Bill's Transcripts

3AW with Neil Mitchell

Subjects: AFP; interest rates; workplace relations

 NEIL MITCHELL: Federal police – “the plastics” they’re know as amongst the real police forces, the state forces, and this is why suspected people smuggler Captain Emad – he was a refugee tracked down by Four Corners working as a trolley jockey in Canberra - notorious we’re told as a people smuggler, but not convicted, a suspected people smuggler, left the country on Tuesday. Four Corners went to air Monday, he was out Tuesday night and the federal police effectively let him go. Listen to this; this is the man in charge of the federal police, Commissioner Tony Negus :

 Commissioner Tony Negus: I accept however there’s a significant public interest in relation to the recent media reporting about the investigation involving the man known as Captain Emad. I can confirm today that the activities of those featured in Monday’s Four Corners’ report were known to the AFP prior to the program. I can also update you that importantly the person referred to in the Four Corners program as Captain Emad left Australia on Tuesday night. When leaving Australia, the man triggered a long-standing alert at Melbourne airport and at that time there was an operational decision made by investigators that he could not be detained as the officers had no lawful basis to prevent him from departing Australia.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Makes you wonder why was an alert at the airport if they couldn’t detain him? In the studio with me, the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten. Good morning.

 BILL SHORTEN: Good morning Neil.

 NEIL MITCHELL: And on the line, the Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey. Good morning.

 JOE HOCKEY: Good morning Neil and Bill.

 BILL SHORTEN: Joe.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Joe Hockey, your leader has blamed the Government. Is that fair?

 JOE HOCKEY: Well, the Government firstly needs to identify what powers it didn’t have that could have dealt with this situation and then introduce them into the parliament and we’re happy to offer appropriate support. If they did have powers, why didn’t they use them? And frankly, for example we’ve said that people like Captain Emad should be on Temporary Protection Visas which may have given us a very different outcome in this situation.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Alright, Bill Shorten, the Minister Chris Bowen who’s a little difficult to find these day, but Chris Bowen did order a review into Captain Emad’s visa, yet he’s left the country. What’s the point of a review if you can leave the country while it’s underway?

 BILL SHORTEN: As I understand, the predicament here was there was a lack of evidence both either to convict him or to hold him. So if there isn’t the evidence, you can’t just make things up. So this is the issue. There was insufficient evidence. I would also just say more generally about your earlier comments about the federal police. I don’t share a disparaging view of the federal police. I certainly don’t agree with the Queensland conservative Member of Parliament Andrew Laming who’s tweeted this morning that he thinks that the federal police are hopeless. They’ve stopped people coming into the country. There’s 100 police officers working in strike teams across Australia; there’s been 14 arrests. If you don’t have the evidence in a particular case, you don’t have the evidence. You might wish it was otherwise...

NEIL MITCHELL: But is it not possible even to question and that?

 BILL SHORTEN: I believe that the federal police had been following this fellow, but if you don’t have the evidence, you don’t have the evidence. The rule of law still counts. I think there was a famous case just before the Labor got into government in 2007, a Doctor Haneef, where the government of the day acted and the evidence wasn’t there as it turned out.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Well that was actually the federal police wasn’t it that acted, not the government and wasn’t that a stuff-up?

 BILL SHORTEN: Well there’s no question that if you act without the evidence you take chances...

 NEIL MITCHELL: Well who was responsible for that? The same federal police you’re defending...

 BILL SHORTEN: Well, it’s funny isn’t it? When Mr Hockey was happy to blame the Government for what the federal police do I’d just remind people what happens when ...you know, we’ve always got to have a memory about things. And when you act without...

 NEIL MITCHELL: Yes, but you have a selective memory. Haneef was a police error. Federal police error. The same police you’re defending. They’re a laughing stock.

 BILL SHORTEN: But when you act without evidence you get yourself into trouble.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Joe Hockey, you’re saying there should be a law that’d stopped him going?

 JOE HOCKEY: Well, yeah if they haven’t got the power already they should have been able to at least detain him and interview him. You would think that’s the case. I mean, when I was Minister for Child Support Agency, we’d stop people from leaving the country when they had debts. So I mean I’d just made that point. The second point is this Government’s cut quarter of a billion dollars out of the federal police. There’s still plenty of money everywhere else. But they’ve cut quarter of a billion dollars out of the federal police since they’ve been elected. So I don’t know how that would help the federal police with their resources either.

