WEDNESDAY, 20 MARCH 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor’s investment in Western Australia; domestic violence; Indigenous rangers; future of mining; TAFE; climate policy; comments by the Turkish President; migration cap; Western Australian tourism; Blood alcohol testing; Liberals and Nationals preferencing One Nation; regulating hate speech on social media; Wittenoom.
PREMIER MARK MCGOWAN: Good morning everyone. Today we held a historic joint meeting of the State Cabinet and the Federal Shadow Cabinet, and we had some very good discussion between Bill Shorten's team and my team. It was very important in the lead up to the federal election a few weeks away that we have those joint communications and discuss issues of relevance and importance to the people of Western Australia.
I know if Bill Shorten is elected Prime Minister, he will be the Prime Minister for the entire country, especially Western Australia. As Bill has shown, and as his team have shown, they have a real interest in our state, a commitment to fixing the GST, commitment to infrastructure in WA, and he has been here on 38 occasions since he's been the Federal Opposition Leader - which must be some sort of record.
He and the team, and my team, discussed important issues to Western Australia. Whether it was health or education, economic development, federal-state relations, domestic violence, you name it, we had important conversations about those issues and it was very good to allow my team to brief the federal team on state government policies and programs and also indicate that we want to work constructively with a Shorten Labor Government if they're elected in a couple of months’ time.
I was very pleased to be briefed that today, Bill will be announcing important developments for Western Australia including a national mining centre to be based here in WA, and also additional indigenous rangers to work on conservation land across Western Australia, and also some additional funding facilities for aged care.
As we've seen the Federal Opposition has made the difficult decisions that have allowed them to fund important projects across the state, especially here in Western Australia. And during the course of this week we've seen announcements around health infrastructure, support for drug addiction, and important mining and other announcements. So I'm very pleased with all of these announcements and very pleased that Bill and the team have come to Western Australia. I'll now hand over to Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody and thank you Premier Mark McGowan for hosting a historic meeting, a joint cabinet meeting of the West Australian Government and the Federal Shadow Cabinet. You know, we had the meeting today and it was a good exchange of ideas and views, a discussion about a vision for Western Australia. I actually think we need to see more of this across the nation - the different levels of government working together. That's what I can promise West Australians - that if I'm elected Prime Minister in six or seven weeks, you're going to see more cooperation and more making sure that Western Australia gets its fair share.
I'm really pleased to announce that amongst the matters which were agreed on and discussed today, we've got some exciting new initiatives which will help secure the future of the West economically and in terms of jobs.
The third thing, which, is of course mining. Western Australia is a mining colossus. It is an oil and gas and mining colossus. With 11 per cent of the Australian population, Western Australia contributes 40 per cent of our exports, and mining and oil and gas are at the centre of this. So what Federal Labor will do is after consulting with industry, we're going to set up an Australian Future Mine Centre. We're going to get the smartest people in Australia, from the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, working with industry in this centre to help properly map our natural resources.
For a country that's made its money on mining, we haven't explored all of the resources. We have two thirds of Australia, of our resources are unknown, but with the advent of better technology and scientific breakthroughs, we can actually find out what our future is in terms of resources in this country. That'll be $46 million of which a Federal Labor Government will contribute $23 million.
But it doesn't stop there. See, Western Australia is not just a mining and resources place, it's a diverse economy and one of the fastest growing areas for jobs in the west is of course aged care and disability. The experts say that in the next three years, four years, we are going to need an extra 10,000 people for the positions created by the National Disability Insurance Scheme and better support for Australians as they grow older - 10,000 jobs in the west which we're going to need to fill, and I want to see Western Australians fill these positions. So we're going to invest in three separate TAFEs to build the training complexes we need to provide the training for our future aged care workforce. That'll be at Mount Lawley, Joondalup, and Rocky. So if you want to look for a job in aged care and NDIS, courtesy of Federal Labor working with the McGowan Government, we'll make sure you've got the skills to be part of that new wave of jobs.
Of course the regions are very important, and our First Australians. So we're going to double our commitment to the very successful Indigenous ranger program. This will lead to hundreds of extra positions being created for Indigenous Australians, many of whom are in remote communities and on country, in aquaculture and agriculture, making sure we are environmentally sustainable.
