TUESDAY, 25 AUGUST 2015
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone,
It is great to be here at Redcliffe State High School. I am here with my Shadow Ministerial colleague, Jason Clare, the Shadow Minister for Communications and Labor’s fantastic candidate for the seat of Petrie, Jacqui Pedersen. Also here is the State Attorney General, Yvette D’Ath who is the member for Redcliffe.
Today we see a remarkable group of school students who are going off to Singapore in the next two weeks to complete with the best in the world. Infinite Racing is the brainchild of a progressive school and four highly talented young women who I think are among some of the most impressive student leaders and designers that we can see in this country.
This is all about the jobs of the future. There was a report this week which came out and said that a lot of our students are studying skills and learning things which are for jobs that will vanish in the future so it is really important that we put science and technology at the centre of what we do along with the staples that our students already learn and are still important.
Labor is the only political party which is offering to train our students for the jobs of the future. Labor has said that we want our students from as early as primary school years to learn how to code. That’s computational thinking, it is using computers and programming. Furthermore, we have also said that if Labor is elected at the next election within the next 12 months, we will provide 100,000 HECs-debt free places for students, for the next five years, who enrol in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses. We’ve also said that we want to upskill 25,000 existing teachers so that the science and mathematics teachers, such as the remarkable ones at this school, are making sure that their colleagues in other schools are getting the skills in science and maths they need. We are also proposing to provide 25,000 scholarships for graduates of science, engineering and maths to go into teaching. And combined with all of that, making sure our teachers have got the resources, making sure students are learning the skills they need for the jobs of the future, we will have a smart innovation fund of $500 million which will support our small business start-ups in technology.
Today’s visit is quite inspirational for me. We see a group of remarkable young students who are going to put their racing car on the line with 47 other contestants from around the world. My money is on these Australian students, and what Labor will do if elected next year, is make sure that more of what we see here today, the training for the jobs of the future, is provided to every Australian school child.
What I might do is hand over to Jason Clare to talk further about the important matters about the jobs and the future and technology and then we are happy to take questions.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Thanks very much, Bill.
This is the biggest high school technology competition in the world. There are 30 different countries that compete and more than 17,000 high schools so student right around the world are competing in this competition and Australia has won it four times. We are one of the best in the world. But the best part about this program, a program that we funded in government, that this government is continuing to fund for at least the next year and we want them to continue to fund, the best part about this project is that encourages young Australians to think about science, technology, engineering, maths as a career choice. We need more young Australians to become scientist and engineers, more young Australian’s to study STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths. It is what our plan for the future is all about – making sure Australians have the skills that they need for the jobs of the future.
We also need the infrastructure of the future and there is no better example of that than the NBN so can I make a few points about that. Yesterday, Malcolm Turnbull announced yesterday a multi-billion dollar blow out in the cost of his second rate NBN. In Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull said it would only cost $29.5 billion to build his second rate NBN. Yesterday, he announced that has blown out to at least $56 billion. They have doubled the deficit and now they have doubled the cost of their second rate NBN. This is no one else’s fault but Malcolm Turnbull’s. This is Malcolm Turnbull’s mess. They’ve been in government now for two years, and now we see that they have doubled the cost of their second-rate NBN. No wonder why support for this government is falling. Debt is up, the deficit is up, unemployment is up, the cost of their second rate NBN is up and the only thing that is falling is confidence that this government knows what they are doing.
SHORTEN: Thanks Jason, are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: Were you satisfied with Dyson Heydon’s decision to stand down? Sorry, I mean to hold up his judgement on the trade union?
SHORTEN: Tony Abbott’s royal commission into his political enemies is becoming shambolic. Everything that Mr. Abbott and his Liberal Government do seems to turn out to be a problem. I am not just talking about doubling the deficit. I am not just talking about under this government, the cost of the NBN blowing out by $15billion. What we are also saying here is he made a captain’s pick about his royal commissioner – now it’s the process is paralysed in this royal commission. Tony Abbott should stop the politics and start doing his day job of trying to make sure that Australians will have good jobs in the future.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, have you received a briefing about Syria from the Government yesterday and do you still have concerns about the legal framework surrounding it?
SHORTEN: We did receive an initial briefing yesterday at our request and we’ve asked for further information. Labor will approach this question of national security most seriously as we do all questions of national security. We seek consciously bipartisanship. We want to make sure that the legal framework and the moral framework for bombing in Syria, the case is made and we’re not going to rush into this. It’s far too important, both for our defence personnel who are doing an excellent job in Iraq at the moment, and also for our national security. What we don’t need is rushed decisions but careful, considered reflection.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of the latest Newspoll today showing a boost in your satisfaction rating and decline in Tony Abbott’s?
SHORTEN: I don’t think Australians need an opinion poll to tell them that this Government is one of the most incompetent governments in the history of federation. We’ve seen the deficit has been doubled, unemployment is up, we see growth down, we see real wages growth down, we see confidence down, we see the NBN in the two years that this Government’s been in, has nearly doubled; we’ve seen them now with cost overruns on the NBN which they told us wouldn’t be the case. This is an incompetent government who on a daily basis, whatever they do, it’s going wrong. Everything they touch turns bad.
JOURNALIST: The AFP’s investigating some of the most senior leaders of the CFMEU for allegations ranging from secret commissions to blackmail. Do you think this is degrading the credibility of unions?
