SUBJECTS: Jobs; Labor’s plan for a banking royal commission; Malcolm Turnbull’s bungled Census; Comments by Adam Giles; Nauru
TIM WATTS, MEMBER FOR GELLIBRAND: Good morning and welcome to Sunshine in Melbourne's west, I would like to start today by offering my congratulations to the Australian Boomers for their performance in Rio this morning. While they didn't quite get the result they were looking for there are going to be a lot of bruised bodies and bruised egos that the millionaire Americans are taking back to their luxury cruise ship off the coast of Rio. I know the boys didn't get the result that they wanted today but I know they'll meet them again in the medal rounds and they'll do us proud then.
On a more serious note, I am very happy to welcome Bill Shorten here to ARC a major employer in Melbourne's west. I am particularly pleased that Bill's here showing Labor’s commitment to jobs in Melbourne's west because we've had a really rough run on the jobs front in Melbourne's west in recent times. The unemployment rate in the area around us at the moment is about 10 per cent and youth unemployment rate is at 17 per cent and it's no wonder why. When you look at what the impact of the Abbott-Turnbull Government has been on this area in the last 3 years there has been utter neglect and absence of leadership. We've lost about 2,500 jobs at the Toyota Altona plant when the Abbott-Turnbull Government dared the car industry to leave Australia. We've lost another 1,400 jobs at the Williamstown shipyards when the Abbott-Turnbull Government thought it was a bigger priority to send a contract to build supply ships for the Australian Navy to Spain than Australia. What Melbourne's west desperately needs is a Government that is committed to jobs, a Government that's passionate about jobs, we need a Prime Minister who is as warm and cuddly about employers like ARC as he currently is about the banks and that's why I am really pleased that Bill Shorten is here today to show Australian Labor's commitment to jobs, commitment to steel jobs and our positive plan for ensuring these jobs for Australia. Thanks Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody, it is great to be here at ARC in Sunshine. I'm here today because it's about time that the Turnbull Government started prioritising blue collar jobs, steels jobs, manufacturing jobs in this country. Malcolm Turnbull will fight to the death to make sure the big banks don't face a banking Royal Commission, but when it comes to standing up for jobs at Arrium, steel jobs, infrastructure jobs, the Turnbull Government is missing in action. This company now employs 220 people in Melbourne's west, it's doing a great job, these are really good jobs, it's making steel products for vitally needed infrastructure from railway crossings to roads and bridges. Mr Turnbull needs to sit down with Arrium, with the administrators, with the representatives of the workers, the unions and start outlining a plan now that the election’s over to help secure the future of steel manufacturing in this country. Malcolm Turnbull, he'll make sure the big banks get a tax cut, he'll make sure the big banks don't face a Royal Commission but he actually needs to start prioritising the jobs of everyday Australians, blue collar jobs, jobs which generate taxes, jobs which generate mortgages, jobs that generate good futures for our young people and our older workforce. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Should heads roll as a result of the Census bungle?
SHORTEN: The 2016 Census is one of the biggest shambles in government we've ever seen. This is a shambles in terms of the information technology rollout.
Mr Turnbull, he is the man who says it's never been a more exciting time to see innovation and agility, yet the biggest online engagement with Australians he's overseen - it has turned to a shambles.
Malcolm Turnbull's always talking about blaming someone else. Yet again we see Malcolm Turnbull failing to take responsibility. His failure to take responsibility is a failure of leadership. When Malcolm Turnbull gets paid every week, what does he think this pay is for? It's his job to make sure that everyone else in the Government does their job properly. Now he's just lashing out, the one thing we have learned about Malcolm Turnbull in his year as Prime Minister is that when there is a problem he'll be sure to blame someone else. Malcolm Turnbull never takes responsibility for mistakes that happen under his leadership, that is not good enough.
JOURNALIST: [inaudible] who else to blame?
SHORTEN: Well, one things for sure I don't think it's the fault of some middle level public servant. You can always be sure that when something goes wrong the only set of heads that will never roll in the Turnbull Government are those sitting at the Cabinet table.
I mean, he's the Prime Minister who foolishly chose to change ministers responsible for the Census three weeks out from the Census. He's the Prime Minister who constantly talks about transforming our economy through innovation and IT, yet he can't even get the Census right.
Now we believe there should be a Senate inquiry. This Government still can't tell us when the Census will be back up online. They still can't tell us what happened. I wouldn't trust this Government to investigate their own mistakes. That's why we need an independent Senate inquiry to examine what went wrong and why. One thing is for sure with Malcolm Turnbull, he's already got the answer to his inquiry: it is not his fault.
JOURNALIST: Do you believe that the delay in the Census will undermine the integrity of the data collected and, if it does, do you believe the Government should consider delaying it further?
SHORTEN: Well, I certainly think that no one should be paying a fine for taking their time on the Census. It just shows you the futility of this Government that they've got a system to fine people who don't complete the Census but they can't even get the Census out to people. In terms of the integrity of the Census, I am concerned that this Government has trashed the Census. I am now concerned that Australians will say: I can't be bothered, what is the point? Will my data be kept private?
I have to say to Australians, don't let Malcolm Turnbull's incompetence discourage you from filling in the Census. Don't let the bunglers win. We ask Australians that when the Census comes back online, that people do complete the Census but I can understand the frustration of Australians. We've had a Census in Australia since 1911. We've had something like 17 censuses but what's gone wrong now? Malcolm Turnbull is Prime Minister, now they can't didn't even do the Census properly. This is a Government of bunglers who are keen to blame anyone but themselves.
