MONDAY, 4 APRIL 2016
SUBJECT/S: Labor’s positive plans for Rockhampton, effects test and competition policy, Malcolm Turnbull’s second-rate National Broadband Network, fair schools and education funding, North Queensland Taskforce
LEISA NEATON, CANDIDATE FOR CAPRICORNIA: It's my pleasure today to be hosting Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer here in Rockhampton and also Senator McLucas from Northern Queensland. We're talking to local businesses and groups and we're having a roundtable about priorities for growth and development here in Central Queensland so I'll hand over to Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks very much, Leisa. Leisa is a great Labor candidate for the seat of Capricornia. We're here talking with local businesses in the community sector about making sure that Rockhampton thrives, about making sure that we reduce the gap between rich and poor which we've seen rising too much in Australia. Malcolm Turnbull has always got a plan for helping out multinationals; rarely does he have a plan for making sure we have strong Medicare, the social supports that Australians need and well-funded schools and hospitals. Labor is particularly concerned about Malcolm Turnbull's wacky plans on competition. Outsourcing competition policy to Barnaby Joyce with an effects test that might see prices rise. We've already had the head of Coles warning that effects tests could see the end of uniform pricing meaning that groceries currently priced the same in Rockhampton as they are in Toorak could well be more expensive in regional Australia. With Leisa you've got a candidate who will fight for cost of living who is going to work on long-term policies like making sure we have fast and affordable broadband in Rockhampton, making sure we've got a strong mining and agricultural industry, making sure that our kids have the education they need for the jobs of the future. We're happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Have you met with folks from Rockhampton yet or are you about to meet with them?
LEIGH: We're about to have a roundtable with a range of different groups from across the community sector.
JOURNALIST: Okay, where specifically do you think that the Federal Government dropped the ball on making it affordable to live in Rockhampton?
LEIGH: The effects test is one; the other key issue is the impact on Rockhampton and Malcolm Turnbull's failure to deliver on the National Broadband Network. He promised he would do a better job with the NBN but in fact he has doubled the cost and slowed the roll out time. And so where many in Rockhampton would have been receiving better broadband than if the Labor Party had been in office, under Malcolm Turnbull's plan they are stuck with the second rate copper alternative. That really matters in terms of making sure that local farmers have access to markets and information and making sure that young people have access to online learning. It mattes too for the advances we are seeing in e-health because if you can't get a first rate video conference, something that looks like a TV picture, you've just got a jumpy Skype image you can't take full advantage of the e-health opportunities that will come in the future years.
JOURNALIST: What kind of policies would a Labor Government implement that would help reduce cost of living pressures in Rockhampton?
LEIGH: First of all we don't believe that an effects test is good policy. We are concerned as are many experts and retailers that the impact that that could have on driving up supermarket prices for Rockhampton residents. We also recognise that it's not good enough for Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison to go blaming everyone else. They need to recognise that the Federal Government has a core role in schools. These wacky suggestions from Malcolm Turnbull that the Federal Government could withdraw from funding Government schools is sending a chill down the spine of many Rockhampton parents as they look at a Federal Government that doesn't seem committed to the education of their children. Lisa perhaps you would like to add to some of the issues on cost of living?
NEATON: Absolutely, education is a priority for our Government. We want to know that children have a decent education and pathways into employment regardless of how much their parents earn or where they live. This is a key issue of fairness, when we invest in education, we are investing in equality. We are making sure that there are pathways for people to stand independently, that they know the dignity of work and Labor is very proud to say that we have a priority around employment, we want jobs for our area and we want to make sure that everybody who is able to work, can work. That we can create those opportunities through supporting development of micro business and small business through making wise decisions around infrastructure projects that we'll invest in and we'll be consulting with local stakeholders to be sure that local government, state government and federal government are working together to create a great future for Rockhampton and surrounding areas.
JOURNALIST: How specifically will a Labor Government look at improving education when we're talking about Gonski funding?
NEATON: Absolutely, we are committed to making sure that children have the support they need to be successful. We know that when we invest in education early, then we have a chance of getting great outcomes from the education system. Children should be able to have a range of pathways whether they choose to go to university and follow that pathway, whether they want to go into apprenticeships and traineeships to be able to follow their dreams and create a future for themselves so absolutely, we are committed to providing funds for quality education so children have the support they need to be successful.
JOURNALIST: Who in particular is going to be at the roundtable?
NEATON: We have a range of stakeholders here this morning. People representing councils in the area, Central Queensland University, small and micro business owners who are keen to tell us about the types of themes that should feature in Labor policy so we are committed to listening to those groups, to hearing what they have to say and how we can help. Andrew has already mentioned for example the importance of the NBN, absolutely the message that I am getting over and over again from businesses, from educators, from people out in the community is that this area must have the real NBN, fibre to the premises to be able to be competitive in both the local area and globally. That's something we are going to continue to fight for here in Central Queensland.
JOURNALIST: You've spoken in the past about how we need to diversify and maybe not rely so much on mining, what's your opinion on the announcement that the Adani mine will likely go ahead?
NEATON: Obviously we have a commitment in the Labor Party of pursuing a future which includes renewables. We've got a target, 50 per cent renewables by 2030 and we remain absolutely committed to that target. We've also seen that a number of approvals have been given for the Adani mine and now really there is still work to do but there is the capacity for this project to create 5000 jobs in the area. And as we have seen the downturn of the mining industry we have seen concerns about local jobs. So as I said there is still work to be done in this area.
JOURNALIST: What about when it comes to environmental issues, do you have any concerns over that or [inaudible].
NEATON: Obviously we are committed to protecting our reef. The Great Barrier Reef is a huge part of what Australia is about. It is a tremendous boost to our tourism and it's an absolute asset for our country and we want to be sure that at all costs that reef is absolutely protected. And that's why it's important to make sure that we’re listening to concerns of stakeholders, listening to the community and considering all the factors when we're giving approvals for things like mining development.
LEIGH: No more questions? Thanks very much everyone.
MEDIA CONTACT: NICK GREEN (LEIGH) 0402 575 042
Belinda Featherstone (McLucas) 0408 743 457