SATURDAY, 16 APRIL 2016
Subject/s: Royal Commission into the banking and financial services sector; Turnbull in China; Liberal preselection; Double Dissolution; Green’s asylum seeker policy announcement
MIKE FREELANDER, LABOR’S CANDIDATE FOR MACARTHUR: Welcome everyone. It's a really great pleasure to welcome Bill and Chloe Shorten to Campbelltown, specifically to the Ingleburn Community Hall. I'm convinced that Bill will be the next Prime Minister on Australia. The Labor Party through Bill Shorten is annunciating some fantastic policies which are policies that will benefit our kids for the future, particularly on education and health and local infrastructure. I'm Mike Freelander, I’ve worked out here as a paediatrician for 32 years. I'm really positive about the future of Australia under a Labor Government and in particular our policies on health and education, we will be the ones who carry it through to the future. So, welcome Bill and Chloe, and Bill would like to say a few words.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Mike. It's great to be here in Ingleburn with my wife Chloe in support of Dr Mike Freelander. He's a very strong candidate and he's been helping deliver medical services, paediatric services and skills to this community for over 30 years. I'm here doing my 22nd town hall meeting. I'm traveling the length and breadth of Australia talking and listening to everyday Australians about their issues. One thing though I've definitely noticed in the last few weeks is that one of the top topics of conversation which Australians are raising with me is: why on earth is Mr Turnbull covering up for the banks? Many Australians have stories where they have been frustrated by our financial services sector, where they have had bad experiences with banks. Australians want the best possible banking system. Banking is such an important part of our everyday lives. From the mortgages the credit cards, to even the savings accounts. So it's most important that we have a very healthy banking sector. Labor believes that after scandal, after scandal, enough is enough. There needs to be a royal commission. The top inquiry that a government can have to actually investigate how widespread the cultural and ethical problems are within banking. The Australian taxpayers stood shoulder to shoulder with our banks during the Global Financial Crisis. Taxpayers underwrote the security of our big banks but since then right across the world banks have been engulfed in financial scandals and Australia in not immune. In the last 12 months alone, we've seen stories of people taking out life insurance policies with big banks and then when they come to claim of various aspects of their policies, the banks actively conspire to defect the claims of people who bought insurance policies in good faith. We’ve also seen the allegations, serious allegations about rate rigging. All of these matters go to the integrity of our banking. We don't understand, Australians don't understand why Mr Turnbull is determined to fob off a Royal Commission, to cover up the activities of banks, to try and pretend there's nothing which he needs to do to improve the banks. Today in Ingleburn, as I'll say every day, going forward to the election nothing less than the Royal Commission means the faith of the Australians people. Mr Turnbull needs to decide which side he's on, the big banks or everyday Australians. Happy to take questions on this and any other matters.
JOURNALIST: The Greens are expected to call for a Royal Commission into banking this week in Parliament. Is that something that you'd support?
SHORTEN: Well Labor will be making its own calls for a Royal Commission into banking. The tail doesn’t wag the dog. The only party that can seriously replace the Liberals in Government is the Labor Party. Labor is calling for a Royal Commission. We haven’t done this lightly. We hoped that the banking system would improve. In the middle of last year we've seen - from the middle of last year onwards we've seen inquiries, we've seen investigations but it just doesn’t seem to get better. Every time there's a scandal. Every time we hear about on one hand a big bank promoting the equality of woman and then we find out the bankers are in strip clubs doing business deals. Right through to interest rate rigging, right through to insurance policies which turn out to be dud policies. Mr Turnbull needs to stand up to the big banks. A Royal Commission is the highest and most powerful level of inquiry that a government can instigate. Labor hasn't made this decision lightly but something's got to give. We've got to make our banks better. We've got to make them healthier. We want to make sure that we have the best banks in the world. I don't buy the argument which Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull are pedalling which says that somehow you've got to have bad ethics and a poor culture to keep the health of our banking sector. I think the exact opposite. The better you treat your customers, the better our banks will be.
