GAI BRODTMANN, MEMBER FOR CANBERRA: Thanks everyone for coming down to the CIT metal fabrication department. It's great to be here this morning. It's a very cool Canberra morning but we've had a very warm welcome from Annita and her team Evan and Daniel, and also the apprentices. And I just want to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate Annita, who is just five weeks into the job and she is doing a great job at leading the team here and taking over from a former fantastic woman.
Now, this morning we've had the chance to talk to apprentices about what's working and what's not , and I now pass over to the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten to outline what was discussed today. Thanks.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Gai and it's good to be back from a week's leave. What Labor has been doing since Parliament rose and in the lead up to 1 July is we've been talking about jobs. And we've made it very clear that we think that restoring the arbitrary cut to penalty rates, reversing the arbitrary unilateral cuts to penalty rates, is a first order of business following the next election if Labor is successful.
But our plan for jobs isn't just about restoring the penalty rates of low paid workers. We also do not believe that it is the right time now, to give millionaires tax cuts when ordinary workers - the price of everything is going up except their wages. And we are determined also to take a stand to promote apprenticeships - both the kids who are leaving school and older Australians who want to retrain and reskill. We are committed to reversing the trend towards privatisation of vocational education in this country. We are going to put the bulk of Commonwealth resources behind TAFE. We are going to restore the option of an apprenticeship to young Australians and older Australians.
So Labor is talking about jobs, the conditions, wages of average wage earners in this country. Yet we see Mr Turnbull's gone off to London and he can't even go to London without taking his chaos and division with him. The Labor Party is focused on providing good policies for well paid jobs for Australians. We're getting on with the main game.
Happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of Malcolm Turnbull's speech last night saying that the political centre is exactly where the Liberal Party should be?
SHORTEN: The Turnbull Government is in the middle of an identity crisis and they have forgotten what their real job is - it's to look after the country. Australians don't like it when political parties just talk about themselves. Mr Turnbull is having an identity crisis, he is debating whether or not he is a Liberal or a conservative. But what is beyond doubt is that he is not a leader. What everyone knows is that this is a government which is lacking leadership. They're so self-absorbed with their naval-gazing, they're not talking about jobs and wages and energy prices and the things which really matter to everyday Australians.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten if the Coalition maintains its plebiscite policy, would you join forces with Liberal MP’s and Independents to bring on a vote on gay marriage before the end of the year in the lower house?
SHORTEN: The issue of marriage equality has been talked to death. The Prime Minister knows what he ought to do but he doesn't have the ticker to do the right thing. Let's just get on with it. Australians are over the talking, let's get on with it and have a vote in Parliament and be done with the issue.
JOURNALIST: And would you help bring on that vote?
SHORTEN: Absolutely. We support having a vote in Parliament. Australians know that a plebiscite is just a waste of money. They know it will have harmful outcomes in terms of some of the public debate. We are going to be in Parliament for a number of weeks for the rest of this year, we can just get on and have the vote. I mean quite frankly this issue has been talked to death. I think many Australians are now sick and tired of it. The Prime Minister knows what should be done, but he doesn't have the ticker to do it.
JOURNALIST: What did you make of today's Newspoll though, that shows Australians do support a plebiscite?
SHORTEN: I think if there was a poll which asked Australians would you just like to see the marriage equality debate resolved, I reckon there'd be big support for that. Let's just get on and do it. There's been 20 changes to the Marriage Act since the Marriage Act was created. None of them required to have a non-binding opinion poll costing $160 million. For goodness sake Malcolm, I know you agree with me, let's just get on with this - Labor's up for that.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten there's an inquiry underway at the moment into allegations that Australian troops may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The ABC as well as Fairfax have reported several new allegations over the last couple of days. Are you concerned by these developments and do you believe the response by the Defence Department has been commensurate and appropriate?
SHORTEN: Let me just say at the outset, I've got a high level of respect and confidence in the professionalism of our frontline soldiers. I had the privilege to visit Afghanistan while Australian troops were serving there, and what I saw there was sheer professionalism - the best in the world. I'm not going to join in a trial by media. There is an inquiry on the way into these serious allegations and I'm not going to comment further. I'm going to let the inquiry do its work.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, what do you make of your personal popularity outlined in the latest Newspoll, particularly after a week's leave?
