Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Sydney - Turnbull Liberal Government’s attack on penalty rates; shooting in Parramatta






SUBJECT/S: Turnbull Liberal Government’s attack on penalty rates; shooting in Parramatta; TPP; Hawkei announcement; NRL Grand Final.


MATT THISTLETHWAITE, MEMBER FOR KINGSFORD SMITH: Morning everyone, welcome to sunny South-East Sydney. It’s a magic day here in Randwick, and just down the road at Coogee beach, Clovelly beach and Maroubra beach, thousands of locals are enjoying the sunshine on the beautiful coastline on this public holiday Labour Day. I’m really pleased that Bill Shorten, our leader, is here with us today and Bill’s been meeting with hospital workers here at Randwick and throughout the country talking about the importance of penalty rates. Today, people in our community get a rest, they get a break. It’s time to spend valuable time with family and friends. But for many in our community – the hard working doctors, nurses, wards people, cleaning staff at this hospital – work must go on. And at this institution, and many other institutions, businesses throughout the state – work continues. In Australia we have a great tradition, it’s part of our culture of egalitarianism, that on days like today, on public holidays, if you have to work, you are paid a penalty rate. It’s what makes Australia such a great place to live and it’s served our country well. We have some of the highest living standards in the world. It’s served our economy well. We’ve had 24 years of uninterrupted economic growth in this great country Australia, because we have a living wage, because working people have enough money in their pocket to participate in society, and that’s driven economic growth for many, many years. Today Bill and I are here to talk about the importance of penalty rates, because we all know that the Liberal Government, the Turnbull Government, are considering attacking workers penalty rates. We’ve seen the draft Productivity Commission report which recommends watering down penalty rates. But we’re here today to send a very clear message to the Turnbull Government – that we will not allow you to undermine the wages and conditions of Australian working families. We will not allow you to undermine penalty rates. And we’re also calling on the workers at the hospitals, at the businesses throughout the country, to tell the Turnbull Government they’re not pleased with what’s being considered by the Government. As I said, Bill’s been meeting workers not only at this hospital, but at business and other institutions throughout the country, he’s doing a great job sending a message to the Turnbull Government about the importance of penalty rates, and I’ll now ask Bill to say a few words.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Matt. It’s a beautiful day in Sydney and many Australians are enjoying their Labour Day long weekend. But at the same time, there are literally millions of Australians who are working hard so that we can enjoy our leisure time. These Australians too deserve fair conditions. In recent days, the new Workplace Relations Minister, Michaelia Cash, and the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann, key lieutenants of Malcolm Turnbull, have said they want to have a political argument, they want to have an election fought on penalty rates. I want to say today, we accept the challenge. See Labor is not out of touch with how people make their money. For people on $40,000 and $50,000 and $60,000 dollars a year, penalty rates are the difference as to whether or not they can afford to send their kids to a private school, whether or not they can afford to sustain the mortgage - they go towards the quality of life. Why is it that Mr Turnbull's Liberals only worry about the top end of town and forget millions of other Australians? Penalty rates are what make the difference in the quality of life for a lot of working Australians. Nurses, firies, ambulance officers, people who work in retail and leisure. In the retail industry and in the hospitality industry – they are on average, along with agriculture, the lowest paid industries in Australia. If you were to take away penalty rates from these groups, you would even depress their wages further. We have the lowest real wages growth in Australia in 20 years. Mr Turnbull's Liberals are talking about a GST which increases the price on everything. Why is it that Malcolm Turnbull's Liberals want the price of everything to go up and wages for most people to go down? This is not a recipe for a confident future Australia. The only way Australia can progress is by making sure that we all share the benefits of inclusive growth. It is not enough for the top 1 per  cent, the richest people in Australia, to give a lecture to Australia's working people and say that you’ve got to take a pay cut. It is not good enough and we accept the Liberal challenge about penalty rates being an election issue. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: What do you make of the Government saying that it is all about encouraging small businesses to open or stay open longer, and that it will generate more jobs if they can charge the Saturday rate on Sunday?


