MONDAY, 11 MARCH 2019
SUBJECT/S: Government in chaos; underwriting coal; Kyoto; climate change; TV election ad bans; Newspoll.
DES HARDMAN, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR FORDE: Good afternoon everybody. I'm Des Hardman, I'm Labor's candidate for Forde at the upcoming federal election. We've had a visit here today to Carlton United Breweries which is in the heart of the industrial area here of Forde and a really, really important area to the economy not only of our electorate but of our local communities surrounding as well.
I'm here with Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition we've been fortunate enough to take a bit of a tour around the brewery to see the impressive work that goes on here by the local brewers. I was particularly impressed by their focus on safety and quality of their product and how important that is to us and very many Australians.
Thank you very much for being here today and I'll hand it over to Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Des. Hello everybody, it's great to be here on a Monday, Labour Day in Melbourne and me visiting Yatala. It's a fantastic brewery I really am very impressed by the management of the workforce I've met here and along with Des Hardman and Senator Murray Watt on a very clear message to the workforce of the Yatala brewery and beyond that to workers in Queensland and right through Australia.
If we get elected to government I promise you we won't spend our time talking about the Coalition. We're going to focus on the battle against the cost of living in Australian families. We are going to do that by offering better tax cuts, bigger, better tax cuts for upwards of eight, nine million Australian workers and of course we'll get wages moving again in Australia.
It's great to be up here in south east Queensland, our next stop will be to announce $112 million support for the third stage of the Gold Coast light railway and that'll help generate jobs, tourism, more apprenticeships and it will also help ease the congestion for this fastest growing area of Australia. But today my message to a really good workforce who is doing their level best, the manufacturing workforce competing with the world is - we've got your back on manufacturing, we've got your back on apprenticeships, we've got your back on wages and we've got your back on better tax cuts and I promised them that if we get elected in the election in nine or ten weeks’ time we won't be talking about our opponents. We'll be talking about the cost of living pressures for Australians and our plan to look after them with better wages and of course better, bigger tax cuts.
Happy to take questions.
JOURNLAIST: Mr Shorten tell me for a brewery worker here with your tax cuts what will they take home in their pocket?
SHORTEN: Well if you're earning $90,000 a year here it'll be about $928 each year. So you might have - let's take a family here who might be someone works here on the production line, skilled operators. This is a long standing workforce too so they're very good at their job. They might have a spouse who works at the local hospital who might be $60,000 - $70,000 a year, under Labor in our first three years you'll be getting a tax refund of somewhere approaching $6,000.
When you combine that with our policy on wages to turn the minimum wage into a living wage. To reverse the arbitrary cuts to penalty rates in retail and hospitality. When we're going to clamp down on subbies being ripped off by unscrupulous company directors. When we make sure that labour hire isn't just an excuse to be a race to the bottom in wages.
We've got a genuine plan which is in touch with what's happening in south east Queensland and indeed the whole of Australia.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten an issue that some Queensland MPs are talking a lot about is coal-fired generation. Barnaby Joyce says the Liberals and Nationals aren't married on this issue, should the public be concerned about the split there?
SHORTEN: Listen I don't really want to talk about the Coalition but I think it's fair to say, this is probably the most divided government in recent generations. I mean, the Liberals are divided, they can't agree on who the leader should have been. They can't agree on whether or not to give women a fair go, they can't even agree on energy or climate policy.
And then you turn to the National Party, you know they can't agree on whether their leader should be Barnaby Joyce or Michael McCormack. They can't agree about whether it's a good idea to privatise Queensland power, they can't agree even on their coal lines. So, I think Australians are over the division and that is why I promise Australians that if we get elected, we 're not going to talk about our opponents, we are going to talk about you, the people of Australia. The reality is that everything in Australia is going up except people's wages, but the workers of Australia feel that the government doesn't have their back and that they have turned their back on workers. Well, I have got the back of the workers. We'll make sure we get wages moving and we'll make sure that you get bigger, better tax cuts.
