Bill Shorten Doorstop Media Conference at Unanderra

THE HON. BILL SHORTEN MP

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS
AND ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS

MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG



E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP
WOLLONGONG

FRIDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2016

SUBJECTS: Manufacturing jobs; Welfare cuts; Steve Herbert; Kidman & Co

PAUL SCULLY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR WOLLONGONG: Good morning everyone, my name's Paul Scully. I'm the Labor candidate for the Wollongong state by-election on November 12 and it's great that Bill Shorten, the Federal Labor leader, is able to join us today at Leussink Engineering. This is a local company that started off in 1977 with a second hand lathe in the garage of Jason Leussink, the current owner’s garage. Both my uncle and my mum have both worked for this company and it gives me great pleasure to bring Bill here today to show that a bespoke, local engineering company in Unanderra is now investing in innovation, in product development and a global market. Earlier this week Luke Foley joined me to launch New South Wales Labor's Illawarra Jobs Action Plan. Central to that plan were a couple of items, the first, making sure that we invest in local steel and steel and manufacturing jobs. New South Wales Labor has co-sponsored a bill before the New South Wales Parliament at the moment which will see at least 90 per cent of local steel, Port Kembla steel, used in every Government project. That's every road, every bridge, every school and every hospital. Local steel in local projects. The New South Wales Government under Labor leading the way by example and that was an important point that the Leussink family has pointed out today that they would like to see as well. Taxpayers’ money being used to support and encourage local businesses.

 

Another element of our plan was a strong connection with the growth corridor of South-Western and Western Sydney. One of the largest economic growth areas and potential areas that is nearby to this region. So investing in the infrastructure that will connect us to those regions and making sure that products from Leussink Engineering and companies like it in the Illawarra can be shipped and go to their global scale that they've been doing. And the other important aspect was New South Wales continued investment in TAFE. Leussink Engineering has a commitment to employing apprentices. Those apprentices go to local TAFE's. They have seven apprentices here already at different stages and want to continue to employ local apprentices as much as they can. Each of those apprentices do their time through local TAFE. Successive Labor Governments have invested in our local TAFE system at Wollongong to make sure that we have the metal manufacturing capabilities, training capabilities that are needed for companies like this to make sure they have the skilled staff they need for the future, to continue to grow, to continue to employ people, to continue to grow local jobs.

 

Central to Labor's commitment, this by-election, central to Labor's commitment at the last Federal election in going forward is a commitment to growing local jobs and local job opportunities. That stands in stark comparison to the recent decision by the Baird Liberal Government when faced with the opportunity to build more than 500 new rail carriages in the Illawarra, just down the road at Unanderra. Instead of doing that they took that $2.3 billion contract and took it to South Korea. Now that was 600 job opportunities lost locally, that was job opportunities lost for apprentices and opportunities lost to use local steel for local rail carriages. That's not the sort of thing we that we want to see repeated. I'd again like to thank Bill for coming down today, thank my local Federal colleagues, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones for joining us to see just how impressive a local company can be, just how much innovation can go into, what is a bespoke manufacturing orginisation and just how far a local firm, started in someone’s garage. By investing in their workers, investing in their products can take their innovations to the world. Bill, I'd like to hand it over to you.

 

SHORTEN: Thanks Paul and doesn't he speak well? The next, hopefully, Member for Wollongong in the State Parliament.

 

I am here today because the Leussink family and the workforce here deserve a government in Canberra who will stand up for jobs. I've spent all this week from the west coast of Australia right through to here, every day talking to investors and visiting factories talking about jobs. 

 

By contrast, Malcolm Turnbull spent the week trying to fend Tony Abbott off from his job. What we need in this country is a renewed commitment to Australian manufacturing. What we need in this country is just one three-word slogan: "Made in Australia". The workforce here are very committed. This is a great family business who have got a quality offering, and they're accountable to their customers and they have got the family business feel in terms of their commitment to their employees and vice versa. What we need in Canberra is a Government that shows the same commitment to blue collar manufacturing jobs. Australia can compete with the rest of the world in manufacturing. We need to be a nation which supports our steel industry. Under the current Liberal Government we lost our car manufacturing industry, but Labor is determined to make sure that we don't lose the steel industry and metal manufacturing more generally. 

 

At the state election, jobs is one of the key issues in my opinion. And only state Labor has a policy to promote local procurement and to stand up for the Illawarra and its iconic steel and metal manufacturing industry.

