FRIDAY, 15 MAY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Budget Reply 2015; Labor’s plan for jobs in the news economy: Investing in STEM; Small Business.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everyone. Last night I addressed the nation about Labor’s plans for the future in contrast to the Abbott Government’s Budget on Tuesday night. At the centre of my vision for the future of this nation is that Labor's committed to building the jobs of the future. Parents today want to make sure that their children will have jobs in the future and they want to know where they're coming from. Last night, I announced that Labor is committed to training literally hundreds of thousands of students and tens of thousands of teachers to make sure that we catch the jobs of the future in science and engineering, that we make sure that in the future, we have enough clever researchers, enough clever innovators, creators, designers, electricians, plumbers and mechanics. But today what we see here at this marvellous research facility, collaboration of some of the world's best researchers and scientists, some of the world's best universities and private sector know how, is the jobs of future I was talking about last night. We see the prototypes right here. We see technology here which is beating the world, which is best in the world, right up there at the very top of the tree.
The challenge in the next 5 and 10 and 15 years is for this nation not to be competing on low wages with low-wage countries, it's to be building the machines and operating the machines which in fact will ultimately become the driver of prosperity for nations across the world. This facility demonstrates that Australia can make things here, that we can keep our jobs here, indeed, this facility and the cleverness within it, is exporting our manufacturing, our best to China and other parts of the world. I think this is a fantastic example of the future and I have to say, this contrasts - and the planning here and what I said last night – contrasts with the hoax of a Budget brought down by Tony Abbott on Tuesday night. What we're talking about, the Labor I lead, the clever people working here, is we're talking about the jobs of the future, we're talking about preparing our kids for the jobs of future. Tuesday night's Budget by Tony Abbott was just him talking about saving his own job till the end of the year. I might ask my colleague Kim Carr to talk further about some of the important issues around advanced manufacturing and collaboration with research in this country. Kim.
KIM CARR (SHADOW MINISTER FOR RESEARCH, INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY): Thank you, Bill. This centre is a fantastic example of what we can achieve in this country. We have our universities, the CSIRO, private industry, our very best scientists and engineers working together to produce not just high-quality jobs, but products that we can export to the world. Now, much of this work was generated through organisations like the advanced manufacturing CRC. This is an organisation which will have to close at the end of June, because the Minister who's responsible has failed to act. Mr Macfarlane has had the approvals for the funding of the advanced manufacturing CRC on his desk for 14 months and he has failed to act, and as a consequence, the CRC will be obliged to close because of the failure of this Government to understand its responsibilities to the future and to the future jobs in this country, and the capacity of this country to actually work way above its weight right around the world and this is what we are producing in organisations like we're seeing here today. This is what can be done in it country where we should have no fear of the future, if only the Government would fulfil its responsibilities. Now together, all of the organisations I've mentioned have seen some $15 million of Commonwealth investment. These are organisations that produce the results which make it clear that this is a country that can make things. Can have high-quality, high-skilled jobs in this country and advanced manufacturing is here to stay, but the Government has to play its part. Thank you, Bill.
SHORTEN: Thanks Kim, are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: Daniel Andrews, the Melbourne Metro Rail Link needs $3 billion in federal funding. Will you commit to funding that?
SHORTEN: What I said last night in my speech about a plan for the future in contrast to Tony Abbott’s Budget which is just a plan for his own job security, is that we need more rigour and transparency around our infrastructure propositions. I made it very clear that what investors wants, what State government’s want, what I think Australian’s want is they want the short term politicking taken out of politics. The three year decision cycle where you can never build anything for a generation. Big public transport projects in Australia, they’re generational decisions, they’re not things you can do very short term. So Labor when it was in Government, supported the priority list of Infrastructure Australia, which is an independent body, it’s a clearing house for all the ideas about infrastructure and we supported their priorities. What I made clear is that we want to de-politicise the decisions about infrastructure – we would go to Infrastructure Australia for their view about the big projects in Australia. Everyone knows that Tony Abbott has an irrational prejudice against public transport in our cities. If we want to have a really dynamic non-mining boom based economy, dynamic cities and towns, then we’ve got to do something about sorting out the car gridlock in our cities and you can’t sort out the car gridlock in our cities unless you have public transport. So personally, I think the Melbourne Metro Rail is a very good idea, but what I’ll do is I won’t just put my own personal views and make that the decision – make that the determinant. I want to have infrastructure be it metro rail, be it the Cross River Rail in Brisbane and other projects, evaluated by Infrastructure Australia, and we should use the best science, the best evidence and the interests of a generation to sort out these issues rather than just Tony Abbott’s anti-Melbourne public transport bias.
JOURNALIST: Do you think the East West Link is a waste of money as Joe Hockey has suggested?
SHORTEN: No, what I believe is that the previous Liberal Government in Victoria rushed into a deal and Daniel Andrews had to mop it up. I think that when you look at the issues the way the Federal Government plays politics with tax payer money. I very distinctly recall Tony Abbott trying to make the last election a referendum on East West Link. The only problem with Tony Abbott is that when he doesn’t like the result he changes the goal posts. I don’t think it is right that Tony Abbott is holding Victorians to ransom, with Victorian tax payer money paid to him, playing his silly political games. What we need right now is confidence in the long term. Now on one hand Tony Abbott’s provided a tax refund for people to go out and buy something, but on the other hand what we need is long term growth. We see with the decline of the mining boom major change in what’s happening with investment in Australia. We’ve seen a $100 billion contraction in our investment in Australia, it needs to be replaced by other forms of investment and what we see is the Abbott Government, they can’t engender confidence in anyone, so what we need, is we need exactly the sort of things which Daniel Andrews is trying to do.
