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Transcript 16295

Opening Remarks at Corio Community Cabinet Corio Bay Senior College

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 07/12/2008

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 16295

Thank you all for coming out on a Sunday afternoon to meet with us here in this meeting of the Federal Cabinet, the Cabinet of the Australian Government here in Geelong and here at Corio Bay senior college.

Thank you also to the staff and the students at Corio Bay Senior College for turning out and welcoming us today in the way in which they have.

Think of this: Year 12 students, the school captains, having to come back and greet me on the 7th of December and put their school uniforms back on again.

There is no higher calling than to have to put your school uniform back on again, and come back and pretend that you haven't already left the place.

They are great kids and they are both waiting eagerly their notifications of acceptance to university. One in Melbourne, one here in Deakin. So we wish them well for their futures.

I acknowledge the First Australians on whose land we meet and whose cultures we celebrate as the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

And thank you for the welcome to country from David Tournier and Jason Tournier for your didgeridoo playing. And thank you for making us feel so welcome here today on behalf of the Wathaurong people.

Can I begin by introducing my colleagues, because we have got a good line of folk here today. Beginning up on the far left and contrary to the list that I have been given, it always pays to read it carefully - I have Anthony Byrne, who is Parliamentary Secretary to myself as Prime Minister (inaudible), Bill Shorten who is Parliamentary Secretary for disabilities, Tanya Plibersek the Minister for Housing. We have Robert McClelland the Attorney General, we have Kim Carr the Industry Minister.

Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Communications, Lindsay Tanner, hiding behind the (inaudible) make sure you ask him a very hard question (inaudible) he is the Finance Minister, known affectionately in our show as Dr No.

Justine Elliot, who is the Minister for Aged Care, today also representing the Minister for Health. John Faulkner, Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary, Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.

We drove through her electorate on the way here today, and it is a fine electorate indeed. So my best regards to the people of Lalor who are next door.

We also have to my right Joel Fitzgibbon who is the Minister for Defence, Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Families, Anthony Albanese the Minister for Infrastructure, so all questions about local road funding go to him.

Peter Garrett, the Minister for the environment, Joe Ludwig the Minister for Human Services and Rich and Darren, I think you have already met them.

Could I say as Prime Minister how delighted I am by the work that they put in as local members. You in this community should feel proud of the fact that your two local members spent a long time getting in the face of the Prime Minister.

If there is stuff happening here, we soon hear about it. And that is what a local member is supposed to do. And you have two very good local members in this community to do that, not just with me, but right across the ministers of this cabinet who are here assembled before you today.

So they have done a really good job. And we have still got hard work to do, as Richard just said, it is going to be a tough year ahead. But in terms of getting their message through to us, they are your first port of call.

And they are very effective at getting the message delivered to us.

This community cabinet is what we as a new Australian Government do. And it is deliberate. It is intentional. It is now our practice and our achievement as well.

Right around Australia this year we have sought every month or so to take the Cabinet out of Canberra and take the Cabinet to the people. And we have done so in Penrith in Western Sydney, we have done so in the outer suburbs of Brisbane, we have been to Mackay in North Queensland, Indigenous communities in Arnhem Land. We have taken the Cabinet to southern suburbs of Perth, the southern suburbs of Adelaide.

We have been most recently to Launceston in Tasmania and we are here with this great community in Geelong.

And can I say there is one single reason for us doing it - now having taken the cabinet to every state and territory in the country in our first year in office - and that is, to keep in touch with what you the community expect of us.

It is really easy to get disconnected by virtue of spending so much of your time in Canberra. It happens. Therefore one of the best antidotes we can have is to take the cabinet out of town.

And your opportunity today to ask us questions, difficult or easy, make comments, supportive or critical, meet with us one on one afterwards, it is all part and parcel of the process. And for us it is really important to remain plugged in with what working families across Australia, pensioners, carers and others, are expecting of their Government, their national Government, at a time of unprecedented global financial and economic challenge.

You have read a lot about the global financial crisis. A lot in the newspapers. A lot of gloom and doom. And 2009 will be a difficult year and we will see a reduced growth in the Australian economy and we will see higher unemployment. I see no point at all in trying to gild the lily with the Australian people. We are in tough times. There will be tough times next year.

But my overriding message to you all is this: if we as a country stick together, and recognise the fact that we are all in this together, then we will see Australia through. Business and unions, employers, employees, Government and business, Government and community, national Governments working with State Governments, national Governments with state Government and local Government.

We are all in this together. And those around the world who will come through this virtually unprecedented global financial and economic crisis, those who come through this well, will be those who stick together, recognise the fundamental fact that we are in it together.

(inaudible) right across the show, from business, from unions, from Government, often doing things we have never done before, unusual things that we have never done before, but necessary things in order to see us all through.

