Transcript by The Hon Julie Collins MP

Volunteer Grants

Joint Transcript with:

Bill Shorten MP
Minister for Education
Minister for Workplace Relations

E & OE

JULIE COLLINS: It’s great to be here today with my colleagues, Catryna Bilyk, and Minister Bill Shorten, to announce volunteer grants, $16 million right across the country, supporting 173,000 volunteers and more than 4000 organisations.

We all know the wonderful work the volunteers do in local communities. We’ve heard today about the volunteers in the fires in January in Tasmania, and the great work that they did. So it’s been wonderful to be able to support and announce today 20 fire brigades in Tasmania getting support through volunteer grants.

So it’s wonderful to be here. I might ask Minister Shorten to say a few words, and then we’ll take some questions.

BILL SHORTEN: Good morning everyone. Big day for Tasmania. Not only are there volunteer grants going to the Tasmanian Fire Service, $63,000 going to 20 different brigades, which is really important for big and small communities alike. But indeed the Prime Minister of Australia has been in the north and been announcing $100 million jobs package to help Tasmanian jobs and to help grow Tasmania, and are in 31 different projects, some of which will be in the surrounding area, including Clarence.

So there’s 31 projects, $100 million, because Rudd Labor really values Tasmania. That’s why there’s been so much money spent on infrastructure in Tasmania. The 82,000 school students at 259 schools getting extra resources over the next six years, and now there’s greater support so that Tasmanians can get jobs in Tasmania and not have to go to the mainland to pursue careers. And it’s good news for growth in Tasmania.

QUESTION: Minister, isn’t the $100 million jobs package just some Forestry money rebate?

BILL SHORTEN: Not at all. There’s a range of different projects, 31, the list is on the press release. We recognise that Tasmania has been doing it tough. We recognise that a combination of the high dollar, changing industries, is a big challenge. On the other hand, I and the Prime Minister know that Tasmania has got a lot of good things going for it.

The investment by the Commonwealth Government is a complete commitment to Tasmania. Only Labor is making sure that we won’t muck around with the GST. We’re not like the Coalition. Mr Abbott comes down to Tasmania, puts on a jacket, says I’m from Tasmania. But then when he gets on the jet and goes across to Perth, he’s for Premier Barnett, who’s always complaining about the amount of money Tasmania gets.

Labor knows that Tasmania needs GST support. Labor knows that there’s a lot of change going on in the Tasmanian economy. That is why Labor has spent a record amount on hospitals and healthcare in Tasmania. That is why Labor has spent a record amount making sure Tasmania’s got good roads. That is why Labor is spending the money to make sure that every individual child, 82,000 children across 259 schools, next year… from next year are going to get more support so that individual children can be who they can be, and be the best they can be, and emerge as adults, resilient and well-educated.

And of course, but not the least of which, is the announcement by Minister Collins today, Tasmania’s own Cabinet Minister at the national level, where we’re seeing $60,000 going to the Tasmanian Fire Service, part of $16 million to back-in volunteers.

Like many Australians, I’ve never worked in a fire service, but like every Australian, I’m the beneficiary in my family, the beneficiary of the safety that the fire services around Australia provide. And the volunteers within the fire services put themselves in harm’s way so the rest of us can be safe. But the Federal Government’s backing Tasmania heavily.

QUESTION: In terms of this funding, how much more will Tasmania receive in terms of other areas, other organisations?

BILL SHORTEN: In terms of the grants? I’ll let Minister Collins answer that one.

JULIE COLLINS: So there’s $16 million nation-wide. Here in Tasmania, more than $350,000 is going to more than 113 organisations right across the state; organisations like Lions Clubs; organisations like Meals on Wheels; organisations like the fire services we’ve seen today. So a range of community organisations, acknowledging the great work that the volunteers in these organisations do.

QUESTION: $60,000 over 25 brigades is only a couple of thousand each. What can they do with that money?

