TUESDAY, 13 NOVEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Labor’s $4 million commitment to Paralympic athletes; Foodbank; Gender pay gap, Indonesian FTA; Terrorism; ABC
XAVIER CAMPBELL, CEO ESSENDON FOOTBALL CLUB: Welcome, everyone to the Hangar, the Essendon Football Club and Australian Paralympic Committee. My name is Xavier Campbell, Chief Executive of the football club and it's a pleasure to welcome today the Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Bill Shorten and also Jock O'Callaghan the Chairman of the Australian Paralympic Committee for what is a really significant announcement and something that we share great enthusiasm for and great excitement for in a partnership that now was born almost a decade ago and has been in fruition now from an operational perspective for the last five years with the Australian Paralympic Committee and their Victorian chapter headquarters down here at the Hangar and the Essendon Football Club. Something we're very, very proud of, an opportunity for our athletes, our players to train alongside world class Paralympic athletes is something we don't take for granted, something we're truly proud of.
So before we get to the announcement I'd like to pass over to Jock O'Callaghan, Chairman of the Australian Paralympic Committee for a few words.
JOCK O'CALLAGHAN, , PRESIDENT OF AUSTRALIAN PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE: Thank you, Xavier. Mr Bill Shorten, Leader of the Australian Labor Party, representatives of the Essendon Football Club, wonderful Paralympians who are here today past and present, the Australian Paralympian Committee is humbled by the commitment we're about to hear about, that is from the Australian Labor Party. Mr Shorten himself is a valued and committed advocate of the Australian Paralympic movement. In fact, after he visited and supported the Australian Paralympic team in Beijing in 2008 that commitment went to the level of actually heading into a recovery bath with the wheelchair basketball team.
This commitment from Mr Shorten over a period now of ten years has never been questioned and today we are going to thank Mr Shorten for his announcement shortly which in essence is recognising the power of the relationship between the Australian Paralympic Committee and the Essendon Football Club. This announcement is a ringing endorsement of our ability to convert additional investment into world class performances and to secure future success for the Australian Paralympic movement.
The Australian Paralympic Committee and the Essendon Bombers are partners in every sense of the word. We are community focused organisations who strive to make meaningful and enduring impacts on people’s lives. We come from different sporting worlds but our values, our culture, our respect for our people and our history are paramount in everything we do. We believe in equality for all, not just for some and as Xavier has just mentioned our partnership goes back almost a decade and from the moment it was conceived it's been a game changer for the APC and indeed for Paralympic sport in Australia.
In the years that followed the APC has delivered successful Australian Paralympic teams, to Summer Paralympic games in Beijing and Rio and the Winter Games in Sochi and PyeongChang. And a number of Paralympic medals have depended upon the partnership we're talking about today.
This partnership delivers, it creates opportunities, it helps bridge what remains as a huge gap for people with a disability to participate in sport at the level of their choice.
With that in mind, the Australian Paralympic Committee stands proudly beside our partner the Essendon Football Club to bring this development to fruition. This is a big piece of a complex puzzle that the APC is trying to solve but make no mistake, there is inequity when it comes to support provided to Australians living with a disability and their participation in sport.
With hundreds of elite athletes from almost 20 sports under our care, it's our grand final that doesn't have a final siren and so, with that, I'd like to pass over to Mr Shorten for the announcement.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks gentlemen, I want to acknowledge the work of the Australian Paralympic Committee and of course Essendon Football Club. Accompanying me today is local member Peter Khalil. Peter and I are both Collingwood supporters but we're always happy to come here.
I just wanted to say before I get into the announcement, I had the privilege when I was the junior minister for disabilities to attend the Paralympics in Beijing and what I learned there is not to look at Paralympians by virtue of their impairment. What I learned and understood there is they're elite athletes who also happen to have an impairment and what I witnessed in Beijing was athletes from all around the world, their families, their coaches, their team supporters and they were living in a built environment which was perfectly acceptable and what we did is you'd see events from the pool to the court and you'd see elite athletes performing remarkable feats of sportsmanship.
And it got me thinking, why is it that it takes only - why does this only happen ten days every four years? And if China can do this in Beijing and create a fantastically accessible environment which allows elite athletes to be their very best I certainly came back to Australia with a view that the Australian Paralympic Committee and the athletes were doing this on a shoestring budget this nation can do more.
