Bill's Transcripts

TODAY SHOW INTERVIEW WITH LISA WILKINSON

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

TODAY SHOW INTERVIEW WITH LISA WILKINSON

TUESDAY, 11 FEBURARY 2014

SUBJECT/S: Toyota; Tony Abbott abandoning Australian jobs; Royal Commission.

LISA WILKINSON:
A terrible, terrible day for those workers, well Opposition Leader Bill Shorten joins me now, good morning to you Mr Shorten.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning.

 

WILKINSON: Mr Shorten, you have said that the car industry has died under the Abbott Government but the truth is car manufacturers started closing up when Labor was in office. These things don't just happen overnight.

 

SHORTEN: No, but the speed of what has gone wrong under the Abbott Government is bewildering. First of all: to those thousands of people, not just the direct employees of Toyota but all those small businesses and component makers all through Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, even into Brisbane, just please understand that the Labor Opposition is going to fight to make sure that the way that things close is done in a way which treats you with dignity and that you're not forgotten.

 

In terms of the decision; could it have been avoided or was it inevitable. One, if it was so inevitable why is the Abbott Government caught flat-footed.  And two, the real death of the car industry was once the Abbott Government knocked back a Holden business case which they did put forward, that meant that all the people who supply Holden had lost a big amount of their work which meant they wouldn't be able to supply Toyota.  So Toyota in a sort of car industry domino plan, just had to fall over.

 

This came because the Holden car company and the Abbott Government couldn't reach a deal and now what we see is the death of a car industry. They've lost a whole industry. Imagine if before the election Labor had run a scare campaign and said "Don't vote for Tony Abbott because we'll stop making cars in Australia as soon as he gets elected". We couldn't have even imagined how hopeless they would be and now what happens is the tragedy of 50,000 people have lost their jobs. It's an economic tsunami and the guys in Canberra have been part of the problem.

 

WILKINSON: Well some of those 50,000 jobs were under the Labor Government, Mitsubishi for a start. So if you were Prime Minister right now would you be throwing more money at Toyota even though those past handouts have only delayed what has ended up being the inevitable?

SHORTEN: The President of Germany and the President of America subsidise their car industry something like $65 to $70 in Germany per person, $250 in America. We subsidise $17.50. I would have said to the car industry that you've got a Labor Government who's committed to jobs. When people talk about modest support for the car industry is they act as if they don't provide that money, there's no cost to Australia. What's going to happen to all those 55 and 65-year-olds who all of a sudden can't find a new job, that costs money.

 

It is far better for Australians to have the dignity of work than the misery of unemployment. It's not as if there's no cost. These people once they lose their jobs, they don't disappear, they're still there, they still need support. So the cost of this is enormous. For every $1 that Toyota was getting in Government support they were investing $20 in Australia. We've lost a great industry which employs lots of people all because you've got an Abbott Government. I mean if this was a by-election the Abbott Government would throw every dollar they've got at it. So they'll fight for their own jobs, they just won't fight for the jobs of people who wear overalls and go to work to make things.

 

WILKINSON: Alright, moving on, the latest polls out this morning are not good news for you. Your personal approval has dropped nine points. Do you think that could have something to do with your opposition to a Royal Commission into corruption in the union movement?

 

SHORTEN: I think this is the first time in history that we've seen the idea that an Opposition Leader has a honeymoon. When you're in Opposition there is no honeymoon. But I tell you this morning, when you look you look at polls or when you look at the news of the car industry what sort of person would I be if I was worried about myself? I would do anything to get those jobs back. I would do anything to turn back the clock of the last five months and stop the Abbott Government goading Holden into going. The car component jobs; real people have got real problems. I'm not worried about me. I'm worried about what's best for this nation in the future. And we've lost the car industry. And this sort of whitewashing by smug out-of-touch Abbott Government Ministers who say "Oh there was nothing that could be done" shrug our shoulders, gee-whiz, the world's a hard place. Well the world’s always been a hard place, what on earth are they doing?

 

WILKINSON: Mr Shorten, just quickly before we go because we do have to go, do you expect Julia Gillard to be called to give evidence at the Royal Commission?

 

SHORTEN: I have no idea about that. This Royal Commission’s a political stunt. If you want to tackle any crime and corruption you're best off working with the police. You don't need another committee to do what the police can already do -

 

WILKINSON: Mr Shorten, do you think maybe as a former union boss you are too close to this?

 

SHORTEN: No, what I believe is that when you've got priorities, why not get the police to do their law and order work and the politicians should do work on jobs. We've already got a standing Crime Commission. I mean, no-one, no-one in politics, no-one in society supports crime, bribery, corruption, the bikie outlaw motorcycle gangs, but the question is what's the best way to handle it? Labor proposed all of the police agencies working together with the Crime Commission, a strong task force, it's worked in the past to deal with things such as gangs -

 

WILKINSON: But Mr Shorten the problem is the allegations of criminality were brought to the attention of unions last year and nothing was done and Labor shut down the ABCC in 2012. It looks like Labor has no interest and you as the leader having been a former union boss don't want unions investigated.

 

SHORTEN: Not at all. The question is if you're going to investigate criminality, get the police to do it. You don't set up a Royal Commission.

 

WILKINSON: Well the Royal Commission compels people to bring evidence to the table which doesn't happen with the police. Unfortunately Mr Shorten, we will have to leave it there.

 

SHORTEN: Well wait, that's a statement which I should follow up with a question, why didn't they use the existing Royal Commission powers they've got at the Australian Crime Commission? Why waste $100 million of taxpayers' money when in fact we can back our police.

 

WILKINSON: Well that $100 million dollars is actually disputed but that’s obviously -

 

SHORTEN: Well I hope you’re right.

 

WILKINSON: Okay, we'll I suppose we’ll find out in the wash-up.

 

SHORTEN: Yeah, I'm sure we will. Thanks anyway.

WILKINSON: Thanks Mr Shorten.

ENDS

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