Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Sydney - Labor’s positive plan to drive startups; Labor’s plan for more university graduates






SUBJECT/S: Labor’s positive plan to drive startups; Labor’s plan for more university graduates; Liberal Party’s Trade Union Royal Commission; National security; Workplace relations; Liberal Government’s plan to increase the GST; Immigration


ED HUSIC, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY ASSISTING WITH DIGITAL INNOVATION AND STARTUPS: G'day everyone, thank you for joining us here today at muru-D. Muru-D is basically the face of the future in this country. What's happening here is that we are having new businesses created using technology to basically turn ideas in reality along with the support of mentors and other people from the business community to see basically new enterprises form before our eyes. What Labor's been trying to do to find those areas if we give attention through government we can pull down the barriers that are holding us back and delivering right now some of the lowest rates of startup formation in the world and the ultimate test of all of this and one of the big motivators as to why we are doing this is when you talk to some of the start up's here and in the space of 12 months they've gone from one job to ten jobs. This is a huge rate of employment growth and if we can generate more startup's in this country it will help create the jobs for the next generation of Australians will be ultimately filling and then creating their own enterprises as well. So there's a lot a stake we need to make sure that we've got the right skills, the right capital pulling down the regulatory barriers and encouraging more people to go in and create their own businesses because basically the future of the nation depends on their success and we want to be there working with them on it. It's been terrific today to see some of the great ideas and I've be able to witness them of the muru-D investor pitch night earlier in the year seeing them now get even stronger foundations and growing even more into China and into our region is really exciting and it has been a great privilege to be able to see some great innovators right here. Bill and I very much enjoyed the chance to talk with them.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:  Thanks Ed. I wanted Ed to open up this morning because he's my new Parliamentary Secretary for Digital Innovation and Startups. Today is pretty exciting when you come here. What you see here is a combination of great ideas and clever people delivering jobs of the future both in Australia and great ideas all around the world. The function of this incubator is to say to smart people all over Australia if you've got a really good idea, we'll help you try and turn your good idea into a successful business. I had the privilege today of meeting 10 different groups of smart Australians and every one of them, based on their work experience, or their studies has looked at the way society, Australia is currently organised and they've said, we could do this a bit smarter, we do could do this a bit more effectively and what we see here is really smart Australians turning their ideas, their own creative genious, their cleverness, their life experience into things which will shape the way we organise in the future. What's really exciting about today is it's dealing with one of the biggest problems we have in Australia which is we have a relatively low rate of startups, of new technology businesses compared to other parts of the world, but the people here, muru-D and the people who run it, they're not prepared to just watch the rest if the world move ahead. You know they talks always about what's happening in Israel or San Francisco. This is as good as anywhere in the world, the ideas that Australians have are the equal of anywhere in the world. For me, the big lesson from today is that Labor is on the right track, when we talk about how we connect our students and young people and not-so-young people with the opportunity to back in an idea, to have the guts to actually just work night and day for a new technology idea. I'm sure, though, having met all the clever people I've met here today that there are literally thousands of other Australians who might be going to work, might be involved in their school, or might be at university  or their TAFE and they're looking at the way that the community is organised and they have a good idea. The big lesson for me today visiting this incubator, other than Labor's on the right track backing in innovation for the jobs of the future, is that I think that there's 100 times the ideas we see here and what we've got to do in Australia is back ourselves a lot more. The rest of the world is not too hard to compete with. The rest of the world needs Australians, needs Australian ideas and needs our great quality of life which the people here are adding to. We're happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: These executives at the royal commission that week said that they did deals with you to pay money to your union behind workers' backs. Are you saying they're lying or were you involved?

SHORTEN: No, that's not the evidence which is led. I'm saying I've read the transcripts of the evidence. I am really proud of what I've been able to accomplish representing workers in my time as a union rep and indeed now as a member of the Labor Party. I also know that this royal commission was set up with one purpose in mind, to attack the political opponents of the Government, so I was happy to answer over 900 questions but we all know what's motivating this royal commission, we all know it's about politics and again to return to where I started, I'm really proud and happy to have scrutiny for what I did for Australian workers, because I know whenever came to deal with them, I was always wanted  to see them better off than before I met hem.

JOURNALIST: Will Labor support legislation tabled by the government this week tighten the climate for asylum seekers looking for protection?

