WEDNESDAY, 4 JULY 2018
SUBJECTS: Pathway for north west Tasmania; Braddon by-election; National Energy Guarantee; Climate change; Turnbull’s $17 billion giveaway to the banks; the ABC; National Integrity Commission.
JUSTINE KEAY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BRADDON: Thank you very much for coming here today to the Cradle Coast Authority in Burnie. I'm Justine Keay, I'm the Labor Candidate for the Braddon by-election. With me today, I'm very pleased to have Bill Shorten here yet again to the north west of Tasmania. We've been speaking with the Cradle Coast authority representative, local mayors and representatives of councils and also the Shared Pathway Coalition members who have been pushing for this project for many, many years now. When I was on the Devonport City Council I made sure that Devonport was ready for investment with their preferred pathway for Devonport to the leaf section of this pathway. This is a huge project for the north west, this is game-changer, it's going to create a number of jobs, a lot of economic development and supporting local businesses here. It will become a tourism destination because a Shorten Labor Government will commit to funding all of this with some additional money yet to come from the State and we'll be making sure that they make their commitment to this.
This is more than what the Coalition has put forward with their deal that they did with Senator Steve Martin. But this is something that I've been working on for many, many years now with the local community. In the last federal election, I was able to secure $6 million for this project and today I'm very pleased to be able to commit $8.8 million under a Shorten Labor Government to get this project to completion. It's something this community can be very proud of, we know that this project brings communities together, it grows jobs, it supports local businesses here on the north west. There is a section that was built under the former federal Labor government under my predecessor Sid Sidebottom between Turners Beach and Ulverstone. And there's been a fantastic boom in local businesses there. There's a great story of a man that lives in Turners Beach who is in a wheelchair, he's got mobility issues, before that pathway was built he had to get people to pick him up to do his grocery shopping in Ulverstone. With that pathway being built, he now gets in his wheelchair, off he goes and does his own shopping. So it's about getting people included in the community, that they're supported in the community, we've got horses on that pathway, it's a shared pathway and we want to make sure that that is extended right across this coast to connect communities from Latrobe where there's also the Wild Mersey project there for mountain biking right through to Devonport where you can get on and off the spirit on your bike, get on the track, head through Devonport, right through to Wynard.
So I'm really pleased that we're making this commitment. I'd like to now hand over to Bill to say a few more comments. Thank you for coming again to Burnie, Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Justine and good morning everybody. It's great to be back here in northern Tasmania again. I'm really pleased to be part of a community announcement with Justine and the Cradle Coast Authority. To say that Labor will commit $8.8 million to complete this marvellous Cradle Coast Authority road. What we'd like to see on this shared pathway will be the opportunity to attract tourism to the north coast of Tasmania and the north west coast.
This is one of the gems of Australia's tourism offerings. We've seen other parts of mainland Australia invest in these paths and bikeways and we've seen a consequent increase in tourism. I mean many Tasmanians go to Victoria to go up to Bright and Beechworth to look at those marvellous rail trails there - and who hasn't driven around the Great Ocean Road?
And now what north western Tasmania are doing is saying, it's our turn and all we need in response to this 110km vista and pathway is some judicious and smart taxpayer support from Canberra. And Justine has certainly been one of the strongest advocates and she has been a Member of Parliament to diversify the economy of north and north west Tasmania. I mean this is an amazing place, it's got a lot of string to its bow. By adding this $8.8 million, by completing the pathway between Sulphar Creek and Burnie, a missing link that is long overdue, what we're going to do is do three things; we're going to create tourism opportunities which creates jobs. It's estimated that this expenditure by some reports done by the Authority will generate an extra $17 million annually and of course the equivalent of 97 full-time jobs. But not only will it be good for tourism and not only will it be good for small business and the local economy, but it's good for the livability of the people who actually live in this marvelous part of Australia. What it will do is it'll improve connectivity and not just in the destinations between the towns, but along some of the quite amazing vistas and areas within the towns themselves. So I think this is a great idea, this is what happens when you get common sense community ideas backed with some discreet and scarce support from the national government. So I'm looking forward to when we win the next election investing $8.8 million and I think that this will just do wonders and have an exponential benefit not only for all Australians getting to experience this marvelous coastline but for the locals which is what we're all about.
