SATURDAY, 23 MARCH 2019
SUBJECT/S: Tasmanian irrigation scheme; Turkish President’s comments; Christchurch terror attack; NSW election; climate change; Tasmanian AFL team
JUSTINE KEAY, MEMBER FOR BRADDON: Thanks everyone for coming out today to Forth. I was here the other day, it was actually blue skies and so sunny and thank you, Mike, for having me on that day and us today. Mike and his family has been farming this region for generations and Mike has played a very instrumental role in Tasmanian agriculture and development of really high value crops and export markets. And of course, the infrastructure that supports our farmers to do all those things, which is irrigation. And I'm joined today by my federal colleagues; the Member for Bass, Ross Hart, the Member for Lyons, Brian Mitchell, Senator Urquhart ,and our state Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Shane Broad here on the beautiful farms of Forth. Thank you again, Mike.
Tasmanian Labor and Federal Labor have been the ones that have instigated, planned and-or funded the tranche one and two of Tasmanian irrigation schemes. We understand how important these schemes are to transforming Tasmanian landscape. You can go anywhere down, say, the Midlands where you've seen some of these transformations, where once you would have seen sheeps grazing, now you see high value poppies growing in those areas. We know the value of what this is for our state and we're going to make a very important announcement for all of Tasmania today, to continue that transformation. Labor will stand with farmers, Tasmanian farmers to develop and increase the value of Tasmania's agriculture, and to grow jobs in regional Tasmania, like here in places like Forth.
So thank you very much for having us again, Mike, and I'd like to introduce Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition, to make this really important announcement for not only Tasmanian agricultural farmers but for our economy as a whole.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Justine. It's great to be here in Forth today at Mike's farm. I'd like to acknowledge that what I'm about to say is due to a lot of the lobbying of Justine and of course, Ross and Brian, Labor's team in the north and north west of Tasmania.
Labor understands that Tasmania's agricultural future is very bright. But what we really need to do is make sure that there is a reliable supply of irrigation so that Tasmania's agricultural future can be as bright as I think it can be. It was back in 2016, the time of the dreadful floods, right across from Launceston right through the Latrobe, and what I saw there was a tremendous amount of water which would be wasted. I went back and checked. I mean, politicians come, they see these floods and then they go again. But I came back and checked. Tasmania has one per cent of Australia's landmass but has 13 per cent of the rainfall. And so what that means is that we're not capturing all the water which comes during the rain and not using it for irrigation.
So today I've come back, just as we've seen with tranche one and tranche two, I'm going to announce that if we get elected in six or seven weeks’ time, we will fund $100 million on top of the Tasmanian Government's $70 million commitment to provide the next round of irrigated land so that we can really turbocharge Tasmania's food and agricultural future. What this $100 million means in a practical sense is it'll mean 78,000 mega litres of additional water. That's going to make a big difference. In a practical engineering sense, 479 kilometres of pipes. It'll be 23 pumping - sorry, it'll be seven dams, it'll be 23 pumping stations, it'll be four power stations. What this effectively is, is 3,900 jobs. Tasmanian ag at the moment is about $1.5 billion, but within the next 20 years, if we play our cards right, we put in the airport links to go to Asia, we get the irrigation going, it's going to be a $10 billion-plus industry.
The time is right for Tasmanian agriculture to take the world by storm. It just needs a government in Canberra who understands the opportunities that are here. So a $100 million, let's get on. 10 different projects, the final feasibility study will have to be done to confirm the precise nature of the projects. but this is a marvellous opportunity.
Labor was formed in the bush. It was formed on the land as much as we're formed in the factories in the cities. So this is Labor committing itself to be the party of farmers and agriculturalists. Everyone knows farmers get squeezed by the big corporations. Everyone knows that what the farmers need of Tasmania, just like they need on the mainland, is a government who has got their back and doesn't take them for granted. Our announcement for $100 million of irrigation is exactly what the doctor ordered for Tasmanian agriculture.
I'd now like to hand over to Mike, who has got a very distinguished record, not just as a grower, but as a farm leader. Five years helping run AUSVEG, on the board of the Tasmanian Graziers and Farmers Association. Let's hand over to him to see what he thinks about what we need to do.
MIKE BADCOCK: Yes, I would like to thank the Labor Party for your commitment to the third tranche in irrigation in Tasmania. I think this is fantastic and I think this is a great initiative for governments helping farmers who can help themselves. I think it's a great initiative. The irrigation systems in Tasmania is really put in Tasmania on the map. It's opening up the area to a lot of different crops crops we haven't thought of yet. And you watch where we go in Tasmania.
