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National Press Club -

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(generated from captions) This program is not captioned. This program is live captioned by Ericsson Access Services. Today at the National Press Club, the Greens leader Richard Di Natale. The Victorian Senator was elected to parliament in 2010 and became Senator in 2015. He will discuss global politics and the need to reshape political thinking. Richard Di Natale with today's club club address.Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the club club and to today's Westpac address. My nam e is mark xub Kenny and I am employed in the Sydney Morning Herald. Our guest is no stranger to the podium or debate. Richard Di Natale is a doctor, a Victorian senator and importantly, leader of the Greens. His party has been a significant player in national politics for decades. He addresses the media today on the subject of extreme right-wing politics, budgets, work, and perhaps the aim of all of this, happiness. Would you join me in welcoming Richard Di Natale. (APPLAUSE) . Thank you. Thank you so much. Thanks so much, Mark. Let me begin by acknowledging we are meeting on the land of the Ngunnawal people. I would like to pay my respects to their elders past and present and acknowledge my parliamentary colleagues who are in the room. And of course, the community leaders who have come here today to listen to what I hope is a thought-provoking speech. So, I stand here at my first National Press Club address since the Coalition was narrowly returned, since the re-emergence of One Nation, since Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Since so many columns and articles and tweets have been written trying to make sense of it all. Many of you in this room have also been a part of that. Now, the National Press Club describes itself an an institution that reaches the influencers and decision-makers of Australia, federal and state MPs, political advisors, heads of departments, academics, journalists and of course, the federal parliamentary Press Gallery. It seems to me these are the groups that Donald Trump rallied against in his presidential campaign, and he won. So we have to ask ourselves a question: Why is the media establishment, like politics, is so mistrusted by a large section of the community? Most Australians firmly believe we need a fiercely free and independent media to hold power, politicians, to account. They just wish they had one. Yes, we had got many outstanding journalists in this country. Incidentally, most of them are women. But as an institution, the media, like politics, is in real trouble. The model for funding independent journalism has broken down. When I first took my seat in 2011, there are a number of experienced health reporters. It was my portfolio. They had been around for decades. They knew their subject matter inside out. Most of them are gone now. The people who are left behind are spread a mile wide and an inch deep. The model for independent media is in trouble. We don't have enough media diversity. So if you are a punter living in a capital city, the Murdoch press accounts for most of it. Donald Trump was right about the notion of fake news, but not in the way he meant it. Much of what passes as news right now is opinion, it is speculation, it is gossip. It is just blatant cheer-leading for your own side, it is anything but news. As a result, the public square has shrunk and debates has become more polarised and divisive. We speak at each other, rather than to each other and with each. You will forgive me, the speech is not for you, the influencers and decision-makers of Australia. It is a speech that is for those young people who are being screwed right over now and see their future being ripped away. This is a speech for those many millions of Australians who have come here to make this island continent their home, and have made us a better nation. It is a speech for those people who won't tolerate injustice, like the injustice of locking people up in prisons offshore or young kids in adult prisons here at home. It is a speech for all those people who understand that we are the custodians of this fragile little blue planet of ours, and it is our responsibility to look after it. Now, anyone who stands at this podium and says, "I've got all the answers" is lying to you. We don't. What we do know is that the system is broken and that politics, as usual, just won't cut it any more. The politics of wealth and privilege, separated from the people that it is supposed to represent, you can't begin to offer a persuasive diagnosis, let alone the right treatment. For decades, our politics has been in the grip of neoliberalism. It is an ideology based on the single assumption that humans are selfish individuals and we are always in violent competition. It is an ideology defined by the sale of any public asset that isn't nailed down, that sees taxation and regulation and trade unions as the enemy. It is an ideology that's says, "If only we relinquish total control to the market that somehow wealth will magically trickle down and make us all better off". It is why the coalition wants to give $50 billion in tax cuts to their big business mates rather than those people who need it, rather than investing in health care and education. It is an ideology that is so despised, so discredited, its impact so widely felt, that the people of the United States chose to elect a narcissist, an unstable and dangerous man, as their President to overturn it. But, we have got a different path open to us. A path that doesn't turn Australians against each other. A path that recognises the economy exists to serve us rather than the other way around. A path that is based on love and compassion, not on hatred and division. I've got great in our