Fremantle Community Cabinet Meeting, 30 March 2011
South Fremantle Senior High School
MS GERALDINE HARDY, Principal: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the
Fremantle Community Cabinet Meeting. My name is Geraldine Hardy, or "Geri" to my
friends, and I have the pleasure of being the Principal of South Fremantle Senior High
School, and hosting this historic event at our school.
South Fremantle Senior High School is the only fully inclusive public senior high school
located within the Port City of Fremantle. We consider ourselves privileged to be able to
draw on the rich marine and maritime environment, the vibrant, artistic environmentally
aware community who support the school with strong business, industry and educational
partnerships. The opportunity and the possibilities here are unlike any other school I have
ever worked with.
Prime Minister, you may recall early in 2008 visiting our school to unveil the solar panels as
part of our carbon neutral project. At that time we also discussed the notion of placing a
submission with your Government for a trade training centre to be located at our school.
Today, three years later, I have great pleasure in welcoming you back as Prime Minister, and
updating you about those things. I could not be more aware that both the issue of carbon and
participation in education are high on your Government's agenda. Our school is the first
school in Australia committed to becoming carbon neutral, making us a leader in this field.
We have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 15% in the last 3.5 years.
MS HARDY: Thank you. With support from our Education Department, all of our
electricity is now green, provided by natural power which comes from renewable energy.
This equates to 92% of our greenhouse gas emissions. 100% of our utility savings are
returned to our school. This is a unique position for any school to be in, which funds the
salary of a Project Officer as well as providing funds for implementing retrofit actions.
We are also working with six local primary schools to assist them in reducing greenhouse
emissions. We have implemented 23 audit measures, saving more than 57.6 tonnes of CO2
emissions. Our students at South Fremantle Senior High School experience the Carbon
Neutral Project in many ways. It is built into the curriculum through the Sustainable Living
Program, renewable energy studies, ocean studies, and permaculture programs.
Students grow organic vegetables at our school, and in three years I'm very proud to say that
our students have hand-planted near 25,000 trees across the Wheatbelt and other areas of
need. Every Sunday our fabulous community, The Meeting Place, the Organic Farmers
Market - known as "Growers Green" - run by our P&C demonstrates just who the real "fresh
food" people are.
As a school --
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MS HARDY: As a school sitting within the carbon neutral City of Fremantle, we aim to
continue this work and believe that our community will continue to support us to achieve
such worthy aims. Whilst we have strongly engaged community through the Carbon Neutral
Project and three quality assured specialist programs in marine studies, music and baseball,
South Fremantle Senior High School has received a top 50 Public School Award every year
since 2006. Last year we were ranked eighth in Western Australia for Year 12 participation
in vocational education and training. Prime Minister, further to our 2008 discussion, the
formation of partnerships with two other schools and three maritime businesses in the heart of
Fremantle supported my school in getting that trade training centre.
The building is now underway, offering an Australian first - a Certificate III in Mechanical
Engineering, Plant Operations, with maritime competencies built in. This offers Fremantle
students a state-of-the-art totally unique training experience from the beginning of the next
school year. A wonderful opportunity that our school community gratefully accepts from
And we continue to find ways to build community partnerships, which are at the heart of this
small community-minded school. The most recent is with the Beacon Foundation, who will
support us to continue inspiring and motivating students to make the most of the
opportunities before them.
Our community here challenges us, energizes us, inspires and supports us, and it is our
commitment to this community that sees us continue to work hand in hand with our families,
to ensure that we meet the needs of our students as together we meet the challenges of the
future. We are proud of the work that is being achieved at South Fremantle Senior High
School, and we thank you for choosing to host this Community Cabinet at our school this
This Community Cabinet public forum will shortly commence with an address from the
Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. At the end of the Prime Minister's address there will be an
opportunity to ask questions.
If you wish to ask a question, raise your hand. If selected, a staff member will bring you a
microphone. Let the staff member hold the microphone. Introduce yourselves - please keep
your questions short and concise.
I now have the pleasure of introducing Ms May McGuire, Noongar Elder, and her son, Barry
McGuire, for the 'Welcome to Country'.
Thank you, May.
MRS MAY McGUIRE, NOONGAR ELDER: Thank you, Geri. I'm very pleased to be
here tonight to welcome our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to this forum. I'll welcome you
now in our Noongar language, which belongs to the Western Australian Noongars here,
(Speaks in Noongar)
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MRS McGUIRE: Welcome here, ladies and gentlemen, to our lands of the Noongar Nation
of the Whadjuk area and the lands of Perth.
(Speaks in Noongar)
MRS McGUIRE: Distinguished guests, Prime Minister Gillard, thank you very much for
coming here today to have time with our Western Australian people; and also with the carbon
tax and things like that. I hope things go well.
MRS McGUIRE: I do have an opportunity to say with - housing is a number one priority for
our Aboriginal people, and education; so I would really truly like to put that forward.
So thank you very much for the night here, and I'll hand it over to my son Barry.
MR BARRY McGUIRE: Thank you, mother. Prime Minister, Ministers, distinguished
guests, ladies and gentlemen and children, it is an honour to stand here for the Whadjuk
Nation, the Noongar people of this country, and to give a welcome. It is an honour to be able
to share with you a little insight into our culture.
'Welcomes to Country' have always been here for as long as we've been here. We have seen
the first sunrise, and we have had welcomes to country. People who have walked into this
country from over the hill or further up near Moore River, they would come and they would
make a fire - not next to our fire, but in the distance so we can see that they were there. The
old people used to watch them all night, 24 hours. They watched them all night.
Then they would go next day, and they would say --
(Speaks in Noongar)
MR McGUIRE: -- "What are you doing sitting here on my country?", and that fellow, he
would tell them. And so from there, if it was good they would take him by the hand and
welcome him into their community and share what they needed to share. That was the old
Today, you know, welcomes to country came into communities to be having these sort of
things and processes before meetings, conferences and gatherings. It has always been here.
