TUESDAY, 29 JANUARY 2019
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s $100 million Neighbourhood Renewables Program; Community Power Hub for Tathra; Newspoll; Liberal’s chaos and division; the economy; Gilmore.
MIKE KELLY, MEMBER FOR EDEN-MONARO: Good morning everyone, it's great to have you here today in one of the most beautiful, iconic locations in Australia, at this far South Coast magic of Tathra. This is a community of course, which last year suffered a terrible situation with an out of season wild bushfire that destroyed 65 homes, which I think drew a line under the situation we face with the increasing extremes of weather due to climate change. And this community here was at the forefront of leading the fight on climate change, it was the birth place of Clean Energy for Eternity. So they understand only too well the importance of action on climate change, and are only too eager to see the transition to renewable energy, and they've managed to do that across many community establishments around this region. I've been pleased to have worked with them on raising funds for things like getting these solar panels on the Tathra Sea Eagles Club. And it's great to see here today community action groups that are so community minded, like that Tathra Sea Eagles, who are doing so much great work supporting the community, particularly during those fires and getting those solar panels up. Clean Energy for Eternity here today with us as well who have representatives from the University of the Third Age to. All combining together as a community to move the ball forward, to show leadership where leadership has been absent at the federal level.
In the army we used to have a saying, "lead, follow or get out of the way." I think the message this community is sending to the Federal Government now is look, you've failed to lead, you've failed to follow, just get out of the way. And fortunately we have here today a true leader, who gets the climate change issue, who gets the need to transition to renewable energy for the jobs and the economy of the future that we need, and it was here during the worst of those traumas of the fire, talking to people and feeling their pain, and it's great to have Bill follow through on that involvement, interest and commitment. We haven't see that from the Coalition, so I really thank you Bill for showing that compassion and heart to be here for this community and really delighted to have you here today for this announcement. So thank you.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Mike. Good morning everybody, this is fantastic to be in Tathra. Of course the last time I was here this community was reeling from shocking bushfires and it's not easy to recover, but this is a very resilient community. But I'm also pleased to be in Tathra, to announce that Tathra will be the start of a $100 million community power hub system in Australia. What we're going to do is allocate $10 million, to provide the Tathra and surrounding communities with the opportunity to embrace the clean energy revolution, which is taking place throughout the world and Australia. We are backing more renewable energy for Tathra and the surrounding area, on the basis that it's going to deliver cheaper power, it will deliver more jobs and it will take real action on climate change.
Behind me you see roof of the Sea Eagles Football Club in the local district. What they've done there is they have invested in solar panels and batteries, to get lower energy costs so the footy club can spend more of its budget on football as opposed to energy bills. But too often we find in local communities, that if you're a renter, or if you're a community group you can't always access the benefits of solar power or wind power.
So the principle behind our hub, our community power hub, is to provide some modest resources to allow go ahead communities to actually move ahead and be able to invest in clean energy. This is the future. Australia should be an energy superpower, we should we a climate change superpower and we should be doing a lot more than we are.
What Labor is doing, is we're focusing on policy, which will allow members of the community, people who don't necessary have a great deal of wealth or community groups who don't have vast balance sheets, to benefit from clean energy - renewable energy. It's a very exciting announcement. We're going to roll out 10 of these community hubs around Australia. But congratulations to Mike Kelly and the Tathra community in the Bega area, they have shown leadership. And really, what we see here today in Tathra, is a description of what's happening in Australia.
The people of Australia are ahead of the Government of Australia, the Government has got to play catch up. But under a Labor government, we will be partners with the community to have cheaper power, more jobs and real action on climate change. Thanks, everybody. It's great that you're all here today, appreciate it.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, how many jobs will the hub create?
SHORTEN: Well it depends on the projects that get created but there will have to be jobs for installers, there will have to be jobs for the manufacturers who need to meet with the increased demand. There's no doubt in my mind that if we invest in renewable energy, there are thousands of jobs which will become available in the Australian economy. Renewable energy is something which Australia should be better at. Germany has far less sunlight than us yet they employ more people in renewable energy. We should be much better at producing energy more cheaply and more cleanly than we currently are. Hong Kong, it is an island with no natural resources, produces cheaper energy than Australia does. How did it get to be that Australia, who has so much in the way of energy resources, is so expensive? And there's one simple explanation - the current government is just stuck in the past. I think most Australians are sick and tired of the climate change wars, they're sick and tired of Mr Abbott and the conservatives who are running energy policy in this country. It's no surprise to me that you've got independent Liberals running against their own party because this nation cannot be stalled on climate change policy any longer. Now I'm out here announcing sensible policies which reflect what the community has said to us. The Government, they're just waiting for an announcement from another unhappy Liberal largely based around climate change policies to run against them. This nation can't afford to waste any more time. The lack of policy certainty is killing us in renewable energy. How do you get investment in new energy if you don't set up the rules to invest in new energy? And what we're seeing is less reliable power under this government and we're seeing higher prices.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten in practical terms, what does a hub look like? It sounds like something someone plugs into but what does a hub look like for the renters and the low income earners that you point to?
SHORTEN: It's a description of a series of projects which communities can determine, which will generate cheaper power and renewable energy. For example; it could help with the installation for community groups of small-scale solar farms, it could be used to help facilitate the implementation of more panels on roofs in community groups. So it's a range of measures which local communities can use. Its seed-funding which will generate common sense small-scale projects which will allow community groups or perhaps renters, people living in social housing who don't have the wherewithal to individually invest in renewable energy to get to that critical mass so they too can access cheaper energy which is renewable.
