FRIDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Labor to extend the Number 11 Tram; Batman by-election; Liberal division; Barnaby Joyce; Adani; Victorian Labor.
GED KEARNEY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BATMAN: Good morning everybody, I'm Ged Kearney, I'm the Labor Candidate for Batman and I'm very pleased to welcome Bill Shorten back to Batman again during this campaign, because we have a really fantastic announcement that there will be $40 million spent on extending the Number 11 tram along Gilbert Road from Preston into Reservoir and all the way to the lake.
This is incredibly important. As I've been campaigning, knocking on doors, talking to people, the issue of public transport and the ability for the community to get around the suburbs to get to work, the issue of this tram has come up over and over again. This is a grassroots response from the Labor Party who just really cares about communities. It's the Labor Party who knows what people need and can deliver on it. So this is a big announcement for this electorate, and I'm very pleased to introduce Bill who is going to give us more details. Thank you, Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody. It's great to be here with Ged Kearney at the Preston Tram Depot where they do the maintenance of a lot of the trams in Melbourne's tram fleet. So I want to acknowledge Yarra Trams and I want to acknowledge the highly skilled workforce who make sure that Melbourne, one of the jewels in Melbourne’s crown, our tramways, our tramlines, are working well.
That's why I'm so pleased to be here with Ged Kearney today to announce that if I'm elected Prime Minister after the next election Labor will extend the Number 11 tram line. This is a long overdue project. What this will do is it will generate extra jobs, it'll improve the job security of the existing workforce, it'll decrease congestion on the road to the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. It'll also provide I think, opportunity for people to be able to use public transport which is environmentally friendly.
This community needs grassroots action. Ged Kearney brings a lifetime of looking after the grassroots and she wants to deploy her remarkable skills as a nurses leader, as a union leader, and indeed a nurse caring for people. She wants to deploy that back in her own local community here in Melbourne's North. The Number 11 tram line, it's a very sensible realistic policy. Labor would spend $40 million. We can do this because we're not giving corporate tax cuts to the big end of town. So we're making a promise that we can keep because we think that public transport is more important than providing corporate tax cuts to large multinational companies.
So this is good news for the community, especially for those who live along Gilbert Road going towards Reservoir, but it's good news more generally for public transport. Labor is the Party of public transport and if we get Ged Kearney elected as the Member for Batman, we're one step closer to getting rid of the hopeless Turnbull/Joyce Government, and we can get in and reinvest in public transport in our cities.
Happy to take any questions people might have.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you support the factional realignment of Victoria Labor being proposed by Adem Somyurek?
SHORTEN: I saw the references in today's paper about an altercation. I just want to make it very clear, both to my State Labor colleagues but more importantly the people of Australia, my 100 per cent attention is upon forming an economic and social policy of reform to help working and middle-class Australians. I do not have time for anything which is not relevant to improving the lives of everyday Australians, and I'm not going to get distracted by some of the goings on within State Labor full stop.
JOURNALIST: What's your message to those MPs who were blueing at Parliament yesterday?
SHORTEN: Without knowing all the ins and the outs, what people hate about politics is when they think the politicians are more interested in themselves, than they are in looking after ordinary people. My priority and the priority of Federal Labor is just 100 per cent clear. We want to do something about cost of living, we want to lift the wages of the workers, we want to decrease the price increases of the big private health insurance companies. We want to make sure that all the schools get properly funded, we want to invest in public transport. Australians, when you look at the soap opera in Canberra in particular, wracking the government - wrecking the government right now, they're so over politicians it's not funny.
That's why I'm pleased we've got such a local warrior in Ged Kearney. She's the sort of person people want to see emerge in the political process. As I said earlier, she's a nurse, she's a local girl. She's been the leader of the Nurses Union, and she's been a leader standing up against WorkChoices, defending penalty rates, looking after those people will less power in our community. So I just say to anyone, on the Labor side and indeed on the other side, we're not here for ourselves. When we look after working people that's when people like politics, when there's debate about ourselves, people just turn off the TV.
JOURNALIST: So does that now mean that you've abandoned any sort of support for Adem Somyurek's plans for the Labor factions here in Victoria?
SHORTEN: I don't accept the assumption in your question at all, and again, I don’t mind repeating it because it's a really important point. I got a chance to meet electricians and fitters and turners here. I got the chance to talk to tram drivers. These people want the Labor Party to focus on their issues. That's why I'm so pleased we're here announcing the extension of the Number 11 tram line. That's the bread and butter stuff which improves people's view of politics. And again, don't just worry about the Victorian debate going on at the moment, let's have a look at where the Federal Government is.