We have always been here, and it's time to share. So --
(Speaks in Noongar)
MR McGUIRE: -- welcome here to my country --
(Speaks in Noongar)
MR McGUIRE: -- may my ancestors that have gone before me be with you --
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(Speaks in Noongar)
MR McGUIRE: -- may they heal you, keep you safe and help us all think as one --
(Speaks in Noongar)
MR McGUIRE: -- hold each other's hand as you walk too, be as one --
(Speaks in Noongar)
MR McGUIRE: -- stand as one in our country.
(Speaks in Noongar)
MR McGUIRE: I'd like to give you a song. This song is old. This song is from the middle
of our city here, Perth. This song belongs to Kings Park. It's the story of the spider.
The spider contained the badness and put it away so that gatherings, ceremonies, teachings -
whatever the old people did with our young people - happened for good. It was a healing. So
I hope that this song can help with everything that you bring with your Ministers.
(Mr McGuire sings in Noongar)
MR McGUIRE: This is the instrument of old. The didgeridoo does not live here.
(Speaks in Noongar)
MR McGUIRE: This makes the song of this land, and may things happen well for what you
bring for us as a people. In Australia --
(Speaks in Noongar)
MR McGUIRE: -- stand as one. Thank you.
MS HARDY: Thank you very much to Noongar Elder May McGuire and son Barry.
I would now like to introduce Shona Porteous to sing the National Anthem. Shona, a Year 12
student from South Fremantle Senior High School, will be accompanied by Year 12 student
George Hadnett on guitar and Year 11 student Billy Dana on bass guitar.
Would you all please stand for the National Anthem.
(National Anthem 'Advance Australia Fair')
MS SHONA PORTEUS:
Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We've golden soil and wealth for toil
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Our home is girt by sea
Our land abounds in nature's gift
Of beauty rich and rare
In history's page let every stage
Advance Australia fair
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair
MS HARDY: Thank you, Shona, George and Billy. I now have great pleasure introducing
the Federal Member for Fremantle, Ms Melissa Parke. Thank you, Melissa.
MS MELISSA PARKE MP, Member for Fremantle: Thank you very much, Geri. And
MS PARKE: I see a lot of friendly, familiar faces in the room. I, too, would like to
acknowledge the Noongar people as the traditional custodians of the land in which we are
meeting, and pay respect to their Elders past and present.
It's my great pleasure, as the Federal Member for Fremantle, to join Geri in welcoming the
Prime Minister and Cabinet to this incredible part of the world, to Fremantle, and to welcome
all of you to this Community Cabinet.
I have been telling my Labor Government colleagues about the level of engagement and
community enthusiasm that exists here in Freo, and I'm not sure that they all believe me, but
at least today, here tonight, they can see it for themselves.
In early 2008, as Geri was talking about, just after I was first elected, I stood out on the grass
at the front of this school as Julia Gillard, then Deputy Prime Minister, pulled down a piece
of rainbow-coloured parachute silk to uncover South Fremantle High School's first solar
panels, and at that stage the installation of solar PV units that had occurred during the 11
years of the former Government totalled around 12,000. Now, three years on, the Labor
Government has supported the installation of 130,000 solar PV units across Australia.
MS PARKE: And now, three years on, the South Fremantle High School is getting ready for
its new $4.4 million Maritime Training Centre, which will support training for young West
Australians, and jobs in the Freo and WA maritime sector.
Now, three years on, in a school that is carbon neutral, in a Local Government that is carbon
neutral, we have a Community Cabinet that is 100% carbon neutral.
This Federal Government is taking the hard and necessary decisions to create a low carbon
Australian economy, and it has been fantastic to see the support for a carbon price that exists
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in this community as reflected in the many people gathered outside this venue here today, and
is reflected in this room here tonight.
It is my enormous privilege to represent the Fremantle electorate; a community that is
engaged on local, national and international issues; a community that sees the bigger picture,
and that gets right on with the business of pursuing positive sustainable and equitable change.
Fremantle is proud to host the Prime Minister and Cabinet today. Can I ask everyone here to
give a big Freo welcome to Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.
MS JULIA GILLARD MP, Prime Minister: Thank you very much. Thank you very much
for that welcome. Thank you to Melissa for that introduction, and I know that she is a great
and much valued local member.
Can I also very much thank May and her son for the 'Welcome to Country', and I, too,
acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects in a
spirit of reconciliation.
Can I say to the wonderful Principal, Geri, of this great school, I remember very clearly
coming here in 2008 to uncover those solar panels on the roof. I was joking with Geri earlier
that it's the only school I've ever visited where a boy took me into the boys' toilets in order to
explain to me the water-saving features - but that's not something that happens every day
when you are a woman in politics - so a special experience, but it just goes to show how
focused the kids in this school are on the environment, on making sure that it's a carbon
neutral school, it's a school that's saving water and, of course, it's a school focused on both
academic excellence and pathways for kids beyond school - congratulations to the work you
Thank you very much to Mitchell Cullen and Kelly Dominish, the head boy and head girl
who have helped me around and made sure I've got where I needed to go.
Can I also thank Shona very much for singing the National Anthem for us, and to the kids
who laid on the hospitality outside, my thanks.
Now, I've come today mob-handed with my Labor colleagues and friends. You've heard
from Melissa, but to introduce people what I'm going to do is start at the end of the table.
Melissa has already spoken. I'm going ask people to introduce themselves and say one thing
about what they've done in Western Australia; Gary (Gray), if the only thing you say is, "I
live here", that won't be good enough. So --
MR GARY GRAY MP, MEMBER FOR BRAND: Being short and to the
point, which is what I am. Gary Gray, Member for Brand. Most recently, we're all used to
the country, in the course of the last three months, being subject to flood and disastrous
circumstances; going up to Warman two weeks ago to talk to the community up there, a
community subject to massive dislocation due to the flooding of the rivers in that system -
something that we have to keep our eye on and will continue to keep our eye on, but
something that's important to us as a Government, and important to us as Western
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PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much. Tony Burke.
