Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Hobary - Labor's plan for the Midland Highway and higher education in Tasmania; Defence contracts






SUBJECT/S: Labor's plan for the Midland Highway and higher education in Tasmania; Defence contracts; Philippines deal; Bendigo rally; Political donation inquiry

BRIAN MITCHELL, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LYONS: (audio cuts in)... We're here to today to talk about the Brighton Bypass and the $100 million of funding that Labor will fund if we are elected to government. I'll hand over to Bill.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITON: Thanks Brian and it's great to be here looking at where Labor's announcement will improve both the quality of life for Tasmanians and also improve the opportunity for businesses to conduct their business more efficiently and generate jobs. I'm talking about $100 million which the Liberals cut from funding the Midland Highway, which Labor will restore.

Labor, as part of our commitment generally, with nation building infrastructure, is committed that we will start with $100 million to be restored in the Midland Highway which will see safety works being done, which will improve the safety of Tasmanian motorists and their families and also improvements which will see business being able to get their product to market more efficiently, peoples' quality of life being improved.

This is part of a set of announcements where Labor has proposed an exciting breakthrough in the way in which we fund infrastructure in Australia. Labor's determined to stop the old fights about roads versus public transport - we are equally committed to both forms of transport. We are also committed to making sure that infrastructure such as the NBN is properly rolled out. But what we are doing which is different is we are proposing that Infrastructure Australia should become an independent, turbo-charged policy body which will help make sure that we can make generational decisions on important infrastructure for Australia. Everyone knows that the mining boom is winding down and we need to make our cities and our regions operate more effectively. Good infrastructure will deliver tens of thousands of jobs; it'll make life safer and communities more liveable; it'll connect our regions to our cities.

So yesterday, Labor announced 10 priority projects, not the end of the project list, 10 priority projects which Australians can count on Labor to start and one of them is of course the Midland Highway. Now what I'd like to do is hand over to Julie Collins to talk a bit further. Julie has been a formidable advocate for better infrastructure for Tasmania, and our announcement yesterday and today is a reflection of her hard work and lobbying on behalf of Tasmanians, along with the work of Brian to make sure that his electorate that he would like to represent gets a square deal from Canberra. Julie.

JULIE COLLINS, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FRANKLIN: Thank you Bill. As we've heard, this is about restoring the $100 million that Labor committed to last time we were in office. When Labor was previously in office we committed a lot of funds to the Midland Highway, to actually do the Brighton Bypass which you see behind us which was more than over $200 million. We worked then with the State Government to ensure that the priorities along the Midland Highway for funding were safety upgrades first and then productivity upgrades after that. What this money will do, the $100 million is of course bring forward work that is currently planned within the 10-year plan. Work that has actually been delayed and should have already occurred. What we've seen with the change of State and Federal Liberal Governments coming into office has been a delay in the works on the Midlands Highway. The Perth to Brewlyn works have been delayed. I understand they are supposed to be commencing shortly. What we want to do with the $100 million is speed up the works along the Midland Highway to ensure that Tasmanians are safer faster and that productivity gains can occur sooner, thank you.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten do you want to be an infrastructure prime minster, is that your goal here?

SHORTEN: I want to be a jobs Prime Minister. I want to see tens of thousands of jobs provided to Australians. Every policy which Labor's announced in recent times, from higher education and TAFE, right through to backing in renewable energy, 50 per cent of our energy by 2030 coming from renewable sources; through to yesterday's exciting announcement about unlocking the possibilities of private superannuation, trillions of dollars to be invested to sort out our infrastructure log jam. For me it is all about jobs. Creating jobs, maintaining jobs, making sure that our young people and mature aged people have the skills in a changing economy they need. Making sure that the regions of Australia get their access to jobs. So I would like to be known as a jobs Prime Minister.

JOURNALIST: What other new money do you anticipate announcing being spent in Tasmania in the run-up to the next election? Are there other projects that you're eyeing off?

SHORTEN: Well I think that the Tasmanian story is a good story to tell, that's why I have asked Julie to lead a task force and we've been working with Brian Green and State Labor and we've been meeting with business, and I'll be doing more of that today, to talk about what the future looks like for Tasmania. We believe in the economic development of Tasmania. We believe in better education for Tasmania. We also believe Tasmania has got marvellous value for promoting throughout Australia and the rest of the world. We will have more to say about Tasmania in the coming weeks and months. But I would just remind you and through you Tasmanians, Labor has effectively stopped the deregulation for the time being of our universities. It means all the campuses of UTAS won't see massive price hikes in the cost of going to university and to TAFE. We have said already what we will do for Tasmanians in higher education with a funding guarantee, prioritising regional universities. We have also said we want to see more innovation, so the University of Tasmania has an opportunity to introduce a Startup Year, for bright young Tasmanian engineers, science, maths and technology students to actually back in an idea for a year after they have finished their degrees and we will give them an income contingent loan, which basically means we're backing in our bright young people. We have made the announcements about Midland Highway and infrastructure generally. And of course we are the party of renewable energy and climate change. Tasmania has a great story to tell with the way it generates energy. We think the more we invest in certainty around renewable energy, the more jobs there are for Tasmanians.

JOURNALIST: You're talking about speeding up some of the already planned work along the Midland Highway. Will your $100 million actually produce any new projects along the Midland?

