SUBJECT/S: Rio Olympics; Labor in Western Australia; Banking Royal Commission; Post-sentence preventative detention; Medical treatment for asylum seekers; Kevin Rudd; Mr Turnbull's divided Government; Infrastructure for Western Australia
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It's great to be in Perth again. First of all, let me say that I wish our Olympic team all the very best in Rio. They are already champions by the fact they are competing and representing their country. And I, like every Australian, am really excited by what Australian athletes will do in the next two weeks.
JOURNALIST: What are you doing in Perth today?
SHORTEN: I am here talking to members of the Labor Party, talking to my colleagues about the upcoming 45th Parliament. Labor is determined to fight for Medicare. We're also determined to push hard to make our banks and financial sector more accountable to community attitudes. I think it is unbelievable that when the Reserve Bank lowers the interest rate that the banks have sought to take a $1 billion profit rather than get the economy going again. And Mr Turnbull's response has been nothing short of pathetic. The banks' best friend in Canberra is Mr Turnbull. He is running a protection racket for them.
JOURNALIST: There has been some criticism of your decision not to include any West Australians in your Shadow Ministry. Alannah MacTiernan says that Labor will struggle to hold its vote over here if that doesn't change before the next election. Will that change before the next election?
SHORTEN: Labor did very well in Western Australia and we're very pleased that we have no less than seven new MPs from Western Australia. Now of course, everyone has got to get up to speed. I fully expect that we will see West Australians serving higher up the ranks in the national Labor Party. But what we have got to do also is, as you have new MPs, it’s a matter of getting your feet under the desk. But I am very excited that we have three of the new West Australian MPs who will be serving in outer ministerial positions.
JOURNALIST: And you expect that to change before the election though. Do you expect them to possibly get promotions?
SHORTEN: In my experience, West Australians are fast learners. I am really pleased that Labor did so well. It is no secret that we practically had a complete change over in terms of people. Obviously, when you have got seven new MPs, they need to work through the issues and I am very confident of their capacities.
JOURNALIST: You've made comments about an overhaul of the prison parole system for terrorists. Can you explain what you mean?
SHORTEN: We can't afford to treat people who are convicted of terrorism related offences as if they are just another standard criminal. We have got to make sure that whilst they are in jail, that we are making sure they are deradicalised and also, that when they are released, they just don't go back to their old ways. So I think that we need a better system to keep our community safe. And Labor will work with the Liberals in a bipartisan approach to discourage and defeat terrorism and to also deter and decrease radicalisation in a few extreme elements of our community.
JOURNALIST: So you have called for it go a bit further though than this bipartisan approach. What exactly do you propose?
SHORTEN: We offer new ideas. We think that the parole system can't simply treat people convicted of terrorism offences like other standard criminals. I think we need new and smarter approaches. And of course, that will be conducted and worked through with Labor working with Liberal and with the state governments. The state attorney-generals met yesterday and we in principle like what they said yesterday as well.
JOURNALIST: There are reports that a refugee on Nauru with a growing lump in her breast has had her medical flight for treatment postponed indefinitely and is not being told why, does that concern you?
SHORTEN: It does. I haven't heard the matter and I will find out what's going on there. What matters to me is that where the doctors prescribe medical treatment that should be the guiding principle about the way people are treated in Australia's direct or indirect care.
JOURNALIST: Bill, in regards to Julie Bishop, do you think given the fact that Kevin is giving all sorts of accounts and things, do you think Julie Bishop needs to do something to really talk about what her role was in all of that and come out and speak about that?
SHORTEN: I think the Government should reconsider its position on Mr Rudd. Clearly, from all accounts, Julie Bishop has tried to do the right thing. This is a very divided Government. The Turnbull Government should get behind the Australian. The case hasn't been made for not doing that and it's not good when you have got the Foreign Minister going down one path and the Prime Minister going down the other.
JOURNALIST: So should she reverse this decision perhaps?
SHORTEN: I think the Government should reconsider it.
JOURNALIST: You're back in WA. Often, we've seen in past elections, that we're flavour of the month for a while and then everyone forgets about us for a few years. What do you intend to do with WA for the next three years? Do you intend to be a frequent visitor to our state?
SHORTEN: This is my second visit to Western Australia in the five weeks since the election. I am here to talk to our new Labor elected Members of Parliament about our parliamentary approach. Obviously, we are committed to people in Western Australia and will fight hard to defend Medicare. That's certainly going to be a key priority for us; to fight the cuts which the Liberals Government is still embarking on which will undermine Medicare. But we are also very keen to keep pushing the debate along about a banking Royal Commission. We've seen the banks this week basically ignore the Prime Minister, treat him as a toothless tiger. And we are also very keen to keep pursuing the other issues which we think are important, including proper infrastructure for Western Australia.
JOURNALIST: Can you just expand on that? You're here to talk to your newly elected..
SHORTEN: I am here to talk to people in Western Australia and of course, I will be catching up with some of my newly elected colleagues. I might just add this and I said it earlier before you were here. This is probably the single largest introduction of new blood for Labor in Western Australia to the national Parliament. We have got seven new MPs. I am optimistic that as they get their feet under the desk, as they learn the national political scene, they are going to make an increasingly important contribution not only to Western Australia, but indeed nationally.
JOURNALIST: I had a bit of a scan over the names of your new Shadow Cabinet. I couldn't see anyone from WA. Will that change in the future?
SHORTEN: If you have a look at our Shadow Ministry, the full Ministry, no less than three West Australian MPs are serving in the extended Shadow Ministry. I have got no doubt that it will change as people get more experience in the ways of Canberra and national politics. In my experience West Australians are quick learners.
JOURNALIST: And just quickly, you talked about infrastructure. Of course, Perth Freight Link was a big one - you know, you made a commitment to strip the money out of Freight Link and to put it into rail. Of course, now Mr Turnbull is in power.
SHORTEN: I am amazed that Mr Turnbull is still proceeding with the discredited freight link scheme. West Australians don't want it. It is just a pet-project of a couple of Coalition or conservative MPs. The case hasn't been made out for it. I think it will be far better to invest in Perth MetroNet and provide better public transport for people living in Perth.