WEDNESDAY, 22 NOVEMBER 2017
SUBJECT/S: Turnbull shutting down Parliament; QLD election; education; power prices; Gina Rinehart’s prize to Barnaby Joyce; marriage equality.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone. My name is Charis Mullen, I am the Labor candidate for the state seat of Jordan, and welcome to the Jordan electorate. I'm most pleased to have Bill Shorten here today visiting the electorate and visiting Woodcrest State College.
I really wanted Bill to come here, and the reason I wanted him to come here is because this is a fantastic school in our electorate, and it's a real privilege to have him here and to show him what good Labor education policy and skills policy looks like. Like Bill, I know that he shares my views on good schools, better health for our people here in this electorate, and jobs, mostly importantly. Particularly jobs for our young people here. This is Bill's 29th visit to Queensland and we are most welcome to have him here. I am so pleased that he's been able to join us here today, and I'd like to invite Bill now to say a few words.
BILL SHORTEN: Thanks Charis, and great to be here with Milton Dick, the Member for Oxley, and Labor's standout candidate for Jordan, Charis Mullen.
Charis Mullen, I think, represents all of what the Palaszczuk Government's doing right. They're renewing their talent, they're bringing up new and talented MPs, and if Charis gets the privilege to represent this electorate, I'm sure she will have a really distinguished career representing the voters and families of Jordan.
And I'm also pleased to be here at Woodcrest, it's a P-12 school, 1,700 students, nearly. This is a school where the kids are keen to learn, the parents are supporting their desire to learn, and they want the best for their kids, and the teaching staff and general staff are really committed to the wellbeing and resilience of the children here.
In fact, it was very interesting for me to visit the Year 7 class. The Year 7 class is planning to go to Canberra next week. You know the real shame of Mr Turnbull's weak decision is that the kids from Woodcrest in Queensland want to go and see Parliament working. The problem is the Parliament won't be working next week. But anyway, I was happy, with Milton, to be able to come and see the kids here in their school environment.
But what disturbs me about Parliament not sitting next week is that it's emerged, in a pretty dramatic Cabinet leak, that the reason why Malcolm Turnbull shut down the Parliament is because he wants to shut down the royal commission. Well, I've got some news for Mr Turnbull. There is no place he can run and hide in, which will avoid a royal commission. The people of Australia will not be denied their royal commission. I absolutely am committed to working with all people of good conscience, including in the conservative ranks, to have an inquiry into the banks. I am confident that Mr Turnbull's latest, last desperate gasp to protect his friends in the banks shows that, in fact, they've failed. I predict now it's not a matter of if there'll be a royal commission but when.
And I say to Mr Turnbull, get on board now. You're the last person other than the big banks. Let's just have that royal commission and give the justice to the thousands of people - small business, farmers, people who have been dudded, customers, they want a royal commission. Labor wants a royal commission. Let's give the banks the royal commission. Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Have you had a response from the Prime Minister to your letter?
SHORTEN: I don't think I've received a response yet, which is very discourteous. I mean, I get that Mr Turnbull thinks that he's more important than the Parliament, and that like some very out of touch elitist fellow that he is, he decides when the Parliament can meet.
I want to remind Mr Turnbull, the Parliament belongs to the people of Australia. It's not some sort of investment banking deal which he can tie up in a bow and get a fee from. No, the Parliament deserves to sit. I think it is truly weak. We know that Mr Turnbull is a frightened Prime Minister. He's frightened of his backbench. He's frightened of the electorate. He's frightened of Parliament. He's frightened of a royal commission.
JOURNALIST: Will Labor MPs sit in Canberra next week?
SHORTEN: No, I don't think that will be likely. Certainly our Shadow Cabinet will be meeting. If MPs have meetings which simply can't be moved or the cost of changing it, I'm sure some of them will be there. I just think it's a hopeless state of affairs in Australia that we've got a Prime Minister, he wants to be the Prime Minister of Australia, he just doesn't want to do the day job of turning up to Parliament. I mean, the Parliament of Australia is where Governments get scrutiny. This is a serious undermining of our parliamentary democracy. Mr Turnbull might not like the MPs that the people in their electorates chose, but that doesn't give him the right to effectively lock MPs out and say, you don't come to work this week.
