GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND
WEDNESDAY, 23 JANUARY 2019
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s Queensland Jobs Not Cuts bus tour; Labor’s investment in Great Keppel Island and tourism; Women in the Labor Party; Gilmore; Superannuation reform.
RUSSELL ROBERTSON, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CAPRICORNIA: I'm here at the Keppel Bay Sailing Club with the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese and the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten. We're here today backing in our commitment to match Annastacia Palaszczuk's Labor Government's commitment to $25 million to put mains power and water to Great Keppel. But we know that if we can get Great Keppel going again, the jewel in the Capricorn Coast crown, we are going to see an additional 860,000 extra tourist visits. That'll be $83 million back into the local economy to get the Capricorn Coast back to where it should be, competing with the Tropical North Coast. But that's what we need, we've seen the local member turn her back on this project. I've been working hard with Anthony and Bill to make sure that we can secure this funding to make sure we can get the Capricorn Coast back up and competitive with the Tropical North Coast. I'll throw over to Bill now and Bill will add more to the announcement. Bill?
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks, Russell and that was Russell Robertson, Labor's candidate in Capricornia. Great to see what we can do to help make Great Keppel Island the jewel in the Queensland tourism crown. I congratulate Brittney Lauga the local state member in the Palaszczuk Government for recognising that Great Keppel Island and the surrounding environment can be restored to its former glory.
Many of us when we were younger heard all the advertising slogans about Great Keppel Island but we've heard too little for too long about it. One of the reasons is that whilst we've got bold entrepreneurs and tourism operators and small businesses hanging in there, making sure that Great Keppel Island and Yeppoon are a fantastic tourism venue, they haven't had the sort of support from Canberra which their efforts deserve. So, influenced by Russell Robertson's lobbying, talking to the local community, our own in-house tourism guru, Anthony Albanese, we've decided in Labor that if we get elected, we will provide $25 million to make sure there are secure supplies of water and energy to Great Keppel Island. This is just what the island and the surrounding area needs to be an anchor for further investment. It's interesting sometimes when you realise how a modest degree of government support repaying the tourism leaders and visionaries, can actually deliver exponentially better benefits in jobs and income for the local region.
This $25 million investment to ensure these sustainable supplies of water and energy, matching Annastacia Palaszczuk's vision, what that will do is actually for $25 million is deliver $83 million of benefit every year. This is the smart use of precious and important taxpayer dollars to help build the whole Australian tourism story.
Tourism is one of the unsung champions of the Australian economy. Resources are very important, agriculture is very important, defence very important but what we also need is tourism. So this investment is part of Labor's vision for tourism in Northern Australia and indeed throughout Australia. This modest investment, sensible and well argued for by Russell Robertson anchors again our commitment to tourism infrastructure fund in Australia of $1 billion and our other announcements we've made to improve tourism.
And I don't mind admitting that I am patriotic about our tourism industry. I want to see more Australians take their holidays at home. But what we need to do is remove some of the impediments for Australians to have a great Aussie holiday. This is a little patch of paradise and with some modest investment, more people from Australia and around the world can share this remarkable piece of Australia. I'd now like to hand over to Anthony Albanese to talk further about this idea and our tourism initiatives for Queenslanders and jobs.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE: Thanks very much, Bill. Look it is fantastic to be back here in Yeppoon. I was here last November with Robbo, our local candidate and Brittney, the local state member for one of the 30 tourism roundtables that I've held right around the country talking with tourism operators, small and medium businesses, by and large people who have taken an enormous risk to invest their own money about what way government can provide assistance. And this is a perfect example of the role that the Commonwealth Government can do in partnership with state and local government and the private sector to drive jobs and to drive regional economic growth. This $25 million paired with the $25 million from the state government, will upgrade the energy and water security for Great Keppel Island.
What that will do is anchor investment on that island, creating jobs, creating for that $50 million, one off capital investment, an ongoing benefit of $83 million each and every year growing into the future. It is symbolic of the commitment that we have to regional tourism. That's why we've created a $1 billion regional tourism infrastructure fund from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, so that throughout the north, its potential as a tourism magnet can be reached. One of the things that came out of the forum that we held here last November was the need for people to have secure employment in this local region, for the kids who are growing up here to see an opportunity to stay in the region. And tourism is vital for that. That's why we're concerned about making tourism a career, not just something that people do for one or two days or for one or two weeks or one or two years maybe even while they're studying.
It has to be a career path, it has been identified by Deloitte Access Economics as one of the super growth sectors of the Australian economy into the future and that's why we have a vision not as tourism that's something that's forgotten and we must remember that the Coalition Government forgot to appoint a tourism minister when they were first elected and couldn't tell us what Department tourism would be located in. As it is, it's somewhere on the fourth floor of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We'll put it back in the centre of infrastructure and transport and regional economic development because we understand that tourism is absolutely critical.
And the efforts of Russell Robertson as the Labor candidate for Capricornia stand in stark contrast to the efforts of the local member, Michelle Landry. Now, the local member Coalition member described any objection to not having funding for this project as something that was just making noise. She wasn't interested in actually backing in her local community. I think it's fantastic that we've got a candidate here who not only listens to his local community but makes sure that his party, Labor under Bill Shorten, is delivering on what the local community want and indeed need.