And indeed, part of what I saw in Beijing was the inspiration for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Impairment is just a fact of life. What creates the obstacles for someone living with an impairment is everyone else's attitudes. We're all complex people made up with many hundreds of attributes of which impairment is just one feature.
I think the role of sport and elite athletes in the lives of people with disability cannot be underestimated. So the reason why I'm pleased to announce today that Labor will, if elected, fund the second stage of the development of the Hangar, $4 million between Essendon Football Club and the Australian Paralympic Committee to put in place new and additional resources is based on the view that disability can happen to any of us.
Now most of us though will never be elite athletes but I think it's important not only for people with disability but all Australians that they get to see elite athletes, some of whom happen to have a disability. So what we're going to do here is make sure that the best athletes in the world have the best resources in the world to be the very best Australian athletes they can be.
So I'm really pleased with this announcement. When I first came here ten years ago - eight years ago, when we turned the first soil this was just a paddock on the way to the airport. Congratulations to Essendon Football Club for their vision to develop this. Windy Hill is in my electorate so I've always taken an interest in how the football club is going because of its important role in the community but I am so, so pleased that Essendon Football Club took a leadership role to reach out and form a partnership with the Australian Paralympic Committee. They didn't have to do it - and I'm also pleased that for their Melbourne training base the Paralympic Committee took the opportunity with Essendon and now we see this come to fruition. I have got no doubt that for the athletes who play for the Essendon Football Club, they get a lot out of training alongside some of the most remarkable elite athletes in the world and I know that it's great today that Kurt Fearnley just an amazing Australian has been nominated by New South Wales to be Australian of the Year. What I hope is at the Hangar the future Kurt Fearnleys men and women, get their chance to perhaps one day be alongside Kurt Fearnley in their accomplishments for Australia.
But for me, elite athletes aside, what we’re doing here is we're saying to people with disability in their families, that we don't let your impairment define you, we want you to define yourself. And a future Labor Government will work with people with disability, not just in case of the elite athletes here and their partnership with Essendon, but we’re determined to see people with impairment get an equal go, in everything from education to employment. But something like this actually, I think, sends a tremendous beacon of hope to people with disability that really, we're not going to let their impairment define them. So it's a good announcement, we look forward and congratulate everyone involved for the work they've done on it.
Happy to take any questions people might have on this, and then we can go to - if you've got sport questions, go to them, if you've got politics questions, go to them - no, only joking.
Are there any questions on this announcement or we can go to any other matters?
JOURNALIST: How much money is needed from other sources of government or whoever for the project to get up and going?
SHORTEN: Well, we think the $4 million will help deliver the second stage, but the reality is after a second stage always comes a third stage. I'm happy to let the APC talk about some of their other challenges, I can promise them though that if we form a government they'll have a Prime Minister who's fully aware of what the Paralympics Committee does.
But maybe, if you've got -
CAMPBELL: I'm happy to talk too. Overall it's a $20 million expansion, so it's a significant investment to acquire. The Essendon Football Club’s made a commitment to raise half of those fund ourselves and we've done that already, so we've got a fantastic, very generous commitment from the Federal Opposition, and we'll be seeking further money from the State Government as well. But it's certainly well on the way now with what is a really generous investment.
JOURNALIST: Where will the facility be?
CAMPBELL: Just out this side, out here. And it's a marvellous facility expansion. It's a 34 person, all ability access dormitory accommodation, so it gives us an opportunity and from Jock and the APC's perspective and he can speak to that in a second, the opportunity to create a turn-key home for Paralympic athletes for national camps, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball, table tennis, the national teams are based out of here, so it gives them the opportunity to spend meaningful time here on a really frequent basis to build the capacity of these programs.
O'CALLAGHAN: Maybe I'll just add that some of the sports that'll be housed here have very limited funding of their own. This is a great initiative towards developing athletes and also nurturing the teams in preparation for Tokyo and beyond. We're still left with a sizeable gap in just getting the biggest most well equipped team to Tokyo in 2020.
JOURNALIST: So it's sort of like the AIS for the Paralympics?
CAMPBELL: Yeah it has been, it has been. The Victorian chapter is headquartered down here, and it's been a great partnership for us. The interaction is very natural. It's built on obviously initially a leap of faith from both parties but the trust that's been established over the last five years in particular, it's been significant.
SHORTEN: Thanks for that. We'd encourage Australian business to look at employing Paralympians in their business because they're great role models, not just for people with impairment but for everyone in an organisation.
Any other questions on - is there any other political matters du jour?
