Bill's Transcripts

3AW mornings with Neil Mitchell





7 JUNE 2013


SUBJECT/S: Surveillance, Geelong, Election


NEIL MITCHELL: Thanks, David. We'll check through that internet story. Joe Hockey's in Sydney. Bill Shorten's joined us in Melbourne.

Bill Shorten, good morning.

BILL SHORTEN: Good morning, gentlemen.

JOE HOCKEY: Morning.

NEIL MITCHELL: A quick reaction from both of you on the suggestion the United States looking at every piece of internet traffic over seven years with a secret spy unit.

BILL SHORTEN: It would be pretty boring, a lot of it. I mean I suppose that for national security, security agency you’ve got to spy on the risks, but I really don't know why I'd want to read everyone's internet.

NEIL MITCHELL:  What do you think, Joe Hockey?

JOE HOCKEY: Oh, it doesn't surprise me at all.


JOE HOCKEY: In fact, I would have expected it.


NEIL MITCHELL: On everything?

BILL SHORTEN: On everything?

JOE HOCKEY: Yes, yes. I mean if they've got - well...

NEIL MITCHELL: Would you do it?

JOE HOCKEY: You think about the war on terrorism and the fact that a lot of intelligence about terrorist activities have been picked up in communications over the internet and – yeah, I mean maybe, you know, because I was a minister for nine years and, you know, was partially aware of...

NEIL MITCHELL: Well, do we do this sort of thing here?

JOE HOCKEY: Well, I can't say.

NEIL MITCHELL: Oh, I see. You wouldn't be permitted to say if you knew.

JOE HOCKEY: That's right.

NEIL MITCHELL: I'll take that as a yes.

JOE HOCKEY: No, no, don't take it as yes, but...

NEIL MITCHELL: Well, no. Like you, I wouldn't be surprised if we do.

JOE HOCKEY: I wouldn't be surprised and, you know, because, you know, the war these days for survival is against the bad guys who use, you know, mobile phone technology and the internet to communicate with each other and share plans. And, frankly, thankfully, there have been no major terrorist attacks in any of our capital cities in the United States or Australia.

NEIL MITCHELL: Okay. We were talking about Geelong earlier. Bill Shorten's joined us. What will the Government do for Geelong? Is it the face of failure?

BILL SHORTEN: No, Geelong is not the face of failure. I think in Geelong there's a lot of success stories which don't always make the headlines. I could think about the - as evidence of that I'd offer the Carbon Fibre Research Centre at Deakin University.

NEIL MITCHELL: Yeah, we were talking about that earlier. But there are deep problems, aren't there?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, let's just - we don't spend enough time talking about the good news, where the bad news we'll always get to hear about. It's the aluminium...

NEIL MITCHELL: Yes, but hang on. You'll probably want to jump over the bad news because maybe you're a bit culpable here.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, wait a sec. You asked me a question, is Geelong the face of failure, and I'm saying no and I'm offering an example. I'm not sure a lot of people would know what carbon fibre is. It's the aluminium of the future. It's going to be used in the Boeing Dreamliner. There are ex-Ford workers now working there. So the - and at the Research Centre at Deakin Uni in Geelong is Australia and world leading.

NEIL MITCHELL: Yes. As I said, we've talked about these things at length. What does the Government do for Geelong that - the refinery goes five-hundred jobs; Ford five-hundred, six-hundred jobs, and now Target, we don't know how many hundred jobs.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, let's talk about the other big employer in Geelong, Alcoa, a place which I've been visiting for twenty years. The price of aluminium on the London Metals Exchange is going up, which is good. The Australian dollar's going down, which makes it easier for Point Henry smelter to compete with the rest of the world. And I know that Alcoa's got some good deals in the pipeline.

NEIL MITCHELL: So what does the Government do for the people of Geelong now?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, what we do now is we support the car industry generally and...

NEIL MITCHELL: But it's gone. Ford's going.

BILL SHORTEN: Hang on. But the car industry in Australia is not gone, and nor is small business and middle sized manufacturers. The point about supporting - making things in Australia is that the car industry's at the high tech end of our manufacturing sector. If we don't keep putting some support into the car industry we'll become a dumber manufacturing country.

NEIL MITCHELL: How much support are we willing to put into the car industry?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, Labor will put in more than the Liberals. They're proposing to cut it by half a billion dollars.

NEIL MITCHELL: Is that right, Joe Hockey?