SHORTEN: Thanks Anthony, thanks Russell, thanks Brittney. Are there any questions on this announcement or indeed any other local or national issues?
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you accept that there is a cultural problem within the Victorian right and what are you going to do to boost women's representation inside your own faction?
SHORTEN: First of all, I actually want to congratulate the whole of the Labor Party for the efforts that they have made in the last decade, in particular the last five and a half years since I have been leader. Representation of women in the Labor Party is at the national level at an all-time high. Now I appreciate that if Jenny George has some further ideas about how we can further improve upon our personal best performance already, that is fine and we welcome them, we can always do better. But I would say that I'm not going to see the efforts of the national conference in 2015, where we proposed fifty-fifty and all of the women MPs in the Labor Party who have reached senior positions and indeed positions in Parliament and say that that hasn't been good, it is and I salute them. And I am going to keep working with my whole movement to further improve a fair go for women in Australia.
JOURNALIST: Why do you think it is your faction isn't pulling its weight in this regard?
SHORTEN: I think about Jo Ryan and I think about Clare O'Neill and I think about Jacinta Collins and I think about Senator Kimberley Kitching and I think about our great candidate, Jennifer Yang, along with all of the women candidates in the Labor Party, they are doing a good job. I always welcome suggestions on how we can do better, but in the Australian political scene, the Labor Party, and when you visit Question Time and you look along the ranks of the government frontbench and backbench and you look along the ranks of the Labor Party, we are doing as well as we ever have but I'm not complacent. And if we want to improve women's representation in Parliament, vote Labor at the next election because we are running a lot of women in a lot of seats.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the new Liberal candidate for the seat of Gilmore is a former National President of your party, whatever you say about opposing candidates, you'd have to admit that the new candidate needs to be a pretty competent person in light of that?
JOURNALIST: Doesn't the fact that they have been the National President of your party speak highly of their competency?
SHORTEN: Well when someone's a Labor Party representative, I think their values and policies for Australia are very good. But the Morrison Government values and policies are not policies that I think are in the interests of the Australian people. So I would always pick the Labor candidate over the Liberal candidate. But let's go to the heart of the matter in this Federal electorate of Gilmore which is on the South Coast of New South Wales. It has been a Government seat - the current Member of Parliament is not the new candidate. It is a woman Liberal MP called Anne Sudmalis. She has had to put up her hands and say she can't continue because of the bullying within the Liberal Party.
Now what we see is chaos and division. It doesn't matter what day of the week it is when you open a newspaper, a common story, a daily story, is division. The next election, and your question went to about which candidate and why to vote for them, a vote for Labor is a vote for stability. A vote for the Liberals is a vote for instability. A vote for Labor is a vote for a united party, a vote for the Liberal Party is for a vote for a divided and disunited party.
To be honest, I just can't believe how every day this current government get up and muck it up. They are so focused on themselves, I don't know how they find time to do anything else.
JOURNALIST: Chris Bowen has identified a problem with workers having too many superannuation accounts. Given that part of the problem is that workers are being defaulted into different accounts through the industrial relations system, how do you propose to rectify that?
SHORTEN: Well what we did when we were in government - first of all, it's a fair point, that we don't want to have people having multiple accounts and multiple fees and charges. One of the biggest problems is that when people have wanted to merge their superannuation funds, and I am sure there is even people at this press conference who have tried to merge their funds, it was an unduly complex process and some superannuation funds would put a lot of obstacles in your way to move your money from one fund to another.
A particular problem I noticed was in the life insurance, where a bank fund would, for example, have quite an elaborate life insurance scheme which you would lose if you moved. So we want to make it easier for people to move and amalgamate their funds, and we did a lot of that in government.
What we also want to do is make sure that people aren't put into funds which are chronically underperforming.
Now, we all know the government has had an ideological crusade to the point of boring Australia to back the banks against industry super funds. We are not interested in who runs the fund, we are interested in is the fund performing in the interests of the account holders and beneficiaries?
So Chris has proposed that we need to look at the bottom quartile of fund performers. If your fund over five years, is constantly in the bottom quarter, it is time for those trustees to pull up their socks. Now, out of interest, it is just a point of technical factual data, but the bottom quarter of poorly performing super funds in Australia are run by the banks. They don't mind taking your money, they just don't like performing for it in too many cases of superannuation.
So we are up for making sure that for poorly performing funds, they don't keep getting their mitts on money year in year out. We will work with the sector, we will work with consumer representatives and we will work with the Liberal Party to try and get it right. But what the Liberals have to do is if they want to be fair dinkum about delivering better returns for workers, they have go to leave their hatred of industry funds at the door, they've got to grow up and look at performance rather than who the trustees are.
JOURNALIST: Do you accept, Mr Shorten, the Treasurer's summary that Australia now faces real threats from the global economy or do you think the government is using that to try to make the economy a larger issue campaigning to the expected May election?
SHORTEN: There is no doubt there is instability on the global stage. But what worries me is that this government has squandered the last six years and not prepared Australia for any instability which could happen. This is a government who have let working Australians fall behind. At a time when savings are important, this is a government who is running wages policies, which means that people have to spend precious household savings just to keep pace.
