Bill's Transcripts

Press Conference - Parliament House

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
Press conference – Parliament House
11 October 2012
13:49


SUBJECT/S:  LABOUR FORCE FIGURES, CFMEU

 

BILL SHORTEN: The extra 14,500 jobs that have been created is an okay number. The labour force numbers also show a slight increase in the unemployment rate to 5.4 per cent. It would appear that this is because of a bounce in the participation rate. Now the rise in the participation rate which has now gone up to 65.2 per cent is actually good news in that it shows that Australians have got confidence in the economy, that more people are looking to seek work and re-enter the workforce.

 

In looking at these numbers I've sought to see where this new workforce is coming from. One of the drivers other than the increased confidence in the Australian economy might well be older Australians who are seeking work. Since the Global Financial Crisis it is true that the number of people working in Australia over the age of sixty-five has increased by forty per cent.

 

So overall, the monthly labour force numbers for September show an increase in 32,000 plus full time jobs. This is a new record. It shows that more Australians are in full time work than ever before. It's a number just above 8.1 million Australians in full time work and as we know full time work is the basis of a good job, a pay cheque, reliable work, the ability to pay the bills and set up and create good strong communities.

 

In addition to the largest ever number of Australians working in full time work we actually have the most number of Australians in work that's been recorded. Another number arising out of these labour force statistics shows that there's been something like 809,000 new jobs created since Labor was elected at the end of 2007. This contrasts very favourably with most of the industrialised modern economies of the world.

 

One concerning feature despite the good news about full time jobs, is the number of job losses in Queensland. Queensland experienced in the month of September the largest fall in employment since labour monthly statistics were recorded 34 years ago. So that'd be the largest one month fall in employment in 34 years.

 

Now this is a concern. Since March of this year we've seen Queensland shed something like twenty-five-thousand jobs. Or put another way - and I've got a graph here to show this - that where the rest of Australia has been going up Queensland has been going down. Or to put in really direct terms every day since Campbell Newman was elected Premier of Queensland there's been 130 jobs lost.

 

Since July when the carbon pricing mechanisms came in throughout Australia despite the big attacks by the conservatives about the impact on jobs we've seen in the last three months around 200 jobs a day created in Australia every day since the carbon price was implemented. I'm happy to take any questions.

 

QUESTION: Minister Shorten, were you at the CFMEU dinner last night when a comedian made an offensive remark about Tony Abbott's chief of staff and if you were there what did you do about it and what's your reaction to that remark?

 

BILL SHORTEN: No I wasn't there. I left at 8:00 pm to go to another engagement. I've seen second hand reports about what was said. The remarks are tasteless. I don't want to give these tasteless out of order remarks, offensive remarks, personal remarks any more oxygen than they deserve. What I do know though is that upon being advised about the remarks I've contacted the CFMEU and said that it appears that your comedian's really overstepped the line completely. I understand that the CFMEU have indicated their displeasure about the event. I also understand that our Prime Minister upon learning of the remarks this morning, as she wasn't there, has also conveyed her displeasure to the CFMEU.

 

QUESTION: Should the Deputy Prime Minister have left when those remarks were made?

 

BILL SHORTEN: I understand that the Deputy Prime Minister contacted the CFMEU this morning before there was any media attention on the matter and indicated his complete repudiation of those tasteless remarks. I am sure that all of those there would have been shocked at what is not just poor humour but well beyond the pale and unacceptable and tasteless.

 

QUESTION: Craig Emerson said he left shortly after the remarks but Wayne Swan and Brendan O'Connor remained and at least Wayne Swan gave a speech afterwards. Should they have stayed or should they have left?

 

BILL SHORTEN: I think that people - again I wasn't there so I don't know what happened - I think from talking to people this morning that people thought it was completely tasteless, they thought that the remarks were completely out of order. I know that the whole senior leadership of the Government has personally and individually conveyed to the CFMEU that this comedian - and I don't care if he's a comedian, a radio presenter or just a person in the street - there is no tolerance for that sort of stupid tasteless boring remarks.

 

QUESTION: The demands that have been put in place that Alex Hawke and Susan Lee should have left the dinner with Alan Jones as soon as those comments were made. Treasurer, Brendan O'Connor , perhaps others, didn't do that last night.

 

BILL SHORTEN: I believe clearly that in the case of the Treasurer, the Deputy Prime Minister, long before any media forced him kicking and screaming to make any two line statements he himself contacted the CFMEU - I have to say before any of you heard or raised the issue. He didn't need the media to tell him what to do. He knew what to do.

 

And again I'll just take you back to what I said, I'm not going to give this sort of tasteless - it's not humour it's just - it's well beyond the pale, it's offensive, it's personal - I'm not going to give it any oxygen. I have contacted the union as soon as I've learned about the remarks and said, you know, this is just completely beyond the pale. I know the Prime Minister has. So what I would say and I'm not going to rehash all of the issues which have gone on before in the course of the last couple of weeks but when people hear and see the remarks they conveyed to the organisers of the event that it's not on and they don't need the media to tell them how to do it, they just know.

 

QUESTION: Have you established a new moral political framework which even it cannot reach and abide by?

 

BILL SHORTEN: I came into Parliament to look after workers, to help see jobs created, to help work on skills, I think that people need to treat each other with a higher degree of civility and courtesy that goes on. I'm not going to unpack every event and every opinion of the last few weeks. I'm not about to start giving anyone moral lectures about anything. I'm interested in what we do as representatives in the course of our professional jobs. I believe that the comedian last night - and I wouldn't call him a comedian - made tasteless remarks.

 

I mean the problem is that when you hear tasteless remarks how much oxygen do you give the stupidity by talking about it. What I say to you clearly and unequivocally is that our Prime Minister when she heard about this advised the CFMEU of her displeasure. The Treasurer, before the media had to say what have you done, indicated his displeasure about the comedian's remarks and I know I've done that myself.

 

QUESTION: The company behind this man has apologised. Does it just rest with them or does Wayne Swan have to apologise for staying at this function?

 

BILL SHORTEN: Listen, the CFMEU should definitely make clear what they think about the event. The Treasurer's made clear he has no time for this. He hasn't needed a media posse to chase him out to make any remarks. I'd also say to you that - so it's clear - CFMEU has distanced themselves from this chap's remarks. The company, I didn't know that til you told me, that has repudiated the tasteless remarks. There also comes a balancing act where how much oxygen do you give stupidity. The Government's view's clear, they've moved straight away on the matter. Just stupid, unacceptable and they've made their views clear. What I'd also say is I've had several questions on these tasteless remarks. Are there any questions about unemployment or employment in Australia?

 

QUESTION: The number of people who are out of work now has also gone up above six-hundred-thousand. What sort of an effect is that having on the budget given that those people now need assistance?

 

BILL SHORTEN: The Federal Government will stand by people when they're unemployed. We are already committed to spending a record amount assisting people find work. We are spending a record amount in training people. The quickest way we can help - the budget has actually helped people find work. So I go back to those headline numbers. Unemployment has increased slightly, however, the participation rate has increased to the same extent. This shows that Australians are feeling confident and they're not discouraged about seeking work. The second headline is that we have more Australians in full time work than ever before in Australian history.

 

What we also see is that since the carbon pricing mechanism has come in, that in fact two-hundred jobs a day have been created despite the negative campaign of the Opposition. But disturbingly I think there are some questions to answer in Queensland. Since the Premier of Queensland was elected 130 jobs a day have gone from Queensland contrast with the rest of Australia where we're seeing jobs being added. Thanks everyone.




Mr Shorten’s Media Contacts: Jessica Lindell 0408 642 804