Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop - Preston Motors Essendon Holden


Preston Motors Essendon Holden


13 JUNE 2013

Subject/s: Labour force figures, Holden, leadership, schools


BILL SHORTEN: Good afternoon, everyone.  Thanks for joining me out at Holden, at Preston Motors in Keilor Road in Niddrie. One of the famous sort of roads where you can buy cars. 

Holden is a great Australian company.  It is a company that employs thousands of people.  Preston Motors employs six to seven hundred people including sixty right here. So the car industry is important.  I’ve just been getting a report from the principal dealer here about how they’re going here.

And, of course, listening to jobs in the local area is important but today’s employment news is also very important. The Government and I think the nation has had welcome news, better than market expectations and unemployment is steady at 5.5 per cent.

In fact, when you look at the number of jobs created since the beginning of the year, there have been 100,000 jobs created in Australia since the beginning of the year.  In fact, nearly one million since Labor was elected at the end of 2007. 

Today’s unemployment numbers show that Australia is going very well compared to the rest of modern world where millions have joined the unemployment queues throughout most of the advanced industrialised world.

Australia still remains one of the top employment performers globally. So whilst there are significant pockets of disadvantage in terms of parts of the employment market, whilst the numbers can be volatile and there is some softness in our labour market, I’m pleased that today, the unemployment numbers have out-performed market expectations. 

That, in fact, in terms of number of people working in Australia, this month we’ve had the second highest figures ever in the history of employment figures.  So there’s more good news than bad news on employment numbers.  But also I think it does highlight how important it is to prioritise jobs and growth.

Having good jobs numbers doesn’t come by accident. That is why there is a clear choice at the next Federal election about the future of jobs growth in the automotive industry.  Despite the difficult news we’ve heard about Ford closing down production, we still have two major car companies in Australia.  And there are 250,000 people who earn their living in part or directly due to the automotive industry.

It is very disappointing and bad news for all Australian manufacturing workers, bad news for anyone who’s interested in Australia being a country where they still make Australian motorcars, to hear that the Opposition has said that if they are elected, they will cut support to the automotive industry to the bone. 

They have already said they’re going to take out five hundred million dollars of support from the automotive industry.  But today the cat’s out of the bag. The Opposition has said that they would see the whole of the automotive assistance package to disappear. 

Mike Devereux, the head of Holden, has said that if the Opposition policies were enacted, it would be impossible to employ people making cars in Australia with Holden anymore.  And so if you’re interested in jobs at the next election, the Opposition has just let out of the bag that they would cut the Australian automotive industry to the bone and wouldn’t have Australian made cars in Australia if the Coalition led by Tony Abbott get elected on September 14. 

They would make the unemployment figures far worse than they are today. Happy to take questions.

QUESTION: How long is the Labor Party then prepared to write blank cheques effectively for the car industry?

BILL SHORTEN: I don’t agree with the presumption of your question.  We don’t write a blank cheque in terms of the automotive industry.  Let’s be very clear about manufacturing in Australia. It employs nearly one million Australians. The jobs that are in manufacturing are good jobs. They’re community building jobs. They’re jobs which allow people to pay taxes, pay mortgages and pay school fees.

In the automotive industry, that is at the high end of technology in our manufacturing sector. If we want to be a country that still makes things, to wave goodbye, to run up the white flag and stop making cars in Australia will see a lot of the R and D, a lot of the apprenticeship training, a lot of small and medium size enterprises just simply disappear. 

So we don’t write a blank cheque but what we do know is that compared to the rest of the world, we spend relatively less per head on supporting the car industry.  So we’re not at the big spenders when it comes to some of the Europeans, the Germans and other nations.  But what I also know is that if we run up the white flag, we stop making things here. Well, then there’s no free lunch. 

What’ll happen if the Liberals get their way, is you’ll spend more on the unemployment benefit.  You’ll spend more trying to get people back into work.  The best way to sort out an unemployment problem is to keep people at work in their existing jobs and that’s what we’re doing.

QUESTION: MPs have been given a two-point-four per cent pay rise.  How do you think this is justified?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, I didn’t know that had happened. Sorry. I know that the national wage case came in for the minimum wage and that was at 2.6 per cent.  I know that wages growth in Australia is generally restrained. 

I also know that agreements are coming in at about 3.5 per cent, that’s collective agreements.  I also know that inflation is just north of two per cent.  I know that our economy has grown 13 per cent plus since the GFC.  I know that unemployment is steady at 5.5 per cent. 

I know that labour productivity is up in this country.  I know that our dollar is finally easing below the dollar at 95 cents roughly to the American dollar.  I know and expect that superannuation returns should be based on current projections double digit after July 1.  I know and believe that the news in Australia economically is better than what the Opposition would have us believe.

QUESTION: But what do you think the public would think about this pay rise?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, I don’t know because I haven’t actually seen what the pay rise is.  But what I would say is that, again, this country is doing better than worse.  Today’s unemployment news is better than the market expected.  It’s consistent with Treasury forecasts.

What is important in this country is that as we move from relying solely on mining to other industries, that we have the right policies in place.  That is why it is a good thing that Labor stands alongside the automotive industry, stands alongside the manufacturing sector.

I also know that there has been 11 interest rate cuts, talking about numbers, since Labor’s been in office.  It was once said by conservative Prime Minister Howard that interest rates would always be lower under Liberal. That’s clearly not true.

I know it’s easier than it has been for a long time for people to enter the housing market.  I would have to say yet again, in terms of wages, the independent umpire awarded 2.6 per cent to the award system in Australia.  I know the collective bargaining agreements are coming in at about 3.5 per cent on average across the sectors.

