THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
TUESDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2017
SUBJECTS: Qld election; LNP cuts to education and training; Coalition by-election chaos; Bank Royal Commission; Coalition infighting; Labor’s plans for jobs.
JULIEANNE GILBERT, STATE MEMBER FOR MACKAY: This morning I'd like to welcome Tanya Plibersek to Mackay. It's wonderful that she's come here to support the Mackay region and to see how we are getting more apprentices out there into our workplaces. It's great to see that industries out here at Paget are starting to pick up on apprentices, and using the State Government incentives around payroll tax deductions and also incentives around rebates for workers compensation and payments. So it's good to see so many young people in these workshops, getting a start in life. And I'd like to introduce you now to Tanya Plibersek.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks. We might actually very quickly hear from Bronwyn and Jim.
BRONWYN TAHA, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR WHITSUNDAY: Thanks everyone. I would like to also welcome Tanya Plibersek to the Mackay region. I've been privileged enough to see the work of the apprentices in the engineering service. This is fantastic news that we have apprentices on the ground, unlike the LNP that cut 14,000 jobs when they were in government. So only the Labor Palaszczuk Government will invest in new jobs and new apprentices.
JIM PEARCE, STATE MEMBER FOR MIRANI: Thank you very much. Since I got elected last time, everybody knows my go-forward thing has always been about jobs. In Central Queensland, around Mackay and Rockhampton, we've started to see jobs growth. Very important to see the apprentices come on board, for example BMA, we had 12 apprentices last year and you've got 14 coming up in the year ahead. So it's about jobs, it's about getting young people jobs, and it's about permanent jobs as well.
PLIBERSEK: Thanks very much. It's fantastic to be here today with Julianne, with Jim and with Bronwyn and it's particularly nice to be invited to campaign with these three great people because I believe the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has been banned from campaigning in Queensland. I think you're in real trouble when Tim Nicholls, the guy who cut 14,000 jobs in Queensland, says you're too unpopular to campaign with.
We've been here today meeting with staff and apprentices at an engineering company, to hear about the job opportunities for young people in Mackay. And I think it's absolutely great that the Mackay Mercury have this fantastic story today about the challenges in our education system and how we can make sure that young people go on to finish high school, to go to TAFE, to go to university, after they've finished their schooling. Because we've got this incredible study of contrasts between what's happening from the Queensland Government, and what the Federal Government's doing in the same area. Annastacia Palaszczuk's created 122,500 jobs in Queensland since taking government not so long ago. We've seen the restoration of front-line services, new teachers, teachers aids, nurses, doctors, police being hired. You couldn't have a sharper contrast than with the Federal Government. The Federal Government's cut funding to schools, they've cut $17 billion from our school system over the next decade. They've cut funding from TAFE, almost $3 billion cut from TAFE, including more than $600 million in the last budget alone. And they're trying, right now, to cut university funding as well, close to $8 billion is on the chopping block. Now when I talk about numbers that big, it's kind of hard to keep a local perspective on that. But what it means is while the State Labor Government is working hard to see more investment in our schools, TAFE and apprenticeships here in Queensland, the Federal Government is undermining them. Just locally, they've ripped support for 1,700 apprenticeships and trainees out of this local community and they're trying to take $30 million away from Central Queensland University. So while the State Labor Government is investing, supporting jobs and apprenticeships, the Federal Government's trying to cut the guts out them.
Federal Labor is absolutely committed to restoring every dollar of the $17 billion cut from our schools, every dollar of the last cut to TAFE from the last budget, plus $100 million in a TAFE rebuilding fund. We've said that two out of three dollars spent on vocational education will go to TAFE, the public provider, and we'll spend $100 million on upgrading TAFE facilities around the country. We've also said that one in ten jobs on government-funded projects, funded by the Federal Government, will go to apprentices. We know, talking to these young people today, talking to apprentices all around Australia, that these young people are making the best decision to invest in their own lives. They're getting a few years of study and training and work under their belt, and then they can take on any job. They can work anywhere in Queensland, they can work anywhere in Australia or around the world, because they've invested in their own education. How dumb is it that we have a Federal Government and a Queensland Opposition that aren't prepared to do the same thing - invest in our young people, invest in the skills and training that will allow them to do jobs all around Queensland, all around Australia, all around the world in the future. It's so short-sighted. We're committed to a decent training and education system. The LNP aren't. That's why people should support Annastacia Palaszczuk.
JOURNALIST: You had to face the cameras when the Citizenship-7 verdicts were handed down, how did you find that?
PLIBERSEK: I found it very disappointing to be honest. I think it's very confusing for Australians to be told that their Deputy Prime Minister never checked that he was eligible to stand for Parliament. Year after year when he stood in the Senate and he moved to the House of Representatives, he never checked. And that's despite the fact he admitted on Friday that he always had a bit of a gut feeling that the court case wasn't going to go his way. So we wasted the money on this High Court challenge, because people should've checked that they were eligible to stand. We've now got this uncertainty over whether the decisions Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash made as Cabinet Ministers, when they stayed on despite the uncertainty of their eligibility, we've now got uncertainty about whether those decisions were validly made.
