Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Adelaide - Labor’s plan to create the jobs of the future: Investing in STEM; Labor’s plan for coding in schools






SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan to create the jobs of the future: Investing in STEM; Labor’s plan for coding in schools; Budget 2015; Inquiry into iron ore; Asylum seekers; Live cattle industry


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great to be here at Hamilton Secondary College where we’re seeing great students and great teachers learning the skills they need for the jobs of the future. I should say it’s also great to be here with Kate Ellis, this is Kate's first formal engagement since the arrival of baby Samuel, so it’s great to have Kate talking about the important issues of jobs for the future. We visited three different classrooms where we saw year 10 and year 11 students falling in love with the subjects which will generate them the jobs of the future, learning the skills which all parents know that our young people need to have in order to be able to compete in the future with the rest of the world.


Labor's Budget Reply last Thursday night was all about a plan for jobs of the future. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey's Budget was all about a plan for themselves in the short-term. We need to be investing in coding and teaching our children the computational thinking and computer skills that we will need in the future to make Australia competitive. We also need to be investing in our universities, and our research, and our start-ups to make sure that Australia’s children get the best start in life for the jobs of the future. I might ask Kate Ellis to talk a bit more about the Budget and the contrasting approaches in terms of South Australia.


KATE ELLIS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Well thank you very much Bill and thank you so much to the staff and students at Hamilton Secondary College for welcoming us here today and for showing us the great job that they’re doing in teaching science and technology. We have seen time and time again that the South Australian Liberals do not care about our jobs. That's why it’s so great to have Bill here today showing that Federal Labor will make sure that we invest in the skills for tomorrow's jobs. We will make sure that South Australian students today and tomorrow have the skills to go on and work in advanced manufacturing and that we make sure that South Australian students don't need to look away, don't need to look interstate, but can have the skills that they need for the local industries. We also know that we need to be investing not just in students and in the teaching of science and technology but also in teachers, in making sure that they've got the skills and qualifications to really enrich the lives of these students and help them in their learning and development. That's why it’s been so fantastic to see Hamilton leading the way but what we in Federal Labor want to make sure is that every school in every state in Australia can have a great focus on science and technology and that Australian students will be equipped to compete on an international stage.


SHORTEN: Thanks Kate. Are there any questions?


JOURNALIST: Regarding the asylum seeker crisis in the Andaman Sea, should Australia get involved and should we be offering temporary or permanent resettlement?


SHORTEN: Well first of all, the Opposition would like to be briefed by the Government about what's exactly happening. Secondly, we believe that Australia should always be part of regional solutions but beyond that we’ll have to wait and see the detail which the Government can provide the Opposition.


JOURNALIST: There’s a regional meeting next week, should the Government send a Minister rather than leaving it to the Ambassador?


SHORTEN: Well the Australian Government should be represented. Again, the Government just should be clear about what's actually happening and tell Australians when it comes to refugees, no Australian wants to see people suffering, and the Government just needs to make clear what its plan is.


JOURNALIST: What position would you like to see the Government taking at this meeting next week?


SHORTEN: Well first of all, the Opposition needs to be briefed by the Government . We say to the Government we’re always prepared to be bipartisan on these very important international matters but it’s important that they talk to people and explain what's going on and what their proposals are.


JOURNALIST: Does the Opposition support sending four refugees to Cambodia for permanent resettlement?


SHORTEN: Again what we see here is the Government does everything under a cloak of secrecy, we have to make sure that the deal stacks up, not only in terms of people’s safety but in terms of the cost and what it all means, so again what we need the Government to do, is to make sure they take the people of Australia into their confidence.


JOURNALIST: Do you blame Tony Abbott’s turn back the boats policy for what’s happening in South East Asia right now?


SHORTEN: I think some of the inter-communal violence which might be happening in – which is happening in Myanmar, I don't blame the Government for that. Some of these issues and conflicts far pre-date the existence of the Commonwealth of Australia.


JOURNALIST: But the policy to actually turn the boats around, do you think they are mimicking what Tony Abbott's policy is in Australia?


SHORTEN: Well again, I think there’s a number of issues and the question you raise. One is, and I think the most important matter is where you have inter-communal violence where some people feel they have to leave their homes because they’re not safe, that's the source of these troubles, and again we say to the Government, just talk to people, bring Australians into your confidence, you always get a better result.


