SUBJECTS: The future of work; vision statements; Perth; energy; innovation; TAFE; Michaelia Cash; climate change; tax cuts; drought; Indigenous affairs; Uluru Statement from the Heart; WA infrastructure.
DR ANNE ALY: Thank you everyone for coming out here today. And it’s fantastic to have Anthony Albanese, the Leader of the Labor Party here in the northern suburbs of Perth this morning. Now, yesterday Anthony delivered a fantastic speech in Perth outlining Labor’s vision for jobs and for the future of work. And that involves clean energy, sustainability and looking at the jobs of the future. So this morning, Anthony has been here with me and with Louise Pratt here in Cowan, here in the northern suburbs, talking to people who are also interested in doing just that. The northern suburbs are a great place to live. We’ve got great schools; we’ve got great parks; and a great community feel. But people up this way are travelling an hour or an hour and a half to get to work. We need to be looking at jobs for people in the northern suburbs to make the northern suburbs of Perth even more liveable. And that’s exactly what Anthony Albanese was outlining in yesterday’s speech. I’m going to hand over to Anthony to tell you a little bit more about what we spoke about this morning, and talk a bit more about his speech yesterday, Anthony.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much. And it is great to be here in Perth’s northern suburbs within Anne Aly, our local member for Cowan and with Senator Louise Pratt, who is the Assistant Shadow Minister for Manufacturing. Yesterday, I was very proud to give a speech here in Perth speaking about the potential for Australia to be a clean energy superpower. Speaking about smart manufacturing jobs and what it means for our future economic growth, what it means for jobs. And right here this morning, we’ve had some fantastic meetings that are all about sustainable jobs, about clean energy jobs. We met with the company that wants to develop – ClearVue – it wants to develop, essentially, clear glass that are solar panels being produced right here and exporting them to the world. We met with battery manufacturers that want to look at the potential that’s there to build batteries and to power the world right here with manufacturing with jobs here in Perth’s northern suburbs. Yesterday was all about having a plan for the future. The problem with the current Government is that they don’t have a plan. They don’t have a concept of moving forward. Indeed, I said yesterday that they’re scared of the present, but terrified of the future. What we need is a Government that has a vision for the future, that has the capacity to take all the ingenuity that Australian researchers are capable of and turn that into practical jobs. And the idea that Anne has developed here in partnership with the city of Wanneroo, who we met with also this morning; with local manufacturers who want to create jobs here in Perth’s northern suburbs; is all about the realisation of that vision. An Australia that continues to make things; an Australia that makes the products of the future; and today we’ve seen and partnered with private sector investors, as well as with local government about how that could be realised. And I think Anne deserves an enormous amount of credit for the fact that she’s gone out there and met with locals, tried to work out how can we bring high value manufacturing to Perth’s northern suburbs. And this is a vision that I hope will be realised in coming years. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Senator Cash has criticised your speech, or called it: ‘policy plagiarism’. Specifically in relation to the TAFE sector. How would you respond to that?
ALBANESE: Well, they’ve trashed the TAFE sector. The fact is that they’ve trashed the TAFE sector. On Senator Cash and the current Government’s watch; $3 billion of cuts. They’ve been obsessed with cutting back on skills. Our vision for jobs and skills is a positive vision. It’s one that should be embraced by the current Government. They’ve embraced the concept of Infrastructure Australia. That’s all about planning for where future investment in infrastructure should go. They should embrace Jobs and Skills Australia, which is all about planning for future workforce needs. That is what is required if we’re going to arrest the current mismatches between the skills that people have and the skills that employers need. We have high youth unemployment in this region. It’s up around about 20 per cent in many regions of Western Australia. Senator Cash would do better to actually do her day job rather than just sit back and criticise Labor. The problem for this Government is that they don’t have any positive vision for the future. Yesterday, I outlined one. I outlined one that envisages a partnership between business, between unions and the private sector to advance Australia’s future economy – to create future jobs and to take advantage of where we are located in the fastest growing region of the world in human history.
JOURNALIST: What do you think spared the Government’s announcement of an extra $1 billion in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation?