MR TONY BURKE, MP: Tony Burke. I've been focusing on my responsibilities as
Minister for the Environment. While I've been here, I've had meetings with a whole lot of the
people involved in the 'Save Our Marine Life' campaign, as well as meeting with the
commercial fishing sector and the rec fish sector to work through the release that we'll have
soon on draft plans for the protection of the south-west region.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Nicola Roxon.
MS NICOLA ROXON, MP: Thank you, Prime Minister. I'm very excited that today, here
in Western Australia, the Western Australian Health Minister has presented our Government
with their plans, which we now need to approve, for the spending of $350 million in Western
Australia, investing in reforms in our health system.
I'm going to breach the rule though, Prime Minister, and tell you one other thing, because I
also went with Gary Gray to the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden at the Bertram Primary
School, and was very excited to have kids - not taking me to the boys' toilets - but telling me
what you can do with spring onions and sage and zucchini and capsicum, and learning lots
about healthy living.
So it's been a great day.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. A great Western Australian, Stephen Smith, and a flexible
MR STEPHEN SMITH, MP: Stephen Smith, Minister for Defence and Member for Perth.
I know saying that I'm a Perth boy is dangerous in Fremantle, but I do barrack for the
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Go the Dockers.
MR SMITH: Exactly! I was in a pub on Saturday night with my son, the crowd rose as one
at the final siren.
But I'll tell you about Perth. Yesterday I was a Local Member, rather than Minister for
Defence. I took my good friend, Stephen Conroy, and the Prime Minister to the cafe strip in
Beaufort Street to have a cup of coffee; but, more importantly, to underline the importance of
broadband and a digital economy to Australia's economic future and to Western Australia's
And after that took the Prime Minister to what we used to call John Forrest Senior High
School, what we now call John Forrest Secondary College, where we also officially gonged
another great trade training centre, which is a terrific thing for South Fremantle High School,
but also for John Forrest High School. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. A shocking Collingwood supporter, Stephen Conroy.
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SENATOR STEPHEN CONROY: Good on you, good on you.
PRIME MINISTER: Wise reaction from the crowd.
SENATOR CONROY: Only a Doggies fan could say that, Julia. But, look, as Steve
mentioned, we've been meeting with some small businesses here in Perth that are already
starting to take advantage of their ability to sell their goods and services online. And some of
them, like 'The Merchant' have got very sophisticated online web presences, web pages that
receive orders from as far afield as the United States of America, not just here in Australia,
and also a company that's only just gone online, 'Toys in the Park' over in Victoria Park,
which just created a web presence and is just starting to be able to enter into taking orders and
selling material online.
So a couple of really innovative small businesses starting to take advantage of the net, and
looking forward to the NBN being connected to them so they can really start to take full
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Another great Western Australian, Chris Evans.
SENATOR CHRIS EVANS: Thanks, Julia. My job is to try and make sure that we spread
the benefits of the mining boom throughout Western Australia, by providing jobs and skills
development and opportunities for all Western Australians. So that's going to be a big
challenge in the next couple of years, but we've got to make sure that we leverage off that for
high skilled, high paid jobs.
And as a 17-year member of the Dockers, I'm used to suffering, but this year will be our year.
PRIME MINISTER: Simon Crean.
MR SIMON CREAN, MP: Devastated, of course, at West Coast's win on Sunday night
against the Kangaroos, but so close.
Terrific to be back here. I was out at Peppermint Grove today, a library, a place of learning, a
smart - environmentally smart place. Whilst they didn't quite take me to the toilets, Julia,
they were talking about recycling yellow water - I'll leave that to your imagination.
But interestingly, it was in the Premier's electorate, and it was very pleasing that I had the
opportunity to open it, because without Labor Federal funds, the library would not have gone
I also went to Black Swan Theatre Company and had a meeting with all of the performing
arts institutions. I think that it's exciting the commitment over here to the
arts, and very keen to build with them, and tomorrow we're meeting with all the regional
development bodies for WA to develop a more effective approach to place, space and
localism going forward.
I think it's a good partnership and we'll try and use every example we can to drive it home.
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PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Anthony Albanese.
MR ANTHONY ALBANESE, MP: Today I went and inspected the work that we're doing
at the Great Eastern Highway and Roe Highway interchange as an example of some of the
infrastructure that's being supported by the National Government.
I was, of course, in this region with the Prime Minister earlier on this year where we launched
the National Ports Strategy, and I think the fact that there's a Maritime Training Centre here is
very exciting indeed. This is a great centre of maritime activity. We have massive skill
shortages in the area, and that is a fantastic initiative here.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Jenny Macklin.
MS JENNY MACKLIN, MP: Thanks, Julia. Tomorrow I'll be in Kalgoorlie in my role as
the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, and we'll be celebrating the start of the sale of Opal fuel,
which has demonstrated just how you can turn around the very, very difficult problem of
And we are also going to one of the primary and secondary schools encouraging local
Aboriginal kids to stay at school. I think there might be a game of basketball on - I should
take Pete with me - and we are going to be talking about homelessness and what we can do as
part of our national approach to dealing with homelessness, but specifically in Kalgoorlie.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, Jenny. Peter Garrett.
MR PETER GARRETT, MP: Yes, thanks, Julia. Well, I very much enjoyed visiting John
Forrest with yourself and Stephen Smith. We are doing some incredible things in the schools
in Western Australia. The trades training centres are being rolled out and they provide
fantastic opportunities for kids to get on a vocational skills pathway, this one here at South
Fremantle - a very good example of that.
So visiting other schools as well, just to see the fruits of the investment that we put into
education in the course of the 'Building the Education Revolution', and as well as meeting
with teachers and students too.
I wish I had a chance, by the way - my colleague Tony Burke gets all the good luck here - but
I wish I had the chance to travel a little bit further north because now that we have Ningaloo
slated for World Heritage Protection, I think that will be a great asset for this State of
PRIME MINISTER: Our Cabinet Secretary, who also works on climate change, Mark
MR MARK DREYFUS MP, Cabinet Secretary: Thanks, Prime Minister. I'm here on
behalf of Greg Combet, the Climate Change Minister, who is in Canberra today meeting with
the Climate Change Minister from China, which is a pretty important meeting. And it's great
to be here at the first carbon neutral high school in Australia.
