FRIDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to build the Gladstone Port Access Road; jobs in regional Queensland; Adani; Barnaby Joyce; citizenship.
ANTHONY CHISHOLM, LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND: Thanks everyone, it's great to be back in Gladstone. Thanks to Leo and Peter from the Port Authority for having us and it's great to be here with Glenn Butcher, the State Member and with Bill Shorten who's on his second trip to Gladstone in six months and we compare that to the Prime Minister who hasn't been here since he was elected as Prime Minister and my Senatorial colleague Murray Watt as well.
What we're here in Central Queensland talking about is real jobs for real Queenslanders, that's why Bill's going to make an announcement today around Labor's priorities, And for us that's not about putting all our eggs in one basket, it's about ensuring that regional Queenslanders have job opportunities into the future both in Central Queensland and in North Queensland.
So it's a pleasure to be here with Bill today and I'd like to introduce the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten. Thanks, Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Anthony and good morning everybody. Great to be here at the Gladstone Port Corporation. I'm here with Senators Murray Watt, Anthony Chisholm and of course well-known local identity and State Member Glenn Butcher. I want to thank Leo Zussino and the workforce here for showing us some of the work that they do.
Gladstone Port Authority, Gladstone has got a great story to tell, it's a very important piece of Central Queensland’s economic architecture. I'm going to go so far as to say that Gladstone Port is a central part of Australia's economic architecture. It's currently shipping 130 million tonnes of Australian material to the rest of the world. It is a success story.
But what we now need is a government in Canberra who's not just focused on their own matters, but focused on the lives and needs of Central Queensland. That's why I am pleased today to pledge that if Labor wins the next election, we'll make sure there are real jobs in regional Queensland.
And one of the obvious, first cabs off the rank should be building the second stage of Gladstone Port Road Access. See at the moment, I think people might be surprised to know that there's upwards of 190,000 truck trips down to Toowoomba and then from some of those big road trains they load them on to smaller trucks – double handling inefficiency. I want regional Queensland not to be losing its competitive advantage. So if we allocate $100 million, generating 200 jobs in the construction stage alone, I think this will further unlock Gladstone as being one of our key ports in Australia.
But it's not just Gladstone and the Port Road Access that I want to talk about today, although that's a clear 200 jobs in construction, an economic driver for the region.
I also want to make a further announcement today. After 20 and 30 years of talk and no action about Rookwood Weir, I pledge that my Federal Labor Government would allocate $176 million to match the Queensland Government's $176 million and at last we could unlock the agricultural potential of that part of the Fitzroy.
There's so much good, high value, quality crops which could be generated from there; soybeans and sorghum, macadamias, grapes. It is a potential real food bowl in Central Queensland and what we need to do is have a government in Canberra who just gets on with it. I mean people have been talking about Rookwood Weir since Adam was a baby. Now it's time for us to just get on with it.
So our offer to match the Queensland Governments $176 million at long last deals with one of the overdue issues in infrastructure, in agriculture, in this region. And I'm pleased to note that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, a real champion of Central Queensland and regional Queensland, has said she would find the $176 million.
So now the missing link is for the LNP to stop jawboning and talking and just match Labor’s promise.This is a promise which doesn't have to wait until the next election. Why don't we take the politics out of Rookwood Weir and the LNP just actually match what we're saying. See in 2018 what Australians want from their politicians, is not politicians just looking after themselves but looking after the people. We're committed to real jobs in regional Queensland. We're not going to put all our eggs in one basket or hope that you know, one miracle development saves it all. Agriculture employs a lot of people, 2,100 extra jobs it's estimated would come from this significant development and of course would improve water security for Rocky and for Gladstone.
So today is good news. I am not waiting for an election to just rush out some promises. Every day for me is about jobs and these will be blue collar jobs, they'll be industrial jobs. There's no reason why Gladstone can't be a manufacturing hub, there's no reason why Queensland can't do a lot more manufacturing. I think it's long past the time where we just ship everything off and we don't try and add some value.
So today we're announcing the Port Access Road Stage Two, jobs in construction - more jobs as a result of it, and we're announcing Rookwood Weir. At long last, let's just get on and do it because that's what people want from us.
We're happy to take any questions - oh sorry I might just invite Senator Watt to make some further comments.
MURRAY WATT, LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND: Thanks very much Bill. I want to thank Bill for taking time out of a very busy parliamentary schedule to come up here into Central Queensland and demonstrate exactly how much he cares and Federal Labor cares about getting real jobs going in regional Queensland.