JOURNALIST: But do you think that the decision to turn around boats in South East Asia is a by-product of Tony Abbott's policy?


SHORTEN: I think the issue of refugees and inter-communal violence, where the Rohingya people are getting persecuted, that is an issue which well predates the Abbott Government and these are issues which go back centuries.


JOURNALIST: So will Labor then be happy to adopt this policy?


SHORTEN: Well in terms of dealing with the Rohingya conflict and refugees?


JOURNALIST: In regards to turning boats around as I was asking you.


SHORTEN: Well no, we were talking about the inter-communal violence, and we see the deplorable situation and the treatment of Rohingya minorities. Those issues are deep-seated. In terms of Australia's approach in terms of asylum seekers, we fundamentally believe in a regional approach, we do support regional settlement.


JOURNALIST: So do you support turning boats around?


SHORTEN: Well Labor’s the one who’s put regional settlement on the map in terms of a policy. Our approach is defined by, we want to see refugees treated well, we want to make sure that people aren't drowning at sea and we also want to make sure that Australia's immigration policies are respected.


JOURNALIST: Reports of Australian cattle being bludgeoned to death in Vietnam, should there be a halt to live exports as the Labor Government did with Indonesia?


SHORTEN: Well first of all, let's talk about the actual reports. I have seen some of the still photos. They are shocking and they are horrible. I think all Australians will be outraged when they see these photos. This shouldn't be happening. We’d call upon Barnaby Joyce to not be missing in action on this matter. Specifically, Barnaby Joyce was all over Jonny Depp's dogs in terms of saying what should happen to these two dogs which came to Australia, but why is he not saying anything about these shocking images, which we’re all seeing in the Australian media now. I don't believe the trade should automatically be suspended, no I don’t, but what I do believe is that the Minister should be making sure that we’re auditing the markets where we’re sending the cattle to, we should be making sure that we punish where we see these breaches.


JOURNALIST: Going back to border protection sorry, should we be using our border protection assets in Asia, should we be offering them to help with the crisis over there right now?


SHORTEN: Well again going back to the first answer I gave and subsequent answers, the Opposition needs to be briefed by the Government about the extent of the problem. We’re willing to sit down and work with the Government. No-one wants to see people in distress anywhere in the world.


JOURNALIST: This year's Budget has been much better received compared to last year’s, is it harder for Labor to fight it?


SHORTEN: Well first of all, last year's Budget was such a shocker, that it’s - anything with a pulse would do better than last year's Budget. But let’s be also straight here, last year’s unfairness has been rebadged in this one. There are currently as we speak Government measures which will increase the cost of prescription drugs in the Senate. This is a Government who’s persisting with their $100,000 degrees, and they’re also persisting with attacks on family payments which will see families on $60,000 losing up to $6,000 per year.


So this Government is still perpetuating unfairness, and in terms of last year's Budget and this year's Budget, I don't think any Australian believes that if Tony Abbott could control the Senate of Australia – I mean we know which Budget he'd pick, it’s last year's Budget. This Government hasn't changed its mind, it’s just changed its tactics, and furthermore this Budget doesn't deal with the long-term issues about building infrastructure or skilling our young people for the jobs of the future.


JOURNALIST: I understand that the Maritime Union in Sydney will be holding a protest today regarding some potential restructures on the waterfront. Anthony Albanese’s come out this morning and basically suggested it could be Work Choices on the water, I mean what's your response to this?


SHORTEN: Well let's not use weasel words about restructure on water, this is Work Choices on water. What we see is thousands of Australian jobs to be jeopardised. What we see is this Government's predilection for lowering employment conditions in Australia. What this Government hopes is that because ships are beyond the breakers and that people can't see every employment condition in a ship, that they can get away with seeing third world conditions employed on ships which carry cargo around the Australian shoreline. This is unacceptable, Australia is an island nation, we should have our own indigenous shipping industry, and for the Abbott Government to sabotage the conditions of seafarers is Work Choices on water.


JOURNALIST: Why won't Labor back Nick Xenophon's push for an inquiry into iron ore prices?