JOURNALIST: Have you had discussions with Nick Xenophon about this Senate inquiry that you're voting for?
SHORTEN: I have spoken to Senator Xenophon. Labor's most committed to a robust Senate inquiry and Senator Xenophon assures me that he is too.
JOURNALIST: If the Australian Signals Directorate does identifies a culprit for a Census attack, do you think they should publicly reveal that information?
SHORTEN: Well let's let the Signals Directorate yet do their job. Now Malcolm Turnbull's finally recognised the need to get some professionalism into this whole debacle, this whole circus. But what I would say here is the Turnbull Government's quick to blame someone else, I notice they're blaming IBM, they’ll no doubt blame the public service, they're also going to look at, you know, international hackers and whatever.
The point about it is, some of these risks are foreseeable. What is it that the Turnbull Government accepts responsibility for? I mean, if this Census had gone off well, the Government would have congratulated itself, they'd be turning up to give themselves a pat on the back and a medal for what a good job we've done. Now this Census has turned into a shambles this Government's almost pretending that the ABS is some other organisation immune and irrelevant to government. It's the Government who finds the Budget funding for the ABS, it's the Government who puts out press releases talking about the ABS but now it's turned to custard, you've got Malcolm Turnbull running a million miles from it.
Yet again Malcolm Turnbull refuses to take responsibility for the failures under his leadership. When will Malcolm Turnbull ever take responsibility for something bad that happens in his Government?
JOURNALIST: How do you think that makes us look internationally?
SHORTEN: Well, we've been one of the few countries who've persisted with engaging with a whole population and taking a census in the form that we do. For me it's not even how we look internationally, for me it's how millions of Australians feel frustrated to be let down by the Government. What we've got is that the Census happens every five years. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars. There are Ministers responsible for the Census. Now we wake up Thursday morning and Malcolm Turnbull and his whole Liberal National ministry frontbench, none of them are apparently responsible for anything. How can it be? All these Ministers get a paycheque every week. What do you think they get paid for as Ministers of the Government? It can't just be to release self-congratulatory press releases to announce good news. Why is it that Malcolm Turnbull doesn't realise that his job as Prime Minister is to make sure that everyone else does their job properly?
Malcolm Turnbull doesn't understand the nature of leadership as a Prime Minister. Whenever something goes wrong, he is quick to blame everyone else.
JOURNALIST: The Government's announced it will review suicide prevention services for veterans. Do you believe there's a need for reform and, if so, what changes do you believe are needed?
SHORTEN: I noticed that the Prime Minister's made some remarks on this today. I have to say that looking at how we can improve the support and treatment for our returned veterans, who may be suffering from mental health challenges, that's a bipartisan goal and we will work with the Government because nothing's more important than making sure that our veterans, people who've put their life on the line for their country, get the sort of back up and support back here once they return.
JOURNALIST: Adam Giles has accused the ABC of a conspiracy to tie the Four Corners Don Dale story to cause maximum damage in the lead up, just a month or so out from the Northern Territory election. What do you make of these claims?
SHORTEN: First of all, the images that the ABC revealed were not caused by the ABC or the Labor Party. They're caused by a complete breakdown of youth justice in the Northern Territory. I think Adam Giles inflicts injury upon what we've already seen when he wants to shoot the messenger rather than deal with the message. You are in the departure lounge of politics once you start blaming your own mistakes of your own administration on a conspiracy of outside forces. For me the issue isn't trying to blame the ABC. For me, surely this nation is smarter, cleverer and they're making sure that our young people in the youth justice system were treated in the manner in which we saw in that shocking footage.
JOURNALIST: You've called for a Royal Commission into the banks and supported other royal commissions. Given the scale of the alleged abuse that's happening in Nauru, why not support a Royal Commission into offshore detention as well? Why is this issue different for you?
SHORTEN: First of all, we know the solution when it comes to offshore detention, we need to have better transparency. We already know what the answers need to be. The answer needs to be an independent child advocate there to monitor the rights of children in detention, in these detention centres. The fact of the matter is that this Government, with the evidence in front of it as it's been revealed in The Guardian and elsewhere, now needs to change the way it administers its activities in detention centres: an independent child advocate, protection for whistle-blowers, making sure that the views of the people, the medical treaters, the medical experts in any of these cases, that their advice is given the paramount attention. The answers are already there. We just need a Government with the humanity to make sure that the system is administered in a humane and safe fashion.
JOURNALIST: What kind of powers would such an advocate have?
SHORTEN: I think that they've got to have the ability to examine every aspect of the system and we've got to make sure that people in the care of Australia, directly or indirectly, can access the independent child advocate. There's got to be 100 per cent transparency.
JOURNALIST: Have you sought legal advice about how such a person could operate under Nauru's legal jurisdiction?
SHORTEN: We would sit down and talk with the Government. One thing's for sure, the status quo isn't working in the way in which it should be.
JOURNALIST: Have you talked to Nauru?
SHORTEN: We haven't spoken to the Nauruan Government ourselves. We’re the Opposition. We would start with the Australian Government. Perhaps one last question if there are any left. Excellent. Thanks everybody.