WEDNESDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2016
SUBJECT/S: Local jobs; Direct Action review; Liberal Party divisions; Australia’s drop in education world rankings; renewable energy.
ANDREW GILES, MEMBER FOR SCULLIN: Morning guys, I'm Andrew Giles the Federal Member for Scullin. I'm really pleased to be here with Labor's leader Bill Shorten. Bill has been to Scullin, I think, on five occasions since becoming leader, showing his commitment to people in this electorate and to the Northern Suburbs generally.
I'm particularly pleased that he's come here today to spend some time in Melbourne Polytechnic at the Epping Campus. Melbourne Polytechnic is such an important feature of the Northern Suburbs and it's going to become even more important as we've reopened the Greensborough Campus and as the tech school development takes shape on this campus. And on that tech school development, it shows something that's really important to Labor and I think really important to the communities of the North: lifelong learning and investing in skills - real skills that will deliver real jobs. And the thing that I've been most excited about today is seeing the work that's being done on this campus as students complete their year's work. But even more important than that, hearing from those students and allowing them the opportunity to speak to Bill about what matters to them, their learning journey and their journey to jobs of the future and their understanding that Labor is standing with them in offering them secure pay and secure jobs.
So Bill, it's great to have you here. Over to you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Andrew. Good morning everybody, it's great to be at Melbourne Polytechnic with Andrew Giles. He's doing a great job as local Member in Scullin.
Melbourne Polytechnic has actually been around educating people since 1912 in vocational education. It has the same sort of values that the party I lead has. That we need to constantly be training and retraining Australians for jobs of the future.
There's a real challenge in Australia at the moment. The number one issue in Australia for middle class and working class Australians are jobs. Making sure that where you've got a good job, you can hang onto it. Making sure that our young people and indeed adults have the opportunity to train and retrain for the jobs of the future.
You cannot have a plan for jobs unless you have a plan for training and apprenticeships. At the moment in Australia, under the Turnbull Government, there's an over-reliance in dealing with the skills shortage on importing skills.
Labor's message is that to deal with the skills shortage of the future, rather than import the skills, let's train Australians with the skills for us, that is the sweet spot of a national training plan, and places such as Melbourne Polytechnic are really holding up their end of the bargain.
There is a challenge in Australia. Whilst the Turnbull Government has been in, we've seen 140,000 people come in on temporary visas to do skilled shortages in Australia. At the same time we've shed 130,000 apprentices. This isn't an acceptable training plan just to rely on temporary cheap labour from overseas. We've got to train our own young people and we've got to train adults seeking to re-skill.
But of course, this isn't the only example of chaos in the Turnbull Government. Not only do they not have a plan for apprenticeships and training and skills shortages, but they don't appear to have a plan anymore for climate change.
What an extraordinary performance this morning by the current Prime Minister at the Sydney Fish Markets. What he said 48 hours ago is that they were going to review climate policies, energy intensive policies and they were going to review - everything was on the table 48-hours ago. It's marvellous and amazing what can happen in 48 hours in the Turnbull Government, because as soon as the Turnbull Government announced everything was on the table in terms of looking at what works to deal with the harmful effects of climate change, out came our old friends from the right-wing of the Liberal Party, yanking Mr Turnbull's chain and pulling him back into line.
And then we saw the end of the sorry spectacle this morning, where Mr Turnbull's back-flipped on something he said less than 48 hours ago. And now he says that everything was on the table 48 hours ago, now the table is bare.
What a weak fellow this Prime Minister is. He doesn't believe in anything except saving his job, and as a result, we're seeing him lash out and lie and make up stories about Labor because he can't convince his own party to take sensible action on climate change and attract new investment and jobs to Australia. We're happy to take questions on the issue of jobs and any other matters.
JOURNALIST: Mr Turnbull said this morning, he said the Labor Party has a policy that it was absolutely committed to higher prices, whether it is imposing an emissions trading scheme or the utterly uncosted, unrealistic renewable targets.
SHORTEN: Mr Turnbull can't hold a position between the time he gets up to when he has his first coffee. This fellow's falling apart. How can a Prime Minister lead the nation when he can't lead his own party? Everybody knows that the Tony Abbott policies on climate change are a flop, but Mr Turnbull's a sell-out, and as a result we're not getting real action on jobs or the environment.
Taking real action on climate change attracts investment to Australia, generates the jobs of the future, it helps deal with harmful effects of climate change, and of course it keeps downward pressure on the price of electricity for consumers.
Mr Turnbull is lashing out, he's blaming Labor because he can't, yet again, convince his own party to follow him and take real action on climate change. Malcolm Turnbull is shrinking in his job every day. How is it that 48 hours ago, he has a thought bubble, everything's on the table on climate change and a review of climate change policies, the right wing of his Liberal Party, Cory Bernardi and the others come out and warn Mr Turnbull against doing anything on climate change, and within 48 hours, our Prime Minster has yet again run up the white flag on climate change. This is not leadership that Australia needs.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, surely you would accept that your renewables policy and climate change policy will increase electricity prices?
SHORTEN: No, I don't accept that and just because Malcolm Turnbull says something to deflect from his own problems internally doesn't mean -
JOURNALIST: Most experts say it as well.
SHORTEN: Well no, they don't actually. Let's be clear here, Malcolm Turnbull on Monday commissioned a review, and then by Wednesday he's thrown his Minister under the bus, because on Tuesday the right wing of his party complained. This is a fellow who can't keep a position between morning and night time.
And what he's doing is he's lashing out and blaming Labor because, yet again, he cannot lead his own party to take the sort of action on climate change which all of the experts say is required.
