ABC RN BREAKFAST
MONDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2017
SUBJECT/S: Queensland Election, Banking Royal Commission, Marriage Equality Bill.
FRAN KELLY, HOST: Bill Shorten joins us in our Parliament House studios. Bill Shorten, welcome back to Breakfast.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, Fran.
KELLY: The Prime Minister says the Queensland election was fought overwhelmingly on state issues, you're blaming the LNP vote collapse on the Turnbull Government. Don't you give Queensland voters any credit when it comes to telling the difference between state and federal issues?
SHORTEN: Let's be really accurate here: I've, yesterday, congratulated Annastacia Palaszczuk. Her and her state Labor team ran an excellent election and much of the Queensland election was to do with state politics and state issues -
KELLY: Well you said the Liberals and Nationals are suffering from one end of Australia to the other as a result of the Turnbull Government.
SHORTEN: That's true too. The point about it is that if Mr Turnbull thinks that there is no federal implications at all for him or his government, then he is living in La La Land. He just doesn't get it. There are issues, not just in Queensland, but across Australia which I think Australians are increasingly frustrated about the Federal Government - not the least of which is of course the failure to hold a banking royal commission.
KELLY: There's implications for both major parties, aren't there in this result? I mean, if you look at the result, more than 30 per cent of the voters turned away from the major parties. Around one third of Queensland voters supported One Nation, the Greens or independents and Labor is doing not much better than the Coalition in stopping that bleeding, is it?
SHORTEN: I think there are implications for federal politics -
KELLY: What are they?
SHORTEN: And the parties generally but first of all for the Government. You don't have to take my word for it, you can take the word of George Christensen. He is a Coalition MP who directly said there’s problems with the Turnbull Government and the impact in regional Queensland.
KELLY: I am asking you what you think of the implications.
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, I think there are some to do with the Turnbull Government, and there are broader implications as well. Just turning very briefly to the Turnbull Government: Queensland LNP Members said yesterday that they want to hold this banking royal commission, they feel that's a demonstration that the Government, the national government, is out of touch. In the last week in the lead up to the state election you had Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop calling for formal investigations of their cabinet colleagues. This all has an impact.
The broader question that you are going to as well though is that there is frustration with the major parties by voters. I am not the Government, I am the Opposition, but what we are doing is that by the next election we will have positive policies which we will put forward to the people and I hope that redeems some of the confidence which people are looking for in the major parties. That's what we are doing. We don't want to win the next election just because we are not Mr Turnbull and his disunited team, we want to win because we've got good policies which Australians say speak to their lives, policies including standing up for penalty rates and bring the backs to heel.
KELLY: Well let's look at the minor parties that are taking votes away from the major parties. On your side of politics, it's clear the Greens did very well in Brisbane, they may pick up one seat, in fact, in Queensland. The Greens pushed Deputy Premier, Jackie Trad all the way in her seat of South Brisbane. Just last week Labor was smashed by the Greens in Northcote by-election, a seat Labor has held for more than a century. If the LNP has a problem with One Nation, Labor certainly has a problem with the Greens, don't you?
SHORTEN: There is no doubt that Labor wants to get more votes from people in the inner-city as well as elsewhere. But having said that, the Queensland election, Annastacia Palaszczuk has won the election. And if look at our Opposition, we're working on policies which go towards the lives which people are living.
Our reforms to negative gearing will put housing affordability back in the range of first home buyers. Our proposals to reserve unfair penalty rate cuts will do something about lifting the minimum wages of millions of Australians. Our proposals not to go ahead with millionaire tax cuts demonstrate we're in touch with what ordinary Australians want. And again, I have to say if the Turnbull Government is in denial and says there's nothing to learn from the Queensland election, then I think that shows you all that's wrong. This Government, Mr Turnbull and his Ministers seem to spend so much time denying there's a problem, they don't have any time to learn the lessons.
KELLY: Do you look at lessons there in the One Nation vote? It didn't get the seats it was boasting it would, it won't be the power player it was boasting it would be, but it did get double digit support in some seats. It got 13 per cent across the State, but in some seats over 20 per cent. I wonder what you make of their performance in Queensland, do you think there's only a lesson there for the Coalition or are you concerned about Labor's more conservative blue collar vote, which has gone to One Nation in the past?
SHORTEN: I think Labor's principled position both nationally and in Queensland of putting One Nation last demonstrated that we're willing to fight an election on our values. We're not trying to have a bet each way.
I think in the bush, the Liberals project as being out of touch and again that's what the Nationals are saying. In Queensland the Nationals are looking at how they can deconstruct their Coalition with the Liberals, and in the city, I think a lot of Liberal voters are very uneasy that the Liberals, both at the national and the state level are willing to do deals with Pauline Hanson's One Nation political party.
KELLY: Okay. You mentioned a Royal Commission into the banks, or a commission of inquiry into the banks a few times. LNP Senator Barry O'Sullivan is pushing on with his Private Members Bill for just that - a commission of inquiry - if that Bill is passed, how would you interpret that? Will you make a mountain out of that? Will you try and get people to see it as a vote of no confidence in the Turnbull Government?
