Bill's Transcripts

ABC 891 Adelaide - Abbott Government’s unfair budget; Immigration





SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government’s unfair budget; Immigration; Abbott Government abandoning South Australian manufacturing jobs; Abbott Government’s broken promise on renewable energy; Abbott Government’s cuts to the CSIRO; Tony Abbott’s broken promise on the ABC and SBS; Stella Young.  


IAN HENSCHKE: Now on the Morning Program we’re joined by Bill Shorten. Mr Shorten, I understand that the plane was as bit late. Who did you fly in with?


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I flew in with Virgin. I think Australia’s well served with Virgin and Qantas and Jetstar and Tiger. No product placement here.


HENSCHKE: Okay, we were just playing some of your recent comments. One of them was ‘we will be more than what this Government is not’. Please explain.


SHORTEN: Well, 2014 and in fact since the Abbott Government was elected, I think Labor has done two things. We’ve been strong in our opposition to the unfair budget and we’re a lot more united than we were. But there’s no doubt that 2015 and throughout the course of 2015 if we want to outline a positive view of Australia and not just rely on a list of the Government’s failings or lies.


HENSCHKE: Okay, so what’s your view on a big Australia? Kevin Rudd wanted a big Australia, what’s an appropriate level of immigration?


SHORTEN: Well, I’ve spoken about this topic before. When I envisage a big Australia what I recognise is that Australia is an immigrant nation, we’ve done well through immigration and we should continue being supportive of immigration. I don’t have a particular population level at a particular year in mind.


HENSCHKE: Well at the moment we’ve got more than 200,000, so happy with that level?


SHORTEN: Yes, but furthermore what I also think is my view of Australia is not just three large east coast cities; Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney. I’m very interested for instance how South Australia, Adelaide and the regions of South Australia succeed and flourish. For Australia to do well we’re going to have to be a regional nation as well as a large capital city nation.


HENSCHKE: And one of the things you’re doing this morning is going to a car parts maker who has turned over to making frames for solar panels. We’ll need more than that won’t we?


SHORTEN: Yes, but we need every job we get. The world doesn’t owe Australia a living; we’re competing with the rest of the world for good jobs so our challenge is to back  what are the industries of the future and there’s no doubt that renewable energies help create jobs -


HENSCHKE: But the Labor Party promised to build a green car in South Australia. One of the plans that was put forward under Kevin Rudd if my memory serves me well, was that we were going to build a green car here and that would keep the car industry going and now we’ve got no car industry and we’re building some frames for solar panels.


SHORTEN: There’s three things in what you say, I’ll try to go to each of them briefly. In terms of the previous administration, their policies, the Labor I lead is revisiting our policies and we will have a policy on innovation in industry, driving science and small business. In terms of South Australia though and the car industry, if we had said at the last election when Tony Abbott was running for power that within three or four months of the Liberals getting elected nationally we wouldn’t have a car industry, we would have been accused of scaremongering. That’s exactly what’s happened. And briefly the third thing is when you say ‘some solar panels’, renewable energy is not a boutique industry; there’s over a million households that have solar power on the roof thus giving them the power to put downward pressure on their electricity bills, but it’s also worth billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs and it helps create a more sustainable economy.


HENSCHKE: When and if you became Prime Minister of Australia would you do what they are doing in California which is mandating a certain amount of renewable energy? In other words you would say ‘this is what I say you’ll be doing’? In other words dictating that, that’s happening apparently in California, we spoke to someone last week on that.


SHORTEN: Well both Liberal and Labor went to the last election in fact supporting a renewable energy target but there’s a big debate going on in Australia at the moment; the Federal Government’s retreating away from what they said before the election and the whole renewable energy industry is in disarray. There’s been a 70 per cent reduction in investment since the Government got in.


HENSCHKE: But is what is happening in California what you would do if you were Prime Minister? You’d say ‘I want 10 per cent of our energy to be coming from a certain thing or I want a target’? You’d actually dictate that?


SHORTEN: Well, Labor does believe in a renewable energy target and we would take such a policy to the next election. But I had the opportunity during the G20 to meet a range of world leaders. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, their renewable energy targets are higher than Australia. Germany has a third of our sunshine yet three times our solar industry. I met with Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India and they’re calling it the Saffron Revolution. So talking about renewable energy is not a marginal activity, it’s a real part of our energy mix in the future and Labor’s committed to that.