JOE HOCKEY: Well, we've had a longstanding position that we would return to the same levels of support for the car industry as occurred under the previous Coalition Government. And then we'd have a predictable and consistent flow of money. What's happened over the last few years is the Government has added other taxes like the carbon tax for the car industry and manufacturing, and also offered a green car fund and then took it away, and then had the cash for clunkers, and took that away. So what the car industry is overwhelmingly looking for is predictability over the medium term, and that's what we're offering.

BILL SHORTEN: Listen, the car industry don't want you to cut half a billion dollars off...

JOE HOCKEY: Well, mate, when we announced that there were three manufacturers. And when the money kicks in there's probably going to be two.

BILL SHORTEN: And if the polls are right and you guys win and you have unfettered power, then there'll be nothing left.

JOE HOCKEY: [Sighs]. Well, I don't accept that.

BILL SHORTEN: Geelong is not just a manufacturing city. So I've said that Alcoa's going positively. I've said there's new research down there. But Geelong's also a services centre, and as a services sector the 450 jobs that'll come from creating a national agency - the National Disability Insurance Scheme - that'll provide more jobs.

NEIL MITCHELL: Do you know how many are going at Target?

BILL SHORTEN: Not the final number, no.

NEIL MITCHELL: A rough number?

BILL SHORTEN: Only what I've seen in the newspaper.

JOE HOCKEY: Well, mate, nobody knows. Target hasn't said.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, Target will make their announcements. I've got to say that there are - in Australia - you know, I was listening to you talk about the canneries before, the SPC cannery.

JOE HOCKEY: Yeah, I raised that.

BILL SHORTEN: I was listening to you. SPC's there now, but, you know, thirty years ago there were twelve canneries. I think there's a challenge here about creating our production size and scale if we want to compete with the rest of the world. So some change is inevitable. The challenge is how do we help people cope with change, which is why we've got to make sure our kids get the best education possible, so that they just don't rely on one job for life. We all know that we'll - our kids will have many jobs and many careers - so education is a key point here.

NEIL MITCHELL: That is true, and that's great, but we're not offering a lot of hope or comfort to the people from Target, from the Shell refinery or from Ford.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, I've got to say I've probably been to the Shell refinery more than most pollies...

NEIL MITCHELL: Well, good on you, but we're still not offering them hope here and now.

BILL SHORTEN: Okay. It's going to take me longer than five seconds to finish a sentence.

NEIL MITCHELL: Well, yes, but don't patronise us.

BILL SHORTEN: No, I'm not. What I'm saying is I've been to that refinery more often than a lot of the legislators. The challenge with oil refining in Australia is we still need to have oil refining in Australia, but we had, ten years ago, eight refineries and none of them were of the scale of the larger refineries.

NEIL MITCHELL: Well, get back to the point. What are we offering the people of Shell from Government? What are you offering the people of Shell, the people of Target and the people of Ford?

BILL SHORTEN: What we're offering them is we're backing in the services industry, we're backing in new research. We have supported the steel, the aluminium and the car industry, and we continue to do that. So we're helping people get through the current system. We're helping build new jobs in the future. We're also providing skills for people so that they can retrain and that the younger ones have a diverse set of skills so that they can cope as new jobs create.

Geelong has been through a change in the past. They used to make cement there. Now they don't. They used to make rope at Kinnears. Now they don't. The point about it is they used to have a lot more wool scouring. Now they don't. I know Geelong well. What I also know about Geelong is people have written it off in the past. And I think that a constant diet of just saying it's all wrecked isn't - history isn't on the side of that argument, and a Labor Government stands alongside people when they've got to cope with change.

NEIL MITCHELL: Okay. Graham, go ahead please, Graham.

CALLER GRAHAM: Good morning. Thanks Neil, and good morning, gents. Mr Shorten, I've got a bit of a minor problem in understanding something. I understand that the vast majority of parliamentarians will not back Kevin Rudd as alternative leader before the election, so that looks like it won't change. So what I can't understand - I asked a mate who's a leading Labor figure why doesn't Labor put up a better alternative candidate - a lifelong Labor person, whether it be you or Simon Crean, Greg Combet, whoever.

NEIL MITCHELL: So what's the question? Why are you sticking with Gillard? Is that it?

CALLER GRAHAM: Yes. But his answer was most interesting. He said you're joking, Graham. He said everyone up there would rather keep their leadership aspirations to themself for the future. I thought it would be more important to save seats and save Labor mates now, but then look for the future leader to achieve their aspirations.

