BILL SHORTEN MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS
& ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS
MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG
TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
MARK BUTLER MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY
MEMBER FOR PORT ADELAIDE
CANDIDATE FOR HINDMARSH
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR BOOTHBY
WEDNESDAY, 1 MAY 2019
Subjects: Climate change policy; Labor’s Spencer Gulf renewable energy zone announcement; Greens Party; impact of Clive Palmer’s policy to rip up the Murray Darling Basin Plan; electric vehicles; Liberal candidate’s Islamaphobia; helping pensioners and seniors with dental care; Labor’s health policies.
NADIA CLANCY, CANDIDATE FOR BOOTHBY: I am Nadia Clancy, I am Labor's candidate for the Federal Seat of Boothby and I am really excited to have so many members of Federal Labor team here today. I have got Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek, Mark Butler and Amanda Rishworth and it's been really lovely having them in Boothby, meeting with little ones, little youngest residents of Boothby and also some of our early-childhood educators. I'll pass over to Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks. That was Nadia Clancy, running in a David and Goliath struggle in Boothby. Labor hasn't won Boothby since 1943 but Nadia Clancy is making this a real competition for the voters of Boothby. That is what elections should be actually they should be about the future. And that means that this election is all about climate change. When we talk to the children here, the politicians of Australia really need to do more to protect the future of our kids. There is no clearer test about the future than climate change. Only Labor has got a real plan to take action on climate change. We want to get on and start fixing the problems so we can hand on a better deal for our children's future. Contrast this with the complete chaos and division of the last six years of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government. What we have seen is complete chaos in the ranks of the government. The reason why Malcolm Turnbull couldn't get anything done on climate change is because he was held to ransom by Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott and the right wing of the Liberal Party. But, there is an even bigger problem looming. Mr Morrison has managed to take himself hostage to Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson. We can't afford to have another three years of inaction on climate change, our kids deserve better. I would now like to hand over to Tanya Plibersek and we will talk a bit more about all the exciting things Labor is going to do to help kids in the future.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Well, thanks very much Bill and it is always lovely to visit an early learning centre like this and to meet with the staff here and of course the children. And we have been focusing a lot on early childhood education in recent days and making it more affordable for families and making sure that this underpaid workforce is properly remunerated for the important work they do. But our focus is also on the future when it comes to climate change. You've got a real contrast here between Bill Shorten, who has got a positive vision for the future, and Scott Morrison who has got nothing so he has gone negative. You have got a real contrast between Bill Shorten, who leads a united, stable team and Scott Morrison who has got a coalition of chaos planned for Australia. You have got a contrast between Labor that wants to invest in schools and hospitals and a Coalition that wants to provide bigger tax loopholes to the top end of town. What we have seen in recent days is the Liberal Party and the Nationals chasing deals with One Nation and the Palmer United Party, the United Australia Party, Clive Palmer's party. This is a real concern for Australia. You have got Scott Morrison chasing a deal with Clive Palmer, the guy that ripped off his workers at Queensland Nickel, that has ripped off mum and dad investors at his Coolum resort, that has ripped off taxpayers by making taxpayers foot the bill for the worker's entitlements that he should have paid and he is now, today it is revealed, chasing better newspaper coverage with his extraordinarily large ad buy in local newspapers. On the other hand you have Scott Morrison's deputy doing a deal with One Nation, saying that the Coalition shares values and policies with One Nation. And you have got Pauline Hanson crying on TV, feeling sorry for herself. Well, she should feel sorry for the cuts that she supported. Pauline Hanson should stop feeling sorry for herself and feel sorry instead for the schools she's cut, the pensions she's cut, the family tax benefits she's cut, the apprenticeships she's cut. Instead of feeling sorry for herself she should feel sorry for what she has done to ordinary Australians. So what you have before you is a choice between Bill's stable and united team and a coalition of creeps, crackpots and cranks. I think the choice is clear, if people want stability they should vote Labor.
JOURNALIST: On your announcement today Mr Shorten, there are number of examples of renewable projects in the Upper Spencer falling over, the solar thermal plant in Port Augusta for the most recent example, how is this plan going to change anything?
SHORTEN: I've got Mark Butler here to add to it but i just want to put the government on notice that the people of Australia are over excuses and delay and distraction on taking real action on climate change. We regard climate change and a real plan for it as one of the key four or five issues in this election. I am pleased to note that the AEC has reported that quarter of a million Australians have voted in the first two days. This is 100,000 more than at the same time in 2016. And what Labor people are telling me when they are handing out how to vote cards to vote Labor is that a lot of people are talking about climate change. I'll get Mark to go to your specifics.
MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Thank you Bill, thanks for this question. Today we're announcing Labor's third renewable energy zone which will be in the Spencer Gulf region. A region where there has already been substantial renewable energy development. The purpose behind these announcements is to provide a very clear investor signal about where the best renewable energy resources are in Australia, as identified by the Energy Market Operator. These renewable energy zones come from recommendations contained in the integrated systems plan which has been the subject of very deep engagement by AEMO with the sector and by scientific experts and we intend to really boost investor confidence there. What it also means is we're starting to identify areas in the country which will be particular focuses of our energy security modernisation fund, a $5 billion fund that Bill and Chris Bowen and I announced late last year that will help underpin the new transmission investment we need to connect up the load centres like the big cities and the manufacturing centres with the new areas of renewable energy generation which will include the Spencer Gulf. Now the concern I think in the investor community in renewable energy is that this government, the Coalition Government has made it clear there will be absolutely no support from the Liberal and National parties for any renewable energy development beyond next year. This is creating great investor - really dashing investor confidence in this industry that has been responsible for so much job creation and investment over the last few years. So what Labor wants to do with its 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target, its energy security modernisation fund and its response to the clear recommendations from AEMO about renewable energy zones, is continue to boost that investor confidence which will, according to independent modelling, result in 70,000 additional jobs just as a result of our 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target through the 2020s.
JOURNALIST: Some of the issue was getting workers to the upper Spencer area. How are you going to solve that problem with your plan?
BUTLER: You need a long-term plan. At the moment under this government what you have is a plan, the Renewable Energy Target that Penny Wong put in place in 2009, that ends next year. This government has been doing everything it can to demolish that plan. But it still is in existence because of Labor's opposition to their attempts to abolish it. But what you don't have is any investor confidence beyond next year and that's what Labor's 50 per cent Renewable Energy Target will do. That will give people the confidence to move to areas like these renewable energy zones because there will be long-term jobs there.
JOURNALIST: Mr Butler on climate change yesterday you said it was impossible to model Labor's policies but Labor has also promised that the details will be released before the election. Which is it? Impossible to cost? Or will costings be released?
BUTLER: Yesterday I was asked whether the Parliamentary Budget Office had costed our program and it's very clear the Parliamentary Budget Office, the PBO, is responsible for costing and modelling programs that involve revenue and spending by government. This does not involve any revenue or spending by government any more than Scott Morrison's application of this safeguards mechanism, designed and introduced by Malcolm Turnbull, involves any revenue or spending by government. Scott Morrison would give exactly the same response that I gave yesterday. Their safeguards mechanism, that's been in operation for some years, has never been subject to any costing by the Parliamentary Budget Office because it does not involve any pricing of carbon. It does not involve any revenue and it does certainly not involve any spending by the government.
JOURNALIST: Would you rule out another climate deal with the Greens? And do you think that the Gillard Greens deal in 2011 was a success?
SHORTEN: Well I see that the Greens are sort of trailing their coat and saying, "Look at me." The fact of the matter is that if we get elected we'll be making decisions in a Labor Cabinet and the decisions will be made by members of Parliament of the Labor Party. What we will do is we will implement the policies we've put forward. I think even our harshest critics would agree that we are the party who is putting forward policies in this election and we're outlining all of what we intend to do. We're not for switching because some independent MP or some Greens MP is suffering relevance deprivation and wants to see their name in the paper. And I tell you if you want to talks about the coalitions in Canberra there is only one coalition - the coalition of Mr Morrison, Ms Hanson and Mr Palmer and this is a coalition of chaos and cuts. If people are looking for stability at the next election, if they just want to be sure that who they vote for is who they're going to get, vote one Labor - and vote one Labor for real action on climate change.
JOURNALIST: On health you've announced a range of health policies. Do you rule out in the next term of government lifting the Medicare levy for high income earners?
SHORTEN: We have no plan to lift the Medicare levy. The reason why I can say that with such confidence is because we're making the hard economic decisions. We're clamping down on the multinationals. We're not going to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on unfunded tax cuts as this government is promising. And what that means for Australians is if you're one of three million Australian pensioners or Commonwealth health seniors card-holders, you are going to get $1,000 assistance through Medicare every two years with your teeth. What our health promises mean is that if you are one of the two Australians who will be diagnosed with cancer by the time you're in your mid-80s, Labor is going to virtually reduce your out-of-pocket costs to as low as we possibly can. It means that if you use hospitals and you're waiting for arthroscopies, for knee surgeries, for hip replacements, for cataracts, Labor's got your back and we're going to reduce the out-of-pocket costs to see a doctor.
JOURNALIST: A few months ago, Chris Bowen said voters unconvinced about your plans for taxation were perfectly entitled to vote for other parties. What about voters unconvinced by your answers about climate change and working with the Greens? What should they do?
