TUESDAY, 12 MARCH 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor’s $200 million investment in Canberra’s light rail; wages; Energy policy; National ICAC; Fair Work Commission; Malcolm Turnbull’s comments on the Liberals’ culture problem; Taxpayer investment in coal fired power; Banking Royal Commission; Climate policy.
ALICIA PAYNE, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CANBERRA: Good morning, my name is Alicia Payne and I'm Labor's candidate for the new federal seat of Canberra. I'm thrilled this morning to join with Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris to welcome our Leader Bill Shorten to Canberra this morning to make this really exciting announcement about our Light Rail project. This is certainly one of the most exciting projects that I've seen in my lifetime in Canberra and it's amazing to see Federal Labor get behind that in such a great way today. This is great for local jobs and it shows how much Federal Labor under a Shorten Labor Government will take pride in our nation's capital and support this project and ACT Labor's vision for our city. And I'll hand over to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, thank you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Alicia and good morning everybody. Fantastic to be out and about in Canberra proper with Chief Minister Andrew Barr and our exciting new candidate Alicia Payne. Federal Labor is pleased to announce that we will invest $200 million if elected, starting from our first budget, in Canberra's second stage Light Rail, which will see this marvellous tram line extended all the way to Woden. I'm not sure if people elsewhere in Australia realise but the Canberra region, the greater Canberra region, is home to half a million people. It's one of the fastest growing parts of Australia, and great cities have great public transport.
Andrew Barr has shown real leadership in the stage one of the light rail project and I'm very pleased that Federal Labor can join in supporting the second stage - $200 million - and we'll make allocation for it in our first budget. It's already in stage one generated about 1,400 jobs and I think it'd be great if we can roll seamlessly from stage one into stage two. So all the construction workers, the subbies, all the machinery which is available doesn't get dissipated and then have to be reassembled at greater cost in the future.
This is the way public infrastructure should be built in Australia - moving in well planned stages, keeping a pipeline of work for Australia's construction workforce and subbies, the backbone of Australia.
I'd now like to invite Chief Minister Andrew Barr and of course his Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris to say some further words then we're happy to talk about this exciting development for Canberra which will generate jobs, economic activity, and of course make a better contribution to the environment. Over to Andrew.
ANDREW BARR, CHIEF MINISTER OF THE ACT: Thank you very much Bill, and to Alicia and Meegan. This is a very significant day for Canberra, a very exciting announcement from Bill Shorten and Federal Labor in support of public transport in our city. But it’s, I think signifies a very clear direction from Federal Labor to work closely with state and territory governments to bust congestion in our fast growing cities. Here in Canberra we are experiencing very rapid levels of population growth. To those who don't go outside of Capital Hill that often, Canberra is not a bubble, it is a real city with real Australias who go about their daily lives just like everyone else. And this recognition from Federal Labor that Canberra is a city worthy of investment, particularly in a major public transport project, is most welcome.
We've had a period over the last five and a half years where Canberra has largely been overlooked or ignored by the Federal Government. So today's announcement is a welcome investment in our city's growth and future, and it reflects an important Commonwealth responsibility that the second stage of Light Rail goes through the Parliamentary Triangle, goes through significant areas of national importance. Lots of Commonwealth public servants, lots of people who'll be working for the next Shorten Labor Government will be able to benefit from this public transport investment.
From the ACT Government's perspective it gives us confidence to move into the next stage of project delivery. Just as important as the financial commitment is, it's also the signal it sends to us and to all of those working on the projects, that a Shorten Labor Government would be supportive, would assist us through the various planning stages including Parliamentary approval - both the House of Representatives and the Senate must approve this project. And so this is a very strong signal that that process will be supported, that we'd have an engaged Commonwealth Government who wants the project to be delivered, and that is a sharp point of difference between what Bill Shorten is offering today and what we have experienced over the last five and a half years.
