WEDNESDAY, 12 JULY 2017
SUBJECTS: Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme, South Australian Jobs, Energy Security & Liberal Party division.
NICK CHAMPION, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR MANUFACTURING AND SCIENCE: It's great to have Bill Shorten here today at the Bunyip Water scheme. This is a very important water scheme that we funded when we were last in Government, and importantly, Bill is going to be announcing a new announcement on water in the Northern Areas Irrigation Scheme. These projects are so important because South Australia is the driest state, in the driest continent in the world. We have to use this precious resource in a productive way, in a way that supports jobs, in a way that supports the environment, and this project does both. It supports jobs, which we desperately need with the upcoming closure of the car industry in October. We'll see devastating job losses in my community and we need a federal government, the Federal Labor Government that will put in place the infrastructure spending to generate new jobs.
We also need to protect our mangroves and our fish breeding grounds, and one of the things that this project does is it stops treated sewage water from being discharged into the gulf. So there's a positive story on jobs and a positive story on the environment, it's great to have Bill Shorten here today, it's great to have the councils here today, Bill O'Brien from the Light Regional Council and Tony Flaherty from the Council of Two Wells in Mallala and also the council staff including James Miller who will also tell us a bit about their support for the NAIS scheme. So without further ado, I will introduce Bill, and then we'll go to James and then we'll go to questions.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Nick, and I just want to congratulate Nick Champion on his relentless advocacy for jobs in Northern Adelaide, in particular, but not limited to, his support for the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme.
I've had the chance to be briefed on this great project, just what Northern Adelaide needs especially with changes in industry and loss of jobs elsewhere in the region. This is a no brainer. The proposition that matching the South Australian's contribution of $110 million with $45.6 million from the Federal Government to generate what is conservatively estimated to be about 3,700 new jobs in construction and operation, the creation of 300 hectares of additional land for intensive horticulture, this project ticks all the boxes. Good for the environment, good for jobs, good for South Australia.
In fact, everybody is on board for this project except the Turnbull Government. And what I'm announcing today, is that if this project isn't commenced by the time of the next election, and Labor is successful at the next election, I will certainly find the $45 million to generate thousands of jobs and help South Australia.
We don't have to wait until the next election. I'm inviting Mr Turnbull today, when he returns from overseas, to actually start talking about jobs. He's got to lose his anti-South Australia attitude, he's got to lose his hang ups about the South Australian Labor Government, this project is good for South Australia, it's good for jobs, it's actually good for Australia. So here's an irrigation project which will see extra water being recycled, 300 hectares being opened up, 3,700 jobs, it's a good value deal, and I invite Malcolm Turnbull to just get on with it, work with me and let's get South Australia and these jobs happening right here - let's help South Australia.
I'd now like to invite the council representatives to talk further about the project, then we'd be happy to take questions on this and any other matter. Thanks you very much.
JAMES MILLER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE ADELAIDE PLAINS COUNCIL: Thanks Bill, this is a really exciting announcement here this morning. I'm the Chief Executive of Adelaide Plains Council and the NAIS project will do wonders for this region, and as Bill said, it really is a no brainer.
We've recently received the greenlight from Minister Rowell to commence the rezoning exercise in our region, to facilitate economic investment in horticulture. That will lead to job creation, economic investment activity, and of course exports. So for our region this is crucial, crucial investment, crucial infrastructure, and we're looking forward to getting on board, so thank you very much for the announcement. And Bill O'Brien, Mayor of Light Regional Council.
BILL O'BRIEN, MAYOR OF LIGHT REGIONAL COUNCIL: Thank you James, and it's nice to be here today. I feel like a very proud mayor standing in this particular place. This project behind us here was a $23 million project, which was originally supported by the Labor Federal Government, we delivered the project on time and on budget, in fact we had a bit of change and they allowed us to keep it. We embarked on that project when no one else wanted to have a go, and this opportunity now, to expand the Scheme in this way is a fabulous opportunity for this region to create jobs, and to create export markets for fine food which this area has a great reputation for producing.
I remember some years back wandering around here one Saturday morning with Tony Picollo the local MP, and I was talking to an old farmer in one of the blocks there and he said "Billy, you see up there? I've got 20 people working." He said "if I had water, I'd have 200." So that was then, things have changed a lot since then and he’d probably have 400 people working out there if we can get hold of this Federal Government funding. Our State Government have been very generous when you think that they're going to put $110 million in to this scheme, they obviously have done their homework and believe it can work. I really thank Bill Shorten for being here today, it really shows just how important this project is to have a Federal Labor leader come down here to support us. So I thank you Bill, and I really hope that we succeed in this project.
