Bill's Speeches



Good morning. Thank you for taking a couple of minutes off work. First of all, you work for a good company and you do good work for this company. This company in its various iterations in the past, has been on a journey [inaudible] way back in the day. I think you’ve had EDI have you? APB. Now it’s Bombardier. I think Bombardier fulfilled the trust you’ve placed in them.

What I’m here to do, is say just as you need cooperative relations with your employer, you go to work every day, you do highly skilled work. I think Australians would be surprised to learn you can turn around a tram carriage in five days. That’s a really good effort in coach building. I think Australians tend to think our manufacturing days were in the past and they’ve also got a sort of smoke-stacked view of it. You know, ‘why on earth would young people ever want to go into manufacturing?’ 

But when you look at how you work in teams buying new technology, how you're delivering a service, which all Victorians and people interstate know you. This is a very good story. While this has been a very long election, which is the other guy’s fault, I want to say to you this is great for the national media to see what you do. Perhaps whilst what you do, you take it in your stride, the truth of the matter is, Australians need to see Australians making things and making world class things. 

What we are doing today, is launching Labor's positive policies for Victoria. In other words, what is the practical benefit for Victorians voting for Federal Labor at this election. We've got this document, I won't read it all today, but I will summarise the key features of it to you in a couple of minutes.

One, we believe in job creation and the maintenance of good paying jobs. You've got good workplace relations here, which is excellent. But what you've also got, is ongoing work because governments make decisions when they build public transport infrastructure that there's local content. You're now surfing 55 - 60 per cent of those carriages with local content. I think that’s important. All of the G20 Nations, you know the big first world nations around the world, when they invest in public transport - and by the way other governments do invest in public transport unlike the last couple of years of the current Federal Liberal Government - but when they invest in public transport, they also invest in local content.

It is understood, part of the premium for the taxpayer investing in public transport is not just easing congestion, not just making it easier for people to move around our cities and providing a cost effective alternative, it's also about creating local manufacturing, local design and advanced manufacturing jobs.

If we get elected on July 2, we will invest in public transport in Perth with Perth Metronet. We will invest in AdeLINK, which will see new tram lines. We will work with the Victorian Labor Government to invest in the Melbourne Metro. We want to create rail links in Western Sydney. We want to help build the Brisbane Cross-River Rail. That is a good series of work which will generate a decade of work for Australian manufacturing.

The other thing we are going to do in our strategy, we're going to require the employment of apprentices on Commonwealth jobs. For every ten people who work on Commonwealth infrastructure projects we're going to say one in every ten has to be an apprentice. That means we are going to provide support for apprentices. Under the current Government we've seen apprenticeship numbers drop from 415,000, when the Liberals got elected barely three years ago, down now to 295,000. Who do they think are going to do the trades of the future? It’s not enough to have a strategy to rely on 457 Visa workers and not train our own people.

We’ve got a priority for apprenticeship. We're going to put more of our vocational education dollar into TAFE and not the private sector with the doggie loans. The issue is the Commonwealth Government’s strategy for apprenticeships is to lend young people money while they do their apprenticeship. Young people, and indeed mature age apprentices, can't afford to take out more loans. Apprentices' don’t get paid a great deal of money. The idea the only strategy this government has got is to put them into debt, that’s not and apprenticeship strategy, that’s a debt strategy.

So when you think about it, we've got infrastructure, with a big focus on public transport. We’ve got the requirement for apprentices and we're investment in apprenticeships. But the rest of our policies we're launching here, is you don't build an economy just through infrastructure. We also do it through supporting local industry. We've got a plan to save the steel industry. Arrium, as you know, employees 900 people in Victoria, One Steel at Laverton. We want to see these businesses survive, so we're going to help to make it more attractive for a new purchaser to buy the business as a going concern.

The job of a Labor Government is to make sure we don't turn our back on an industry where the workers have been paying taxes all the time, where the companies have been delivering taxes to the Government and then when the going gets tough, the Liberals say: ‘Oh just read some right wing textbook about a global level playing field and don't bother us.’ We're not that sort of people. We understand the way you make an economy grow is you deliver ongoing continuous well-paying jobs; infrastructure, apprenticeships and backing-in steel.