JOURNALIST: How well set-up is the Lodge to address climate change? You'll be living in it later this year if today's opinion polls are correct. Are there solar panels on the roof of the Lodge?
SHORTEN: I have no idea. I have to say in terms of the polls, and I just make this observation despite your compliment in it. I made a decision nearly six years ago not to analyse the polls - good, bad or indifferent. It's the policy I had when Tony Abbott was Prime Minister, it's the policy I had when Malcolm Turnbull was Prime Minister and nothing the current fellow's done is going to distract me from developing good policy. If you look after the policy, the politics looks after itself.
JOURNALIST: Does Australia risk falling into recession under a Labor government?
SHORTEN: Listen, the government's just talking more and more fear every day. I say to Australians, get used to the fact that an increasingly desperate government with barely months left in their term of office, are going to start trying to scare people more and more. But the reality is that there are big issues in this country not being addressed. We have no meaningful climate change policy under the government that currently leads Australia - that's a risk. Families, they're getting their kids ready to go back to school from tomorrow all around Australia, cost of living pressures are a real risk to Australian householders. What's happening wherever you go in Australia, be it in the coast, in the bush, in the cities - everything is going up except your wages. The real risk in Australia at the moment is that the current government is managing the economy in the interests of the top end of town, and yet, everyday households are having to dip into family savings to make ends meet.
So the real risk in Australia at the moment is another term of Coalition government. The single biggest risk, not even the inaction on climate change which is shocking, not only the cuts to hospitals and schools which is terrible, not only the fact that we've got a government who never seems to worry about cost of living pressures going up, the fact that everything is going up except wages, the single biggest risk is instability. Does anyone seriously think that the Coalition doesn't view this current election as a distraction from getting on with the civil war in the Liberal Party and the National Party? Instability is driving Australians around the - you know, to the points of distraction. The most common sentiment I got this summer, when I was on the beach and elsewhere is people just said when will we have some stable government in this country? That is what I can promise Australians - stability with a sensible plan.
JOURNALIST: Does the government deserve credit for creating 1.2 million jobs?
SHORTEN: I think it's a description of the economy. I mean, I think when we look at the creation of jobs Australians deserve credit, Australian business deserves credit, government deserves some credit. A lot of the jobs that have been created have been in the NDIS for example. What we've got to realise in Australia is it's not that - we've got to get over the politics of just the blame game and get back to outlining proper vision and policy. This country needs to work together a lot more than it currently does. We have got to for instance solve the energy crisis by investing in renewable energy. We have got to restore people's penalty rates so we can get wages moving again in this country. We have got to improve the patient rebate for Medicare so that people can get relief from cost of living pressures in health care. This country works best when middle and working class Australians are doing okay. At the moment they're getting squeezed, corporate profits are up six times wages, the problem is this economy is not working in the interests of every day Australians and their families.
JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister says the Boyne Aluminium Smelter will be forced to close under a Labor government, what do you make of that?
SHORTEN: Oh listen, this government has only got the Tony Abbott playbook from 2013. Remember the government - the Liberals said that Whyalla would shut, it's expanding. Let's just call out the fear campaign of the government for what it is. They've run out of anything to say about themselves, all they can do is talk about us. I think a lot of Australians are aghast when they realise that the current government has only commissioned ten days of parliament in eight months. The Senate under this government is only going to sit for seven days. Imagine how many Australians returning to work this week after their month on holiday were to just say to their boss, listen I've been thinking about it, I've decided I only want to come to work for ten days in eight months - good luck, they'll say you can stay away for the whole eight months buddy.
The fact of the matter is this is a government who has no legislative agenda. You know, take for instance the issue of the Murray Darling Basin, big issue. We're seeing fish kills in large and alarming numbers it's an ecological disaster. Water, availability, it's quality, it's one of the key issues in Australia. You don't hear the government talking about that they just worry about is another member of the team going to quit today, is another unhappy Liberal going to announce they are running as an independent? This government has nothing to say positively about the future of Australia. They can tell you everything about us, they can tell you everything about their own civil war, but they can't talk about the people of Australia. That's what is happening.
JOURNALIST: On the seat of Gilmore, what do you make of news that Katrina Hodgkinson might run for the Nationals?
SHORTEN: Another conservative running in Gilmore isn't going to change what happens in Gilmore. The real issues in Gilmore is the fact that everything is going up except peoples wages. The real issues in Gilmore is that they haven't had sufficient investment in local infrastructure. The real issues in Gilmore are that we've seen hospital cuts, we've seen private health insurance become - with their price increases, practically become a luxury item. The real issues in Gilmore are the people who are very low paid lost their penalty rates arbitrarily. There are many issues in Gilmore, from NBN access and blackspots through to how are we going to fund our schools and preschools. Whoever is running for the Coalition is not my issue. The issue for me is the cost of living and the daily lives of people in Gilmore. It does highlight of course, the instability within the government, you've got Nationals running against Liberals, you've got ex-Liberals running against Liberals in safe seats. This government is a mess and every day we just see more chaos, more confusion, more instability.
Any other questions? Thanks, everybody and I just want to thank the community here for the successful lobbying for the community, this is your renewable energy community power hub, well done.
Thank you very much.