JULIE COLLINS: Well these grants are small grants. They’re from $1000 to $5000 maximum, and of course we’ve heard today, some of the things that are used by the fire brigades, defibrillators, lifesaving equipment that the fire brigades can now purchase. We’ve also got brush cutters, lawn mowers, a range of things that fire services will purchase with that money.

QUESTION: Minister just with regards to the $100 million jobs plan. Can you confirm that this money has come from the funding that was set aside through the Tasmanian Forest Agreement?

JULIE COLLINS: This money is new money for Tasmania, $100 million dollars. So this money is $100 million for a jobs and growth plan. Some of it has been the Forestry money, but of course, as you would know, Forestry money was over 15 years. This money is $100 million over four years for Tasmania to diversify our economy and to create jobs, short-term, medium-term and long-term for Tasmanians.

QUESTION: Can you understand there may be some confusion, though, where that was about diversifying our economy and now it’s being badged as a jobs plan for people out in these regional communities who are hoping it was going to be helping them?

JULIE COLLINS: Well, of course this money is going into regional communities right across Tasmania. Thirty-one projects, $100 million, and of course people in communities right across Tasmania need the economy to diversify, but they also need jobs, and diversifying the economy is being done to create jobs. That’s what we’re doing with this plan.

BILL SHORTEN: Let me just add, if I might, Minister Collins, myself, Senator Bilyk, the Prime Minister of Australia did not get stuck in a traffic jam behind Liberal cars coming here to announce extra money for Tasmania. Let me be very clear, this money is coming from taxpayers, the commonwealth taxpayers, and it’s coming because this government makes choices. Labor makes a choice that there is a bright future for Tasmania. We know why people love Tasmania. We know the great lifestyle. But we also know the need for it to diversify.

Labor has prioritised that the National Broadband Network is concluded first in Tasmania. Because we know that given half a chance, Tasmanians can grab the whole opportunity. This $100 million sits as part of Labor’s story in Tasmania. You look at the roads we drive on between our towns and cities in Tasmanian, federally-funded by Labor. You go into any school. Nearly half a billion dollars was spent in refreshing the infrastructure so Tasmanian school children can have school facilities the equal of anywhere on the mainland.

Tasmanian hospitals, $3 billion. But in real terms it means it means that people, when they’re sick in Tasmania, should not have to go to the mainland to get the quality care which is the right of every Australian. And when we also look at this latest announcement about jobs, this government, a Labor government, only a Labor government is committed to building jobs in Tasmania. We don’t go across to Western Australia and say one thing to Premier Barnett, oh don’t worry about those Tasmanians, like Tony Abbott would say.

We’re here because we know that Tasmania is a unique and special part of Australia. We know why people want to raise their families in Tasmania. We want to make sure they have the jobs so that Tasmanians can make the choice to live in Tasmania.

QUESTION: There’s been a lot of concern about how this money would be spent and that it would be spent on a pre-election splash that looked like a positive plan for Tasmania. Can you reassure Tasmanians that this hasn’t been re-badged as a pre-election promise?

BILL SHORTEN: The time for cynicism should end. Australia wants positive politics. Because Prime Minister Rudd and Labor come here and make announcements about our ongoing commitment to Tasmania, you know, I don’t think it’s right that people just simply be negative. We’ve had too much negativity in the last three years. All Tasmanians, doesn’t matter if you’re Coalition or Labor or Green, want the best for Tasmania, so does Federal Labor.

We’re proposing extra resources so Tasmanian small business and big businesses can employ people with confidence. That’s why we’ve supplied an extra 20,000 computers to Tasmanian school children with our computer programs. It’s why we’re supplying to 259 Tasmanian schools with 82,000 Tasmanian school children, independent, Catholic and Government schools, that these children get the best individual help.

Labor’s record in Tasmania isn’t just this announcement today. This is another chapter in Labor’s story of making sure that Tasmania remains one of the best places to live in Australia, and one of the best places to live in the world. And what makes it important to be able to live in a place and enjoy the special lifestyle which you all do, is the ability to have work. And what we’re doing is committing to the jobs part so that families and individuals can keep living in what is one of the most fortunate and blessed parts of our continent.

Thanks everyone.