SHORTEN: First of all, what Australians want I think, is they want their political leaders just to get on with it. I mean, it's a bit remarkable isn't it, Malcolm Turnbull goes overseas, goes to London, and he talks about the Liberal Party's identity. The Liberal Party and the Turnbull Government are having an identity crisis. They don't know what they stand for and they just want to talk about themselves. By contrast, Labor's made it very clear that we understand the price of everything in this country is going up except wages and the more time that Malcolm Turnbull spends fighting Tony Abbott instead of dealing with the real issues, the more frustrated Australians are going to get with the Government.
We are going to make sure, that if we get elected, we'll reverse the unilateral cuts to penalty rates covering 700,000 low paid Australian workers. We're going to reverse the tax cuts which are going to millionaires at a time when this country can't afford it. We are not convinced at all, that the priority for the Government should be giving big companies a massive tax reduction, at the same time as they're taking energy supplement payments off people who go on the pension payments.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, on Israel, do you believe the position that the party currently has on a unilateral recognition of Palestine is appropriate, and did you support the change?
SHORTEN: Well, Labor supports and continues to support a two-state solution. We support the right of Israel to exist within secure boundaries and we support the legitimate aspiration of Palestinians to have their own country. That's the policy which is the Labor position and will continue to be Labor's approach.
JOURNALIST: NSW Labor is set to vote this month to recognise Palestine. Would you then feel it would be a good time to revisit Labor's policy?
SHORTEN: The NSW Conference is entitled to debate all manner of issues, and they will. I know that Labor believes in a two-state solution. We support to legitimate aspirations of Palestinians towards statehood and we support right of Israel to safely co-exist with Palestine within secure borders.
JOURNALIST: So you don't think the NSW motion that's been mooted is the right way to go?
SHORTEN: I think that in terms of what happens at the NSW State Conference, they'll debate their issues. But I want to make it very clear, the Labor principle is to support the right of Israel to exist within secure borders, and we support the legitimate aspirations of Palestinian people to have their own country and state.
JOURNALIST: How do you think the AFP pay dispute should be resolved?
SHORTEN: I think this is a big vote of no confidence by the Australian Federal Police in the Turnbull Government. It was an 87 per cent turnout; 87 per cent of all of the Federal Police in Australia voted in this agreement and by a margin of four to one, they've rejected the agreement.
The Turnbull Government likes to talk about security but at the same time they are cutting the pay and conditions of the people who are keeping us safe, it’s a disgraceful approach. They shouldn't treat the pay and conditions of Federal Police as some sort of ideological industrial relations wage cutting exercise. They should get behind the men and women of the AFP, not give them a hard time.
JOURNALIST: Alan Jones said this morning that Mr Turnbull should have added that we're 'almost Labor' in his speech to the UK. Do you agree?
SHORTEN: Well I think that there's a lot of people in this nation who are surprised that Mr Turnbull can't even go to London without taking his mess and his division with him. I mean actually it's getting pretty serious, the division between Mr Turnbull and the right wing of his party. It's getting to a point where I think that when it comes down to the fight between Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, one of them has got to go for the good of the nation.
We need this Government to get back to the business of standing up for jobs, for doing something about the low wages growth in this country. They've got to sort out their deals with the Federal Police; they've got to stop making it hard for workers on Sunday to get proper penalty rates. They shouldn't go ahead with their tax cut for millionaires; they shouldn't go ahead with their tax cuts for large corporations.
This is a Government who no longer knows what it stand for, they want to have a debate about what they call themselves. Well, Labor's not going to get caught up in that trap. What we're going to do is stand up for Australians; stand up for TAFE; stand up for Australian jobs; stand up for people getting paid properly at work. We're getting on with the business of making sure the Australian people don't get forgotten by this Government.
Last question thanks.
JOURNALIST: On the trade deals, the Prime Minister has signalised that they are hopeful - that he hopes to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. Do you think that's premature or is it smart to get out of the blocks early now and take this on?
SHORTEN: Well when Brexit occurred both Mr Abbott and I certainly said that we think there is an opportunity and I know that Mr Turnbull said the same thing. I think we are all on the same page about trying to improve our trade relations with Europe and with the UK.
Quite frankly, that's the sort of thing which Mr Turnbull should be talking about when he goes overseas, not sitting somewhere in London firing rockets back into what’s happens in his own political party. I mean what I can't work out is, he addressed the Federal Executive Council of the Liberal Party, isn't that where you talk about the Liberal party? That's what he should have done.
But anyway the real problem here is that he's not focused on the main game of looking after Australia, running the country. A political party in government who can't govern themselves, can't govern the nation.
Thank you very much.