Bill's Transcripts

4BC with Patrick Condren




SUBJECT/S: Rebuilding Labor.

PATRICK CONDREN: Good morning, thank you for your time this morning. What is your plan?


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I want the Labor Party to change, rebuild so we can be a strong alternative at the next election.


CONDREN: And how will you do that?


SHORTEN: I want to make sure that we can put power in the Labor Party in the hands of members, not factions. I want to prove that we can deliver the best candidates and our processes to help reflect that, and I want to make sure we open up the Labor Party to more people from more backgrounds. If you’re young or if you live in a region or are in small business I want you to think that being involved in the Labor Party means that you can help change and make better the community you live in.


CONDREN: Is this an acknowledgment by you that the unions have had too strong a hold on the Labor Party for too long?


SHORTEN: I believe that to rebuild Labor we need to modernise Labor, that includes our relationship with the unions. I’ll be saying today in the speech about my campaign to rebuild the Labor Party that it shouldn’t be compulsory to belong to a union if you want to join the Labor Party. I am a member of a trade union and unions have done good things in Australia’s history. But in 2014, Labor needs to demonstrate beyond all doubt that we are a party for all Australians, not just some groups of Australians.


CONDREN: Why do you need to distance the parliamentary wing from the unions?


SHORTEN: It’s important I believe that for Australians in the modern world to think that the Labor Party is one that welcomes them. There’s a lot of people, and it doesn’t matter if you’re Liberal, Labor or whatever else you vote for, there’s a lot of people who are cynical about politics and who genuinely believe there’s no point being involved in politics because your voice won’t be heard, that your involvement won’t change our community for the better. Today what I want to do is make them the invitation right out to Australians who considered voting Labor or have voted Labor, that we want you involved in politics. We want people, especially young people but not just young people, to be part of the change they want to see in the world around them.


CONDREN: Do you expect some resistance from factional warlords?


SHORTEN: I’m sure some people would rather I just let sleeping dogs lie and that there was no change. I think other people will probably say, ‘Bill is our leader and he’s actually saying what we think’. And my view, my values, that we need to rebuild to be strong, we need to reach out, we need to be choosing the best candidates possible, that we need to be a membership based party not a faction based party, I think most people in politics will say this is the right way to go.


CONDREN: Is this a test for your leadership?


SHORTEN: Well, I believe that if I just argued for no change, that wouldn’t be leading. What people rightly expect the leader of the Labor Party to do is help prepare Labor to be as strong as possible to be in a position to advance the things that matter in our community. Good schools, good Medicare, policies which create and supports Australian jobs. In order to do that we need to have a Labor Party which is being rebuilt, which is appealing to as many people as possible, not just some.


CONDREN: If your plan doesn’t get up does that then undermine your leadership?


SHORTEN: I am confident that good ideas win. I am confident that rebuilding the Labor Party is a good idea, I am confident that broadening our appeal, inviting people to reengage in politics – we want people to be part of the Labor Party. Opening the doors, I’m confident that is a good idea.


CONDREN: Do you have union support for the plan?


SHORTEN: I haven’t gone out seeking the support of particular unions. I think there are a lot of members of unions who are interested in politics. I welcome them to get involved, but Labor needs to rebuild. We did lose the last election. It’s not enough for Labor to say we weren’t good at telling our story. The Labor Party needs to be rebuilt. It needs to be a party that has a lot more members. There’s a lot of people, even listening to this show Patrick, who might have received an email from the Labor Party, voted Labor, have perhaps wondered about being involved in politics but haven’t taken the next step. I want to make it easy to join, I want to make it possible that once you join you have a genuine say, including on matters like pre-selection – who represents Labor – and I want people, especially young people, to think ‘yeah maybe politics is something I should get involved in, maybe one day because it is an open process and an open organisation, maybe I too could be a Member of Parliament and represent people and views and change Australia’.


CONDREN: Okay, Mr Shorten thank you for your time this morning.


SHORTEN: Good morning Patrick, have a nice day.