 BILL SHORTEN: The specific issue is evidence. I’m informed there wasn’t sufficient evidence. You can have all the laws in the world but if you don’t have the evidence, you don’t have the evidence. And, I will stand up for the federal police.

 JOE HOCKEY: Sure, we both will, but why wasn’t there an interview? Did they interview him?

 BILL SHORTEN: Listen mate, I’m not going to try and take the role of Inspector Clouseau. And if you want to be a policeman Joe, I think, you know, I’d support you. In the meantime, I’m not going to bag the federal police. You say you don’t Joe, Andrew Laming this morning... Andrew Laming has bagged, paid out on the federal police. Doe he reflect Liberal Party view of the federal police or do you?

 JOE HOCKEY: Firstly, I haven’t. And I do.

 BILL SHORTEN: Oh okay

 JOE HOCKEY: I haven’t see that and I don’t...

 BILL SHORTEN: So you’ve just cut Andrew Lamming adrift?

 JOE HOCKEY: Well, I haven’t seen his tweet, but look, we back...

 BILL SHORTEN: And when you do...

 JOE HOCKEY: Hang on, hang on...we’ve backed the police, we’ve said that.  Tony Abbott said it this morning on TV. I’ve said it now. We do. Of course. But, I’d just add, why have you cut a quarter of a billion dollars out of it?

 BILL SHORTEN: What about Andrew Laming mate – is he on your team? Or another team?

 NEIL MITCHELL: The Minister Chris Bowen ordered a review of his visa, will that continue Bill Shorten? Despite him leaving the country?

 BILL SHORTEN: Oh, I don’t know.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Okay.

 BILL SHORTEN: I’ll find out for you though.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Thank you. Three hundred and thirty-one asylum seekers arrived by boat this month. In 2002, one person arrived. We’re heading for record figures of boat people asylum seekers this week. What can be done now Bill Shorten?

 BILL SHORTEN: We could get the Liberals to vote for the Malaysia solution.

 JOE HOCKEY: (sighs)

 BILL SHORTEN: Oh well, the truth hurts.

 JOE HOCKEY: There is no Malaysia solution.

 BILL SHORTEN: Well that’s cause you won’t vote for it.

 JOE HOCKEY: You haven’t put it in the Parliament.

 BILL SHORTEN: Will you vote for it?

 JOE HOCKEY: You haven’t put it in the Parliament!

 BILL SHORTEN: Joe...we’re a bit beyond kids’ games. Will you vote for it or won’t you?

 JOE HOCKEY: No, we won’t vote for it and I’ll tell you why.

 BILL SHORTEN: Okay, so why would we put it in?

 JOE HOCKEY: No, we won’t vote for it and I’ll tell you why.

 BILL SHORTEN: Snap.

 JOE HOCKEY: Sorry, let me finish. You said there will be legislation to allow for offshore processing. That’s what you said would be in the legislation. We support...we started offshore processing. We support offshore processing. We’ve said Nauru is the best place to start. We also support Temporary Protection Visas which the Labor Party wound back, they repealed. That worked as well. We also said, where appropriate, we’ll turn back the boats. And that worked as well.

 You see, we actually did stop the boats Bill. You guys changed the laws, the boats started coming. We’ve had 50 boats already this year. You’ve just had almost a cartoon character in Captain Emad sit down on a couch with a beer in his hand and watch the Four Corners program and say, ‘well, we’d better get out of the country now’.  And then just walk out the door. I mean what sort of shop are you running at the moment?”

 BILL SHORTEN: Oh well Joe, as much as one hates to let a fact get in the way of a good bit of rhetoric, there was not enough evidence to hold Captain Emad.  You say that you back the federal police, did you want to take over...

 JOE HOCKEY: Fifty boats this year Bill.

 BILL SHORTEN: Okay Joe, you give a long speech, let’s just pin you down on the facts ...giving you guys some facts is like wrestling smoke. On Captain Emad you acknowledge, that you’d support the police, but you won’t acknowledge what they’ve said is that they didn’t have enough evidence.

 On the broader question of turning back boat, the military don’t want to start turning back boats in the way which Tony Abbott suggested but what we do know is that if we had a Malaysia solution, we could have offshore processing and you guys won’t vote for it.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Alright, we need to take a break. 96900693/ 131332 if you’re like to join the debate. Bill Shorten, Joe Hockey, but I’ve just got a copy of that tweet. Andrew Laming is who, Bill Shorten?

