TUESDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s Plan for Real Jobs in Regional Queensland; Belinda Hassan, Labor candidate for Dawson; Adani; Barnaby Joyce.
ANTHONY CHISHOLM, LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND: My name is Anthony Chisholm, Labor Senator for Queensland. It's great to be back in Mackay with Bill Shorten, the Federal Labor Leader. This is Bill's seventh trip to Mackay since the Federal Election, so it shows a real commitment to regional Queensland. But it's also his third visit to a regional city in Queensland in just the last couple of weeks and it is all part of Bill and Federal Labor talking about Real Jobs for Regional Queensland. We've already made a couple of announcements in that regard and I'd like to introduce Bill to make another announcement as part of that tour as well. So thanks Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much. Good afternoon everybody, and welcome to the work being done on the Peak Downs Highway. I must first of all, before I get into the rest of what I want to talk about, just congratulate Fulton Hogan and Seaforth Civil and the workforce here. This is without a doubt, one of the worst black spots in Queensland and the work that these civil workers are going to do, and they're doing it very productively and very efficiently and very effectively, is they're going to make the road safer; safer for truck drivers, safer for families. So I congratulate the workforce here, this is a quality job and you can just tell things are going well here.
I am here to announce two things. The first thing I am here to announce is that Labor will support the work on Stage 2 of the Mackay Ring Road . This is $100 million, we're making a down payment and it is going generate hundreds of civil construction jobs, and of course, much improved productivity and profitability for the expanding industrial regions of Mackay. It is going to make it easier for the trucks to get from the mines to the port. We're going to make Mackay hum a little bit better than it already does.
So I am pleased to announce that because Labor isn't going to give away billions of dollars to large banks and multinationals and giant mining companies, many of whom don't even pay tax anyway now, but because we are not going to give Malcolm Turnbull's tax cuts to the top end of town, Labor can afford to back real jobs for regional Queensland. And in Mackay, that process starts with the second stage of the Mackay Ring Road. So I think it’s good news for jobs and it's good news for sustainable jobs. It means that when you get together good and fantastic work crews, local work crews like we see here, we're not going to have them dissipated and when one job finishes, they go and find work and all their skills get scattered.
Under Labor's sensible proposal, we will deliver a pipeline of civil and engineering jobs to so that local workers, local tradies, local small businesses get their fair share of the Commonwealth dollar, and in the process really help Mackay hum even better than it already does.
There is another purpose for me being here today, and it is with great pleasure that I introduce Belinda Hassan, as the Federal Leader, I introduce Belinda Hassan as our Federal candidate for the seat of Dawson. Belinda is going to be one to watch in this next Federal Election. Mother of four, that in itself is an accomplishment. But much more and also in addition to that, fifth generation Mackay resident. She and her family, they know the issues of Mackay and the region and that's what we need; locals who give a damn about local issues. Of course she works in a local small business as well and that gives her invaluable insight into some of the economic challenges confronting small business and contractors in Mackay and the regions.
So Labor is putting forward a local champion, not just someone who is fearless on Facebook but someone who is fearless every day. Someone who will do the same actions not just in Mackay but in Canberra. She's a very keen advocate of blue collar engineering jobs in Mackay. She has a vision that includes Mackay being a centre of engineering excellence. Belinda Hassan, one to watch in the next election, and just the ticket after years of having the other fellow in here talking a lot, but never actually getting too much done.
Happy to take questions on the Mackay Ring Road, and I might just in fact, ask Belinda to say a couple of words before we get into the questions.
BELINDA HASSAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR DAWSON: Thanks, Bill. For those of you who don't know me, I am Belinda Hassan. As Bill said, I'm a fifth generation Mackay local. I live and work in this region; raise my family here; I manage a small business in Mackay, and I'm also very heavily involved in this community. I'm involved with many, many different not-for-profit organisations, I'm in every service club I can think of, Rotary, Lions, you name it, I'm probably in it. So I'm definitely on the ground in the community every day, working, spending my money here, living here, raising my family here.
