Bill's Transcripts



23 APRIL 2013

National Plan for School Improvement, Superannuation, Williamstown Navy shipyard


REPORTER:              Well, Minister, thanks for your time.  Can I just start on the education deal that's been signed on today between New South Wales and the Commonwealth?  Politically, how important is this for the Gillard Government?

BILL SHORTEN:       Well I've just seen notice of this great deal for New South Wales school children and New South Wales parents.  As a parent of children in the Victorian system, I hope that other state governments make sure they're looking after the parents' and children's interests in the other states of Australia.

                                    This deal means approximately $4,300 per student being spent on resources, on teaching capacity in every school in New South Wales.  I, like millions of other Australian parents whose children go to schools in states other than New South Wales, want to know why state governments aren't signing up to a deal which gives kids a better chance in life than they otherwise would get.

REPORTER:              How important is it to get those other states on board?  Because you surely don't want a mish-mash of agreements here, some states on board and others missing out.

BILL SHORTEN:       Well let's for a moment suspend if it's a Liberal state government or a Labor national government.  What really matters here are the kids and the parents.  What really matters here is that children in Australia get the best education possible for dealing with a rapidly changing world they're going to grow up into.

                                    The politics is a secondary issue. What really matters here, I know and millions of Australian parents know, that we want our kids to get the best resources possible.  Money spent educating kids is never money wasted.  So I would like to see other state governments follow the striking leadership position taken by Prime Minister Gillard and Premier O'Farrell today.

REPORTER:              Can I just turn to the budget coming up in just a few weeks' time?  Of course, this is - the education area is one of the big spending items.  Your portfolio of superannuation has been one where the Government has made some cuts.  And I know you've been asked a number of times to rule out further cuts in terms of superannuation.  Can you give a guarantee there won't be more bad news for superannuation investors?

BILL SHORTEN:       Yes the Treasurer and I said that when we announced our package of reforms. The great thing about living in Australia, the best country in the world, is that everyone's living longer. The challenge, therefore, is to encourage more people to save more for their retirement.  That's why it's only a Labor Government who said that they'll allow people over sixty to put in an extra $10,000 per year from the first of July this year, and people over the age of fifty from the first of July 2014.

                                    We've made it very clear that what guides Labor in superannuation is people's life expectancy, making sure that we've got a sustainable system, making sure that people have a fighting chance to retire comfortably.  That's what matters and we really want to see superannuation out of the twenty-four hour press budget speculation, because we think that superannuation is a generational institution so that people don't retire poor.

REPORTER:              Stability, stability and certainty in superannuation is important, so how long does this assurances guarantee from the Government that you won't make further changes, how long does that last?  Is it just for this budget?

BILL SHORTEN:       Unlike the Liberal Party of Australia, we want to depoliticise all the policy making in superannuation.  We want to create a charter of superannuation principles and get a group of independent people to assess whoever's the government of the day's policies on super.  So that's our commitment.  You don't have to take one side or the other.  We want to take it beyond or above politics.

                                    Only Tony Abbott has a life plan to reintroduce taxes for low paid people in superannuation.  Did you know that there's three-and-a-half-million people who earn less than $37,000 a year?  At the moment, under Labor - it's the law you don't pay any tax on your superannuation contribution if you earn less than $37,000.

                                    Tony Abbott, for whatever reason, wants to introduce a tax on low paid Australian workers. It's crazy.

REPORTER:              Now there's been some better news for superannuation investors.  The returns are looking stronger for this financial year.  Do you expect that will affect investment decisions?

BILL SHORTEN:       I think there's quite a bit of good news going around the Australian economy.  What people want is confidence.  But we have seen our stock market since the beginning of the year perform more strongly than we've seen for the last three or four years.  We also see superannuation returns, at this stage, appear to be double digit, which is good news.  Interest rates are down and inflation's pretty low.  Real wages growth is reasonable but modest.

                                    Australia, in terms of superannuation and a number of morale building factors, is going strongly.  We just need to make sure that we're governing Australia for the future rather than just the twenty-four hour news cycle which we are.

REPORTER:              Can I just turn to a couple of other issues, finally?  The Australian newspaper today reports that BAE Systems is considering the future of the Williamstown Navy shipyards there.  There are more than a thousand jobs at stake if this were to be shut down or mothballed.  Have you been in talks with them?  Are there any assurances you can give?

BILL SHORTEN:       In a past job I used to go down and visit the dockyard a fair bit.  My family used to work in dockyards so I'm very keen to see a sustainable job security for highly skilled Australian shipyard workers.

                                    What the Australian Government's doing, the national Labor Government's doing, is we're building three air war destroyers, the Hobart, the Brisbane and the Sydney.  We know that at some point in the future we're going to make a commitment on our future submarine fleet.

                                    What I understand the defence people are doing is looking at how they can stretch the construction of these three ships to retain sufficient naval shipbuilding capacity for when the submarine projects come online.

                                    This Government spent literally billions of dollars in procuring the appropriate military hardware for Australia's service people and we have a high priority on building that domestically.

REPORTER:              Well they're saying that they need more of the work associated with that air warfare destroyer project, the eight-billion dollar project.  Are they going to get more?

BILL SHORTEN:       Well we've said that at some future point we need to look at what our submarine capacity needs are.  Beyond that you'll have to speak to the defence chaps about all the detail of it.

                                    What I know that under a Labor Government, manufacturing, shipbuilding is important to Australia and to Australians and we'll keep doing what we've always done which is look after manufacturing.

REPORTER:              Bill Shorten, we will have to leave it there.  Thanks for your time.

BILL SHORTEN:       Cheers.  Bye.

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