The fact of the matter is that Malcolm Turnbull is presiding over an economy which isn't going well. He's got no plan for training, got no plan for Australian jobs or apprenticeships and he's got no plan to take effective action on climate change. The real problem, the real failure of this Prime Minister is that he is too afraid to fight for the things that he believes in. As a result, he's increasingly angry with himself and his party and he's seeking to blame Labor because this is a Government who can't govern.
JOURNALIST: Will you be open to Australia importing more specialist, maths and science teachers, in the wake of a pretty long-term decline in high school student performance?
SHORTEN: Well there's a couple of issues in that. First of all, the fact that Australia has now fallen to 25th in student outcomes in those topics on world rankings is a real problem. But the answer should be, not necessarily importing a whole lot of new teachers, the answer should be in taking real action and properly funding our schools in Australia and properly backing up Australian teachers.
If in the Olympics we slip from 6th or 7th place in the world to 25th, there would be a royal commission, the place would go off, everyone would be up in arms. When we have the sort of fall in academic performance in maths and science, that is an even greater cause for worry than our Olympic performance. But the Turnbull Government is doing nothing. They're not agreeing to properly fund schools on a needs base.
I think Mr Turnbull should look at the policy Labor took to the last election, of encouraging more young people to do science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees at universities and I think he should provide more scholarships to provide science and maths graduates in Australian Universities to go back and do teaching. The answers are within Australia's capacity to control and it's backing our teachers and it's backing our graduates and it's backing our young people.
JOURNALIST: That's pretty meaningless for someone in grade four though, incentives to study science or maths degree in university. What’s that going to mean to a primary school student?
SHORTEN: Well, on the contrary, what I want to do is make sure that we get qualified teachers into the classrooms. If the Liberals were to borrow our policies and we'll happily lend it to them at no charge, from next year, we could start seeing new graduates going into university and new graduates going into teaching.
You can't fix all of these problems overnight, but the Turnbull Government's now been in charge for the best part of four years, and the situation is getting worse, not better in education.
JOURNALIST: The closure of the coalmine in Victoria has already put up prices more than expected, electricity prices. How can you say changing the energy mix will not put up electricity prices and impact jobs?
SHORTEN: Well, I didn't say that either. What I'm making clear is that today Malcolm Turnbull has decided to attack Labor to cover up the fact that in the last 48 hours he has had conflicting positions on climate change. Do you remember Malcolm Turnbull in 2009 declared he would never want to lead a party which didn't take climate change as seriously as that? Well has anyone seen the fellow who said that? Does anyone know what's happened to Malcolm Turnbull? And who is this guy in charge of the country? Because he's totally changed what he believes. The real problem here is that we've got a Prime Minister who is too afraid to fight for anything except for his own job.
In terms of modernising the electricity industry, that is happening. The question is do we work with industry or do we just let the market operate in an uncontrolled fashion which invariably forces up prices? Labor believes that we should take action on climate change. Unlike Mr Turnbull, we're not scared of the right wing of his party. We are far more apprehensive about the impacts of climate change. Where you have climate change and you don't have policies to deal with it, the insurance bills of house owners will go up, we'll see our tourism and the Barrier Reef negatively affected, we will have more extreme weather events.
Climate change is real and just because Mr Turnbull is too cowardly to take on the right wing of his party doesn't mean we should sell out future generations of Australians by not taking action, focusing on modernising our electricity industry, focusing on investing in new energy efficient technology, by focusing on making sure that we invest in renewable energy.
There's $2.5 trillion worth of investment in the Asia-Pacific region forecast for renewable energy. I doesn't want Australia to miss the boat merely because Mr Turnbull is more worried about keeping his job and more afraid of the right wing of his Liberal Party than taking real action on climate change.
JOURNALIST: On the question of an emissions intensity scheme, could you see that and how would you see that perhaps playing in with your goal of reaching 50 per cent renewables by 2030?
SHORTEN: Well, there is no doubt that we've got to set market certainty so that we can get investment in renewable energy. I really hoped that Malcolm Turnbull would listen to the Climate Change Authority, listen to business, listen to the experts, listen to the CSIRO and we could end the climate change wars.
But what we've seen in the last 48 hours is Malcolm Turnbull on Monday commissioning a review, looking at everything on the table, Tuesday his party rebel against him, Wednesday he says it was never his idea and you to go off and speak to some hapless minister of his, who is now totally disowned.
The way we see our climate policies working is you have a fairly soft start, what you do is you make sure that what we do is not ahead of the rest of the world, we're not lagging behind the rest of the world, and put renewable energy at the centre of what we do. The rest of the world is growing jobs in renewable energy, yet Australia has been going backwards.
JOURNALIST: But if we take your argument that you're taking action on climate change and Mr Turnbull is not in changing the energy mix which is what you propose to do will make your policy more expensive than Mr Turnbull's for electricity?
SHORTEN: No, listen, let me just use a basic bit of evidence about the value of broadening and diversifying our energy supply so we improve security and reliability, rather than just relying solely on one type of energy.
My evidence for the need to improve and modernise our electrical generation, electricity generation system, can be found on the roofs of 1.3 million houses in Australia. You don't have to believe me. Go and ask every resident who has put solar panels on their roofs would they rather take the solar panels out and go back to their old form of electricity, where they didn't have any control over prices?
It is not a question of either fossil fuels or renewable energy. They are all part of our mix. But what surprises and appals me is that Mr Turnbull, probably agrees with what I just said, but he is too gutless to tell his party what they need to do. The real problem here is we have a Prime Minister in Australia who yet again is too afraid to fight for what he believes in.
Thanks, everybody. Cheers.