The next thing in Tasmania we need is to develop more exports out of our state. Because we are known for producing a very high quality, premium product, and the world is requiring this. So as soon as we can get direct flights out of Tasmania, overseas, you watch Tasmania bloom. It is starting to bloom now. It's just a start. I see a fantastic future coming through. Water is wealth and we have got some very good infrastructure here, we've got some very good soils and we've got a lot of expertise. So by having guaranteed water on our farms, it's just massive. It allows people to invest, looking for the future, better ways of doing things, so thank you very much.
SHORTEN: Are there any questions about this exciting announcement or any other matters?
JOURNALIST: What would you say are the main deficiencies in the current system when it comes to irrigation?
SHORTEN: Well, we see it happening right behind us. You go for months where there's no rain and all of a sudden you get the rain but it's not in the right place sometimes, it's not where we need it. So the irrigation system will allow a whole lot of land to be developed which currently isn't. When you were with us on the tour, you might have noticed as we're looking towards Devonport, you could see a lot of the drier land between here and Devonport. Irrigation just opens it all up. What's remarkable about the productivity of this land is in the broccoli paddocks we were in, something like 200 tonnes of broccoli is going to come out of that crop. When we were in the carrot fields, 800 tonnes of carrots. Tasmania, nothing can hold it back except a lack of imagination on behalf of Canberra. We're here to change that.
JOURNALIST: Is there an expectation that Tasmania will take on a greater portion of the nation's agriculture in the coming years due to extreme weather events on the mainland that don't effect Tasmania as much?
SHORTEN: I think the times suit Tasmania. I mean look at this amazing land, not too many frosts now are there? So Tasmania's well-placed. When you look at it, what you need is you need good land, you've got that. If we can solve the water problem then that's the next tick of the box. Then what we need is good linkages into Asia. Labor's got a policy called FutureAsia, we intend to deepen our trade links with Asia. We intend to refurbish and revitalise airport infrastructure. But the missing link here is a commitment to the third tranche of irrigation projects. We've already seen what the first two tranches have delivered, and imagine what we can do with a third.
The other thing this is about for me is, as I said, I was here, visited Latrobe in the devastation done by the floods then. But what a shocking waste. Not only do the floods do the damage then, but then we lose all the water. And so what we're trying to do is harness it. You know, Tasmania can grow crops all-year-round. So in many ways, you can be one of the food bowls of Australia. But we just want to give the farmers a better say and that's what we are doing with the irrigation.
JOURNALIST: The Turkish President has again played the Christchurch shooting video. How can you believe that he was misquoted, as he said, when he is continuing to play this video?
SHORTEN: I've seen reports of that this morning. That's deeply frustrating. The Turkish officials, I complained to them and I supported Mr Morrison in the same process. They said that it had been misquoted, that there is Turkish elections. I think they conclude in the next eight days or several days. I certainly would expect that once the election was over that things are normalised again. There's no excuse for disrespecting our ANZACS. Of course, I also wonder if there is an element of domestic politics being played out here with those shocking scenes in Christchurch. And I would expect our relations to improve, but it is disturbing to see the images being repeatedly replayed. It's not on, it's not appropriate and it's not the basis of the relationship which we've had really since the end of the First World War with the modern Republic of Turkey.
JOURNALIST: The Christchurch shooter was active on social media platforms in far right groups for quite a while before the terrorist attack. How could have this gone unnoticed by Australia's intelligence agencies (inaudible)?
SHORTEN: I think that's a pretty important point. I think the security agencies do need to explain how they're monitoring the far-right. I know that they've been monitoring some of them but clearly this fellow hasn't attracted the attention of security agencies in Australia or New Zealand. We need to make sure that that never happens again. And I believe that we need to put more resources into combating the extreme right. They've proven that their ideology is just as hateful as any of the other extremism we see around the world. There's no excuse for them not getting the same attention. They proved how dreadful what they can do is.
I also think there's a challenge here for the social media platforms. There's so much information on social media that it can't just be left to our security agencies. I'm certainly calling in all the major social media platforms, the global multinationals. They make a lot of money out of Australia, they make a lot of money selling their business model. The business model of Facebook and Google is that they tell advertisers that they can tell you anything about the users. They can tell you what the users eat for breakfast, they can tell you what the kids are watching online, they can tell you, you know, the shopping habits of the users. But when it comes to detecting evil far right extremists, they go missing. So it's not good enough for them to say after the event that they shut it down. I'm still incredibly angry that a million and a half views occurred of the live streaming of the atrocity, and I haven't had a sufficient explanations from the big companies about why they can't stop that happening. You know, if they've got the technology to create social media platforms and algorithms then they've got the technology, in my opinion, to prevent the abuse of it.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, great see you in Tasmania but why aren't you in New South Wales helping Labor's campaign?