 

Labor is committed to making sure that we have more apprentices being trained and employed, to make sure that when taxpayer money is spent, that we ensure that we spend some of that scarce and incredibly valuable taxpayer money on local procurement. We are committed to making sure that "Made in Australia" is a slogan going forward, not just a label in the museum, and we want to back up the family businesses, the successful small and medium-sized metal manufacturing businesses, which are the backbone of metal manufacturing in this country. It is quite exciting to be here today to see what this company is doing, and I'm determined to make sure that the Turnbull Government stands up for Australian metal manufacturing and steel just like Labor is going to do if and when we get elected nationally. 

 

Happy to take any questions.

 

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned Mr Shorten that 43,000 parents who are receiving $45,000 worth of welfare payments more than the take home pay of the average worker? 

 

SHORTEN: I'm concerned that people can't find a job. If you want to do something about welfare, have a plan for jobs. I'm concerned that we've got a Government in Canberra which isn't fair dinkum about ensuring that people on welfare get the opportunity to get good, blue-collar jobs. 

 

Malcolm Turnbull has got a lot to say about the jobs of bank CEOs or dotcom start-up tech companies, but what about everyday jobs for the people who can't find them? Labor has got a jobs plan which involves local procurement, which involves prioritising renewable energy, which involves standing up for apprentices, but I've also got to say this: the Government is trying to distract from their own problems and so what do they do? They decide to kick the poor old pensioner, they decide to demonise everyone who receives a pension and put them all in a sort-of sin-bin. 

 

The fact of the matter is that if this Government wants to save taxpayer money, don't hand out $50 billion in tax cuts to large multinationals and the big banks. We are not just going to allow the Government to pick on the pensioner when they are handing away truckloads of money to the big end of town. And if you want to help people off welfare, find them a job, help them find a job and that's what Labor will do.

 

JOURNALIST: The Gillard Labor Government also cut the single parenting payment and you supported the Federal Government's omnibus bill, doesn't Labor have to careful about attacking the Government? 

 

SHORTEN: Not at all, we're not going to kick the pensioners. This is a government who's got its priorities all wrong. They want to cut Medicare, they want to go after the pensioner, but at the same time as they're giving an out-of-touch lecture from their harbourside mansions, what the Liberal Party want to do is hand away $50 billion in taxpayer concession to large multinationals and to the big banks.

Mr Turnbull has got to get out of the rarefied environments that he operates in and hear what people on the ground are saying. You've got to stand up for Australian jobs, you've got to stand up for apprenticeships, you've got to stand up for the mum and dad businesses who want the opportunity to compete for taxpayer contracts and at the moment we don't have a level playing field with the rest of the world. 

What's wrong with saying let's buy Australian, let's have "made in Australia" as something which we can all dedicate ourselves to and then your middle class and working class families, they can get on and do the rest, as they've done for 100 years.

 

JOURNALIST: On another matter, are you concerned about reports the Hazelwood power plant in Victoria could close early next year?

 

SHORTEN: First of all, this Government hasn't got a plan for the modernisation of our electricity industry. What concerns me, is that this is a Government who has no plan for the jobs of people who work at Hazelwood. They've got no concept of a just transition, helping workers who are dislocated by economic change. 

Malcolm Turnbull loves to tell people to stop hiding under the doona, he loves to blame the pensioners for the pensions they get, loves to ignore the plight of blue collar workers. If we're going to have a future for energy generation in this country, Mr Turnbull has got to have a plan to modernise our electricity generation system, to make it more secure and to also make sure that renewable energy is part of the future. 

There's tens of thousands of jobs just waiting to be created in renewable energy if Mr Turnbull could get on and articulate a long-term plan, rather than just worrying about Tony Abbott.

 

JOURNALIST: Steve Herbert Mr Shorten. The Prime Minister says he's amazed Mr Herbert still has a job after using his government car to chauffer his dogs. Do you think Mr Herbert needs to consider his position?

 

SHORTEN: Well, I said yesterday it was dumb. It'll be a matter for Daniel Andrews, but there we go, Malcolm Turnbull, if he wants to talk about whether or not it's amazing someone has a job, I think it's amazing George Brandis still has a job, I think it's amazing the Government's got nothing to say about Bob Day, who said his position was untenable last week. There we go, Malcolm Turnbull's got plenty of lectures to give State Governments, he's the Prime Minister of Australia, not the Premier of Victoria. He should focus on his day job and explain to Australians why has George Brandis still got a job, what on earth is going on with Senator Bob Day who has said his position was untenable last week, now apparently he's irreplaceable this week?