So we're very excited about the opportunity that this presents. We know this area is going to continue to grow in terms of both residents and those working. This initiative will be very important to ensure that Canberra remains one of the world's most liveable cities and that we don't go down the path of other Australian cities where congestion becomes a real problem and governments are having to catch up with those challenges - we can get ahead of that here in Canberra through this sort of public transport investment. It's fantastic to see, we're delighted today, and we look forward to working with Bill and his team to make this second stage of Light Rail a reality. As you see behind me, the first stage is nearing completion and we're delighted to be able to extend the project to the south of our city. And I invite Transport Minister Megan Fitzharris to say a few words now, Meegan.
MEEGAN FITZHARRIS, TRANSPORT MINISTER FOR THE ACT: Thank you Andrew, thank you very much to Bill and a special thank you to Alicia Payne our exciting candidate here for the new seat of Canberra. This is a great day. We very much welcome the significant contribution both in terms of the funding commitment of $200 million in the first budget but certainly seamless cooperation with a Federal Government led by Bill Shorten to actually get the approvals for this project through. This is the most significant part of Canberra's Light Rail network. To be able to have stage one of Light Rail from Gungahlin to the city, then reach over Lake Burley Griffin down to the southern part of Woden. Woden is one of Canberra's fastest growing town centres. The local ACT Labor Government has big plans for Woden, Light Rail is an important part of that. This contribution both in funding and support from the Federal Shorten Government is very welcome. And we know that a pipeline of infrastructure is important for all growing cities. We must invest in public transport infrastructure to future proof our cities for people's everyday business so they can get to and from work, school, university, mixing with friends and family without having to deal with what we see around the country and right here in Canberra, and that is growing congestion.
It's also a great project for our environment, it does significantly help to tackle climate change, so we are thrilled to have this announcement today, we thank Alicia and Bill very much and we look forward to working with a Shorten Labor Government federally to get the approvals through for stage two of Canberra's Light Rail.
SHORTEN: Thanks Meegan, are there any questions on the Light Rail?
SHORTEN: Let's just - there's so many of you, it's great see you all, I've missed you. Perhaps if we start on my left and move around and we'll come back.
JOURNALIST: We haven't even seen a business case for stage two Light Rail yet. Why are you giving this money now?
SHORTEN: Because we're committed to making sure that Canberra gets a fair share of our expenditure. Half a million people in the greater Canberra/Queanbeyan region. I think it is appropriate that we plan for the future. Of course there's got to be a business case, but I think that the work which has already been done, combined with the business case which will come, I think it's important we make sure we create room in our budgets in the future. People in the greater Canberra region and Queanbeyan, they pay their taxes. They've got a right to see some of the reinvested in their region. That's what we're doing.
Sorry, I’ll come back to you next.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, will you legislate to change the Fair Work Act to ensure that the minimum wage can be lifted?
SHORTEN: Well first of all let's talk about one of the biggest problems in Australia and then I'll come to the specific answer you’re seeking. Everything in Australia is going up except people's wages. We've seen, I read an article written by columnist Greg Jericho which showed in the journal he wrote in, that corporate profits since 2016 have gone up north to 40 per cent, but wages have gone up 8 per cent. In the last twelve months alone, when things are even going tough, corporate profits have gone up 9.8 per cent, but private sector wages haven't even hit two per cent.
Something's not working in our wages system. It simply isn't fair nor sustainable for economic confidence in this country that an adult could work full time and be earning $18.93 per hour, the minimum wage before tax. We've got to create a wages system and a system in our workplaces which rewards productivity but doesn't leave adults in Australia working full time on a wage level which for many of them doesn't see them out of poverty.
Now Labor's proposed a series of mechanisms whereby we increase the wages of the low paid. Let me just remind you of what we've already said. We want to restore the penalty rates which are arbitrarily cut in retail and hospitality. These awards cover north 700,000 people. Yet again, encouraged by the Liberals, employer groups are trying to extend the penalty rate cuts to other sectors of Australian industry. So we're gonna put a stop on that.
We've also said that we wanted to crack down on dodgy labour hire companies and sham contracting. Nearly four million Australians working casualised, insecure, contract, labour hire work - now some of them choose that, no question, but for a lot of Australians they'd like more hours and more regularity in their pay. But they're engaged, they're caught in a race to the bottom. Another measure that we've already announced which will help subcontractors is that where there is a Commonwealth project we want, when we pay valuable important taxpayer money to principal contractors, we don't want the directors of those companies riding off into the sunset with of all the money and leaving the subbies unpaid. So we want to create a locked box, a system whereby if we pay money as the client, the principal contractor, the money which is due to go to the subcontractor stays there. We've also said we want to chase down and do more to help and close the gender pay gap.