SHORTEN: Because the election's today. I've been up in New South Wales. I have to say at midday on election day, there's not much more you can do to sort out the voting there.
What I do think. and I just want to say to Michael Daley, Penny Sharpe and the Labor team, that you entered the election as underdogs, you've fought a very strong campaign. They've got the job against them, but I think that the fact that Michael Daley's slogan of putting better hospitals and schools before stadiums, I think that resonates. But at this point, your guess is as good as mine about what will happen. It's in the hands of the voters, and we will find out some point after 6 o’clock about who's running the state government in New South Wales.
JOURNALIST: Do you feel your presences wouldn't help Labor there? Do you feel you presence detracts from Labor -
SHORTEN: No, I was pleased to campaign there. It was very nice of New South Wales Labor to ask me to speak at the launch of their campaign. At least one major party leader go to address the people.
JOURNALIST: Labor MPs in New South Wales have admitted that they have had a poor week of campaigning. Can Michael Daley recover, do you believe?
SHORTEN: We'll find out. At this point, your guess is as good as mine. So we'll see, but it's now in the hands of the voters.
JOURNALIST: Do you see this state election as a test run for the federal election?
SHORTEN: I think there's plenty of federal issues which will be the subject of the federal election. I think a lot of these New South Wales state issues were fought on state matters, stadiums and whatnot.
What I do think will be important in New South Wales in the federal election is the fact that everything's going up except your wages. What I find when I was even campaigning at the state level, be it in the south coast of New South Wales or be it in Western Sydney, what we're seeing all around the place is that everything is going up except your wages.
Do you know now the out0of-pocket costs to see a GP has gone up about 25 per cent under the Liberals? The out-of-pocket cost to go and see a specialist has gone up by 40 per cent. Let's not even talk about power bills. Every time you open it, it's a walk on the wild side to see what the power companies are sending you under this government as a bill. Wages have stagnated. That's why I think Labor's bigger, better tax cuts for working people, I think will resonate well in the federal election.
One thing I am hearing, not just in New South Wales but all around Australia, is people want to see more action on climate change, they want to see the cuts to hospitals and schools reversed, and they want to see us standing up for middle and working class families which is what we're doing.
JOURNALIST: On climate change, why is it taking Labor so long to say if it will use carbon carry-over credits?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, if we're going to talk about why it's taken so long for a political party to do something, why has it taken six years for this government to still do nothing at all when they're in government on climate change? I mean, if the Liberals wanted to do anything on climate change, Malcolm Turnbull would still be Prime Minister, wouldn't he? I mean they're now on their 12th energy policy.
What I can promise you, and I can promise Australians, is we will reveal the full detail of our climate policy before the election and it'll be one policy for while we're in government with one Prime Minister. Some of the measures we've already announced though just to refresh people's memories is we're committed to 50 per cent of our energy mix by 2030 coming from renewable energy. We have said we want to reduce carbon pollution or greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. We've also said to Australians, there is two million households already have solar panels on the roof, that we want to help them be able to defray the cost of putting in batteries so they can get more energy. One thing I do recognise about the Kyoto credits point is that some other countries have moved away from using that, as a form of our calculation, the United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, and we're seriously considering that option and we'll have more to say in coming weeks.
JOURNALIST: On the AFL, the state Government is starting a taskforce to lobby for a Tas-AFL team. Labor has already made a funding commitment of seed funding. The $25 million that you've committed, would that be available for the AFL (inaudible) or a specific condition attached to how that is used?
SHORTEN: We want to see, listen, I'm an AFL fan, although Collingwood was a little unlucky last night. It's alright, it's only the start of the season. But, we've said that we would put $25 million aside provided the AFL came to the party. But we don't want that being a fly in-fly out team, we want to see it based in Tasmania.
That's why we've also invested $5 million, if we get elected, in grassroots footy. I understand that the challenge we need is to make sure that we've got the young ones coming through. In fact, I'm just happy if the young ones play footy. I'm happy if they never go on to play AFL but they get to play in a team, learn teamwork, learn to you know run around outside not just sitting on a screen. But I also get that we've got to help replenish the local leagues with support for change rooms for women, better amenities and facilities, so the football experience in the developmental stages is a good experience. So we’ve got $5 million for that and that's going to help local clubs.