ALBANESE: Well, of course, this is a Government that tried to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. That’s finally come around to the realisation that not only is this good in promoting clean energy; it actually produces an economic return to Government. And it shows; the Clean Energy Finance Corporation shows that the vision that I outlined yesterday, what’s good for reducing our emissions is also good for creating jobs and also produces an economic return. It’s good that the Government is finally starting to realise that that. But there needs to be a much greater investment than what they’ve promised. And you can’t really reduce energy prices unless you have an energy policy that is comprehensive. And that’s why the Government should reintroduce the NEG – the National Energy Guarantee, and we’ll work constructively with the Government. At the moment what they have is just catch up politics. Perhaps in response to yesterday’s speech, if that’s the case, that’s a good thing.
JOURNALIST Is it necessary for stability of the grid?
ALBANESE: What we need for stability of the grid is investment certainty. We need a national energy policy. So anything that goes into investment through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is a good thing. It’s a Labor creation. It’s one that the Coalition tried to destroy. And it’s one that they now recognize is not only good for clean energy promotion, it’s good for producing an economic return to the Government; and it’s good for jobs.
JOURNALIST: Angus Taylor says that Australia will meet its Paris climate targets eight or nine years ahead of time. Should Australians buy that claim?
ALBANESE: Well, they should look at his own departments figures which showed that our emissions are going up, not going down.
JOURNALIST: Do you think the Government is conceding that its reliability guarantee won’t work?
ALBANESE: The Government doesn’t have an energy policy. It doesn’t have a reliability guarantee that will work. It doesn’t have a plan. And what they need to do is to have a comprehensive plan for energy.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of confusion in the Nationals over whether farmers will get additional top up payments?
ALBANESE: David Little Proud doesn’t seem to know. Michael McCormack doesn’t seem to know. Prime Minister Morrison, someone should come out today and clarify the circumstances because farmers deserve better than to be misled by a Government that doesn’t have a national drought strategy. At the moment they’re all over the shop. They’re fighting between the Liberal Party and the National Party and within the National Party over these issues.
JOURNALIST: Does Labor support the additional top up payment?
ALBANESE: We said very clearly that we do support it. But what we want is a national drought strategy. If you don’t have a national drought strategy, then what you’ll have is announcements and confusion without having an actual short, medium and long term plan to deal with the challenge.
JOURNALIST: Just on a different topic. Given your comments regarding Morrison and the economy; should the Coalition bring forward all of the tax cuts to try and stimulate the economy?
ALBANESE: What we’ve said the Government should do – and yesterday are called for a bring-forward of support for business investment – they should do that. They should also be bringing forward infrastructure projects. And we heard yesterday as well that of the 16 projects that will deal with urban congestion here in WA, all 16 of them were in Coalition seats. Now, that just shows that it’s a political program rather than a program based upon good policy. What we need is a bring-forward of infrastructure, bring-forward of business investment. And we’ve already called for the second stage of the tax cuts to be brought forward. We called for that when the debate was on about taxation. If it’s good to have these tax cuts in in a couple of years’ time, surely at a time where the economy is floundering, it’s good to have it now.
JOURNALIST: What about the stage three tax cuts?
JOURNALIST: Your Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney says the Government plan to create an Indigenous Voice to Government doesn’t reflect the community’s values what are the flaws?
ALBANESE: The flaw is that the Indigenous community went through an extensive consultation process. And what they said was they wanted a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution. It wouldn’t be a third chamber, something that would simply guarantee that when issues were being debated in the National Parliament that affected First Nations people, they should be consulted. That’s nothing more and nothing less than good manners. And that’s something that is a modest request from Indigenous people. That was contained in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. And I think that should be the basis for moving forward. It doesn’t represent a threat to anybody. It’s simply a consultation process, not a third chamber. It wouldn’t have deliberative powers. It would simply ensure that First Nations people were consulted.
JOURNALIST: Do you think indigenous Australians will want to take part in a voice to government?
ALBANESE: That’s up to First Nations people to determine. But what First Nations people have said very clearly, after an extensive consultation process, they came out with the unanimous Statement from the Heart that called for a Voice to Parliament.
JOURNALIST: Talking about bringing forward infrastructure spending; the McGowan Government (inaudible) has had some delays, and I believe that (inaudible) federally funded. Would you encourage the State Government to get on with it?
ALBANESE: Some of the issues have been federal approvals that have been required. Mark McGowan’s Government have a vision for METRONET. It’s one that was opposed by the State Coalition here. And part of the delay has been that one of the first acts of the Coalition Government – when they came to office – was to rip $500 million of federal money that was allocated for public transport here in Perth. Thanks very much.