NEIL MITCHELL: Okay. Bill Shorten, do you want to respond to that?

BILL SHORTEN: Oh, I don’t think the politics are decided just on personalities, Graham. I appreciate the question you're making, and it's a debate you read in the newspapers, and some people raise it. There is no doubt in my mind that if the polls are correct Tony Abbott will win in a landslide. So the question then is what does an Abbott government look like if that - if the polls are correct, and may it stay this way? This is where ideas come into place. I don't trust the Coalition when it comes to workplace relations. I think their idea to freeze superannuation and not increase support for people's retirement income is incorrect. You've got to - what the Government needs to do is explain that in an election there are two choices.

NEIL MITCHELL: But you've got to…If there’s all… You're right, but Graham's making the point there's a leadership problem. Now, will that or will that not be addressed before the election?

BILL SHORTEN: I believe that this election will be decided not on the personalities of leadership, but it'll be decided upon who's got the better ideas for the future of this country. That's why we want to put more resources into our schools, so the kids get the best start in life.

NEIL MITCHELL: I mean with respect the Government has been targeting Tony Abbott as a misogynist, as - even yesterday the Prime Minister went after him personally in the Parliament. And now you're saying it's not about personalities. Now, fair go.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, each time I've come on your show consistently, I'd rather debate the ideas than the personalities.

NEIL MITCHELL: Yes, but you're telling us it's not about personalities, but your Government is leading an attack on personalities.

BILL SHORTEN: Voters want a debate of ideas. There's a clear choice at the next election between them cutting things to the bone or us funding...

JOE HOCKEY: Oh, come on get off the sheet, will you?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, you guys never want to actually talk...

JOE HOCKEY: The talking points.

BILL SHORTEN:...ideas. Listen, Neil's sitting in front of me. You can see the handwritten notes. I was hoping we would have a discussion on asbestos, but I get that we won't necessarily get to all of those. Let's talk ideas. I see what Graham's saying, but Labor - and perhaps even Liberal - I won't give them advice, but for our own side - we've got to move beyond debating the personalities to getting into the issues. People want to know what we're going to do for them in the next ten and twenty years, not who likes who.

NEIL MITCHELL: Okay. Is Kevin Rudd helping that with his interview on the 7:30 Report last night and now his appearance at Geelong? Or is he undermining what you're saying?

BILL SHORTEN: No, he's campaigning for Labor, like we all are.

NEIL MITCHELL: So you're comfortable with that interview on the 7:30 Report last night?


NEIL MITCHELL: Not promoting himself?

BILL SHORTEN: You've got a campaign in the electronic age, people know he is so the fact that he's campaigning for Labor is an asset to Labor.

NEIL MITCHELL: If you lose the election are you interested in being Opposition Leader?

BILL SHORTEN: I'm not interested in losing the election.

NEIL MITCHELL: True, but if that happens?


NEIL MITCHELL: You've just told us it probably will.

BILL SHORTEN: No, we're not going to distract the debate.

NEIL MITCHELL: You've just told us you probably will lose the election.

BILL SHORTEN: Yeah well then let's talk about what Tony Abbott will do. How is that if people think Labor's going to lose we don't get a greater examination of Coalition policies?

NEIL MITCHELL: Well I think we haven't got them all yet is a good start.

BILL SHORTEN: That's right, but - yeah, but you're right, we haven't got them all but we're less than 100 days…

JOE HOCKEY: We've got more than 45. We've got more than 45 policies out there.

BILL SHORTEN: Oh, listen…

JOE HOCKEY: Well you criticise it. You say we've got no policies out there and they say oh yeah, but they want to get rid of the carbon tax and they want to get rid of the mining tax.

BILL SHORTEN: Yeah, we know what you…

JOE HOCKEY: And they're going to cut to the bone, that's what they're saying.

BILL SHORTEN: We know what…

JOE HOCKEY: But we haven't got any policies out there, apparently.

BILL SHORTEN: No. We know what your negative policies are. I don't know what your positive ideas are.

JOE HOCKEY: Okay. Oh, well…

NEIL MITCHELL: Is the Opposition in chaos, Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN: Is the Opposition in chaos?



JOE HOCKEY: [Laughs]

BILL SHORTEN: I think there's an impatient bunch of backbenchers who are worried that the current frontbench of the Opposition are just the Howard Government re-cooked.