SHORTEN: Well it is all about evidence, isn't it? Where is the evidence that unemployment is caused by penalty rates? The truth of the matter is what causes unemployment in Australia is the inability of the Liberal Government in Canberra to transition Australia out of the mining boom. What is causing unemployment in this country is a lack of confidence, is a slow down in what is happening in China. What causes unemployment is a decrease in mining prices or prices of minerals. It is really unfair to say that a 50 or 60-year-old worker, working in Myer or David Jones on a Sunday, because they are getting penalty rates, is causing unemployment in Australia. What causes unemployment is a lot more complicated than someone who earns, before tax, $50,000 a year and saying that person has got to take a pay cut. It is just stupid economics to blame poorer Australians for unemployment. If we want to see this country go ahead, we want to see real wages grow, we want to see confidence in the High Street, there is no good for a small business if the people coming into your shop can't afford to buy what is in the shop.


JOURNALIST: On another issue, there’s reports that the 15-year-old who shot dead a police worker the other day had attended a lecture by (inaudible) just before he attacked. Does the Australian Government need to take a new approach to this type of violent act?


SHORTEN: The events at Parramatta are just dreadful. The events are beyond description. I and all Australians want to express want to express my sympathies to the dead police worker's family. It is just a completely dreadful, useless waste of life. In terms of the 15-year-old alleged suspect, you know, I have spoken to the police investigating this matter at the national level. I don't want to speculate on every strand of their investigation, but I agree with a big part of your question which is if there are organisations in this country, praying upon vulnerable young people, filling their head full of murderous crazy nonsense, then those organisations are breaching their social contract with the Australian people. I have no time for organisations fermenting dangerous, criminal thinking in vulnerable young people. These organisations praying upon young people are a sort of political or a terrorist version of the paedophiles who pray upon young people too. It is just unacceptable.


JOURNALIST: So you would like to see this organisation proscribed?


SHORTEN: Well what I would like to see is the police pursue their investigation and get to the bottom of the matter. What I was doing was on one hand making clear that I am not going to speculate on every strand of investigation by the police – I trust our police to follow this through. But what I am making clear is that Labor has no time, no time, for any organisation found to be fermenting this dangerous, crazy rubbish which is praying upon teenagers with such dreadful tragic consequences.

JOURNALIST: Have you been briefed on the phone hook-up the Prime Minister had with the Muslim community over the weekend?

SHORTEN: No, I haven't, but I extended to Malcolm Turnbull Labor's support for an approach which we've been recommending for the last two years which is let's work with the Australian Muslim community. See when I look at the Australian Muslim community I see Australians first and people of a particular religion second. I believe that the best way that we can defeat terrorism craziness in all its evil forms is by working together. The worst thing we can do is start having majorities picking on minorities. Australian Muslims are parents first. They would be appalled and shocked by what they've seen. So I happen to believe that the Labor approach of the last two years, which is bringing people together to stamp out the fringe dwellers and their radical criminal activities is the way to go, and certainly I was pleased with my discussions with Malcolm Turnbull about this matter.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of Tony Abbott when he was in charge, using terms such as death cult and Team Australia, do you think that was divisive?

SHORTEN: Mr Abbott is gone now, I am not going to dance on his legacy. Certainly Labor had a view which we've been consistent on for two years, that when I look at Muslims or I look at Christians in Australia, I look at people of any faith or no faith, I see Australians first and their religion second, and in my experience dealing with communities across the whole range of faith, that is how they see themselves. So I believe that the more that we can have leadership by including people, the more we make it difficult for the radicals and the criminal elements to try and peel people off.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that Tony Abbott's rhetoric though damaged relations with the Muslim community?

SHORTEN: Well Tony Abbott's gone now, I am not going to - he's not the main game anymore, let's be clear about that. I will point you though - you look at the rhetoric and the language that Labor used about working on terrorism and we are very committed to including people. I know that there are Australian Muslims who serve in our defence forces, who put their lives on the line for the security of Australians, just as there are people of all religious faiths in our defence forces and in our police forces. I do not distinguish in Australia, based on someone's religion or the God they believe in. What I distinguish on is people who are committed to Australian values and we need to include people, and in my experience 99 per cent of all Australians, no matter who they are, where they live or what they believe, they're all committed to the same things that you and I are.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, will Labor block the TPP if Andrew Robb gives ground on biologics?