And for those who get damaged and wounded on the way through, to be there to actually extend a helping hand and a supportive hand. That is what being Australian is all about. We are in this together, we will come through this together and our responsibility as members of the great Australian family is to extend support to each other when the times get tough.

The Government's response to the global financial crisis has been, one, to stabilise the Australian financial system. We did that by providing a government guarantee to bank deposits right across the country, 15 million of them, to make sure that each person could be confident about their deposits in their bank, necessary in order to underpin confidence in our financial system.

But further to provide a guarantee to our major banks so that they can continue to secure funding from the international financial markets so that they can in turn continue to deliver finance to businesses across the country and other investment purposes across the country to keep the wheels of the economy rolling.

Stabilising the financial system is just step one. Step two has been to support the economy, growth and jobs. And that is why in October we delivered a $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy.

This Strategy is designed to underpin growth and underpin jobs when around the rest of the world you see one economy after another sliding into recession or you see unemployment rising in one economy after another around the world, and where in this country we have sought to act as early and as decisively as possible to support growth and to support jobs.

What does a $10.4 billion stimulus package mean? It delivers relief to pensioners, to carers, to families and first home buyers.

In fact, two million Australian families and four million pensioners will begin to receive their payments under the Government's Economic Security Strategy over the coming fortnight. Single pensioners will receive $1,400 and pensioner couples $2,100.

And around two million parents will receive a payment of $1,000 for the 3.9 million Australian children in their care.

The consequence of these payments, together with what we are doing with first home buyers - which is to effectively treble the first home owners allowance to $21,000 to support those buying their first home when they are buying a new home, and thereby to support the housing industry - is overall to continue to support jobs as well.

Supporting families, supporting pensioners, supporting first home buyers, but through the additional activity which comes in the economy as a result of doing that, also supporting jobs.

And that $10.4 billion I have spoken of before is capable of creating 75,000 additional jobs across the economy in the period ahead. That is why we are doing it, that is why we are doing it.

My message to these two million families and four million pensioners receiving these payments is to go out and spend this money that you receive to help make ends meet.

Because by spending their payments, families and pensioners will help create more jobs across Australia, and strengthen the Australian economy.

That's important.

These payments start arriving tomorrow, just 17 days before Christmas, and I urge families and pensioners who have been doing it tough to spend their payments in a responsible way to make their Christmas all the more special, and also do their bit to support the economy and jobs as well.

That is why we are acting.

Of course the Economic Security Strategy I have spoken of is just stage one.

Stage two is being what we have done longer term to support the automobile industry. The Industry Minister Kim Carr and I have spent a lot of time working with car manufacturers this year on the necessary package to support jobs in this critical sector of our economy and doubly critical sector of this regional economy around Geelong.

A $6.2 billion new car plan for Australia. That's a lot of investment and the reason we are doing that is because we believe in the future of manufacturing.

We believe in the future of the car industry. We also believe that the role of Government is not just to stand back and have a look and say, ‘gee there are some problems in that industry, I wonder what is going to happen'.

That is called observing, that is called watching. At worst it is called commenting or commentating. The alternative is to do something and to lead.

We chose the latter. And that is why we are investing this money over a long period of time, to give the industry over a 10 year time horizon, confidence and certainty about what Government will do to support the industry in order to enable the industry to transform itself.

To transform itself in the direction of cleaner, greener cars, which Australian consumers will want in the future. That is what it is about. That transformation within the industry, serving our environmental objectives, but equally importantly, serving our employment objectives.

And as Richard mentioned before, within a very short time of the Minister Kim Carr and I announcing that package for this region, we have had Ford turn around on the decision to which they had announced back in 2007, and instead make it absolutely clear that the Geelong engine plant would remain open for business. I regard that as a positive step forward.

It doesn't mean that all problems are solved. It doesn't mean that at all. There is going to be tough times ahead and we will see bad news as well. But what I am saying to you today as good members of this very good community is that we intend to be long term partners in this community's progress.

And that means supporting decisively, effectively, intelligently, the development of local industry. And that includes the automotive industry.

The automotive industry has been under stress at multiple levels, and another way in which we are seeking to help the industry is the special purpose vehicle which was announced with the support of the Australian banks quite recently.

And that was to assist with the provision of car finance across the country. Car finance has been threatened by the withdrawal of a number of the leading car finance firms. If you don't have car finance firms you have got a problem on your hands in terms of car dealerships and their ability to operate.

And if they are not operating effectively, guess what happens? It boomerangs back to the car manufacturers and then you have got a problem.

So together with the major banks and the Government, we have established this temporary special purpose facility to try and plug the gap which has arisen as a result of the impending withdrawal of some of the private providers of car finance in Australia.