SHORTEN: In terms of that legislation, which one are you referring to?

JOURNALIST: It's referring to human rights lawyers - the Migration Amendment Bill.

SHORTEN: OK. Labor has put forward a private member's bill this week to make it clear that there should be mandatory reporting of abuse in any detention facilities, regional processing facilities, that Australia directly or indirectly has responsibility for.  In terms of the broader debate about migration, Labor's very determined that with migration, with some of the changes that are required, for instance, the China Free Trade Agreement, that we want to make sure, we want to make sure that Australians and Australian jobs are protected, they're the two issues which we've been focused on this week.

JOURNALIST: The PM isn't ruling out imposing control orders on children as young as 12. Where do you and Labor stand on that?

SHORTEN: Well, as an Australian, you hope you never come to a set of circumstances where a young teenager would be the subject of a control order, but what I also appreciate is that the nature of some of the radicalisation, some of the criminal predatory behaviour of people connected to terror causes identifying vulnerable teenagers, manipulating them, changing who they are and then encouraging them to engage in the sort of lethal criminal conduct which we saw in Parramatta a few days ago, does require making sure that the authorities have all of the tools at their disposal they need to prevent this. Labor will just look at the proposals that the Government put up, we'll be constructive, when it comes to fighting terror, it's not a matter of politics, we're all in this together. But what we will do, what Labor will do as we've done before with four previous sets of government proposed legislation on national security, we'll make sure the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted and we will make sure that in terms of keeping Australians secure, that we don't sacrifice some of the qualities of life and liberties which Australians enjoy. We will just work through this cautiously, pragmatically. I must say I am pleased with the change in rhetoric from the Government since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister in terms of how we deal with this. We can't expect our police forces alone to arrest their way out of this challenge. What we need a whole of community, a whole-of-society response, that means reaching out to communities, that means not demonising people of different faiths, and it also means that we've got to make sure that we're providing programs to make sure that young teenagers don't get radicalised to the point that we see the tragic events of Parramatta two weeks ago.

JOURNALIST: Just to confirm, you are not opposed to it being dropped to 12, and if so, what do you say to the Muslim community that is concerned about these control orders being dropped lower and lower in terms of age?

SHORTEN: I need to refer to the fairly lengthy answer you just asked for in your previous question. If you want to debate about do we want to see 12-year-olds under control orders or not. I'm saying for me that's the wrong way to look at this issue. For me the issue is how do we get the balance right to ensure that terror organisations can't reach out through the internet or reach out through other means and prey upon radicalised or potentially disaffected young people. For me your question is about a particular measure. I'm interested in how we do the whole of society response, police, prevention, how do we make sure that the security forces have got what the powers and abilities they need to prevent this sort of tragic circumstances we see, but not a one size fits all scenario. The idea that you can simply pass a law to provide a particular power isn't going to solve this challenge. If that was the case, that legislative reform would have been done years ago. So what I'm making clear to Australians is, one, we will work with the government. Two, we will not be a rubberstamp; we want to make sure that what's proposed is sensible. Three, I'm making it very clear that I am pleased with the change of rhetoric from within the Government by Malcolm Turnbull, we need to work with communities. So when you ask me about the reaction of Muslim-based communities, we'll just do what we've been doing for the last two years, we will sit down and work with them. The best way to defeat extremists, the best was to defeat people who would try and rip up our Australian way of life or indeed have different groups against each other is by working together, so I'm not going to have some sort of sensationalised debate about one particular measure, we will just listen to the experts but we'll always keep front of mind how do we maintain a harmonious united society.

JOURNALIST: Just going back to my previous question in relation to the Migration Amendment Bill, is Labor concerned the laws could see people deported to war zones such as Syria?

SHORTEN: In terms of those proposals, I'll just have to take that on notice.

JOURNALIST: Going back to technology, we’re here at a startup lab, Wyatt Roy's policy hack tomorrow. What do you and Labor expect to come out of that?