There’s a really big contrast here on display between what you see from Federal Labor and what you see from the LNP. The LNP, you can give them points for putting out a press release, talking a big game about where jobs should come from and they're going to do this and they're going to do that, but nothing actually ever comes of it.
They’ve been talking about Rookwood Weir for ages, can't get it done. Their $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund has still not funded a single project or a single job in regional Queensland. They've got a regional jobs fund that's done nothing either. Everyone in regional Queensland is sick of hearing the LNP talk about what they're going to do and they've got this fund and that fund. Let's actually get on with really creating some jobs and that's what today's announcement is about.
So thanks Bill for coming up here and sharing your vision for regional Queensland.
SHORTEN: Thanks Murray. Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: Just in relation to Rookwood, the Federal Government has been blaming the Queensland Government's delay in the study for it not going ahead. Isn't it down to the State Government delaying the project not the Federal Government?
SHORTEN: The LNP have got to wake up to themselves, the blame game is boring people don't give a stuff, they just want you to get on and do it. That's what we're saying and you know what? If the LNP today want to attack Labor, blah blah blah you know, people just turn down the volume, don't they. They just want to know, what are you going to do and how are you going to help me. I hope the LNP copies us this afternoon.
JOURNALIST: But you just blame the LNP for the delays when Beattie promised Rookwood back in 06.
SHORTEN: Well I'm here in 2018 and I'm just, you know, what you see is what you get.
JOURNALIST: So were Labor the issue for delays then?
SHORTEN: Well I think the project should have happened a long time ago but the point is, we are where we are now aren't we. And again, you know, people want in 2018 to see politicians not focused on themselves and focused on the people. We're here, we're making the offer, I know that Premier Palaszczuk has said that she'll find the money, all that we now need is for the LNP to not focus on themselves and just agree. Isn't that just the simple answer. We're here, we're up for it.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you mentioned regional jobs and projects that were first cabs off the rank, wouldn't one of those be Adani?
SHORTEN: Well, you and I both know that Adani has been promising a lot for a long time haven't they. They certainly have missed a lot of deadlines. The Government, even I think the LNP said they're not going to provide any money for the railway. I mean what we need to do is just make sure that we have a plan B, a plan beyond Adani. I don't think anyone now can guarantee a whole lot of the commercial arrangements. I've said all along it's got to stack up environmentally and commercially. It's not me, there's a lot of people saying there's a lot of problems.
What the people of regional Queensland need is they don’t need another QNI do they. They don't need to be promised a whole lot of things that never materialises. Good leaders don't just have one plan in the locker do they. So what we are proposing is, let's build this Port Road Access. It doesn't need all the sort of banking finance, let's just get on and actually do the Weir. There's real jobs here right now in construction for the steel fixers, for the form workers, for the carpenters, and there's real jobs in the maintenance, the diesel fitters like some of the good blokes I was talking to. Then we can get on and unleash some of the agricultural potential. The rest of the world wants to buy what we grow in regional Queensland. We've just got to give them the chance to buy it don't we. That's why both the Weir and the road make perfect sense.
JOURNALIST: A couple of hundred short to mid-term jobs hardly stack up to 10,000 long term jobs though?
SHORTEN: Sorry, I actually think that the construction jobs, they're real and you can see them. Even Adani's own expert backed away from that fairly mythical figure of 10,000, even Adani’s said there's not 10,000 jobs. And in the meantime, let's talk straight. People say that if you question Adani somehow you're anti-mining, I'm not. They say that somehow unless you sign up to every press release that gets put out by a large Indian multinational, that somehow a traitor to the cause. That's rubbish.
I tell you what I stand for, I stand for the jobs, the real jobs. Blue collar jobs, engineering jobs, manufacturing jobs. What people in Queensland are sick of, and actually all over Australia, is just talk and talk and talk and nothing ever gets done. I issue this challenge to Malcolm Turnbull. One, visit Gladstone while you're Prime Minister. Two, let's work together. The second stage Port Access Road, it's a no-brainer. There's no environmental issues, there's no money issues, it's just real. And as for Rookwood Weir, I hope that the LNP take this issue away from politics and just make the same statement we've had. They've got all the political cover to do it now, they just need to concentrate on the main game.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten if you've got this plan B, why not have both, Adani and your plan B -
SHORTEN: Well Adani is out of my - I don't own an Indian company. You've got to ask them why they haven't met their deadlines. What I'm going to do is what I can control, and I'm deeply committed to seeing the tourism development of this area. I'm deeply committed to seeing renewable energy. I'm deeply committed to seeing more manufacturing. We've got a clear plan, it's the Port Road Access stage two, and it's Rookwood Weir. Do you know what I reckon most people will think when they hear this? They'll say about time, just don't tell us, get on with it. That's what Aussies think.
