FRIDAY, 29 MAY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Jobs of the New Economy; Tony Abbott’s $30 billion cut to Schools; Marriage Equality; Barnaby Joyce; Liberals and Greens teaming up; Tony Abbott’s petrol tax
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s fantastic to be here at Quickstep. This is truly an amazing production facility. What we see here is a clever company with a highly skilled workforce competing with the rest of the world to deliver world class technology made in Australia to the United States for their Joint Strike Fighters. Coming here makes me proud to be Australian because when the critics and knockers say that Australia can no longer compete in advanced manufacturing, they should come and spend an hour at Quickstep.
What we see here is Australian ingenuity, Australian design, Australian know-how competing with companies right across the world and winning. But, of course, for the jobs of the future what we need to do is start improving the class rooms of today. Labor believes that it’s important to teach every primary school child in every primary school in Australia to provide them with the chance to do computational thinking, to do coding, to learn to fall in love with maths and science and IT. And then of course it’s important that we encourage more graduates to go back and teach these materials in the schools and Labor has outlined a plan for 100,000 young Australians to have their HECS debt written off if they successfully complete science and mathematics degrees at university.
Labor also is committed to supporting Australian companies and innovation and in defence procurement. The jobs of the future are within the grasp, Australian parents everywhere want to know where will the jobs come from for their kids. Manufacturing workers today want to know what are their chances to keep working in the future. Well, companies like Quickstep, led by innovative governments who are pro-science and pro-answering the questions about where will the jobs come from, there is hope in the future. I’d like to ask my colleague Jason Clare to talk further about this remarkable facility and how Australia is winning the competition right throughout the world.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Thanks very much, Bill and welcome to Bankstown. It’s great to be here at Quickstep, Quickstep’s a great Australian company building part’s for the Joint Strike Fighter, the most advanced fighter plane in the world and Bill and I and other members of our team have been talking over the last few weeks about the importance of building the skills we need for the jobs of the future and a big part of that is STEM skills – science, technology, education and mathematics. 75 per cent of the fastest growing jobs in Australia right now are jobs that require STEM skills and we’re not producing enough people with those skills.
Now, these aren’t jobs that are just in Google or in Facebook or in a start-up tech company, they’re in places just like Quickstep, just like Quickstep right here. We were in Google last week and Google was telling us that they’ve got 1,000 employee, half of them are computer engineers, software engineers and half of those workers they have to bring in from overseas because they can’t find the workers they need with the skills they need and Quickstep has got a similar challenge. Of the 150 workers here about a third are STEM workers and they’ve got to bring in workers from overseas because they’re desperately looking for the workers they need, with the STEM skills they need and that’s why the plan that you announced, Bill, in your Budget Reply is so important to build the skills that we need for the jobs of the future. That starts at primary school and goes all the way through to the factory floor.
We need a national STEM strategy here to make sure that we’re giving our kids the chance to get these jobs and it’s that important that this week in Parliament we asked Tony Abbott to join us and work with us to build this plan for the jobs of the future, and his answer showed that he just didn’t get it. He made some silly joke about sending kids to go out to work at the age of 11. Now what that showed me, I think that what that showed the Australian people is that Tony Abbott’s stuck in the past, he’s stuck in the stone age and that’s bad for Australia. Because if we don’t build the skills now for the jobs of the future then those jobs will go overseas, we will have to bring in people from overseas to do this sort of work. That’s why we need this plan and it’s only the Labor Party, led by Bill Shorten, that has a plan to build the skills we need for the jobs of the future.
SHORTEN: Thanks, Jason. Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: Given, in the indications of federal funding cuts to education in the States, how do we cope with that whole idea of producing STEM?
SHORTEN: This is the big problem in Australia – Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey in their most recent Budget have again committed to unfairness for the future of our schools. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey don’t have a plan for Australia, they just have a plan to save their own jobs. What they have proposed is cutting nearly $30 billion over the next 10 years from the schools of Australia. See, what happens in Australia at the moment is that the Commonwealth raises more of the taxes and the State have got more things that they have to spend the money on – schools, hospitals, police. So traditionally the Commonwealth hasn’t shirked its responsibility, it allocates the resources it raises from Australians to help deliver funding to the States to make sure that Australian families, Australian children get the deal that they need in the schools. Today there is a big make or break meeting in Canberra where all the States of Australia are facing the Federal Government, saying are you really going to cut nearly $30 billion from schools?
Labor believes in funding schools according to need. But the Federal Government, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, they’re going to make massive cuts to every school in Australia and Australian children are not going to get the quality education which they should get so that we can get the jobs of the future.
JOURNALIST: Another issue – Warren Entsch is in cross-party discussion about same-sex marriage. Will you be preferred to turn your bill into a co-sponsored bill?
SHORTEN: Thanks for the question. This week has been a breakthrough week, I believe, for marriage equality in Australia. I’ve long believed in marriage equality. I get that some people haven’t, like Tony Abbott, that’s his personal choice. But following the Irish referendum, Australians woke up on Sunday morning and we said if the Irish can have marriage equality, if 20 other countries around the country can have marriage equality, then why on earth can’t we? So I proposed, seconded by Tanya Plibersek, my deputy, that we should have marriage equality in Australia and the first this bill will be debated will be next Monday at 11:10.
I do want to be bipartisan. I’ve been very clear on this, we need it to be bipartisan. But there is not a hope for marriage equality in Australia while Tony Abbott does not allow a free vote for Liberal MPs. On this issue it is not a Liberal or Labor issue. It’s just an issue of how we treat people; it’s an issue of respect. If people want to get marry and they’re in same-sex relationships, why should they be excluded? We have got to end this crazy process where couples who love each other have to go to another country to get married because their own country can’t accept and recognise their commitment to each other – can’t accept and recognise their commitment to each other. It is long overdue to have marriage equality. The time is right. I really want it to be bipartisan and I really hope that Tony Abbott will give Liberal MPs a free vote, just as I’m extending to Labor MPs.
JOURNALIST: But specifically, a co-sponsored bill by Monday?
SHORTEN: Well, we want to see what, we get different signals from people and comments. Nothing was happening on marriage equality in Australia until Labor, until I proposed this bill this week. Now I think a lot of people are saying the time is right. Let me be very clear, we will work with the Liberal Party on this matter. I’m the leader of the Labor Party, the party I lead allows a free vote but it’s fair to say that most Labor MPs support marriage equality. It is now time for leadership, it’s now time for bipartisanship but most of all it’s time for marriage equality.
JOURNALIST: On a different issue again, do you think it was appropriate for Barnaby Joyce to email Gina Rinehart’s daughter from his Government email urging her to drop proceedings against her mother?
SHORTEN: I have just seen reports of this. Barnaby Joyce seems to have an opinion about everything except his day job. If it’s not Johnny Depp’s dogs and putting them down, it’s now interfering in what seems to be an acrimonious family fight with billions of dollars at stake. I would just say to Barnaby Joyce please focus on your day job.
JOURNALIST: The Greens might back an increase to the fuel excise, will you?
SHORTEN: Well Tony Abbott looks like he’s, it’s a special day, he’s going to break not one promise today but two. Remember Tony Abbott before the last election was everywhere man in high-vis and he was saying he wouldn’t increase taxes. Now he wants to increase petrol taxes. We all know petrol prices are going up. But the other promise he made was he said he would never work with the Greens, he would never do a deal with the Greens. So he’s got the daily double today, hasn’t he? Up go the taxes of all motorists and a deal with the Greens.
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