SHORTEN: I'll get Ed to add to this answer because he's been doing such a lot of work for such a long time. We hope that the Government does go down the path of innovation, of supporting the role of technology to create a better future for Australia and more jobs, but I do hope that as the government's engaging in its particular processes tomorrow, that they will consider reversing some of their cuts to research bodies. I hope tomorrow they might get the message that just delaying by a year the introduction of higher education university degrees of $100,000 is not in the best interests for the future. I also hope the recognise they are talking about technology, and they're look actually not making $30 billion worth of cuts to Australian schools. See, there's no one jigsaw piece which is actually the whole puzzle. It all fits together. Labor understand this. We want to make sure that our higher education institutions are properly funded. We want to make sure that our schools receive the needs-based funding so that all people regardless of where they come from can get the chance of a good education. We also want to make sure that the research budgets of Australia are not being slashed and cut. So I'm looking forward to what comes out of tomorrow and I'll get Ed to talk about our specific policies but there is no one particular piece which makes the whole puzzle. It's a way of all working together and Labor understands this.

HUSIC: Thanks Bill. Being able to change the way the economy works, to give it breadth particularly when we are seeing not as many jobs being created now as a result of mining, a lot of people are thinking, where to next, and we think on the Labor side and we've been talking with the community for the better part of this term about what do we do to ensure that good ideas turn into commercial success, because that commercial success turns into success for the economy. As we said here today, we've seen startups that have gone from zero jobs to ten jobs in the space of 12 months, and that's really important. We know Australians have got great ideas. We should be able to give them the range to get those ideas turned into reality, and seeing what that does, and so from our point of view, we are happy certainly that the Government is involved, Labor has been thinking about this for quite some time. We think it's important - it is a national priority, it is made a national priority for the country to broaden, give breadth to the economy. It's why we've been saying, for example, that we need to ensure that we've got the skills there, by encouraging primary school students to start the whole process of learning of coding and opening up their minds to computational thinking, making sure we've got university students going on and studying science, technology, engineering and maths. Making sure that we have when university students think that they've got a great idea that they can turn into a business, that we've got a start-up year in place that will give 2000 businesses that will come, and emerge from universities that we've got the support there for them which is why Labor has announced that policy. Making sure that we bring superannuation and venture capital sector representatives together to try to pull down the barriers between one of the largest savings pools on the planet in superannuation and seeing it dedicated to early-stage innovation. Making sure we bring in bright ideas from other parts of the world through the changes we've made to the entrepreneur's visas and student entrepreneur's visas.


So again we supercharge that early-stage innovation, the creation of start-ups and start to also see more breadth within our economy. These are some of the things that we're very engaged in and when we come to a place like muru-D and we see the startups here, you know, promoting their ideas, bringing those ideas to life, you're filled with a sense of optimism that if we get the policy structures right, we can see great things for the Australian economy and also working within the Asia-Pacific region too, building those economic links there as well, so there's a lot that we can do. We are happy that the Government is now focused on this issue. I certainly have very good relationships with Wyatt Roy and I'm certainly encouraging them and the others to think about actually starting to support innovation, pulling back on the cuts that they've made on research and higher education and that we can work together to promote something that is vital to the nations economic interest.
JOURNALIST: Mr Husic, as a Muslim man yourself, do you understand the concerns that the Muslim community is having with the age on these control orders?
HUSIC: I think the big thing that we've got is we've got people who promote terrorism, what they want to achieve is inject fear into the community because having that fear divides communities. What we need to do is make sure they're not successful in that regard. We need to be able to find a way to bring communities together. We need to find a way to avoid terrorists being able to create the ground for young people to be attracted to the messages that they're trying to promote and that's why de-radicalisation is critical and having those programs in place is important. And in bringing people together, we need the broader community to feel secure. We need them to know we will be as hard as a hammer on those people that seek to create harm and fear within the broader community. And so we need to be able to have a multitude, a range of different approaches to ensuring that the community is safe and that terrorists don't succeed, and I think it is important that both parties and everyone, everyone is united on this because we've all got a part to play in building a more secure Australia.

 On a moral level though, is there an age that is too low? What's your limit?
HUSIC: A lot of this stuff has been floated and we don't have the detail yet, so let's see the detail before we comment, because again we don't want to cause unnecessary confusion and division based on stuff that we don't have the proper detail on.
JOURNALIST: A question for the Labor leader. Former Labor Minister Graham Richardson wrote this morning that you should cut ties with the CFMEU. Would you consider suspending them from the Party if they don't clean up their acts from the point of view of the Federal Court and the regulator?