SHORTEN: First of all, we want as many people as possible to vote for us. And I will again, very briefly, not to not push your patience, I will again repeat - no coalition with the Greens. Sorry, Richard, it's not happening. And in terms of our taxation policies, you can do the maths yourself. We're offering a million Australian households help with their childcare. A subsidy to working parents, an additional $1,500 to $2,100 for every child in the system every year. We're going to look after the pensioners. I mean it's long overdue that someone did something for the pensioners. You don't have to put a wraparound ad on your bus. That's not action. That's propaganda. What you actually need is to really help the pensioners. We're really helping the pensioners by providing additional assistance in dental care.
JOURNALIST: I get that it's uncomfortable for you in an election campaign to say that you would go into a deal with the Greens, but doesn't everybody in this country know that you can't get your climate deal through any Parliament we could imagine without coalitions of some sort. So if you're not getting into bed with the Greens, who are you going to get into bed with to carry your climate plans?
SHORTEN: Tim, trust in politics is at an all-time low. And one of the ways Labor is going to rebuild trust in Australian politics is we'll tell people before an election what we intend to do after an election. The good news for us is that if we're elected, we're elected to implement our policies. I do not expect the Senate to stand in the way of our government, if we are elected, when we clearly outlined all our policies and have such a strong mandate in the event that we are elected.
JOURNALIST: Clive Palmer is going to be in town tomorrow. So is Mark Latham from One Nation. They're expected to announce Murray-Darling river plans. Will Labor have anything in addition to say about the Marray Darling basin plan before the election.
SHORTEN: First of all, I understood that Mr Palmer has said he wants to rip up the plan.
JOURNALIST: He has.
SHORTEN: Well I think that's a disaster for South Australia. I mean Palmer is basically a billboard with no substance. He's a text message with no follow-through. What's happening here is Australian democracy is under threat. What we are actually seeing is Mr Palmer is trying to buy the Australian democratic system with $70 or $80 million. Unfortunately, Mr Morrison is his accomplice. I've got to say again - and I'll come back to you - Palmer can't pay for his promises. You all know that he makes it up. You all know that what he's done is he has basically hooked Morrison into whatever mad-cap schemes Palmer is going to run around and promise. People can sniff a fake a long way away and in terms of Mr Morrison, what was he thinking, letting himself be taken hostage to Mr Palmer or the extremists of One Nation? You know, you don't need to have a Rhodes Scholarship to work out that Clive Palmer never does anything for free. If Clive Palmer promises to do something for you, you can be reasonably sure there's strings attached.
JOURNALIST: You said you want 50 per cent electric cars by 2030. If a Labor government wins the election, would you provide subsidies for, you know, Gupta electric cars or other providers?
SHORTEN: What I've actually said is that we'd like to see 50 per cent of new car sales be electric vehicles. What Labor will do to help create, make that an option, is we want to help put in a network of charging stations so it's a real option for people. What we've also said is that government fleet purchasing requirements over that time will move towards more electric vehicles as part of our mix. The reason why we're doing this is twofold. One is, I know that around the world other people in other countries are getting access to cheaper electric vehicles which, of course, save your petrol bills. But in Australia, because we've got such a backward, technophobic, anti-climate change government, motorists are being denied cheaper options for their motor vehicles. So we think this is good on climate because it will help reduce emissions. We think it's also appropriate that Australia shouldn't become this sort of, you know, Albania of the southern hemisphere where in fact we are blocked away from new technology because we've got an ignorant, anti-scientific, anti-climate change, anti-technology government.
JOURNALIST: Would you provide subsidies?
SHORTEN: No we don't have any plans to do that.
JOURNALIST: With your emissions reduction target, you say that businesses will take the reins with how they choose to reduce pollution. How can you be sure that they will do that? Would you introduce civil penalties for non-compliance?
SHORTEN: We have a safeguards mechanism. But what I'll do is I'll get Mark to supplement that answer.
BUTLER: Thank you. As Bill pointed out we've decided after very deep engagement with the business community to accept their request to continue working with the safeguards mechanism, the mechanism that was introduced by Malcolm Turnbull. What that will do is set particular limits on pollution for the 250 biggest polluters in the country. Now, that is 0.01 per cent of Australian businesses. 99.99 per cent of Australian businesses won't be touched at all by this policy. Companies will have to abide by those limits but they will be given, as they do under the safeguards mechanism now, as they do under the mechanism that was introduced by Malcolm Turnbull, but what we will do is give them the broadest array of possible options for offsetting any breach of those limits. Every single request by the business community, for example, to allow them to continue engaging in international trading, which every business organisation in the country has asked for, to allow offsets to a reinvigorated carbon farming market, to allow access potentially for electricity offsets, to allow businesses that beat their baselines to be able to create credits that they can either move within their business, sell to other businesses or bank for future years. All of these requests, after 12 to 18 months of deep engagement with the business community, are featured in the Australian Labor Party policy.