 BILL SHORTEN: Is the Member for Bowman I think, he’s a federal Liberal member of parliament.

 NEIL MITCHELL:  And what his tweet actually says is ‘does the AFP look like a joke as an alleged people trafficker wanders to airport and vacates the scene. Question mark”. He’s not calling them a joke, he’s asking the question.  Does the AFP look like a dunce?

 BILL SHORTEN: That nuance. That nuance. He’s undermining them. That’s life.

 JOE HOCKEY: Well hang on. You’re saying Neil Mitchell is undermining them because that’s what Neil just said...

 BILL SHORTEN: I said, I said...

 JOE HOCKEY: He just asked the question, Neil just asked the question.

 BILL SHORTEN: Well, no, Neil didn’t even ask the question. He called them the “plastics”. I said that he shouldn’t disparage them.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Yeah, I did call them the plastics...and I stand by it...so does every decent policeman in the country.

 BILL SHORTEN: And I don’t believe you should disparage the AFP.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Well why not if they’re not doing their job.?

 BILL SHORTEN: Because they do their job pretty well.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Haneef?

 BILL SHORTEN: Well I don’t agree with Haneef, that’s true.

 NEIL MITCHELL: A break. More in a moment.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Federal police have not surprisingly have officially declined an interview on the program.

 Photographs today of the two Olympians Bill shorten. Monk and Darcy, posing with guns. Your view?

 BILL SHORTEN: Oh, they’re young blokes, they’ve gone into a gun shop, they’ve taken some photos. I’m not too fussed. To me it shows that you should be careful of what you put up on Facebook though. It’s available for everyone. I think for me, the lesson there is Facebook. I don’t think it’s a hanging offence.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Stupid?

 BILL SHORTEN: Oh well, I’m sure they’ll look back at it in time and say ‘why are we holding these guns?’

 NEIL MITCHELL: Joe Hockey?

 JOE HOCKEY: Yeah I agree with Bill.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Okay. Dennis. Hello Dennis.

 (CALLER) DENNIS: Hello, I’ve just got a question for Mr Shorten. I’ve heard him evade this question twice now. Had this person had a Temporary Protection Visa, would he have been able to have been arrested and then detained? This Captain whatever his name is?

 BILL SHORTEN: I don’t believe so. I understand that the problem why he hasn’t be arrested was there was a lack of evidence.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Okay. Thank you very much.  Can I raise...go on to something else and Joe Hockey I’d ask your response to this. It’s reported in The Age today, casual workers at a warehouse in Melbourne are being required to wear armbands, sort of barcodes, that identify them as being casual workers. Is that fair?

 JOE HOCKEY: Ah well. Instinctively you say ‘Gee I don’t know about armbands, we’ve got something better’, But  we often see at workplaces, probably at 3AW as much as Parliament House different people have different badges around their necks and identification to say whether they’re permanent staff or temporary staff or temporary visitors.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Bill Shorten?

 BILL SHORTEN: I don’t think it’s illegal, but I don’t think it’s smart. This is a warehouse in the western suburbs. It’s not some sort of A-list Formula One event  where people like to collect their lanyards and hang them around their neck. No, I don’t think it’s smart practice at all.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Okay. I’d ask you both, on the economy. Is the Government a bit toothless on interest rates, Bill Shorten? No movement from any of the banks yet after a cut on Tuesday?

 BILL SHORTEN: Well I think that the Government in terms of interest rates is doing well in the last 12 months. People are doing it tough out there. The Reserve Bank has decreased the official cash rate and we’ve seen banks move rates down. I’d like to see banks when they come out and make their decisions further decrease interest rates.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Could you put pressure on them in government, Joe Hockey?

 JOE HOCKEY: Well, in the past, we would sit down with the banks, identify what their funding challenges are and we’d be very blunt with them about what we thought they had the capacity to do. I would obviously not suggest that the government regulates what the banks pass on, but I think you’ve got to have some more pressure. It’s interesting that this time; the banks seem to be taking an awful long time to inform their customers about what they’re going to do. And you know frankly, I think it was Wayne Swan who said they have to pass on the full 25 basis point or quarter of a percent cut, they have to pass it on in full. As he was saying it, the Bank of Queensland was ignoring him and only went 20. So you know frankly, I don’t think they are taking the Treasurer too seriously.