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I want to say congratulations to this school for amazing leadership on climate change action
and energy saving. I'm going to be taking forward energy saving measures, because I'm
meeting tomorrow with Peter Collier, who is the State Minister for Energy, to talk about
energy efficiency issues and, in particular, greenhouse and energy minimum standards on a
national basis for equipment. It's great to be here. Thanks.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Senator Mark Bishop, a great Western Australian.
SENATOR MARK BISHOP: Thank you. Thank you, Prime Minister. I'm particularly
pleased to be here this evening because it's the first time for about three weeks that I've been
home. So it's a very pleasurable task to come down here.
My main responsibility when I am in Perth, in Fremantle, is looking after southern and
eastern parts of the city. And for the last two or three months, and most of the last half of last
year, I have been visiting literally dozens and dozens of primary, secondary and infant
schools, opening science laboratories, outdoor work areas, language centres, and to - to a
person and to a school I've been at, there has not been one criticism.
People have welcomed us, thanked us very much for the hundreds of millions of dollars that
the Government has put in to renovating the education sector over the last three or four years,
and to a person and to a school, they've always asked me to pass on their thanks to the Prime
Minister and the Government of Australia. So thank you, Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, Mark.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. And another Western Australian, Senator Louise Pratt.
SENATOR LOUISE PRATT: Thank you, Prime Minister. I've had a fantastic week.
Yesterday I was in the Kimberley following up on a similar theme to Mark. I was at
Dandaragan-Lombadina Primary School. It's amazing what a difference $2 million can make
to a remote community school. It was just fantastic.
And I'd like to give a shout out to the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Thanks for
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Thanks very much.
So that is the Federal Labor team who is with me today.
I'd also like to acknowledge too, the Leader of the Opposition, Eric Ripper, is here. Thank
you, very much Eric for coming. I'd like to acknowledge Senator Judith Adams, who is here,
and also Ms Adel Carles, who is one of your Upper House Members.
I'm going to speak very briefly, and then we're going to start taking your questions, because
this is a forum for you, if I can draw together the threads of the work that you've heard about
from my Labor colleagues. They basically fall into two big categories. We want to make
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sure that this nation is a nation of opportunity, and that those opportunities are fairly
distributed so that everybody can get access to those opportunities.
That's why there's nothing more important to this Labor Government than what goes on in
schools like this one, making sure that every child in every school can get a great education
and access to a life of opportunity because they've had that great education. It's a passion of
mine, it's a key focus of the Government.
And in order to extend that life of opportunity to Australians, we've got to make sure our
economy is strong and here in Western Australia you've got the benefits of a very strong
economy. But it's our job to make sure that we are taking those benefits of a very strong
economy, using them in a way which means we will have a life of opportunity for people in
this State in the days beyond the current mining boom, though I anticipate that this boom will
last for a long period of time.
That's why we're focused on investing in infrastructure in this State; it's why we're focused on
investing in skills training so people can get access to the jobs that go with that economic
growth and why we want to make sure that the life of this State is changed forever by the
wealth that is currently flowing through.
We also want to make sure, as we invest in creating that life of opportunity, that we are doing
the right thing by the future of the country. We want people to have the benefits of
opportunity, we want to navigate this country's future. We want to make sure that that future
is one in which we can continue to be a great country. That means we've got to stump up to
some pretty difficult challenges - challenges like tackling climate change, which is why we're
determined to price carbon; challenges in our environment - like making sure that we are
doing the best by our marine environment and by our water use; challenges like making sure
the country has the infrastructure of the future - the National Broadband Network.
It's not easy to get something that big rolled out. It will be 11,700km of fibre here in Western
Australia, we are determined to get it done because it will change our economy in the future
and change the way that we deliver health and education services. Investing today so people
can have health services today, but also so we can afford our health system in the future, and
that's what health reform has been all about.
I understand that here in Western Australia as we've gone about this agenda of driving
opportunity and making sure we're shaping the future. There have been some issues that have
been controversial in the Western Australian community - none more controversial than the
Minerals Resource Rent Tax. As Prime Minister, I think it is the right thing to do, for us to
have a fair share of the mineral wealth in our grounds so that we can fund for the future of
this great State, more infrastructure, more support for business, more support for people's
retirement incomes. That's what the Minerals Resource Rent Tax is about - more for the
people of Western Australia.
I also think it's important as we go through this phase in Western Australia, that Western
Australia gets treated fairly. I know the distribution of GST from this State to other States
has been controversial. That's why today I announced that we will review the way that
happens. We'll have a very high level review team to do it, and I thank Premier Barnett for
welcoming both a review and who will do the review to look at how we're distributing the
GST, and to make sure that it's right for every State, every Territory and every Australian.
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These are all big issues but I am sure you've got big issues on your mind too. So now it's the
opportunity to turn over to you to take questions. I'll answer some of them, I'll direct some of
them to the team on the stage in front of you, but we want to hear your questions and views.
That's what Community Cabinet is all about, thank you for coming and joining us for this
Community Cabinet tonight.
So with those words, over - we'll start over here and keep moving across. So I'll take a
question from this first block of chairs, if there is one. Okay. The lady in the red top with her
hand up - and the microphone is just coming to you.
QUESTION 1: Prime Minister, my name is Cathy Jorgensen, and I work at Carinia of
Bicton Aged Care. We are low paid workers caring for and nursing people in their final days.
We have been bargaining with our employer for nearly two years to try and get a fair wage
increase. In January we were locked out for four days by the employer. Our employer has
again locked us out of work, this time for 14 days for attending this Community Cabinet.
That is 14 days pay I won't receive and our residents will be cared for by strangers for 14
What will you do to increase funding to aged care so we can earn a decent wage, and what
will you do to help us when employers take extreme actions like this?
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you very much for that question. And I met a number of
aged-care workers when we had the session before outside. First I want to say to you I very
much value what you do, and I have got some insight into how hard it is. My mother worked
in an aged-care facility as a cook for her job whilst I was growing up, and I had a part-time
job in the same aged-care facility, and I know a lot has changed in aged care since, but that
gave me some insight into how hard you work. And we understand that your hard work
needs to be met by proper actions by Government.