HENSCHKE: Now, you were saying that you’re talking about manufacturing jobs in South Australia and this is what you’re going to be doing this morning. Where do you see the jobs in manufacturing in South Australia in the next 10 years and how will you assist the creation of those jobs should you become Prime Minister?


SHORTEN: Well there’s existing industries to begin with like the Submarine Corporation. I do think the Federal Government’s made a dreadful hash of the future of the Submarine Corporation. The Government, when they were in Opposition, stood in front of the ASC and said ‘We will build 12 submarines here’ and I don’t think you have to be a dyed in the wool Labor person to admit that the Government has just dreadfully sent wrong messages and broken promises. So I use that as an illustration of an existing –


HENSCHKE: But that’s already in existence. Where are the new manufacturing jobs?


SHORTEN: That’s true, but the reason why I was taking some time to talk about what’s in existence is it’s a lot cheaper to keep an existing job than try and find a new job as well. But you’re right; we need to have industries in the future. We’re a diverse economy; I’m quite upbeat about the future. At the moment we’re too narrowly balanced just on minerals and the sale of minerals overseas and we’ve seen very low growth numbers as a result of that overreliance. So I think innovation, science, investment in innovation –


HENSCHKE: Well the CSIRO’s just been cut by a massive amount I understand the job numbers I think about 800 jobs being cut -


SHORTEN: I think it’s even north of 800 jobs now -


HENSCHKE: So you’ve said that you would renew and increase the funding to the ABC, you will renew and increase funding to the CSIRO I imagine because seeing they’ve suffered more than the ABC?


SHORTEN: Well yes we would seek to increase funding for both the ABC and also the CSIRO and SBS. What I would also just say to you though is until we see the state of the books I can’t give you an exact number of what we would increase. But there’s no doubt in mind – I went to the farewell of the head of the CSIRO last week in Canberra, Megan Clarke, and her replacement Larry Marshall. The CSIRO is doing amazing stuff. I think Australia tends to talk down what we can achieve in science and we adopt almost a small country mentality to what’s possible. So there’s no doubt in my mind that we have to invest more in science and as we get close to the election you’ll see a very pro-science based Labor Party policy.


HENSCHKE: One of the things about that though is that that costs money and the view at the moment from the federal level is that when you took over Government in 2007, that’s when you were first elected, wasn’t it, back in 2007?


SHORTEN: Yes I became the parliamentary secretary for disabilities.


HENSCHKE: That was a time where we had an economic surplus and now we’re into deficit, so how are you going to continue to increase funding to the CSIRO, the SBS, the ABC, put money into renewable energy and still have the economy running well?


SHORTEN: That’s a very fair question. First of all, from 2007 to now we had a global financial crisis so that was a massive knock on the economies of the whole world. In terms of the future, government is all about priorities. We certainly wouldn’t be trying to resuscitate or keep on life support the paid parental leave scheme of the Government; we wouldn’t have gone soft on multinationals like this current Government has. I think this Government has made some poor choices. Also when Labor was last in we did make some tough decisions around means testing and we’ve also supported north of $20 billion of the Federal Government’s efforts to rein in the Budget. But at the end of the day government is about priorities and I don’t think you can cut your way in terms of pensioners or schools or hospitals or science to a bigger country.


HENSCHKE: Alright, we’ve only just got a minute before the news headlines, I know you wanted to say something quickly as a tribute to Stella Young who has passed away at the age of 32.


SHORTEN: Thanks Ian. Stella Young was a comedian; she was a traveller, a writer, a fierce advocate for people with disabilities. She passed away unexpectedly on Saturday. She had just done a TED talk which has had 1.5 million hits; she had done a great one-woman show at the Comedy Festival. From Stawell School onwards where she was educated she qualified as a teacher. She’s battled discrimination because of her disability but she was a much larger than life figure and she’s going to be sorely missed.


HENSCHKE: Alright, thank you very much for your time. Hopefully we can have another occasion where you don’t have such compressed time, but I know you’ve got a very tight schedule today. Thank you for coming into the Morning Program and talking to us, Bill Shorten, Federal Opposition Leader.


SHORTEN: And Merry Christmas to you Ian. Thank you.