fellow citizens to choose a path of decency. It is a path that is informed by evidence. Our origins as a cooperative species, that's what gave us an evolutionary advantage. Cooperation is woven into our very being. The principle of caring for others is a central tenant in all the world's religions. It is a central theme in all of our human stories. It is our economic and political system that is broken, not our fellow human beings. Just as we can choose love over hate, we can choose to focus on a broken system, to fix it. A system that privileges the rich and powerful over the rest of us. Our job, in parliament, is to stand up to those powerful vested interests, to pick - to bring people together and to fix the Democratic deficit. That is our biggest challenge right now. We don't have a budget deficit, it is the democratic deficit that is our biggest problem. The first step has to be an end to the corrupting influence of political donations from the big end of town. We have got to get rid of big-money politics. Let's just call them what they are: The state-sanctioned bribery. Corporations aren't philanthropic entities. The reason they donate is because they expect a return on their investment. People often say to me they can't tell the difference any more between the Coles and Woolworths politics. That is because regardless of who becomes the next prime minister, we are going to see the big donors knocking on their do doors expecting a return on their investment, wanting to collect the rent. The Greens have also led the charge in establishing a national anti-corruption watchdog, something that both Labor and Liberal have frustrated for many, many years. Corruption watchdogs have unearthed serious misconduct in state parliaments. Does anyone seriously believe that the Federal Parliament is immune and somehow different? Of course not. That's why going into this parliament, two of our key priorities are to end the corrosive influence of those big corporate donations. And to establish a national anti-corruption watchdog. We are not going to give up on both of those things. But we won't just stop there. Just as we led the way with Senate voting reform and an end to the rort of parliamentary entitlements, we will work to strengthen democracy, fixed parliamentary terms and let's be innovative and trial techniques such as deliberate democracy that puts everyday people at the heart of government decision-making. But neither of the old parties is interested in tackling the democratic deaf sit. It means giving over pow power and doesn't serve their interest. Instead, when the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition was here a few short weeks ago, they promised jobs, jobs, jobs. "Have we got a deal for you". What neither leader was honest enough to say is that our labour market has changed for good. Rapid globalisation and a culture where employers see wages as nothing more than a cost to be pushed down, to raise shareholder profits. What it means is that hundreds of thousands of Australians have found themselves out of work and scared senseless about what the future holds for them and for their families. The rise of digital and automated technologies means that up to five million existing jobs in this country may be lost in the next ten years. So, how about we start a conversation about the future of work in this country? And how about we question the entrenched political consensus that a good life can only come from more work, from working harder? How about we have a discussion that includes the things we really value in life? Spending time with our friends and family, relationships, leisure, volunteering, contributing to your local community, creativity. The simple things that actually make us happy. You know the important things. We rightly talk about the 16% of people who want to work more hours. But what we don't hear about is from the more than one in four Australians who say, "We want to work less". A 4-day working week or a 6-hour day, it might actually make us happier and create more opportunities for other who want more work. It might reduce the cost of full-time childcare. Many members of the business community are already doing this. Some companies have already implemented a 3-day working week. As part of that discussion, let's think bigger and talk about guaranteed adequate income. I have got many countries around the world trying models of a social safety net designed to look after people in a twenty-first century economy where work is changing radically. It is interesting, isn't it, we are so quick to create a trial for quarantining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander welfare, despite the evidence against it, but we won't seriously contemplate looking at the outcomes of the international trials that look at universal basic income. We know it could drive innovation and research. It won't consign people to poverty. It will enhance creativity and help us reset what is actually meaningful in our lives, rather than just assuming, all of you in this room, people watching today, we are just units of economic output. We are so much more than that. Let's pair it with greatest investment in education and skill the people in industries that are declining. Let's focus on our natural strengths in Australia, services sector, health and education, aged care, sustainable agricultural. We have got all the ingredients we need to rethink the future of work in a way that takes care of people and the planet that we depend upon. Now, the people who created the dog-eat-dog society that so many of us resent, the powerful vested interests, will tell us it is all a pipe dream. Don't believe them. They want you to believe that you don't have a choice, that we can't change course, because it serves their narrow self-interest. Housing, jobs, universal education