SUBJECTS: Labor’s $10 million investment in Cairns Pilot Training Hub; Labor’s plans for NAIF investment in Far North Queensland; Women in the Liberal Party; LNP division over coal-fired power stations; Attracting more airlines and investment to Cairns.

ELIDA FAITH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LEICHHARDT: Good afternoon, my name is Elida Faith, I'm the Labor candidate for Leichhardt and I'm here today with our Deputy Leader, Tanya Plibersek. Now the Cairns airport is the gateway to The Great Barrier Reef. We see millions of tourists coming in and out of here every year and it's also our export hub for our produce. We've seen massive cuts to skills and training by this LNP government and locals are finding it difficult to find secure, ongoing employment in our region and as a local mum I want my daughter to have an opportunity to work in a skilled area. Now 'Window Warren' is always looking into it and I think it's about time that 'Window Warren' stopped just looking into it and started delivering for his community. Labor will deliver and we are going to put nearly $10 million on the table that will see a world class aviation hub right here in Cairns. I'm going to hand over to Tanya now to tell you a little bit more about it. Tanya.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks so much Elida. It's such a pleasure to be here with Elida with Nick Klomp, the Vice Chancellor of Central Queensland University and with Nita Green, Labor's Senate candidate for Queensland. I am delighted to be here to announce today that a Labor government, if we are elected, would invest $10 million in upgrading the pilot training facilities that we are standing in today. Right next to Cairns airport, this would be a wonderful facility that would dramatically expand the capacity to teach a Bachelor of Aviation course that will train future pilots and people to work in associated aviation jobs. We know that in coming years we'll need hundreds of thousands of extra pilots and other professionals in the aviation industry around the world. Queensland is already experiencing shortages of pilots, the rest of Australia is seeing shortages of pilots and internationally those shortages already exist. What we'd like to see is $10 million invested in stage two of the pilot training facility here at Cairns airport. That would allow up to 150 students a year to go through this course. It would mean about 70 jobs during the construction phase and around 15 ongoing jobs for teachers and other associated staff at the school. This is a great opportunity for young people who live in Cairns to get an interesting, well paid, challenging job that allows them to stay in the region should they want to or travel around the world if that's what they wish. It's also a great opportunity for people from other parts of Queensland, from around Australia, or even from our region to move to Cairns to study this course. As I said, we know that there are already shortages in the recruitment of pilots and those shortages are only going to increase. So giving people from around the region the opportunity to come to Cairns to bring their money with them while they're studying here is great for the local economy. Attracting overseas students is another economic boom for the region. This is a really sharp contrast to the LNP when it comes to education funding. We've seen only cuts from the LNP when it comes to the university funding. We've seen cuts to the number of students that have the opportunity to get an education, cuts to university funding - tens of millions of dollars cut from Central Queensland University.
It's also a contrast when it comes to investment in Cairns. Elida pointed out that Warren Entsch is always looking into it - I think that's a great description of, not just Warren Entsch, but the LNP generally. You take the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund. There's billions of dollars available to invest in this region and instead of pulling their finger out, getting on with the job and seeing investment in the region, you've seen not a dollar spent on projects to benefit Queensland. How can that be when the need is so great? The only explanation for this lack of action is the fact that the Liberals and Nationals are too focused on themselves, too focused on their infighting, too focused on their own jobs to think about where the jobs are going to come from for the people of the Cairns region. Warren Entsch is part of the problem. The Nationals at the moment with their leadership fight between Michael McCormack and Barnaby Joyce, it's just exhausting. It's just more of the same and I don't doubt that right around Australia and in Cairns today, people are looking on and wondering 'Why?' Instead of thinking about where the jobs are coming from in this region, the Liberals and the Nationals are only focused on their own jobs.
I'm going to ask Nick Klomp to say a few words about the investment for this new training facility.