SHORTEN: Well I think that it’s become Tony Abbott's inquiry.


Last Friday Tony Abbott said in answer to a question by Alan Jones that yes he did want an iron ore inquiry.


Labor's concern is not the issue of the inquiry, our concern is jobs. There’s been tens of thousands of people, not just in the mining companies directly but in a lot of the services companies, who’ve lost their jobs. The Abbott Government’s been asleep at the wheel in terms of jobs, and finding new jobs for these hard working people.


In terms of the iron ore inquiry itself, I do have grave reservations. First of all, the idea that somehow this inquiry is going to change the prices in the iron ore industry will just play into the hands of competitor nations who will be rushing off to our customers who buy our iron ore and saying ‘oh you can't deal with Australia with Tony Abbott because they’re going to try and do things about raising prices for iron ore’. And then what will happen is, we will lose market share and even further jobs, and if the inquiry isn't about the prices in iron ore, then why on earth are they having it? If there has been any inappropriate commercial behaviour, Tony Abbott is well advised to consider the ACCC. I do not understand for the life of me why an iron ore industry battered and bruised should now be subject to this uncertainty. So we do have real reservations about the purpose and outcome of this inquiry. For us, the real question here is impact on jobs. That's who Labor are. So we’re interested in working through with the industry and Tony Abbott about how we find new jobs for the people displaced by the fall in iron ore prices, but we’re not interested in wrecking the iron ore industry further.


JOURNALIST: Do you think that Australia needs to convene a regional summit on the boats issue in South East Asia?


SHORTEN: Well I think it’s always important that Australia is an active regional citizen in terms of how we handle the flow of refugees.


JOURNALIST: I’ve asked you several questions about Labor’s policy on turning around boats and you’ve dodged around it the whole time. Does Labor actually have a policy on this?


SHORTEN: Well you’ve asked several questions to do with the refugee crisis, and you’ve said well what would we do, and we’ve said back every time to your question is the Government should talk to us about what they have in mind to help this latest refugee tragedy of the Rohingya people. These conflicts go back a long time, I'm not blaming the Government for these conflicts. These solutions to these issues are complex and they require a regional approach. Labor has always supported a regional approach to deal with the issue of refugees.


JOURNALIST: And where does it stand on turning around boats?


SHORTEN: Well first of all, we need to see what the policies are in terms of how they've been working, in terms of regional approaches and attitudes to this. We are the ones who pioneered having regional resettlement but again, what I would say to the Government is sit down and talk to us about this latest refugee crisis and tragedy. Are there any other questions?


JOURNALIST: Back to the Budget, it has been 100 days since Tony Abbott promised to deliver a good government. He seems to be doing that. What does this mean for the Opposition?


SHORTEN: It has been about 640 days since they got elected. I'm amazed that we have a Prime Minister of Australia who woke up halfway through his term and conceded there hadn't been a good government. Now I don't think this is a good Budget, I think it’s a hoax Budget. It relies on maintaining the old unfairnesses of the last Budget plus some new unfairnesses, and let’s face it, haven't this Government got themselves into a mess over their backflips on paid parental leave? I think it is unimaginable - to me it’s unimaginable that we’ve got the leaders of Australia paying out and attacking working women who’ve negotiated employment conditions on top of the minimum standard of the paid parental leave scheme supported by the Government, and they're attacking working women for negotiating conditions which would see them be able to spend a few more weeks with their children before they return to work. So there’s new and old unfairness. There’s still the attacks on family payments but it also relies upon on $80 billion worth of cuts to the States and Territories.


I understand why South Australians in particular are outraged at Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey. I mean there’s $3.7 billion being cut from hospitals in the next number of years from South Australian hospitals, $2.2 billion from schools. The kids in this school that we’re visiting expect the adults and the people in Parliament to be as brave and optimistic in planning for the future as they are through their own efforts. And of course what we see is this Government doing is relying on the lazy hand of inflation, as wages go up, to move people into higher tax brackets and see them taking more tax income from working Australians. This is lazy Budget, and Labor instead has proposed the start of directions for the future of Australia which is, where will the jobs come from, and Labor is saying let's make our kids as competitive in the world with what they learn as the rest of the world. Thanks everyone.