JOURNALIST: A couple. Mr Shorten, what did you make of the Four Corners program last night about the political turmoil at the top of the ABC?
SHORTEN: I didn't see the episode, but I've read the reports. Clearly there is some significant dysfunction at Australia's independent public broadcaster at the top levels. I really think it shows the failure of political appointments without transparency or accountability to the senior levels of the ABC, the board.
I can't comment about each personal argument or unhappiness. That's a matter of legal proceedings now. But two things I can promise Australians who love their ABC.
One - we're going to reverse the cuts that the Morrison Government has made to the ABC. We will put back in over $83 million over the next three years if elected, because there's nothing more important than an independent public broadcaster, trusted to deliver the news and information across our cities and our regions.
And two - we're not going to engage in political interference. We want a much more transparent process for the appointment of the board. Politics and the board of the ABC shouldn’t be mixing and I think we've seen the problems under the last five years of the Government. Too much politics, too many cuts and now we see the arguments and unhappiness that are coming out of the top levels of the ABC.
JOURNALIST: How do we know that it wasn't just a clash of personalities at the top and that there was some political interference as you put it?
SHORTEN: Again, I guess that's what there's legal - the legal matters, I think all will get revealed - but there can be no question. You don't have to like everything an ABC journalist says about you. You wouldn't be human if you did. But having said that, that is their job. The idea that you might have people at the very highest level making behind the scenes phone calls and emails demanding this journalist and that journalist be censored because they criticised the government - we don't live in a dictatorship, we shouldn't ever try and undermine the free and independent broadcaster, which is the ABC.
That is why only Labor is committed to reversing the cuts. The Government, under Mr Morrison's budget, cut $83 million over the next three years. That means that jobs go, regional services get crushed and we see a greater infringement upon the editorial independence at the ABC.
We will back the ABC because that's what we need in this country. We need genuine, independent political broadcasting.
JOURNALIST: You've spoken about the future with regards to board appointments, but do the current board have questions to answer?
SHORTEN: I think that we'll see what the litigation does, but clearly there's been I think a lack of accountability and there's also been, in my opinion, too much interference with the ABC and the conduct of the ABC. But I did say there was litigation under way. Other people have got more facts and so I think they'll come out over time.
JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister has faced some criticism for urging imans to report radical Muslims within their own communities, saying that some people have said he should be taking responsibility for what was done to stop terror attacks like that on Friday, where do you think the balance lies on this?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, what happened on Friday was just an evil tragedy. As my colleague Peter Khalil said earlier on television, Sisto, the man who got killed, he was committing an act of kindness and he was met with an act of evil.
I understand people are upset. My own kids catch the tram through the city. I've lived in Melbourne for most of my life. We've all walked past that old Commonwealth Bank building there. So it is shocking. We like to think that what we saw on Friday doesn't happen in Australia, but it does. Now, I can understand why people want to lash out, want to blame different groups or want to blame politicians or want to blame Mr Morrison. I actually think we've got to take a step back. Someone died. Two people died. The coroner will have an investigation - that's a pretty good process.
In terms of the debate about the Muslim community, there are a few radicalised troublemakers, no question, and pretending that isn't the case doesn't make it go away. But by the same token, absolutely the vast bulk of Muslim Australians, the vast, vast bulk, love their country and I don't want to tag a whole group of Australians just by the actions of a very few.
I also get that there's some people who want to blame the government and the authorities. I think our authorities are trying to do the best they can. What we need here is a bit calmness, a bit of coolness. Our Australian way of life tolerates a range of views, so long as you adhere to the laws. Our police are doing a fantastic job, again I want to congratulate the front line Victorian police officers. As a parent whose kids walk up and down Bourke Street, whose wife has shopped there and walked up and down there, I have to say I am pleased that the VicPol were so responsive so quickly, and I think I speak for a lot of people.
To the family of the deceased and to Sisto and to the other two people who were wounded, this is shocking and nothing can make sense of that. But I just say to people, I understand anyone wants to perhaps lash out. It's a very disturbing event. I get that but I think now is the time to work out what can we all do better. For me it's not about one group or one politician. What can we all do better to keep Australians safe?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten the gender pay gap is decreasing but generally speaking men are earning more across the industries. What would a Labor Government do to improve that situation quicker?
SHORTEN: It's absurd in Australia that our little boys and little girls when they grow up, our little girls will be working the first two months of every year for free. That's equivalently what the gender pay gap means.