I might just hand over to Peter Freshney representing the authority and of course Mayor of Latrobe
PETER FRESHNEY, LATROBE COUNCIL MAYOR: Thank you, Bill and thank you, Justine. The Authority is very, very proud, justifiably of this project. It will be iconic when it's built - it has total support of the councils along the coast and we are very very proud to be able to be part of this announcement today. But as you know, we seek commitment from both levels of government and both parties to fully fund the project. Today's announcement on behalf of the Opposition really does recognise the need to build the whole project, the 110km from Wynard through to Latrobe and to really provide that opportunity for people both locally but also those tourists and people who chose to visit this area. It will be iconic as I say and we're very, very proud, very grateful for the opportunity that Justine has provided through her advocacy with her federal counterparts and as I say, we are just very pleased this announcement has been made today. Happy to take any questions or hand back over to Justine.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, David Leyonhjelm has refused to apologised for his comments to Senator Hanson-Young and others, should he resign or can parliament censor him?
SHORTEN: Well I think the smartest thing for Senator Leyonhjelm to do would be to apologise. Part of what concerns me about this debate is that I am now concerned that Senator Leyonhjelm thinks that he is appealing to five or ten per cent of the electorate and he doesn't really care what the other 90 per cent think. I mean people are sick and tired of politicians calling each other names, I get that. But I think this is more than just everyday name calling. I don't think that women should have to go to work and have to put up with that free character analysis from people who it's just not their right or their position. You may be a Senator in the Parliament but that doesn't mean you're entitled to cast judgement on every other person just because you're a Senator. Whilst it may appeal to a small fringe within the Australian electorate I think it's undermining the perception which people have of Australian politics which is already let's be fair, not too high.
JOURNALIST: Are you disappointed in the lack of interest in this lunch that was due to be held in Devonport today?
SHORTEN: No, not at all, just to set the facts right for Sky, we decided to do two business functions not one. I may be a mainlander but I actually come to Tasmania on more occasions than when there are by-elections. So we thought why make the people from Devonport go to Burnie or make the businesses from Burnie go to Devonport, we’d hold a function in each jurisdiction. So we've got a great breakfast tomorrow morning and I'm looking forward to the lunch today in Devonport. Also I have to say, I look forward to talking to people, in fact, you may not be aware of this but I do these town hall meetings and so I am doing my third or fourth town hall meeting in Braddon. This is going to be at Circular Head tonight, you're most welcome and it has been very well subscribed to. That's on top of the public meeting that Justine and I did in Queenstown, that's on top of the public meetings we've done in Latrobe, that's on top of the ones we've already held in Burnie. I'll give you one little bet if you'd like to take me up on it, I'll meet more people in Braddon than Mr Turnbull ever will.
JOURNALIST: But is it embarrassing that as of this morning less than twenty people had bought tickets to that event?
SHORTEN: First of all, we're holding two events not one. So when you add up the people coming to the events, I'm very satisfied. But also, when you add it up and you add all the public meetings we do of an evening, I return to my little sporting challenge, I don't know if Mr Turnbull has a little bet, maybe a tax ticket, we count through the people we meet in Braddon and I reckon you'll find that my approach means I meet more people. See, I'm happy to meet people in their circumstances and listen to their issues. I get that listening to a politician speak at lunchtime and not do a big long question and answer is not as attractive to people. I actually think what people want on the north coast and the north west coast of Tassie is the same as what people want around Australia. They don't want the politicians talking at them, they want the politicians to listen to them. So, I look forward to lunch today, I look forward to a public meeting tonight and I look forward to another breakfast meeting tomorrow morning.