Of course another issue which we spoke about, which is unfortunately not where there's a lot of good news, it's not good news at all, is the challenging and vexed area of domestic violence. It is an epidemic. Western Australia sadly has the second highest rates of domestic violence fatalities - there were 28 last year, up from 11 the year before. We must do better. Now Mark McGowan's taking a lead on this - an overdue lead on this for Western Australia. So we're going to work closely with our national programs to make sure that West Australian women are safe and we can do better at this.
We've got an $88 million national program for new refuges. We're going to make sure that 10 days paid domestic violence leave is put into awards so that we can make sure that if you need that time to just try and recover, help your kids, do all the dreadfully complex financial matters if you're the victim of domestic violence, that your work doesn't suffer.
We're going to invest in 20,000 flexible support packages. They are amounts of money running to several thousand dollars which will be available across the country, so that people who just need the help to leave. No woman should stay in an abusive violent relationship because she doesn't have the money to leave.
So these four areas- new research for our mining sector, training indigenous ranges on country, providing the TAFE facilities so that we can train the disability and aged care workforce of the future, and on domestic violence, we want to make sure that Western Australian women get a fair go. These are the sort of exciting initiatives that a McGowan Labor government in the West can do, and a federal Labor government can do in Canberra by working together. I mean the summary of this ladies and gentlemen, is that I will fight for Western Australia. I will work with Western Australia to make sure Western Australia gets a fair deal, and these exciting announcements today are a down payment on what we can expect with a more cooperative, functioning, government system in this country.
Happy to take questions along with Mark.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, are these initiatives all affordable, fully funded or - we're clearly in campaign mode mode now, so cross crossing the country dropping millions here and there, is there a danger this election campaign will send Australia broke?
SHORTEN: Well let's not be cavalier about our announcements and it's an important question but I don't accept the assumption that these are just drops or issues, or just election matters. Ever since I became leader of the Labor Party I've said that violence against women, domestic violence has to be a national issue. So this is part of Labor DNA to tackle domestic violence, and the McGowan Government's already doing it. We've costed our promises because we've made economic reform decisions. We've decided that we want to have better jobs not bigger tax loopholes. When it comes to mining this is a very judicious use of $23 million to enable, to facilitate, to exponentially improve the opportunities for mining, oil and gas across the nation, of which Western Australia is such a key part. Doubling the number of Indigenous rangers, it’s not the most expensive policy you've heard - but we know it works. We want to create real jobs for Indigenous Australians. And of course training the workforce for the future, each of these TAFE facilities we're going to upgrade is about $1.85 million, but when we know that we've got 10,000 positions to fill in the west, how smart would it be not to provide the TAFE facilities? And this is the secret of TAFE, which this Government never understands, the Federal Government. TAFE is a marvellous engine room for retraining people. Come with me someday and visit the TAFEs, see the mature age workers who've come back from having kids go back into the workforce. Come to me when we go to the various TAFEs and see young people learning to be the tradespeople of the future.
The beauty of these announcements is actually they don't cost that much. But I think they go to significant areas of the fair go: apprenticeships, First Australians, backing in science and research in mining, and of course domestic violence.
As for our other initiatives in health, and roads, and METROnet - Western Australia hasn't been getting its fair share in the past. I make no apology for saying that when Western Australians pay their tax to Canberra they should reasonably expect a reinvestment. I want Western Australians when they're sick to be looked after in 21st Century hospitals, not 20th Century hospitals. I want to make sure that you have proper public transport so that you're not stuck in congestion. You do deserve to see your roads and your freeways expanded - you've had the population growth.
I mean the problem in Australia is that the infrastructure hasn't kept pace with the population. There have been too many cuts to hospitals, too many cuts to schools, not enough investment in rail, not enough investment in roads, not enough investment in aged care. So what we're doing is we're making up for six years of neglect, of Coalition negligence.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten and Premier McGowan, can I ask as part of your joint-cabinet meeting, was there any questions raised about the EPA decision earlier in the week and were there any definitions sorted about what Labor's emissions policy would be going forward and what would be responsible?