But going to your specific issue, the minimum wage in Australia should be a living wage.
My colleagues and I, Brendan O'Connor, Chris Bowen and I will have more to say in coming weeks well before the election about some of our principles for converting a minimum wage into a living wage. But I could already put forward to you two propositions. One, we want to help the Fair Work Commission with the guidelines they use to set the minimum wage and we want to take into account all factors. Two, we start from the principle and who can argue with this, other than perhaps the government, if we don't want adults in Australia working full time trying to survive on $18.93 per hour before tax.
JOURNALIST: Just further on Eryk’s question and a related question. You say that you want to get a Fair Work Commission guidance on how they come about the minimum wage. Does that require legislation, legislative change? And secondly, I want to ask about your bigger, better tax cuts that you talked about yesterday. You say that you're going to deliver that for eight, nine million people. Is that on top of everything that Labor's already promised or is it something that we're going to hear in your Budget Reply?
SHORTEN: Well on the first one, there's a range of ways which governments can put the case to the Fair Work Commission. They can make submissions in the minimum wage case -
JOURNALIST: You've already done that -
SHORTEN: You're right, I'm giving your answer. First of all, you can make submissions and that's one thing which is definitely available a tool. Another tool or mechanism which is available is to change the legislation. We'll have more to say on this in coming weeks. I have to say though, please let me know how you go asking the current government about a wages policy.
They are more lost than Burke and Wills when it comes to wages policy. They think a wages policy is cutting penalty rates and sending you know, hapless ministers out like Cormann and Reynolds, just boast that their economic architecture is low wages. Economic architecture of government should not be to deliver low wage outcomes.
On your second question about our bigger, better tax cuts - I agree with you. We announced them in the last Budget Reply, we said that we believe that we should be focusing tax reform on providing, create a refunds to people who earn less than $120,000 a year. What happens if you earn $90,000 a year and some of you would know this, is that you spend nearly every dollar you get.
What we've seen with low wages growth is we've seen a contraction in economic activity. People basically are dipping into household savings just to make ends meet. We've got a government it can't do anything about energy prices except complain about each other, the out-of-pocket costs of going to see a doctor, a GP, have gone up 25 per cent since this current crew got in. Out-of-pocket costs to go and see a specialist, 40 per cent so families are hit hard. So what we proposed last budget because we knew that wages and cost of living are an issue, even though this government's been asleep at the wheel. What we said is we would give people who earn up to $90,000 a year hundred a $928 tax refund. And that means that if you've got dad doing one job - earns $80,000 - $90,000, mum does another job full time, earns $70,000, it means under a Labor Government in our first term they'd get nearly $6000 back in tax refund. Because we want to govern in the interests of working people in this country, not the top end of town.
JOURNALIST: I was asking about new tax offsets -
SHORTEN: Hang on. Well we've got to see their Budget. Does anyone think this Budget is anything other than a propaganda document prepared at one minute to midnight by a government who is so busy killing each other that it's amazing they'll even turn up to the Budget?
Does anyone in Australia - and you're seasoned political observers - do any of you seriously believe that this government is going to do anything in this Budget other than send a big SOS note out in a bottle saying to voters we're sorry for doing nothing for the last six years. We're sorry for having got it wrong in the 2014 Budget. We're sorry that we've rolled two Prime Ministers, that we've had 22 reshuffles, 12 energy policies, five defence ministers. What they're going to is dangle a little bit of propaganda, to hope that people will forget the chronic pathology of instability in their government.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten -
SHORTEN: - I'll come back to you -
JOURNALIST: Just further on the Fair Work Commission. Can you explain why you would trust the Fair Work Commission on minimum wage but not on penalty rates? And secondly, is there a link between the minimum wage and employment participation?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all we trust the Fair Work Commission but periodically they do get it wrong, and Hawke and Keating said they got it wrong when they made a decision, about when they rejected award based superannuation in the late 80s, which led to Keating legislating compulsory super.