SHORTEN: I believe in zero tolerance for corruption wherever we see it – by employers, by union reps, in workplaces, and everywhere else. But I also believe that Tony Abbott’s royal commission is unnecessary to the extent that the federal police are already doing the work that they’re doing. Labor has no time for dishonesty or criminal conduct. What I also would say is that we have the federal police and other agencies who can do this job and that Mr Abbott’s royal commission is dangerously adrift and it’s turning into quite the shambles which, unfortunately, Labor predicted it might become.
JOURNALIST: So should the royal commission continue as normal regardless of Dyson Heydon’s decision?
SHORTEN: I think that the first question is what is this royal commissioner going to do? He’s been accused very clearly by the unions of apprehended bias. We need to see what this person’s going to do now. It’s turned into a complete shambles. Tony Abbott’s royal commission was always set up to smear his political rivals. The problem for Mr Abbott is that whenever he has an idea, he always turns a policy into politics. Mr Abbott and his team are far more interested in who’s got what job in the Liberal Party than they are about the jobs of Australians. That’s why when you asked an earlier question about opinion polls, Labor and I understand that what Australians want is they want to see Labor articulate a plan for jobs in the future, that we need to have a plan which is believable and trustworthy. That’s what we’re working on. That’s why throughout the course of this year, Labor’s been outlining its proposals for the future. That’s why we support a 50 per cent goal of renewable energy. It’s why we believe in taking real action on climate change. It’s why we believe that we’ve got to be teaching our kids in school the skills they will need for the jobs of the future. It’s only Labor who has got a plan for the jobs of the future. We fundamentally believe that the application of science and technology and government policy and encouraging private sector investment, giving our kids the best start that they can get in life compared to kids right around the world, that’s how we will generate the jobs of the future . That’s what matters. Mr Abbott’s addicted to politics and instead Labor will offer at the next election, whenever that is held, a proper platform for economic and social growth in this country which is what Australians want.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, can you rule out that Labor did not have a hand in smearing the Liberal Party’s candidate standing in the Canning by-election?
SHORTEN: I made it clear on Saturday when I saw the reports of those allegations in the Fairfax press. Labor is not interested in denigrating the Liberal candidate. I respect our service people and previous service people. People who have previously served in the armed forces have run as candidates for both Liberal and Labor in the past. I’m very proud of what they’ve done. The real issue in the Canning by-election is not the service record of the Liberal candidate, which is quite an eminent record. The real issue here is that Mr Abbott is concerned about saving his own job. In Western Australia they’ve had 40 years of growth and now they’ve been hit with the downturn of mining. Unemployment is up, debt is up in Western Australia, and now we see the Government can’t even manage the NBN. You know, Malcolm Turnbull quite bluntly has been spending too much time doing interviews offering himself for Tony Abbott’s job, and Malcolm Turnbull hasn’t been doing his own day job properly. A $15 billion cost increase while Malcolm Turnbull’s been the Minister is a black mark against that Minister and when we look at Joe Hockey running around the country having thought bubbles about income tax cuts and he can’t even explain how he’d fund them – this nation, especially when we’ve seen the downturn in the global stock market, in the Australian stock market, the easing of economic activity in China, the last thing we need is a dangerously incompetent Government who is just focused on their own jobs in the Canning by-election. What we need now more than ever is confidence and that’s what Labor intends to offer for the next election.
JOURNALIST: Joe Hockey says both the Chinese and Australian economies are fundamentally strong. Do you agree with that?
SHORTEN: I believe that both economies are strong but I think we have a weak government. Let’s be honest here: unemployment is up, in Western Australia alone there are 30,000 extra people who are unemployed. Unemployment is now north of 800,000 people; that’s the biggest it’s been in 20 years. Growth is down, real wages increases are right down, they’ve doubled the deficit, we saw that shocking 2014 budget which basically stalled confidence in the High Street of Australia. The Government doesn’t have any plans to improve education funding in this nation for our secondary schools. If we want to make sure that Australia wins the global competition for the jobs of the future, we’ve got to be training our kids, we’ve got to be making sure that our infrastructure is going up, we’ve got to be making sure that we treat women equally, we’ve got to be making sure that we also have a renewable energy and climate change policies which are in step with the rest of the world. This Government is an incompetent government. Everything they touch in the last two years, be it captain’s picks right through to economic policies, just turns bad.
JOURNALIST: Do you think income tax cuts are needed?
SHORTEN: No-one’s ever against income tax cuts but you’ve got to explain how you pay for them. Mr Hockey, he’s proposing, increasing the GST. They’re proposing to put GST on health items. So the economic formula which Mr Hockey and Mr Abbott’s Liberals have for Australia is if you’re sick and need to go to the doctor, you pay extra tax. If you need to go to hospital for your kids, you pay extra tax. If you need bandages, you pay extra tax. This Government has no plan for the future, they’re only interested in saving their own jobs. It defies logic that coincidentally Joe Hockey decides to start talking about income tax cuts three or four weeks just before a by-election. This is a Government who when they sniff an election start making promises which straight after an election they cancel, they cut and they don’t keep their word.
Last question, thank you.
JOURNALIST: Did the AWU under you sell out workers at mushroom company, Chiquita?
SHORTEN: Absolutely not. I’m very proud of my record of standing up for Australian workers. I will compare my record to Mr Abbott and his Liberal team any day of the week. My record is standing up for wages and conditions – is one that I’m proud of and furthermore, Mr Abbott’s record as minister for WorkChoices is something that no Australian can be proud of.
Thanks, everyone, see you later.
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