NEIL MITCHELL: Your Prime Minister said the Opposition's in chaos, do you agree?

BILL SHORTEN: The issue is when you look at the frontbench it's like getting the old band back together again. I think there's a lot of frustrated people on the backbench of the Libs.  But having said that, this is an issue - this election, it comes down to ideas; education, disability reform, better superannuation, the creation and maintenance of good quality jobs.


CALLER ALAN: Hello Neil, good morning. Just a question for both really but just to make it a point. I live in Geelong and I've seen the place over the last thirty years just continue to slide downhill. We've seen nothing from either governments, particularly this current government in terms of what's going to be invested down here. So, no investment down here at all for that amount of time, thirty-plus years. It's no wonder that the place is now the economic face of disaster for the country.

And I want to ask the question of Bill Shorten in particular, with this current government, what are you going to do and can you do for this region? I've seen nothing in the time I've been here and there's going to be further closures at Alcoa, that will go, that's only there in a government prop-up as it is. So there's just going to be further and further job losses down here and what's anybody going to do for us?

NEIL MITCHELL: Okay. Well, let's pick up that - you mentioned Alcoa. Do you think that it's secure or is there a possibility of job losses at Alcoa?

BILL SHORTEN: Yeah, I don't agree that Geelong is the face of failure, economic failure. I was speaking to friends of mine who work at Alcoa in preparation for this morning's interview. The dollar is down which makes it easier for the Point Henry plant, which is quite an efficient plant to compete with the rest of the world. The price of aluminium at last is - it's been going up…

NEIL MITCHELL: So you think jobs are safe at Alcoa?

BILL SHORTEN: I think for the short to medium term, absolutely.

NEIL MITCHELL: Do you agree with that, Joe Hockey?

JOE HOCKEY: I hope so.


JOE HOCKEY: I hope so. One of the biggest inputs into aluminium production is the cost of energy which we talked about a bit earlier, and you don't make energy more expensive…

BILL SHORTEN: Why don't we just…

JOE HOCKEY: …and then expect manufacturing to continue? It's the bottom line. I mean, I cited some data the other day from a manufacturer in Australia who's paying fifty-two million dollars for manufacturing in Australia in electricity costs alone. Of that, twelve million dollars is the carbon tax. And in the United States his equivalent factory in the Midwest is paying twenty-five million dollars in energy costs with no carbon tax.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, that caller asked about the Geelong region. I think…

JOE HOCKEY: It's the whole country. It's not just Geelong, Bill.


JOE HOCKEY: It's the whole country.

BILL SHORTEN: Oh yeah, Joe, you're allowed to say what you want, I was just going to the guy's question. The point about Alcoa is for goodness sakes let's stop talking the joint down. I was speaking - it's not cheating to ring Alcoa before you come on an interview - they do not think the price on carbon is the issue, they think it's the high dollar and the price of aluminium.  All I'm doing is repeating the truth that I am told. When we talk about Geelong more generally, Kinnears shut under the Liberals, Geelong Cement shut under the Liberals.

NEIL MITCHELL: Hang on, I thought we weren't talking it down.

BILL SHORTEN: No, no, I'm just going through the history to just - if you just come with me on the journey for half a minute - Kinnears was in West Geelong, Geelong Cement out at Fyansford.  There's been other manufacturing places have closed. I can think of the big foundries in North Geelong.  My point though is that for all those job losses which do occur, which are terrible and I've worked with people through the pain of that, is that you look at the Geelong waterfront, it's been revitalised. You've got Deakin University, you've got world class research going on. You've got the TAC is based in Geelong. I don't dispute that the caller is right that there have been problems for Geelong because they've been a very successful sort of old manufacturing city. There's still manufacturing there but there's a lot of other good things going on in Geelong.

JOE HOCKEY: Can I offer a word here?

NEIL MITCHELL: Just quickly please, because Andrew Demetriou will break my legs if we don't wrap up.

JOE HOCKEY: Oh well, I could go on for a while then if that helps [laughs].

BILL SHORTEN: [Laughs] That was seriously funny, Joe. That was a good one.

JOE HOCKEY: Thank you. I've been working on it for days. But can I just say this? You can't always keep looking in the rear view mirror, you actually have to look forward. And I mean, I come from a family of small business people and the challenge in our family and the challenge for many families around Australia is they've got great ideas, you know, but they just want to get ahead. They want to have a chance to get ahead.