JOURNALIST: When should the public find out whether the Government would invest in new coal-fired generation, do you think it should be before the election that the public should know that?
SHORTEN: The government just doesn't have one line on coal. Now, coal is important. It is part of our export mix going forward, very important part of our export mix. We're still going to use fossil fuels as part of our energy, but coal has become a very divisive issue in the government with the Queensland conservatives not agreeing with the Victorian conservatives. We saw the train-wreck interview of their latest Minister, Minister Reynolds. This government, because they don't like renewables gets obsessed about coal to the cost of everything else. For me it is about lower energy prices, for me it's about not handing on a worse deal to our kids and taking real action on climate change. This is a divided government - I think this is probably the most divided government in many generations.
JOURNALIST: (inaudible) phase out coal fired power station under your plan to increase emissions targets?
SHORTEN: No, what'll happen is I saw the government today doing what they do best, lying about Labor's position. Coal is going to be part of our energy mix going forward, but we are not going to put all of our eggs in the coal basket. The reality is that climate change is real. We have experienced one of the hottest summers and in many cases the hottest summer on record. Australians are also experiencing massive spikes in increase in energy prices. Households and businesses are sick and tired of a government in Canberra who can't agree on what to do about energy prices and climate change, but the problem is that the dysfunctional division, chaos and instability of their government is costing Australians in their hip pocket. Because the longer it takes for the government to work out one position on energy, what that means is there is no new investment in energy generation, which means that we are asking to do more with less energy which pushes prices up. This government can't be trusted on energy and they can't be trusted on climate change. They've had six years or the best part of six years - to give this government another three years to hope that they will do in the next three years what they haven't done in the last six years is the triumph of hope over experience.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten the Budget is coming up, they're talking about the government may well need something to really get their selves going - (inaudible) change in the polling, change in the opinions after the Budget?
SHORTEN: Listen, I think that the government is going to try and issue a propaganda document called the Budget. I think they are going to try and chase votes. Really, I think the question you have got to ask yourselves is: What is it they are going to do on April 2nd that they haven't done in the previous six years? I mean, we are on our third Prime Minister under this crew. You have got the national party, a divided (inaudible) and you have got their 12th energy policy, they've had 22 reshuffles. This is a government, who the Australian people have generously given them a second chance in 2016. Unfortunately, the government hasn't lived up to the promises. In fact, they got rid of Malcolm Turnbull and never explained why.
But the real problem isn't even the internal instability of the government and the fact that they all seem to hate each other and can't wait to tell us how much they hate each other. The real problem is that the price of everything is going up except peoples wages. We're becoming a more unequal society. What happens is corporate profits in the last 12 months under the Liberals has gone up 10 percent, but wages have gone up 2 percent. What we've seeing is a more unequal society. Only Labor is going to properly fund the cuts that the Government made to the hospitals. We are going to make sure that your kids get the best quality education from the early years, right through to TAFE, university and of course in our schools. We can do this because we are making hard economic decisions. And the other thing we're going to do is get people's wages moving again. Australians are over politicians talking about themselves. They want the political class of this country to talk about the workers, talk about small business and talk about the farmers. That is exactly what I am doing here today in Yatala.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten there seems to be some confusion about whether Labor will count the Kyoto credits towards your emissions reduction targets (inaudible).
SHORTEN: Well, I've said that we are taking that under advice about how much we should do that, so we are still looking at that question.
JOURNALIST: When will you announce your policy on that?
SHORTEN: Before the election, but of course you know I love this - the government has had 12 energy policies. There is no point in asking a government energy policy out on a date because it will be different by the time the date arrives. This is a government who cannot agree on energy. They are at war with themselves and it would almost be a circus, except it is actually costing Australian businesses and costing Australian families. Everyone knows that it has become an unpleasant adventure to open an energy bill from a company these days because you know it's going up and up. The price of gas has gone up and up, the price of electricity gone up, up and up.
