Bill's Speeches

3AW - Australia Day awards; Australian Knighthood for Prince Philip







SUBJECT/S: Australia Day awards; Australian Knighthood for Prince Philip; Australians travelling to Iraq and Syria.


NEIL MITCHELL: On the line Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, good morning.




MITCHELL:  What do you think about the Knighthood – the Australian Knighthood - for Prince Philip?


SHORTEN: Well I agree with what you just said before. Angus Houston- outstanding, and Prince Philip’s been very distinguished ever since he married the young Queen, I mean he’s had six decades of public service. My reservations are not about him, but I just think that he already has a lot of Knighthoods and awards, I just wonder if they couldn’t have picked someone who is Australian in character and activity. You know, I just, I don’t get the priorities that the Government have by nominating him. Today we should be focusing on Rosie Batty. She’s a remarkable Australian. I don’t want this Prince Philip and Tony Abbott’s Knights and Dames overshadowing what I think is our national day.


MITCHELL: No  I was speaking to Rosie Batty earlier and I certainly agree with you on that, but is it a symbolism here that you’re concerned by?


SHORTEN: Yeah I - we should be taking about the future. Look Prince Philip is distinguished. The Queen, remarkable person, the Head of our State. But it’s a time warp where we’re giving Knighthoods to English royalty. I think that on Australia Day, where we’re talking about Australia, Australian identity, the Government’s managed to find a British royal to give a medal to, a Knighthood to. I’ve just been at citizenship functions, local breakfasts- some people there wondered whether it was an Australia Day hoax.




SHORTEN: I just think that people think it’s an unusual priority, it’s outside the mainstream of Australian thinking, I think, to have done this.


MITCHELL: Do you have a policy on the Knighthoods? If elected, will the Knighthoods go?


SHORTEN: Well, Federal Labor since 1918 has had a view about imperial honours. We don’t believe- if we were to be elected I don’t think that we would continue the tradition of Knights and Dames. But that takes nothing away from Angus Houston or indeed Prince Philip, they wouldn’t lose theirs. But I think when we look at Australia in the 21st Century, it’s about who we’re going to be as a people and I just think giving our top award to a British royal is anachronistic. To be honest it’s a bit of a time warp, I wasn’t quite sure it was serious until I realised it was.


MITCHELL: Oh you were that surprised by it yourself?


SHORTEN: Yeah, I really was actually. I guess you shouldn’t be- the Government created Knights and Dames so I shouldn’t be surprised at who they give them to. But Sir Angus Houston, excellent choice. And Prince Philip is distinguished, it’s not about him but he’s a British royal. Why would we give him our top Australian honour? He’s already got a lot of them.


MITCHELL: Well of course last year it was the Governor-General and Dame Quentin Bryce wasn’t it, too?


SHORTEN: Indeed.


MITCHELL: Can I just ask you about something else- are you involved in this case in the Northern Territory? Matthew Gardiner, a Northern Territory Labor official who has gone off to Syria to fight ISIS?


SHORTEN: No, I heard about it last night. Whatever the guy’s motivations, he’s not going to solve anything by going there, and my thoughts are with his family actually. I think it’s come out- and his work colleagues- I think it’s come out as a bolt out of the blue. He’s served in the military previously, he’s been a union organiser, he obviously feels very strongly about fighting ISIL but I don’t think that’s the right way to go about it, just to up sticks.


MITCHELL: Do you know him personally?


SHORTEN: Oh I will have met him, yes.


MITCHELL: Does it sort of, does this mean he can’t- he needs to be expelled from the Labor Party? I know he’s been suspended, but does he need to-


SHORTEN: Well I think he’s made a mistake. First things first, let’s find out that he’s safe and get him home.




SHORTEN: And his family will be I think going through quite a bit of shock and confusion so, I don’t know what’s triggered this even but he needs to come home.


MITCHELL: Thank you for your time.


SHORTEN: Good morning and happy Australia Day Neil.


MITCHELL: Thank you.