Bill's Transcripts

Transcript: Interview with Justin Smith 3AW Mornings

Read or listen to my interview with Justin Smith from 3AW.

Interview with Justin Smith 3AW Mornings

Subjects: cabinet reshuffle, new industrial relations portfolio



Justin Smith

Here are some of the headlines about Bill Shorten this morning: ‘Shorten on the up and up’, ‘Payback for the warlords’, ‘Pressure on Shorten to rein in unions’, ‘Bosses and unions heil Shorten’, and my personal favourite ‘Gillard rewards henchmen’.

On the line, new Cabinet Minister Bill Shorten. Minister, thanks for talking to us.

Bill Shorten

Good morning gentlemen.

Justin Smith

Henchmen and warlords. Do you think you’re seen as a bit of a thug sometimes?

Bill Shorten

No, I don’t. If you’ve got the odd conservative commentator that doesn’t like my politics they’ll probably write things, but Mark and I once did a cartoon and we dressed up as Genghis Kahn which we thought was funny but not true.

Justin Smith

Is it on your wall somewhere?

Bill Shorten

Yeah, it’s funny.

Justin Smith

Minister, though, you are seen as very much the guy that stuck the knife into Kevin Rudd and as you now slide in to a portfolio like Employment and Workplace Relations, how is that image going to help you out?

Bill Shorten

Well they’re your images. Using words like ‘stuck the knife’ into a person and ‘slide in’...

Justin Smith

(Interrupts) But you’ve got to admit that’s your image don’t you?

Bill Shorten

Well next time you get Malcolm Turnbull on, why don’t you ask him how he felt when Tony Abbott and some of his friends replaced him?

Justin Smith

We will Minister. But the point is the public perception is out there. Do you think this public perception, whether it’s fair or not, is going to affect the way you do this vital job and the way the public perceives you in this job?

Bill Shorten

No. When I was Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, I think the people with disabilities and their carers want to know what you are going to do for them.  When I was Assistant Treasurer working on everything from the retail industry to fixing up the flood definition to all sorts of matters , the accountants and the flood victims and the consumers want to know what you are doing for them, and how you are doing your day job. In my experience it’s how you do your day job that matters – not headlines in some newspapers.

Justin Smith

So what, on the day job, are you looking forward to doing? It’s not exactly new territory for you, which is good. So what are you looking forward to doing?

Bill Shorten

The day job is, quite briefly, Employment, Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation. On employment, obviously we want to make sure that people keep jobs. If they lose their job for whatever reason, we want to make sure they can get another job.  Our grandparents used to have one job in their life.  You meet people who have worked 50 years on the railways, or in a shop. Now what happens is for most of us in our generation, I’m assuming we’re all about the same age, late 30s or early 40s, we might have three or four jobs and careers. For our grand kids, they could have six or seven. What we’ve got to make sure of is that Australians are resilient enough that they can find new jobs when they have to as the economy changes, as it always does.

In terms of the unions, and employers and small business, that is certainly part of the job, but again I want to make sure that not only the existing system works, but we’re thinking about the issues for the future like work/life balance. You know, this idea that we are on call the whole time with our Blackberries and checking our emails... We’ve got to understand that the world of work is changing, and where people are working.  Seven out of every ten Aussies are working in the services industry. Waltzing Matilda might be our de-facto national anthem about a shearer, but the reality is there are about 3,000 shearers in Australia and nearly 100,000 personal trainers.

Justin Smith

Mr Shorten, I was going to ask you, Chris Evans was your predecessor. What did he do so wrong?

Bill Shorten

The answer is he didn’t. No one ever does the same thing in Government forever: point one. And point two is he is a leader of the Government in the Senate. That involves negotiating all of our laws through the Parliament and dealing with the Liberals and the Greens and the National Party, which is no easy feat. He is also in charge of science, which is important, higher education...

Justin Smith

(Interrupts) Look there’s no doubt he has been demoted, hasn’t he?

Bill Shorten

Well that’s what you guys care to run. In my experience most members in Parliament think it’s a privilege to be there. I am the first person in my family (some of us came out in the gold rush) to be a politician. Some of your listeners may or may not be happy with that development, but the fact of the matter is it’s a privilege to serve and in my experience 99% of MPs realise that they are representing other people and it’s a privilege.

Justin Smith

Mr Shorten, is part of your job now to make sure Qantas never does what it did a month or two ago again?  

Bill Shorten

I don’t think they should have done what they did then...

Justin Smith

(Interrupts) But that was a disaster for everyone concerned...

Bill Shorten

Yes, and most importantly I think it was a disaster for the tens of tens of thousands of travellers and thousands of employees. Let’s be clear about what I think happened at Qantas. Qantas, after several months, had found it difficult to convince some of their own employees, including some of its pilots, to accept certain changes in their new employment agreement. So what Qantas did was they said ‘well we can’t convince our own employees of the need to change, so we’ll damage the economy’.  I will never believe that a company as sophisticated, with management as well paid as they are, with a global brand, that the only way you could get attention to your issue is to draw damage to the economy. What I would say to any employer contemplating that sort of massive dislocation is to give us a ring. They can ring your show and get my phone number.

Justin Smith

Minister, thanks for talking to us. To use your own analogy from your ancestors, you hit pay dirt yesterday. Thank you, enjoy.