This is a big challenge for our society. We're all getting older - a day at a time, we're all
getting older. As a society we are going to end up with more old people than we've had in the
past, and we've got to work out what's the best way of funding aged care as our society
ages. We've asked the Productivity Commission to do that, to specifically look at how we can
make sure the workforce is being treated decently in aged care, that there is an appropriate
way of nurturing that workforce and keeping people doing a job that they love, but a job that
they want to do for proper reward.
On your direct industrial dispute, you would be aware that I, personally, worked on and
shepherded the Fair Work Act through Parliament. The Fair Work Act does give people
rights and abilities when disputes have got intractable, to go to our industrial umpire to work
through those disputes. I know your dispute has been a long time in the making, it's been
very, very difficult for you, and I know you'll be guided by your union on using that
industrial umpire and the processes that are available to you there, but thank
you for coming along tonight and raising that question with me.
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Now, we'll take a question out of this block here. We'll take the lady there in the grey T-shirt.
QUESTION 2: Sorry, first rule. It's been said that a true transition to a sustainable future
might require Government to allocate resources on the scale of the Marshall Plan or taking
man to the moon. I commend what you've done in the carbon tax but what other really bold,
really visionary action can we expect to see in terms of dealing with climate change and
creating a sustainable future?
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. Thank you very much. Well, first can I say we're at the start
of a - what is going to be a major national debate and conversation about pricing carbon. I
started that debate around a particular carbon mechanism, carbon pricing mechanism, just a
few short weeks ago, and we are going to need Australians to think about this, and if they
want us to tackle climate change and tackle carbon pollution, make their voices heard in this
I'm very determined to make sure that we do price carbon pollution that we get the 1,000
businesses in this country that are the generators of the most carbon pollution to pay a price
for putting that carbon pollution into the atmosphere. At the moment they can do it for
nothing. If we put a price on that carbon pollution, then being smart business people, they
will innovate and change so that they create less carbon pollution and they pay less of a price.
We will use the money raised from that to compensate households. There will be some price
impacts. We are going to be clear with people about that, we are a Labor Government and
we will provide generous and fair assistance to households. We'll help businesses adapt and
we'll fund programs to tackle climate change, but this is going to be a debate that will come
to the parliament in the form of legislation later this year and for those Australians who care
passionately about tackling climate change and reducing carbon pollution, we do need your
voices heard in that debate.
At the same time we are continuing our record investments in solar, wind and renewable
technology. Pricing carbon will mean that there's an ongoing price signal that helps us get to
a clean energy future but we have also got to be working so that Australia is part of
innovating and creating that clean energy future, and there are just so many smart researchers,
smart business people working around the country. I've had the great pleasure of meeting
some of them, and I believe we're up to this. We are a creative confident people, and we'll
find our way through to that clean energy future.
At the same time, as a Government - and particularly Tony Burke as the relevant Minister -
work every day on water reform, on National Parks, on land, at sea, and I anticipate will
probably discuss that during the course of this evening. On the environmental questions that
confront us as a country, that we’ve got to resolve if we're going to be able to say to each
other, as custodians of this land for the next generation, we've done the right thing by the next
So thank you for your question, and also thank you to this community and this school for its
activism on environment and climate change. It's just fantastic to see. Thank you very much.
We'll take a question - the man in the checkered shirt.
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QUESTION 3: Thanks, Prime Minister. My name's Stuart Bradfield. I work for the South
West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council and also just live up the road in Hilton.
I was just wondering if you were aware at all of the progress of the Native Title Settlement
discussions that are going on here in the south-west, actually entering its second year now,
and I'm mindful of the fact Mrs McGuire brought up the question of housing which, as you
know, is not something that can be addressed strictly in a pure Native Title Settlement.
My question is just wondering what the Federal Government might offer, might bring to the
table, to such an historic Native Title Settlement, given, I am sure you wouldn't want to give
the local State Government a free kick in pulling off the biggest, as I say, the biggest
Native Title deal that we would have seen to date, so, yes, my question is on your - you have
a policy of supporting these broader land settlements, what might that contribute to a Native
Title Settlement in the south-west?
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. Thank you. That's a good question, I'm actually going to draw
on Jenny Macklin's expertise as the Minister. Thanks, Jenny.
MS MACKLIN: Thanks very much, Julia. Yes, of course we are very aware of the
discussions and negotiations that you've been part of for some time now and we do
understand how important it is to get the sort of agreement that you're talking about.
You might be aware that a similar type of approach has been worked on by the previous
Victorian Government who, with the leadership of Mick Dodson, really encouraged both
levels of Government to think about how we might contribute in areas like the one you're
working on. So we are very keen to get engaged with you on exactly that - what is the nature
of the contribution that we could make, and we want it to be different and to meet the needs
of people in different places, in different ways.
So I'd be very pleased to continue that conversation with you.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, very much. We'll take a question in the block of seats
over there. Now, I'm trying to be fair between the back and the front and all the rest of it.
We'll take the man with the T-shirt on, and a logo there - yes, you, sir.
QUESTION 4: Thanks. Firstly, my name is Chris Cain, Secretary of the Maritime Union
on the West Coast here. My question is around local content. We have over $200 billion
worth of projects that we are about to embark on, on the West Coast. We had a rally of some
10,000 workers, construction workers, maritime workers, teachers, nurses, and employers
two weeks ago at Parliament House. Mr Barnett came out and, believe it or not, made a
statement and said, "We are not in boom times in this State."
We have a problem in the workshops down in Kwinana, where we have plenty of
boilermakers, welders and fitters. We have a problem in the offshore oil and gas sector where
we have seafarers that can come from interstate to work on these massive projects, and yet
we have a Liberal Government in this State that wants to import labour, rather than train the
young kids, give them career paths.
I urge and ask the Federal Government on our behalf, on behalf of our union and the trade
union movement to come on board and pull this Barnett Government into line, and these
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companies, such as Chevron, Woodside and the rest of them. I'd like your comments on that,
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much. I'm not going to answer for Premier Barnett's
Government, but I will answer for my Government and give you an indication of my views.