SHORTEN: Labor's committed to making sure that medicine doesn't go up - the price of medicine doesn't go up in Australia. At the moment, this is a very important trade negotiation and Labor when it was in office certainly was advancing the same discussions, so we like the idea of extending trade. But what we always do when we look at a trade deal is we say is this in Australia's national interest? One of the key issues in the TPP, negotiations between a number of countries around the pacific, including very significantly the United States, is they have different rules about when pharmaceuticals or new medicines can be brought to market and how long the company who designs them can maintain a sort of a patent or control over the price of them. Now our concern is that if we do a deal with America, that we make our medicines more expensive. If that's the case, then we would be less enthusiastic about the deal. But you know, fingers crossed that we can get the Americans to give some ground and if they do that well that's a good development. For us it's all about what is in the best interests of Australians.

JOURNALIST: Another question, if I can take you back to the Parramatta shooting, some parents in the Muslim communities say they are concerned about dobbing in their sons or daughters to the terrorism hot line if they are concerned. There have been calls by some people in the Muslim community for an early intervention program. That was discussed with the Prime Minister on the hook-up, would Labor support a program like that?

SHORTEN: You make a number of points in your question and they're all worth a bit of an answer. First of all we say to parents who are concerned about their children and what is happening to them, there are plenty of people you can reach out and talk to about it. But for goodness sakes if you think your child's in danger of being exploited by a predator, doing nothing is not an option and I have confidence in our authorities that if a parent was to come forward, which they should do, that's the best solution. In terms of better early intervention, well I think that's long overdue. Labor had programs which we would support to put in place. We think it's pretty straightforward. First of all, we think that Australians of any religious faith are absolutely in the vast majority committed to the wellbeing of Australia and the safety of Australians, so we think you do well by including people. The other thing is, from a straightforward pragmatic policing approach, if you start using divisive language, if you start dividing Australia into good guys and bad guys, what happens is you make it harder for the police to reach out to the community to find out what's happening. So at a whole lot of levels, early intervention just makes sense. Labor's been saying this for two years and we will work with Malcolm Turnbull or anyone else as we've worked with Tony Abbott to make sure we can make this place safe. But you're quite right, you know, having the police deal with the matter after it's happened is far less desirable than preventing it happening in the first place.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the Government is today announcing a $1 billion defence contract, what is Labor's response?

SHORTEN: Well we have to see the final detail of it. There's been a range of reporting about the amounts from $1.6 billion, I think in the ABC to $10 billion elsewhere. We want to see the detail, but let me just state a couple of principles - Labor believes that on the big defence contracts, ideally they should be built and spent, the money should be spent in Australia. We believe it should be the case for the Land 400 vehicles - armoured vehicles. We also think that should be the case for our frigates and very importantly our submarines. Australian taxpayers, you know they want to make sure their taxes are spent well. Defence is an important function of what we spend our taxes on. We want to make sure that we have the best quality equipment for our service people, but we also want to make sure that all things being equal the money gets spent in Australia, that's what other countries do. So if the Federal Government is spending money in Australia, and remember the facilities in Bendigo built the armoured vehicles which kept our diggers very safe in Afghanistan, you know Australia can build world class defence materials, be it Land 400, be it frigates and submarines. I am pleased and for me the test is can we build it here, and we should build it here if we can. Now the other thing I have to note though is that there seems to be an outbreak of untidiness in the Liberal Party. I notice that former Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has taken to Twitter to taking credit for the decision, it was made before the change from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull. I just say to the Liberal Party, former ministers, current ministers, let's not have an argument about who should take credit here, because after all Labor initiated this project, let's instead focus on the decision. It is not about the politician who announces it, it is about the long term security of Australians and long term jobs for Australians in Australia. Last question thanks.

JOURNALIST: Is there any lessons for the AFL in last night's NRL Grand Final?

SHORTEN: I have to say I was privileged to be at the NRL Grand Final last night. I come from an AFL state but I have to say, there was nothing which I've seen was more exciting than that last couple of minutes between the Cowboys and the Broncos. It was a seesaw game in a matter of seconds. Johnathan Thurston richly deserved the medal he got at the end of the game. It was an amazing game. It reminded me - the mood in that stadium was as exciting as the Sydney Olympics when we saw some of the great athletic feats of Australians. I congratulate the Cowboys and I congratulate the Broncos too. It was entertainment for money such as people will very rarely get to see. I was a witness to sporting history last night, it was fantastic. Thanks everyone.