Do you know, our Prime Minister is in America talking to President of the United States, but it's a national embarrassment what the American political system must think about a Prime Minister who can't pick his vice captain of his team, his Deputy Prime Minister, no discipline. I mean the fact that the Prime Minister of Australia says he can't decide who his Deputy Prime Minister is, is embarrassing, it's weak, it's hopeless. The fact that he seems to be okay with this unsatisfactory state of affairs is weak, hopeless and embarrassing. The sooner this government gets their house in order the better, because Australians don't have time to waste with shenanigans either at the state level or the national level.
JOURNALIST: Are you embarrassed by the performance yesterday in Parliament by Labor MPs?
SHORTEN: I think it's - I wasn't there and again, I despite what you're asking, I'm not going to get distracted. If other people are worried about their own arguments that's up to them. I don't have a minute to waste. The next election could be you know, the end of this year. What people want from the alternative government of Australia is they want Federal Labor focused on them. Real engineering blue collar jobs, proper funding of our schools, tackling public transport, making sure that our hospitals are properly funded. They want a champion on their side standing up against the vested interests. I think, and I don't know if it was deliberate, a deliberate sort of laughing at the Australian people, but the fact that we had the Acting Prime Minister, whichever one it is, out there at Qantas talking about the need to have corporate tax cuts when Qantas didn't pay any corporate tax last year, no wonder Australians have turned off politics.
JOURNALIST: Bill, can I ask a question?
JOURNALIST: About the extension, you mentioned that if Labor get in you'd like to extend to the lake. Is there any future plans about perhaps going a little further to say Reservoir Railway Station? Is there any thought about that?
SHORTEN: Alright, if I could get Ged to supplement, This is stage one. Obviously, the tram can't get to Reservoir Railway Station unless it can get to the lake so we're building stage one, thanks.
JOURNALIST: Just going back to State Labor, they've had a horrible 24 hours, how do you explain that to voters here in Batman who you're trying to convince to vote for you guys instead of the Greens.
SHORTEN: Oh well, an experienced journalist like yourself understands very well Ged's running for the Federal seat of Batman. What people want in the Federal by-election is they want a champion in their corner, they want someone with the proven track record of standing up for working people - that's Ged. I mean let's spell it out, the person who will be most happy other than the Greens political party if Ged is unsuccessful is Malcolm Turnbull. If we want to deal with Malcolm Turnbull and if we want to get rid of the Turnbull Government you've got to vote Labor at the next election. That's the main game. There's only one party that can build this tram line, Labor. Only Labor can form a Government in this country other than the Liberals. If you want to get real things done then you vote for the really effective candidate, that's Ged Kearney.
JOURNALIST: So TAB came out this morning and they've got odds on for the Greens to win Batman, do you guys concede you're the underdogs in this by-election?
SHORTEN: Well there's no doubt we've got an uphill battle, no question. But I know one thing, when people meet Ged Kearney they like her, they respect her, they know she's an achiever. You know our plan is to be as positive as we possibly can. Ged Kearney is the sort of local champion that Batman needs. I think even the most unreasonable of critics of Labor would say that Ged Kearney is a great candidate. I mean she can talk her own book up but I'm going to embarrass her for a moment. She grew up here, she raised her children here, she knows where the schools are she's raised her kids, she took them to them to the Little Aths right around the corner from here, and then she became a nurse.
Being a nurse is hard work and I think Parliament can do with a few more nurses with her life experience and her authenticity. Then of course we get to her work as a nurses union leader, nurses work hard for the rest of us but it's important they get proper conditions. Ged working with other leaders of the Nurses Unions have been able to secure better conditions for nurses and they fought back against WorkChoices. Then Ged worked at the ACTU where she's been standing up for the underprivileged, the less privileged in our society. That's who Ged Kearney is and she wants to take her local knowledge, her life experience, her remarkable capacity for advocacy, and she wants to apply it again here. And I reckon she is a great candidate and I reckon there'll be people elsewhere who wish they could vote for her but of course they don't live here.
JOURNALIST: Just on Adani, so you're up in Townsville talking about jobs and calling Labor the miner's party but then you come down to Northcote and how can you be both?
SHORTEN: Listen I'm really glad you asked that because there's a proposition that somehow says that if you're sceptical about Adani and anti-Adani that therefore you have to be anti-mining. That's what the LNP or the Liberals want to say. I've represented underground miners from Beaconsfield to Mount Isa. Mining plays an important part in the Australian economy and mining communities are an important part of Australian life. But because I'm pro blue-collar jobs, because I'm pro resource construction, because I'm pro battling workers and their families in regional Australia doesn't mean I have to be pro-Adani.
