Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Carindale

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

THURSDAY, 6 FEBURARY 2014
CARINDALE

SUBJECT/S: Griffith by-election; Trade Unions; Industrial relations; SPC, Ford, Schapelle Corby

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION:
It's great to be at Carindale Shopping Centre with Labor's quality candidate for the Griffith by-election Terri Butler. This is my sixth day of campaigning over the by-election and it’s clear to me that on Saturday voters have got a stark choice. Do they vote for Terri Butler who will stand up for the local community, who will not simply be a yes person to Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman, or will they vote for a candidate who will end up having to support tough cuts in the health system and not stand up for their local community? It’s also really important in this by-election, as families feel cost-of-living pressures, that they do actually participate and turn out. Australia’s a great country and regardless of one's politics, we should never take our right to vote for granted. So I strongly encourage every elector in the Griffith by-election to make your voice count, even regardless of you vote for, but I would like you to vote for Terri Butler because she’s a strong local candidate whose in touch with the needs of ordinary Australians. She’ll stand up against health cuts. She won't simply be a rubber stamp for Tony Abbott or Campbell Newman. Perhaps we will get Terri to say a few words and we're happy to take questions.

TERRI BUTLER, LABOR CANDIATE FOR GRIFFITH: Thanks everyone. It's been so fantastic meeting and speaking with so many Griffith locals over the course of this by-election campaign. I've had literally thousands of conversations with people in the Griffith area since the by-election was called and I can tell you they are concerned about the health care cuts of the Newman Government and they're very concerned about what other cuts we might have to expect from the Commission of Audit that’s now conveniently not going to be revealing its cuts until after this by-election. People would like some clarity,  people would also like someone who will genuinely stand up for them as a representative, not someone who will defend Campbell Newman's health care cuts, not someone who will repeat Tony Abbott's lines, but someone will genuinely speak out about the issues that matter. I’ll never be a rubber stamp for Tony Abbott or for Campbell Newman, I’ll also always be a strong voice. I've got a positive plan for our future and I ask people for your support on Saturday. Thanks very much.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

BUTLER: Look, people - we know that this is a by-election. By-elections traditionally do have less of a turnout than general people elections, but I've got to say people are pretty engaged. There’s a lot of mood out there for people vote to send a real voice to Canberra. They don't want to see yet another Liberal National Party politician, so I think that people are really engaged and have been quite interested that opportunity to send that message to Canberra.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

SHORTEN: What's important in modern workplace relations is the search for cooperation, the creation of high value, well remunerated, profitable workplaces. I have got no doubt that Tony Abbott's view of workplace relations is blame the worker. We have seen the disgraceful performance over recent days when you've got Coalition MPs bullying food preserving workers at SPC, blaming them for the Government not providing vital one-off assistance which would mean that Australia, which should be the food bowl to Asia, keeps value-adding jobs in Australia. I have spent my adult life trying to create win-win outcomes for employers and employees. Australia works best when we work together. So why on earth Tony Abbott, you know, he’s given up on car production workers, he’s given up on food processing workers. You know, there’s not a group of workers whose jobs Tony Abbott will fight for, and when we talk about modern industrial relations, Australia’s got two roads. We can go the low road; cut conditions, cut penalty rates, cut job security, or we can go the high road and we actually value-add, we have high-skilled jobs where we make things that the rest of the world wants to buy.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, your response to Ford expected to announce job losses?

SHORTEN: Listen I, like many Australians, have heard the dreadful news leaking out there may be further and more sudden job cuts at Ford. I just say to Tony Abbott: When will you start fighting for people’s jobs rather than the jobs of LNP politicians? Manufacturing is a proposition which we can do in Australia. It seems to me that the Abbott Government has thrown up its arms and given up on fighting for Aussie jobs. I know that we can't keep every job here, you know, I live in the real world, but what I don't accept is the Government of Australia saying we’re not even going to try fighting for Australian jobs and Australian manufacturing. Australians are the smartest people, we can compete with the rest of the world, we just need to have governments who are fighting for Aussie jobs, not just giving up and walking away.

JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the views of Mr Howes though in regards to the compact and regards to wage levels in Australia?