BILL SHORTEN: Thank you. Are there any questions on this or any other matters?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, a Tax Office staff has published a step-by-step guide on LinkedIn showing how to hack a mobile phone. Is that concerning?
SHORTEN: Well it's concerning but what concerns me most of all is that the Turnbull Government is a light touch when it comes to tackling tax dodgers at the top end of town. How do I know that? We have seen 3,000 jobs taken out of the Australian Tax Office and the only people cheering that are the tax dodgers at the top end of town. Obviously, we are open if there is a debate giving the Tax Office more powers. We want to see the detail and of course we will accept a briefing from the Government. But for me what really matters when I look at debates about the Tax Office is, is every Australian paying their fair share of tax?
Working and middle class Australians, they don't have overseas havens to hide their money in. They don't have the opportunities to minimise their tax at the top end of town. I want to make sure that the Australian Tax Office has all the tools that it needs to make sure that the top end of town pay their fair share of tax.
JOURNALIST: You speak about them being a light touch this staffer we understand was only reminded of their responsibilities, should they have been disciplined?
SHORTEN: Well we need to get briefings and find out what has gone on here obviously it is a very serious matter but let’s go to what Australians want from their Tax Office. Most Australians pay their tax, pay as you go, the small businesses, they pay their tax. The real problem in this country is that if you are at the top end of town, if you have a lot of money, you can minimise your tax.
The reality is we have a two-class tax system in this country where the richer you are, the more opportunities you have to not pay tax. I want to make sure that the Australian Tax Office has all the tools that it needs to make sure that all Australians, including the very rich, pay their fair share of tax, just like the rest of Australians.
JOURNALIST: What do you think about the fact that the Government’s been asked to consider a car carbon tax?
SHORTEN: What a shambles this Government is on climate change. I mean I find this Government is all at sea when it comes to taking measures on climate change. On one hand you've got the right wing of the Mr Turnbull's Government don't want to do anything on climate change yet you have inexplicitly, really strangely, you have the Government putting out a discussion paper proposing a carbon tax on motor vehicles? I mean, I don't know where that is coming from but for the Government to say they have no plans, they have to answer the question why did they put the idea up if they were never serious about doing it?
What I say today is that Labor has no plans and will not have a carbon tax on motor vehicles, full stop. And we offer Mr Turnbull our cooperation to get on and tackle climate change. You know really, Mr Turnbull should stop faffing about and just establish vehicle emissions standards to reduce pollution. We will work with Mr Turnbull. We just say to Mr Turnbull just get on and do something.
They have had this paper and these reports for three years. Why won't Mr Turnbull just do something about climate change instead of talking about it?
JOURNALIST: Aren't we talking about one in the same thing here? You're saying you won't impose a carbon tax on vehicles but you are saying we do need stricter vehicle emissions standards, aren't they the same thing?
SHORTEN: No, they are not. 80 per cent of the world has mandatory emissions standards on motor vehicles. Australia hasn't moved in three years to do anything. All of the global platforms of motor vehicles are designing their cars to have emissions standards. The point about it is, Mr Turnbull complains that no one will ever cooperate with him. We will cooperate to reduce pollution. He has to stop faffing about, putting out silly thought bubbles, which he then has to deny 24 hours.
This is a Government which is chaotic, shambolic when it comes to climate change. We will cooperate to have a Clean Energy Target. We will cooperate on vehicle emissions standards to help reduce pollution. Mr Turnbull just has got to do something, stop talking Malcolm and start doing.
JOURNALIST: So this proposal is similar to the policy Labor took to the last election. Does this mean that your stance has changed and if so what is your policy?
SHORTEN: No, we believe that you've got to have to have emissions standards in vehicles because we want greater fuel efficiency. We want to make sure that we reduce pollution. We will cooperate with the Government but they have had reports on this for over three years. Now, we see this thought bubble of a carbon tax on motor vehicles. This Government is a shambles when it comes to tackling pollution. This Government has no clear plan on what they want to do.
We will cooperate with sensible measures from the Government but my message to Mr Turnbull is stop faffing about. Just make a decision, just do something. That is what people on the streets say to me, when will the Turnbull Government stop talking about themselves and start talking about what really matters, the people of Australia?
JOURNALIST: So the idea of the tax on cars, you do fundamentally agree with it?
SHORTEN: No, we don't.
JOURNALIST: You don't and as far as the cost to car buyers, it could increase the cost of up to $5,000. What is your response to that?
SHORTEN: Well we are not interested in that either. The point of that is we want mandatory vehicle emissions standards. We will work with the Government on it but you have to ask yourself, now that 80 per cent of the global car market has emissions standards, what on earth has Australia been doing for the last three years? It is time for Turnbull to start doing things, start acting rather than just talking about themselves. I mean frankly it is time for Malcolm to come home from overseas. They have got to stop talking about themselves. I think Australians are scratching their heads and saying why is the Liberal Party so keen on talking about themselves when they should be talking about issues which affect all Australians such as climate change, such as jobs, such as energy.
JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister met with the Queen last night and he called himself an Elizabethan, is this a blow for the republican movement?
SHORTEN: It looks like Malcolm is having another identity crisis today. The fact of the matter is that I am more interested in talking about jobs up the road in Elizabeth than I am about what Malcolm Turnbull thinks about Queen Elizabeth. Time for him to start getting on with the issues which affect Australians: jobs, housing, energy prices.
JOURNALIST: So you wouldn't support new measures you know, if it increased the price to drivers even if it did help us reach the Paris climate agreement?
SHORTEN: We accept there has got to be mandatory emissions standards for vehicles. We believe that. The problem is for the last three years the Government has done nothing. Then we see some sort of crazy propositions from the Government about a carbon tax on motor cars. Well that is just absurd.
JOURNALIST: But they are talking about a vehicle emissions standard. They are one in the same.
SHORTEN: Well that is one of the options but the point about it is, let's be straight here, we are not interested in having some sort of carbon tax on motor vehicles. We think that is a crazy idea. What we do think is there should be emission standards for vehicles.
That is where the whole rest of the world is moving. We do want to reduce pollution. What I say to Mr Turnbull is you will get our cooperation, just get on and do something Malcolm. Just stop talking and start getting on and doing the decisions which have to be made to help the people of Australia go better and go forward, not go backwards as we are seeing at the moment.
JOURNALIST: What are your thoughts on the Tesla battery announcement?
SHORTEN: Well I think battery storage is going to be a part of our energy mix into the future. I think the rapid expansion of battery storage for renewable energy I think helps cure some of the concerns people have about the intermittent nature of renewable energy.
So I think it is policy headed in the right direction. I have no doubt that the South Australian Government, as they conclude contracts and negotiations, will provide more detail to people. It has to be part of our energy mix.
Again, what Australians want from politicians, it doesn't matter what party they belong to is to get on and do something. I think what is driving people to distraction is when politicians talk about themselves and don't talk about the people. I mean this outbreak of disunity within the Liberal Party all the way from London, it is time for the Liberal Party to stop talking about themselves, to start talking about the people of Australia. So far though the Liberal Party don't seem to have woken up to themselves, they show no signs of waking up to themselves, we can all just live in hope can't we?
JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the State Government's use of diesel generators to shore up our power supply?
SHORTEN: I will leave the running of the State Government to the State Government. What I am here today doing is saying where the State Government has a proposition around funding the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme, I think it is appropriate for the Federal Government to support this project.
This is a ripper of a project. If we can provide the extra resources to upgrade the infrastructure of the waste water treatment plant, that provides 12 gigalitres extra of water. That's going to allow upwards of 300 hectares to become available for intensive horticulture, 3700 jobs in construction and the operation of the new irrigated land. I think this is a great project. Now what I am saying today is that Labor has costed its promises. If Mr Turnbull hasn't got on board by the time of the next election, if we are elected, we will do this project. What I am inviting Mr Turnbull to do is to take our idea and do it now. They should support it now and that gives South Australia an extra year of the benefit of this project before the next election. If there is one final question.
JOURNALIST: Just in regards to - you called Malcolm Turnbull anti SA, is one example of this the lack of funding that we have yet to see on the stage two of the Gawler electrification project?
SHORTEN: Yeah it seems that every time there is news out of South Australia, Mr Turnbull takes the opposite view. So whenever Premier Weatherill does something, Malcolm Turnbull immediately comes out of his box and says "We would do the opposite". I think people are sick of the tit for tat politics. I think that when it comes to the electrification of the Gawler line, it should happen. It is $76 million but provides great opportunity not only in jobs but it helps to develop the economic strength of the region.
So I can think of a couple of things which Mr Turnbull could do straight away which would improve his standing in South Australia. More importantly it would improve jobs in South Australia. There is the North Adelaide Irrigation Scheme, which Labor is announcing its support for today. There is the electrification of the Gawler line which we think would also be a good measure for South Australia. If I am being particularly ambitious, I would chuck in my trifecta of projects to make Mr Turnbull a little less anti-South Australia. He needs to put a bit more support behind the closure of Elizabeth in terms of the car plant and the car jobs. So far he is only offering a miserly $3 million. The effect of the closure of this car plant on small business and jobs is going to have ripples which will go far beyond the closure of that car plant.
Mr Turnbull needs to stand beside South Australians because for many years they have paid their taxes to Canberra, now it's time for the South Australian economy to get a bit of backup from Mr Turnbull.
Thanks everybody, have a lovely day.