And I would like to publicly acknowledge the support we have received from the CEOs of the Commonwealth Bank, the National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ together with representatives of the automotive industry, and in particular the Motor Traders Association of Australia.

This again is one practical step that we have taken and this facility will be in its overall projected size probably in the vicinity of some $2 billion. But the purpose is to make sure in these very difficult times, that we can help see the industry through.

The alternative is to stand back and say, ‘it is all too hard, let's just observe, let's just watch'. Well, we are not like that. We want to get in there and pitch in and have a go.

Again, it won't solve all problems, but let me tell you, it is better than not acting and that for us is never a possibility.

Here at the local level, we have had a lot of engagement with local representatives both state and federal and our good friends at the Geelong Advertiser, where are they? Put your hand up Geelong Advertiser, we will come and get you later on.

On the question of the Geelong ring road. The Advertiser tells us this is priority number four in the region. Let me just put some facts on the table for you. I am pleased to report that the Australian Government is already delivering on this project.

We have committed nearly $300 million to build the Geelong Ring Road.

The first three stages will open next Sunday following the community celebration day.

That means from next Monday, motorists will save up to 45 minutes in travel time and avoid 29 sets of traffic lights. There will be fewer cars and trucks through the centre of Geelong.

This is a very practical step forward in which we are proud to be co-investors.

We are also getting on with the job of completing the final stages of the Ring Road. Construction on stage 4A of the project will start in early 2009 and be done by early 2011. And Minister Albanese has recently approved $62.5 million in Commonwealth funding for this project.

So when it comes to the Geelong Ring Road, we have listened carefully to what the community has said to us through local representatives and we have acted and our funding is being delivered and I think that is a good thing for this community.

Finally in terms of others areas where we have been active locally, let me just mention a few.

On road projects apart from the Geelong Ring Road, stages one, two, three four, and four A that I have just referred to, we also have a $110 million allocated to the Princes Highway West upgrade duplication.

$20 million for the Geelong Mildura rail upgrade project. $50 million upgrade for rail access to the Port of Geelong. $7.5 million upgrade to Colac-Lavers Hill Road, together with other lesser road projects.

Mention was made before of education and the digital revolution in the classrooms. Here in this area, Trinity College Colac, Lorne-Aireys Inlet College, Colac College, Bellarine Secondary College, Corio Bay City College, where we are today and Geelong Baptist College - all recipients of funding for computers in schools.

And if I put those together, that is funding which comes to something like seven or eight hundred (inaudible) thousand dollars we have committed to the secondary schools in this area. All with one objective, and that is to ensure that we provide computers in the classroom, for years 9,10, 11 and 12.

The objective is to make sure that every kid has the best education possible.

Again, this doesn't solve all problems in education, it doesn't solve all problems in the classroom.

But I would much rather that every kid going to a secondary school in this part of Australia was given the same opportunities as others who have already got computers and laptops on their desks, in other parts of Australia.

That is what we are on about, making sure that every kid gets the best start on their education as possible.

In higher education, we have allocated $13.8 to Deakin University over the new Better Universities Renewal Fund. In health, $7 million towards a GP Super Clinic at Southern Geelong.

On water, $20 million for the Geelong Shell Water recycling project. $10 million for a new recycled water plant.

We have also had local Government funding coming out of the local community infrastructure program, including funding delivered at the recent meeting we had in Canberra of $2.5 million to the Greater Geelong City Council, $525,000 to Colac-Otway Shire Council. $469,000 to Goulburn Plains Shire Council, $343,000 to Surf Coast Shire Council, and $100,000 to Queenscliffe Borough Council.

And on sport and community facilities $14 million for the Geelong Football Club for the redevelopment of the Skilled Stadium, increasing the capacity by 3,000.

And I think you were robbed, by the way, in the Grand Final.

Can I say, also, the reason for running through that list is to indicate that in the 12 months that we have been in office, we have not just been busy nationally, we have sought to be active locally in funding a range of projects across roads, across schools, across the local university of Deakin, across local community health facilities, as well as sport and community infrastructure as well.

And for us this is simply the beginning of our investment with you, as well as supporting local government.

As I close, can I say you live in a wonderful part of Australia.

Therese, my wife, the kids and I have holidayed in this part of the world before, down to the Great Ocean Road, driven it. And as loyal sons and daughters of the great state of Queensland, it sort of passed people's minds in Queensland as passing strange that you'd spend a summer not on the beach in Queensland, but down here.

But you know we didn't regret it one bit. You have an extraordinarily beautiful part of Australia. It is stunning. It is remarkable. It is beautiful and you should be proud of it.

And proud of those communities associated with the great assets which mother nature has delivered to you. Enough from me, and now it is over to you.

Transcript 16295