So, very keen to get on with the job, proud to be a part of Bill's team and I'm really keen to get on with fighting for what I think we deserve in this region. We've been missing out, as Bill just said, the local Member at present is very good at making a lot of noise but not actually following through. I'm about action. If I say something, I'd like to think that I do it. So, looking forward to it.
JOURNALIST: Are you happy to take some questions?
SHORTEN: We will. Maybe if you could start with me because I've come all this way to fantastic Mackay.
JOURNALIST: Alright Bill, George Christensen says that $100 million is great, but its short by $180 million that needs to be spent on the road - what do you say to that?
SHORTEN: George, come on down, son. Why don't you get in and start standing up for the jobs locally. I said in my opening, $100 million is the down payment. I recognise that the project to complete the second stage is more than $100 million. But what I'm not going to do, is I'm not going to be a warrior hiding behind feasibility studies. We know the work has got to be done. And because Labor is not wasting billions of dollars of taxpayer money on corporate tax cuts which the big corporations don't need, won't notice, and will send overseas, I can afford to put a down payment, and as the feasibility studies come in and extra is identified, we will do that.
But I've just got to say to Mr Christensen, you talk a big game in Mackay, but whenever it comes to standing up for workers in Canberra, you go missing. And I just say, George, back us in here mate. I've been here seven times since the last election, Malcolm Turnbull has been missing in action up here. I think he needs to come and talk to the workers and see what's really going on outside of Canberra.
JOURNALIST: So you say that's a down payment, how much are you committing to? Will you commit to the full funding of this project?
SHORTEN: As the numbers come in its inevitable that we will have to spend more money, and unlike [INTERUPTED BY AIR BRAKES] - got to love a set of air brakes. We're committed to get the work going and beyond that, I can promise that we'll find the money to do the work in conjunction with the Queensland Government, because I'm not wasting $65 billion on corporate tax cuts, which the nation can't afford and is the wrong priority. A vote for Belinda will see more local blue collar engineering jobs, it will see better funded schools, better funded hospitals and we'll look after our pensioners, not the top end of town.
JOURNALIST: When you were in Townsville yesterday obviously there was quite a ruckus between Adani and anti-Adani protestors. What was your take, did you actually meet with any of the people employed by Adani considering you said it was fake jobs in the past?
SHORTEN: Well, three or four points in what you say before I get to the question. First of all, at my public meetings, unlike the Liberal Party and the LNP, who live in hermetically sealed bubbles and don’t get out and talk to the real people, it is not invitation-only, anyone can come and put their case. Now, I understand there was a brief altercation out the front, I didn't see any of that. But I have to say, for all of the points of view, pro and anti and in-between and everything else, people conducted themselves I thought, with great politeness in what I got to see.
In terms of the jobs, there is no doubt that Adani does employ some people in Townsville, no doubt they’ve got some exploration workers and they have also bought some pre-existing assets and the people who are working in those pre-existing jobs are still working in those jobs. But I'm not going to back away from saying where are the 10,000 jobs that Adani has promised? No-one I've met privately believes any of that. The banks of Australia aren't backing this proposal in, so it's not just my scepticism. What I have said and Federal Labor has said very clearly for years, is the deal has got to stack up commercially and environmentally. I'm not responsible if environmentally there's concerns. I'm not responsible if commercially there are question marks.
What I won't do though is leave North Queenslanders in the lurch like Clive Palmer did. You know, wishing and wanting a particular project to occur and putting all your eggs in that basket, I think that's highly risky. Now, whether or not that deal goes ahead depends if it stacks up and so far, it hasn't stacked up.
But what I am doing and what I've said in Gladstone by providing support for the Port Road Access; in Townsville by widening the port; by being here at Peak Downs and saying we'll start the second stage of the Mackay Ring Road, is I am giving specific promises, I can explain where the money is coming from, I can explain the benefit to the community and I can explain the blue collar engineering jobs that we're getting. That's the sort of leadership we'll give, real jobs for regional Queensland.
JOURNALIST: How important was it for you to get up here to Central Queensland after what you did say down in Melbourne blew up about Adani jobs?
