Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Turnbull’s cabinet of new faces but same policies; Canning by-election





SUBJECT/S: Turnbull’s cabinet of new faces but same policies; Canning by-election


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everyone.  I wanted to make some comments about the latest changes in the Liberal Government. I am pleased that there is an overdue increase in the number of women in the Cabinet of the Australian Government. This is a good development. I'm also pleased to see that science is finally getting more attention from the Liberal Government in Canberra.


But I'm really disappointed that somehow disability has dropped off the calculations, that there is no minister for disability. I think that a fair deal for people with disability and carers does deserve to have its own ministry.


Helicopter flies overhead


I didn't know Bronwyn was due to visit Victoria.


As I said, I'm really pleased to see more women promoted to the Cabinet of a Liberal Government. This has been a long time coming and I'm also very pleased to see a long overdue focus on science finally emerging in the Liberal Government. These are issues which I believe are very important, but I'm really disappointed and surprised that there's no minister for disabilities, or indeed any Minister for mental health and housing.


These are important issues and I believe that they do deserve having ministers with those issues in their titles. I think at a more general level what we're seeing is that Malcolm Turnbull has richly rewarded supporters and punished Mr Abbott's loyalists. I think this is a sign that we still have more division and dysfunction and Australians don't want to see anymore division and dysfunction in their government.


They want to see a government fighting for Australians, not fighting each other. I also think it's really important that we see that Australians don't just want more new faces, they want new policies. For Australians it's not just about new faces, it's about having new policies out of the Liberal Government. That's what's important.


Happy to take any questions.


JOURNALIST: Are you concerned that you'll get what you want and then that might hurt you at the election? You’ll get the new policies and new faces and, you know, it'll cost you votes?


SHORTEN: I'm interested in what happens to the future of this country. I don't believe it's a bad thing that Mr Abbott's no longer the Prime Minister of Australia. What I do think is a bad thing is that Mr Abbott's policies are still in place.


I'm gravely concerned we'll see the division and in-fighting continuing. Now we've had our third Defence Minister in Australia in less than two years. We see Bruce Billson, whilst I don't always agree with what he says, I think everyone believes that Bruce Billson was a pretty competent Small Business Minister and he's been dumped.


And really considering he was doing a good job the only way you can interpret the dumping of Mr Billson is to outer ministry and now he’s stepped down even is because Mr Billson was loyal to Tony Abbott and not to Malcolm Turnbull.


Now I think there's unfortunately plenty of dysfunction which is going to arise from today's announcements. Today's announcements really do look like that the supporters of Mr Turnbull have taken the lion's share of the positions and those who are loyal to Mr Abbott, well they've been left on the outer.


JOURNALIST: How do you see Joe Hockey's retirement, it sounds like his retirement or is it resignation and also Scott Morrison's appointment?


SHORTEN: Well I think for all of us who are worried about the GST going up to 15 per cent and for the GST to be extended to fresh food, to school fees, to health costs, the GST's best champion is now the Treasurer of Australia Scott Morrison. In the case of Mr Hockey, did the Liberals really expect us to believe there's not a lot of disunity at the heart of the Government?


What do Australians make of the fact that for two years Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull were happy to have Joe Hockey as our chief economic spokesperson. Now they've decided he's gone as if he was never there to begin with.
No, the Liberal Party is deeply divided and nothing shows that more than the fact that the Treasurer of Australia for the last two years who Mr Turnbull and his supporters cheered on for two years, they sat in the same Cabinet have now dumped him right to the backbench and he's tapping the mat and disappearing from politics.

I think this shows again deep division at the heart of the Australian Government. We expect more from the Liberal Government. I mean, Australians don't want to see more new faces, they want to see new policies.
JOURNALIST: Regarding the result in Canning, do you think the size of the swing is an example of the Liberal Party making the right choice in changing leader?


SHORTEN: Well I congratulate Matt Keogh, he was Labor’s candidate in Canning. The average swing when a member of Parliament passes away is 2.5 per cent against the party who held the seat. Here it's been 7 per cent approximately and Labor's primary vote’s even increased more than that.


I believe Matt Keogh has a great future in the Labor Party. I will certainly be encouraging Western Australian Labor to consider Matt Keogh to be a Labor champion at the next election. Some of the swings he got in suburbs in areas like Armidale which he knows very well were really remarkable.


But beyond that, the Liberals were so desperate to save their own jobs that they got rid of their own Prime Minister. Now I think that the Canning by-election has sent a clear message to the Liberal Government that they need to focus on the jobs of Australians and not just their own jobs.


JOURNALIST: You're claiming that as a partial victory even though Labor lost the vote?


SHORTEN: Well for the last two years Labor’s been standing up to Tony Abbott. The reason why the Liberals and Mr Turnbull got rid of Mr Abbott is because they know that the Labor message of opposing the unfair hospital cuts, the unfair cuts to pensions and schools, the rising unemployment and Labor standing up against all these bad developments for Australia in the last two years, the Liberal Party panicked and they decided to get rid of their Liberal leader because they were desperate to save their own jobs. So it’s a very unusual by-election, that Mr Abbott lost his job even before the by-election was held.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten do you believe this new ministry could give the Labor Party a run for its money?


SHORTEN: Well what I'm interested in is not the contest between their Ministers and our [Shadow] Ministers. I'm interested in the contest of ideas. Who has the best vision for Australia? One of the questions earlier was saying, what do I think about all of this? I welcome the fact that Mr Abbott’s no longer Prime Minister of Australia, I'm just worried that Malcolm Turnbull’s still carrying out many of Mr Abbott's policies.


On climate change, Malcolm Turnbull who was the conviction politician who had policies very similar to Labor has now turned his back on everything he said when he wasn't Prime Minister and now he's backing in Mr Abbott's Direct Action policies which everyone knows don’t work. I'm very concerned that what we're seeing is a change of faces, but we're still seeing the same extreme agenda.


JOURNALIST: Still got Peter Dutton as Immigration Minister, should he have gone the way of Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz?


SHORTEN: Well I think that Mr Dutton blotted his copy book when he made light of climate change and the potential for people to have water lapping at their door. So I'm surprised somehow that Bruce Billson who was a competent Small Business Minister and loyal to Tony Abbott he's gone, yet Mr Dutton's survived.


JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about your own role moving forward?


SHORTEN: No. What motivates me is making sure that we do something about tackling unemployment. The biggest opportunity Australians can have is to have a job. That's why it's important that we don't have these terrible cuts to schools, the $100,000 university degrees that the Liberals are still pushing.


See if people get the right education and the right skills, if our TAFE training provides people with apprenticeships, then they can find work. I'm really worried that Malcolm Turnbull has been all about changing Mr Abbott, changing some of the faces, but not changing the policies in the right direction for Australia. Last question thanks.


JOURNALIST: Regarding Labor's strategy in Canning, the Prime Minister characterised it as trying to frighten the citizens of Canning back into poverty, to scare them about the future. What do you make of that characterisation?


SHORTEN: Malcolm Turnbull's wrong, the only people who got frightened by the Labor campaign in Canning was Mr Turnbull and the Liberals, that's why they got rid of Tony Abbott.


Thanks everyone.