Bill's Transcripts

Radio: 99.5 Sea FM- Cairns - G20 and Putin; Unemployment in far north Cairns;






SUBJECT/S: G20 and Putin; Unemployment in far north Cairns; Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget


MARK LITTLER, HOST ON SEA FM: It’s a great day we are putting on for the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten – Hello and Good morning.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hello, good morning. It’s great to be here.


JUANITA SOPER, HOST ON SEA FM: Nice to meet you as well. Now we need to start off by talking about Vladimir Putin. He is coming to the G20, can’t we un-invite him?


SHORTEN: I actually think it would be good if we could. The real issue here is that a plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine. The people, who are believed to have fired the missiles, were firing Russia-made missiles, procured most likely from Russia. That is a terrible tragedy and it is a grotesque act of violence. The view is that the Russian Federation hasn’t done enough, and Putin to get to the bottom of this, at this point. I get why the Prime Minister is uneasy about him coming but I do also understand that it is an International conference and it’s not really Australia’s call to ban Putin. The question is – You’ve got this fellow coming here, who a lot of people are gravely uneasy with what’s happened, what is the best way to handle him? Absolutely the Russian Federation, in particular Putin, need to show a bit of contrition here and can’t just wash their hands of the matter.  But then Tony Abbott & I’ve said this before -


HOST: Wants to ‘Shirt-front’ him.


SHORTEN: I made some strong comments a couple of days ago and then Tony Abbott sort of jumped the shark, made it pretty undiplomatic and talked about ‘shirt-fronting’ him. I am sure Tony Abbott would want to reconsider that language if he could, which he has apparently done since then.  I don’t think Tony Abbott actually knew what ‘shirt-fronting’ was -


HOST: What would you say to Putin one-on-one if you had a discussion with him?


SHORTEN: I wouldn’t have a one-on-one discussion with him. I think he needs to take responsibility for investigating how the missiles got there. But it is a part of the G20. This is the club with the 19 biggest economies and Russia is one of them, so he comes to the meeting. There are people who have lost loved ones. None of this debate can bring back these people who died. For me, it really sits very poorly that clearly one of the major actors in this whole terrible tragedy is just putting up the fence and saying ‘Not our problem, nothing to see here.’ I don’t share that view. In terms of the fury over Tony Abbott’s language, I don’t think, to be fair to Tony Abbott, he knew what shirt-fronting was when he spoke. It’s an AFL term; I don’t think he knows too much about the AFL.


LITTLER: No. Back locally, this is the first time you’ve been in Cairns as Leader of the Opposition. You’ve been here on holidays and stuff like that. A few issues that you need to cover off as well, and one them is tackling youth unemployment. You’ve got the figures there, over 20 per cent. That’s just crazy, isn’t it, for Cairns?


SHORTEN: Well, it’s destructive. The youth unemployment rate is at 13 per cent nationally, but it’s 20 per cent in Cairns -


SOPER: Crazy.


SHORTEN: And the issue is you want your young people not to have to leave the area they’ve grown up in order to get a future. Tourism’s a big part of that, I think the Federal Government does need to get a move on when it comes to helping tourism in this area. The lower dollar will hopefully give some prospect for people coming here, but youth unemployment is so destructive and Cairns is well above the national average. I don’t see any concrete policies out of the Government except taking them off the dole for six months. I mean, starving people’s hardly a solution either.


SOPER: What would you do?


SHORTEN: It’s got to be making it easier for them to do training once they’ve left school, not putting them into debt if they want to go to university or putting them into debt if they want to go to TAFE. You’ve also got to have jobs to go to. Tourism’s a big part of the picture here. And I’ll also start investing in more infrastructure in Queensland, in far north Queensland.


SOPER: Ok. Another big issue, we did a poll on this on Monday, unanimous – high cost of living. People are struggling, there was a story that came out that people who are earning $400 a week are below the poverty line, two and a half million Australians are living below the poverty line. It’s a real problem. How do we combat that?


SHORTEN: How on earth did Australia get to a situation where one in seven, one in eight Australians are living below the poverty line? The Government needs to get wriggle on with jobs. The best way out of poverty is to have a job, but you need to create jobs and maintain jobs. And we’ve seen again – for a beautiful area like Cairns and the region around it, the Government’s got to have a pro-tourism policy because that is a good employer of people. Cairns has got a great story to tell and you do need a Government - not to bail it out - but to have some policies in place which help tourism.


Again, when you look at poverty more generally across Australia, we’re a very lucky country but it’s quite unequal. The Federal Budget, a lot of the burden – and Labor’s been banging on about this – is going on poorer people. $7 more to go to the doctor, more for your medicines, more for your x-rays, cutting the pensions. If people are doing it hard to make ends meet every fortnight, the job of the Government is to have a positive plan for the future, not just cuts for the more vulnerable in our society.


SOPER: I think we might have to leave it there, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten thank you for coming in and saying g’day. It’s really nice to meet you, and we’ve got to get the news, but enjoy Cairns. Are you here for much longer?


SHORTEN: I’m here for today, I don’t want to embarrass my aunt, but my aunt lives up here and I’m going to try to catch –




LITLLER: Catch up with her?


SHORTEN: Catch up with her, yeah.


SOPER: Oh good stuff. Well, enjoy.


SHORTEN: Thank you.