SHORTEN: First of all, periodically Graham Richardson gives advice, if I followed all the advice I got, I probably wouldn't get out of bed in the morning so, but he's, you know he's a respected commentator and is entitled to his opinion. Going to the more substantive issue, the Labor Party is committed to zero tolerance for criminality in work sites. We don't care who - if it is a union rep or if it's an investment banker in a pin-striped suit. Doesn't matter who you are in this country, Labor has no time for criminality. But what we won't do is go down the path of this politically motivated trade union royal commission and immediately just assume that because this royal commission was put into existence that everything it does and says is correct. I have grave concerns about the Government's agenda to undermine the social safety net of Australian workers. You know, this is a government who says that they will only touch penalty rates if it's bargained with unions, or that if workers are net better off. But that can already be done under the existing system, so why do the Liberals keep returning to the debate about reducing penalty rates if their agenda can be achieved by the current system? Because we understand that the Liberal Party just doesn't get it. They are out of touch when it comes to the conditions of ordinary workers. There are 4.5 million Australians who get penalty rates. Why is it that the Party at the top end of town is so obsessed about cutting the conditions of people who work every day and who receive far lesser incomes?


You have to ask yourself why on one hand does the Liberal Party just fanging for a debate on reducing penalty rates, but when we ask them to support tax transparency for companies who have over $100 million they said no? 7-Eleven who has been notoriously in the media for demonstrable breaches of minimum wages and conditions, exploiting people, they are a private company, but what's ironic is that this week when the Turnbull Government is advocating an attack on penalty rates and we've seen what happens when you take away the safety net, then Australians can expect to get the 7-Eleven wage, they've given a leave pass to 7-Eleven from having to even demonstrate how much tax they pay in this country. The challenge for Malcolm Turnbull's Liberals about a debate about the future and creating good jobs like we see here is that change has to work for everyone, not just some people and it is not good enough for Malcolm Turnbull's Liberals to be advocating a wholesale attack on unions, a wholesale attack on the safety net, a wholesale debate about reducing penalty rates and at the same time they won't take action on multinational tax evasion, they won't take action on transparency of the taxation arrangements of some of the most largest and powerful companies in Australia.

 State Treasurers are meeting with Scott Morrison here in Sydney today, NSW is obviously pushing for a hike in the GST, are you willing to concede yet that that's pretty much inevitable?

No, I do not concede it is inevitable. The Labor Party doesn't support, increasing the price of everything. See again it goes back to that previous answer I just gave. It seems to me that the Liberal Party having got rid of Tony Abbott and replacing him with Malcolm Turnbull still don't understand what is necessary to make this country go ahead. The trick is to get everyone working together, yet what they want to do is their ideas are to have a debate about reducing penalty rates, have a debate about putting up the taxes on everything that people buy, yet at the same time they don't want to have a discussion about multinationals paying their fair share taxation in Australia. The Liberal Party of Australia has to act in the interests of all Australians, not just the fortunate few who are already very comfortable in Australian society. Very last question thank you.
JOURNALIST: The Immigration Minister has confirmed that one of four refugees transferred from Cambodia to Nauru has returned home. Is this deal still value for money at $54 million to settle four people?
SHORTEN: Your question says it all. The idea that this Government is proposing to resettle refugees at about $10 million a pop is ludicrous. That is a failed scheme. Labor is up for beating the people smugglers, but we also want to make sure that people in Australia's care, directly or indirectly, do have genuine regional re-settlement. So far in the last two years, the fact that the Liberals have sent four people to Cambodia at the cost of $55 million, that is not a good outcome, that is pathetic. Labor believes that the best way forward is to make sure that we have genuine regional re-settlement with the big nations of our region, that's what a Labor government would do if elected to power, we would sit down and have the sort of discussions which are long overdue in this country. I just want to thank muru-D and all the entrepreneurs and clever business people here today. Every one of them is a story in their own right, every person I met today is quite inspirational and I'll certainly be encouraging all of my colleagues to come and talk to some of the entrepreneurs, because when you visit this place, you just realise how smart so many Aussies really are. Thanks everyone.
HUSIC: And also the fact that this was the quietest that muru-D's been in the middle of the day. Thanks to all those staff that help them out.