SHORTEN: Oh no what I've said there is the same as what I say here; that it has got to stack up commercially, it has got to stack up environmentally. You're all skilled journalists, you know I'm not the person who is saying, hey, there's more questions than answers here. Since 2011, Adani has failed a range of deadlines, now that's not me, that's them.
In terms of how important it is to be here, of course it is important. That's why I've been to Mackay seven times since the last election. Since the end of 2015, I've been 15 times to Townsville. I'm not a fair-weather friend to North Queensland, but I will tell them the truth. I tell them what I really think as opposed to hoping that I can get away with being one thing in Canberra and another thing in North Queensland.
Australians in 2018 think that politicians are just in this for themselves. We see the ongoing soap opera, and that's probably a generous description of what's happening in Canberra at the moment, and they think that politicians are in it for themselves. It is important for me to do public meetings where we don't vet the guest list, and I'm doing it again tonight in Mackay and then again in Rockhampton. I've done four of these public meetings in Townsville while I have been leader. It is important we get out and hear what real people are thinking.
JOURNALIST: Speaking of Canberra, Barnaby Joyce hasn't been given the flick yet but do you think he should?
SHORTEN: Listen, Malcolm Turnbull is proving to be one of the weakest Prime Ministers in living memory. He should have dealt with this Barnaby Joyce conflict of interest a long time ago. He's clearly known more than he's let on for a period of
Months, only belatedly started to throw the book at Barnaby Joyce. But what's the point of giving someone a telling off if you can’t discipline them? How on earth do we get to a situation in Australia where the Prime Minister, who has clearly lost confidence in the Deputy Prime Minister, can't sack his Deputy Prime Minister? And the Deputy Prime Minister clearly thinks that his boss is inept. You don't have to take my word for it, that's what Barnaby Joyce said. So we have got the two most senior people in Australia at each other. One day, Malcolm Turnbull drops a bucket of shame on Barnaby Joyce, the next day, Barnaby Joyce declares that his boss is inept, and then the third day, they say, oh, no, we all really like each other.
JOURNALIST: Is he a victim? Like, a lot of people are claiming he's a victim, do you think he is?
SHORTEN: I think his private life is his private life, but where he chooses to utilise - have the perception or in fact utilise Commonwealth resources for purposes other than his job, then I don't think he is a victim. I do feel for his him as a human being and I feel for his family, and I feel for everyone in that. But we all know that the Government and the Prime Minister have a Ministerial Code and apparently you can drive a Mack truck through it. I just think the last two weeks has got to be a low point and I just hope the rest of the year gets better for Australian politics. But it won't get better until Mr Turnbull stands up. Mr Turnbull is shamefully weak, he needs to deal with his rogue Deputy Prime Minister and he needs to do it now.
JOURNALIST: Matt Canavan has been flouted as a potential Leader for the Nationals Party. What do you think of that?
SHORTEN: I think just about everybody in the National Party has been telling journalists they're prepared to be leader. The problem is you can't pretend to be a leader if you won't act on the matter, will you. I think the Coalition, from Mr Turnbull to the National Party, it's got a lot of wannabe leaders, there's just not one single real leader in the whole bunch of them.
JOURNALIST: Cory Bernadi said today that he suspects that the situation with Barnaby Joyce and his staffer isn't an isolated one, that here would be front benchers from the Government and Opposition that would be in a similar situation. Are you aware of anyone in Labor that has that -
SHORTEN: No, I think you're misquoting him. He talked about Government Ministers.
JOURNALIST: So you're not aware of anyone within Labor ranks?
SHORTEN: No, I'm not aware of anyone in the Government ranks either.
JOURNALIST: How do you think Mathias Cormann will go as Deputy Prime Minister - as acting Prime Minister?
SHORTEN: Well, Mathias Cormann is what you get when Malcolm Turnbull won't discipline Barnaby Joyce, and he'll snub Julie Bishop, who is third-in-line. The Government's running out of leaders, aren't they? Thanks, everybody.