But it is infrequent, they've got a great track record as a general rule but what we've also got to do - and I do think they've got it wrong arbitrarily cutting penalty rates - what we have to do is give them the tools, give them the guidelines. You know, the minimum wage really hasn't been updated since the 80s' and I don't mean the increments I mean some of the principles. You know back in the mid-80s' the Internet hadn't been invented, water was free, yet mobile phones weren't used, time charging was still regarded as an anathema. We've had it - they didn't have this government in place where we've seen out-of-pocket costs go and see the doctor increase. Terrible cuts to our hospital system, they have been terrible, cuts to TAFE.
So I do think that we need to refresh the guidelines and we'll have more to say about that.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten -
SHORTEN: Sorry, Speersy had a second question -
JOURNALIST: The link between the minimum wage and employment if it gets too high, does that drive up unemployment?
SHORTEN: I love this argument put aside by the bosses of Australia, the fat cats, the top end of town. They say that if we pay the poorest workers in Australia a bit more, that's out of control. But how is it that these executives are happy to take more and more in corporate profits. This is the problem of Australia in 2019. The benefits of hard work are not being equally spread. I want to say to all the Australians who are watching the news and watching this broadcast right now, I say I get it. I get that the cost of sending your kids to school has gone up. I get that your energy bills have gone up. I get that you haven't had any wages movement. I get that energy bills are up. But what I also get is that corporate profits are up. Is it fair in this country that corporate profits under the Liberals can go up north of 40 per cent and wages go up by 8 per cent? That's not the deal, everyone should share in the benefits of creating wealth in this country.
The Australian workers, the nurses, the aged care attendants, the teachers, the firies, the tram drivers, the camos behind the cameras here today all contribute but somewhere along the line we've got caught up in this conservative trickle-down economics which says that you can pay the bosses global wages but you've got to pay the workers the lowest possible. I don't accept that a living wage causes unemployment. I don't accept that paying people more than poverty wages actually cripples the economy. On the contrary, what we've seen is that when the market is broken, when we see the wages system not delivering that's actually a bigger harm for the economy. No lesser person than the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Phillip Lowe, you can't call him a lefty, he's just a very straight public servant doing his job. He has said the single biggest social and economic problem in Australia at the moment is low wages growth.
I won't turn my back on the workers of Australia it's why the Labor Party was formed and that way it will help small business, it will help the farmers, it will get the income moving, everything is better.
JOURNALIST: Malcolm Turnbull says the Liberals have a problem with women and cultural issues as well. How much is he helping you right now?
SHORTEN: I think rather than shoot the messenger let's deal with the message. Everybody knows the Liberal Party has a problem with women. We've seen it, and Malcolm Turnbull's just belled the cat yet again.
But I actually think the Australian people don't want to hear what I think about the Liberal Party. I think you and the Liberal Party are doing a perfectly good job, and the National Party, covering their chronic instability, their inability to work together. Now what I want to say to Australian people today is I understand that the government's a mess but you can work that out yourself, you don't need me to tell you. What the people of Australia want to hear from me is what are we going to do about it? Well we are stable, I think even our harshest critics say that for the last 2000 days we've conducted ourselves on good days and bad days with a degree of stability. Even some of you would say that. We are also united and I've got a talented team, my team are well known and most of them have been in the same job for five years. Chances are they know what they're doing by now and they've been working very hard on the policies. You can't say that about the current government. And of course, then you've got our actual policy, if you want to summarise where we're at the moment, Labor's view for Australia, we've got a fair go plan.
We want to see something done about jobs and wages. We want to make sure that we reverse the cuts to hospitals and schools. We want to make sure we get lower energy prices by embracing more renewables in our system. We will tackle climate change. We are determined to make sure that this economy is managed in the interests of working people. So yes, Malcolm Turnbull is right. Yes, they have a problem, that problem for Australia is that they can't get anything there, they are a mess. I promise Australians that in the next two months we'll talk more about you the people of Australia and less about ourselves.
JOURNALIST: Angus Taylor, Angus Taylor has -
SHORTEN: I promise you I'm going to come back to you -
JOURNALIST: Thank you.