JOURNALIST: Wasn't the safeguards mechanism introduced by Tony Abbott, not Malcolm Turnbull?
BUTLER: It was Tony Abbott's policy but came into place under Malcolm Turnbull's prime ministership. It continued all through his prime ministership, it continues now under Scott Morrison's.
JOURNALIST: It's interesting that you're using the Tony Abbott climate change mechanism.
BUTLER: So a range of businesses already have these legal obligations under this policy and we've heard the calls from the Australian business community for investor confidence to continue working with the mechanism that already exists. What that also does is allow a platform for potential bipartisanship if the Liberal Party ever gets over its allergy to climate change action. In the same way that we have said in response to a unanimous request from business organisations that we would move forward with the National Energy Guarantee, a policy which Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg said would deliver $550 in power bill cuts for Australian households, that Scott Morrison then walked away from. As a result, as was modelled last year by Scott Morrison, power bills are going up and up and up again.
JOURNALIST: What are your assumptions on the amount of international credits that will be brought by business under your policy? And what are your assumptions on the future pricing of these credits? And I understand the PBO can't do costings but if you haven't got those assumptions, why not get them before the election from an economist?
BUTLER: Well the business community made very clear with us what they wanted to hear from the Australian Labor Party before the election and what they wanted to engage with an Australian Labor Party government, if we're lucky enough to win the election, after the election. And for example, access to international permits, the way in which the emissions reduction trajectory would be designed over the course of the decade, the way in which the Carbon Farming Initiative would be reinvigorated, were all things that every business group - you can go and talk to them Greg - every business group said, "We want to engage with you as a government, not as an opposition party because..."
JOURNALIST: But do you have assumptions on the amount of international credits that business will buy because at the moment ...
BUTLER: It will depend on price, Greg. It would depend on price and we're confident that with a reinvigorated carbon farming market there will be much more supply of very affordable credits from the Australian carbon farming market. Now the business community still wants the ability, if they need to, to access international permits either through a global market or through bilateral trading arrangements that we might have with countries in our region. But those are matters that they want to engage in a discussion with once we're in government, if we win the election. Go and ask any business group and that will be their answer.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, on Jeremy Hearn, a couple of days ago, your Senate candidate in the Northern Territory resigned after sharing anti-Semitic posts on social media. If one candidate is responsible and reflective of the entire party, aren't Labor also in trouble on this?
SHORTEN: No. There's a world of difference here. First of all, this fellow, who I haven't met, who was in the Northern Territory Senate ticket, I don't think that what he did anyone is contrasting with the complete Islamaphobia of the Liberals. But nonetheless, not appropriate. Gone. But goodness me when will we finally admit what everyone actually knows? The Liberal Party is riddled with right-wing extremists. It doesn't matter if it's Andrew Hastie contradicting Ian Goodenough or Ian Goodenough contradicting Andrew Hastie about what right-wing nutter they meet with or indeed this Islamaphobe, this racist. You know after Christchurch what do you need to get people to wake up in the Liberal Party and say it's unacceptable? But the real problem here is that it just confirms another day the Liberal Party of Australia is riddled with right-wing extremists. The Liberal Party is making, and the National Party are making preference arrangements with right-wing extremists like the One Nation Party. I mean we've had chaos in the last six years. And people are sick of the chaos. But because of Mr Morrison's personal choices to work with Clive Palmer, because of his coalition partner - I mean they're in the Coalition except when it suits the Nats to say they're not and do a dirty deal with One Nation. You know there's a pattern of behaviour emerging here that the Liberals and Nationals are riddled with right-wing extremists and the one thing it means, as people vote today and tomorrow and right through to May 18, is that if you're sick of the instability and chaos, vote Labor at the next election.
JOURNALIST: Just on climate change, do you acknowledge the simple fact that you're asking Australians to vote for something without knowing what the full cost of it will be? And can you understand why that worries people?
SHORTEN: No, I don't agree with any of the assumptions in that question for the following reasons. The Australian people have already worked out what the Liberal Party haven't. Climate change is real. I don't need to give a lecture about climate change to two million Australians who've put solar power on their rooftop. They see the advantages of moving to renewables. It's without a doubt one of the top two or three issues in this election. People are actually sick and tired of politicians. They're sick and tired of the fear and the scare campaigns. They're sick and tired of lazy, right-wing, anti-climate change governments coming up with every excuse in the world to say the future's too hard. We're in a childcare centre. These kids have a reasonable expectation that the adults and the leaders in their world will be as optimistic about the future as our young people are. What optimism or hope is there in the future of Australia when you vote for the Liberal Nationals who basically hate doing anything on climate change? If this government was fair dinkum on climate change Malcolm Turnbull would still be Prime Minister of Australia. Thanks, everybody. We'll see you at the next function.