies to talk about which show that we really care about the people working in these factories, and we will be doing everything we can to protect them in a Shorten Labor Government. Now I'll hand over to Bill to say a few words.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Claire and good morning everybody. This is a great family business. MtM are showing Australians that we can compete with the world, that we can manufacture quality products and that we can export what we do in Australia to the rest of the world.
It's a little known fact, but every Cadillac has machinery or components built in Melbourne which go into every Cadillac around America. So this is a company who is building components for global markets. They employ 100 people, and the message I've picked up loud and clear today, as I've been listening, is that manufacturing is alive and well in this country, and the opportunities for manufacturing jobs are in Australia, not just China.
In fact, all of this week, since I've returned from leave, I've been making jobs my number one priority. Wherever I travel in this country, to big towns or to small towns, what people tell me is that jobs are the number one priority of Australians. And if it's the number one priority for my fellow Australians, then it's my top priority as well.
This week, though, my opposite number, Mr Turnbull, has been consumed by only looking after one job – his own. We've seen the Liberals have a shocking summer of scandal and stuff-up, and now they seem to be much more focused on themselves than Australians. But the real problem in 2017 is that, last year, we lost 50,000 full-time jobs. That's a lot of full-time jobs for Australia to lose, and I don't want to see a repeat in 2017 of what we saw in 2016. So that's going to take a big effort from all sides of politics to promote more manufacturing jobs, not less, to focus more on the jobs of Australians, rather than the jobs of Parliamentarians.
Labor will keep working hard in 2017, preparing our policies to protect and support Australian jobs, and I call upon Mr Turnbull to start focusing more on the jobs of Australians and less on the jobs of the Liberal frontbench.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: A prominent Liberal today, stepping down, Mike Baird out of New South Wales, your response, Mr Shorten?
SHORTEN: Well actually I wish Mr Baird well in private life. I wish he and his family well. Politics takes its toll. So whatever the reasons for Mr Baird stepping down, there's no doubt that this is bad news for the New South Wales Liberals.
I think it's fair to say, and most people would agree with me, that Mr Baird was probably the most talented Liberal at the state level in New South Wales. So the Liberal Party today in New South Wales is a much more diminished political party than it was yesterday.
I suspect this has implications for Mr Turnbull's support in New South Wales as well, but I'd like to finish where I start - I wish Mike Baird well, and no doubt the Liberal Party will be regretting his departure.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask about some of the issues that are happening here in Victoria in terms of jobs? You've got Parmalat and also Heyfield Mill. What is your response to the concerns there about jobs there?
SHORTEN: Which specific issues –
JOURNALIST: Let's talk about Parmalat first, the lockout at Parmalat.
SHORTEN: Well, I would just invite the parties to resolve their differences around the negotiating table. In my experience, protracted conflict leaves no winners. So I think that the sooner that the company and the union get back to the bargaining table, the better. In my experience, locking people out, generally, has a counter-productive benefit towards resolving a dispute in a speedy fashion.
JOURNALIST: In Heyfield Mills, Darren Chester, the MP, is saying that you should pick up the phone to Daniel Andrews and force him to make some kind of contract, so that jobs aren't lost, because the issue there, they're not able to get access to the timber.
SHORTEN: Well, I'm not going to take a lecture from the Federal Liberals about picking up the phone to save jobs. This year Holden is closing its door because the Liberal government were too lazy to fight for the car industry. I'm confident that Daniel Andrews will do everything he can to help ensure ongoing contracts and work, but I think that the federal Infrastructure Minister should be defending Victoria and making sure we get our fair share of rail and road contracts rather than trying to be a State politician.
The federal Minister is a federal politician. He should focus on getting Malcolm Turnbull to focus on Victoria, stand up for car components, stand up for industry. And while he's at it, perhaps we could stand up for all the Victorian Centrelink recipients and pensioners who are being treated as de facto criminals by a government who seems unduly and obsessively focused on a few dollars being paid to pensioners whilst at the same time they seem to have expense scandals day after day.
JOURNALIST: Mark Latham appears to be giving a speech to a Liberal fundraiser in New South Wales, a former Labor leader, it's not a good look, is it?
SHORTEN: That's up to Mark Latham. I can't see me doing Liberal fundraisers in the foreseeable future.
JOURNALIST: Mike Baird said his biggest regret was that tax reform didn't go ahead. What's Labor doing to address that and what do you want to see from the Government in terms of tax reform?
SHORTEN: I think Mike Baird, as he approached the end of his career, sounded more like a Labor fellow on some of these issues than Malcolm Turnbull.
We all know that one of the key issues in Australia is housing affordability. We know that one of the key obstacles is a lack of tax reform to negative gearing. I think that Malcolm Turnbull should listen carefully to Mike Baird and should reconsider his outrageous defence of negative gearing, which sees first homeowners treated as second class to investors when it comes to housing affordability.
I also think, if we want to look at tax reform, Mr Turnbull should drop his unfunded $50 billion tax cut for large multinationals and big banks. So I think if Malcolm Turnbull, on the day that Mike Baird steps down, is to take any lessons from Mike Baird, it should be to look at reforming housing affordability, so first homebuyers aren't locked out of the market, and it should be to cancel the proposed tax cuts for large multinationals at a time when ordinary families are doing it very hard.
JOURNALIST: What are the other legacies do you think of Mike Baird as Premier of New South Wales?
SHORTEN: Well, I think it will be for New South Wales state politicians to most analyse Mr Baird, but I do take my hat off to the New South Wales Coalition and their support for education funding. I really wish, and I notice that Mike Baird made a point, again, in his departure speech, that the Federal Liberal Government and Mr Turnbull would reconsider their right-wing, ideological opposition to needs-based funding for schools.
The best thing we can do in this country, and every parent is hard-wired already to know this, the best that we can do is give our kids the best start in life. Properly funding our education system, so that it's not a child's parents' wealth, or it is not the postcode that the child grows up in which determines their future, it is the quality of their education. So I think education is a legacy.
As I say, I wish Mike Baird well. Politics takes a toll and I'm sure that his family is pleased to have him back. And again, I recognise that he was a very talented state Liberal in New South Wales, probably their best, so I think the Liberal Party is not doing as well today as it was yesterday. And I think that probably has implications for Mr Turnbull, but I'll let the experts analyse that on another day. Today’s Mike Baird's day.
JOURNALIST: Do you have a response to Peter Dutton's idea that serious criminals who are youths should be [inaudible].
SHORTEN: I couldn't quite hear all of the question, sorry.
JOURNALIST: Peter Dutton is forwarding the idea that minors who have committed serious crimes who were born overseas could be deported. What's your feeling on that? Is that something Labor would support?
SHORTEN: We'll have a look at the proposals that they talk about. The reality is that people who are not Australian citizens who come to Australia and commit serious crimes have no place in Australia. We'll look at what he's saying.
JOURNALIST: They are young though, they're minors, what would they go back to?
SHORTEN: I think it's best I don't do policy on the run at a press conference. But Labor is committed to having an immigration policy which means the people who come here respect our laws, and I think all sides of politics agree on that. Is there a final question perhaps?
JOURNALIST: President Obama has made a final speech, what do you think the future of US-Australian relations might be?
SHORTEN: I believe that Australian-US relations are more durable than personalities on either side of the Pacific. We have shared interests and I think we'll certainly hope that the relations remain consistent. I guess we'll have to wait and see how the new fellow goes.