JOURNALIST: Scott Morrison has rejected calling the Chief Minister to include ACT Police under the new Integrity Commission. If you were elected would you commit to changing the Self Governing Act so that could happen or could you commit to having ACT Police come under your Federal ICAC?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, there are mechanisms to supervise any allegations of corruption within police and law enforcement in Australia but I would start off by picking up the phone and talking to Andrew Barr.
I think the Chief Minister and the Government of the ACT have a legitimate interest in what's happened and what's being said. So we've said we want a National Anti-Corruption Commission, tick. But what we're also going to do is we'll work with the Territory Government here. It's just arrogant just to sort of - it's what people hate about politics - one bloke in one office in one building sending an email saying none of your business to someone else when in fact it's all of our business.
JOURNALIST: Angus Taylor has 66 firm power generation proposals on his desk for potential underwriting. What will the Shorten Government do with that list? Will you consider underwriting any of those projects and secondly do you accept that the Fair Work Act 2009 is the guidelines and the rulebook for the Fair Work Commission in determining the minimum wage and what you would hope would be a living wage.
SHORTEN: Well, let's just deal with Angus Taylor, I think he said in that famous interview on Insiders a couple of Sundays ago they had 66 offers and he didn't deny that ten of them to do with coal. I don't know what's on his list so asking me to agree with what's on his list without me seeing the list, I'm not going to do that. But I think the heart of your question goes to, would the Morrison Government invest in new coal fired power stations? I can be very clear because I have been for years: no taxpayer money for new coal fired power stations.
The Morrison Government needs to decide what it's doing. Last week as we said, Angus Taylor said yep, up to ten projects, pretty interested. Yesterday, Mr Morrison seemed to be totally against that. Yesterday morning, in a remarkable contribution to radio journalism, Barnaby Joyce gave the very clear impression that he supports more coal fired power stations. And then of course, the Member for Goldstein today has said he doesn't. Can the Liberal Party and the National Party of Australia please tell us what's going on when it comes to what they're doing on coal fired power stations?
In terms of your question about the act, the Fair Work Commission of course is bound by the act. But the act and the guidelines are not set in concrete, they can always be reformed -
JOURNALIST: But the act says that increased workforce participation, the needs of the low paid, various economic considerations are all part of the decision but it does not place primacy on any of those factors. Will Labor ask or will Labor legislate to give primacy to the needs of the low paid?
SHORTEN: Ben, what I will do is when we announce our policy, we'll make sure we give you all a heads up to be at the conference. What I am flagging to you, because Labor actually believes in having a wages policy, is the status quo is unsatisfactory. And don't take my word that the status quo on wages is unsatisfactory, go and ask most Australians who go to work.
Eryk. No, I'll come to you next. I promised Eryk another go and then you.
JOURNALIST: What number would you put on a living wage?
SHORTEN: I think it's a bit early for us to do that. What I can do - because I'm not the Fair Work Commission - what I can do though is simply say this, $18.93 for an adult working full time is not enough -
JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the unions, 60 per cent?
SHORTEN: Sorry, I said I would go to - I said I'd come to you next.
JOURNALIST: So the Liberals have put a lot of obstacles between the light rail and the parliamentary approvals processes, <inaudible>, would you do anything to smooth the process through so a light rail stage two can happen?
SHORTEN: I don't know why the Liberals hate public transport around Australia. I think that's one of the great mysteries. It's up there with what does Stuart Robert upload and download on the Internet for $40,000? And it's probably up there - it's not quite up there with why did they get rid of Malcolm Turnbull? But it's one of those mysteries, isn't it? We will work creatively with the ACT Government.
Sorry, you were next.
JOURNALIST: With Labor's response to the Banking Royal Commission, why have you ruled out changes around mortgage brokers? And with the Disability Royal Commission, why do think it is taking so long to get terms of reference?
SHORTEN: Well on mortgage brokers, we've suggested that the system needs to change but let's face it, mortgage brokers were not at the top of the hit list when the Banking Royal Commission was called for. We see that the bigger banks and the financial institutions as being the bigger priority. We accept after talking to mortgage brokers, that there is a gap in the market which they fill but we've also made it clear that we want the fees to be identified up front.
