THURSDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2016
SUBJECTS: Australian steel manufacturing jobs; Malcolm Turnbull $200 million plebiscite; Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to privatise human services; Malcolm Turnbull at the UN; Gonski school funding.
JULIAN HILL, MEMBER FOR BRUCE: Welcome everyone. I am Julian Hill, the Member for Bruce and delighted to welcome Bill Shorten and Senator Kim Carr here to OneSteel Reinforcing in Noble Park. We've just been having a look at the fantastic work done onsite here to manufacturer high quality Australian steel. There is huge and growing demand given the great infrastructure projects here underway in Victoria. I've been to a lot of places with Bill in the electorate and I never see him happier and more relaxed and at home than here talking to workers about their jobs and the future of Australian manufacturing, which remains the biggest single employment sector here in the electorate in Bruce. So delighted to welcome Bill to tell us more about Labor's plans to save Australian jobs. Thank you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Julian. It's great to be here with Julian Hill, Labor’s new Member for Bruce and of course senior Minister in the Opposition, Senator Kim Carr, spokesperson for industry and innovation.
I am here today talking about jobs again, because jobs is the number one issue for Australians right across the nation. Australian workers and their families want to know that they have a government who has a plan for jobs. Now whilst we've got Mr Turnbull strutting on the international stage, hobnobbing in New York, lecturing everyone in the world about what an exciting time it is to be innovative and agile, Australian workers are hurting. There are real issues to stand up for Australian jobs: blue collar jobs, white collar jobs, jobs at risk of being sent overseas, jobs at risk of going under unless the Government provides some assistance.
But this is the problem in Australia. Mr Turnbull has a plan to protect the big banks and the bank CEOs but he has no plan to protect the jobs of ordinary Australian workers. We say to Mr Turnbull, you're about to spend $200 million of taxpayer money in a shocking waste of money on a marriage equality plebiscite, when for $50 million the steel industry in Australia can get one-off grant funding to help modernise and update its technology and infrastructure so we can compete with the best in the world.
I am confident that Arrium and OneSteel can get out of the difficulties they're in. They're doing a great job at the moment supplying vitally needed steel infrastructure for the rail and road and bridge projects right across Australia. But the workers here in Noble Park and right across Australia - the 7,000 workers of OneSteel and Arrium, working in Whyalla and right across the east coast of Australia - they need a government who's got the back of the workers and the industry and their employers. I say to Mr Turnbull: please don't choose to spend $200 million on a marriage equality plebiscite, just spend $50 million and help secure the future of over 7,000 workers.
Today, though, as well, I also want to talk briefly about reports which have emerged that the Liberal Government has asked the Productivity Commission to find out what parts of critical government services to the disadvantaged can be put out to the private sector to run. We've all seen this movie before. Labor, of course, will study the report and see what improvements can be made, but Labor will not and will never under my leadership vote to take steps to walk us down the path towards the privatisation of critical services. Why is it that the Government uses these code words of this report, and we know where it goes these code words, that the public get less service and pay more money? We want to make sure, and Labor did during the election, we exposed Mr Turnbull's privatisation agenda in Medicare, we called out the $5 million taskforce which was going to sell off the payment system of Medicare, an essential part of our fantastic universal healthcare system.
Here we go again. Productivity Commission report, Malcolm Turnbull's radical privatisation agenda. Labor will fight the privatisation of critical services, including but not limited to, our great public hospitals, our public dental scheme. We want to make sure that the most disadvantaged Australians who rely on these critical services, are not short changed by a right-wing privatisation agenda, spearheaded by Malcolm Turnbull. I am going to ask Kim Carr to talk further about the industry policy and then happy to take questions.
KIM CARR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INNOVATION, INDUSTRY, SCIENCE AND RESEARCH: Thank you Bill.