JOURNALIST: Are your comments about Adani related to the Batman by-election and the Greens?
SHORTEN: No. The fact of the matter is you and I both know that Adani has missed a series of deadlines. If you go back as early as 2011/12, they said they'd be shipping coal. It's not my fault they keep missing deadlines, is it? No Australian bank is willing to bankroll it. People know that there's - the question marks are out there. So what I want to do is start focusing on tangible propositions which actually just happen. You can't keep waiting for what might happen in the future, you've got to take control of your own future, and that's what we're doing with the Gladstone Port. You know the Gladstone Port Corporation - this is a winner. I mean this was once a coal export terminal, it's diversified, and if the Gladstone Port can diversify why can't everyone else?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten do you think there was anything inappropriate about Vikki Campion's appointment in Matt Canavan's team?
SHORTEN: Well I said on day one, that Barnaby Joyce's private life is his business. I've never been one to moralise about other people's relationships, and I'm not about to start now, and I certainly feel for everyone. I mean to have this dragged out in the public, it's hard.
JOURNALIST: But you've read the facts that this role was specially created just for her?
SHORTEN: Yes, well I don't know any more about that than you or the media reports. I think it would be wise of Mr Turnbull to reassure the Australian public that nothing untoward has occurred here.
JOURNALIST: You've been through a high profile marriage breakdown yourself, do you have any advice for Mr Joyce on how to handle this?
SHORTEN: I'm not going to give him advice. But what I would say is that families are complicated. I've learnt a long time ago not to stand in judgement. Politicians, we should be up there talking about policy and jobs. I'm not about to start giving you life advice about your relationships and I'm not going to do that to Mr Joyce either.
JOURNALIST: The policy about sexual relationships between MPs and staff - what's your stance on that?
SHORTEN: I've seen some talk recently about that too. We understand what's driving that debate though. It's another way to talk about Barnaby Joyce's matters, so I'm pretty reluctant to throw any more fuel on the fire. What I will say about workplaces is that modern workplaces should have equal opportunity policies, they should be safe places of work, you should be free from harassment. But I'm not going to use that issue as a backdoor way to give Barnaby Joyce anymore analysis, because I - frankly, his life, his business.
I should say in closing if there aren't any other questions, this week, locked out Glencore coal miners went to Canberra. They were abused by the home affairs Minister Mr Dutton. But what was probably more interesting than that sort of gratuitous union bashing from Mr Dutton, was that at last some LNP politicians met them. I think, what’s the local – Capricornia lady - Michelle Landry, Mr Canavan and in Dawson, Mr Christensen. They met with the locked out coal miners, but why on earth does it take 210 days and for miners to go to Canberra. Why do Central Queensland working blue collar miners have to travel to Canberra after 210 days for the LNP to take an interest.
I call upon Glencore, take your employees back to work. Stop trying to cut their conditions. It's not the Australian way. I know that when you're a Swiss mining multinational you tend to think normally you hold all the cards, but these are Central Queensland coal miners. Mr Turnbull has a lot to say about coal mining, he just doesn't have a lot to say about coal miners. So I hope that Glencore resolves this without resorting to locking these blokes out.
JOURNALIST: Did you see the Aurizon decision to pull out of the NAIF loan. Is that another nail in the coffin to Adani?
SHORTEN: Well, it's a development isn't it. Again though, I'm not totally surprised, I'm not privy to Aurizon's decisions, but we all know that there's a lot of question marks over Adani. And somehow me saying that, the LNP want to say that makes me a traitor. No, it doesn't. The deal's got to stack up commercially and environmentally and there's a lot of people who've got a lot of questions.
The good news is for regional Queensland, Labor has a plan B. We've got a beyond Adani approach which looks at diversifying the economy. This was once a coal export terminal, but the authority here diversified. And I think that what we need to do is recognise that Queenslanders, regional Queenslanders should expect their political leaders to be thinking several steps ahead. The Port Road Stage Two access, it's no brainer isn't it. The Rookwood Weir, $176 million, thousands of extra agriculture jobs - it's a no brainer.
What people will get from me is, I understand how working and middle class people make their living. I understand that they need to pay their mortgage, they're sick of the high power bills, they're sick of the private health insurance companies lifting the fees as if they're just a law unto themselves. I mean a lot of people would have just dropped private health insurance, they can't even afford it. I understand that people are frustrated on $50,000 and $60,000 a year. Mr Turnbull's increasing their tax, but he's giving tax reductions to the multi-millionaires and to multinationals.