I certainly have said publicly and I very much believe, that it is not acceptable to me as Prime
Minister of this country, that I can meet with major resource sector employers who tell me
that they can't get the skilled labour that they need, when I can go to other places in Western
Australia and youth unemployment is at more than 10%.
I know in terms of Kwinana - Gary Gray is here tonight, he's a very vocal advocate for that
community, we've got an obligation to make sure that we use the economic opportunities that
present to this State now, to give that young kid a chance, because we all know, you know,
the statistics tell us – and simple commonsense tells us too that if a young kid drifts away
from school, they don't get themself into a job, they don't get themself into further training,
then it can be a long way back. That can be the start of a lifetime of disadvantage that will
show five, 10, 15 years later after that day that they first drifted away from school. So we've
got to do better than that. We have to do better by making sure there are opportunities for
those young people to get skills, and there are opportunities for them to go and get the jobs
that you are talking about.
Now, given the size of the inward investment in this State and the number of people who will
need to be employed, that doesn't mean that there won't be anybody who comes from
overseas. We will need some people from overseas but I do want to make sure we're using
these economic opportunities now to get people their own personal opportunity, get
themselves a skill, a trade, a job.
On content questions and working with Australian industry, as a Government, we have a set
of policies that are there to work with Australian industry, to help it compete and to help it
get the opportunities that can flow from the strong economy that we have now. We have
industry plans, industry plans working with businesses, we have supplier advocates, we have
ways of assisting Australian businesses so that they can turn up trumps in getting the
economic opportunities that we have now.
So I can say to you, we are very focused on that, very focused on the opportunities that can
flow for Australian working people, and I thank you very much for your question.
What I'll do is I'll take someone from the front of the block over here, and then we'll come
back through. So there's a lady there in a greenish top. Yes, thank you.
QUESTION 5: Thanks very much. I'm an academic, and also local Fremantle resident. I
was hoping, Prime Minister, that Minister Bowen would be here.
PRIME MINISTER: Yes, you might have to just raise your voice. We'll just get the
microphone more directly in front of you.
QUESTION 5: I was hoping that Minister Bowen would be here today, Prime Minister,
because I wanted to ask him about the attempted suicide today at Curtin Detention Centre.
There was a suicide yesterday, and those of us, those of us who remember the horrible days
of the Howard Government don't want to go back there. We are seeing increasingly the same
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levels of unrest, and I just want to ask what your Government is doing to speed up the
process, holding people in isolation. Whether it's on Christmas Island or at Curtin, you get
the same problems; you get the same sense of abandonment. People have a right to come
here, to seek asylum, and we, as a nation, owe them more than this.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much for your question.
Minister Bowen couldn't be here tonight because he's actually in Bali at a major summit, a
major multilateral meeting about the issue of people movement in our region. So he's there
with the representatives of many other countries, working through the plans that we
announced last year to seek a regional protection framework, to have the countries in our
region cooperate together.
We don't want to see people get on boats. We don't want to see people pay people smugglers.
We don't want to see people risk their lives on what can be a very dangerous voyage at sea;
and, unfortunately, in the run-up to Christmas that's just gone, we saw the tragic
consequences that can happen when people get on boats.
So what we want to do is actually change the equation here to stop people smugglers trying to
profit on the misery of others by having a regional way of working together so people
wouldn't get on boats, but they would be able to have their claims properly assessed without
paying that people smuggler or without risking their life at sea. So that's what we're working
We do have a policy of mandatory detention and of assessing people's claims, assessing
people's claims to see if they are a legitimate refugee and assessing people for security
questions. Now, Minister Chris Evans, when he was the responsible Minister - and this has
been followed by Minister Bowen, worked hard on the way in which we would look at
mandatory detention, how we would do processing, to speed it up and we have had success in
speeding it up; and how we would work to make sure that particularly, children and families,
were cared for in appropriate circumstances.
Minister Bowen, building on the work of Minister Chris Evans, made a major announcement
about how we will deal differently with family groups and with children. We are putting into
place that different policy for family groups and children now. There has been pressure on
detention centres, there have been very distressing incidents of self-harm. I share your
concern about that, absolutely.
One human being to another, of course you would share that concern. We are working to
manage detention so that we can go through claims as quickly as possible whilst getting them
right and we can also make a difference particularly for children. I don't know whether
Minister Evans wanted to add anything there, drawing on his past expertise?
SENATOR EVANS: Well, probably I should just make the point that I mean, there is a
new philosophy in the detention centres, a Labor philosophy that tries to care for people and
treat them with decency and respect and I think that's working. There's also improved mental
health systems but there's no doubt the system is under pressure as a result of the number of
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people they are dealing with, and there's also been pressures caused by those who have been
refused, with their refugee claims, reacting badly to that.
But we do follow the UN Convention. People are assessed against that. Those that are
successful are granted asylum. Those that are not, we seek to return. Unfortunately, that
obviously has people reacting in various ways. I think if you talk to people working in the
centres, people are very committed to treating people with respect and human dignity but it is
a highly pressurised environment, and there are pressures on as a result of having to cope
with higher numbers but Minister Bowen is working very hard to continue those principles of
treating people with respect but also very focused on trying to make sure that we treat
families and children appropriately and we've been under some criticism for that, we have
tried to ensure that children are out in the community, able to go to school and having
appropriate, appropriate care, and I think those changes will continue to deliver good results.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Thanks for your question. So we'll take someone from
the block here. We've got a gentleman in the front just here. Yes.
QUESTION 6: Chris Fitzhardinge from the South-West Group here, a group of local
governments. The question tonight has been very useful, it's been respectful, it's been
engaging, it's been informative and it contrasts completely with Question Time in parliament.
What I would suggest that happens, is the community be allocated one third of Question
Time in parliament.
QUESTION 6: And the opportunity for this change will be a combination of Minister
Crean and Senator Conroy - that the community will be beamed into Parliament House
through the use of technology and the community will be filtered and selected in terms of
their ideas and questions, through the regional development structure that is being
reinvigorated by Minister Crean.
