|SUBJECTS: Bendigo manufacturing facility; regional jobs; the future of work; first Labor Leader’s vision statement; skillls & training; UN Climate Summit; Prime Minister’s visit to the US; The Government’s lack of energy policy; Australia’s relationship with China; dams; military ties with China; China as a developing economy; Biloela family; misleading posters during 2019 election in seat of Chisholm; mission to Mars.
GARTH KEECH, OWNER OF KEECH MANUFACTURING: Thank you all for coming and, particularly, welcome Anthony and Lisa to our facility here in Bendigo: Keech Casting. This is our prototyping, 3D printing, engineering and patent making facility. It supports our foundry which manufactures steel Castings – mostly for the mining industry – that we supply worldwide. We supply as far away as Kazakhstan and Canada; as well as locally in Indonesia and New Guinea, as well as Australia. So, that’s probably enough about us I’d like to bring Lisa on board and she can introduce Anthony.
LISA CHESTERS MP, MEMBER FOR BENDIGO: Thank you very much, Garth. It’s great to be back here at Keech 3D. We’re really proud of our manufacturing sector here in Bendigo. And this business really represents – that will continue to thrive story that we get really proud of. Foundries, people think that they’re a dying trade, they’re not; particularly here in Bendigo. And this facility is one where they’re making the patterns that then go into the foundry to keep this manufacturing business alive. That’s why I’m so proud to welcome the Labor Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese, back to Bendigo to learn about their story. But more importantly what we can do in the way of policy to help businesses like Keech grow and thrive, bringing more jobs to the region. So welcome back to Bendigo, Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much, Lisa. And thanks Garth for the welcome here at Keech, here in Bendigo; an amazing company that is growing, a company that’s exporting to the world. Showing what we can do by being innovative, by being visionary, by looking forward rather than back. Here we have a foundry, people talk about foundries as being something of the past here in Australia; that we can’t compete. But the fact is, with the right investment we can not only compete, we can be the best in the world. And Keech here in Bendigo shows just that. In a month’s time I’ll be giving the first vision statement as Labor Leader, but I intend to do a series. It’s about the future directions of what a Labor government would look like, and the first of those is on jobs and the future of work. This is what the future of work looks like: being innovative, being competitive. Making sure that we have advanced manufacturing employing Australians, making sure that we invest in skills; here we’ve seen a range of skills showcased. Workers who are really proud of what they’re doing for this company, for this great regional city of Bendigo and for the nation. But unfortunately we’re not getting the right planning from the National Government, to make sure that the skills that we need – the skills of the future – are available for the jobs of the future. So here in Bendigo alone we’ve seen, under this government, the loss of 970 apprentices. That’s a tragedy for a regional city like this. We need to make sure that we’re giving young people those skills, but we’re also retraining people as the nature of work changes so that people can have that opportunity. In Lisa Chesters we have a strong advocate for Bendigo and a strong advocate for regional cities. And I’m very pleased to have taken up the invite from Lisa to come here today. I thank Keech for showing us around this amazing factory, and the workers for showing us with pride the work that they do. This shows the sort of future that Australia can have. But we can only have it with the right vision, if we’re smarter. It won’t happen by accident. Just leave it all to the market and the truth is that we will struggle. But here for example, the big 3D printer that’s made a real difference here was supported by the Victorian State Government for that investment. And that’s an example of government providing support to the private sector which is precisely what we need to do if we’re going to have a growing economy one that provides good quality jobs. Here at this at this centre there is 120 people employed. That’s great for this regional city of Bendigo. And I’m very pleased to be here today. And over the coming month I’ll be visiting a range of centres talking about jobs and the future of work in the lead up to that vision statement that will be given at the end of October. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, what do you make of Donald Trump’s (inaudible) of the UN Climate Summit and Scott Morrisons no-show?
ALBANESE: It’s good that world leaders turn up to a UN conference on climate change. Climate change is an enormous intergenerational challenge. I do find it disappointing that our Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in New York where this conference is taking place, but hasn’t yet visited. And I’d say to him: ‘it’s not too late to change your schedule, to make sure as a priority that you send a message that climate change is a priority’. You can’t say, as the Government does given that emissions have been rising since 2014 as an excuse for Australia’s inaction, that they want the rest of the world to act. Have the rest of the world’s leaders there at a UN conference on climate change in New York. Be in New York and not call in to participate and to encourage that global action.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, what does Labor propose to do about climate change?
ALBANESE: What we propose to do is act on climate change. We are the political party that have shown leadership on this issue for a long period of time; since the Rio Summit some 30 years ago just about, now. We of course advocated – last time we were in office to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. We established, I was the Environment Spokesperson when we established the 20 per cent renewable energy target. We participated in global forums and encouraged that action. We would do it again. We want to see zero emissions by the middle of the Century. We’ll set our mid-term targets closer to the election when we see what the starting point will be; because we weren’t successful at the election, and we don’t want to see another three years of inaction. We would have supported the National Energy Guarantee that went through the Liberal Party room – not once, but twice. It’s about time the Government put in place an energy and climate change policy.
JOURNALIST: Why not commit to a full divestment from coal by 2030?
ALBANESE: Because what we will do is put forward realistic plans that put in place a priority of good action on climate change while supporting jobs. I’m here today to talk about jobs and the fact is, that appropriate action on climate change will be good for jobs. And what we need is a comprehensive policy not just a slogan. And that is what Labor will be determined to pursue.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, would you like to see more federally funded dams?