SHORTEN: I think what really matters here is not the Turnbull Government, it matters about trying to reform our banking sector in deal with the pathology which exists within the big banks. We will work seriously and constructively with anyone, and that includes Senator O'Sullivan, who wants to see a reform in the banking sector. The truth of the matter is, that too many farmers have had their loans foreclosed by banks with harsh lending practices, too many small businesses have been treated unfairly -
KELLY: Well just on that front, the Treasurer Scott Morrison is now working on a compensation scheme for past victims of banking misconduct - so called legacy cases - he says that would be a speedier form of restitution than any kind of royal commission.
SHORTEN: Fran, how many Breakfast shows have we done on the past year and a half where the Government has got a new plan to try and reform the banks? They seem to want to do everything except a Royal Commission. I don't know why they're so keen to run a protection racket for the banks. Now, a compensation process is one which we will look at constructively, but that's no guarantee of stopping the problems in the future. If you want to stop the problems in the future you've got to understand and stop the misconduct in the past, and a Royal Commission has the powers to be able to look behind the corporate veil to make sure that we can genuinely reform the banking sector in this country.
You and I both know that a compensation tribunal is just another attempt by the Government to avoid having a Royal Commission. Why is Mr Turnbull so determined to protect his friends in the banks? And I want to say to Australians listening to the show, that no matter how determined is to stop a commission of inquiry, to stop a banking Royal Commission, I promise you that I'm even more determined to make sure that ordinary Australians have a voice in the reform of banking which is delivered through a Royal Commission.
KELLY: You're listening to RN Breakfast, it's 7:25AM our guest is Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Bill Shorten, the House of Reps isn't sitting this week, what are you even doing in Canberra?
SHORTEN: First of all, I think it is a complete joke that a Prime Minister of Australia has such little respect for Parliament, that he cancels it. We've got our regular Shadow Cabinet meeting and we're going to go ahead with that. Malcolm Turnbull is not the boss of the Labor Party but more concerning than that is that 12 million other Australians have got up this morning Fran and gone to work, and Parliament-
KELLY: Well, I'm sure Malcolm Turnbull is at work somewhere.
SHORTEN: Yeah but let's face it if you've got a Prime Minister who doesn't like Parliament that's like a fish who doesn't like water.
KELLY: The reason the PM cancelled the Reps this week is so the Senate can get on with same sex marriage debate, some in the Coalition are now demanding, are still demanding more religious protections to be included in the Dean Smith Bill which forms the basis of the same sex marriage legislation. Will Labor support any of the amendments around schools, around parental rights, the notion of no detriment clauses?
SHORTEN: Listen I think Australians have had enough delay on marriage equality. We had a survey that we didn't need to have, we spent well over $100 million we didn't need to but we've had the survey and it's come back with a Yes result and so I think any tactics by the right wing of Mr Turnbull's party to delay marriage equality would be viewed very disfavourably by the vast bulk of the Australian people.
KELLY: So what does that mean, you're prepared to not accept any amendments or?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, let's just deal - you and I both know that these are delaying tactics and if these issues were such big issues why didn't people raise them before? Secondly-
KELLY: They did raise them before, they did raise them during the debate, look at John Howard took out full-page ads on them.
SHORTEN: Well first of all the Smith Bill, which will be co-sponsored across the political spectrum, is the subject of the work of a joint parliamentary committee, a joint Senate Committee so this Bill is a consensus Bill. In terms of the actual substance of the concerns that people are putting up, I just wanted to say on religious freedom, we don't have a religious freedom crisis in this country, parents still have the right to choose.
This is as simple as the change can be, this is about allowing gay Australians to be able to get married and it's as simple as that and that's what we need to get on and vote for.
The other thing though is that Mr Turnbull used this as an excuse for the House of Reps not to have its scheduled sittings this week because he says that marriage equality is the only issue. It's not, there's plenty of other issues which should have been dealt with this week I mean it is incredible that you've got a Prime Minister of Australia who finds Parliament too hard.
KELLY: Can I just ask you finally there's a very damning exposé of celebrity TV gardener Don Burke in Fairfax and on the ABC today. Don Burke is accused of sexual harassment by many, many women who worked with him and worked on his program before it was axed in 2004. Burke's Backyard was on air for 17 years, it's now clear that some of these women took their complaints to their bosses, to their executives. Do we have a problem in this country when it takes this many years and the outing of a Hollywood producer for these allegations to come out?
SHORTEN: Yes we do. First of all to the victims of this sexual harassment, coming forward cannot have been easy so they are to be congratulated, it is sickening stuff, it is shocking stuff. Millions of Australians have watched this show on television and I think they will be shocked by these revelations. I wonder if Australians thought when you had the Harvey Weinstein scandals emerge in Hollywood, did we think we were immune? Perhaps we hoped we were but clearly we are not.
KELLY: But it turns out it was kind of an open secret everyone knew about it, no one liked it, a lot of people top executives calling him a grub and a disgrace but he was allowed to keep on with his show.
SHORTEN: Well I think it is shocking and what you call an open secret, I don't think most Australians did know about this and if it turns out that within the media industry people were happy to accept the dollars and the ratings and turn a blind eye to the completely wrong and horrendous practices, well that's to the shame of the industry.
KELLY: Bill Shorten thanks very much for joining us.
SHORTEN: Thank you very much.