PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2017
SUBJECT/S: Queensland state election, banking royal commission, marriage equality.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, everybody.
First of all, let me start by congratulating Annastacia Palaszczuk and her united state Labor team in Queensland for an outstanding result. She deserves the credit, her and her team. She went to Queenslanders with a clear set of policies and Queenslanders responded by giving her a second term.
I notice that Mr Turnbull, however, has said there are absolutely no federal lessons to be learnt from the Queensland state election. Well, clearly his own party don't agree with him. We have seen George Christensen out there saying that there needs to be more leadership from the Turnbull Government in the light of the Queensland election. We've seen the National Party calling for changes in the way they operate with their Liberal allies in Queensland.
There is no doubt that the crisis engulfing the Turnbull Government is affecting the reputation of the Liberal National Party brand right across Australia. If Mr Turnbull thinks there are absolutely no federal lessons from the Queensland election, then he's just living in la-la land.
Happy to take any questions that people may have.
REPORTER: Have you seen Barry O'Sullivan's draft bill and what do you think?
SHORTEN: My colleagues have been studying the bill. I want to be very straight with the Australian people on this. Labor will work with people of good conscience and good will to support a royal commission into the banking sector, to support a commission of inquiry.
For too long, small businesses, farmers and consumers have suffered from scandal after scandal conducted by the big four banks. Now is the time to have a commission of inquiry.
We call upon Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison to stop their stubborn defence of the big four banks in Australia. Nothing less than a wholesale commission of inquiry, indeed royal commission, will be satisfactory to the literally tens and tens of thousands of people who have been ripped off by unscrupulous and unethical behaviour of the big four banks.
REPORTER: Have you been in contact with lower house National MPs to encourage them to cross the floor and support a commission –
SHORTEN: I haven't. What I do know is that many victims of banking have spoken to people right across the political spectrum. It really does strain credulity to understand why Malcolm Turnbull is so determined to fight so hard for the big four banks and to avoid a banking royal commission. The joke has to stop. Mr Turnbull needs to listen to the Australian people. He is not right on this. The Australian people will not be denied, and I promise the Australian people this – no matter how hard Malcolm Turnbull fights to defend the banks, I will fight even harder to make sure we have a banking royal commission.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, to go back to Queensland, the combined total of the two major parties was less than 70 per cent. If three in 10 Queenslanders are voting for someone else, what lesson is there from that vote for Labor?
SHORTEN: There's no doubt in my mind that what people want from the main political parties are positive policies going to the future of this country. They want the major political parties to talk about the issues that affect Australians, not just some Punch and Judy show in Canberra, where the two parties just fight each other.
I can't control what the Government does. Their crisis is entirely their making. They have policies which are out of touch for ordinary Australians. Only Mr Turnbull could dream up tax cuts for multinationals and for millionaires, at the same time do nothing to restore the penalty rates of low paid workers. The lesson for Labor is that at the next election, we want people to vote for us not just because we're not the Turnbull Government, but because we've got positive politicies whcih tackle the issues of rising energy prices, low wages, housing affordability. We want to have policies which are fair dinkum on everything from climate change, the need to tackle climate change, right through to a proper NBN.
I think Australians are looking for leadership, they're just getting none of that from Mr Turnbull and his very divided Government in Canberra.
JOURNALIST: How do you fight off the rise of the Greens [inaudible]
SHORTEN: We've been doing that for a long time, and again, I want to be very upfront with the Australian people. A vote for Labor means that you can be sure that your kids will get properly funded schools, that Medicare will be run by your Medicare card not your credit card. A vote for Labor will make sure that first home buyers get a chance to enter the housing market. A vote for Labor will mean that we have a chance to do something about energy prices by investing in renewable energy. A vote for Labor will see a banking royal commission.
These are the issues which Australians talk to me about when I get out and about, and for Mr Turnbull to persist with his defence of the banks, to persist with his determination to give millionaires and multinationals massive tax cuts, just shows me and Australians how out of touch he really is.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, the entire Labor Party was threatening to turn up today, why have you scaled that right back despite the Government postponing Parliament?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all my Shadow Cabinet are meeting, we had a scheduled meeting. Just because Mr Turnbull doesn't want to turn up to Parliament, doesn't make him the boss of us or indeed the Australian people. In terms of the rest of my caucus members, we thought it was better for them to do their work in their electorates and their other commitments.
But let's go to what the real problem today here is in Parliament. We've got a Prime Minister who doesn't want to go to Parliament. We've got a Prime Minister who's afraid of his backbench so he doesn't want to have joint party meetings. We've got a Prime Minister who is afraid of the relentless scrutiny that the Opposition will give him on issues including his determination to cut penalty rates and to not have a banking royal commission. Mr Turnbull should realise, he can run and hide, but sooner or later he has to come to Parliament, and when he does he's got questions to answer on all of his out of touch policies.
JOURNALIST: Will Labor accept amendments to the Smith bill?
SHORTEN: I think that what Australians want to see is for us to get on with marriage equality. I see some of the conservatives are running a rear-guard action to again deny the marriage equality result. I'd just say to them and the people they're talking to, religious freedoms are not under attack in Australia. I respect faith, I respect religious freedoms. This marriage equality bill has nothing to do with general religious freedoms or parental choice in schools. I think that they should just accept the verdict of the Australian people. We can just get on and have a vote, because there's a lot of other things that Australians want us to deal with, not the least of which would be restoring unfair penalty rate cuts and a banking royal commission.
JOURNALIST: So that bill has the balance right, you think, the Smith bill?
SHORTEN: I think it very largely has the balance right, and we should also remember that the bill which is being proposed to be voted on was already the subject of a Senate report, which was a cross-party report, which people from all across the political spectrum could get behind. No more delays on marriage equality. We have Parliament here, we should just get on, vote on it and get it done.
JOURNALIST: Do you expect that this Bill can pass through the Senate this week?
SHORTEN: Yes. Alright, thanks everybody.