Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Williamstown

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

WEDNESDAY, 19 FEBRUARY

WILLIAMSTOWN, VICTORIA

SUBJECT/S: Jobs crisis in Victoria; Tony Abbott not fighting for Australian jobs; Transport and infrastructure; Craig Thomson; Manus Island.


 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: [audio cuts in]…Senators Kim Carr and Stephen Conroy, opposition frontbenchers, Tim Watts, Federal Member for Gellibrand and also Wade Noonan, State Member for Williamstown. We’re here at the Williamstown Dockyard because Labor believes that this is a country that should still be building war ships in Australia. We’re here today not just to talk about the jobs problem which we’ve seen with the terrible news in the last week and a half from Toyota, from Forge, from Telstra, from Alcoa at Point Henry, but today we’re just saying to the Abbott Government - if you bring forward the order book for the money that you’re going to spend on war ships and you do spend the money this year, making the decision this year, then you can save hundreds of jobs, you can keep excellent, world-class naval construction skills in this country. Now is the time for the Abbott Government to act. It is not the time for picture opportunities, it is now the time for real action and a real plan to save jobs and the fight for jobs should involve the Abbott Government allocating the naval ship contracts for Sirius and Success to the Williamstown Dockyard and save lots of great jobs and keep skills in Australia. I might just hand over to Daniel Andrews to make comments as well and then we’ll take questions.

 

DANIEL ANDREWS, LEADER OF THE VICTORIAN STATE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much Bill. Look the first thing to acknowledge is we have a jobs crisis in our state, but it’s not all bad news. There are things that state governments and the Federal Government can do right now to make a difficult situation a little better, to secure these jobs here and help write the new chapter. We talk a lot about a new economy, new jobs. We have to do more than simply talk about that new economy, new industries, new sectors. We have to build them. And what we’ve got here, the Williamstown shipyards, is an opportunity to place an order to make a strong industry even stronger, to save these jobs, and to grow jobs over time. Defence is part of our future. $1.5 billion in output a year, 6000 Victorians who work in this sector. Labor wants to see the sector grow and prosper as part of a stronger economic future for our State.

 

The time for photo opportunities sitting in the Premier's plush office in Treasury Place is over. Denis Napthine and Tony Abbott should have been down here today placing an order so that these jobs can be saved, this industry can grow and we can build a stronger future for state and our nation. We need a jobs plan, and a stronger Defence industry must be part an important part of that jobs plan. That's my view,  that’s Labor's view and it is just common sense. To let these jobs die, to shut this yard only to perhaps reopen five years later makes no sense at all. Let’s save these jobs, save many millions of dollars. Place an order, Mr Abbott.

 

While you are at it, Mr Napthine ought to do his job and get on with delivering a jobs plan. How many more industries have to die? How many more families have to deal with the pain and grief of unemployment before Denis Napthine will start doing his job? And that's to work hard every day to keep Victorians in work. I want to thank these workers for the excellent work they do and the welcome they have given us today. They should know, and the Victorian community should know Labor will always fight for them. Always and ever. Thanks very much.

 

REPORTER: Bill Shorten, there is word today Sensis will be cutting its operations, sending the jobs overseas, that's 800 jobs in New South Wales, Victoria, elsewhere. There is also some murmuring at the moment Shell may well have sold off its operation in Victoria. What's your reaction? It is not just manufacturing, it is going beyond manufacturing?

 

SHORTEN: There is no doubt that Australia has a big problem with jobs. It's not good enough for the Abbott Government to say ‘we knew we'd have a problem with jobs.’ Mr Abbott, what's your plan for jobs? How much bad news needs to keep coming up for you to realise that there is a problem with jobs in this country. Sensis with 800 jobs being announced to go will hit Melbourne, Sydney. It'll hit Geelong again just when they are reeling from yesterday's news. It is time for Mr Abbott - he has now been Prime Minister for nearly six months - to tell people what his plan for jobs is rather than just playing politics. I wish that Mr Abbott would fight as hard for ordinary people's jobs as he does to put some of his mates in plum positions overseas.

 

REPORTER: Are companies piling on given that there’s so many going on at the moment? Are there some opportunistic businesses out there at the moment taking advantage of the fact the Government doesn't appear to be wanting to do much about stopping these jobs?