I think that Question Time in Federal Parliament, to the members of the community, is a
waste of time. Why don't we use technology and the change in policy to make it so that we
can have an equivalent access to Federal Parliament from the remote parts of Australia, and
truly be engaged with the Federal Government process?
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much for that question. I'm not going to try and
defend House of Representative's Question Time to you, though I probably should - no, I was
just about to say if you think that's bad, have you ever tried watching the Senate. Oh, I've
made - Statesman in the Senate, I'm being told off by Senator Evans.
Look, I think you've got a very big point. Question Time is, of course, whatever people think
about how it ends up being conducted, it's an important democratic opportunity for the
Opposition to hold the Government to account. I've got my views about how Question Time
is playing out now but when Parliament works at its best, Question Time is a real opportunity
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to have scrutiny of Government programs and the conduct of Ministers, and that's
But I think this kind of opportunity is also incredibly special as well, which is why we created
this Community Cabinet structure. It didn't exist before the Government was first elected in
2007. With new technology, we are going to be able to do this in different ways. I think
there's always going to be a role for coming to a school hall and meeting people face to face
and having the opportunity to talk one on one with individuals the way we all have before
coming in here, go through the crowd and talk to people. There'll always be room for that
kind of face-to-face engagement.
But I think you're right, with the power of new technology, with the NBN, with the networks
that there are right around the country, there will be other ways that we can engage people in
the Australian community. So we'll take on board your suggestion. I'll get Stephen and
Simon thinking about it, and we'll see what we can work up so that people can put some of
their questions through. Thank you.
Now, we'll go over here. So we might go to the man just there with the - yes, you, sir, who's
still got your hand up. Thank you.
QUESTION 7: Thank you, Madam Prime Minister. Gregory Payne of the ALP Fremantle.
In the last two weeks we've had, in the local media, reports of 25,000? vacant Homeswest
units in various states of repair. I'm wondering if you will take on board the act of the Health
Minister in the way she's taken over, trying to take over the management of health in all the
States. What I'd like to see is the Housing Department being taken over by the Federal
Government. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Thank you very much for your question. And I'm going
to direct it at Minister Jenny Macklin.
What I would say to you about the way in which we're seeking to work - and our health
reforms are a very good example of this, is we think as a national government
we've got clear obligations about making sure, you know, we are a partner in the growth, in
the costs, in our health system; that we've got clear standards, clear transparency; that we're
empowering local communities to take more local control through local hospital networks.
That ends up meaning for communities that there's more resources in their health care system,
there are more doctors available, more local control, less waiting time when they are in
emergency departments and less bureaucracy. So it's that kind of way of working - Federal
Government, State Government, local communities, that we are aiming for in health, so we
want to have those partnerships across the board.
On the question of social housing and homelessness which you've raised, Jenny Macklin has
taken a great degree of responsibility here, so I'll turn to her.
MS MACKLIN: Thanks, Julia, and thanks very much for your question.
You'd be aware that as part of our National Stimulus Package we decided that we would
invest very heavily in new and in repairing public housing, social housing - and that's true
here, of course, in Western Australia and in other parts of Australia. We did, to take a leaf
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out of your question, we did decide to really get heavily involved in directing that investment
and as a result have seen some very, very quick results.
Here in Western Australia the commitment is for just under $600 million to build 2,000 new
dwellings and to repair 10,000 dwellings, I can tell you tonight that the 10,000 repairs have
been done, and so far we've seen 1400 of the new dwellings completed. So as a result of very
determined effort directed by the Commonwealth, with the cooperation of the State, we have
seen this very substantial investment in an area that I think we would all agree was desperate
for new housing and repairs to housing.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It is desperate. Still is, not was.
MS MACKLIN: Well, we've got, we've still got more to do. We've got more money to
spend. We do understand just how hard it is for people to find affordable housing. We have
another very important program that some of you may be aware of, that my colleague Tony
Burke's responsible for, which is the National Rental Affordability Scheme, in that area too,
we're building thousands of houses around Australia to be built sometimes with the private
sector, sometimes with the non-Government sector and always targeted at people who need
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER: I'll come back through. So we'll take questions from the block at the
end here. So I'll go to the lady that's got her hand up, with the blue scarf around her neck.
QUESTION 8: Thank you, Prime Minister. Can I first commend your stand on the carbon
tax. Thank you very much; it's great to see some action actually moving forward on climate
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
QUESTION 8: I remain frustrated, however, by the Government's stance on what I view as
really the last bastion of legislative discrimination in Australia and that being the non-
allowance of gay marriage. And so my question is when, whilst acknowledging the church's
right to condone or not any union they see fit, when will the Government legislate to allow
committed couples of any gender to gain a marriage licence and on a personal note, when can
I go celebrate my mum getting married to her partner of over 24 years.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you very much for your question. I'm not sure that the
answer I'm going to give you is going to delight you, but I'll tell you what the truthful answer
As a Federal Government we are responsible for the Marriage Act and we have said, as
political party, that we think the Marriage Act should be kept in its current form of marriage
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being between a man and a woman. This is not without controversy within our political
party. The Labor Party is a party of Government, we are a party of ideas and I think when we
meet as a political party towards the end of this year, there'll probably be a debate on this
very question, but that's our policy and that's my view.
But we have worked hard on working to equalize treatment of same-sex couples. When we
came to Government, when you looked across the broad sweep of what Federal Governments
do, we've got the tax system, we've got Social Security system, immigration, a whole series
of other things that we are responsible for. There were lots of pieces of legislation that were
discriminating against same-sex couples and we have worked very hard to equalize that
Now, I know that that's not going to satisfy you as an answer, but it has made a practical
difference for people's lives in really important things like superannuation – to make sure
people aren't discriminated against in the provision of superannuation benefits because the
couple are of the same sex. So there used to be circumstances where a partner would die and
the remaining partner would not be entitled to a benefit, where a heterosexual couple would
have been able to share those benefits. So we have worked to do that.