and health care, a decent social safety net, a healthy planet to sustain us. That was the compact with my generation and the drawbridge has now been pulled up after us. I refuse to be part of a generation of political leaders who will be the first in modern history to hand down worse living conditions to future generations than we enjoyed. We Greens won't preside over a political and economic system that is designed to entrench rising inequality but that selfishly refuses to act. That is why we have got a comprehensive plan to address housing affordability. We will be releasing that shortly. Not only does it include reform of negative gearing and tax reform, and we are proud to have led that, but a transition plan for the states to remove the thirds tax barrier to affordable housing and that is stamp duty. Stamp duty is a bad tax. The raises the price of housing, it stops people moving between homes or downsizing, even when they want to. It is about time we levelled the playing field and got rid of it. And speaking of levelling the playing field, if we are going to avoid turning this intergenerational divide into a chasm, it is time we had a debate around inheritance taxes for the super wealthy. Australia is one of the country whose does not tax preexisting wealth. If you work hard, earn a solid salary, you get taxed more than if you are lucky enough to inherit a string of old-money assets. During my last speech here at club club, I announced a plan that closes loopholes to avoid paying tax for wealthy people. As we did with capital gains tax, with negative gears, with our call for a banking royal commission, I am really pleased we have helped to retrigger a rethink, at least on one side of politics. But I do say on all sides, words are wind if you say you care about economy but give a whopping great big tax cut to the richest 20% of Australians. I reckon the old parties have been worked out by average Australians. They know that the privatisation of essential services has increased the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands and it has left customers to foot the bill. That is why we believe the time has come for a people's bank, one that injects real competition into the banking sector. Imagine real help for people buying their first house, for people in regional areas? Imagine a bank that pursues social objectives like housing affordability, not just profit-driven ones. Which bank? A people's bank. A few days ago we detailed our plans to increase the Medicare levy for high income earners, raising more than $13 billion over the forward estimates. We did it because providing a tax break to high-income earners who take out private health insurance does nothing to take the pressure off our public hospital system and in many cases it just forces people to buy a product they don't want or need. Let's face facts: For most people, private health insurance has become a waste of money. Every year the premiums go up, the level of cover goes down and when you need to use it you are often faced with whopping, great, big out-of-pocket costs. When it comes to health care, the US is not a model for us to be following. It is time for Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten to stand up to the lobbyists and look after people rather than subsidising the profits of private health insurers. We can have all the reforms in the world to address inequality, but they will come to nothing if we don't find the political will to address the great existential challenge we face as a species. We are reaching a tipping point in our global environment. But because it is a crisis of our making it is one we can solve. There is no technical limit to moving to a renewable future. Don't buy that nonsense. There is no technical limit to powering our lives with clean energy from the sun and wind. If we want it, we can choose to live in a world where we protect our ancient forests, mountain ranges and reefs or we can choose coal and gas. Almost everyone now excepts that coal does not have a long-term future. All we are really arguing about is the funeral date. But while Labor and Liberal continue to accept those massive corporate donations from big coal and gas, they will continue to pursue the fossil-fuel agenda and approve the Idana coalmine. If it goes ahead, it will contribute to the death of the great barrier reef, plain and simple. The obstacles to a clean energy future are political, not technological. But we have to act now. The window is closing. We Greens know to get the sort of change we need, we have to work from both within the system and also from without. In the Senate, we have stopped some of this government's worst policies, including its cruel budget cuts which would have seen people may more to go and see a doctor and forced young people to pay up to $100,000 for a university degree. We Greens in the parliament have delivered climate change laws, Medicare-funded dental care for children, to crack down on multi national tax dodgers, to help farmers get their fruit off the trees to market by the backpacker tax. However, I have to say one of my proudest moments was leading the team out of the Senate in response to Pauline Hanson's hateful first speech. It was a gesture of protest, a gesture of resistance in the nation's parliament. It was an act of solidarity for those millions of people who would hear the echoes of their own past in her words. People like my mum who don't just hear a bigoted woman attacking Muslims, but they hear the Catholic nun on her first day of high school saying to her, "Not another boat load of you bloody Italians". These words have consequences. Mum remembers that. She tells me the story. Over the past 12 months, I have spoken to many people who have shared the impact that the current debate is having on them. One of those people is