TUESDAY, 9 APRIL 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor’s commitment to TAFEs, Rockhampton Airport, Cairns Infrastructure and Tourism.
RUSSELL ROBERTSON, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CAPRICORNIA: We are here at the Hastings Deering workshop and we are hearing about Labor's commitment to apprentices and TAFE. Only a Labor Government will bring these TAFE positions in, a hundred thousand free TAFE roles and subsidising as we move forward. This is our commitment to the region and our commitment to the trades. Labor wants to see more tradespersons not less, unlike the LNP we don't cut tradespeople and we don't cut TAFE. We are about making sure that our kids who want to do trades know that it is a respectable job and we want to encourage it. We are also here thanks to Bill, we have had another announcement on the regions and that's our commitment to a $1 million study into the Rockhampton airport. This study will show how important it is and what we can do to increase agriculture produce and passengers into CQ (Central Queensland). This will be a great opportunity for us to again highlight Labor’s commitment to the regions and again improve local facilities and not turn our back on the local Capricornia area like the current LNP message. We've seen the local LNP turn their back on local apprentices and TAFEs and the local airport. Only a Labor led Bill Shorten Government will generate this prosperity for Capricornia. I would like to give Bill the opportunity to talk more on this issue, Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks, Russell. Great to be here with 5th generation coal miner Russell Robertson, Labor's standard bearer in the upcoming Capricornia election. I am also here with Zac Beers who is running for the seat just south of Capricornia he is running in Flynn and he lives in Gladstone. He started on the tools, he has been a representative of workers, I've got a couple of great candidates in Central Queensland here. We've been at Hastings Deerings today, Hasting Deering's is a very good company. It employs apprentices, it is bucking the trend. It is one of the biggest employers of diesel fitters in the nation. But what I see here, we could see in a thousand workshops right across Central Queensland and the whole of Australia. I want Australia to go back to being a tradie nation, 1.6 million of our fellow Australians got a trade qualification, my father was a fitter and turner. But what we have seen under the LNP Government is we've seen a virtual destruction of so many apprenticeship positions. A lot of people I think are surprised to learn that under the Liberals we have seen the Liberal-Nationals, we have seen 150,000 fewer apprenticeships now than there were six years ago. But not to worry, Labor at the next election is presenting an exciting future for the trades. What we are going to do is pay the upfront fees for 100,000 apprentices over the next three years.. Maybe some of the young TA’s here who are seeking to get apprenticeships next year will be able to benefit from our fee support. And by the way we’re paying the fees, we’re not giving them a loan and asking for it back, this is just a grant. Also what we said last week in our Budget reply is that we want to give some subsidies to employers – not a king’s ransom, but a certain amount, a few thousand dollars - to help provide the incentive to employ apprentices to give them their first start. In your first and second year, apprentices are doing more learning than they are contributing to the bottom line of a business, but we’ve got to invest in our young, and we’ve got to invest in adults seeking to retrain. So we’ve got a great plan for apprenticeships. Pay upfront fees, work with employers, but also in Central Queensland, we’ve got an ambitious set of infrastructure works.