MCGOWAN: We discussed economic matters and the importance of the mining industry and the importance of the oil and gas in Western Australia. And I was very clear that the industry is incredibly important for jobs and jobs growth in our state. So that was very clear and we had a good conversation about that with both Bill and Jason Clare expressing their support for the mining industry and for our LNG industry in the future in Western Australia. As Bill said yesterday, obviously our decision in relation - or the agreed position, reached by the state and the EPA was the right course of action. And ensuring that that issue was put back out for consultation was the right course of action.
And we think that there needs to be a more national approach in relation to these issues. And as I've said repeatedly over the last few weeks, one of the great tragedies of the last 10 years of Australian politics is what Tony Abbott did to national climate policy. But I think there is now a groundswell of opinion across the country that there needs to be a national approach to these issues. So I think there's a lot of agreement between Federal and State Labor this issue.
I think the Liberal Party, if you want me to be a little bit political, they are totally divided. They have no idea what they think on those issues. They have no idea where they're going on those issues. And that is that is very disappointing for the whole country.
SHORTEN: Nick, three points - one, Premier Mark McGowan has handled this issue very well I think.
Two, there should be a national greenhouse emissions policy.
And three, the current government's incapable of coming up with a national greenhouse emissions policy. We'll have more to say closer to the election.
But how on earth can states and regulators and businesses, one jurisdiction around Australia, be expected to be able to predict everything when we've got a government in Canberra who provides no policy certainty. When you are chaotic and divided and you lack policy certainty, it makes life harder for every other Australian.
JOURNALIST: Should Australia move back its ambassador from Ankara?
SHORTEN: I've contacted Prime Minister Morrison this morning and offered my support for a joint approach.
Let me just go to the trigger for why you asked the question. I think the remarks of the Turkish President were foolish and they were offensive. Like many Australians, I have relatives who fought in the First World War and some of whom were at Gallipoli. In 2015, I attended the 100 year centenary. Australians respect very much their relationship with Turkey.
Now my view is that I would rather the current President of Turkey channel the remarks of the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - and I just want to say to Australians that this has been the attitude of Turkey and it's lasted us 100 years of good relationship since the end of the First World War - and he said this - it's inscribed at ANZAC Cove: “You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. You, the mothers who sent their sons here, away from far away countries, wipe away your tears. After having lost their lives in this land they have become our sons as well.”
That generosity of spirit by the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, that's what I think should influence both Australia and Turkey's relationship. It's a strong relationship. I too have spoken to the Turkish Ambassador in Australia. I've expressed the Federal Opposition's rejection of those remarks. What I also understand though - and this might provide some comfort for Australians who are upset by these remarks - is that there is an election in Turkey, a domestic election within the next 10 days. It is not unknown for domestic politicians in domestic elections to say inflammatory things about matters beyond their borders.
But I think we also should recognise that - and it's not an excuse for the remarks - but if you're a person of the Muslim faith and you read online, in the social media the sort of crazed comments of this killer - you too would be affected by it wherever you are. So I think there is a lesson here beyond the remarks of today, there's a lesson here for all of us: We in Australia do not want or expect to be judged by the actions of a single deranged Australian. We don't think our country should be judged by the standards of that man. But perhaps there's a lesson also here for us, that when individuals of other faiths act, maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge the faith and rather, recognise it’s an actions of an individual.
JOURNALIST: DFAT is reviewing travel (inaudible) would it be a shame if Australians are forced to cancel travel to ANZAC Day at Gallipoli?
SHORTEN: Of course it would be a shame. I asked the ambassador, the Turkish Ambassador, his view about the safety of Australians and New Zealanders. He said nothing had changed there but I'll be guided by DFAT's advice. I just want to say to Australians, when it comes to these matters, when other countries, for whatever intemperate or whatever reason, insult our country, then I will work with the Prime Minister of the day and that's what people in Australia expect of us both.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Chamber of Commerce has put out some research on the potential impact of your government, a future government endorsing the ACTU’s living wage and the adverse impact on jobs, and related to that, there's also been a lot of concern about your closeness to some of the militant maritime and construction unions. What can you say about the concerns of people in the business community about wage increases and your relationship with unions?