Nada. Nada, why don't you stand up? Come over here. Come to the front. Now, Nada told me her story and it is really powerful but I want Nada to share her story with you today. I don't want to speak for people, I want to hear from them. Nada, come up and say a few words. Thank you. I am tired of being spoken about. My fate in the hands of people who don't understand my contributions, my passions and my concerns. Because more often than not, people up here on this stage and in parliament attempt to shape my future without making me a part of the conversation. My name is Nada, and it is an honour to be on this platform to share my story. (APPLAUSE) As a young Australian, a passionate engineer and a dedicated community representative, I have great conserves about our responses to issues impacting my generation. While people are busy politicising Australia's energy industry, I am working to create a more energy-sustainable future. While they forget we are on stolen land, I refuse to move forward without learning about traditional and innovative Indigenous practices of sustainability. And while they pretend like global warming isn't real, I am working on a local level to better our response and protect our environment. Because this is a world my generation will be leading soon. And we don't deserve to inherit such a mess.Hear, hear. There are many young people like me who are trying to create a nation that acknowledges our history, celebrates diversity and thrives on equality. But every time we take a step forward, there are forces of misinformation that push us miles back. As a young Muslim woman in this country, my right to simply exist is constantly under fire and occasionally under threat. I am a regular victim of casual and impersonal racism, on public transport, in the supermarket, walking down the street. It hurts no less each time. I not only receive snide remarks in public places but have also received more violent threats. I have been chased down the CBD streets by a man screaming that he wanted to kill me because of the apparent bomb under my hejab. But this isn't the Australia I have grown up in. It is not the future that we want. Young people across the country are fighting every day to change our path. Together, we are each other's keepers. We are each responsible for what is happening down the street, beneath the earth's surface or across the seas. As a community, we have become so focused on defining our differences that we have forgotten about the power we have if we work as a collective. We Australians have a lot to be proud of. And it is time we capitalise on our strengths, truly understand one another and create a more inclusive, innovative and relevant future for generations to come. So, I ask today that you take the time to hear and understand others, to bring people together and to give us hope for our future. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)

future. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)
Wouldn't it be great if the media gave as much space to Nada's story as to those people who don't want to hear? Wouldn't it be a nice change? Nada gives me hope for the future. I genuinely believe in decency of people and they want to do the right things by others and not just themselves. I genuinely believe people want to do the right things by future generations and the natural world. I genuinely believe we share the same hopes and dreams and we are connected to a greater whole. Our challenges are global in nature, whether it is climate change, whether it is refugees, whether it is the failed approach on drugs, whether it is nuclear disarmament, whether it is the spread of diseases, there is no retreating from the world. We are connected to it. Instead of turning inwards and building walls, let's turn outwards and build bridges. That's why in a few weeks I am going to attend the global Greens conference in Liverpool, where greens parties from around the world will continue to meet and build a progressive international movement. I will look forward to telling you about this on my return. Let me just finish by saying it is our system that is broken, not our people. It is not working for our common humanity and we don't have to accept it. We know that the global people-powered movements of the last century where millions of people marched and campaigned together for women's rights, for civil rights, for workers' rights, for peace, for nuclear disarmament to protect our environment, they showed us people can collectively turn the tide of history. Now is the time to turn that tide again, by resisting the story that those vested interests tell about us and the world they would have you believe we live in and for us to choose who we are and the world that we want to create together. Thanks so much. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you, very much, Senator. We will have a raft of questions from media who are gathered here. I might just kick it off. I know that your comments earlier about the proponderance of opinion rather than news in the media at the start of your speech. I note for the sake of accuracy, I just ripped off - I should say, fastly wrote an opinion piece just before coming down here. Perhaps I am guilty of the same thing. But can I go to your comments about the nature of work.Uh-huh.A rethink, I think you are calling for in terms of the role that work plays, how it is viewed, where it fits in, I suppose, the human story, the pursuit of happiness. In that rethink of work, for example, going to the 4-day week or a shorter working day, would you also consider - would that rethink be so complete as to consider, possibly, the reconsideration of weekends as different from the middle of the week? Obviously, this is a pretty pressing issue at the moment with the penalty rates debate. For the sake of completeness, would