JOURNALIST: How can you think you can win the seat of Braddon when you can't sell seats at a luncheon?
SHORTEN: First of all, if some Liberal business people would rather listen to their Liberal leader than the Labor leader, I don't take it personally.
JOURNALIST: The Chinese companies bidding to buy Australian gas pipe lines. What do you think of Chinese gas pipeline ownership in Australia?
SHORTEN: We have to got to put the national interest first, and no doubt that will go to the Foreign Investment Review Board. We have to make clear that whilst we welcome foreign direct investment in Australia, we have always got to be prioritising control of strategic national assets. Let's see the process unfold with the Foreign Investment Review Board, but there is a national interest test and I would expect that to be applied without fear or favour, including to investments from China.
JOURNALIST: On submarines, do you support the submarines being split between the west and east coast?
SHORTEN: Do you mean the construction or the location and basing of it?
JOURNALIST: The location and basing.
SHORTEN: I'm going to leave it to the Defence Forces to work out our defence strategy and where we put our assets.
JOURNALIST: Will you support the Government's National Energy Guarantee to end the 10-year climate wars?
SHORTEN: I think that you should be asking the Liberal Party do they support Mr Turnbull. I see Mr Abbott is out on the warpath again. The National Energy Guarantee, my fear is that it's in danger of becoming a watered down compromise between two wings of the waring Liberal party. I can't believe we're still arguing about this National Energy Guarantee and you get the very clear impression that all Mr Turnbull wants to do is make the problem go away by placating the right wing of the Liberal Party. See I take a different view - what's in the national interest, not what's in the interest of maintaining unity in the Liberal Party.
SHORTEN: Just hang on, this is an important issue and I'm very committed to making sure that Tasmania's strength in renewable energy isn't undermined by the political parlour games of a divided Liberal Party. There's $2.3 billion worth of investment in renewable energy for Tasmania on the books. Now what on earth must investors think when Malcolm Turnbull can't even get his own government to line up behind the same proposal? I will oppose anything which undermines jobs and renewable energy in Tasmania. The government's internal warfare is jeopardising billions of dollars and literally thousands of jobs in renewable energy and of course, jeopardising lower prices for Australians.
JOURNALIST: Can you win the general election if you don't win Braddon in this by-election?
SHORTEN: Well there's two hypotheticals, let's talk about Braddon first of all, I've got the better candidate. I don't know if you've driven much around the electorate of Braddon but you'd almost again give yourself a bit of a prize if you can find a Brett Whiteley sign. They've got this fellow in, they've got his image in witness protection haven't they? The reason why they do that is because you've got a Liberal candidate a re-tread from the Abbott-Turnbull years who voted for pension cuts, voted for a $20 GP tax, he voted six times against a Banking Royal Commission. How bright do you have to be to be on the wrong side of that debate about whether or not we have a Banking Royal Commission. So I've got a better candidate and our policies about not cutting funding to hospitals, not cutting funding to schools, making sure that every day people get a decent tax refund as opposed to Mr Turnbull's measly $10 a week. And I mean during this by-election it was Mr Turnbull who gave the rather out of touch advice that if you were a 60 year old age care worker in Burnie - if you want to get a better tax cut, you should get a better job. Well maybe we should just treat people in age care, who work in it and give them better pay.
JOURNALIST: Every indication we have is that this is a very, very tight by-election -
SHORTEN: Fair enough.
JOURNALIST: Yeah absolutely, it will be even tighter in a general election. So if you can't win Braddon, how can you expect to win a general election?
SHORTEN: Well I think we've got the better policies and I think that when people hear our better policies we're going to win the next election.
JOURNALIST: If you can't convince the public here in Braddon of that, how can you convince the public at large?
SHORTEN: The election hasn't been held. So we're going to do our very best to convince the voters in Braddon and the reason why I am confident that we have the better candidate - her voting track record in Canberra versus Mr Whiteley's, Justine's been on the right side of the argument so many times.