It's great to be here today with Julian Hill and Bill to discuss the future of the Australian steel industry. An industry of vital strategic importance to the future of this country. An industry which employs tens of thousands of Australians, an industry that we rely upon to make sure that our bridges are safe, that our railways, that our roads are built quickly, on time and on budget. An industry of incredible importance to other industries and that's why Australian Labor's steel industry plan offers the hope for future investment, future training of our workers and of course, future capacity building to allow us to compete with the best in the world.
SHORTEN: Thanks Kim. Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you've already mentioned the Productivity Commission. Are you saying there is no scope for any privatisation of human services?
SHORTEN: We will look at the report carefully. We have all seen this movie before, haven't we? When Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal Party start talking about changing human services, it means that poor people get it in the neck. We will stand up for the less well-off in our community. We will stand up to properly fund our hospitals. We will stand up to make sure that Medicare is properly funded. We are always up for discussion about improvements. But how can you believe Mr Turnbull when he says he wants to improve the system when he's got a plan to give a $50 billion tax cut to the big end of town but he is also planning to take money off people on Newstart and pensioners? How can you believe Mr Turnbull when he says he wants to improve the services for people when he is making bulk-billing harder, when he is slugging the GPs and underfunding our GP surgeries and he is not providing increased funding to hospitals to the level that hospitals need.
You can't trust Mr Turnbull and the Liberal Party when it comes to healthcare and human services. They just believe in cutting services to people and making it harder for people to get access to what they need so they can have a good reasonable safety net.
JOURNALIST: Do you support the privatisation of some services if it's proven that the private sector can provide them cheaper?
SHORTEN: Well, it's a big if there, isn't it? First of all, I don't trust this Government when it comes to the future of our healthcare services. If Mr Turnbull wants to be trusted when it comes to the safety net for Australians, he needs to pass a couple of tests, I think, threshold tests. One, if you really believe in a safety net for all Australian, don't support the cutting of penalty rates to Australian workers. Two, if you really believe in providing a proper safety net to all Australians don't cut Medicare, reverse your cuts to bulk-billing, unfreeze the index payments to doctors. And, three, if Mr Turnbull really believes in providing better assistance for the less well-off in society, he needs to revisit his tax cuts to the top end of town and he also needs to revisit some of the changes he is making to childcare, which will make it harder for working mums to be able to get the support they need. So, no, Mr Turnbull and the Liberals have a very poor track record when it comes to standing up for middle class and working class families in this country.
JOURNALIST: Is this your response to Mr Turnbull's comments about the asylum seeker policies? Saying that the blood of those refugees which died at sea is on Labor's hands?
SHORTEN: Well Mr Turnbull needs to stop getting into schoolyard games, yelling competitions, with former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in New York. Is that really all Malcolm Turnbull stands for? He goes to New York to have an argument with Kevin Rudd? Mr Turnbull's obsessed by Mr Rudd, and that doesn't mean that we're getting anything done about regional resettlement. I think Mr Turnbull is trying to create a distraction here from the real problem in our issue with refugees. We've got nearly 2,000 refugees stuck on Manus and Nauru for almost what seems to now be indefinite detention. Why is Mr Turnbull talking about bringing people from Costa Rica and not negotiating a regional resettlement agreement with the people who are already under our care in Manus and Nauru? I think Mr Turnbull needs to explain to Australians what he's doing about negotiating regional resettlement here in Australia and in our region, rather than just going off to New York, getting into a yelling match with Kevin Rudd, and talking about people from Costa Rica. I think that Mr Turnbull's got to start getting his priorities right and, by the way, while he's in New York obsessing about Kevin Rudd what is he going to do to stand up for Australian jobs like I'm doing right here, right now?
JOURNALIST: Does that mean you are opposed to accepting refugees from Costa Rica?