But it is the sort of the great white whale, the Moby Dick issue of AFL is why can't Tasmania have a team? So my government, if elected, would put $25 million, it's got to be matched by the AFL. But we want the AFL to do it in conjunction with Tassie footy, and we want to make sure that that investment's occurring here, not elsewhere.
JOURNALIST: So could some of that money from Labor be used to upgrade the Bellerive oval?
SHORTEN: Well, let's see what the business case for the team is first. I don't want to run a football club, I want to run Australia. I'll leave that to the experts. But what I want to see in Tassie is grassroots footy. You've got a very strong tradition, but what we've got to do is make sure that the grassroots are functioning well, and that's women's football as well as men's football and the junior teams. But I'm sure we can get it right in terms of amenities and facilities, but it's got to start with Tassie football.
JOURNALIST: Is it time the AFL gave Tasmania a clear answer (inaudible)? Should they stop stringing Tasmania along?
SHORTEN: I think Tasmanians are in two minds. I think they would all like the idea of a genuinely local AFL team, but I think they're just as concerned about grassroots footy. And I think there's an attitude which is we’ll believe it when we see it. So I've got a couple of propositions for Tasmanian footy lovers. One, if you want to see more junior teams supported, vote Labor. If you want to see more women's footy, vote Labor. If you want to see investment in grassroots footy, vote Labor. I will work with Tasmanian footy and our Tasmanian MPs. We will say to the AFL: time to get serious. But you know, if you want the AFL to get serious, you need a friend in Canberra to make sure they get serious about Tassie football. I’m that man.
JOURNALIST: Just on the Banking Royal Commission, do you support the Government's plan to create a new division in the federal court system to include criminal prosecutions for the sector?
SHORTEN: We're open to this idea but you've got to ask yourself, why has it taken the Government so long to do these measures? I mean, they didn't have to vote against a Banking Royal Commission 26 times. This government, for the last three years, has spent a lot of political time and effort trying to give a $17 billion tax cut to the banks. So you know, now they want to look like they're the good guys after they voted against the Banking Royal Commission 26 times, after wanting to give $17 billion in tax cuts to the banks. Now they want to look like the good guys, after they cut money from the corporate regulators? Just imagine if they hadn't cut money from the regulators, maybe some of the problems that we saw in the Banking Royal Commission wouldn't have occurred.
So really, it comes down to this fundamental question: who do you trust, six weeks out from the next election, to keep the banks honest? Do you trust the current crew, who cut money from the regulator, who voted against the Banking Royal Commission 26 times and wanted to give $17 billion away to them? Or do you trust Labor, who have been the party who pushed for the Banking Royal Commission, without which we would have never uncovered so many of the scandals?
Is there one last question?
JOURNALIST: Could I have one more on AFL?
JOURNALIST: If you're elected at the federal election, would Federal Labor be willing to work with the Tasmanian Liberal state government in a bipartisan way to get up an AFL team?
SHORTEN: Listen, it is the local government down here that has said they want to put $70 million into tranche three of the irrigation and it's a Labor Opposition who's got on the plane, courtesy of my local Labor MPs, and said we've got to back this. For me, it's about putting the farmers first, politics second. The same goes with footy. The reality is that it was in Justine's campaign in Braddon, where we made the commitment to AFL funding. If the Tasmanian Government's fair dinkum, I'll work with them.
See, the sort of government I want to lead is not one where we assume we have all the answers. We've got our policies, we're being upfront with people. And yes, I make no apologies for being pro-action on climate change, pro-making sure that your wages get moving, pro-making sure you can afford to see a doctor and pro-making sure your kids get a good quality education. But I'll work with anyone who wants to see Tasmania get ahead, wants to see Australia get ahead, and I'll work with different levels of government. That's my track record.
JOURNALIST: Can I bring you back, one more question, to today's announcement. What are you offering that the Liberal Morrison Government hasn't already offered?
SHORTEN: They haven't offered to do the third tranche of the irrigation funding.
JOURNALIST: Is it not king of expected they would given they funded the first two?
SHORTEN: Oh mate, well sorry, it was the Labor government who funded the initial tranche. Listen, Mr Morrison's welcome to copy us. That's okay, that's politics. This is what's so interesting about Labor being so competitive in the federal election, and it is what's so good about having such a crack-team of federal MPs, is that we're leading. It's a very unusual dynamic in Australian politics where the Opposition goes first and the Government plays catch up. But that's been the story of the last five years, more often than not, especially when it comes to Tasmania.