JOURNALIST: Christopher Pyne said today that he had the education department cost your HECS pledge at I think north of $2 billion dollars. You said that it would cost about $45 million, how’d you get the figure so wrong?
SHORTEN: Well no, how did Christopher Pyne get the figure so wrong. You know, one thing I’ll acknowledge about Christopher Pyne, when he talks about increasing costs of universities, that’s what he wants to do to universities. No doubt he’s costed his particular bit of propaganda using his particular formula of $100,000 degrees. We made it very clear with our costings, we made it very clear that is $45 million across the forward estimates for the scholarships to kick-start kids being encouraged to go into science and maths and engineering.
JOURNALIST: He didn’t do the costings though Mr Shorten, the Education Department did.
SHORTEN: Listen again, our – we stand by what we’ve said, across the forward estimates its $45 million, I mean Christopher Pyne, you know, let’s face it, he wants everyone to look anywhere but his own rotten policies for higher education. He’s tried all of last year, he’s wasted a year of the nation’s life trying to flog his fewer places, higher prices, $100,000 degrees. It’s been rejected by the Senate time and time again, Christopher Pyne is the most discredited higher education minister that this Federation’s ever seen. So of course he’s going to want to start attacking Labor, because he knows that our ideas are dealing with the jobs of the future. What really matters here is getting our kids to learn to code in schools, so they learn the computer language, is making sure that they’re encouraged to do science education and maths at university, and then we want the brightest of them to become teachers so that we can make sure that our kids are getting the best teaching quality possible, and we want to see greater innovation. Christopher Pyne should either get on board with our ideas of hop out of the way.
JOURNALIST: You outlined lots of spending measures last night, can you outline some savings measures?
SHORTEN: Yes. First of all I’ll take your question where you say lots of spending measures. We saw the Federal Government, they’re out of control with their spending, each year of the forward estimates under the Hockey Budget, which they don’t even want to talk about anymore, spending outweighs the revenue. When Joe Hockey brought down his 2014 Budget the deficit was $17 billion, in 12 months he’s now got the deficit up to $35 billion, so they’re not really in a position to give any one a lecture, but the real issue about spending and revenue is that we, unlike any opposition in recent political history, have broken the mould. We’ve made it clear that if Tony Abbott can be bothered chasing foreign multinationals and stand up for this country and ensure foreign multinationals pay their fair share of taxation, there’s over $7 billion to be collected there and we also just don’t understand the stubbornness of Tony Abbott. He’s happy to start quibbling about mums – working mums – getting an extra six weeks paid parental leave, but he goes shy when it comes to dealing with the excessive, unsustainable superannuation concessions that people who already have millions of dollars in their superannuation have in retirement. So there’s $21 billion, $21 billion that Labor’s put up. Our proposals on innovation and jobs of the future, the curriculum in schools, tightening up Infrastructure Australia, getting more rigour in the independence of infrastructure investment. Our proposals in terms of giving scholarships to bright kids in Australia to compete with the best in the world, cost $353 million across the forwards. We’ve put up $21 billion in savings and all that the other mob can do is throw rocks at us for having a plan for the future, and all they have is a plan to save their own jobs.
JOURNALIST: The proposal of cutting the company tax rate for small businesses, Labor proposed doing that in 2010 at 5 per cent. Is this a rehash of an old policy?
SHORTEN: No at all. The only rehash of old policies we’ve seen is that the Abbott-Government when in opposition, opposed our measures to have instant asset write-off and to support small business. But now they are in Government, they’ve realised they need to change their way because confidence is so low in Australia at the moment.
What I said last night again, which is something that Tony Abbott is incapable of doing. Australians know that Tony Abbott only has one speed which is being negative. What I said to him was ‘let’s talk about the future of the tax system, let’s doing it together’. If you want to have long-term reforms, something the Abbott Government is incapable of doing so far, you’ve got to get the opposition and the government working together. I went first last night. I said to Tony Abbott, let’s work to see if we can’t get to goal of getting small business tax down to 25 per cent. That would really give long-term confidence to small business. But the opposition cannot doing this on our own, so what I said to Tony Abbott is let’s work together. I think he didn’t know what the words meant.
JOURNALIST: The plan in 2010 was to cut the corporate, to cut the tax rate with a mining tax to pay for it. How are you going to pay for it this time? Will it be another tax, another revenue raiser?
SHORTEN: Again, I say we have offered up $21billion already. I don’t understand why Tony Abbott is happy to have a few hundred multi-millionaires who have multiple millions in their superannuation. Why does he want millions of tax payers to give millions of dollars to give these very few fortunate people 45 cents in every $1 tax concession. It is a sweet deal if you can get it, I just don’t understand why Tony Abbott would rather see the deficit go up, see the taxes of millions of Australians go up just so he can stubbornly stick on to what is effectively a legalised tax haven.
Once you have multiple millions of dollars in superannuation, you don’t need the tax payer to give you an extra 45 cent extra in every $1 in tax concessions.
JOURNALIST: Are you pleased the scourge of Johnny Depp’s dogs have been purged from Australia?
SHORTEN: I own two dogs and I don’t think the dogs should be punished by a failure of quarantine by either Mr Depp or Mr Joyce. I love my dogs as like any dog owner would, and I think the destruction of these two dogs – they didn’t ask to come here, they didn’t ask to breach quarantine.
Thanks everyone, see you.