You know even today, this shows our priorities, we're here talking about finishing a tourism project which would add for jobs, which will help small businesses, which will I think add another string to the bow of the economy of north western Tasmania. We're out where the real people are, where the real issues are. We're the only people with a plan to properly fund schools in Tassie, we're the only people with a proper plan to fund hospitals, to decrease the out of pocket costs, we're the only people who don't want to give a $17 billion tax cut to big banks. This is a government who is out of touch with how people in north and north western Tassie are living their lives.
JOURNALIST: Back to today's meeting, does it show you've been snubbed by business?
JOURNALIST: The Nationals apparently want three new power stations in exchange for their support of the NEG, what do you make of that?
SHORTEN: More unicorn rubbish from The National's, you know - by that what I mean is these guys are spinning fairy tales. The National Energy Guarantee, it's a government attempt to pretend to do something about power prices when they're not actually doing anything. I think what Mr Turnbull needs to do if he really wants to get on with lower power prices, actually do something about not handing on a worse environment to the kids and attract new jobs to Australia and within Australia, is he needs to get behind Labor's 50 per cent renewable energy proposal by 2030.
We've actually go to bite the bullet and say that renewable energy is a serious alternative, a serious supplement and compliment to the existing arrangement, the way we create power in this country. You're not going to lower power prices by having uncertainty over investment policy. Mr Turnbull needs to stand up to his divided party, not take Australia down the path of the lowest common denominator and do nothing, and instead get with Labor and work about making sure that renewable energy is part of our energy mix going forward.
JOURNALIST: Do you think coal has a future in Australia's energy mix?
JOURNALIST: Do you think the change in tax policy in the past week has effected Justine's chances of winning the by-election?
SHORTEN: Well for six and a half thousand companies in the Braddon electorate, they're going to be better off under Labor so, what we're doing is we're not getting distracted by the government talking about small business - we're on the same page. But when it comes to giving tax cuts to big business, how can this nation afford to take literally $80 billion out of the nation's ATM over the next 10 years and give most of it to big business and to the banks? If you take that amount of money out of the national budget, something's got to give. Either the interest rates we pay on the national debt will go up or, Turnbull and the others will raise other taxes to replace the loss of this income, or they'll cut services.
There's no way you can just give this truckload of money to the big banks without there being consequences for all other Australians. So that's why I think that when people have a look at our policies, I mean look at the income tax policies that Mr Turnbull introduced. You know, only he could be so out of touch to think that by telling workers on $60,000 and $70,000 a year that Mr Turnbull will generously give you $10 a week but then he reserves $7000 for Mr Whiteley and the rest of the Liberal team in Canberra. They're seriously out of touch. Justine knows what the policies are down here which will help people and that's what we're going to keep advancing.
JOURNALIST: What's your response to Tony Abbott's speech last night and do you believe that there is any reason for Australia to build new coal-fired power stations?
SHORTEN: Well, I'm deeply suspicious of people who tell you that you can just stay as you are no matter what the world does around you. You know I think Mr Abbott is as out of touch on energy as Mr Turnbull is on tax cuts for big business and the big banks.
The investors - it's not me, the market, the people who actually spend the money investing in new energy, say it is highly unlikely highly, highly unlikely to not going to happen that there's going to be investment in big coal fire power stations going forward, new ones. Now why the Liberals think you can keep telling people that everything is going to be alright and you don't have to change when that's actually patently not true, that's a dereliction of leadership. It's a bit like Mr Turnbull pretending that you can give away tens of billions of dollars to big business, that you can give $17 billion to big banks.
Where they're not being honest with the Australian people is that if you take $80 billion away in corporate tax cuts, $143 billion in income tax reductions and tax scales over the next decade, the money has got to be paid for by someone. Whereas Justine and I we actually think it's more important to use some of that scarce money to make sure that Tasmanians don't have to go to the mainland to get the medical services which people in other parts of Australia take for granted.