In terms of the Disability Royal Commission - listen, I’m not going to, we got the government there. It was a messy process, wasn't it? They didn't want to do it, their senators voted against it on Thursday. After a lot of pressure from the community and Labor, and the crossbench and the Greens, the government caved by Monday. I'm not going to judge them too harshly about terms of reference between then and now because they've never really thought about it. It is important to talk to the states and territories. It's even more important to talk to people with disability. I'm pleased that we're getting a Royal Commission into the treatment of people with disability. Labor called for it two years ago. So I'll take the progress when I get it. I'm not going to throw bricks at the government. Obviously, we'd like to see the terms soon. It'd be great if they talk to us and they're doing some of that too.
JOURNALIST: The unions 60 per cent of the medium wage, they say that's what a living wage is. Do you agree with that?
SHORTEN: Well unions are entitled to ask what they want - and that's what unions do, try and get better conditions for workers. I haven't formed a view on the answer to that question.
JOURNALIST: On Light Rail, will your contribution be capped at $200 million or will it go up potentially resulting on what the business case says?
SHORTEN: At this point, we've budgeted for $200 million. I mean, hats off - I was speaking to the Chief Minister - and he can talk a bit about some of the upside of this project - but this government did a fixed contract which meant that they kept the costs under control. So I think, perhaps unlike his colleague in New South Wales, the embattled Premier there - if you want to see Light Rail done properly, maybe Gladys should have come down and spoken to Andrew.
JOURNALIST: Just on emissions, Mr Shorten. Have you made a call yet on Kyoto carry-over credits which reduce your actual target from 45 to around 34?
SHORTEN: I got asked this yesterday, my answer hasn't changed from yesterday. We're still looking at that question. We will have more to say on climate.
But I mean, when we talk about our climate policies, it's not exactly an unknown about many of the things we're doing. I wondered if, not you particularly, but I might get asked this. I just want to remind people what we've already said. Our target is to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. We want to pursue a bipartisan market mechanism - a National Energy Guarantee - and that'll help implement our commitment of 50 per cent renewable energy as part of our energy mix. Please remember that I've also said that a Labor Government wants to see a million batteries installed around Australia by 2025 and we've said we'll subsidise 100,000 for houses up to incomes up to $180,000 dollars. We've said that we will double the mandate of the CFC, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, who've been very successful. Also, we've said that we will contribute $5 billion towards strengthening our infrastructure in terms of energy security and transmission. And just to top it off, we've led the way on a debate about working on hydrogen energy, which is an exciting new source of energy. We want Gladstone to be the hydrogen capital of the energy superpower which Australia should be.
JOURNALIST: Hang on, hang on.
SHORTEN: Sorry. No, hang on. Sorry, Andrew, I'm going to go here.
JOURNALIST: On the Liberals and Nationals struggling with renewables (inaudible) communities in regional Australia and do you (inaudible). Are you worried about Labor's position in terms of inner-city seats and regional Australia? And on Kyoto credits, would you guarantee to make your position clear before the election?
SHORTEN: First of all, in terms of, you talk about regional seats and city seats - when I look at electorate, I just see Australians. I see Australians dealing with actually far more issues in common than I think a lot of the superficial analysis gives. Australians want to make sure that they have good jobs. Good jobs though which have job security, which pay well. They also want a government who's stable and united. They want to see a government who's going to tackle energy prices and get them down rather than going up and up and up. Australians are concerned that $2.8 billion has been cut from our hospitals, $360 million from preventative health programs, nearly $2 billion from aged care and of course, the patient rebate freeze has cost Australians and GPs, the frontline of our medical service, $3 billion. Australians are concerned that this is a government who cannot agree on climate change policy and they are fundamentally perturbed that everything's going up in Australia except their wages. So I don't accept that there are massive distinctions around Australia and that somehow this is an election of very different Australias. A lot of us have got a lot in common and if I'm Prime Minister and Labor and my united stable team is elected, we're going to work on what we agree on, we're going to bring people together. There's too much us and them in Australian life.