SHORTEN: No, that's not what I am saying at all. I'm just saying that Mr Turnbull knows that we've got a problem in regional resettlement here and Manus and Nauru. Labor and the Liberals are both equally committed to stopping the people smugglers; that's a matter of political bipartisanship. But what we don't accept is that the only way that you stop people smugglers is keeping 2,000 people in indefinite detention. Mr Turnbull has to put a bit of his energy, not into having a fight with Kevin Rudd, playing the blame game for what happened eight and ten years ago, instead he needs to work on regional resettlement. I think there's a lot of people saying what's the connection between the refugees from Costa Rica coming to Australia when we need to resettle some people we've got in camps in Manus and Nauru? And I think the more he explains how his actions are helping sort out regional resettlement, I think the more there's transparency the more satisfied Australians will be.
JOURNALIST: Speaking of Mr Rudd, are you happy that he's in the news again today?
SHORTEN: I think that Mr Turnbull has an unhealthy obsession with Mr Rudd. We know that his Foreign Minister Julie Bishop wanted to support Kevin Rudd. Now we know that Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop have fallen out because I think both Julie Bishop and Kevin Rudd think that Malcolm Turnbull has acted in bad faith. But really, when we have to deal with the future of the steel industry in Australia, when we've got major cuts to Medicare, when we've got the need to have a banking Royal Commission, is the Prime Minister's job to fly to New York and get into a schoolyard fight with Kevin Rudd? I think that's just absurd, don't you?
JOURNALIST: Did you 'corrupt' Gonksi funding?
SHORTEN: You've got to ask every Liberal Government around Australia who signed up to needs based funding. The Liberals are telling another lie to justify them stealing money from schools. Mike Baird likes the Gonski funding; he's a Liberal. The former Liberal government in Victoria negotiated the agreement to make sure that schools in Victoria got properly funded. The Catholic Archbishops nationally negotiated through the Catholic Education Commission an agreement to provide Gonski funding to all the kids who go to Catholic schools. So really when you look at this debate, you've got Malcolm Turnbull and his people arguing with basically every State, all of the non-government schools, all of the Catholic schools, all of the teachers. I know which side I want to be on, it's the side of the teachers and the parents who want their kids to get the best start in life.
JOURNALIST: Is it fair that schools with similar or the same needs actually get different funding?
SHORTEN: I believe in needs based funding. Now of course every state starts at a different level of funding when we negotiated these agreements. So different states have a different capacity to get up to the ideal standard. But what isn't fair is this government, to attack historical differences between the states and between the government and the non-government system, and then use it as a lie not to properly fund schools in Australia. I fundamentally believe in needs based funding regardless of where the child goes to school.
The future of this country can't rely upon the fact that at the moment in this country the post code you were born in and live in becomes a predictor of how you go in life. I believe that whatever postcode you live in this country, whether or not you live in the city or the country, whether or not you live in the outer suburbs of Australia, whether or not your mum or your dad have got a well-paid job or they've just got a job with a modest income, every child in Australia deserves the best education possible.
The best single predictor of success in life is going to be the quality of your education and I won't give up on the kids and the future generations of Australians by Liberal lies justifying giving a tax cut of $50 billion to the big banks and overseas companies, yet not properly funding our schools. If the Liberals want a debate about education in this country and needs based funding, bring it on.
JOURNALIST: Do you stand by the deals that were struck as being fair?
SHORTEN: Of course we do, of course.
JOURNALIST: The Census is closing; we've got a 95 per cent completion rate. Is that indicative of the Census having been a success despite the poor start?
SHORTEN: Well, I think anyone who says that this Census has been a success lives on another planet. We've done censuses since the early part of the 20th century. This is without a doubt the worst, most bungled administered Census ever. I mean who will ever forget on Census night Malcolm Turnbull tweeting that he's done the Census and then it crashes and millions of other Australians can't get on. I don't think Malcolm Turnbull thinks that was very successful. We have spent a lot of money advertising to try and get people in to complete the Census. I hope it works. I completed it and my family completed our Census but there is no doubt that this government, they had one job in the Census, one job. In the space of six or eight week, get people to fill in and answer some questions and I'll tell you want if the next three years of the Turnbull government is like that Census in the way they administered that Census, heaven help us all. Thanks, everybody.