WEDNESDAY, 25 OCTOBER 2017
SUBJECTS: Linda Burney; extraordinary AWU police raids.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody. Before I respond to the extraordinary events of late yesterday I want to extend the condolences of the Parliamentary Labor Party and the Labor family to Linda Burney and her family. Yesterday her son passed away. A dearly loved 33 year old son of Linda Burney. I can't imagine what it's like as a parent to lose your child. I know how much her son loved Linda and how much Linda loved her son. At this time, on behalf of Linda and her family, we would request that the media respect her privacy.
Now I want to turn to the extraordinary events of late yesterday. I am proud of having spent my adult life, working and standing up for working people and the less disadvantaged in our society, and I am frankly, appalled at the Turnbull Government hitting a new low yesterday with their attempts to smear myself, Labor and unions. This is an increasingly desperate Government who stands for nothing and their last resort is to smear their opponents.
Now, this is not the first time the desperate Liberals have tried to smear me. A whole Royal Commission was set up in no small part, to attack my reputation. $80 million of taxpayer money, wasted. I answered and attended that Royal Commission over two days and I answered nearly 1000 questions. And at the end of that massive waste of money, that political smear-fest, there were no adverse findings made. And yet again yesterday, the Government is wasting taxpayer money in a - in an increasingly grubby effort by a grubby Government and quite frankly a grubby Prime Minister, who has been exposed as standing for nothing and all they have left is to try and damage the reputation of their opponents.
I want to make this pledge to the Australian people. Turnbull can be as focused as he wants on smearing me, I'm focused on serving you.
I'm happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: What was your reaction to the raids, do you believe that the Government acted improperly?
SHORTEN: Well, quite frankly the use of 30 AFP officers to collect documents which the union has said all they had to do was ring up was an amazing waste of money. But we understand what this is about. And I have the greatest respect for the Australian Federal Police and it's serving officers. What I don't respect is that the regulator, at the behest of the Government, is conducting a political witch-hunt designed to throw mud in the hope that some will stick. Now, I know that this government can keep digging and digging and digging, and they can keep wasting taxpayers' money right up until the next election. There's nothing of substance or foundation and the Royal Commission established that. The Royal Commission had many more resources than this latest pitiful attempt, but the fact of the matter is that this a Government who has run out of anything positive to say, so all they can do is attack their opponents.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, a few of your colleagues have suggested that the Government directed the AFP to carry out those raids. Do you believe that to be the case?
SHORTEN: The AFP just didn't work this out on their own. No doubt they were directed by the Registered Organisations Commission. This is a little-known organisation, which was set up in the last few months by the Government, to do exactly what we predicted they'd do - hunt down and smear the reputation of the opponents of the government. I do think the Government has got serious questions to answer here. I think Turnbull and his Ministers have got serious questions to answer. How on earth was it possible that journalists were able to be there in advance of the police visit, and how on earth did the journalists know about the raid? I don't think the AFP told the media. I'm sure it was the Government.
JOURNALIST: So do you believe the AFP acted improperly?
SHORTEN: The AFP have got a job to do. No, my criticism is with the Government of Australia. They are using the Registered Organisations Commission, and through them the Federal Police to carry out the political dirty work of the Government. I think it is a low use of high office. We all know why the police were there yesterday. They are looking at matters which the Government want them to look at through the Registered Organisations Commission. Does anyone think, that if I wasn't Leader of the Opposition, any of this farce would have happened yesterday.
JOURNALIST: Do you believe the AFP is in independent, or that has been compromised by what happened yesterday?
SHORTEN: No, I have got the greatest of respect for the AFP. I don't question the integrity of the AFP. I question the integrity of Turnbull and the Government. Is this really the best use of scarce police resources? Is this really the best use of the AFP when we need them out there catching the drug criminals, going after the crime syndicates? Only yesterday morning, the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police made it clear that anti-crime operations were going wanting because there weren't enough resources. I think the Government should hang their head in shame in this matter.
JOURNALIST: But to be clear, you don't believe the AFP has done anything wrong?
SHORTEN: It's not about the AFP as far as I am concerned. Let's really go to the heart of this matter; the Government doesn't like the fact that unions make donations to progressive causes and to Labor candidates and the Government don't like me but they shouldn't be using taxpayer resources on this nonsense.
JOURNALIST: One quick last one before it properly starts raining. Are you worried about what the AFP may have found in those raids?
SHORTEN: No, they had a whole Royal Commission. Do you know what's crazy about this whole waste of time yesterday - the Royal Commission had access to every document that the AWU has ever produced, and the AWU provided every document that the Royal Commission had asked for. Yet, we got this farce yesterday. This is a waste of taxpayer money designed to smear the reputation of their opponents - it won't work. But what I say, and I'll finish this press conference on this. Turnbull can be as focused as he wants on smearing me, I am focused on serving the people of Australia.