SHORTEN: I've been a consensus representative of working people and employers for my whole adult life. I understand that we should be working together. I think not in a month of Sundays is Tony Abbott capable of sitting down with unions and employers and working out a win-win outcome. Tony Abbott has never negotiated a wage rise or a productivity agreement for any business in Australia, and so I don't think a leopard changes his spots. In terms of how Australians are paid, most Australians earn ordinary wages and they earn every cent they get. Cost of living is a real issue. The idea as families in Griffith are trying to make ends meet, that somehow they're getting paid too much to me is swallowing the Liberal line, and I think that Australians need to be supported and respected for paying their taxes, for going for to work, earning their incomes, for working co-operatively. That's the future. It's cooperation and the high road, not penalty rate-cutting, Australian jobs selling out policies of the Abbott Government.

JOURNALIST: You say that most Australians do get paid the [inaudible] wage, are you then saying that Paul Howes is right that some sectors have had unsustainable wage growth?

SHORTEN: No, what I believe is -

JOURNALIST: So just to clarify, sorry, no sector at all has had unsustainable wage growth over the last five years including the mining sector which has had a 25 per cent jump, the public sector as a whole 17 per cent jump, is that in your view [inaudible]?

SHORTEN: I do not subscribe to the theory that most Australians are overpaid. Let me just assure families -

JOURNALIST: No I'm not asking you about most Australians, Mr Shorten, I'm asking about these particular sectors.

SHORTEN: So you're asking about a couple of thousand offshore oil workers? Who are you asking about?

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

SHORTEN: Public sector workers?

JOURNALIST: Yeah, 17 per cent, stick on public sectors. 17 per cent wage growth in five years. Is that sustainable?

SHORTEN: Public sector workers have not had a 17 per cent growth in five years. What we see is cuts to the public sector under Tony Abbott. When we talk about public sector workers, I have in my mind's eye nurses, fire fighters, police, people in Centrelink looking after those who are down on their luck. This country needs to stop being divided by Tony Abbott, you know, only in the course of this by-election we've had Abbott Government Minister Andrews come out and say that pensioners welfare’s unsustainable. You know, what's that? That's our grandparents, that's people on disabilities, that's sole mums. We’ve had the Abbott Government come out and say that food preserving workers, working in cannery lines are earning $50,000 a year, keeping Australia's toehold in value-adding in the food industry are overpaid, but the game here in Australia is to work together. A consensus should be the order of the day. When the Abbott Government keeps dividing Australia into goodies and baddies, that is not the future. This Tony Abbott chap is Marty McFly, it’s Back to the Future, back to the 1980s, you know, where the good guys are some people who vote Liberal at the top end of town, and the bad people are unions who disagree with him, the science experts who disagree with him, the economists, the teachers, the public servants. Australia does not have three years to waste on Tony Abbott's divide-and-conquer approach -

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

SHORTEN: Labor believes, well I'm talking about the Prime Minister of Australia. This by-election is between Liberal and Labor. People want to know what Labor stands for? We stand for bringing people together. We stand for the high road, we stand for high skills, well remunerated jobs where people can pay the bills. Tony Abbott says the answer to Australia's future is cut health care, cut our schools. No country ever dumbed its way to greatness. The Liberal ideas cupboard is bare. They ran in the last election on the basis they weren't Labor. They have no idea about what to do with Australia and now they're just trying to set up false arguments, they want to blame the unions, they want to blame the cannery workers, they want to blame the car workers. You know, Ford workers are wondering about whether or not they have a job tonight . What cold comfort do they get from Tony Abbott who says that they’re overpaid? This country cannot waste time on a sterile policy of blaming people, rather how do you give kids the best start in life. Where are the apprenticeships, where are the jobs coming from, that’s the important issues in 2014

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

SHORTEN: I tell you what, if you want to look at rug-pulling this week, Sharman Stone. She is a member of the political party that form the Government. She has belled the cat on the dishonesty of Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott. You know, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey launched an all-out assault. It is remarkable that when you’ve got people battling for their jobs, when you’ve got farmers on the land battling to get people to buy their fruit, they get attacked by their own government? That is the rug-pulling issue of this week.

JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to Paul Howes since his speech and do you work with him?

SHORTEN: Of course, and no, I haven't.

JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the argument that he made that the industrial relations debate has become hyper-adversarial, a blood sport, if so, what are you going to do about it?

SHORTEN: The best answer if you want to remove the hyper adversarial nature of workplace relations, first of all, under Labor, strikes were down, real wages growth was up, productivity was up. If you want a creative cooperative workplace, you have a Labor Government. I do not think that anyone in their wildest dreams thinks that Tony Abbott - he wants to have a Royal Commission into unions, he doesn't want to work with people. I make it very clear right now I would meet with Tony Abbott and I’d sit down and talk about co-operative workplace relations, but what he’s go to stop doing is attacking ordinary people on ordinary wages and conditions, undermining their job security, undermining their penalty rates. This country works best when we work together. That's why we need Terri Butler in Griffith because she gets that she won't be a rubber stamp to Tony Abbott's extreme agenda of school cuts, health cuts. She will stand up, she’s not a rubber stamp.

