Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Perth






SUBJECT/S: Renewable energy; jobs; unfair Budget; humanitarian assistance to Iraq; public transport


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I want to, on behalf of Alannah MacTiernan and myself, just thank EMC for the work they are doing. This is Australian ingenuity. It is the vision of smart people, solving problems which allow our businesses to do better with renewable energy and solar energy. It is great that they're designing equipment for the Mackerel Island resorts. It is good there are investors backing in our tourism industry. But of course it is a business which requires real attention to costs. What we're seeing here is the solar industry stepping up and providing solutions for tourism, for smaller Australian communities right across our country. That is why it is important that we back in our renewable energy sector, that we back in our solar industry.


Solar power is not a matter of science fiction, it is a matter of daily energy supplies with increasingly cost-effective proposition and reliable supplies of energy. There’s 1.2 million houses with solar panels. There is 30,000 people who work in the industry. We do need government decisions and policy to support Australian ingenuity, Australian investment and Australian know-how. Australia is one of the sunniest continents in the world. It beggars belief that other parts of the world are racing ahead with solar power and solar energy and Australian Government policy is lagging behind. Tony Abbott needs to get over his resistance to the renewable energy sector and provide certainty. There has been billions of dollars invested. There’s billions of dollars to be invested in renewable energy.


We need a Government to show the sort of courage and forethought and respect for jobs and innovation that people in the industry are supplying. It is important that the Federal Government gets behind renewable energy rather than leaves it to wither on the vine. I might ask my colleague Alannah MacTiernan to talk more about this topic.


What I also briefly wish to do is talk about the Budget. We have seen Treasurer Joe Hockey flying in and flying out on bended knee trying to get crossbenchers to accept his unfair Budget. I think every Australian was appalled yesterday to hear our Treasurer, our financial steward, saying that poor people don't drive cars, or if they do drive cars they don't drive very far. Treasurer Hockey is out of touch. It has been three months since the unfair Budget has been brought down and we see broken promises and lies causing great angst in our community.


Mr Hockey, average Australians, poor Australians, middle class Australians, they drive their cars, they fill up petrol at the bowser and you're putting new taxes on them. I think Joe Hockey should apologise to Australians for insulting them by saying that you don't have to worry about the tax if you don't drive a car. This is not the way to go. Joe Hockey needs to come back to planet earth from planet Hockey. He needs to help real Australians meet their cost of living pressures, not be a further unfair source of pressure on Australians.


I might Alannah to say a few words.


ALANNAH MACTIERNAN, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Thanks very much Bill. I just want to say that everyone in Western Australia understands that we need to diversify our economy. As we move away from the construction boom in mining, we know that we need jobs in Western Australia and we need jobs that involve innovation and technology.


Our renewable industry is an absolute natural fit for Western Australia. We have the world's best solar resources, wind resources and wave resources, and we have got to have government getting in there supporting that innovation so that in the next 10 years we will have this as a thriving, booming industry that will be setting world standards.


SHORTEN: Before we take questions, I might just comment on the breaking news that Australia's RAAF are delivering humanitarian supplies to beleaguered citizens and refugees in northern Iraq. I, like the entire Opposition and the Government, congratulate the professional men and women of our defence force, the RAAF in this case, but all of those involved in this hazardous operation to bring relief and support to innocent people caught up in a terrible struggle well beyond their means to control what is happening.


REPORTER: Do you support offering sanctuary to the thousands of minorities in northern Iraq?


SHORTEN: Yes, we have seen reports of this. Labor does support providing support for refugees and the opportunity to come to Australia. It was Labor policy to bring 20,000 refugees a year. The current Government has reduced that number of spots for refugees. We are pleased however that the Government is considering increasing the number of refugee spots. Yes we do support it.


REPORTER: Should there be an escalation beyond the two Hercules?


SHORTEN: I think we need to do whatever the experts say is necessary to provide humanitarian relief. If you talk about escalation, Labor is very much on the same page as the Government about doing what we can to provide humanitarian relief in very hazardous circumstances. Like the Government, like the Prime Minister has said, we don't see this as being a place where you would have combat troops engaged in intense military operations fighting a war in Iraq.


REPORTER: What about to protect the delivery of aid?