One of the ways that we inoculate us against difficulties around the world is that we make sure that the wages are moving, at least comparable to where the prices are moving. Our challenge in Australia under this government is as the world is unstable, child care prices have gone up, cost of energy has gone up, private health insurance is becoming a luxury item. This is a government who has got the economy wrong and every year in every budget they change their warnings.
In 2014 Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey, remember them? They were the first attempt at the Liberals to run the country. They said austerity - they cut everything in sight. By 2016 the government's only plan became giving away money to the top end of town. And I predict in this budget coming up, they won't worry about the rest of the world, they're just going to try and spend money, to try and buy some votes to desperately get you to ignore the fact that this is a divided government who has mismanaged the economy over the last five years. Too much inequality, too much unfairness for working people, too many cuts to vital services like hospitals and education, this is a government who is not preparing Australia for the future. They are too busy fighting themselves.
JOURNALIST: And if that budget has a bottom line surplus on it, the April 2nd Budget, will you find that credible do you think? Or do you think that might be an unbelievable figure given the election context we're in?
SHORTEN: Well we will have to see the numbers, but let's say what is really going on in Australia at the moment. We have always had the budget in May. This government is bringing the budget forward unusually and they will try and spend their way to victory.
They're going to spend money, they're going to spend future money to just try and buy votes now. This is a government who has stopped governing. One, they brought the budget forward early for political reasons. Two, they don't even have Parliament sit anymore. I mean, a government who can't attend Parliament is not in government. The fact that the Senate is only sitting for seven days in eight months and the House of Representatives only ten days in eight months, if any ordinary Australian going to work today said "Listen boss, you will see me for ten days in the next eight months if that is all right, thank you very much?"
I mean, it is not credible. This is a government who has run out of puff. The budget's early, they don't want to come to Parliament and they are very divided and all they can do is talk about themselves. In the meantime there are big issues out there. Everything is going up in Australia except wages. They have got no plan on climate change, energy prices are out of control. They have stopped governing - they are just worried about the next election.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, a couple of local questions. We know that these marginal seats in Central Queensland are going to be quite important but what do you see as the key issue (inaudible)?
SHORTEN: Jobs. Jobs, jobs and jobs. Secure jobs. Sustainable jobs. That is why we have announced $800 million for the Rockhampton Ring Road. Because we know, that if truck traffic doesn't move through the centre of town but can move more easily, that saves costs, indeed it saves lives. We know that if we invest in the dual lane developments between Yeppoon and Rocky, that's going to recognise the fact that the coast has grown in population, it's going to make life easier. We know that if we invest money in the cardiac unit at the local hospital, that's going to improve the health outcomes for central Queenslanders and it means also they save costs and there will be jobs there. We have announced a proper policy in terms of local procurement, so when we outline our expenditures, what we're going to require is that if someone wants to get a Commonwealth contract in central Queensland, they have to have got to have a local component. There will be no local contracts unless there are local jobs.
So we think that's a very solid platform when you combine it with what we will do to reverse the cuts to health care, when you look at our proposals to make sure central Queensland gets the best educational offerings possible, I think it makes sense that we're going to look after people and we're going to restore the penalty rates of workers who have had their penalty rates slashed.
JOURNALIST: Budget airlines, I'm told, are interested in reinstating direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Rockhampton, and once approvals are made, to Great Keppel Island. Do you see Great Keppel Island as a place that people from NSW and Victoria would like to come and visit?
SHORTEN: Oh, my word. It is a shame they didn't put Parliament up in somewhere near Rockhampton, this would be a great place to have Parliament. Australians like the Queensland coastline. They are very proud of the Great Barrier Reef. This is a superb tourist offering. I think I said earlier in my opening about the importance of domestic tourism. It would be really good if Australians could come and see their own regions and their own beautiful country, and they want to. So if we can do things to improve airline access to central Queensland, I think that is one of the missing links. If we can make it a bit easier for people to get here, then I think you will see a new wave of tourism.
But this is the vision I have for Central Queensland. I might finish up with the press conference on this note. We have announced this week so far a commitment to local procurement. That means that when Commonwealth money is being spent in the regions, we will decentralise the contract so local businesses and local jobs are created. We are proposing ways of improving infrastructure. We understand that central Queensland is a resources economy, that defence plays an important role, that agriculture is fundamental to its future, but so is tourism, so is education, so is health.
We look at Central Queensland and we see a diversified, exciting economy. Central Queenslanders don't want a hand-out from the government but they would like to see some of the taxes they pay to Canberra reinvested in their community.
Russell Robertson doesn't take no for an answer. He has pushed this proposal, along with Brittany, the state member here, to make sure that we invest in tourism. What you need in Central Queensland is politicians who listen to you, no matter what your political perspective and fight for you. This bloke is carved from Capricornia. He has worked in nearly every town in Capricornia, third generation coal miner. He is exactly what the political doctor ordered for people in Central Queensland who are sick of being treated as LNP heartland.
On that positive note, I have a bus to catch. Thanks everybody.