 BILL SHORTEN: On hang on a second. We haven’t seen a decision out of the banks and I hope there’s someone from the corporate relations of the banks listening right now. I think they’re kidding themselves if they don’t pass on all or nearly all of this rate reduction. What we need in the Australian economy is confidence. The way which we get confidence is through a range of decisions – it’s through the Government getting to surplus; it’s through spreading the benefits of the mining boom. It’s also through the banks actually realising that it’s their customers and it’s the businesses who borrow money from them, that actually need to be doing well, so they should back this decision in.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Okay, we’ll take another call. Yes, Nigel?

 (CALLER) NIGEL: G’day Neil. I’d actually like to ask Joe Hockey a question please.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Go ahead.

 (CALLER) NIGEL: Joe, I’d just like to know if the Coalition wins government at the next election which they probably will, the eighteen-and-half-thousand dollars threshold which has been raised by the current government as part of the carbon tax package, will the Coalition keep that part of the tax reform?

 NEIL MITCHELL: Okay, so will the tax-free threshold stay at $18,500?

 JOE HOCKEY: Well, you will see our tax policy before the next election and at the moment, the challenge we have is that there’s still another scheduled budget before the next election. You know, Bill just said that they were going to have a surplus, well this year, this current year as we speak, the Government is still borrowing $120 million a day and the deficit has blown out to $44 billion from 22. So I can’t give you a definitive answer yet until we actually see what the budget numbers really look like. But frankly, the honest answer is the tax-free threshold is going from about $16,000 to just over $18,000, not from what you know they claim to be a lower level because they’ve traded off the low-income tax offset.

 BILL SHORTEN: That sounded like a ‘don’t know’ to a ‘no’.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Just getting to that area, the Grattan Institute, a sort of think-tank, has released this paper today. The idea of extending the GST to food; lowering the income taxes, increasing the retirement age; getting more mothers into the workforce. Could either of you ever see the situation where the GST would be extended to food? Bill Shorten?

 BILL SHORTEN: No.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Joe Hockey?

 JOE HOCKEY: No, I can’t see it and the reason why is because cost of living is the biggest issue for people at the moment ...and you know, its poison.

 NEIL MITCHELL: One other thing I want to touch on, there’s a report in The Australian today that the working days lost because of industrial action have doubled in 12 months, Bill Shorten. This must say your laws aren’t working doesn’t it? I think 117,000 last year...257,000 this year?

 BILL SHORTEN: Absolutely not. Can’t agree with that. If you look at the...

 NEIL MITCHELL: Why have they doubled?

BILL SHORTEN: Well let’s go through the proper numbers.

 JOE HOCKEY: Because the laws are working

 BILL SHORTEN: Yeah they are, the laws are working...

 JOE HOCKEY: That’s why they’ve doubled

 BILL SHORTEN: No, no Joe lets actually treat the listeners without the easy one-liners. The fact is for the life of the Howard Government, industrial action was three times what it’s been since Labor has been elected. Fact one. And if you look at the other reason contributing to why we have more industrial action is because we’ve got Liberal premiers who can’t negotiate with the public servants...

 JOE HOCKEY: Oh, come on Bill!  It’s all our fault. It’s all our fault.

 BILL SHORTEN: Mate, I didn’t invent the nurses’ dispute in Victoria... I didn’t invent the teachers’....did you know Joe, that more teachers than ever in the history of Victoria took action where they didn’t get paid obviously? Now you can just blame the teachers, you can blame the nurses, you can blame the police...you can always blame a public servant Joe, that’s in the Liberal DNA.  All I’m saying is it’s not a good strategy if you’re just annoying so many people. The only spike in IR is because Liberals can’t be trusted and the Government, to manage industrial relations. They just know how to go after people.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Is it time, Joe Hockey, for a full-on debate on industrial relations now?

 JOE HOCKEY: Well, we’re having one right now. I mean, why don’t you compare apples with apples Bill? You’re saying in the last year of the Howard Government - which is the benchmark that you used when you compare interest rates - the last year of the Howard Government, you’re saying there were three times the number of disputes than there are today?

 BILL SHORTEN: Joe, what I’m saying is...

 JOE HOCKEY: Ahhhh, <inaudible>

 BILL SHORTEN: Joe, don’t verbal me, and again I’ll repeat it because I’m sure you heard it, but sometimes you – not you particularly – but some of your team like to twist what’s said. What I said, is that if you look at the life of the Howard Government...

 JOE HOCKEY: The life of the Howard Government...which went for how many years?

 BILL SHORTEN: Come on mate, we’ve got a longer concentration span here than gold goldfish.  The life of the Howard Government...