NICK KLOMP, VICE-CHANCELLOR OF CENTRAL QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY: Thank you, I'm Nick Klomp the Vice-Chancellor of CQUniversity and I'm delighted today to hear the announcement from the ALP about the commitment of funding of $9.9 million to stage two of the CQUniversity Asia-Pacific Aviation Hub; and I would like to personally thank Tanya Plibersek and Elida Faith and Nita Green for coming here today in support of CQUniversity and in support of this project. As you've heard, the city of Cairns is already a strategic gateway to the world and certainly to South-East Asia - with direct flights to China and Hong Kong and Singapore and Japan and Indonesia and the Philippines and New Zealand and there's probably others. So it makes so much sense to make sure that Cairns is a centre of aviation excellence, not just for education but for research as well. And CQU is delighted - as its role in regional Australia of supporting regions across Australia, particularly in Queensland - we're delighted to be able to partner with Cairns and make sure that we can deliver the education programs and the research programs that are expected of the regions and it's only fair to be available for regional and remote students as well. CQUniversity has already invested $4.8 million of its own money in stage one in the development that you've seen today and this latest announcement will allow us to proceed into stage two which not only expands the opportunity for students to do the Bachelor of Aviation and to do commercial pilot licence training, but will also allow us to expand courses into aircraft and airline operations and into air worthiness and expand our research directions as well in the whole aviation sphere. I am delighted to be partnering with the City of Cairns to make this all happen and I'm delighted by the announcement today of the commitment from the ALP.
PLIBERSEK: Thanks. OK. Any questions. First of all about the announcement? Any questions about the announcement?
JOURNALIST: We've had the local member, Warren Entsch, that this money will be in the Budget that his government delivers next month. I mean, is it good to see that the Coalition are coming on board to deliver the funding?
PLIBERSEK:  Well it's a bit, too little, too late, isn't it? I mean, they've had years to support investment in the local community and all they've done is cut money, including from Central Queensland University, tens of millions of dollars cut from Central Queensland University, billions of dollars cut from the university sector altogether. I guess you've got to accept that Warren is playing catch-up with Elida's excellent work in the area. Good luck to him. I think people will take it with a grain of salt.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned the NAIF before. How will the Labor government spend NAIF money for Far North Queensland?
PLIBERSEK: Based on projects that are brought to us that add to local economic development. We've said that we want to see projects, including infrastructure projects, that have jobs in their creation and then improve the economy ongoing. I mean, Cairns is a great example because so many jobs here rely on tourism. Tourism is going to continue to be a vitally important industry for Northern Queensland. Agriculture is another area that we want to see more investment and more opportunity. Labor has made funding commitments on roads, on rail, on port infrastructure, on airport infrastructure, and the ones that are ultimately successful through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund are the ones that have the strongest business cases.
JOURNALIST: Are there any projects in particular that...
PLIBERSEK: Well I'm not going to tip out anything we might have planned in the near future.
JOURNALIST: What did you think of Malcolm Turnbull releasing his Women's Day speech, talking about cultural problems with women in [inaudible]?
PLIBERSEK: Is anyone surprised? Actually a quarter of sitting female Liberal MPs have called out a 'woman problem' in the Liberal Party, a culture of bullying and intimidation of women in the Liberal Party. Malcolm Turnbull's added his name to the list of people who've been prepared to call it out. Scott Morrison is the only person who's still in denial that there is a problem. What's the Prime Minister doing about this? When a quarter of the women in his own party told him there was a problem, he continued to deny that there was any issue to resolve. Of course there's a problem, and the Prime Minister ought to be more alive to the fact and actually show some leadership.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of tensions in your party about coal-fired power stations at the moment?
PLIBERSEK: I don't see tensions. You might be mistaking me for a National Party MP. The only party that is divided about coal at the moment is the LNP, with the Nationals making all sorts of demands that the Liberals can't meet. We are focused, the Labor Party is focused, on sensible energy policy for Australia. We know the way the world is going is increasing investment in renewables. Renewables are becoming cheaper all the time and certainly new renewable power is cheaper than new coal power. That said, coal will be an important part of our energy mix for the foreseeable future and coal exports will be an important part of our export revenue for the foreseeable future. But when you look long-term around the world, countries are shifting to low-pollution sources of energy, which are also cheaper all the time than new coal could possibly be. 
JOURNALIST: is there anything at the Federal level that Labor can do to help attract more airlines to Cairns?
PLIBERSEK: I know that my colleague, the Shadow Transport Minister and Shadow Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, is a great supporter of Cairns airport, and I'm sure that on his visits here he will be happy to answer all of those questions for you.
JOURNALIST: There's kind of this investment, I guess, looking towards the fact that Cairns could become a bigger hub for international airlines and then flights and tourism than it already is?
PLIBERSEK: Cairns is an absolutely vital gateway already. It's a direct link to a number of Asian countries. It's an attractive gateway for people who are coming to Australia for tourism but it's also increasingly important in export trading and we'd like to see more of that. I think anything we can do to develop Cairns' links to Asia in particular, the Asia-Pacific region more generally, is a good thing.
Thank you all.