It's narrowing, but in part it's narrowing - and it's down to 16 per cent on base rates of pay, but it's over 20 per cent when you include all the bonuses and overtime. That means the men are earning, all the men doing all the work, compared to all the women doing all the work, men are earning over 20 per cent. That's too high.
What we need to do is to start calling on organisations to report what they pay all the men in their show compared to all the women. Because I think that will open a few eyes. I think we need to do more to have more women in positions of authority in this country. Labor's nearly at 50 per cent of our Parliamentarians. I think once we see more women as part of decision-making as opposed to the current sorry state of affairs in the government where the Liberals have barely 20 percent of their MPs are women.
I think it's also important that we reverse the cuts to penalty rates which have fallen on women in particular, because they work in a lot of industries where there are cuts. I think we're overdue to pay our early childhood educators, our aged care workers, our disability support workers more. They are principally feminised industries.
So I think there's a lot we can do. Labor has a plan to put more women in positions of responsibility, to help reverse the cuts to penalty rates, to create more transparency so organisations can, if they have an unconscious bias in terms of pay, can start addressing it. And of course, where there's feminised industries - that's industries where there's a lot of women working as a proportion of the total workforce - have look at the value of their work and look at how we lift it.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, what did you make of Scott Morrison’s comments on the Chinese with regards to the South China Sea, do you feel that he's being a little bit too soft ahead of the ASEAN Summit?
SHORTEN: Listen I just want to say first of all, Mr Morrison, whilst he's of a different political party, is heading overseas, he's representing Australia so I wish him well. These are important. When he's overseas, hopefully he will remember he's not the Liberal person, he is the nation's representative so I wish him well in that same spirit.
In terms of China what we've got to do is not necessarily view China through a worst case scenario. They've got a right to grow. What we've got to do is make sure that when it comes to areas like the Pacific and Indonesia and the near north that we're not creating a vacuum for other countries to fill it.
But I think it is important that we take a healthy view about China - that doesn't mean changing our values. If they're doing something we don't agree with, we should say that. But we don't always need to do it just through the media and embarrass people. We need to professionally make our case as we would in any other walk of life.
I also think we need to view China not through the prism of the worst case scenario. So I wish Mr Morrison well.
The one foreign policy request I have of the Government is, for goodness sake, stop this discussion about moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Only Guatemala and the United States have proposed moving the embassy. It's an issue which has caused a lot of upset in the region. If Mr Morrison doesn't intend to move the embassy he should just say so. Our lives are too short to be debating a thought bubble. I understand that he wanted to shark a few votes in the dying days of the Wentworth by-election, appeal to one part of the community. That didn't work. It was an advertising sort of gimmick, it hasn't worked, now you're representing Australia on the international stage. Now is not the time for advertising stunts. If you know that you've made a mistake, just fix it. If you know you're not going to move the embassy, Scott, then just say so, so we can get on with our lives.
It's a bit like the backflip on the Foodbank yesterday where we saw a mean and foolish decision of a government cutting $300,000 to supply meals to 710,000 hungry people every month.
We put the pressure on, people power, I congratulate all the citizens who hit social media. I congratulate the National Farmers Federation, the Grocery Council of Australia, and of course Foodbank and Labor took up the cudgels. The government knew it made a mistake on Foodbank. We've won that battle. I just hope that Mr Morrison, sooner rather than later, just admits that he's not going to move the embassy so we can stop having that foreign policy distraction when we've got bigger issues as a nation.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Newspoll figures with the Australian have shown just a third of voters now oppose your negative gearing policy, so are you worried about that growing?
SHORTEN: Listen, I make a point of not commenting on the polls, good, bad or indifferent. In terms of our reforms to negative gearing, it's about fairness. Why should young couples trying to buy their first house have to compete against someone who is getting a tax subsidy from the government? It's just not fair. Why should the property industry, just because it wants to have more bidders and more bidders be given a tax subsidy when first home buyers can't get into the housing market?
I'm a parent. My kids are still teenagers, but I'm sure like most parents, you begin to think well how are they going to be able to afford a house in their 20s and 30s? What we've got to do is create a level playing field for first home buyers and stop $5 billion being subsidised in property investment.
The other thing about the changes we're making, is of course they're not retrospective. So if you've currently invested under the current negative gearing laws, there will be no change. It's a future change which will only make, and only apply to new investments, not existing investments. Alright everybody? Have a lovely day.