SUSAN TEMPLEMAN, MEMBER FOR MACQUARIE:Hi everybody and welcome to the beautiful Hawkesbury. We might be 40kms from Beecroft but as you can see we're in fabulous agricultural territory, and this is an area which produces a lot of Sydney's food still. I think what's been sad about this region is that the contagion of the New South Wales - the Federal Liberals, has spread to New South Wales and spread to the Hawkesbury. Three weeks ago the Premier was saying that it was all the Federal Liberal Party's fault that there were problems in Wagga Wagga, but as we can see from our very own Member for Hawkesbury, Dominic Perrottet, that contagion has spread to this beautiful part of the world.
The only legacy that Dominic Perrottet is going to leave this electorate, as he abandons it at the next election, is a legacy of destruction and neglect. No new roads except one that destroys Australia's oldest public square, Thompson Square in Windsor. The oldest public square in the country that's going to have a big modern bridge put through it. So as far as I can say, good riddance to Dominic Perrottet and he can leave this electorate as soon as he likes.
I'm very pleased though, to have Tanya Plibersek the Acting Leader of the Federal Labor Party here along with Andy Marks from the University of Western Sydney. What you've been looking at in the glasshouse is a great example of what this campus does - wonderful agricultural research. Research that employs people from right across Western Sydney. Not just scientists but engineers, the people who construct it, the people who maintain it.
This is the sort of commitment that we need to maintain. But unfortunately, the $100 million that the Federal Government, the Liberals, have taken out of universities means we're not seeing enough of these sorts of things. So it's fantastic to be here today, to talk about investing in agriculture in particular, for this part of the world that will benefit our growers, give them better returns in investment for their produce, and allow them the opportunity to access world leading research to make Australia's agriculture even greater.
So with that, I'd like to hand over to Acting Leader, Tanya Plibersek.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:Thanks so much Susan. It's such a pleasure to be here with Susan Templeman, our Member for Macquarie and with Andy Marks from the University of Western Sydney, making a very important announcement today. Labor has committed to investing $20 million in a new state of the art research facility that would complement the fantastic glasshouse that you see behind us. The University of Western Sydney has invested $8 million in building this glasshouse to do research on how to maximise crop production. The new state of the art research facility that we would work with the university on, the new $20 million investment from the Commonwealth Government, would allow the research that's being done here to be supercharged.
We know that Australia in coming years will have to focus on food security for ourselves. We've got a growing population, and a changing climate. So making sure that we can ensure that we've got enough food to feed ourselves is very important. But we also have the opportunity to export crops to our neighbourhood, to our region. Those crops have to be high quality, they have to be highly nutritious, and they have to be transportable. And the research that's being done here is ensuring that we've got the best quality crops, and we've got the best ways of getting those crops to market in good shape.
This is part of a $300 million University Future Fund that Labor is committed to rolling out in coming years. We know that university funding has been under threat from the federal Liberals. There's been no real investment from the Commonwealth Government in university infrastructure over the last five years. The Federal Government's also cut university funding at every opportunity they've had - $2.2 billion cut just before Christmas. That's almost $100 million cut from University of Western Sydney, $93 million in fact cut from the University of Western Sydney alone. That has an impact. The Federal Government has effectively capped the number of students that are able to go to our universities, and its undermined investment in infrastructure like the facilities that we are announcing today.
Labor in contrast, has a commitment to investing $300 million extra in upgrading research and teaching facilities in all of our universities, to make sure that Australian students get the best possible education, and that our researches can be amongst the best in the world. This new fund will allow the building and upgrading of facilities like this research facility, teaching facilities, research equipment, new laboratories and so on, to make sure both teaching and research have state of the art equipment available to them.
But more than that, Labor is also committed to uncapping student numbers again. That's a $10 billion investment over the next decade in encouraging more young Australians to get an education to help them win the jobs of the future. We've also set aside $174 million to encourage more students from areas where graduation rates are currently low to go to university. We know that 90 per cent of the jobs that are being created today will need either university or a TAFE education after school to get those jobs. And that's why we want to partner both with TAFE and universities to make sure our young people are getting the best possible opportunities of getting those jobs of the future.
I'm going to hand over to Andy Marks now to say a few words about this particular investment and then I'm happy to take questions on this or other matters, thanks.
ANDY MARKS, UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN SYDNEY: Thanks Tanya, thanks Susan. This is unquestionably a fantastic vote of confidence in Western Sydney and in generating jobs in a knowledge jobs sector, in a key area of Western Sydney, and we're delighted that Labor have made such a confident, substantial expression of support for Western Sydney.