SHORTEN: Clearly keeping our people safe is a priority. We need to see the detail of that but if it is for humanitarian relief, Labor is up for that. There is not a cigarette paper of difference between Labor and Liberal on this matter. But again, the Government, I understand, and I have spoken to their office, the Prime Minister's office in the last few minutes, is making it very clear it is not about combat troops or military operations against the ISIS terrorist organisation, it is about humanitarian relief.


REPORTER: How well do you know Neville Wran's daughter Harriet and what is your reaction to her being charged with murder overnight?


SHORTEN: I attended Neville Wran's funeral and I met the family there. I have nothing to say about this matter which is being dealt with by the police.


REPORTER: Do you know her at all?


SHORTEN: No, but again, I will just say that we don't know what is happening here. It is in the hands of the police, I’m not going to add to that matter.


REPORTER: You must be sad to hear, though, for the family?


SHORTEN: I don't know what has happened and I am certainly not going to comment on something which I have no knowledge about.


REPORTER: Mr Shorten, WA residents will be paying the carbon tax until November it seems because the State Government wasn't prepared, or says it wasn't ready, for the repeal. Should there be a repeal of these?


SHORTEN: The West Australian Government is asleep at the wheel. It can hardly be a secret that the Government was endeavouring to repeal the carbon price. I don't understand why Premier Barnett is not dealing with this matter promptly. Everyone knows that in Western Australia, the cost of living is a real issue and I don't understand why the Liberal Government over here is doing nothing to assist ordinary Australians. I might ask my colleague Alannah MacTiernan to talk from a Western Australian perspective.


But I would just generally say about Liberal Governments and cost of living, the wheels have fallen off Treasurer Hockey's unfair Budget. I think it is fair to say that the Government's run out of petrol in terms of supporting their Budget. It is an unfair Budget which is putting real pressure on pensioners, on people who are sick and vulnerable who go to the doctor, and motorists. That we have a Government who thinks that poor people don't drive cars or that they don't drive them very much shows no idea how West Australians are organising their lives. People in the bush have no choice but to use cars. Public transport under the Abbott Government has been rolled back in Western Australia. So this is a Government who wants people to pay more tax and doesn't even realise the harm that they're causing ordinary people.


I might just ask Alannah to talk about carbon.


REPORTER: Just one last question on the Budget, if Joe Hockey can't get much of his Budget through the Senate, or looks like can’t, should there be a double dissolution?


SHORTEN: I think that the Abbott Government needs to have a good, hard look at themselves. This is a Budget which is unfair. It is a Budget which has broken promises. It is a Budget which is full of lies that were told to Australia before the last election. The Abbott Government and Joe Hockey should hang their heads in shame. What they are doing is asking ordinary Australians to pay the bill because this is a Government who doesn't know what they're doing.


There is no doubt in my mind they should throw the Budget in the bin and start again. I think if the Government had integrity they would offer this Budget up and have an election and see if people agree with what they want.


This is a Government who loves to talk about mandates. They have no mandate to cut the pension. This Government has no mandate to increase petrol taxes. This Government has no mandate to cut hospital and school funding in Western Australia or anywhere else for that matter. They have no mandate to make it hard for middle class and working class kids to go to university. They have no mandate to force the unemployed on no income at all for six months. It is a rotten Budget, it is unfair and Australians have seen through the Abbott Government's Budget.


I might ask my colleague to talk about -


MACTIERNAN: It is an absolute joke. They were so keen and willing to put up the price of public transport fares, using the carbon price as the excuse. Quite clearly, everyone knew when an Abbott Government came in, that was going to go away and they are now refusing to do it.


Two things, that is because they have managed this Budget so hopelessly. They have lost Western Australia's AAA credit rating. And, secondly, they have no commitment to public transport. We have seen every commitment that they have made over the last two elections on public transport be systemically walked away from.


They have lied about building the Ellenbrook railway, they’ve lied about building the MAX Light Rail. They made not one ounce of complaint when Tony Abbott took $500 million of public transport money from Western Australia at the last Budget. And now they have got some project that they're proposing that they had to admit they have not had Treasury costings of.


So we’ve got two things here - a Government that has absolutely zero commitment to public transport and, secondly, is incapable of managing the Budget.


SHORTEN: Thanks everyone.