This is all about priorities for regional Queensland. My priorities are to make sure that working class people have got a job, and that they've got a sustainable job, and it's not on the never never, and they're not paying too much in cost of living, and they've got a chance of getting a pay rise. I want to make sure they have got a good school for their kids, I want to make sure they're able to go to a quality hospital.
I noticed today at the Council of Australian Governments, Mr Turnbull, like the LNP, are up to their old tricks. It doesn't matter what day of the year it is, what they do is they cut a lot of money out of hospitals and schools and then the next day they hand back a small amount and they expect to be cheered. I do not understand why Mr Turnbull's priorities are to put $65 billion of corporate tax cuts for large companies and multinationals, yet cut money to Queensland hospitals. His priorities are all wrong.
JOURNALIST: Just a couple of questions from Canberra. The Commonwealth and States are trying to hammer out an agreement over the National Redress Scheme for the survivors of child abuse. The Prime Minister is urging the states to sign up. Do you believe the states are being obstructive or are their concerns relevant?
SHORTEN: The National Redress Scheme was the first key recommendation of the Royal Commission looking at Institutional Responses into Child Abuse. Before I come to the specific answer on that, let me just say to regional Queenslanders who might have been the victims of abuse when they were kids in institutions, government or religious; I'm sorry. I am sorry that adults for too long didn't believe you. I am sorry that for so long, that you were told that you were the problem. I am sorry for families of people who have suffered that and they have had to pick up the pieces on their own.
I also want to say that for regional Queenslanders who told their stories to the Royal Commission; you are far braver than the rest of us. To unburden yourself of what happened to you, how your childhood was stolen, how people abused their positions of authority, we are grateful to have you in our communities.
So one of the recommendations was redress. I do believe there should be a single national scheme. I sincerely urge the States and religious institutions not to take a legalistic view but to take a compassionate view. I do believe in one national scheme and I would certainly encourage States, and they can have some legitimate questions to ask, that should be resolved. The victims of child abuse have been waiting, in some cases 40 and 50 and 60 years for redress. Surely now the Parliament can be as brave as the people who gave evidence.
JOURNALIST: Just one question in relation to Gladstone. Obviously the Port Access Road is your announcement today. One, when would it start, and what else can potentially Gladstone look forward to from a Labor Government that's elected?
SHORTEN: It would certainly start as soon as we have an election and if we get elected. But it shouldn't have to wait until that, should it. Why doesn't Mr Turnbull come and visit Gladstone, he hasn't been here since he was Prime Minister. It shouldn't have to wait. There is no reason, the planning, the work is done, it's ready to go, so that's my answer on that, it shouldn't have to wait until an election. But I promise people that if you do have to wait until an election, we will certainly start the process of it within our first 100 days. We want to get on with it.
In terms of other propositions for Gladstone, we will have more policies to announce but I do remind people now that we are committed to properly funding your medical care. We're committed to removing the freeze on the Medicare items you pay. We are committed to making sure there is needs based funding in the schools here; both the government and the non-government, and the Catholic schools.
So we have got propositions which will look after the kids. We’ll make sure that there is more investment in TAFE, to make sure that we have properly funded health care, to make sure that we are looking after the hospitals and that we reduce the health care cost which are crippling Australians. When we come to jobs, we are going to have a lot more to say about manufacturing opportunities. We're talking about Ag, we're talking about logistics, we are talking about construction. There's no doubt in my mind that Gladstone has always been a city which hasn't looked for a big hand out from everyone else. You've backed yourself, you've got power, you've got several industries, you have got some exciting new developments with the northern oil fuels, and this Port draws it all together. So, just as we have in the past, I'll spend a fair bit of time in Gladstone.
Last question because I don't want to outwear my welcome.
JOURNALIST: Susan Lamb, she has had her difficulties getting her parent's marriage certificate. A sad situation but should she still be referred to the High Court?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, Susan Lamb is a really brave person. She had an incredibly traumatic childhood and because of the LNP constantly attacking her and saying there's a cloud over here, she has just told her story, that took real bravery. Beyond that, the Labor Party has had the legal opinions that her position eligibility is fine. But as a compromise, because I think Australians are sick of us still talking about citizenship, I reckon that is a sure fire definite statement that even everyone here could agree with. We've said to Mr Turnbull, well we have got some doubts about a couple of yours, you say you have a doubts about a couple of ours. He thinks his are fine, I think mine are fine. We could do a job lot but what I am not going to do is have a crass exercise of political numbers by Mr Turnbull where the Parliament can start just sending its political enemies to court, that's not the way to do it. We are prepared to meet him half way.