FRIDAY, 2 JUNE 2017
SUBJECT/S: Paris Agreement; national security; Western Australia’s share of GST funding; Labor Party.
MARK MCGOWAN, PREMIER OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Great to have Bill Shorten here at Carlisle TAFE, and it's the first time I've seen Bill since being elected Premier of Western Australia.
I'm very pleased that Bill has come to Western Australia again, and he comes here regularly as you know. And in fact, it's been at least four times this year that Bill has been to Western Australia and listening and learning and engaging with the West Australian community.
Bringing him here to Carlisle TAFE of course is very important. This is the lifeblood of industry in Western Australia. The young men and women who undertake their apprenticeships here at this TAFE college, of course, go on to work in industry, in mining, in manufacturing, in a whole range of areas across Western Australia - an incredibly important part of our West Australian economy.
That's why we have been very focused on improving and making the TAFE system more affordable for West Australians.
As you know, as part of our election commitments, we froze TAFE fees for the next four years. So we announced that a little while ago. That gives certainty to people undertaking a TAFE course, that the cost won't go out of control for them.
We know that over the course of the last government, TAFE fees, at times, went up to 500 per cent increases for many courses, that made it unaffordable and we saw a catastrophic drop in the number of people undertaking TAFE courses in Western Australia. So freezing TAFE fees was very important.
Secondly, we're going to make sure that there's more apprentices on state government projects. So our Priority Start Program will ensure that there is more local apprenticeships for local people on West Australian state government projects into the future.
And thirdly, as you know, we're going to make sure that North Metro TAFE has a focus on rail cart manufacturing.
So as part of Metronet, we're going to put in place some additional rail cart manufacturing requirements in Western Australia and North Metro TAFE will be an area in which that is focused on in terms of courses that are put in place.
It is, as I said, terrific to have Bill here. I'll invite him to say a few words, but it's terrific to have Bill Shorten, the Leader of Federal Labor in Western Australia, once again, this year, he's a regular visitor to our state and takes Western Australia very, very seriously.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Mark and might I just say congratulations Mark McGowan and the Labor team. I think that Mark McGowan and his Labor team are one of the best things to happen to Western Australia in a very long time.
I'm here to listen to Mark talk about what he wants to see for Western Australia. There's no doubt that as the detail is emerging about the catastrophic mess that Barnett and the Liberals have left this great state in, the size of the mountain that Mark McGowan has got to climb to sort out this state's finances, and get jobs and confidence going in this state, it's a steep climb but I know he's up for the task.
So today I'm here to listen because I want to hear what Western Australia thinks is in not only Western Australia's interest but the national interest. I have a view that when Western Australia goes well, the nation goes well.
Now Mr Turnbull has only spent 20 hours in Western Australia in the last nine months. This is my eighth visit to the state, but there is no doubt that we've got to get things going in the west.
We're here today talking to apprentices because these apprentices are going to be part of the good news story of Western Australia in the future. And I am pleased that Federal Labor, if we are elected will make sure that at least two in every $3 that the nation spends on vocational education at the Commonwealth level goes to TAFE.
We're sick and tired of the rampant privatisation of vocational education. There are some very good private providers, both profit and not-for-profit.
But TAFE is the heart of vocational training in this country and we're going to get behind TAFE. And we're also going to require, like Mark McGowan, that when there is Commonwealth money being spent on an infrastructure project, spent on creating jobs, improving community and business, that one in every ten people employed on those jobs should be an apprentice.
So we're going to give incentive for small and big business alike to employ apprentices, because we think that when the nation has more apprentices and more tradies then we are really going ahead.
But we are very determined to help Western Australia get the momentum back and going again which has been lost under the Barnett Government. We are very concerned that Mr Turnbull is so out of touch with Western Australia that they are cutting $430 million from schools in this budget. That they are cutting tens of millions of dollars from health care. That they want 700,000 West Australians who earn less than $87,000 a year to pay more income tax, yet they want to give millionaires a tax cut in this Budget.
So we're up for the challenge, we're going to listen and work with Mark because we know that when West Australia does well the nation does well.
Happy to take questions on national and obviously Mark on state issues.
JOURNALIST: You said you were going to listen and take everything on board, does that also include GST and the concerns that West Australians have on the carve up of GST?
SHORTEN: There is no doubt in my mind because of my frequent visits to Western Australia, because of Mark McGowan's advocacy, you can't leave this state and not recognise that Western Australia is not getting their fair share of Commonwealth resource.