JOURNALIST: (inaudible) Because this question from David Speers is critical. If you do accept carbon credit carry-over, then your target goes from 45 to 34. Nations including New Zealand, Germany, Iceland, others say that they aren't going to use the carry-over. Wouldn't you be wimping it if you didn’t accept - if you did accept the carry-over?
SHORTEN: Well I know that the government's relying on it, so I'm sure you've accused them of wimping it. For us, we're having a look at the mechanism. We'll have more to say close to the election.
I wish the election was this Saturday. I wish the circus which is the Coalition division was over. I can't speak for you - maybe it's good entertainment, but I tell you it for most Australians, they are sick and tired of the chaos in Canberra. They just want to have one Prime Minister for three years -
SHORTEN: Hang on - No, I haven't, Andrew but what I'm doing is actually going to what Australians raise with me every day.
I'm here to represent Australians. Now, they say that they're sick of the circus in Canberra. We will unveil more of our climate policy -
JOURNALIST: This has been your target for some years now.
SHORTEN: I don't want to interrupt your questions at all with an answer but I just will finish the point on Andrew. You're making a point, we're saying, and I've said politely a number of times, I'll continue to say politely, we will announce our climate policy before the election. But the election hasn't actually been called yet.
And I think in all fairness, you know you had a little dig there about give us an answer. I think if you're being really fair in retrospect, my opposition has been more honest with the Australian people on more policies and more reforms than you have seen in your time working in Canberra. So I don't agree that we're not prepared to give answers but we're not prepared to do at all today.
JOURNALIST: Will you apply that 45 per cent to the transport sector and the agricultural sector?
SHORTEN: We will announce all of that as we finalise our policy.
JOURNALIST: But how do you get, how do you get to 45 per cent -
SHORTEN: Guys, our climate change policies will be for the -
JOURNALIST: - 45 per cent across the board?
SHORTEN: Packy, I know you guys want me to do the whole campaign launch today. I'm not going -
JOURNALIST: What is your policy though?
SHORTEN: Packy, I've said we're going to announce it before the election.
JOURNALIST: It’s a press conference Mr Shorten.
SHORTEN: It's a reasonable question and I've given a reasonable answer.
JOURNALIST: $200 million on something that the first stage, we don't even know if it is viable? We don't even know whether it's a dud or not?
SHORTEN: Guys, can I tell you about the cities in the world who had trams and ripped them up? They want them back. Go and talk to someone in Brisbane when they ripped up the trams in 1969. Talk to the people in Sydney - and now, they're getting Light Rail and they're coming across, would you believe it, some of the buried track when they used to have trams, No town, no city ever goes backwards having light rail and tram. I'm a Melburnian, we've had them for 130, 140 years and we wouldn't give up our trams for all the tea in China.
Sorry, I'm going to share the questions around.
JOURNALIST: There’s division in the Nationals around coal, do you think energy could be factor in yet another leadership crisis?
SHORTEN: You've got to admit, it is one of the mysteries of Australian politics - it's like the Bermuda Triangle of Australian politics, conservatives and energy policy. Why do they find it so hard to acknowledge that renewable energy is a good thing and it's going to expand, that it's a cheaper technology, it's getting better? Why do they find it so hard to acknowledge that two million Australian households have renewable energy?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Paris agreement is economy wide, not just the electricity sector. Are you signalling here that your 45 per cent may not be economy wide?
SHORTEN: No, I'm not signalling anything over than - Sorry, Packy, I've got to say that every time someone's asked the question - Sorry, every time I've been asked, you've come in before I get my first word out.
We will announce our climate policy before the election. I understand - I understand your enthusiasm -
JOURNALIST: Do you want a small increment Mr Shorten?
SHORTEN: Okay guys.
Well, I've just read out eight features of our policy and we will have more to say. It would really help, I tell you what, if we could get the government to confirm: is the election going to be on May 18th or May 25th? Because then we can roll out the rest of our policies.
And I think as we close this press conference - we've done 15 or 18 questions - I'll just say this: the Labor Party will not take a backward step in terms of talking about the issues which affect Australians: energy, health, education, jobs and wages, real action on climate change. Will have a lot more to say on all of this.
Thank you, everybody. Nice to see you all.