Bill's Media Releases

Doorstop: Albany - Anzac centenary commemorations; Ebola;






SUBJECT/S: Anzac centenary commemorations; Ebola; national security, Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission into trade unions.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great to be here in Albany commemorating that 100 years ago to the day the cream of Australia’s young men sailed off to the first World War. They came back, in many cases, changed people and in some tragic cases not at all.  But this is where it all began, the last site from the stern of vessels where Australia’s finest young men went off to war, it’s a very moving ceremony today.


JOURNALIST: Yesterday the PM responded to a letter and agreed to have the anti-terror laws that threatened journalists with 10 years jail reviewed by an independent monitor. Is that a backflip?


SHORTEN: Well Labor’s said all along that we need to make sure that the laws that we put in place to defend our national security are regularly reviewed to make sure that they’re having the intended consequences and not unintended consequences. Labor put provisions in that this section can be reviewed going forward. I made the decision this week to ask the Prime Minister, in the name of press freedom, to bring forward the review by the independent security monitor. I am pleased that Tony Abbott has backed in Labor’s call to bring forward the review to make sure that there’s no unintended consequences of security laws which would damage our press freedom. Now the Abbott Government has to appoint a security monitor to fulfil this review. Labor’s been calling for this position to be filled. Step one we’ve said to Tony Abbott, lets draw breath and review the laws which we’ve just passed in light of increasing community concern and step two now Tony Abbott, we need to have an independent security monitor to conduct the review.


JOURNALIST: He’s clearly has a dig at the timing of your letter, is that fair and why did you respond so late?


SHORTEN: Labor, before the bills were put into parliament, did express some concern about needing to make sure that journalists were able to carry out their job whilst protecting our national security. Labor put in place amendments which the government accepted. It’s become clear, however, that there’s more and more concern and debate about this section which goes towards press freedom and dealing with national security. So Labor took the step that we’d rather honestly admit that if there is a problem and deal with it through an independent review and bring it on quickly. The Prime Minister may be unhappy that its Labor who’s suggested to him that he do this but I’m all about outcomes. I’m all about making sure that on the one hand we have strong laws to protect Australians, but on the other hand in protecting Australians we don’t actually give away what’s important about Australia and press freedom is one of the things that’s important to Australia.


JOURNALIST: Is the Labor Party really offering bipartisan support to these tough new anti-terror laws?


SHORTEN: Our voting record speaks for itself. Labor and Liberal are in it together when it comes to fighting terror but as a conscientious opposition I have a role to make sure that we don’t damage fundamental liberties in this country whilst we are toughening our laws in terms of national security, we’ll get the balance right. I hope the Prime Minister’s not to unhappy that he’s had to go with Labor’s suggestion on this but I think that it is a sensible step to deal with concerns which have been expressed about press freedom in this country.


JOURNALIST: On terror, there’s some talk today that there might some attacks on Australian teachers working overseas, does that concern you?


SHORTEN: It’s very concerning news. One of the reasons why Labor’s taken such a strong position and working with the Government in tackling Islamic State and other terrorist groups is that we know that failure to act will increase the insecurity and threat to Australians both in Australia and overseas. We would strongly encourage people to be vigilant, I have a great deal of confidence, however, in our security agencies, their ability to carry out their task. But the very fact the threats are being made against Australians overseas to me highlights the need to deal with the problem now rather than wait, do nothing and have a bigger problem of terrorism further down the track.


JOURNALIST: And also in light of everything yesterday, do you think Julia Gillard’s name is now cleared?  Should this issue be put to bed?


SHORTEN: I’ve made it clear since Tony Abbott announced his Royal Commission into trade unions that I wouldn’t be providing a running commentary on matters as they come along. The Royal Commission’s still underway and I certainly do not intend to add to any of the debate or commentary around Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission into trade unions.


JOURNALIST: Do think Julia Gillard’s now been vindicated?


SHORTEN: I just don’t want to add to the commentary around this Royal Commission whatsoever. That has been Labor and my position from the outset and it continues to be our position.




SHORTEN: Revelations in the last 24 hours that the United States Government has been seeking Australia’s assistance to deal with the dreadful killer disease Ebola in West Africa and that the Abbott Government has done nothing so far is deeply concerning. Every Australia understands that we are far better of dealing with a dreadful disease which is killing thousands of people far closer to the source than waiting until it comes to Australian shores. The American Government’s requested our assistance, in other matters we work with Americans and other international counties in a coalition. It is now time that we joined the ranks of the rest of the world to tackle the scourge of Ebola where it’s happening and we don’t leave it to late and regret later on that we hadn’t done more earlier. Thanks.