SHORTEN: Well first of all let's talk about wages. I reject the fairy tale spun by the vested interests of big business which says that reasonable wage rises cause economic dislocation. You know, there was an ad in the newspapers yesterday, I don't know if you saw it in the Financial Review, I don't know if you got to see it. It was 124 economists - 124 professors and doctors of economics who said we need to get wages moving in this country. The Reserve Bank Governor - and I don't think you can call him a shop steward of the MUA, he has said that we need to move on wages. Wage stagnation is without a doubt one of the principal economic problems in this country. Let's be straight about this: corporate profits have gone up in Australia by 45 per cent in the last four years, 45 per cent. Average wages in this country have gone up by 8 per cent. That isn't fair, it's not the way the system should work.
Labor has rolled out a series of sensible, measured ideas which we call a wages policy. This current government boasts about low wages being their economic policy. Tell that to millions of Australians who are struggling with the fact that everything is going up except their wages. So I reject that. Now the chamber who you quoted from, they are a trade union for employers. So it's not really a news story that the representative, the union for employers says please don't increase wages - that's what they paid to say. But I can't take a sectoral view, neither of the unions or of the employer groups. I'm interested in the daily lives of Australian families and Western Australian families.
I think we've got to get wages moving a bit more. So we've said we'll reverse the penalty rates cut. We're going to clamp down on dodgy labour hire practices. We want subcontractors, independent contractors, small businesses who get ripped off by big contractors - we want to give them more legal protection. So we've got a plan to get wages moving for small business, for workers and for contractors. I think this is sensible because in the current climate, we have anaemic domestic demand, and if people aren't getting wage rises, then they're not spending money in the High Street and confidence shrinks and evaporates. Historic low wage rises, this is a problem.
JOURNALIST: Will you be sticking to the 160,000 migration cap for the next four years if you are elected?
SHORTEN: Yes I've seen that the current Prime Minister has said that you know - he has come out, burst out of the blocks today said look at me, I'm going to say that we're going to have migration at 160,000 people a year. Well it sounds like the sort of cut that you have when you want to pretend you're having a cut, but you also know that you need to have immigration to help the economy grow. I mean this is smoke and mirrors. 160,000 this year, do you know what it was last year? 162,000 - so wow, this government's announced a cut of 1 per cent, you know hold the presses, it's staggering. They want people to go to the regions - tick, that's fine. We've all spoken about that and that's a good idea. But let us not pretend that today was earth shattering news.
And the other reason why I find it hard to get too excited about today's announcement, other than the fact it's no different to last year, is that temporary visas which carry work rights, there's no cap on the number of people who come there. That's 1.6 million, going up. So what the government is doing is it’s having a look at one small number and making a 1 per cent change to that, and ignoring the fact that we've got a massively increasing number of temporary work visas. But at the end of the day even with those points, isn't the real issue here that Australians are frustrated that our nation's infrastructure hasn't kept up with population growth.
What the government's trying to do here is make a big fuss, a big decorative announcement about not very much at all, and in turn they're trying to hide the fact that they've neglected to invest in our roads and our cities, they've neglected to invest in our public transport in our cities, they've neglected to invest in our schools and our TAFE's, in our universities and they've been cutting hospital funding.
The real test, the substantial test is are you investing in the nation's infrastructure to keep up with population growth, and the Morrison Government has substantially failed that fundamental test.
JOURNALIST: So do you think that migrants should be incentivised to move into the regions though?
SHORTEN: We're always happy to look at what schemes get people to the regions. This is not new. Any student of economic history since Federation and before, knows that we've had schemes to try and get people to work in the regions. So this is not news, and it's always proven quite difficult and we'll have a very constructive view about that but again, this is hardly radical. If you want to create jobs in the regions, back in our Indigenous rangers program. If you want to back jobs in the regions, sort out the national energy policy. If you want to back jobs in the region, back our buy Australia procurement plans for Australian made railway stock, in Queensland for example. If you want to back jobs in the regions, back in our plan to make a hydrogen research centre in Gladstone. If you want to back our jobs in the regions, do like we're doing and invest in hospitals in regional Western Australia. I mean, Mark McGowan, he's on the ground. People don't want to go to the regions unless there's a job there. So what we've got to do is create the jobs.