JOURNALIST: But if the Greens did do that, why wouldn't you support it if it's so desperately needed?
SHORTEN: Well as I said in my previous answer, the tail doesn’t wag the dog. Labor will obviously work with all of those victims, the representatives of victims, other political parties who are interested for a Royal Commission. But Labor sets its direction, we are the alternative Government of Australia.
JOURNALIST: How would you rate Mr Turnbull's performance in China?
SHORTEN: I'm pleased if we've improved our trade agreements, that's most important. I haven’t seem though too many reports of him standing up for steel workers’ jobs. It is good that we're improving our trade ties with China and that's a job I think Australians can reasonable expect all side of politics to keep pursuing. But I am concerned about the future of steel workers’ jobs, metal manufacturing jobs in this country. There is a glut of steel production coming out of China, we've seen dumping from both Korea and Chinese steel companies, unfair competition. It's most important that Mr Turnbull doesn’t just speak for some Australians, he should stand up for Australian manufacturing jobs. Ingleburn and Alexandria and places in South Western Sydney have got a proud manufacturing history but what we want to do is make sure that they've got a manufacturing future.
JOURNALIST: Just on other election issues, obviously Bronwyn Bishop has a preselection battle tonight. Do you - how do you see that turning out?
SHORTEN: The Liberal Party is at war with itself. Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated, that you've got a Mr Turnbull inspired candidate, you've got a Mr Abbott inspired candidate and then you've got Bronwyn Bishop hanging on to her position. It is clear that wherever you look across the Liberal Party from Mr Turnbull to Mr Morrison, to Mr Abbott, to Mrs Bishop - the Liberal Party is at war with itself. We can be sure, Australians can be sure that after the next federal election they can be sure of one fact - the Liberal Party would still be at war with each other. So what Australians really have to ask themselves is if we know that the Liberal Party is a war now and we if know that they're going to be at war with themselves after the election, do we really want them to be the Government after the election? When we know that they're a divided, dysfunctional party.
FREELANDER: Can I just say something there too. This electorate the Liberal Party was at war with itself between the candidate for Macarthur and the candidate for Hume and we don't know what resolved that battle but my opponent didn't want stand in this electorate, he wanted Hume. And there was a fight and it was resolved, we don't know how but they're at war with each other.
SHORTEN: Dr Freelander is right. The Liberal candidate running in this seat wanted to run is a safer Liberal seat. So what voters have in this seat is they're got a Liberal candidate who didn't even want to be here but unfortunately for him he couldn't quite evacuate to the next seat along the road. The real issue here is that the Liberal Party be it in this seat, be it across Australia are focused on their own jobs and not the jobs of Australians. Perhaps I might take one or two more questions then we'll finish up.
JOURNALIST: Do you see any way of avoiding the double dissolution?
SHORTEN: It's up to Mr Turnbull. Labor sticks to its guns, we don't believe there should be separate set of laws for tradies on building sites to workers anywhere else. We will stick up for minimum safety conditions, we will stick up for minimum pay rates and penalty rates. We think that Mr Turnbull simply copying Mr Abbott's union bashing is just through the back door of undermining conditions of Australian workers. The Labor Party will never abandon working people in this country, merely because Mr Turnbull doesn’t like their conditions or their representatives.
JOURNALIST: Do you have any comments on the Greens immigration policy announced today that they're going to be significantly raising their asylum seekers intake and formalising the process that people can come here via asylum seekers grounds, will you react to that?
SHORTEN: The Labor Party said at its National Conference last year that we will double the number of refugees we take to Australia. But what I won't do is I won't pretend that people didn't drown coming to Australia by boat when they board the boats of people smugglers and criminal syndicates in Indonesia. I want to make it very clear through the media to people smugglers and their criminal cohorts, a Labor Government I lead will not reopen the seaways where you can bring people onto boats and see them drown. Labor believes we can take more refugees in this country, we believe in a compassionate approach but there is no compassion in rewarding people smugglers and their business model to entice vulnerable people on to unsafe boats and then they drown at sea. Thanks everyone.