BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I and senior members of Labor's parliamentary team have just met with Clinton Pryor and his supporters. It is remarkable and almost without precedent that one of our fellow Australians, a First Australian, has walked 6,000 kilometres to draw attention to the unequal deal which First Australians receive in this country. I made clear I didn't agree with everything they said, but I do believe it's important that people who walk 6,000 kilometres, and our First Australians generally, are treated with greater respect and equality than they currently receive. The fact that young Aboriginal men in this country are more likely to go to gaol than university is shocking. The fact that even now, after the Apology to the stolen generations, we still have a disproportionate number of young Aboriginal children being taken from their parents. The fact that life expectancy, educational outcomes, housing outcomes, employment outcomes for our First Australians, is far less than other Australians, means that we don't have proper equality in this country.
Inequality comes in all shapes and forms. It can come through being rich or being poor, but one form of inequality which is completely unacceptable is the difference between First Australians and other Australians. So I pay Clinton Pryor respect, he's walked 6,000 kilometres to carry his message, that takes great courage and personal strength of character, and I appreciated the opportunity to listen to him and his colleagues.
Happy to take a couple of questions and then I've got to prepare for Question Time.
JOURNALIST: What was your response to this report to the Government on energy today, that we're facing a dangerous shortage of base load power and also that nearly half of Australians say they would not pay a cent more for renewable power?
SHORTEN: I think it's about time that we got the Government to focus on their day job. We need a Clean Energy Target. The Chief Scientist has written a report which outlines a pathway forward to help restrain energy prices and to take real action on climate change. The number one problem contributing to energy prices in this country, out of control energy prices, is the absence of proper national policy.
Mr Turnbull has got to stare down the knuckle draggers and the right wing of his conservative Coalition, and let’s get on with having a Clean Energy Target. Because once we've got policy, then investment will follow, and once we have a green light to investment in energy generation, then we have downward pressure on prices and real action on climate change.
JOURNALIST: How would you guarantee the baseload power?
SHORTEN: Get a Clean Energy Target, first thing's first, Clean Energy Target, that's what matters. Labor's up for constructive compromise. I've suggested that my Shadow Spokesperson Mark Butler work with Josh Frydenberg. We should get on with it, Clean Energy Target, that's the path.
JOURNALIST: Quick question on the postal plebiscite, are you concerned that money is potentially being spent on it before it's been approved?
SHORTEN: We think the postal survey is $122 million of wasted taxpayer money, full stop. There is no case to have $122 million of taxpayer money wasted on a postal survey. We've said that if the survey goes ahead, if the High Court upholds it, we will campaign for Yes, because we say to LGBTI Australians, you are not on your own. But this is a weak policy by a weak Prime Minister.
One last question perhaps.
JOURNALIST: Caucus today has thrashed out its position on the cashless welfare card, extension of those trials and the new trial sites, have you landed on a position?
SHORTEN: Well we're having further discussions. The fact of the matter is we want the Government to provide the evidence, and we will look at it. But it's very important the local voices are considered in this, and it's very important that the Government make sure it provides all the evidence. And my Shadow Ministers will be talking to affected communities to fully understand how it's gone.
I did say last question. I can see pluses, I can see minuses. I've just heard from people who don't like it, we hear from other people who do. If these trials are genuine trials, you examine the results before you start rolling out a national policy.
Thanks everybody, see you in Question Time.