Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Launceston - Passing of Don Randall; Renewable energy






SUBJECT/S: Passing of Don Randall; Renewable energy; Climate change policy; Labor’s support for Australian jobs, Shipbuilding; China FTA; Labor national conference.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone, it’s great to be at Haywards again talking about the jobs of the future.


But before I do, I think it is most important that on behalf of the Parliamentary Labor Party that we record our deep sorrow and shock at the passing of Don Randall yesterday. Don Randall was a Liberal politician from Western Australia who was there always very forthright about his views, always standing up for his electorate.  His loss comes as a great shock to the whole parliament. You don’t really think these things can happen to people who you know and work with. He has left us too young.  My thoughts are for his wife Julie and his children and I send my condolences to the Liberal Party.


But what I also want to talk about today is jobs of the future and to say that there will be a clear choice at the next election about renewable energy and climate change. At this weekend's Labor National Conference, I intend to propose that we have in our energy mix the ambition in 2030 to have 50 per cent of our energy mix derived from renewable energy sources. Labor will announce its ambition for the nation to have of its energy, 50 per cent derived from renewable energy sources.


There couldn't be a clearer choice between Mr Abbott's Liberals and the Labor Party I lead about the importance of dealing with climate change. We think climate change is real. We understand that Australians expect action and they don't expect us to be stuck in the past. So at the centre piece of Labor's strategy, to make Australia's contribution to dealing with pollution and climate change will be a renewed focus on renewable energy.


Labor believes that with emerging technology from solar power batteries, to investment in wind energy, to building confidence in the future of renewable energy, through greater investment in jobs, through lower prices for consumers and households and small businesses, we will see a great future for renewable energy in this country.


Less pollution, more jobs and downward pressure on electricity prices. That’s what Labor intends to do and there will be a clear choice at the next election between Mr Abbott who’s stuck in the past in resisting renewable energy and Labor who’s embracing the future in step with rest of the world.


Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: It’s an ambitious target, how are you going to pay for this?


SHORTEN: Well to begin with, the rest of the world’s already moving on renewable energy. You have a look at jurisdictions right around the world, from Germany, to New Zealand, to California, the rest of the nations setting itself ambitious goals. Leadership in Australia shouldn't be about telling people that things are too hard and they can't be done, shrugging and giving up and pulling up the drawbridge and pretending that the world is not changing around you. You do no favours to the people of Australia, no favours to your own families and successive generations by saying that we can't do anything about climate change.


JOURNALIST: Sure but how are you going to pay for it Mr Shorten?


SHORTEN: I hear your question but I’m just going to the issue which is at the heart of it. We’ve outlined an ambition, what I believe is that there will be bipartisan consensus emerge about specific renewable energy targets as Mr Abbott cannot be in charge of the Liberal Party for the next 15 years, heaven help them if he is. I have no doubt that with Labor setting the pace, the Liberal Party will eventually emerge from its period of backward looking stagnation and when we talk about payment and households, ask any Australian who’s got solar panels on their roofs if they are happy with it and the fact they pay less for electricity prices? Renewable energy helps generate lower prices. You see these great engineering jobs at this very skilled company Haywards, part of the flow of work for this engineering company is a commitment to build wind farms and towers for wind farms. So jobs, investment, lower prices and more action on climate change, it pays for itself.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, why are you so confident you can achieve that target in only 15 years?


SHORTEN: To begin with, the technology is changing very fast. We are seeing the whole world moving towards greater investment in renewable energy. Last year across the world there was a 16 per cent increase of investment and renewable energy. The market is answering the question you are asking. Investors are voting with their feet and their dollars. It’s only in Australia that we go backwards last year with an 88 per cent drop in renewable energy. We’ve got to be careful of believing that Mr Abbott has a plan for future. He doesn't. Let me also make it very clear, I predict that Mr Abbott will run a scare campaign about a big carbon tax. That is a lie. It is not true. It’s absolute rubbish. We are not going to have a fixed price tax. We are absolutely not going down that path. All I ask Mr Abbott to do is explain his vision for Australia's energy in 2030. His vision for solar panels on households, his vision to adapt and deal with manufacturing in the future and make sure that Australia's part of the future and the rest of the world, not stuck in the past.


JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to Steve about this, because two years ago he was complaining about a carbon price, that it put up the costs of doing business and made him uncompetitive. Won't that happen under your ETS?


SHORTEN: Not at all. Labor has learnt some of the lessons of the past. The core strategy for Labor's plan to deal with harmful climate change is to focus on renewable energy. We are proposing a reasonably soft emissions trading scheme and it will be linked to the rest of the world. I think Australia does well when we’re reaching out and engaging in terms of what is happening in rest of the world, not trying to necessarily lead the world but not following the world. All I am proposing is a sensible recognition that Australians expect their Governments to navigate the future. We’re setting an ambition for 2030. I have no doubt that the Liberal Party post Mr Abbott will again become a party which believes in science not climate change sceptics. I have no doubt that Australians are keen to see what the energy mix will look like in the future. I’ve got no doubt that Australians want to see greater investment. They want real action on pollution and climate change. They certainly want to see downward pressure in terms of their energy prices. As I say, the jury’s in. Any Australian who has solar panels on their roof and there’s now 1.3 million of them, they don't want to go back.


JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about the job losses in the coal industry?


SHORTEN: Pardon?


JOURNALIST: Will you be concerned about job losses in the coal industry?


