FORUM: Shorten to follow up with unemployed coal miner

7.25pm: On a question about the wages of early childhood education workers, Mr Shorten said the public and the government expected "something really for not much more than nothing".

He said childcare workers were being "paid peanuts" for providing education to the next generation.

While he said he was "painfully aware" Labor lost the election, he said one of his biggest regrets was not being able to increase the childcare rebate which would have "helped the whole industry".

"I don't just see childcare centres as baby-minding factories while the parents go out to work,"  Mr Shorten said.

Mr Shorten said it was also important to recognise childcare workers had lower wages because it was a "feminised industry".

He said everyone must consider the value of early childhood education.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten at the community forum in Rockhampton
Opposition leader Bill Shorten at the community forum in Rockhampton Michelle Gately

7.20PM: A FORMER coal miner has spoken about the difficulties of finding employment after being retrenched.

He said he got a $6000 redundancy package and has been unable to get help from Centrelink given his amount of assets and superannuation from work in the mining industry.

Mr Shorten said he was "interested in your story" and would follow up after the meeting.

He said many older workers faced discrimination when looking for work.

"There is discrimination, people think you're over the hill," Mr Shorten said.

"This country can't afford to waste the ability of older people."

But Mr Shorten said this did not mean he supported the LNP's push to not introduce the pension until workers are older.

"The system is organised against older people," he said.

"The system doesn't realise we're growing older and people still want to work in some capacity."

Mr Shorten told the questioner: "you give other people encouragement to have a go, even if it hasn't been so good for you so far."

Opposition leader Bill Shorten at the community forum in Rockhampton
Opposition leader Bill Shorten at the community forum in Rockhampton Michelle Gately

7.05pm: Mr Shorten has rejected an accusation the nation spends too much money on defence after a questioner suggested that money could instead be spent on other government services.

He also said he had never denigrated people for wanting to come to the country and made a distinction between policy aimed at stopping people smuggling and immigration.

"I get frustrated by people who say 'we're full'," Mr Shorten said. 

"I don't agree that people being smuggled here on boats … that we can turn a blind eye to the policies that cause that.

"That's not a stance against immigration.

"It's a matter of getting the balance right."

Mr Shorten also responded to the questioner's comment about the closing of the Capricorn Resort and loss of jobs.

He said it spoke to a larger problem with the casualisation of Australia's workforce as a whole.

"I will have a careful look about what you're talking about with the resort and the jobs there,"  Mr Shorten said.

The Labor leader also addressed a question on NBN connections.

He said where it's already rolled out in fibre to the node Labor couldn't "just rip it out" and start again, but would look at how to address connections in those area.

Mr Shorten said taking the cheaper option wasn't always the best value when referring to the NBN rollout.

Follow live coverage of the community forum here tonight.

Feel free to Tweet about the forum #shortenforum to join the discussion.


7pm: Mr Shorten has addressed questions on refugees and guest workers holding 457 Visas.

He even suggested Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and he could even visit Nauru to see the conditions for themselves.

In response to a question about the conditions of the island, where many people who attempt to enter Australia illegally are held in detention.

The questioner said she felt "the sheer injustice … just has to stop".

Mr Shorten said the issues on Nauru were very important, but Labor would not allow people smugglers to get back in business.

"We're not going to be part of that," he said.

In response to a question regarding 457 Visas, Mr Shorten said it was "frustrating" to see skilled Australians out of work and guest workers being exploited by big business.

"What I don't accept is where there are local people who are unemployed we should be prioritising 457 visas,"  he said.

6.50pm: Labor leader Bill Shorten has said he wants to represent the "voices of regional Australia" in opening the town hall meeting at the Frenchville Sports Club.

The first question related to the representation of people in regional areas.

The questioner has said politicians talking about helping North Queensland was "all just huff and puff".

He said senators needed to live outside the metropolitan areas.

"We don't need them sitting down there like they do, house cats I call them," the questioner said.

"That's about all I want to see.

"If you want to develop the north, this is where everything is."

Mr Shorten said the best way to ensure Labor was representing regional Queensland was to elect Labor politicians.

But he said he understood the point the questioner was making. 

"Communities want to have politics and politicians representing their issues to the nation," Mr Shorten said.



6.30pm: NEWLY-elected senator Murray Watt has welcomed Labor leader Bill Shorten to the meeting.

He said he was "very keen to spend a lot of time in and around Rocky" during his term.

Mr Watt acknowledged the effort of Capricornia Labor candidate Leisa Neaton, who was beaten by a slim margin by the LNP's Michelle Landry in the Federal Election.

Mr Watt said he planned to be a strong advocate for Central Queensland, despite being based in South-East Queensland.

Mr Shorten and Mr Watt met with Livingstone Shire mayor Bill Ludwig and Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow today to discuss the biggest issues for Central Queensland.

"I very much intend to be a strong advocate for people around Queensland," Mr Watt said.

"I take very seriously the job of a senator being an advocate for the whole of the state.

"I very much understand Queensland is not the same all across the state … what matters in Brisbane is not the same as what matters in Rocky."


4.30pm: JOBS are high on Rockhampton residents' agenda ahead of a public forum with Opposition leader Bill Shorten tonight.

Mr Shorten is holding a community forum at 5.30pm to hear what voters have to say and take questions.

A poll online today shows readers are keen to hear about the ALP's plans for jobs (33% of votes as of 4pm today) and the party's view on the proposal to since the decommissioned Navy ship HMAS Tobruk (20%).

Readers also are highly interested in what the ALP's plans are for the Bruce Highway, health services and the economy (each received 13% of votes).


Topics:  457 visas alp bill shorten jobs nbn politics

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