 

JOURNALIST: On the subject of the group of Australian graziers who've withdrawn their bid for the Kidman cattle empire, what's your response to the Australian consortium withdrawing its offer and secondly, are you disappointed there is no all-Australian offer for the properties?

 

SHORTEN: I want to congratulate the BBHO bid, the bid with the Australian graziers. They were determined to try to do the best they could by Australia's cattle industries. It's ultimately up to Kidman & Co who they sell that land to. Whoever is successful there'll be a majority Australian bid, so that's good, but I admire the courage of these pastoralists and these cattle graziers who are willing to invest in the future of the cattle industry in this country, so I congratulate them for creating a real sense of choice. Ultimately the decision is up to the board of Kidman & Co to make.

 

JOURNALIST: Back to another topic, the Government says the current generous welfare system is actually proving to be a disincentive for people to work. How do you think that needs to be addressed?

 

SHORTEN: We should always try and encourage people to get off welfare. The best answer to welfare is to find people a job. So our view is that we're always up for sensible change. What I'm not going to do is start punishing the pensioners, start punishing all the people on the disability pension and say somehow, but for them, this country would be doing better. Do you know I think some of the welfare which Mr Turnbull needs to look at? He needs to look at the welfare that property speculators get with a tax subsidy to negatively gear houses and make it harder for first home buyers.

 

I think that Mr Turnbull wants to looking at welfare, look at big bank business welfare. He's proposing to give $7.5 billion in tax cuts to the big banks of Australia when they're already making massive profits as it is, and if he wants to look at welfare, why on earth is he proposing to give tax concessions, which are subsidised by taxpayers, the mums and dads of Australia, to multinationals who will just take those tax cuts and make them into profits overseas. Mr Turnbull is always worried about the welfare of the least well off, and talking about what they're doing wrong, he needs to look closer to home and start challenging some of the unsustainable, top end of town business tax concessions which aren't helping create jobs or helping this country reduce its debt and deficit under the Liberal Government.

 

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, you're in the Illawarra today, obviously we have a State by-election looming. I guess, can you explain, maybe to voters, why they should view this anything other than a photo opportunity for the Labor Party today?

 

SHORTEN: Let's be very clear here, the Labor Party is committed to fighting for jobs. Every day this week I've been in a different factory or talking to different groups of investors. I understand the Illawarra at the national level has traditionally been more supportive of Labor, but I'm a Labor leader who believes in looking after your base, looking after blue collar workers, looking after metal and manufacturing employers. 

There are real challenges of change in the Illawarra. We've got to make sure that we preserve blue collar, engineering jobs, design jobs, these are very important jobs.

Paul Scully is the candidate with the best credentials to stand up for blue collar jobs in the Illawarra. Luke Foley is the best potential for New South Wales to have proper local procurement policy. I will fight for blue collar jobs, engineering jobs, manufacturing jobs whenever and wherever, and the problem is that we've had in Canberra a Liberal Government who hasn't fought for anyone's blue collar jobs, they just fight for their own jobs. Perhaps the last question or have we covered off? Great.

 

JOURNALIST: If you support a New South Wales Labor co-sponsored bill for 90 per cent mandate on the use of Australian steel, why not have a similar bill at a federal level?

 

SHORTEN: Well, you will find at the last election, only Labor had a plan for metal manufacturing, only Labor had a plan to stand up for the steel industry, and in fact, since the election, I've been standing up for the future of Arrium and OneSteel. OneSteel has been a major operator, an employer of jobs in the Illawarra. I understand that this country can't just be a country run for the big banks and run for just tech start-ups. They're important parts of our economy, I understand that, but what we've got to do is make sure we have a manufacturing base. 

The best chance for people on the minimum wage to better themselves is quite often a manufacturing job. Manufacturing workers are not overpaid in this country. They are not living high on the hog like some of the big banks and receiving those sort of wages, but the sort of people who work in this business, the employers who work in this business, who started it up from scratch, they pay their taxes, they pay their mortgages, they educate their kids, they're doing very best they can. I cannot imagine an Australia in the future which is not a manufacturing nation and I'm determined to fight for jobs and I'm determined to make "Made in Australia" a plan for the future, not just something you see in the museum. Thanks everybody. Have a lovely day.

 

ENDS

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