JOURNALIST: Who is leading the cost of flying the entire Shadow Cabinet into Perth this week?
SHORTEN: Well, the same people who meet the cost of flying the entire government around the country.
I make no apology for me bringing my team to talk to the West Australian State Government. You know, I think it's important my people are out there. And do you know what's been good about this week? This is the winner, the winners out of this festival of Western Australia are Western Australians. Did you know for instance that we're going to announce greater resources at the Peel Health Campus. That we're going to do more about helping to tackle the ice addiction of Midland through the Midland hospitals, St John of God. That we are going to help provide the Charles Gairdner Hospital, the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth with more resources.
Did you know that we've said that we're going to back in all these things today but we're also going to do more work in terms of stroke prevention and provide regional hospitals of Western Australia with better help so that they can help treat people who have strokes. We are a party who is, you know ingrained and embedded in what Western Australians want us to do.
JOURNALIST: So that's taxpayers?
MCGOWAN: Can I just comment on that, can I just comment on that? It's a great thing. It's a great thing that Western Australia's getting all this attention - this is what we've been looking for for so long. The whole Shadow Cabinet has come to our state, that is terrific. Announcements being made all over the state, across the city, across the regions, important commitments to hospitals, and to education facilities, to Aboriginal people, to jobs. This is what we've been looking for, for so many years and it's now coming to fruition. So I don’t think we should be critical of the Federal Shadow Cabinet coming to Western Australia. They very well could be the government of Australia in a couple of months’ time.
JOURNALIST: But does it take every Shadow Minister, isn't Bill Shorten enough to make all those announcements?
SHORTEN: I appreciate the compliment inherent in that. Well let's be straight here, politicians in Canberra need to get out of Canberra and travel around. You know this is my 74th day in Western Australia and some might like that, some might not like that, some might not have a view. But you can't work out Western Australia from the East Coast. The last thing West Australians want is wise men and women from the East pontificating on fly-in fly-out day trips telling people what they need. You've got to be on the ground.
But if we want to talk about wastage of money, I think we need to ask the Morrison Government why are they spending $200 million on television advertising, boosting the lacklustre achievements of a failing government. If you want to talk about a waste of money, the government's TV advertising campaigns. Every time you and every Western Australian hears another government ad from the Federal Government pumping up their tyres with so little to show for it, that would actually I think, be annoying and frustrating.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten what are the chances of having a West Australian in your Cabinet?
SHORTEN: Good if you can vote for them. We are competitive, people like to ask me here how many seats are you going to win? Well I'm trying to get every vote I can get, everywhere. You know we proposed upgrading and sorting out and renovating and fixing up the Collie Hospital. Now that is theoretically in a Federal Seat which Labor doesn't have any prospects of, but I am a very ambitious fellow for making sure that Labor does as well as we can. So when I come to Western Australia, I don't look at blue seats or red seats, I just see Western Australians, in the regions and of course in Perth. You can't understand Western Australia without understanding the wheat belt, the mining districts, the South West you know, the Goldfields, Central Western Australia. So we are very keen regardless of our electoral chances to have the best possible policies.
In terms of my Western Australian team, I've got some very exciting talent, and again in five of the seats that we're targeting four of them women candidates. I mean you've got to love them in Stirling, don't you the Liberal Party - four women run for preselection and one man, you've got to know who the Liberal Party would pick don't you - another bloke.
JOURNALIST: Premier can you put a cost value on Chris Hemsworth’s video travelling the state and was it worth the price tag of his holiday?
MCGOWAN: Well it got a lot of attention Jess, I saw lots of photos in the West Australian, on Channel 7 and obviously he has one of the largest Instagram followers - followings in the entire world. So posting photos of Western Australia is exactly what we want. Celebrities like Mr Hemsworth and Matt Damon coming to Western Australia and showing off what we have is just terrific, and anyone who knows about tourism marketing these days knows that that's the sort of thing that works, and attracts attention and interest. So I'm very supportive and very pleased that Paul Papalia worked on that project and that we were able to secure it.