I'm much more focused on making sure we restore apprenticeships here on the Cradle Coast than I am about making sure that ANZ or NAB or Commonwealth Bank get a massive tax cut, it's all about priorities. This government is out of touch, be it on pretending you can have lots of new coal fire power stations or Mr Turnbull's favourite idea - that you can keep looking after his mates in the banks.
JOURNALIST: How damaging would it be if Australia pulled out of the Paris climate agreement?
SHORTEN: Oh I think that would be very retrograde. I think Mr Turnbull, I mean maybe he's already done it this morning but he needs to slap that down straight away. The idea that climate change is someone else's problem and that we can just put our head in the sand and not worry about it. Not only is that bad for our international reputation, not only is that bad for the environment but it's bad for jobs.
There are literally trillions of dollars, I mean that's an amount of money beyond I think the scope of comprehension we can imagine looking to invest in new energy in renewable energy. I don't want Australia to miss that investment. Do you know, north western Tasmania is marvellous in terms - it's a regional energy hotspot.
It is a boom region for regional energy from the wind, you've got it all here. I don't want the government in Canberra and the out of touch Liberals reading books that have been written 30 years ago and running economic theories which are discredited to jeopardise Tasmania getting access to new sources of jobs and new sources of investment.
JOURNALIST: This $8.8 million that is being committed to if you got into government?
JOURNALIST: Would this be something you'd see flow within that first year in government or would it be something that would be staggered over a number of years?
SHORTEN: The first $4.8 million straight away and then we'd sit down and talk to the authority about how to roll out the remaining millions of dollars.
JOURNALIST: Is it conditional on you winning the seat?
SHORTEN: No, of course we’ve made the promise, we've made the commitment but what I would also say is that if you want to have someone who's got a policy beyond giving big banks a tax cut or cutting the pension, or a policy beyond making less well off people pay more to see the doctor, you'd vote for Justine. She's got the track record.
JOURNALIST: Which electorate will you run in in the next general election? Maribyrnong or Fraser?
SHORTEN: I haven't made up my mind on that. Tens of thousands of my voters have been put into a new seat and I've got plenty in the other seat, I like representing them both but in the near future we'll resolve that. One thing is for sure though, I'm running for the next election.
JOURNALIST: The Press Gallery has announced its media pool for the Pacific Islands Forum will be disbanded if a ban on the ABC isn't overturned. What do you think should happen?
SHORTEN: Good on them. I actually was a bit disappointed to see Mr Turnbull run up the white flag. I get that Nauru is a sovereign government, I get that Nauru is entitled to decide who comes into their country, but it's our Prime Minister going there. It's our independent public broadcaster who should report what an Australian Prime Minister is doing overseas.
I am concerned that Mr Turnbull has surrendered so quickly the debate whereby he won't even have the independent national public broadcaster cover what a Prime Minister does. So I get it's not an easy issue okay, don't get me wrong, I don't think there's a simple solution here but it shouldn't be left to the Opposition or to the Press Gallery to fight for the coverage of Prime Minister's overseas. He should perhaps join the team.
JOURNALIST: Just finally Roman Quaedvlieg is still under investigation, should the government give us some update as to what is happening with that investigation.
SHORTEN: Yeah I was as surprised as I think a lot of Australians to find out that a very senior official of the Government's Border Force who's had his difficulties - but there is still investigations going on and we're all in the dark about what's happening. I do think - and I think this highlights the need you know, with all respect to the people doing the investigation, why don't we have a National Anti-Corruption Commission? Labor supports the formation of a National Anti-Corruption Commission. Every time there's a question mark, every time there's some frustration again it just shows you how stubborn Mr Turnbull and the government are. By their stubborn resistance to have an Anti-Corruption Commission at the national level. It's a bit like their stubborn resistance over two years, not to have a Banking Royal Commission. I mean if this was a union Mr Turnbull would be all over it like a rash but when it's something else, Mr Turnbull doesn't fight as hard.