 NEIL MITCHELL: We don’t have one-liners either do we?

 BILL SHORTEN: Not too many. The odd one does...you know....you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have one or two of them. But, in the life of the Howard Government, that was the 10-11 years you were in...

 JOE HOCKEY: Yeah?

 BILL SHORTEN: Average lost days, three times what they’ve been for the five years we’ve been in. Okay? That’s the fact.

 JOE HOCKEY: Yes, so...listen, well this is interesting...

 BILL SHORTEN: ...and you didn’t address, you didn’t address, you didn’t address the second point...Barry O’Farrell, Premier of New South Wales, Ted Baillieu, Premier of Victoria, they’re from your party, you can’t disown them.

 JOE HOCKEY: (Laughs). It’s all our fault! I mean, of course it’s always our fault!

 BILL SHORTEN: I don’t know if you were at Hisense Arena yesterday in Melbourne, but I tell you, you wouldn’t have been too popular. Ted Baillieu said he was going to make teachers in Victoria the best-paid in Australia. What happens is people obviously didn’t get to see the fine print on the product disclosure statement. In fact what he’s now saying is that ten per cent of teachers in Victoria will get to be the best paid.  The other 90 per cent – bad luck. 

 JOE HOCKEY: Bill, you know, you guys, if we can come back, I just want to make this point, because I am in fierce debate with Wayne Swan about interest rates and comparisons under governments. Here you have one of his senior financial ministers using the life of the Howard Government versus the life of the Labor Government in relation to IR, but they just use the last year on interest rates. I just want to make that point.

 BILL SHORTEN: Well let’s go look at interest rates Joe?

 JOE HOCKEY: Wait a sec, wait a sec, hang in there mate...walk with me through this passage. Then the next point is that this is the government that abolished the Australian Building and Construction Commission. Now in Melbourne, you go to any building site in Melbourne and they will tell you that the CFMEU has come back, after the abolition of the ABCC, and the CFMEU is back and it’s as militant as ever and it’s making it harder and not easier to build anything in Victoria.

 NEIL MITCHELL: So, hang on, Joe Hockey what frustrates me is....

 BILL SHORTEN: Never seen a union you won’t bash Joe. Have you ever backed a strike in your life?

 NEIL MITCHELL: We don’t seem to get to the point of what....

 BILL SHORTEN: Have you ever back a strike?

 NEIL MITCHELL:... of what the opposition will actually do about it. When do we get your industrial relations policy?

 JOE HOCKEY: Well again, I mean it’s coming up before the next election. But hang on Neil, we’ve already said, we’ve already released parts of it because we said we would actually reinstate, we’d vote it again, we’d reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the independent industrial umpire for the building industry. We said we’d reinstate it, we’d give it all its powers and we’d give it additional resources, so....that’s part of it...

 NEIL MITCHELL: So how do we get a debate going? Bill Shorten is the workplace relations minister, who is the shadow minister?

 JOE HOCKEY: Eric Abetz.

 BILL SHORTEN: Could you bring him out of hiding?

 JOE HOCKEY: Well, I’m actually in Hobart with him today.

 BILL SHORTEN: But why can’t he be in the same city as... I’ll tell you what Joe, I’ll go to any city in Australia - you can even handpick the audience - and I’ll debate you and Eric, one to two, you can tag-in, tag-out like world championship verbal wrestling. We just want you to tell us what you’re actually going to do.

 JOE HOCKEY: You know Bill, when I was Minister for Workplace Relations, I could hardly get Julia Gillard to come out and debate me. In fact, I had to debate you. You were a union leader. And do you remember at Sydney University in front of about 300 drunk students?

 BILL SHORTEN: You only think they were drunk because they clapped me!

 JOE HOCKEY: (laughs)

 NEIL MITCHELL: Alright, that’ll do. You’ve got to go Joe Hockey. Go off and enjoy Hobart.

 BILL SHORTEN: Joe, can we at least have an argument? Let’s have a townhall debate...why don’t we get Neil Mitchell to compere it...

 JOE HOCKEY: I think we should have good debates, not arguments.

 NEIL MITCHELL: Alright, let’s get a debate organised

 BILL SHORTEN: Oh God...

 NEIL MITCHELL: Can we do that?

 JOE HOCKEY: I’m always up for a debate

 BILL SHORTEN: Excellent, it’s a date

 NEIL MITCHELL: Joe Hockey’s got to go, thank you very much and Bill Shorten, thank you very much.