SHORTEN: It will produce new jobs, there's no doubt. The good thing is if Labor is elected within the year at the next election, we will get to work, we will talk to councils, we will talk to the State Government and we'll make sure motorists driving on this patch of road behind me are safer than they currently are. We will make sure businesses right now, within a year if we get elected, will have the opportunity to have lower costs. We will make sure that Tasmanians driving on the roads have to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families or at their work or enjoying their quality of life.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe Tasmanians are getting their fair share of Defence spending around the country, do you think Tasmanian trades people might be missing out?

SHORTEN: What I'll do is get Julie, she's eager to answer some of that herself. But I'm pro-Tasmania and I don't say this because I am leader of the Labor party, I say that because of two and a half decades of working in and out of Tasmania and seeing the potential these communities both from the north, the west and also around Hobart and the regions here. I know that Tasmania is one of the best kept secrets in the world. I know that there’s a great quality of life here but I also know that youth unemployment is too high, I know that there are too many Tasmanians battling to make ends meet, I know there’s still too much family violence, I know that we need to have more young Tasmanians being able complete there further education in Tasmania rather an automatically have to engage in a diaspora to some other part of Australia. So Labor is a party who understands Tasmania best when it comes to representing them in Canberra. So that's why we're talking about the Midland Highway. That's why I'm talking about making sure that TAFE is properly funded. That's why I'm making sure that we have properly funded schools, properly funded health care in Tasmania. This is a great place to live but it needs a government as ambitious in Canberra for the future of Tasmania, as Tasmanian families are for the future of their children but I might ask Julie to supplement some of this.   

COLLINS: There's no doubt as a proud Tasmanian I would like to see Tasmania have a larger share of Defence spending. I and the other senators and candidates have been meeting with components of the pacific control boats in terms of the defence force contracts. What Tasmania really wants and what these businesses and organisations really want is a fair and open, transparent process. What they want is to be able to receive a fair hearing in terms of their bid for Tasmania to get some more Defence spending. What they want is for the decisions not to be made politically but to be made fairly and equally and that they have the same opportunities as other parts of Australia to complete in a tender process. What they want is assuredly that the tender process is fair.

JOURNALIST: Do you believe that has been the case? That there has been political interference and we're seeing far too many contracts going to places like Adelaide?

COLLINS: I think Tasmanians want to see the fair process. There is no doubt that the process that they're talking about with the pacific patrol boats, there have been rumours about it being brought forward and when that might occur. What I want to see of course, are Tasmanian businesses getting the same opportunities as businesses around the rest of the country?

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten would you support resettling refugees from Manus Island in the Philippines?

SHORTEN: Labor believes in the regional resettlement of refugees who are at Manus and Nauru, so we are committed to seeing regional negotiations with potentially Indonesia, Malaysia, certainly Philippines. But what we're also wary of is that the Liberals announced they had secured a world beating deal with Cambodia. What we find out 18 months down the track is they have paid over $40 million and resettled four people. So Labor supports, in principle, constructive negotiations with the Philippines, but we are just worried that the Liberals tend to announce their achievements before they have actually occurred and we certainly don't want a repeat of the Cambodia debacle where each refugee seems to have cost over $10 million to resettle. That is not good economic in anyone’s language.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten anti-Islam rallies are planned across Australia for tomorrow. In light of recent accuracies. What would your message to people who are thinking of getting involved in those events?

SHORTEN: We're all anti-terrorism and we are all pro-national security. But I for one am not anti-a particular religion. It wasn't so long ago in this country that Catholics could get persecuted for being Catholics. This country will never have a great future if we have majorities encouraged to pick on minorities. I have got no time, like 99 per cent of Australians, like 100 per cent of Australians for terrorism for criminality, for stupidity, for religious extremism. I deplore extremism if it is religious, if it is political, I don't like extremism. But you don't tackle terrorism and extremism by these sorts of rallies. They are counterproductive. I think they actually send the wrong message. This country works best when we work together. Anything designed to split and divide our community is actually making this country a less generous destination and it is actually increasing, I think, the chances for radicalisation and extremism.

JOURNALIST: Since we spoke to you earlier today, have you had a chance to review the comments of the Grand Mufti and what is your reaction to that?

SHORTEN: In terms of the comments, the ones which I went and reviewed were the ones of the leader of the Parramatta mosque and I congratulate him. I think that is the sort of leadership people want to see.

JOURNALIST: A point of clarification on your infrastructure fund. Is it called the “concrete bank” or the “cement bank” and what does that mean?

SHORTEN: I think that is a name being coined by observers. We would call it Infrastructure Australia. I think the point about calling it a concrete bank is exactly what the name means. Under Labor, we will build more public transport in our cities. Under Labor, we will restore the money for Midland Highway. We will make sure we have better roads and tunnels. Under Labor, Tasmanians will get a fair dinkum NBN, not the sort of broken promises we have seen in the last two years where things are slower and more ineffective. So yes we are making a concrete promise to set up a concrete bank which is going to improve the quality of life of Australians and very importantly, deliver tens of thousands of concrete jobs. Thanks.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask one more on John Madigan’s inquiry into political donations, or proposed inquiry at this stage. Why not support the inquiry to have a closer look at the Coalition’s donations?

SHORTEN: Firstly, Labor’s got strong policies in terms of political donation reform. We are the party who propose decreasing the threshold for disclosure. In other words, we believe that if money’s been donated the threshold should be lower for which it is required to be declared and disclosed. As I said to you earlier we will have a look at what John is proposing but Labor is already on the record. We want to see disclosure, we want to see more timely disclosure, we want Australians to have confidence in their political process. Thanks everyone.