What we've got to do in this debate is start separating the facts from the fiction. I am skeptical about the Adani coal mine, I make no apology for that. And it wasn't just in Townsville that I said that. I said that in Rockhampton, I've said it in Townsville, I've said it in Mackay, I've said it in Gladstone and I say it here too. But what I also understand, and what we've said all along is that this particular project has to stack up commercially and environmentally. The truth is that it has missed every deadline, and as late as yesterday they couldn't get the financing they required which they promised they'd have announcements on yesterday.
What I believe is that Adani is unlikely to go ahead and the final decisions on Adani will happen on this government's watch. Now I don't mind the Greens Political Party trying to pretend somehow Labor's responsible for this mine. This is a combination of the conservative Turnbull Government and an Indian billionaire seeking to run this project. We've expressed our skepticism and we've seen every deadline fail. I'd just say to people who are concerned about this particular project, talk to the government, because this project will either rise or fall on this government's watch.
SHORTEN: Well I've seen the latest reports, the National Party have said they are investigating the complaint, I don't think there's anything else I can add to that.
JOURNALIST: Just on a slightly different note, what do you think should be done in relation to the rape of a two year old girl in Tennant Creek.
SHORTEN: I think that is an absolutely shocking and dreadful story. We've asked for more facts on it, in fact as soon as we'd seen the story, so happy to give you an update when I get more facts. It is shocking and we don't know all of the circumstances that have led to it, but I do know that we need to do more to invest in our communities, to help families cope. Anyway, we don't have all the answers on that yet, and as more details emerge, but it is absolutely shocking and stomach churning.
JOURNALIST: What do you think of Tony Abbott (inaudible)?
SHORTEN: Oh yeah that's right, Tony Abbott's sort of launched another bomb at Malcolm Turnbull. I mean this government is so divided, there is a triangle of division, you've got Barnaby Joyce versus Malcolm Turnbull, you've got Malcolm Turnbull versus Tony Abbott. When Tony Abbott is talking about immigration, it is just another chapter in the ongoing, never-ending war between Turnbull and Abbott. I mean the government has said that Mr Abbott's idea would cost the budget billions of dollars. I don't think we need to give it anymore consideration. I look at what Mr Abbott says and what Mr Turnbull says about Mr Abbott through the fact that these two men are consumed about hating each other and fighting each other. I don't see that the debate advances Australia.
JOURNALIST: Clive Palmer's making a bit of a comeback, do you think he's a threat at all?
SHORTEN: Clive Palmer running candidates for politics? Is that the issue?
SHORTEN: Well I hope that one of Clive Palmer's candidates is Mr Clive Mensink, his nephew. The Australian authorities want to have a long conversation with members of the Palmer family. I would welcome that gentlemen returning to Australia to help explain what has happened and face the music. An early questioner said I was in Townsville, the QNI Plant has seen thousands of people lose their income, that was a plant owned by Mr Palmer and family members. I think that they need to account for themselves. So am I worried about Clive Palmer running for politics? No. But do I want him and his colleagues and his family to answer all the questions to get to the bottom of what happened? Absolutely. Perhaps one last question if there is one.
JOURNALIST: Just a question for Ged Kearney, how do you expect to sell to the constituents of Batman that Labor is the miners party, self-described?
KEARNEY: I think what is being explained here is that Labor has a very good climate change policy. We want to see a transfer of our economy to a sustainable one. We want to set up an ETS, that will happen very soon. We have very good and ambitious targets. But at the same time we have to protect communities. There are hundreds and thousands of people out there who will be affected as we transition to a clean energy economy, and I think the message clearly from Labor is that we can't throw those people under a bus. There has to be a plan for that and so what I have learnt from our experiences with the Latrobe Valley and right around the world actually, is that yes we want to move to a clean energy economy, but we have to take care of those communities, we have to take care of those people who rely on those industries for jobs, we have to look after the small businesses, the teachers, the schools who work in those communities that will be affected. So Labor is a party of a plan to actually have that transition in a way that takes care of everybody and I'm quite proud of that.
SHORTEN: I might just finish up on that last question. Labor is the party of working class people. We are a party of people who live in the bush and people who live in the city. We are a party of tramway workers and road workers. We are a party representing men and women of Australia. We are a party of pensioners and we are a party of small business. When people say that you can't represent one proportion of a working class population and that somehow you've got to sacrifice them for another, that has never been the Labor way and we are the party of the environment. Only two parties in Australia can form a government after the next election. Mr Turnbull's Liberal National Party Coalition or the Labor Party. We are going to fight for 50 percent renewables by 2030, we are going to fight for net-zero emissions by 2050, but we will not leave people behind as we go towards a more friendly renewable energy, environmentally friendly future. We are the party of the reef and the regions and we don't believe that the progress of this nation is achieved when you throw one group of Australians overboard. We look after everyone, that's what we've always done and that's what Ged Kearney will do, given half a chance in Batman after the next by-election.