TUESDAY, 17 MAY 2016
SUBJECTS: AdeLINK project; US Presidential race; backpacker tax; Budget priorities.
BILL SHORTEN: Good afternoon everybody, and what a fantastic autumn day in Adelaide for us to be able to make this announcement. A Labor Government, if elected after July 2nd,will deliver half a billion dollars in grant funding so AdeLINK can put six new tram lines, provide fantastic new services for the people of Adelaide. Supporting and kick-starting the tram investment in Adelaide ticks a number of boxes. It ticks the box of creating jobs, 2000 jobs to help build the new tram network. It also ticks the box of congestion and creating a more liveable city. Too many people spend too long in cars, we lose too much productivity, we lose too much valuable time with our families. So it ticks the box of liveability. It's a great economic plan, not just for the jobs but by decreasing the future costs of congestion, we improve the economics of a whole lot of people in terms of the jobs they do and their quality o f life. And of course trams are fantastic for the environment. It's an opportunity to help get more cars off the road and give people real public transport options. I'd now like to invite Premier Weatherill to talk further about our fantastic announcement today for trams in Adelaide.
JAY WEATHERILL: Well, this is a fantastic announcement. Bill Shorten understands that modern regions compete on the attractiveness of their capital cities. We've got something beautiful here in South Australia, we have a magnificent capital city and also the capacity to bring in our public transport networks into that city. So as more and more people choose the city to live in, and more and more people work in the city, the ease of movement into the city becomes absolutely crucial. We know that this will also help us achieve our objective of becoming a carbon neutral city. We know that one of the key contributors to carbon emissions is the emissions that come through transport fleets, so getting an electric renewable energy public transport fleet into the city is absolutely central to our goal there.
And of course it also assists us in the transformation of the South Australian economy. We know that wherever you put high quality public transport, you'll see investment along that corridor. That's been the experience when we got back into opening up our tram networks, and the truth is that there's a certain symmetry about today. This announcement coincides with the sort of decisions we're seeing for the car industry to close. The car industry, when it was first established, led to the closure of our tram network, now we see the exit of the car industry we're seeing the recreation of the tram network, and we're incredibly pleased to be in partnership with a federal government, under a newly elected Labor government, under Bill Shorten, delivering this project for South Australia.
Bill understands that the South Australian economy is undergoing transformation. The difference though, between him and his opponent is that he understands that there is a role for government in partnership with the South Australian government, to assist that transformation, to partner with businesses, and most importantly to look after the workers that are losing their jobs in the old economy. I know there's a lot of talk about exciting times for our nation, it's not so exciting when you're facing the loss of your job. It's only Labor that's prepared to stand up for working people to give them the opportunity to actually find the jobs of the future.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you made some comments before about Donald Trump, is that appropriate for an aspiring PM to make those comments? And when you referred to what Donald Trump said that concerns you, what in particular were you referring to?
SHORTEN: First of all, ultimately the American presidency will be decided by American voters, but I think there's a lot of people who are concerned with some of candidate Trump's extreme views. And I don't resile from standing up for Australia. Let's be clear, whoever the Americans elect we will work with. But I think there's a lot of people who want to see Australia's political leaders not sit on the fence but actually state what they think. And I actually do believe that Hillary Clinton would be a better president.
JOURNALIST: Will Labor scrap the backpacker tax?
SHORTEN: In terms of this backpacker tax, the government goes from collision to train wreck on this issue. This backpacker tax was born in the 2015 Budget with Abbott and Hockey, and now it's being continued by Turnbull and Morrison in 2016. The reports that are coming through from the tourism sector and the farming sector, they are seeing backpacker labour dry up. And we are absolutely not convinced of the merit of this scheme, but I think the Government needs to come clean first and tell us what they are doing and specifically this: like a lot of difficult issues for this government, they want Australians to forget about it and they'll kick the problem past the election. Now what we need to see is are they actually keeping the scheme and banking the taxes they think they will raise or not? Once we've seen what they do, then it becomes possible for Labor to make very clear what we will do, because it's all part of an economic picture. B ut in the meantime, we are deeply sceptical about the design of this tax, the impact it has on small business, the impact it has on tourism and the impact it's having on our farmers.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, light rail is on the top of RSE's priority list for Perth, where congestion is becoming a real issue, would Labor, is Labor looking at or considering funding WA’s Shell Max Light Rail project or another light rail project in WA?
SHORTEN: We've said that we want to work with Western Australia on Perth Metronet, we think this is a top priority in terms of public transport. What we will also do though, is that a Labor government, if we are elected, will not maintain the current war which the Liberals have had, their obsession against public transport funding. We want our cities to be liveable cities. We want our cities to be as environmentally friendly as they can. We want to eliminate, where possible, the congestion and the time that people spend getting to work and getting home. We believe that part of the solution for all of our cities is greater support for public transport, and we'll make sure that our propositions are tested, that the business cases are done.
But what's clear in Adelaide today, on this glorious afternoon, is that the decision for us to support Jay Wetherill, to generate 2000 jobs, to generate all these business opportunities for people working on these contracts, and most importantly, the citizens of Adelaide who live in Steve Georganas's seat that he's running for, and Kate Ellis's seat, and all of the seats where Labor MPs and candidates are standing up for public transport. We're backing Adelaide, we're backing public transport, we're backing more liveable cities, and more quality of life. Final question.
JOURNALIST: You've already announced more than five times the amount of spending compared to Mr Turnbull on this campaign, and it's in the early stages, I mean is he right when he says that you're all about spending?
SHORTEN: Oh, Mr Turnbull. What he needs to do is come clean with the Australian people about what he is doing. First of all, he'll hop on a tram and take a selfie, he just won't build a tram line. He'll talk about public transport but then he ducks and weaves and waffles about whether or not he's actually going to back in better transport systems for our cities.
Mr Turnbull, if he was fair dinkum about reducing government spending, would stop paying big polluters through Tony Abbott's discredited emissions reduction fund, stop paying billions of dollars for poor environmental outcomes. What Mr Turnbull could also do is scrap the plebiscite on marriage equality, $160 million of taxpayer money being wasted on an opinion poll which the right wing of his own party won’t accept they're bound by. And furthermore, if he wanted to do something about government spending, rather than lecture Labor, he would follow our excellent ideas to cap the loans in the vocational education industry, because we want to stop the rorts and the rip offs that are happening there.
By contrast, what Labor has been doing is preparing sensible, well-funded policies which make a practical difference for families, for small business, for our cities and our regions. Labor has explained that because we won't back in a $7.5 billion tax cut for the big banks over the next ten years, because Labor doesn’t support, at this point, giving the top earners in Australia a massive reduction in their tax, that's how we can afford our promises. It's a very simple proposition in this election. You've got Mr Turnbull, who loves to talk about looking after the very wealthy and the multinationals, and his proposition is that that will all trickle down miraculously to the rest of us. Or you can look at Labor's sensible measures. We know that if we can back in skills, that's an economic plan. We know that if we've got a fair hospital system and a fair Medicare system, that's actually an economic plan to make sure that we've got a better system of treating patients. We know that in South Australia, if you've got a tram system expanding, that's going to be good for productivity. Labor's got fully funded policies. Mr Turnbull needs to come clean about his priorities. And I’m sure that if we talk to South Australians as we go through this election, they like the idea of better public transport.