THE TODAY SHOW
MONDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Victorian election; Newspoll; National Integrity Commission; National security.
GEORGIE GARDINER, HOST: Well, in Victoria they are calling it the Danslide, the weekend election result that saw the Liberal Party receive an absolute drubbing, rewarding Daniel Andrews another term as Premier. So, does that result signal what is to come in next year's federal election and what will our next guest do if he becomes Prime Minister. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten joins me now. Good morning to you, Mr Shorten.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, Georgie.
GARDINER: Measuring up the drapes for the Lodge?
SHORTEN: No, not at all. There is still another perhaps up to five months before the election. We're just working hard on policies which help the lives of everyday Australians; schools and hospitals, making sure that we get our infrastructure and public transport running properly for people.
GARDINER: You must be very heartened by what occurred in Victoria at the weekend, it was a Labor landslide in your home state?
SHORTEN: Yes, I was pleased. I was pleased for the work of Dan Andrews and his team, nothing should take way from their success. But everywhere I went during the state election and indeed on the Saturday, lots of people were coming up to me and saying, when is the federal election and why is the Federal Government so divided all the time? So there is no doubt in my mind that when you argue for better hospitals and schools and not for cuts and chaos and division, people respond pretty positively to that. So it was a very good weekend.
GARIDNER: Well the Prime Minister is holding crisis talks today with Victorian Federal MPs. Have you got any advice for him?
SHORTEN: Actually, first things first - I am not going to spend my time bagging the current Prime Minister. What I would say, is focus on properly funding the schools and the hospitals. Parents want their kids to be able to afford to buy their first home. They want to be able able to be sure they can get an apprenticeship for them. Older people are waiting unacceptable periods of time to get packages. Focus on the people - that's going to be my plan for the next election.
GARDINER: What about today's Newspoll, the Coalition's primary vote down to a near-record low of 34 per cent. It really is unlosable for Labor, this next election?
SHORTEN: I don't have that view. I have made the practice over five years now of not commenting on the polls - good, bad or indifferent. When I was out doing the family shopping yesterday, what people are talking to me about is the cost of energy. They also want to see something done about climate change. It is the day-to-day issues. They want to see the politicians focusing on the people. That is why this week in Parliament, Georgie, I am going to try and persuade the Prime Minister to back in a National Integrity Commission, an anti-corruption commission at the Federal Commonwealth level of politics and government is one of the areas in Australia where there is no anti-corruption commission. We should have that. We should be willing to submit ourselves as members of parliament to the same scrutiny as other levels of public life.
GARDINER: You say you don't take any notice of polls but you do have a problem with your popularity. That Newspoll suggests that while voters want Labor in government, they don't think you are the right leader. Scott Morrison has doubled his lead as preferred Prime Minister. They just don't seem to like you.
SHORTEN: Well I don't buy what you are selling there, but I will go to this point, I did say that I don't comment on polls - good or bad, but if Mr Morrison, if he thinks that he is doing really well at the moment go and ask his Victorian colleagues. Georgie, what matters is elections and I think on Saturday we saw a big tick for Dan Andrews but also Labor's brand - backing in the schools, backing in the hospitals, getting on with the job not the cuts, the chaos, the division, the scare tactics.
GARDINER: But does that not concern you, that you are continually dropping as preferred Prime Minister?
SHORTEN: No. I have got to say that what concerns me is the waiting list that someone - the waiting time that someone has to get an elective surgery. What makes me concerned is when we don't have proper funding in our schools. I am really frustrated that energy prices have gone up so much under the Liberal Government. Let's call it straight here Georgie - people don't want us in politics obsessing about ourselves. They want us obsessing about the people's interests. Cheaper energy, get the wages moving again in this country, making sure that 3 year olds can get access to kindergarten and as I said, older Australians who've got to wait inordinate periods of time just to get modest Centrelink payments which is theirs by right, they are the numbers which really get me going.
GARDINER: You mentioned that national anti-corruption watchdog, saying you will work with the Coalition but not wait for them. Just explain if you could how exactly that watchdog would work under Labor?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, we think that the Commonwealth and the politicians should have an anti-corruption commission. We want it to be a body which is created by law, that it is independent of government. We want it to have the powers of a Royal Commission. We want it to be able to investigate any concerns that there might be corruption at the national level. When I propose a national anti-corruption commission, it is not because I am aware of any corrupt acts but rather, members of Parliament and the Commonwealth need to demonstrate to the Australian people that we are up for us being accountable, just like everyone else is. So we will work with the Government but we are not going to wait for them. The crossbenchers, Cathy McGowan and Rebekha Sharkie, and the new member for Wentworth, Kerryn Phelps - they are all up for doing the same thing. I don't understand why the Government is taking so long on something which is so obvious.
GARDINER: As you know, the Prime Minister has proposed tough new laws on terror, making it easy to strip Aussie citizenship from those convicted of terrorism offences. Do you back that proposal from the Prime Minister?
SHORTEN: We will have a good look at them. We have backed 15 sets of changes. Did you know, Georgie, that the Government has come to me and the Opposition 15 times in the last five years saying we have to update the laws. We have said OK, we are up for keeping Australians safe, that is - we are all in this together and we all share that absolute priority. But we had to make up to 300 changes because the detail wasn't right. So we will study the fine print. I just want to reassure Australians that we don't see national security as a political football. Let's do it right the first time and let's keep Australians safe.
GARDINER: It needs a multi-pronged approach, doesn't it? What else do you propose to do?
SHORTEN: In terms of national security?
SHORTEN: We want to make sure that our defence spending is up to 2 per cent of our national economy. We are committed to making sure that we properly fund our national security agencies and the Federal Police. It also means working with the community. There are some absolute radical hot heads in the Muslim community but I am not going to start bagging the whole Muslim Australian community. I think we all need to work
together in this and I am confident that we can do, we can do better. But I've also got a high degree of confidence in what our existing security agencies are doing.
GARDINER: Can you repeat what happened in Victoria over the weekend?
SHORTEN: Well, that will be up to the people of Australia, but I think our message is one which resonates. It is the same message that Dan Andrews offered in Victoria - better hospitals, better schools. Let's get on -
GARDINER: Are you -
SHORTEN: Yes, I am confident that we have got positive policies and we don't need to go down the negative divisive path. One difference between me and the current Government - we are united. I can promise Australians that we are a united party, we have been united for over five years. We are not consumed by infighting. That's one thing I know the other team cannot offer.
GARDINER: Are you our next Prime Minister?
SHORTEN: That will be up to the Australian people, Georgie but if I am, I won't let you or the Australian people down. We're going to focus on the people, not on ourselves.
GARDINER: We appreciate your time this morning, Bill Shorten. Thank you.
SHORTEN: All right, good chat. Thank you.