When you look at the fact that you've got a deteriorating iron ore price, old mate Barnett's just left the books in a mess, there's no question about that, I mean eight years and what has he got to show for it.
Western Australia is under pressure and Mr Turnbull again has king hit the West Australian school system by taking $430 million out of schools. Western Australia isn't getting its fair share. Today I've met with business leaders privately, we're doing that next week on the east coast.
Mark and his government are going to provide us with more information about the problem and about the needs. There's no doubt though that what Western Australia needs and Mark McGowan is an important first step, is they need a bit of confidence. The fact is that some business leaders tell me that you've got Western Australians packing up and leaving the state. We don't want that. We want this to be a place that people are moving to, not from.
Of course when you look at what Western Australia exports to the world - in grain and produce, in iron ore and LNG, Western Australia's been doing its fair share of heavy lifting for the national economy. It's long overdue.
I know Mr Turnbull proposed a review, another review. That's fine, as far as it goes. But we want to hear right now, what Western Australia thinks they need to get that spark of confidence going again. As I said, you've got Mark McGowan, that's a good first step, a great first step. Now it's time for the Commonwealth to measure up and help Western Australia.
SHORTEN: We are the alternative government, we won't just be talking about more inquiries. I'm here to listen, I'm here to hear what Mark and his united new team are putting forward for the state. I tell you what we will do, we will put forward, we won’t just be talking to the Productivity Commission, we'll be talking to West Australia about our vision. To be honest, how many inquiries do you need to have before you work out there is a problem.
JOURNALIST: So what's your fix then?
SHORTEN: Well, we're here today to listen. We will offer concrete proposals to make sure that Western Australia and Western Australians get their fair share, that there's confidence and there's jobs. We want to reverse the issue of people leaving the state.
Western Australia is a marvellous place it's got a lot going for it but what it needs is governance at the state and national level to get behind the west. You've done that at the state level with Mark McGowan so we're not just here to have inquiries we'll be offering tangible policies which Mr Turnbull can either join us and support or we will take to the next election.
SHORTEN: Well the McGowen Government has proposed some new measures in terms of how you could assess the proportion of revenue which should be counted for the GST from iron ore, we're going to study that, the Government's offered to, very kindly send us their calculations and their approaches. Today I'm saying, I get that Western Australia is not getting their fair share, today I'm saying that I think that Colin Barnett and the Liberals have left this state in an even worse mess than people even realised before the election. I'm here listening, what we will do is we will come up with concrete proposals after we've spoken with business, we've spoken to Western Australian leaders and we will do that sooner rather than later.
JOURNALIST: Donald Trump has pulled the United States from the Paris Agreement. What's your reaction to that?
SHORTEN: What Mr Trump's decisions are - make no difference to the Australian Labor Party. I think it's the wrong decision but just because Donald Trump said that he doesn't want to be part of international action on climate change, that doesn't change my mind and the Labor Party's. We need to take real action on climate change. I think Australia hopes that Mr Turnbull won't be dragged by the right wing of his party into following President Trump's actions, that would be a mistake.
JOURNALIST: It really does take a lot of the power out of the accord, doesn't it, if you don't have the United States on board?
SHORTEN: Just because Donald Trump doesn't want to take action on climate change globally, doesn't mean climate change is not happening. The Labor party is not going to reject the science of climate change because the American President has. We call upon Prime Minister Turnbull not to follow Donald Trump's lead, not to give in to the right-wing climate change sceptics and dinosaurs of the right of his party.
SHORTEN: It's one of the propositions which we will examine.
JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister is speaking on terrorism in Singapore he says the threat of Islamic terrorism gets worse in our region. Do you agree with this and do you think there is more we can do to combat it?
SHORTEN: Australians should be reassured that when it comes to fighting terrorism, we're all in this together. This is not a source of great disagreement between Liberal and Labor and really, regardless of whoever is in government, keeping Australians safe should be one of the key priorities if not the utmost priority of any government.
We've been working very constructively with Malcolm Turnbull and I worked constructively with Tony Abbott before then. What we saw in Manchester, what we've seen in Afghanistan, what we've seen in the southern Philippines and Indonesia is that there are some criminal fanatics who use the Islamic faith to say that justifies their actions.
There was a little 12-year-old girl from the northern suburbs of my own home town in Melbourne who was killed in an ice-cream parlour in Baghdad. It goes to show that these criminal terrorists who want to twist their view of religion are killing innocent kids even of their own faith. It's not on. We will work with the government. Absolutely.