 

SHORTEN: I believe that most companies want to employ people, not sack them. I believe most people want to go to work, they don't want to unemployed. What I also believe is the Abbott Government doesn't get how ordinary people pay the bills. The most important thing a Government can do is ensure that they have got policies in place, they’ve got a plan, so that people can keep their jobs and find new jobs. At the moment all we see from the Abbott Government is picture opportunities rather than a plan, rather than real action. Before the election, you couldn't get between Mr Abbott and high-vis clothing and a camera. Now he is missing in action, he won't come and see the people who have lost their jobs and he hasn’t got a plan for what to do with them.

 

REPORTER: What sort of order are you suggesting the Federal Government places in terms of how many ships and what sort of time frame, do you think?

 

SHORTEN: It is pretty straightforward. The dockyard's customer is the Australian Government, the taxpayer. If we know we are going to have our taxes spent on building necessary warships for the national security of Australia, why on earth do you delay a decision, have all the people lose their jobs, scattered everywhere and then in a couple of years' time when they then decide to spend the money, presented with the argument ‘there is no-one here to build the ships so we have to spend the money overseas.’ Australian taxpayers aren't mugs. They don't want to see money wasted. But I also think that most Australians believe that if you are going to pay for warships to be built, why not pay Australians to build warships and there are thousands of people in Australia who want to build them. The Abbott Government needs to get its head out of the hardline economic textbooks its reading and get into the real world. It’s very hard to deal with cost of living if you don’t have a job. These people are skilled, productive, capable, world-class ship builders.

 

REPORTER: Labor Governments have ordered from foreign suppliers in the past though, why should the Coalition be forced to order locally made when Labor hasn't seen fit to in the past?

 

SHORTEN: No, I don't agree with the assumption of your question. Labor Governments have been behind most of the major Defence infrastructure decisions in the last 20 years. The Anzac frigates which were here, you’ve got land warfare vehicles at Bendigo and elsewhere. Labor always prefers to buy Australian where you can and, in the case of warships, we certainly say to Tony Abbott that if you decide to build the next two big supply ships and sort the HMAS Sirius and Success and you get the work done here in Australian ship yards, Labor will extend the hand of bipartisanship. Let’s put the jobs ahead of the politics Tony Abbott.

 

REPORTER: Would you support bringing forward infrastructure spending in Victoria, say on the East West tunnel part two, and Melbourne Metro rail?

 

SHORTEN: I’ll also ask my State colleague to comment about this, but Labor has the view if you want to sort out the infrastructure bottlenecks in Melbourne, you need to tackle public transport as well as road. No point in making it easier for people to drive and ignore the public transport. We need to sort out our rail bottlenecks in the middle of the city. At the moment in the Melbourne underground, there is only a certain number of train carriages that can get on the underground at peak periods because of the amount of available track. Labor had a proposition, federal and state, to improve our public transport, that then helps deal with the road congestion.

 

ANDREWS: The world's most livable city needs a world class public transport system. Melbourne Metro is about jobs, it’s about a proper world class public transport system. Bill is exactly right. We used to have both levels of government locked into this, about building this project for employment, for skills and for a better public transport system. It's on backburner, Denis Napthine has deliberately kept this not ready and now he's taken to actually criticising it. I direct you to Robert Doyle's comments today, he has called out Denis Napthine and his ridiculous Berlin Wall commentary, the cut and cover commentary about Swanston Street, that is just nonsense. Apparently, according to Denis Napthine, you can tunnel if it is for a toll road but you can’t tunnel if it’s for better public transport. I think public transport users and Victorians see right through that. This is a Premier with no plan for infrastructure, no plan for jobs. He has got one priority and that's an $8 billion tunnel in the centre of Melbourne that costs a lot but doesn't do very much. I think he will be harshly judged for that at election at the end of this year.

 

REPORTER: Do you need to update your jobs plan, given that there’s been more job losses in the last couple of days?

 

ANDREWS: The first point to make is, we’ve got a jobs plan, that's a key point of difference between the alternative government and the Liberal National Government, we released that nearly two years ago. I added a chapter to it in relation to the services sector, I added a chapter to it late last year in relation to the Geelong region. We will continue to add to that because we are prepared to work hard to keep Victorians in work. That's what leadership is about. That's what decent Government is about. I will not be a Premier that simply sits by and watches industries die. Every job is worth fighting for and a jobs plan is critical.