The other things we are announcing here, is if you want to have a productive future you've got to give young people the best education possible. We are going to properly fund our schools. Some of you might have kids at government schools right now. You know the voluntary levy is creeping up each year, each year, putting in danger the concept of a free education. What we want to do is take the pressure from schools, government and non-government, by funding them according to need.

You know, the suburbs around here, everywhere from Cheltenham through to Doveton right out to Cranbourne and beyond are growing suburbs. Not every suburb is a well off suburb. Not every parent has got a lot of money to allocate. What we need to do is use the scarce taxes people pay. Parents legitimately pay taxes to Canberra in the expectation some of that will come back in the investment in their kids’ education. We want to make it possible for working class kids to go to university without paying for $100,000 degrees. Not every kid wants to go to university, I get that. We've said how we're going to help support apprenticeships. But for those working class kids who get the opportunity, maybe their parents didn't get the opportunity to go to University, we want them to get there on the basis of their hard work, not the wealth of their parents.

Our policies don't just stop at education. We're also highly committed to the healthcare system of Australia. One of the big issues in this election is Medicare. Now, Mr Turnbull thinks because he writes his signature on a piece of paper and says: ‘I won't hurt Medicare’ we've just got to believe that. He writes that little note and says: ‘Nothing to see here people. Move on please past the scene of the accident.’ The truth of the matter is, if Malcolm Turnbull really cared about Medicare, he wouldn't be freezing Government payments to GPs for six years. What that freeze to GPs means for six years, is doctors are going to have to scrap bulk billing.

You go to work every day, you pay your Medicare levy. The reasonable expectation is you don't face a big upfront fee if your kids are sick, if your parents are ageing and need to go and see a doctor, or if you've got a relative with a chronic health issue. The GP freeze undermines Medicare because Medicare is about universal health for all. The same system, it doesn't matter if you're the richest Australian or the poorest.

They are also increasing the price of medicine. We've said ‘no, you can't do that’. How does that help cost of living? They want to get rid of bulk billing incentives for pathology labs and x-ray operations. A pathology lab is a fancy way of saying blood tests. You think about whatever conditions, the older you get you get more conditions and you have a blood test, a diagnosis. We've got the best science, but it's no good to you if you face an upfront fee to go and get the test.

These are big issues. On Medicare, I don't trust them. I don't believe them. They set up a privatisation task-force, now there seems to be a game of collective amnesia from the Federal Government. Finger-pointing saying 'it wasn't my idea' - apparently it was no one’s idea but they spend $5 million on it. Apparently when people tried to find out about it, they said it was a secret Cabinet document. Now Malcolm says it never went to Cabinet. The Australian people aren't stupid. The Liberals don't get Medicare, they don't get bulk billing.

The reason I've spoken about those as some of our priorities ahead of other areas, is not other areas aren't important, like real action on climate change. I’ll tell you one area that is important that helps Victorians. We want to deal with the opportunity for people to be able to buy their first home. At the moment, you go to bid for a house and most of the bidders are people just trying to get their first house. Some are property investors looking to make a profit, that's fine. But some are investors buying their 10th house who get a taxpayer funded subsidy to compete against your kids to buy that house. Your taxes are currently going to a system of negative gearing, which rewards some people to compete against your own family to buy a house. It's a sweet deal, I suppose, if you're getting it.

They're the current rules. If any of you are currently negatively geared, there's no change. If you've invested under the current laws that's fine. But in the next 10 years, if I've got to find the money to pay for healthcare, if I've got to find the money to pay for public infrastructure, if I've got to find the money to help pay for schools, why on earth would we give corporate tax cuts of $50 billion? Why on earth would we maintain unsustainable tax concessions which favour the few?

You've been a very patient groups and I appreciate it very much. I tell you what, this is the final proposition I want to put to you: Some of you are into politics, some of you hate politics and some of you are probably in between. What I would say to you is this: for those who just think ‘oh well, politics is a done deal it’s stitched up somewhere else; the big battalions, the vested interests, the banks who don't want a Royal Commission and that individuals can't change it,’ that is wrong.

You work hard for your pay here, but if you want to make sure your kids can still go and see the doctor and still keep a bulk billing system, if you want to make sure they go to a well-resourced school, if you want to make sure there are still apprenticeships and they're not something you read about in a museum, if you want to have good public transport infrastructure which generates great quality advanced manufacturing jobs, vote Labor.

Thanks very much everyone.        


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