Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop - St Albans - Coding; Budget 2015




FRIDAY, 22 MAY 2015


SUBJECT/S: Coding; Budget 2015; Asylum seekers; Royal Commission Into Child Sexual Abuse; Sacking of staff at Cadbury; B-1 Bombers in Australia


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone, it’s fantastic to be at St Albans Heights Primary School where they’re doing great work making sure that our kids get the best start in life. What I’ve had the chance to do is see a clever school with brilliant kids teaching their kids the language of the computer future which is coding. Now we want to make sure that all Australian’s in the future will be able to find jobs so the best thing that a Labor Government could do, or indeed parents can do, is make sure that our children are well equipped for the jobs of the future and that's going to involve understanding computer language. So Labor has said last week that we want all children to do just as they're doing here at St Albans and learning how to code. I think the obligation of a government is to prepare its young people for the future and the jobs of the future and where the jobs will be coming from. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: On another issue, if you were in government would Labor resettle some of the asylum seekers who recently fled from Myanmar and Bangladesh in recent weeks?


SHORTEN: What's happening in Myanmar with the Rohingya minorities is terrible. We are seeing thousands of people being persecuted because of their religion and we're seeing thousands of people make a terrible choice that they realise they're not safe in their own homes and they have to leave. But Tony Abbott is insulting the intelligence of the Australian people when he says on one hand it's not Australia's problem at all and just leave it to the Government of Myanmar to sort out. If the Government of Myanmar could sort these issues out people wouldn't be fleeing. But on the other hand Tony Abbott says the only alternative is to resettle all these people in Australia. That's not true and that's not necessary.


What Australia should do is work with our neighbours in the region who are getting these people and see what we can do to help. But Tony Abbott shouldn't dumb the issue down to saying either we take these people here or we do nothing. Australia's a smarter, more generous nation and I'm heartened by what Julie Bishop said about talking to Myanmar about what's going on there.


JOURNALIST: When you talk about working with other places in the region, are you talking about sending them to Nauru or Manus Island?


SHORTEN: No, I'm not. I'm saying that Tony Abbott shouldn't just present what's happening to these poor people in a part of the world as not our problem, but the answer doesn't mean that we take these people here. What it does mean is we just do as we've done in the past with other humanitarian disasters, is we provide some form of assistance. But no-one says when there's a disaster in another part of the world that the only option to doing nothing is to take all the survivors ourselves. There are other options and I think that it's the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, who has shown perhaps a little more sympathy to what's going on than Tony Abbott.


JOURNALIST: There have been questions about whether asylum seekers have been tortured or suffered from trauma that's happened later in the screening process. Is that of concern?


SHORTEN: Well, the reports are of concern. I haven't seen all the details of them. Labor believes that people who are being processed in our regional resettlement programs run by Australia should be afforded a high-level of safety and care.


JOURNALIST: On the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, do you think that George Pell should be compelled to give evidence?


SHORTEN: I am shocked by the stories of the victims and survivors of decades of institutional abuse. I was raised Catholic. I am ashamed when I hear the reports on the radio of what survivors have had to put up with. I and Labor supported setting up a Royal Commission. It's very difficult but the voices of survivors, the voices of victims do deserve to be heard. They've put up with so much, so much betrayal of trust and harm. This Royal Commission is very important to sorts out all these issues which have gone for decades. The pain is incredible.


So I do believe that George Pell should cooperate and help the Royal Commission deal with these problems which have been going on for far too long and if that means that he should come home to Australia to help the Royal Commission, Cardinal Pell should do that.


JOURNALIST: The Catholic Church is considering interrogating abuse victims who have given evidence, what do you think of that?


SHORTEN: I just think that this Royal Commission in large part was to give voice to the survivors and the victims of decades of institutional abuse. The whole Church isn't judged by the standards of some, the errant clergy who have done this are terrible and wicked people. But it's how we deal with the harm once we know it's happened, that's what judges an institution, that's what judges all of us. That's why I believe that the victims and the survivors who well documented their pain and their suffering and their families who entrusted young people to the trust of institutions, who’ve been betrayed, and then the decades of cover up, it is terrible. It is hard, but it is terrible. So I do believe that the victims and survivors have to be treated with respect, not just legal strategy and I do believe that George Pell should help the Royal Commission and if that means coming back to Australia to cooperate with the Royal Commission he should. The pain has gone on too long and we all have to stand up.


JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister's ahead in the opinion polls, do you think your job's safe as Labor leader?


SHORTEN: I think what really matters here is the jobs of Australians, that's why I'm here today. You know, the opinion polls come and go, the issue here is are we doing enough to find the future jobs for the children today? Are we doing enough to help the 43,000 people who have lost their jobs in the mining industry, as the mining boom's eased up. 80 workers are being forcibly laid off today at Holden, where’s the Government on any of these issues? We all know that last week's Budget was a political hoax to save the jobs of Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott. But there's no plan for the jobs of Australians who are losing their jobs now and there's no plan to train up our young people so that they can grab the jobs of the future. That's what really matters.


JOURNALIST: There's reports that Cadbury's sacking 20 per cent of its work force in Tasmania. Do you think the Government should get behind that as well [inaudible]


SHORTEN: Well, we all know that the Government's flipped and flopped on supporting Cadbury in Tasmania. We all know that when it comes to standing up for manufacturing jobs in Australia, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey can't be found. They’ll crawl over broken glass to save their own jobs but they're not lifting a hand in their Budget to help the jobs of advanced manufacturing; of thousands of people in Western Australia and regional Queensland have lost their jobs with the decline in the mining boom. Now we've seen the Government carry on for a week about a phantom iron ore inquiry, jeopardising the position and reputation of Australian iron ore companies, but nowhere in this last week have I seen Tony Abbott or Joe Hockey talk about the jobs of the actual miners who’ve lost their jobs. This Government doesn't care about the jobs of Australians, they only care about their own two jobs: Joe Hockey's, Tony Abbott’s.


JOURNALIST: There’s reports that the Government is in fact in discussion with the US about stationing B-1 Bombers or having B-1 Bombers do tours through Australia. Would Labor support a US strategic bomber commitment in Australia?


SHORTEN: We support the American alliance but this talk about B-1 bombers is only press speculation. We're going to treat national security with the respect it deserves and not react to headlines in newspapers. What matters here is making sure we make decisions in the long-term best interest of Australia.


JOURNALIST: Are reports true that you appealed to Mark Scott to have your Budget Reply speech played in prime time on the ABC?


SHORTEN: It was a great Budget Reply speech, I believe, and it was all about the jobs of the future. I think it is important that Australians hear the policies of the alternative government of Australia and just to reiterate, Labor believes fundamentally in training our kids for the future. We want more kids doing science and maths and engineering at university. We want more support for the start-up, science businesses of the future.


By the same token we also said in the Budget Reply speech that we have a massive problem in infrastructure. I said that last Thursday night. Today, the Infrastructure Australia report shows that we have a $45 billion gridlock, a deficit in terms of infrastructure.

And what infrastructure means is that it means that Mum and Dad don't have to spend so long in their car and traffic jams. Australia's cities are choking because of a lack of rail, lack of public transport, because of Tony Abbott's irrational dislike of public transport, and also their lack of funding for the big projects.


We've got a $45 billion infrastructure black hole which is being dug by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey and what we need to see is more action on infrastructure. So the Budget Reply speech is Labor's determination to put better cities up on the front page of politics and to also make sure that we've got the jobs for the future that our kids so desperately need.


Thanks, everyone.