MONDAY, 28 AUGUST 2017
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan for jobs; energy; Maribyrnong; Royal Commission into the banks
TIM WATTS, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GELLIBRAND: Good morning and welcome to Qenos in Melbourne's West in my electorate of Gellibrand. I am really pleased to welcome the Federal Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten here today to talk about our commitment to fighting for Australian jobs and Australian industry.
This electorate has really been hit hard by the neglect of the Abbott-Turnbull Government when it comes to jobs in manufacturing. Just down the road, we have lost 2,500 jobs at the Toyota Altona manufacturing plant. Further down the road at the Williamstown Shipyards, we've lost about another 1,500 jobs. So people in Melbourne's West want a Government that is focused on fighting for their jobs, fighting for the industries that are going to sustain the high paying jobs that we need over the next century, not a Government that's focused on conspiracies, cock-ups and it's own internal divisions.
So I am really pleased to be able to introduce Bill Shorten to talk about the focus that the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party has on fighting for Australian jobs.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hello, everybody. It's great to be out at Qenos again. Jo, Tim and I were here four months ago and we were warning the Turnbull Government that Australia is in the midst of gas and energy price crisis and this company is at ground zero where the impact of increasing gas prices threatens what are otherwise good paying, sustainable jobs. Four months on, Mr Turnbull had promised to halve gas prices - he hasn't done that.
Today, we are greeted by images of Mr Turnbull flying around in circles over the Snowy, talking a big game - and the Snowy is a good idea - but Mr Turnbull, the energy prices crisis is here and now. A joyride in a helicopter doesn't help families with their energy bills, it doesn't help great companies like Qenos, who have to face the awful prospect around the corner of potential job losses because they're paying $50 million more in energy prices than they were previously.
We need action now. The Government needs to pull the trigger on export controls to make sure that there is enough gas available for Australian industry. What we need to do is make sure that the gas being produced in Australia is not being exported overseas at cheaper prices than Australian industry is able to pay for this gas in this country right now. We need to open up the supply of gas, we need to get building pipelines and we need to make sure that Australian industry is getting first chop at our Australian gas.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: How would you ensure that gas isn't exported overseas?
SHORTEN: Well, the Government has passed a regulation which says that if there is insufficient gas for domestic supply, then they can introduce export controls. We think that is the right law but the problem is that they haven't pulled the trigger to do this and the gas prices keep mounting and mounting and mounting.
There is an added wrinkle and complication which is threatening the job security of Australians. Whilst we don't know the fate of Senator Canavan who was the Minister, and then we've got Mr Joyce, the Leader of the Nationals, he is the bloke in charge of making the decision on the trigger. Now, with a constitutional cloud over his eligibility to hold office, what the Government's done is given the big gas companies a beautiful volley back if the Government tries to stand up for Australian jobs in Australian industry. This is chaos and confusion as Tim Watts said, but the answer is pretty straightforward. It's not in the sky, circling around, going around in circles on a joyride over the Snowy Mountains. I mean, that's a good idea in the future but that's going to take years to come online. We've got a gas crisis right now. We had it four months ago, Mr Turnbull says he's halved the prices - prices are not halved. Now's the time to act to stand up for Australian jobs in Australian industry, more supply of gas, more pipelines and export controls, to make sure that good companies don't have to lose great workers because of the lack of action by the Turnbull Government in Canberra.
JOURNALIST: Would you agree with the statement that Captain Cook discovered Australia?
SHORTEN: Captain Cook was the English discoverer of Australia, there were people already here. If you're an Aboriginal you didn't need Captain Cook to discover your home, you already lived there. But let's go to the heart of the matter: I'm not going to play these history wars. The fact is that we've had the oldest continuous people occupying anywhere in the world - the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders - 65,000 years. We've got to respect that history. I also respect the contribution that the British settlement of Australia made, and I also respect multiculturalism. I'm happy if there's a statue of Caption Cook, I don't think we need to tear down any statues, but I also think we've got to be honest about our history. I think we need to Close the Gap between outcomes between our First Australians and other Australians. Reconciliation is more than a public holiday, it's about every policy we've got, so I'm more than up for an honest discussion of our history, but what we need if we want to be fair dinkum, is why don't we do something to help the poor health outcomes of Aboriginal Australians; the educational outcomes; the job outcomes; the housing outcomes; the violence outcomes and indeed, why don't we just put our First Australians, and enshrine their voice, in our Constitution. There's plenty of solutions around.