JOURNALIST: So how soon do you expect a return, when should tourism numbers to WA be increasing, becasue they've been stagnant.
MCGOWAN: No tourism numbers have been going up both interstate, intrastate and international and we've seen the first growth over the course of the last year in each of those. And obviously yesterday I announced another $12 million for international marketing, so we're doing everything we can to attract additional tourists to WA. You also saw over Christmas the direct flights from Tokyo to Perth, and Paul Papalia again worked very hard on that, so that's the sort of tourism improvements the industry has been crying out for.
JOURNALIST: When - is there a deadline? Would you expect to see vast improvement in 12 months, 24 months, before the state election?
MCGOWAN: We're always fighting for additional tourists but I just want to repeat, interstate, intrastate and international tourism numbers are growing, and they're growing under our government while they were going down under the last Liberal Government.
SHORTEN: I do see the irony, we did bring some of our Federal MPs across so you know we're doing our bit for Western Australia.
JOURNALIST: Are you spending money here?
SHORTEN: Yeah, sure we are.
JOURNALIST: Premier one of your members floated the idea of lowering the blood alcohol limit for drivers from 0.05 to zero, a flat zero. Is that discussion - is it time to have that discussion yet?
MCGOWAN: Look, we don't have any plans to do that. I just, sorry I only heard about it just before - I was out last night. We don't have any plans to do that. The majority of West Australians do the right thing, but I don't object to a community discussion around it. If people want to discuss it and talk about whether or not it's the right thing to do, I have no objection.
JOURNALIST: The limit at the moment, do you see it as effective and safe?
MCGOWAN: Well it's the national standard, so 0.05 is the national standard and it obviously has improved safety enormously since I was a kid ,when we used to drive around literally drinking whilst they were driving. There were no RBT's or anything of that nature out there. So obviously this initiative which has been in place now for decades across Australia has worked effectively, and saved lives on the road. But I don't object to a statewide debate or a national debate on these sorts of things. If it's raised in parliament that's what parliament is for, but we don't have any plans to do it at this point in time.
JOURNALIST: It's going to be the up to the State Government (inaudible)
MCGOWAN: Well the Commonwealth - sorry the Federal Opposition has committed $23 million which is around half the cost and then they'd seek funding from universities, from the private sector and potentially from the State Government. Now obviously the mining sector is very successful in Western Australia and so are the universities, so we'd seek to leverage money out of them for a contribution towards it. I'm very keen to work cooperatively with both the universities and the mining sector on these sorts of project.
JOURNALIST: Is there any double up? Would it cancel out the future batteries then that you are trying to get funding for?
MCGOWAN: No different things, different things. So the Co-operative Research Centre we put in $6.5 million towards that and that's specifically for lithium and to try and get us along the production phase towards batteries. Future mining Centre, bearing in mind we're the biggest mining and the most successful mining profits in the world, is about all our minerals.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten the Prime Minister has condemned comments by Michael Daley in a video that surfaced online. What do you make of the comments, and will you do the same?
SHORTEN: Well first of all there's a state election on Saturday, and Mr Daley has himself dealt with this matter and he's apologised for the remarks. What I do actually see is an important test for our current Prime Minister is this issue of how to treat extreme right wing parties in Australia. I agree with what the Prime Minister said on one of his outings this week where he said there's too much tribalism in Australia and we've got to be more sensible or moderate. That's why I then said that under me, the Labor Party will always put the Liberals and Nationals ahead of One Nation and Fraser Anning. Not because Mr Morrison or the government's policies are anything that I support. But at the some time, we've just, at some point in the political debate in Australia we've got to call time on the rubbish and the extremists.
If the Liberal Party and the Labor Party, the two big parties of Australian politics, don't work together to say we have no tolerance for racism, no tolerance for extremism, then the extremists can always play us off against each other. We've got to form a united front against the hate merchants, the extremists, the political parties who seek to divide this country, who seek to enable majorities to pick on minorities. This is not the Australian way.