JOURNALIST: Terri, last night you said you were proud of the way Labor’s handled the asylum seeker issue over the last few years. That works well in the West End, but will it work in the outer suburbs of the electorate?

BUTLER: Last night I said I was proud of Labor's record on immigration, that we’re an immigrant nation and that I for would always support immigration for what its delivered to our nation.

JOURNALIST: It appears that some [inaudible] are willing to [inaudible] to what Paul Howes said yesterday. Sam Dastyari yesterday said that perhaps on wages he would consider where by penalty rates would be cut if the minimum wage was lifted, is that something that you would be willing to entertain?

SHORTEN: First of all, we have an independent umpire in Australia who establishes our wages and conditions. Secondly, when we have this debate about penalty rates, quite often the people who advocate for penalty rates being cut, never advocate for lifting the minimum wage. So what happens is we see a debate about penalty rates which is skewed towards cutting low-paid workers pay and conditions. People say we're too hard on Tony Abbott. I've never seen Tony Abbott ever back an improvement of workers' conditions and pay. Never, ever. Never seen him issue one press release in his whole parliamentary career saying an increase in the minimum wage, you know, he’s never advocated or put that position.

So the problem in Australia is this: If we want to have a productive workplace, you do it by cooperation. I've got a track record of a thousand agreements. I’ve lifted the wages of people, but in return seen companies lift their productivity. If we want to get away from the adversarial mindset of the Abbott Government, the best thing you can do is vote Labor in the Griffith by-election on Saturday.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

SHORTEN: I haven't heard that. We’re open to constructive suggestions how we assist our farmers. Drought’s a dreadful thing and it’s a real issue in parts of Australia, but as we’re talking about farmers, how about Mr Abbott assist the thousands of fruit growers in the Goldburn Valley by not doing them over. You know, we’ve got this crazy debate where Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott boast about not giving $25 million to a company on a one-off basis. I tell you what, the Australian taxpayer will be paying more in Centrelink payments, more in the relocation costs, there’s more economic harm caused by the Abbott Government neglect of the fruit canning industry in the Goldburn Valley. You know, the problem with Tony Abbott is they know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

JOURNALIST: Should Schapelle Corby get a profit from telling her story?

SHORTEN: Listen, I think that Schapelle Corby - I would like to see her come back to Australia. I don't know all the ins and outs of what she has done and hasn't done, but what I do know is that she has spent a long time in an Indonesian jail. Again, without taking sides about the merits of her case, I would like to see that woman back in Australia as soon as possible and that's what matters to me.

JOURNALIST: Do you think she should profit from her story?

SHORTEN: I think before we start getting into a debate about whether or not she should profit about story, she’s been locked up in an Indonesian jail for a very long time. If people think that’s somehow some clever strategy for her to get, you know, a windfall gain now, I don't think anyone else would be about repeating that. So I'm not about to start kicking her, I think the issue is, whatever has happened in the merits of her case, I’d like to see her come home.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

SHORTEN: There’s been thousands of jobs lost in the media, I don't think you shouldn't get a pay rise. I think the issue of manufacturing isn't to do with wage growth. I think the issue to do with manufacturing has been the high dollar. I think the issue to do manufacturing is that we need new investment and productive capacity. We can have a manufacturing sector in Australia. The whole of northern Europe have first world wages and they make things. Our challenge is, it’s not the wages, we’ve got to get to get away from this mindset that somehow workers are the reason why we don't have manufacturing in Australia. We've had a high dollar. What we now need is a skilled workforce. If we give away our jobs, in Qantas, or in Holden or in Ford or in SPC or a dozen other industries, we will end up paying 10 times as much for what they're making when they come back to Australia.

JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott manufacturing said the key to increasing manufacturing is through cheap energy, so, remove the carbon tax.

SHORTEN: Energy’s part of the mix, there’s no doubt about it, but when we talk about SPC, you know, the issue is $25 million. Why is it that Tony Abbott can give money to a chocolate factory in Hobart, but not a fruit factory in Shepparton. The Liberal Party have never seen an issue to do with people that they don't turn into politics.

Thanks, everyone. Have a lovely day.

ENDS

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