I do think Barnaby Joyce in particular should apologise. He should apologise for the fact he didn't check properly that he was eligible to stand for Parliament. He should apologise for the fact that he remained a Cabinet Minister, making important decisions, while there was a doubt around his eligibility. But I reckon Malcolm Turnbull has got a lot to answer for as well. I mean, this Prime Minister, if he had any guts at all, would've said, particularly to Fiona Nash and Barnaby Joyce, you can't remain in the Cabinet, you can't keep making important decisions, while there is a doubt about your eligibility to be in Parliament.
JOURNALIST: Do the Government have any sort of obligation to recover taxpayer funds that were spent on ineligible MPs?
PLIBERSEK: Look I think that really is up to the Government. We've seen that there's a precedent, Bob Day and Rod Culleton were given a waiver for the debts that they had to the Commonwealth. I suppose the Government will do something similar. But it's up to the Government to decide and to explain the decision that they've made.
JOURNALIST: What tactics are you considering if three Coalition MPs cross the floor over the banking Royal Commission?
PLIBERSEK: I think it would be terrific to give George Christensen an opportunity to support a banking Royal Commission. He has been in the media saying that he supports a banking Royal Commission, we'll see whether he actually does if this comes to the floor of the Parliament.
JOURNALIST: Would you suspend standing orders?
PLIBERSEK: Look I'm not going to starting talking about the ins and outs of parliamentary tactics. We've got weeks until Parliament sits again, we'll make a decision much closer to the time.
JOURNALIST: Have you got your own legislation on this or would you work with the Greens to get up Adam Bandt's legislation?
PLIBERSEK: Again, we've got weeks to decide what we'll be doing in Parliament when next it sits, but I would say, as an issue of principle, that if George Christensen does support a banking Royal Commission he should vote for it if it comes to the floor of the Parliament.
JOURNALIST: Has the Opposition made any approach to Cathy McGowan or Rebekha Sharkie to test their commitment to the Coalition on matters of confidence and supply?
PLIBERSEK: I think a number of the crossbenchers have made it clear that they'll continue to support supply for the Government, but we're not getting into the ins and outs of what happens when Parliament returns, as I said it's weeks away. I think it is important that Labor continues to stand up for the things that we've always stood up for. We have tried to introduce a banking Royal Commission, we'll continue to pursue that as an issue. We have tried to protect the penalty rates of 700,000 Australians who've had their penalty rates cut and we'll continue to do that when Parliament resumes.
JOURNALIST: Would you consider a move on the floor of the Lower House to move no confidence in the Government?
PLIBERSEK: Like I say, we are absolutely weeks away from Parliament sitting again, we're not going to go into the ins and outs of possible parliamentary tactics so far out from the next sitting of Parliament. But what I can assure Australians is that the things that Labor has always stood for we will absolutely stand up for at this confusing time, and that means things like protecting the pay and conditions of working Australians, including their penalty rates, a banking Royal Commission so that the victims of banking malpractice can have their day in court. It means better funding for health and education services. It means all of the things that Labor has always stood for. Of course we'll continue to argue for them and stand up for them, even in this hung Parliament with a minority government.
JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop has stepped up into the Acting Prime Minister role and you've stepped up to the Acting Opposition Leader, do have any advice for Julie Bishop?
PLIBERSEK: No, but I'd have some advice for the Liberal-National parties. And they're a mess, they've really got to sort their house out. This is an incredibly chaotic time for the nation and they can't be as self-indulgent as we've seen in recent weeks. I mean, we saw an argument over who was going to be the Acting Prime Minister that went on for days, with the Liberals and the Nationals fighting about whose job it was going to be. We've seen a fight over who's going to replace Senator Fiona Nash between the Liberals and the Nationals. They're a mess when it comes to who is replacing Fiona Nash. We've seen Barnaby Joyce bad-mouthing Malcolm Turnbull, saying people should stop complaining about the Nationals because without the Nationals the Liberals would've lost the last election, and Barnaby Joyce having a go at the Libs. We've seen the President of the National Party nationally, Larry Anthony, saying that the Coalition agreement is OK for now, implying that they're on the verge of renegotiating or dumping the coalition agreement. I think it is obvious, it must be obvious to Malcolm Turnbull, that the vultures are circling. If Malcom Turnbull is too unpopular to campaign in Queensland, he really should be asking himself some questions. If nobody wants Malcolm Turnbull in Queensland, does anybody really want him in Canberra either?
JOURNALIST: This plant here, GNS Engineering, they're hoping to win a contract with the Adani mine. That's pretty exciting, right?
PLIBERSEK: Look I think it's great to see local businesses employed, right across Queensland. We want to see more apprentices, we want to see more jobs created. And that's why Labor has put on the table a one billion dollar Tourism Infrastructure Investment Fund, that will also support businesses like this. It's why we've also announced a manufacturing fund, because we know a lot of manufacturing businesses need help in the changing economy to retool, to get ready for new job opportunities and business opportunities as they arise. It's the reason we've said that if Labor's elected, when we fund big projects, one in ten of those jobs will go to apprentices, because we know that's a great investment in the future of those individual kids, and a great investment in the future of our nation. So yes, we want to see jobs and growth in Queensland. Annastacia Palaszczuk's seen job growth of 122,500 jobs. And remember Tim Nicholls was Campbell Newman's right-hand man. He's the henchman that implemented 14,000 job cuts when the LNP were last in government. Why would you risk LNP job cuts again?
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