And I also just know in terms of our wages that are set.  That’s set by an independent process.

QUESTION: There’s been a report this morning on the radio saying that you’ve been canvassing support for the Prime Minister amongst your colleagues.  Is this correct?

BILL SHORTEN: No.  But let me just also say, because a lot of these questions that I do get asked in recent days go to leadership and I’m happy to say again for the sake of consistency.  I remain a supporter of the Prime Minister. 

What I also know is that this election is not just about personalities. This election on September 14 is whether or not we still want to have car dealerships in Australia selling Australian cars, made in Australia. 

I think it is dreadful that the Opposition has let the cat out of the bag where they’ve said that they actually think that supporting our automotive industry is a waste of time.  It’s not. And there’s no way that 250,000 jobs which rely in part or directly or wholly upon the automotive industry should be a political football to the extreme right-wing cuts of a conservation opposition.

QUESTION: So do you categorically deny that you are ringing round caucus members at the moment to gauge support for either Ms Gillard or Mr Rudd?

BILL SHORTEN: The question was asked was I canvassing.  I’m not canvassing. People talk to me all the time about a range of - sorry, Nick, I’ll just like do your question the credit of actually answering it.  I categorically deny that there is canvassing going on that I’m involved in about the leadership. 

What I also know, and again, I’m happy to repeat it because it’s an important issue.  I continue to support our Prime Minister.  And one of the many reasons why I continue to support our Prime Minister is because there is a clear choice.  There’s a very clear choice on September 14. 

Today I’ve met with no less than 37 school principals in this area and whilst I’ve got some good middle-class areas, I’ve got some areas in this electorate where the kids and the parents have to battle to get to school.  Every child in Australia, regardless of their postcode, deserves the best education possible.  And I tell you what; our Prime Minister wants to see every child get a good start in school life, not just some kids from some areas.

QUESTION: Okay, so you’re not canvassing but are you trying to gauge the mood?

BILL SHORTEN: Where I get most questions about the matters which you’re going to are from the media.  Now, that’s fair enough.  You’re entitled to ask whatever questions you like.  But again, let me just say because all these questions lead to one proposition and I answered very clearly and I’m happy to keep doing it.  I support our Prime Minister.

QUESTION: But are you ringing around caucus members asking their mood about the leadership?

BILL SHORTEN: No.  What I do know is that people all over Australia are taking a greater interest in this election and the issues at stake in this election.  I tell you one group I am ringing around about issues is my constituents.  My constituents want better schools for their kids.

They want a National Disability Insurance Scheme so people with disabilities and their carers can sleep easily at night.  They want to see Australia as a country that does still makes things and we still want to make sure that we make Australian motorcars.

That’s why I’m here at a successful medium sized business employing hundreds of people.  Keilor Road has been the home of selling cars for a very long time and has been the home of selling Aussie cars for a very long time.

I, for one, whilst I’m a Labor MP, whilst we have a Labor Government will make sure that this business, the apprentices, the small businesses who supply, the catering truck which comes in at a lunchtime to feed the workers, Australians who like to buy Commodore and Cruze and Captiva and all the other models you can see here. 

We want to be a country that still makes things in this country.  And with Labor, you’ve got a better chance than you do under the conservatives who just seem to want to cut everything to the bone, ship all our jobs offshore and say well, the rest of you can look after yourselves.

QUESTION: Even though you don’t know if you’ve got a pay rise or not.  Do you think…

BILL SHORTEN: I’ll take your word for it.

QUESTION: Do you think you’re worth it, the extra money?

BILL SHORTEN: I think elected representatives in Australia work hard but I think all Australians work hard.  We have a process to, ultimately, whether what I think is secondary to what the independent tribunal does. That’s one of the reasons why in Australia we have independent umpires to assist us form wages. 

It shouldn’t be a subjective matter. It’s done by people totally independent of the Government and the Opposition.  What I also know is that Australians in general have had real wage rises under Labor.  What I know is that there are more Australians than ever working and having a job and being able to earn a living. 

What I also know is that we’re not too far away from Tullamarine Airport.  There are very few Aussies who get off the plane at Tullamarine after being overseas and say this country is not the best in the world. 

One of the reasons that we do well is because, frankly, we have a Labor Government that’s promoting jobs and growth and education, looking after people with disabilities and we’re certainly not about to slug a new 15 per cent tax on 3.5 million Australians who earn less than $37,000. 

People should be alarmed that the Opposition are proposing to put a new 15 per cent tax, 1.5 times the GST on the superannuation contributions of 3.5 million people including 2.1 million women.

QUESTION: But do politicians deserve a pay rise?

BILL SHORTEN: That’s up to the independent umpire.

QUESTION: Will Julia Gillard still be Prime Minister at the end of this upcoming sitting?

BILL SHORTEN: Yes, I believe so.  And before anyone interprets what I mean by the verb ‘believe’. Yes, I support her, okay?  Like I appreciate your interest in the matter, Nick, and I can only be as clear as I’ve been. I support our Prime Minister and I support our Prime Minister because of the job she has done and is doing. 

Nothing is more important this week, in my opinion, than making sure that our schools and our kids get the best chance possible. Why shouldn’t East Keilor and Essendon College, just down the road from here, get an extra million bucks so they can put on an extra ten teachers to make sure the kids, not matter what their backgrounds, are getting the extra music classes, the extra sport, the extra support they need so that they can have the best start in life. 

This week, for me, is about securing the agreement of the National Catholic Education Body and Independent Schools to making sure - and premiers of conservative states who haven’t yet agreed - you know, let’s put the kids first and politics second. That’s what matters to me. 

Anyway, thank you very much, everyone.