We have a government that doesn't like renewable energy. If two million Australian households have got solar power on their rooftops, why is the Government so far behind the people that it doesn't want to do anything on energy prices.
JOURNALIST: So what is the cheapest source of power; coal or renewables?
SHORTEN: There's no doubt renewable energy is becoming the cheapest. But in Labor's policy, we will have some coal, we'll have some gas and of course, we will also have a lot more renewable energy. It's a mix and that's what we've got to do. But just pretending that we can do business as usual, pretending that they're going to build a whole paddock full of new coal fired power stations which are very expensive - it's just ridiculous. It's not actually offering a plan for the future, it's offering a photo of the past.
JOURNALIST: When you're Prime Minister, will you stop the building of any more - any more coal fired power stations?
SHORTEN: I think the market is going to deal with the questions which you are asking me about. What I want to do is I want Australia to go back to being an energy superpower. I'm sick and tired of watching our gas be exported overseas, purchased more cheaply overseas than Australian business can have it. Coal will still be in our mix. What I'm not going to do is tell people that you don't need to change.
Two million Australian households already have solar on the rooftops. They have solar on their rooftops and they're not ripping them off at hundreds of thousands are they. Most Australians, when they look at solar on other people's rooftops, would like to get solar on their own rooftops. So if the Australian people have worked out the best way to deal with energy prices, why can't the Government in Canberra?
JOURNALIST: Will there be (inaudible)?
SHORTEN: There's no doubt that we need to have more developed policies on climate change, and we'll announce more of our climate policies closer to the election. But the idea that we can go business as usual and think that you don't have to try to get the emissions down is just ridiculous. I think the Government needs to come clean today; are they going to build more coal fired power stations or are they not? Or are they just going to keep talking about it and having an ongoing argument for the next nine weeks?
We've got a good policy. We want to see 50 per cent of our energy mix by 2030 being renewables. We recognise there is a role for existing fossil fuel industries - that's coal and gas but we also want to lean in and support the development of more renewable energy. We should be an energy superpower and we're an energy midget - and we've got to change that. And Australian households and businesses are paying the price because of the ongoing instability and chaos in the Government in Canberra.
One last question and we're got to go to our next engagement.
JOURNALIST: There is a proposal to scrap the election eve ban on TV campaign advertising. Do you think the ban is outdated?
SHORTEN: No, I think that if we have a long election, it doesn't hurt to give people 48 hours break before they go to the polls, on the electronic advertising.
You know, the real issue though here is that the Government has got another proposal to let their politicians spend money they get for expenses on television ads. I think instead of the Government trying to find new ways to spend money on television ads - we're all a bit over the digital pollution, including that by Clive Palmer.
I would like to see the Government support more transparent donation laws. I think if you're going to give a politician more than a thousand dollars, you should have that, your identity and the donation disclosed in real time. And I think there's no reason why the Government couldn't do that now to restore people's faith in our political system.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, just to ask you about the latest polls. Are you ready to be Prime Minister?
SHORTEN: I'm ready to be Prime Minister but in terms of the polls, I've had a basic rule for the last five and a half years: whether or not they're good, bad or indifferent, I don't talk about them. More importantly than that basic rule, I understand that there are more important things to talk about than opinion polls. What the Australian people want to hear me and other politicians talk about is the people. And I think one of their number one issues they want to hear us talk about is the plan we have to deal with the fact that everything is going up except your wages. Well today, I was able to tell brewery workers in the Yatala, I can tell farmers in the bush, I can tell small businesses in Western Sydney - we have got a plan to give you a better, fairer tax cuts. We have got a plan to tackle energy prices. We've got a plan to restore funding to our hospitals, our Medicare and our schools and we've got a plan to help get wages moving again. That's our plan and we look forward to talking to it between now, every day now until the next election.
Thanks everybody, cheers.