Agri-business and agri-tech is a key sector and it's one that we can be globally competitive in, and when we see initiatives like this that back job creation and research-driven outcomes in this sector it's a wonderful day for Western Sydney. So thank you both for your vote of confidence there. What we will be able to do at this facility is about creating higher yields on a smaller footprint in a more intensive setting, and that's about selling the technology into Asia and into regions around the world where food security will be a paramount issue.
And this research isn’t being led in the big city, it's not being done in labs away from where people live, it's being done in Western Sydney. Western Sydney is a global leader and the Opposition are backing that push, and that's why we are so pleased at this initiative. Thank you.
PLIBERSEK: Okay, thanks. Any questions?
JOURNALIST: Is there an appetite around the electorate that you're in or around the nation for changing the date that Australia Day falls on?
PLIBERSEK: Well I think it's very clear that most Australians back Australia Day remaining on the 26th of January, and certainly it's Labor's position that Australia Day should remain on the 26th of January. At the same time, we have to recognise that many Indigenous Australians find this is a day of sorrow, and to respect those feelings too. I noticed the comments of Prime Minister Scott Morrison today about having a separate day that would acknowledge Indigenous culture and heritage in Australia. That's certainly a conversation that we are up for. The details at the moment are quite scant. I'd like the Prime Minister to tell us whether he envisages that would be another public holiday, would it be a separate public holiday, an additional day on the Australia Day long weekend? He really needs to give us a little bit more detail before we can properly answer whether we support the comments that he's made today.
I would note a couple of things, the last time this government asked Indigenous Australians their opinion on something they got the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and they turned their back on that almost before the ink was dry on the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Labor supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart, supports there being an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, to make sure that we're properly representing the views of the whole of the Australian community. Most importantly, we also support the continuing efforts to close the gap. To close the gap on employment, in health, in education, in life expectancy, in child mortality, in all of the areas that are so critical to reducing the disadvantage faced by First Nations Australians. We really do need to redouble our efforts to close the gap, and that's why it's so very disappointing that when Tony Abbott was Prime Minister, he cut half a billion dollars from programs that support closing the gap. They've made the guy who cut half a billion dollars from those programs, the Envoy on Indigenous matters. I'm not sure that Indigenous Australians would really get the logic of that.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned about having a conversation with Indigenous Australians. How do you envisage that conversation would take place?
PLIBERSEK: Well first of all, I think the Prime Minister has to be clear about what he's proposing. Now we can't have a conversation based on a thought bubble in the media. So is the Prime Minister suggesting that there should be another day, another public holiday? What would the day be, why would that date be selected? Let's hear from him. Like he's floated an idea, let's get some detail before we have a conversation.
JOURNALIST: Byron Bay Council want to move Australia Day. What's your thoughts on that?
PLIBERSEK: Oh look, I think that's a matter for the Prime Minister to explain his response to the Byron Bay Council. It's really for them to explain the thinking here. I would really like to see the Prime Minister, I'd really like to see Scott Morrison focused more on bringing Australians together. At the moment we continue to see Scott Morrison stoking division in Australia. You see it with the public school funding compared with Catholic and independent schools as well. Instead of having a Prime Minister that's focused on treating all school children in Australia equally, we've got a Prime Minister that's saying if you send your kids to Catholic or independent schools we're going to fund your kid's education, if you send your kids to public school we're not. Let's see what the Prime Minister can do instead to bring Australians together.
JOURNALIST: A new Essential poll shows overwhelming support, particularly amongst Liberal voters for female quotas. Should Scott Morrison reconsider his opposition to this issue?
PLIBERSEK: Well Scott Morrison should pull his head out of the sand. He's got his head buried in the sand. He's had seven, probably eight female MPs now say, that they've got a culture problem in the Liberal Party. He's got members of parliament that are actually resigning, retiring, leaving parliament because the culture is so toxic for women in the Liberal Party. He ought to listen to his own people. He doesn't have to listen to me or to Susan or to anyone in the Labor Party, he should listen to his own people who are telling him that there is a problem. Fewer than a quarter of their MPs are women and the women that are there are on the way out because they're saying that the culture is so awful. He needs to listen to his own people and do something that makes the Liberal Party look more like the Australian community that it's supposed to represent.
JOURNALIST: What's your response to the move by the ABC Board to end the tenure for Michelle Guthrie?
PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it's really come out of the blue for most people. A lot of people would be scratching their heads, finding it very difficult to understand why this has happened. Australians are very protective of their ABC. They want to see an ABC that has stability and they want to see an ABC that is properly funded. And the fact that the Government just in the last budget cut another $84 million from the ABC is of deep concern to most Australian. They want to see an ABC that has good, strong leadership, predictability, certainty and proper funding too. That's why Labor is committed to restoring the more than $80 million dollars that the Government has cut.
Okay thanks everyone.