Bill's Transcripts

INTERVIEW WITH ALISON CARABINE ABC RADIO NATIONAL

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
INTERVIEW WITH ALISON CARABINE


ABC RADIO NATIONAL

MONDAY 14 OCTOBER 2013

 

SUBJECT/S:  LABOR PARTY LEADERSHIP

 

ALISON CARABINE:  Bill Shorten, good morning.

BILL SHORTEN:  Good morning Alison.

ALISON CARABINE:  Bill Shorten, you are Labor's seventh leader in ten years. No Labor Opposition Leader has survived a full term since Kim Beazley in 1998-2001. Why will you be any different?

BILL SHORTEN: I believe that the Labor Party is in the process of learning the lessons of the last election defeat.  Only 34 in every 100 Australians put a number one next to a Labor candidate.  It is not inevitable that Labor will rise again.  There's no cycle in politics where the electorate say to an Opposition, you've had enough time in opposition, so it's your turn in government.  Governments have to be earned, by and large.  So I believe that the reason why the Labor Party will unite is because we understand that if Labor offers ideas that are relevant to the future of all Australians, then people will give us another look.

ALISON CARABINE:  The leadership ballot gave the party something positive to focus on after the election loss.  Now that it's settled, will you be ordering a review of what went wrong for Labor- why it lost office after just six years in government, or are the answers so bleedingly obvious that no review is needed?

BILL SHORTEN:  First of all, the process which we've just undergone in the last five weeks was historic.  No mainstream political party in Australian history has ever invited its members to be part of its election of a leader.  So I think that process has avoided Labor doing what it sometimes does when it goes into opposition, which is form a circular firing squad.  Caucus will have to review all the policies that we've had.

We've made it clear, and I've personally made it clear, that if elected leader, some of my views would be that when it comes to promoting and supporting a National Broadband Network, a price on carbon pollution, the National Disability Insurance Scheme- there were some things we got right, and there were some things that we got wrong.  So we will review our policies.  In terms of the most recent ballot, we'll probably just see what lessons there are from that as well.

Our challenge, though, is to win the debate of ideas in this country.  We've got to hold the Coalition to account.  Also, I'm sure they'll give us a lot to work with there. But we've also got to be the party of science, research and innovation. The party of tackling some of the tough issues in our community and you can do that from Opposition.

ALISON CARABINE:  You did secure strong support of your Caucus colleagues, but the clear majority of your members wanted Anthony Albanese. Does that in any way undermine the legitimacy of your leadership?

BILL SHORTEN:  No, the rules were very clear.  Half of the weighting of the vote would go to the Parliamentary party. Half would go to the members who chose to vote in this ballot.  I am personally touched by the extent of support across the factions that I received from the Parliamentary vote. And so, that was a strong vote of confidence from the people who know me best.

What I'll also do is that I recognise that the lessons to be learned by me; specifically, in terms of further engaging with our members.  But I know a lot of the members, the members who voted for me, the ones who didn't as well.  And I know that if Anthony had been successful the people who voted for me would've gotten on with that. I know that the people who voted with Anthony are pleased they had a say and they'll get behind me.  They were the rules.  But going forward in the Labor Party, you're going to see less discussion of the personalities, and more of what are the ideas that make Labor relevant to the future of Australians and the future of Australia.

ALISON CARABINE:  The membership ballot was part of a process of democratising the party. You have given a commitment to ongoing party reform. Under your leadership, can you guarantee that the recommendations of the Faulkner, Carr and Bracks Review will be fully implemented at the next National Conference?

BILL SHORTEN:  I do support the principles of reform, and some of the principles of reform which I think are fundamental to making the Labor Party a healthy organisation, and competitive at the next election, include but are not limited to encouraging more people to join our party.

 

The fact is that there are 43,000 - 44,000 members of the Labor Party.  I would like to see a much larger Labor Party.  I think that democracy – it doesn't matter if you're Liberal or Labor – flourishes when more people take an active role.  What I also am committed to is improving the diversity of our candidates who run for elected office representing the Labor Party.

We look at the Abbott Coalition, where they've managed to only find a position for one woman in the top twenty Cabinet spots in Australia.  I reject the assumption that merit is more located in the brains of men than women.  I can't believe that it's not possible to have a greater proportion of your Cabinet who are women.  I'm looking forward to what the Shadow Ministry do, and the Shadow Ministry elections, in terms of seeing more diversity.

So, when it comes to our party reform, we've got to improve the base.  We've got to improve people's participation.  I will certainly work with National Conference to see how we can further improve the party.  We'll also do that on the basis of these principles of engaging people  and we need to reach out to new constituencies as well.  There are too many Australians in small business or regional Australia who think that Labor doesn't speak to them, when in fact, we do, and we can, and we need to engage.

ALISON CARABINE:  Bill Shorten, your first order of business will be to convene a Caucus meeting today.  It will be your first as Labor Leader. You were involved in the downfall of two Prime Ministers.  Why should your MPs be loyal to you?

BILL SHORTEN:  Well, they were very hard decisions, In terms of changing leaders.  It is the case in politics that I always put the interests of the party, and indeed, the nation, first.  I think it is important for the health of Australian democracy that the Labor Party is competitive. Hard decisions made in the best interests of the party. That's the way I operate. And that's the way, by the way, that it's happened before in politics, and will happen long after I've left politics.

And I believe the Caucus knows that we are here to represent Labor people, to be an Opposition who keeps the Government to account, and provides a positive alternative.

ALISON CARABINE:  And just finally and briefly, Bill Shorten, have you given any thought to your leadership style?  Is there a particular leader from the past you would like to model your leadership on?

BILL SHORTEN:  That's a great question.  I think that the way Gough Whitlam rebuilt Labor in the late 60’s to be a modern party, that process of modernisation and having policies which spoke to all Australians, that's part of a style which I admire, although, obviously he's a very great man in many ways.

I like the way that Bob Hawke and Paul Keating engineered economic consensus between unions and employers and welfare to create a safetynet, and to create a prosperous Australia, which is positive and outward-looking.  So they're some of the styles.

I'm an optimist and I also believe that hard work, and having a positive view, and having good things to say about people, rather than just negative things, in the long run pays off.

ALISON CARABINE:  Bill Shorten, thanks for your time, and congratulations.

BILL SHORTEN:  Thank you very much Alison.

[Ends]