I expect this is a debate that's going to continue in the community, and I can tell from the
passion with which you put the question to me tonight that you're going to continue to be
involved in that community debate. Thanks very much for the question.
I'll take another question from the block over here. We'll go to the gentleman with the light
blue shirt, just in the - sorry.
UNKNOWN SPEAKER: We've got two light blue shirts.
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. We'll stay where we are and we'll just come through. Thanks.
QUESTION 9: Hello, Prime Minister. The lobbying industry is worth about $1 billion to
Australia. In Canberra there are about three lobbyists to every politician. Last year we saw
Labor decrying the use of mining company funds to run advertisements against the mining
tax and I am sure Liberals would also contend the same thing regarding unions.
Is there any scope in the future to introduce publicly funded elections to try and reduce the
interest of vested interests?
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you for that question.
PRIME MINISTER: I'm actually going to ask a man with considerable expertise, Gary
Gray, to make some comments on this. We do, of course, have some public funding for
elections so for the Federal election there is some public funding, and we have taken a
number of steps to make the lobbyist industry that you've referred to more transparent so
people have to be registered. It is clear when lobbyists are there and who they are, and what
they're doing, which is an important transparency; there have been proposals for further
reform and on those I'll turn to Gary Gray.
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MR GRAY: Thank you, Prime Minister. Yes, we should be aware the political system in
Australia - all of our parties raise and spend about $100 million a year, that's at State level,
that's at Federal level, that's at all levels. The income from that comes from a combination of
the taxpayer, which is about a third, from donations from individuals, and from companies. If
you're in the Labor Party, donations and contributions, sustentation fees and the like from
trade unions, all of which is published. If you are in the Liberal Party and the National Party,
about a third comes from the kind of investments and trusts that those organisations have.
The first principle that we pursue is transparency and that donations should be disclosed.
One of the measures introduced by the former government, not so long ago, in about 2004 -
was to allow donations of up to $10,000 from anonymous sources not to be disclosed. We
think that's outrageous, and we'll attend to that. We also think it's important to ensure that the
balance continues to occur between public funding and also funding from other sources. We
don't think that the entire of our political apparatus should be funded by the taxpayer. The
taxpayer dollar is scarce and there are better purposes to which it can be put.
However, we also think that ensuring that those interest groups that do seek to influence the
political process have their donors disclosed, is critically important. So transparency is the
principle that guides us, even though at the last election that did see very wealthy vested
interests line up against the Labor movement to argue their case on the mining tax in a way
that I think did cause a substantial public backlash.
So we do have a range of measures in place, a debate currently taking place within our
parliament and the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters but also importantly
within our parties on our next steps to tighten the system of disclosure that we have.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Now, we are running substantially behind, so what I'm
going to engage in is a couple of rapid-fire questions to end the night. So I'll go to you, sir.
Quick question, quick answer, and we'll just come across, and then we are going to have to
call it a night.
QUESTION 10: Very quickly. We are in the Port of Fremantle. In the last term, Anthony,
you had the shipping industry reform inquiry. What the hell are we going to do about
shipping this term, please?
PRIME MINISTER: Okay. Rapid-fire answer from Anthony Albanese, on a very
complex policy area.
MR ALBANESE: Implement it.
PRIME MINISTER: Implement.
MR ALBANESE: I recently gave a speech, it's up on my website
(http://www.minister.infrastructure.gov.au/aa/speeches/2010/AS27_2010.htm). We are
committed to implementing the reform. We are committed to revitalizing the Australian
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PRIME MINISTER: Good. Okay. Rapid-fire questions – the lady in the sort of apricot top
just there, yes. There we go.
QUESTION 11: Thanks. My name is Kylie Hosking. I just have a question about the aid
program. Given that research shows that if Australia increased it’s spending to the
internationally agreed aid target of 0.7% of GNI, we could save an additional 200,000 lives
per year. When will the Government commit to a timetable to increase spending to 0.7%.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. As you would know, Melissa, your local member, is
very expert in this area of work. We have made a commitment to the Millennium
Development goals and we will continue to invest in foreign aid because we have made that
You would be aware that this has become quite controversial in the Australian political
debate, in what I think is quite a nasty way. I actually believe Australians are of very good
heart and very good spirit and when you're asking them to do something like get some
vaccine into a child's arm to save that child's life, that people will see the merits of that, but
we do have a commitment to the Millennium Development goals. So thank you for your
We'll take one over here. We've got a lady there in a white shirt. Yes, you - yes.
QUESTION 12: The Beacon Foundation is a non-profit organisation which helps get Year
10 students on to a broader range of, like, career choices, so they're bringing guest speakers
and the like. So how do you aim to make organisations like that more diverse, so more
schools know about it?
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much. For those in the audience who might not have
heard of the Beacon Foundation, they are a mob that does fantastic work in schools right
around the country, helping schools work with students and local businesses so that kids
make a successful transition from school to work. So it is dealing with that question
that I talked about before, where we don't want kids just drifting away from school into a life,
and the margins of our society, you know, no job, no training, no prospects, no hope. The
Beacon Foundation helps kids make those really important connections.
As it turns out, I met with the Beacon Foundation in my office last week in Parliament
House. I know that they've got a proposal to try and increase the number of schools that they
are working with and we are having a look at that proposal now, I also know that the Beacon
Foundation and I can see Geri nodding, your Principal here, I know the Beacon Foundation
has done a lot of good work in this school. So thank you for that question.
Now, I'm afraid we are going to have to draw this question and answer session to a close. I
think we are more than half an hour over time, but I've really enjoyed the session. I want to
say to each and every one of you, thank you very much for coming along tonight. This is an
important process for us to hear from community members what's on their mind, what we
should be thinking about, and I thank you for the spirit with which you have participated in
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I want to say once again to this great school, thank you, Geri, to you as Principal, to your
students, to your teaching team, to your administrative staff, to your hospitality students.
Thank you for everything you've done to make this possible. And to the people of Fremantle,
thank you for coming out in such numbers. Thank you for being here. We have enjoyed
hearing your voice. Thank you very much.
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