JOURNALIST: Do you think there's more that we can do to fight terrorism in the Philippines where ISIS and militants are starting to rise?
SHORTEN: When it comes to specific briefings about specific risks we talk to security experts first. The Government has not briefed us about any new information about the Philippines at this point. I'm sure they will if they think there's sufficient issue to do so.
SHORTEN: I've got a clear view. Western Australia is not getting their fair share. Malcolm Turnbull in the budget he passed in May is taking $430 million from schools in Western Australia. I've got a clear view that Malcolm Turnbull wants 700,000 West Australians who earn less than $87,000 to pay higher income tax. I've got a clear view that Western Australia under Mark McGowan, inherited a shocking set of books with debt and deficit, the highest of any state in the country, from the Liberals.
We will work with the cogent propositions and the research and the considered argument that Mark McGowan presents. I'm not convinced that you need to have inquiries from here into the future indefinitely.
I think Western Australia needs to hear from both Federal Liberal and Federal Labor in coming months, what are we going to do to help get momentum flowing in Western Australia.
The West Australian State Government, they have got their plans, they've got their decisions they are going to make. They now need a government in Canberra who doesn't treat Western Australia as fly-over country, as they fly overseas.
Malcolm Turnbull has only spent 20 hours in Western Australia in the last nine months. He has spent more time in Singapore and New York. It's not good enough.
He needs to hear the real problems on the ground, stop being out of touch, shouldn't increase the income tax on Western Australians, shouldn't be cutting school funding, shouldn't be cutting health funding. Instead come up with a package which is going to deliver jobs in Western Australia, because when Western Australia goes well, the nation goes well.
JOURNALIST: Do you specifically believe that WA is getting a fair share of the GST, because the examples that you're using there are not GST and that is the big ticket item on the table?
SHORTEN: There's no doubt when you hear the figure of 34 cents in the dollar, how can that make sense? Now what I'm not going to do is say one thing here and one thing on the east coast.
I don't want to see any state disadvantaged. But there's no doubt that Western Australia is not getting its fair share of support from the Commonwealth.
You have at last got a government who is making the argument. They're talking about all their propositions, looking at how we resolve these matters.
For eight years you had a wimp in your corner, now you've got a champion.
We're sitting down. I'm over here because at last I have a Premier in Western Australia who wants to tell it as it is and wants a better deal for Western Australia. I'm black and white on this. Western Australia is not getting their fair share. Canberra and the nation has to start doing something about it.
That's why I'm here listening. I'm not overseas, I'm not looking over Sydney Harbour. I'm in Western Australia for the eighth time since the election because I understand that West Australians deserve a fair go all round.
JOURNALIST: [INAUDIBLE] Do you think that Anthony Albanese is being underused in Question Time given his experience?
SHORTEN: He's doing a great job. I couldn't be happier with him. And let me also just talk about, not just Anthony, but my whole team.
The Labor Party has been very focused on providing alternative policies. And on infrastructure, courtesy of Anthony and others, we've got policies which leave Turnbull in our dust.
So he's doing a great job, as are all of my team. What frustrates me though, is I sit opposite in every parliamentary session a government who thinks it is smart to cut funding to schools, who thinks it is smart not to properly fund Medicare, who think it is smart not to properly fund Western Australia, who think it's smart that we're cutting penalty rates, who think it is smart to give millionaires and multinationals a tax cut.
My team know what the priorities are. Mr Turnbull is the most out of touch Prime Minister that Australia has had in a very long time.
JOURNALIST: [INAUDIBLE] there have been some reports that Anthony Albanese might be a rival for your position?
SHORTEN: I have got to say, again, and I repeat the answer I gave to the last question. I'm grateful to the degree of unity which the Labor Party has shown.
Australians don't want political parties fighting amongst themselves - they want them focused on the issues of Australians.
I think Malcolm Turnbull has a big test coming up. Donald Trump has said he's not going to be part of international action on climate change. No less than five of Malcolm Turnbull's senior backbenchers have said that they don't want to be part of international action. They want to follow Donald Trump.
The Labor Party doesn't change its views because Donald Trump has got a different opinion. Nor should Malcolm Turnbull. Climate change is real. We just say to the Prime Minister, don't buckle to the people in your party who want to follow Donald Trump. We have to stand up for Australia and we've got to stand up for taking action on climate change.