The Rocky Ring road, we want to do more with Great Keppel Island. We want to do more about improving dual lanes between Yeppoon and of course Rockhampton. We understand that Central Queensland needs good roads and that’s what Labor’s offering. Apprenticeships, good roads and infrastructure jobs. When you put that on top of the other exciting things we’re going to do, such as get wages moving again in this country, such as making sure that we don’t have the current status quo of wage stagnation, where everything’s going up but your wages. We’ll offer Australians a wages policy, modest but meaningful wages growth, reversing the cuts to penalty rates, and we’re going to regulate shonky labour hire, because we’re sick and tired like most Australians of seeing permanent jobs replaced by casualised, contractor, temporary visa or labour hire jobs. So we have a plan for Central Queensland and the working people of Central Queensland. I should also say that it doesn’t stop there, and today I’m very pleased to announce that a Federal Labor Government, if elected, will invest a million dollars in the business case to make Rockhampton an international airport. You shouldn’t have to fly south in order to go north from Rockhampton, our produce should be able to enter the markets of Asia, we should be able to see some of the tourist boom come straight from Asia to Rockhampton, rather than flying over Rockhampton to Brisbane or Sydney, then making the trip if you feel like it back up to Rocky. Rockhampton Airport is a vital part of the future of Rockhampton. It’s important in its own way as the cattle, as the mining, as the manufacturing, and the engineering, and the human services, and the educational services. Rockhampton’s got it all. What it needs though in Canberra is a Government who knows where Rockhampton is. I’m really pleased with the fact this is my 13th visit to Rockhampton since I’ve been opposition leader, and this is a town which knows how to push on to the future, from the meatworks with Mr (inaudible) and what they’re doing there, right through to the tourism of Great Keppel Island. People in Central Queensland and Rockhampton are always willing to take a risk, they’re willing to try to try and improve the circumstances of the local community, they just need a Government in Canberra who’s on their side. So from apprentices, to wages, to backing in ‘Australian Made’, to making sure that we’ve got good infrastructure projects and of course tourism, Labor's got Capricornia's back and we offer Russell Robertson to be voted for in 6 weeks’ time. Happy to take a couple quick questions.
JOURNALIST: This airport business case, how will this work, and what will we see happen with that?
SHORTEN: Well we'll do it in conjunction with the Airport and the Council, I mean we've got to do a business case to make sure the numbers stack up, but I am very optimistic about airports in regional Queensland in many ways just like railways were to 19th century Queensland, expansion of airports is to 21st century Queensland. We shouldn't let the tyranny of distance stop Rockhampton from the growth it deserves. The reality is that you shouldn't, if you want to go north, have to fly south. I think we can break that tyranny of that by making sure we have Rockhampton as a more developed airport. Because once you've got a more developed airport, once the case is made and the facilities and amenities are here, we'll see more flights - and it won't just be international - what we'll see is more competition on the domestic airline routes, and anyone who flies in North Queensland knows that the big airlines often take the passengers as a captive market and charge them horrendous amounts of money to fly distances where in other parts of Australia you can fly to Bali for cheaper. We've got to back Australia, and that's why I want to see Rockhampton airport fulfil its position as a real economic engine of Rockhampton and Central Queensland.
JOURNALIST: Rocky's been an international airport for over twenty years, and Kirsten Livermore has been here, and so was Marjorie Henzell and they never did nothing it's been in their time it was an international airport, it's been an international airport for probably over twenty years.
SHORTEN: Yeah but we've got to develop it. Everyone knows that it's been one of the missing links, doesn't it. And again, whilst you speak about Kirsten Livermore, the local member who has been here for the last few elections has been Michelle Landry. So at some point, when does the current member become accountable for the lack of action? I agree with the observation you make - that Rockhampton airport should have been developed a lot more than it has. I agree with you. But when do the current LNP members stop blaming Labor MP's - who haven't been members of parliament here for a long time - they've been getting good money for the last six years, they've been getting excellent money for the last number of years, when is it they actually do something for the wages they get paid?
JOURNALIST: What are you doing for North Queensland?
SHORTEN: When it comes to North - Far North Queensland, and Cairns - we see that tourism is a big part of that future. So we've said that we want to do a number of things to develop Cairns and its role in tropical Queensland. One of which, we want to put $60 million into the Cairns hospital to make sure that it gets the support it deserves. The second thing we're doing is that we're also extending - we're going to take a billion dollars out of the Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund, and put it into a separate tourism fund. Tourism is a big part of Cairn's future, international students are a big part of Cairns' future. We also want to back in more infrastructure, so we've said that we want to build the road extending through Cairns going out to the Airport, because we think the congestion, especially in the Northern suburbs of Cairns is something to behold. If you look at how the Northern suburbs of Cairns have expanded in the last few years, it's like suburban Australia. And the traffic jams there are quite remarkable, and what we need to do is invest in the roads and infrastructure of the northern suburbs of Cairns, because it's one of the most liveable places in the world, not just Australia, but what we also need to do is make sure the road infrastructure is keeping up with what we do in Cairns.