it consider treating the possibility of treating Saturday and Sunday the same as Monday and Tuesday?Let's try and agree what the problem is. Australians work harder than any other developed economy on work. If you have a full-time job, you work on average 44 hours a week. A lot of Australians are working more than 38 hours a week. Often it is a donation to their employer, unpaid overtime. At the same time, we have got a lot of people who are unemployed or under employed so we have got a big problem with distribution. We also need to acknowledge that the nature of work is changing, that there is big technological disruption going on right now. We have got to have a conversation about what the things are important to us in life. Is worker harder and longer the pathway for us as individuals to achieve happiness? One way to start is we have got a bill before the parliament, Adam Bandt has a bill which is a work-life balance bill, which says it should be alright as an employee to work more flexible hours and that is progress. We want to start the conversation. It is a conversation we have not having in this country. It requires us to come back and have a radical rethink what work/life balance looks like. Big questions. We have happy to have a conversation that brings in all the different elements of work. Including penalties?I think we need to broaden the conversation and let's get some agreement first. Let's get agreement on what work/life balance looks like. If one in four people are saying we are working more hours than we would like and we have a problem with unemployment and under employment, maybe we can do something to address that? I know the temptation is to bring it to the politics of the day and what is the issue and how can we score a few political points here and there. I reckon politics is at its best when we engage with big issues and have the conver ition -- conversations about who we are.A question from Andrew.Thank you for your speech. I would like to ask about your call to remove stamp duty. Could I tease out some of details? Would we go to a broad-based land tax or increase rates? What sort of leverage would you have with the states to do so? Good question and I don't want to give away too much. We will be announcing the Paulacy in detail, but it is a pathway forward. If a proposal like that is going to succeed, it needs to be revenue neutral and can't disadvantage people who bought under the existing circumstances. Shane Ratenbery is here. Most people agree stamp duty is a bad tax, it raises the cost of housing, it disincentivises people from moving, even when it is in their own interests. Most economists agree. What we can't agree on is how do we bring the various players together, state and federal governments, and have a conversation that is in the national interest rather than our own partisan self-interest. That is the challenge. If we can do that, I suspect we would see broad agreement a transition is a good idea.Next question.Hi, thank you for your speech today. I am going to pick up on a point by my colleague Mark and my colleague from the Western Australia so you can't say we are not focusing on policy today. The idea of work/life balance, great. I work four days a week, my husband works four days a week and it is great but we can afford to do that. You outlined ideas about a universal income and change to housing market but how do you see them working together? How do people who are younger than I am and can't see themselves saving enough money for a mortgage, is it the hours? Do you need the universal income issue there? How do the pieces of the puzzle come together so we can move forward and achieve that.A good question. I think the housing affordability issue is probably easier to fix. We know what the answer is. Come on. Negative gears, capital gains tax reform is a big part of the response here. The only reason the Coalition decided to advocate against it is because they thought they would get political advantage. We do need to do something about housing affordability. We have got a comprehensive housing package we will be announcing shortly. But there are things we can do about housing affordability in the here and now that would go a long way to addressing the issue. So, I think that is the place to start. When it comes to universal basic income, there is a debate about the merits of the policy and there are trials under way in Canada, Scotland, Finland, let's engage in that debate and see if there is merit to moving to that. One thing we should agree on is the current social security system is not working. We are committing people to live below the poverty line. The whole point of a social security system is that it looks after people when they need it. When you have New Start, that commits young people to living in poverty because they can't find a job, it is failing. When you have disincentives that say you shouldn't look to supplement your income because if you do, you will be punished. When you have got the punitive system that we have at the moment, with the Centrelink robo calls, we have got it back to front. At the very least, let's look what an adequate income for people who need support, what does it look like? What is a modern twenty-first century social security system look like? Universal income needs to be part of it. We have got a distribution problem when it comes to work. A whole bunch of people who say they want to work more and a whole group saying they are working too long. Surely it is not beyond the reach of human capacity to go some way to addressing that issue and let's at least start the conversation. I have been overwhelmed this morning with incredibly positive responses from people saying, "Yeah, we would like to scale things back and do things differently". Let's look at Sweden, in the aged-care sector, a 6-hour