ALBANESE: What we see from this government is that in six years – they’re in their seventh year now – they’re in their third term, their third Prime Minister. They haven’t built a dam. Not one. They talk about it, but nothing happens. And we know that large tracts of Australia are in drought. What I want to see is a drought policy from this government. We had a Drought Envoy at great cost to the taxpayer during the last election. It appears that he didn’t produce a paper, he texted a couple of messages to the Prime Minister, as the excuse for having a couple of extra staff, travelling around the country – I mean Barnaby Joyce’s appointment was clearly a farce to keep him busy, to stop him hunting down Michael McCormack. What we need is actually a drought policy from this government.
JOURNALIST: Should we have closer military ties with China despite their human rights issues?
ALBANESE: Well the fact is, we now are participating in peacekeeping activities in South Sudan with China. We have advocated – Richard Marles is in Beijing today – has given a very important speech. And one of the things that Richard has spoken about is increased cooperation when, for example, Australia participates in emergency responses to natural disasters in the Pacific. I’mof the old-fashioned view, that relations between people and building people-to-people relations are an important part of building supportive country-to-country relations, and I think that is a good thing. What we need is more cooperation in the world and less conflict. And that’s my approach to international relations. Not to minimise differences and when human rights abuses occur, they should be called out. But we should be engaged with countries in our region including China.
ALBANESE: What we should do is listen to the appropriate regulators to make sure that no private sector organisation can escape scrutiny. So, it’s a matter of appropriate regulation. Specific examples of allegations of abuse of market power should be investigated and there should be a response to that.
JOURNALIST: Does Labor support the Government’s move to attempt to deport the Biloela family?
ALBANESE: Both Nades and Priya arrived prior to 2013. So, the Government’s rhetoric is completely wrong. So, they arrived prior to a policy being put in place about settlement of people who have come by boat to Australia. Secondly, we say that the young girls aged two and four, and Priya and Nades have been welcomed into the Biolela community. This is a regional city that have welcomed them in. Now Minister Dutton has intervened on over 4000 occasions. He needs to explain why it is appropriate to intervene because you get a phone call from someone who you know about nannies. But not appropriate to listen to what the community of Biloela are saying. To me what’s important isn’t what politicians think, it’s what the community thinks about these people. And Nades works at the meatworks; that’s a meatworks that is full of 457 workers who are working there temporarily. This family want to make a contribution in Biloela, and I have said before that the concerns and the views of that local community should be taken into account. Just because they don’t have Peter Dutton’s mobile number should mean that they’re not treated in a similar way to which Peter Dutton has intervened on more than 4000 occasions. He needs to explain why it is because if it’s just politics then we’re a better country than that.
ALBANESE: That will be a judgment to be made, of course, it is before the courts. But people will, I think, who examine the colours that were used, examine the statements that were used, they were the colours similar to the AEC signs. And quite clearly, from my perspective, the information written in Mandarin on those signs quite clearly could be viewed to be misleading. That will be a matter for the courts. But we need to be very clear about our democracy. Our democracy needs to be cherished and not manipulated by a suggestion, in any language whatsoever, that in order to vote formal you need to vote in a particular way for a political party.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, you said this morning that you don’t consider China to be classified as a developed nation, why not?
ALBANESE: It’s a matter of the economics of it. It is not a matter of people’s judgment. Have a look at what the per capita income is of people in China and compare that with the United States or Australia’s advanced economies. I also said that I think that the Prime Minister needs to state why it is, why he thinks it advances the need to reduce the trade conflict between China and the United States. It is clearly in Australia’s interests for the tension there to be reduced, for him to give a speech in the United States that changes the characterisation of the entire Chinese economy from Chicago. Does he think that will be well received and will reduce tension between China and the United States over trade? The Prime Minister has a very important job to do in representing Australia’s national interests. The United States is our key ally. That relationship is important and I welcome the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States. But when he leaves our shores he does not leave our national interests behind. He needs to take that with him overseas and he needs to explain why it is that those comments are in Australia’s national interest because I can’t see how they will advance that national interest.
ALBANESE: Of course environmental assessments have to be made for any proposals, be it a dam or any other proposal. Environmental considerations are a critical component of that, which is why I haven’t made any comments about any specific proposals. What I simply have pointed towards is the gap between the rhetoric, particularly of the National Party, that talk about dams in the Parliament. Go back and see how many times they’ve mentioned dams in their seventh year of office, in their third term, with their third Prime Minister and third Deputy Prime Minister. It is many, many dozens of times. They haven’t built a single dam. There’s a huge gap between this Government’s rhetoric and its actions and it is exposed each and every day. And what we will continue to see over coming periods is that the Prime Minister took the election victory on May 18 to mean an absolute endorsement over everything he has done and will do into the future. What we’re seeing from this Government is hubris and is arrogance and a huge gap between what is needed in this country and what Prime Minister Morrison is putting forward. We see policy on the run, there’s still no detail about how this proposed support for a mission to Mars will actually play out, what the money’s for, what the contribution will be for. We’re not against, per say, such initiatives, but the Government shouldn’t be making policy on the run. It should be able to explain what the purpose of this mission is. In so many areas, that contrast between the lack of action and the lack of investment and funding to start what is a very stalling economy, they have no policy on wages growth, they have no policy on so many of the essential challenges that are confronting this country. Thanks very much.