MONDAY, 16 MAY 2016

SUBJECT/S: Auto manufacturing; Marriage equality; Vote compass.  


MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: This involves a pot of money for those workers displaced by the closure of the car companies. What are you trying to do here? 

SENATOR KIM CARR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH, INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY: We are trying to ensure that there's ongoing employment. Not just a question of training, but of ongoing jobs, high quality jobs and the automotive industry has provided that for a very long time. We want to provide money for companies that want to stay in the automotive industry and to be able to make sure that they're able to adapt to new contracts, particularly international contracts. We also want to provide assistance to attract new investment in advanced manufacturing. We're about providing opportunities for jobs in manufacturing. 

ROWALND: How much money and how will it be paid out if Labor wins the election?

CARR: There's $59 million and it is working with the state governments in Victoria and in South Australia. We will be able to build on existing programs, field tested programs, programs we know that work, but we also want to work with individual companies to ensure that they are able to attract new investment, new products, new contracts and be able to develop new opportunities. 

ROWLAND: You have seen a lot of these manufacturing industries hit hard and close over the years. How hard, how challenging is it for workers often mature age workers, to be skilled up to move into other sections of the economy? 

CARR:  Well, some people are able to move to other firms quite quickly, but about a third of people never work again and another third are on much less employment in terms of shorter hours and lower money. This is hard for many tens of thousands of people facing great economic insecurity whose families are facing acute economic pressures. We are finding that we have got a government in Canberra that really is about exporting jobs, not about developing economic opportunities for blue collar workers. 

ROWLAND: Where do you see the future of the manufacturing sector in Australia, are you pessimistic or do you see there is some hope? 

CARR: I'm an optimist. I think made in Australia is a really important opportunity. We've got nearly a million people still employed in manufacturing. Yes, it's declined but there are huge opportunities here, it provides a huge avenue for research and development, huge opportunities for exports, huge opportunities for high-skilled, high-wage jobs which of course ensures we have prosperity spread across the country. But it's up to governments to put their shoulder to the wheel, to work with companies, work with unions and work with workers to be able to develop those opportunities. 

ROWLAND: A couple of other issues while you are here, Australian Catholic bishops have weighed into the campaign strongly this morning. In a statement, they say political decisions in the future may undermine the dignity of marriage as a lifelong union between a man and a woman. They are very clearly signalling that they don’t want the Labor Party or the Coalition to legalise same sex marriage. What do you think of the church weighing in like this?   

CARR: First of all, the Catholic Church has a long standing position on these issues. I personally support legalising same sex marriage. We have a conscious vote in the Labor Party and I have no doubt there will be changes to marriage laws as we have seen throughout the world. But the Catholic bishops have made a number of statements, not just about this issue. They're following what the Pope said in regard to changes within our economic conditions around the world. Points that I welcome, particularly in regard to what they call a “throwaway society”. I think the questions arise about how we treat one another are quite important and this election campaign they will be part of an ongoing discussion.

The Catholic bishops have indicated concern that they're voiceless, that the weak, the vulnerable, won't get a proper hearing. I will be concerned to ensure they do and I want to be able to see that the Catholic bishops' statements - that go to many other issues from refugees, to human rights and economic security to employment - these are the type of questions we're entitled to discuss in our society. I trust this election will provide the opportunity to have a discussion about where this country is going, what sort of society we want to be. How is the Government working to meet the challenges of the 21st century?

ROWLAND: Just staying on same sex marriage, do you believe the church is swimming against the tide when opinion poll after opinion poll show overwhelming majority support for legalising same sex marriage? 

CARR: I think the Catholic Church has a right to put its view. I personally take a different view on this particular matter, but I think in the context of what they're saying about a throwaway society, they're entitled to put a view. We'll make a judgement, the Parliament will invariably have to make a judgement, as we've seen the people of Ireland, throughout Europe, as we've seen throughout the US, and these questions are now being addressed. 

ROWLAND: Just finally the ABC’s very popular Vote Compass has come out this morning with a survey showing voters rate Malcolm Turnbull better than Bill Shorten on the issues of trust and competence. 

CARR: Well, I find it difficult to take it serious quite frankly.

ROWLAND: 150,000 people took part in this. 

CARR:  It’s a phone-in poll; automatically you have to ask yourself how valid the sampling arrangement is. Let's think about Malcolm Turnbull. He's a very, very wealthy man, very wealthy man that lives an entirely different world from the way in which most Australians live. Completely out of touch and of course Point Piper is a very different place from what most people experience throughout Australia. So the idea that somehow or another he is superior in term of his capacities to lead the country will be a matter that the people of this country will test. Bill Shorten is out there talking to people every day. I'm absolutely confident the Labor Party will be very competitive in this election and we'll be able to provide the people of this country real choices on health, education, on the future of manufacturing, on climate change. These are the substantive issues that really matter. 

ROWLAND: You mention a word like Point Piper, is that something that we can expect to see more from the Labor Party?

CARR: There has been some conversation about whether or not this is an election about the hard hats versus the top hats and I think there's an element of truth to that. There's no doubt we're going to have a conversation about who's in touch, who's going to represent the aspirations of the Australian people, what sort of policies there are to assist ordinary families, ordinary workers to be able to meet the challenges of this particular time in the 21st century. 

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