TUESDAY, 27 JUNE 2017
SIMON CURTIS: Morning everyone, thanks for being here with us. I'm Simon Curtis I'm the Labor Candidate from the last Federal Election. It's wonderful to be here in Berwick today, we've got Bill Shorten, Labor Leader here with us at Australian Precision Technologies. APT are a great success story, they're a great employer locally and it's great to have been here and shown Bill today some of the great manufacturing they're doing in really tough times and they've really gone on to do some wonderful things within our local economy, so thanks Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hello everybody and it's great to be at Australian Precision Technologies and we thank Ron our host. This is the sort of business which government should be getting behind; 25 employees, it's gone through some tough times, the transition with the hits on manufacturing and of course the changes in the automotive industry but this is a company that's investing in the future. It's investing in a better culture in the work place. It is showing real leadership. This company deserves a government in Canberra who is getting on with the job of looking after Australian jobs.
The problem is we see that Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberal Government are consumed by in-fighting. It really is hard to tell who is the most divided party in Australian politics, is it the Liberals or the Greens? But the problem is that the Liberal Party is too busy fighting amongst themselves and not fighting for the jobs of Australians.
I think Australians reasonably expect that a government in Canberra will fight for the jobs of Australians. That's what they're paid to do. They're not paid to fight amongst themselves. So we call upon the government to get behind Australian manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, it's got a bright future, and Canberra needs to recognise that Australia is a country that can still compete in the world and make quality a product in this country. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: What does the Government need to do to help the manufacturing industry move into more high precision areas?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, we need to make sure that there is confidence in the economy. We need to make sure that we have got a well-trained work force, that we are giving opportunities for older Australians who have worked in perhaps automotive manufacturing, to retrain and come and work in this advanced manufacturing. We need to make sure there is a steady supply of apprentices. People who are trained in the great TAFE’s of Australia and can come with the skills that then employers can craft to their business needs.
We need also to make sure that we've got good infrastructure, we need to make sure that people don't have to travel or spend a long time travelling to work. We need a quality, first-rate global NBN which allows our businesses to compete with the rest of the world. It is all about investing in people and it's all about investing in quality infrastructure which is world class.
JOURNALIST: On the infrastructure front are you pleased that Malcolm Turnbull has finally released the asset recycling funds for regional rail?
SHORTEN: Well 18 months after the Liberals should have provided funding for Victoria, they’ve finally come to the party, but let's understand the nature of today's announcement. There was an asset recycling fund nationally but somehow, when it came to Victoria when they sold the port, they didn't get the proportion of money which the Liberals had promised Victoria - in fact the Federal Government short-changed Victorians. This is in contrast to New South Wales who got every dollar they were owed.
Right now as we speak, we have got a tourist Prime Minister who is taking selfies on trams, but Victorians are only getting 10 cents in every dollar of infrastructure that the National Government spends around Australia. Or to put it another way, Victoria makes up 25 per cent of the national population, but we only get 10 per cent of the infrastructure expending of grant funding from the Canberra government.
Mr Turnbull needs to do more to help Victoria because Victoria is certainly helping drive the national economy. People who live in out in Berrick every day see the congestion on our roads. They want better public transport, they want better roads and they don't need a Prime Minister taking selfies on trams.
JOURNALIST: 24 hours after the Christopher Pyne same-sex marriage issue, has the Government, do you think, advanced anymore on that issue?
SHORTEN: First of all, the Prime Minister should stop blaming me and everyone else because he is too weak to stand up to the bullies of the backbench. It's his problem. It wasn't me who leaked Christopher Pyne's speech or indeed, gave Christopher Pyne’s speech on Friday. The real problem is that Mr Turnbull's not strong enough to lead his party and, therefore, I wonder if he is strong enough, actually, to lead this country.
JOURNALIST: What do you think after last night's Four Corners issue on the retirement village - what do you think about the situations with regulations for retirement villages?
SHORTEN: A nation that treats its old people in the manner in which we saw on television last night should be ashamed of itself. We need to do a lot more to treat older people well. If we don't face up to the challenges in aged care now, it will be a much harder, bigger problem in the future, when we eventually face up to it. I know it's not an easy issue, it's not an easy issue for either side of politics, but one thing is for sure; large companies who treat vulnerable older Australians in the manner in which we saw last night are not part of the solution. I'm prepared to sit down and work with Mr Turnbull, because the challenge in making sure older Australians have dignity and comfort in aged care is something that ought to be above politics.
JOURNALIST: So you would be pushing for stricter regulations?
SHORTEN: I think that - as I said, it is not an easy issue, and we are not here to throw stones at the government. A country which treats old people in the manner in which we saw last night should be ashamed of itself. The longer we leave the problem of not taking aged care seriously, the bigger the problem we are going to have in the future. And Certainly I'm prepared and Labor is prepared to be a partner with the government to see what we can do to improve the standards.
JOURNALIST: With the release of the Census information, do you think - Australians are getting older, we're getting more diverse, can we cope with all this?
SHORTEN: I think getting older beats the alternative. Let's be really clear here, this is a great country; 24.5 million people. I think that our best days in terms of looking after our people are ahead of us but we have to keep doing what we do best in Australia. Investing in the safety net, making sure that we are a more equal country. Making sure that every kid gets an opportunity to get a quality education; that every kid who does work at school gets the opportunity to go to TAFE or university. Making sure we do better at looking after families; making sure we that have a fairer tax system. One thing is for sure, on 1 July, this country is going to become a more unequal place than it was the previous day.
What I mean by that is millionaires on 1 July, courtesy of Mr Turnbull, are going to get a $16,500 tax cut but 700,000 Australians are going to have their penalty rates cut. My concern about Australia isn't the numbers of the Census, my concern about Australia is that we are becoming a more unequal country. Wages growth is flat-lining, we see the lowest proportion since records were kept, of money in the nation going to wages as opposed to corporate profits. I think we need to do a lot more to become a fairer country. And that's why this is the worst possible time for the Liberal Party to be descending into self-absorbed in-fighting. John Howard, I think, used to say - former Prime Minister John Howard used to say disunity is death. It seems to me the Liberal Party has forgotten this. I think John Howard also used to say that a party which can't govern itself can't govern the nation. The Liberal Party has forgotten this.
At the heart of the problem in the government in Australia is that Malcolm Turnbull doesn't lead his own party. If he doesn't lead his own party, how can he lead the nation. It doesn't matter if the issue is climate change or marriage equality, Mr Turnbull is simply too weak to get his party to go in the same direction. The Liberal Party isn't doing their day job of fighting for Australians, they're just fighting amongst themselves. Australians deserve better and certainly Labor is up for that challenge.