 

REPORTER: Is it concerning the Abbott and Napthine Governments appear not to be getting on when it comes to helping Victoria? [inaudible]

 

ANDREWS: Inherent in your question is the notion Denis Napthine is out there advocating for Victoria. I don't accept that at all. He has had two meetings after industries died, after Toyota and then after Alcoa. Never meets with the Prime Minister before there is a problem, only meets with the Prime Minister afterwards and he has walked away from both of those meetings empty-handed. Don't for a moment assume that Denis Napthine is a Victorian first and a Liberal second. I don't accept that at all. No jobs plan means no jobs safe and Tony Abbott and him, they're as bad as each other. Workers know it and I think voters know it too.

 

SHORTEN: In terms of Tony Abbott and Denis Napthine's fractured relationship, clearly when Tony Abbott back-flipped on education funding, that caused a great deal of problem between the State and Federal Governments. My concern is that Tony Abbott's probably never caught a train in Melbourne, that's why he doesn't get public transport. Tony Abbott's probably never been to Alcoa, Toyota, Holden or indeed the Williamstown dockyard. That’s why he doesn’t get jobs. My concern is that with Tony Abbott, for him, he is out of touch, he’s more interested in pushing his hardline views of the world than fighting for Australian jobs. The only time we see Tony Abbott in Melbourne is for a picture opportunity. Picture opportunities do not create jobs, that's Tony Abbott's problem. A picture opportunity is not a plan, we need real jobs and he can start with saving these Defence jobs.

 

REPORTER: Will you support a Privileges Committee motion to examine whether Craig Thomson lied to the Parliament?

 

SHORTEN: The Privileges Committee is a fundamental part of our parliamentary system. It is most important, therefore, that whatever the Privileges Committee does, that the process is not politicised or abused for short-term political gains.

 

REPORTER: Will you support it?

 

SHORTEN: I will go back to what just I said. I support the Privileges Committee, it is an important part of our parliamentary processes. It is most important whatever the Privileges Committee does that the processes are not politicised for some perceived short-term gain.

 

REPORTER: Will you or the Party apologise for how much you stuck by Craig Thomson given what has happened in the court this week?

 

SHORTEN: As I said yesterday, no-one is above the law. It doesn't matter if you’re a union rep, a politician or a business person. No-one is above the law, full stop.

 

REPORTER: What's your take on the AFP raids on the Seven offices in Sydney and the Schapelle Corby situation?

 

SHORTEN: That's the subject of a police investigation. I think it's smarter politicians and I suggest to Malcolm Turnbull, too, stay out of the police investigation. Let that process happen.

 

REPORTER: How confident are you about the Manus Island inquiry given that it is going to be done by the PNG people themselves and the Department? Shouldn't there be an independent, arm's length kind of adjudicator here?

 

SHORTEN: I, like every Australian, am dreadfully concerned of reports of mass violence, of tragic death, of hundreds of people in the meltdown of Manus Island. Manus Island is a key part of Australia's policies and abilities to deter people smugglers. An independent inquiry is what is needed. We need to make sure the Abbott Government is on top of this meltdown at Manus Island.

 

REPORTER: What about better oversight of what's going on there? Clearly there is no control of what’s actually happening and we don't know what’s really happening?

 

SHORTEN: I think the Abbott Government has got questions to answer. Manus Island and the terrible scenes that people saw and have reading about show that it is a place out of control. The Abbott Government just needs to be up-front with the Australian needs to people. The Abbott Government needs to be up-front with people. Be it Manus Island, be it their plans for jobs, be it standing up for Defence capability in Australia. Telling and reassuring Australians they are not out of touch. Everything we are seeing in the last few days and weeks, from the terrible news of Toyota to what is happening overseas, this Abbott Government needs have a clear plan and be up-front with Australian people. One more question perhaps.

 

REPORTER: Do you agree with the Greens that Fiona Nash should stand down?

 

SHORTEN: In terms of those matters, I think we will need to see further explanations in Parliament about what has happened. Our very strong view today is here is a chance for Tony Abbott to save jobs. We say to Tony Abbott: less photo opportunities, more plans and work on saving jobs. And I think Australians, that’s what they expect from a Federal Government.

 

Thanks everyone, have a lovely day.

ENDS

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