SHORTEN: Jobs are most important to the Labor Party. I’m concerned about the massive job losses in the car industry which Tony Abbott's done nothing about. I’m concerned about the losses in shipbuilding when Tony Abbott keeps trying to build our submarines and ships overseas. When it comes to the coal industry, coal is still an important part of Australia's energy mix. Labor is the party you trust when there is change in workplaces to put the interests of workers first. That’s what I’ve done my whole working life. But I don't think that we are, save people by telling people you never have to change. It is not leadership in Australia to tell Australians that they should ignore renewable energy, that we shouldn't have some ambitions for this country, that we think we can just drop out of the rest of the world and not be part of the renewable energy revolution that’s happening around the world. I don’t know if people are realising, admittedly it doesn't feel like it today in this rainstorm, but Australia has more solar radiation per square metre than any other continent. We’re very lucky to live in a country where solar power can be such a potential for the future and yet we‘ve got a Prime Minister who doesn't seem to get the need to capitalise on the natural advantages that Australia’s been given.


JOURNALIST: What sort of savings for households does your modelling show that this will bring forward?


SHORTEN: What we’re spelling out and what I’m spelling out is a bit of a snapshot of what I will talk about at the national conference of the Labor Party. In terms of our ambition, we think it is important that a political party is up-front with the Australian people. We’re saying that we have an ambition for renewable energy to be 50 per cent of our energy mix in 2030.There’s a long way to go in terms of working through all the issues and details and we’ll sit down with industry, but I tell you one thing, any Australian family who has put solar power, solar rooftop panels on their house, they express pleasure at how it’s given them a bit more capacity to set prices rather than take prices with energy bills and in fact most people I’ve found, when they go down the renewable energy path for their own house, it’s not whether or not they should have done it, it’s why didn't they do it earlier.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you mentioned Australian shipbuilders. The Government’s negotiating with just one foreign company about replacing the Aurora Australis, should they go back to the drawing board on that?


SHORTEN: Well it is concerning. I get that there’s arguments about is there an Australian shipyard which can build a future vessel of that capacity. But when it comes to Australian manufacturing you wouldn't trust Mr Abbott at all. We are certainly interested to see what Australian content could go into an Australian vessel. We see this dreadful issue just up coast here where we see Australian seafarers are done over by the foreign flagging of ships in Hong Kong. Labor would certainly make sure that whatever happens with a future vessel, we would make sure there was a premium on Australian content. The Labor Party stands up for Australian jobs, Mr Abbott just keeps selling them overseas.


JOURNALIST: Why do you oppose a China free trade agreement given the benefits to Tasmanian farmers?


SHORTEN: I really don't oppose the China free trade agreement, I don't accept the assumption of that at all. But not every trade agreement’s a quality agreement. There are definite and important benefits in this effort that the government have negotiated and even if it is the Government negotiating it and not Labor, I certainly haven't been shy in giving some of the positives a tick. But no way can Labor simply just expect it to rubber stamp a deal which sells out Australian jobs. See Mr Abbott thinks that life is about win/lose, he wins and other people lose. We’re going to propose sensible amendments in the parliament to make sure that Australian’s get priority and jobs in Australia and we don't see rorts of the 457 and other visas. Guest workers have always been part of Australia's economic history but we want to make sure that where you’ve got unemployment, where you’ve got Australians willing to work, this trade agreement doesn't open the flood gates and let these people be done in in favour of other arrangements negotiated by this Government. Free trade, which I support, should be about decreasing the cost of living, better access to trade and export, better access to cheaper imports. But what a free trade agreement should never be is increasing the cost of living by causing greater unemployment and denying our own young people jobs of the future.


JOURNALIST: Labor Senator Lisa Singh’s been dropped down to fourth. Do you favour the 50/50 delegate rank and file vote that you’re apparently going to have at national conference?


SHORTEN: Alright, I think I heard the question over the rain on the roof. It is about the Labor Party conference and how we pick members of parliament and how we participate. What I’m interested in is making sure that we have a greater voice for rank and file members. But I think the debate which is happening at conference is already the rules in Tasmania. So I don't think anyone’s proposing a change to the current rules in Tasmania.


JOURNALIST: I was going to ask about the leaders meeting in Sydney. What are you hoping Labor leaders will bring away from the next few days?


SHORTEN: I’d like to ask Mr Abbott on behalf of millions of Australians, please keep your promise and don't increase taxes, in particular, don't increase the GST. It seems to me that the Government's had a sneaky strategy, Mr Abbott's had a sneaky strategy where he will cut the funding to hospitals and schools and he’s effectively taken State Premiers hostage and then he’s forcing some of these Premiers he’s taken hostage to demand an increase in the GST because Mr Abbott has organised that proposition.


The truth of the matter is for Australians who get paid on a weekly basis or a fortnightly basis or even month basis, it’s hard enough to keep ends meeting. What we need to do is to make sure that Government isn’t putting greater pressure on the household Budget. They should be helping them, not starving household budgets with an increased tax. NATSEM, the independent economic research organisation has said that increasing the GST as Mr Abbott's Liberals want to do, will cost ordinary households $3,000 a year. We’re going to see Mr Abbott wants to increase the tax on fresh food. He wants to put a new tax on school fees. This is a Government who can't do their day job and now they’re asking ordinary Australians to pay the bill.


Last question thank you.


JOURNALIST: Just back on the Aurora Australis, can the tender process be truly competitive when there’s just one foreign company in it?


SHORTEN: It doesn't sound like a competitive process when there’s only one bidder. I think your question is spot on the money. Alright, thanks everyone, have a great day.