And you've got to have a government that culturally and from a regulation perspective gives people hope that they can go out and start their own business, be it in Geelong or Newcastle or Weipa or wherever, and they're going to get ahead. They're going to be able to make money, they're going to be able to take risks, they're going to be able to employ people and the product that they've invented is going to get to market. And at the moment no one's looking for the next Ford or Alcoa or anything else because of the bloody regulatory burden and the massive taxes.

BILL SHORTEN: I'll just say one thing. I get what Joe is saying but I've also got to say that this country has done well in the last five years compared to the rest of the world.

JOE HOCKEY: Oh, don't keep going on with that mate, seriously.

BILL SHORTEN: I'm sorry, but ask any Aussie who gets off a plane in Sydney or Melbourne when they've been overseas, is this country doing well compared to the rest of world, they'll say…

JOE HOCKEY: What, compared to Singapore or compared to where?

BILL SHORTEN: Compared to Europe…

JOE HOCKEY: Compared to China or compared to the people…

BILL SHORTEN: Compared to Europe…

JOE HOCKEY: Or South America, mate, because they're the guys we compete with.


JOE HOCKEY: Manufacturing we compete with Asia and resources we compete with South America, and you guys keep comparing us to the bucket cases in Europe and North America.


JOE HOCKEY: And I am telling you...


JOE HOCKEY: We've got to deal with the competition.


BILL SHORTEN: People know this is a good country.

NEIL MITCHELL: Well, nobody's saying it's not a good country.

BILL SHORTEN: That's right, all the better.

JOE HOCKEY: It's a great country but how much better can we be?

BILL SHORTEN: Yeah, but I'd tell you we've done okay the last few years compared to the rest of the world.

JOE HOCKEY: No, okay's not good enough. Don't defend mediocrity, Bill.

BILL SHORTEN: No I'm not, but I'm not going to have the country trashed just for political purposes at the election.

NEIL MITCHELL: Oh, who's trashing the country, seriously?

BILL SHORTEN: I'm sorry but this country is…

NEIL MITCHELL: Who is trashing it?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, just listen to this debate - oh, everything is wrecked, everything is ruined.

JOE HOCKEY: I didn't say that.

BILL SHORTEN: Everything is not wrecked, everything is not ruined, and it even comes down to this debate on asbestos and Telstra. You guys spend a few days until you dropped it appropriately saying that Telstra, a private company who you can buy and sell their shares on the stock market, somehow when they weren't doing safety properly on their pits it's the Government's fault. When there are problems in this country, sometimes the causes are bigger than just the Government, and when there are successes in this country sometimes the Government has had a role to help in that too. So let's not talk this country down all the time.

JOE HOCKEY: I don't accept that proposition.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, let's not talk it down.

JOE HOCKEY: I'm not talking it down, mate. I mean, I've been the most optimistic person throughout my entire parliamentary career.


JOE HOCKEY: But I'll tell you why, because you know, I've seen people have dreams and make them come true in this country and I don't want that to stop.

BILL SHORTEN: I think personally you are an optimist but I have to say that the lines from the Opposition is your case to vote for you is everything is wrecked here. Well, I'm just saying everything is not wrecked.

JOE HOCKEY: Well, hang on.  What, you're a great government, you've done a great job, Bill.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, I'll tell you what…

JOE HOCKEY: I mean, Julia Gillard's an outstanding Prime Minister and Labor is an outstanding government and the country is just enriched with your presence.

BILL SHORTEN: There you go, being negative again.  What I'm saying is…

NEIL MITCHELL: That was sarcastic.

BILL SHORTEN: …unemployment - well, I picked up the negativity. I'll tell you why this country is still okay…


BILL SHORTEN: …good come back, Neil. But the point is about inflation's relatively low, interest rates are down, unemployment could be a lot worse and we've added growth.

JOE HOCKEY: It could be a lot worse.

NEIL MITCHELL: So why is the public screaming for change?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, because we've had a minority Parliament, it's been a very tense political environment…


BILL SHORTEN: And we need to talk what we've done up.

JOE HOCKEY: Yeah, it's all someone else's fault.

BILL SHORTEN: No, it's not.

NEIL MITCHELL: Right-oh. Bill Shorten and Joe Hockey, you can continue it off-air. Thank you for your time.

JOE HOCKEY: I'll ring you, Bill.

BILL SHORTEN: Thanks Joe, I'll keep the phone clear. Cheers mate, bye.