Really, goodness gracious me. What other group of Australians, when they don't like going to work, just cancel the week? Could you imagine the tradies, the nurses, the teachers, the people who make this country run, the truck drivers, the underground miners, who else in Australia other than Malcolm Bligh Turnbull gets to decide, if I don't like to work this week I just won't.
It's the ultimate dummy spit from a beleaguered and besieged MP.
JOURNALIST: Is it appropriate for Barnaby Joyce to receive a $40,000 prize paid for and awarded by Gina Rinehart?
SHORTEN: Yes, I have just heard about this. Barnaby Joyce, what on earth are you doing accepting $40,000? And I have to say, why is a mining millionaire giving a Turnbull Government minister a $40,000 cash present? This is very unhealthy for our democracy.
It's not right. It doesn't look right, it doesn't smell right. This is very, very unusual and concerning conduct.
JOURNALIST: Following from the education forum on Monday, what was the main purpose of coming to Woodcrest today?
SHORTEN: Well, I like to visit the schools in the electorates of Australia. Sometimes I think our parliamentarians need to channel the courage and optimism of the kids that we see in our schools. These kids here were asking really interesting questions about politics. I just think sometimes parliamentarians, and I would say in this case the Government MPs of the Turnbull Government, need to get out and talk to the kids. They need to go and talk to their parents.
We've got Mr Turnbull, rattling around with his big promises to reduce energy prices. I defy you to find me any Australian who thinks energy prices are lower now than two or three years ago. Find me any Australian business who really thinks their gas bills are going down, not up.
The problem for energy prices in Australia is that every Mr Turnbull talks about them, the prices go up and up and up. Mr Turnbull has got to stop caving in to the right-wing knuckle draggers of the LNP and start getting on board the renewable energy bandwagon. No less a person than Mr Turnbull's hand-picked chief scientist this week said the 50 per cent renewable energy plans that Labor has are exactly the right direction this nation needs to go.
Only Labor has a plan to protect renewable energy jobs and create renewable energy jobs. Only Labor has a plan to put downward pressure on prices, not just wash our hands of it and see the prices go up. So if you want better jobs, real action on climate change and lower prices, you've got to vote Labor.
And we need people to vote Labor in the state election. Annastacia Palaszczuk has got the runs on the board. She's done more than enough to deserve a second chance. When you see impressive MPs with the calibre of Charis Mullen coming up, you realise that only Labor can be trusted with the jobs, the health and the education of Queenslanders. Not just in South East Queensland, but right across Queensland. The choice is simple in the Queensland state election on Saturday. Vote Labor and put people first. Vote LNP, and put One Nation first.
JOURNALIST: What are your thoughts about Jo-Anne Miller's public display of affection with Pauline Hanson in Ipswich?
SHORTEN: Oh, I think in Queensland, when I look at the Labor Party I take my queue from Annastacia Palaszczuk. She is the leader of Queensland Labor, me as the national leader of the Labor Party: we put One Nation last. That's the plan, that's our proposition. Only one party has been unequivocal, that's the Labor Party. We will put even the LNP ahead of One Nation because we understand that you've got to make sure that you got the right set of leaders in this state. This state can't afford to go to the fringes, can't afford to take the risk.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, what you see is what you get. With Tim Nicholls, who on earth knows what you're getting behind him? It could be Malcolm Roberts as deputy leader for all we know.
JOURNALIST: One more question. Do you have an objection to Phillip Ruddock looking at religious [inaudible]
SHORTEN: Well, we all understand that Mr Turnbull's been facing a revolt from the conservative right of his party who are unhappy with the marriage equality survey results.
Now, I do think it's important that we preserve religious freedom in this country, and I do respect the concerns of some No voters. But the way to do it is not to delay marriage equality. Let's just get on with marriage equality. Let's get this done.
Australians are, I think, not only do they want it, but they're sick of the fact we're still arguing about it. I promise Australians that whenever we can get Turnbull to have parliament, we'll vote for it, we'll get it done.
In term it's of Mr Ruddock and others have an inquiry, we'll have look at the detail of it. We're not automatically against that. But one thing's for sure, we're not interested in delaying tactics and we're not interested in extending discrimination. If there's a way in which we can deal with legitimate concerns about religious freedom in the new year, Labor, as we have already said, will be highly constructive and respectful.