For too long people have been too quiet on this and so I say again today - this is a test of Mr Morrison's leadership. I, who will never vote for the Liberals or Nationals, still think that they are a better party and a more serious party on balance than the fringe dwellers of the extreme right. I ask Mr Morrison to do the same.
Are you seriously saying that the extreme right wing views of One Nation and Fraser Anning, you would rather send your votes to them than the other mainstream party. The contest that, I say to Mr Morrison those fringe dwellers can never form a government, and I certainly hope they never do. But unless the two mainstream political movements of this country say enough is enough, time is up on the extremists then they will continue to percolate, they will keep crawling out of the swamp of hatred which all too often some of their policies live in.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, Mr McGowan can I ask you both would you support greater regulation of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, to deal with the promotion of hate speech and political extremist messages?
SHORTEN: Well I do think this is an overdue debate. Just like we need to actually shut the door on the extremists, on those that would divide our society, we now have to have the overdue conversation about the massive power that the technology leviathans exert in Australia. Love you or hate you in the current media and the traditional media, you know, you have to think about what you publish before you publish it as a general rule. And the point of that is that you are accountable to community standards. There are laws. But these big media platforms the Google's, Facebook, the stuff goes up, the hate goes out and then after that, then maybe they'll take it down. You know there's a very strong story today in the West Australian showing that Facebook was still putting material out. It has got to stop. Do you really think that these social media giants who they know what your kids ate for breakfast, they know where you're booking your next holiday, they know what your favourite you know, shopping lists are. Do you really think they can't do more to stop the digital hitmen and the trolls of the underbelly of social media from carrying out their business. So I'm going to meet with the social media companies and they have to explain what are they going to do better. The status quo is unacceptable.
I've also said that we need to be better at recording hate crimes in this country. It is disturbing to discover that our own police agencies have different ways of recording hate crimes. Let me illustrate what I mean. You've got a young woman in a hijab, she gets punched, that's definitely assault, is it a hate crime? Possibly. If you've got a young gay man who's out one night and he gets set upon. If you've got a synagogue which gets vandalized with filthy Nazi rhetoric and abuse, you know, is that malicious property damage or is that a hate crime? So I think we've got to be better reporting it. I think these are important initiatives along with telling the extremists we're not going to work with you.
MCGOWAN: Oh look it's likely a Federal matter because the regulation of telecommunications is largely a Federal matter. But I must say, if there was a Federal move to try to regulate hate speech or some of the shocking stuff you see on social media I'd be supporting it. You know, we all hear all the time about young people who commit suicide because of some of the stuff they see online about themselves and some of the bullying that goes on. This has gone on long enough, and as the dad of three young kids, that's one of the things you worry about, and doing something strong in relation to this sort of activity and conduct I think, is something that every person should support.
JOURNALIST: Premier, have you formally asked [inaudible] and if they refuse to go, what will you do?
MCGOWAN: Well we're going to close Wittenoom. This has gone on long enough. We saw images recently of tourists going in there and basically playing in the deadly blue dust. And so it's been an issue that this state has confronted now for decades, and my government is going to make sure that we end this. Now, obviously it will be a process to work with the three residents that are there. We have money set aside to buy the properties and we will attempt to work constructively with them. It may take some time to resolve the issues but I think we should all agree, the fact that people are risking their lives and potentially killing themselves or their children when they go in there, that needs to stop.
JOURNALIST: So how will you stop people going in there, tourists or others?
MCGOWAN: Well you close the town and then you put in place - you close the roads, you do all that sort of thing. Now the advice I have is that because the township is still there and the roads are still there and there is even anecdotal evidence that some of the residents might be inviting people in there, that once all that stops then the people visiting the site will end as well. Now it might take some time. But seriously, the idea that people would go in there in the deadly blue dust and walk around in it and play around in it is just wrong and we need to take steps to end it.
MCGOWAN: All those sorts of things, they're the sorts of things we will work on. But obviously ending the township where you have permanent residents, who may be inviting others into the township is a big step along the way to ending this dangerous site that can end people's lives.
SHORTEN: Listen I was just going to say, you've been very generous with your questions and very patient with our answers but all good things feel like they come to an end. So see you all a bit later.
MCGOWAN: Thank you.