JOURNALIST: Did you see the news that CBS is buying Channel Ten, what do you think this means for Australian content and media laws here?
SHORTEN: I say welcome CBS, good news for diversity, good news for jobs. I welcome CBS down under, I've got no doubt this also shows the Government needs to park their unnecessary media reforms. The case for abolishing the two out of three rule was to save Channel Ten, well CBS has saved Channel Ten so we don't need to tamper with media diversity laws. I say welcome CBS, welcome down under.
JOURNALIST: What do you think of Roberta Williams planning to run in Maribyrnong at the next election?
SHORTEN: Just when you thought politics couldn't get more interesting. Every Australian is allowed to nominate for Parliament and I don't blame anyone for wanting to represent the north-west suburbs of Melbourne. It's a great place to live, raise a family, and to work, I do just that.
JOURNALIST: Doesn’t a bankruptcy make her ineligible to stand?
SHORTEN: You'd have to ask her or the people who are giving her story media attention. I am focusing on jobs, I'm focusing on energy prices, and focusing on making sure that first home buyers can get into the housing market. I'm focusing on making sure that we restore penalty rates, and I'm making sure that we keep Medicare strong. They're my priorities.
JOURNALIST: What do you rate Roberta Williams' chances of unseating you?
SHORTEN: Well, I will do the very best I can. Listen, anyone is allowed to run. I think what Australians want to hear me do is not worry so much about an individual candidate in my electorate, they want to know what our plan is to help save the jobs in manufacturing. I am the only leader with a plan to help save manufacturing jobs. We want to be a country who still makes things. As interesting as the other distractions are, what we need to see Malcolm Turnbull do today, is actually implement the law that is in place in Parliament, make sure we're not selling Australian gas more cheaply Japanese companies in Japan than Australian companies can pay for that same Australian gas in Australia.
JOURNALIST: You said you didn't want to tear down statues do you support Linda Burney's call to put a new plaque with Captain Cook’s statue in Sydney?
SHORTEN: Listen, our history is one which is 65,000 years old. Our history didn't start when Captain Cook sailed into sight of Australia in 1770. I think there's quite a few people who just want to demonise the debate about our Aboriginal Australian history and say it's a threat to all our other history, it's not. We're Australians, I think we can be smart enough to recognise and be proud of the fact that we share this continent with the oldest continuing group of people anywhere in the world, our First Australians.
I'm proud of our Aboriginal history. I'm perhaps not so proud of the way that Aboriginals have been treated since 1770, and I think we need to Close the Gap. This nation doesn't need to have ‘us and them’ debate between Aboriginal Australians and other Australians. You know, the people that want to have an argument, they do this country a disservice. Let's own our history, the good and the bad and the ugly. Let's own the fact that we are a very lucky country, we've done very well but first Australians haven't shared in the success that many other Australians have enjoyed. I just think it's about being honest with ourselves, we are a big enough country that we can afford to include everyone. The world doesn't owe us a living and one of the ways we will be a successful country is by working together – management and employees at this company, First Australians and other Australians in Closing the Gap, making sure that men and women are treated equally, making sure that we can allow people who love each other to be able to be married. This country works best when we work together. So an additional plaque on Captain Cook's statue is fine by me.
JOURNALIST: The issue with asylum seekers, the Government is forcing a hundred of them off welfare and it's looking at the rest. Do you believe they should be allowed to stay in Australia indefinitely?
SHORTEN: Well I think we need to try and resettle these people in the US and third party nations, that's our policy, we want to stop the people smugglers from getting back into business. But in the meantime if people are sick and if people are injured it is cowardly and cruel to treat these people badly – it is weak.
Any person who is sick and ill, and who requires Australian assistance in Australia should get that assistance. That's not about politics that's just about being a decent human being. I say to you Malcolm, we want these people resettled in third party nations, we want to see the US deal come off, we don't want to see the people smugglers back in business but do you really have to make a hero of yourself by mistreating, in a weak and cowardly and cruel fashion, the most vulnerable people in the world? It's not the best way for Australia, it's not the future which I see for this country.
JOURNALIST: Do you think APRA's probe into CBA is the right move?
SHORTEN: Well here we go again, yet again another enquiry into a bank. When will the Turnbull Government finally do what it knows needs to be done and what the Australian people want which is to have a Royal Commission into our banks.