Bill's Transcripts

ABC AM with Chris Uhlmann





SUBJECT/S: Rebuilding Labor, Abbott Government’s broken promise on pensions.

Bill Shorten, welcome to AM.


UHLMANN: Can you briefly outline the changes that you propose?

SHORTEN: People want to see the Labor Party change, they want to see us rebuild - that we can be strong at the next election to speak up for issues including jobs and Medicare and the Disability Insurance Scheme. So what I think to do to achieve that goal of rebuilding is to put power in the hands of members not factions, to have a process which will continue to deliver the best candidates possible and to open up the Labor Party to more people from more walks of life.

UHLMANN: And what about what you propose on union membership?

SHORTEN: We need to modernise our relationship with trade unions. The Labor Party is the political representative of Australians, not just one group of Australians. I’m very proud to be a union member but we need to now modernise our relationship and recognise that the requirement that you have to be a member of a union to join the Labor Party, that compulsory requirement needs to go because the Australian Labor Party to be effective, to rebuild, to change, needs to reach out to people in regional towns, into small businesses, professionals. We need to do a lot better at convincing Australians that its worthwhile getting involved in politics.

UHLMANN: Well have the unions and the factions agreed to help you entrench these changes?

SHORTEN: Well I’m the leader, people expect me to lead. What I have been doing since being the first leader elected under the new democratic rules that we introduced is consult with people. I fundamentally understand that I need to lead the task of rebuilding Labor so I hope that people in the Labor Party agree with me, I’ll be making the case to them day in, day out. In politics it’s best to just go with what people know to be right, and I think that even people who don’t like Labor will recognise that Labor needs, if Labor rebuilds that we become competitive and strong to deliver what millions of people expect from Labor.

UHLMANN: But the factions and the unions put you in charge, didn’t they, didn’t 60 per cent of the rank and file vote for Anthony Albanese?

SHORTEN: The process we had is unlike any process which exists in the Liberal Party, was an outcome of balloting of members and also of members of the parliamentary party. I am determined that Labor is a membership based party not a faction based party. I’m determined that we increase our membership. I want young people today to see that actually getting involved with politics can have an impact on changing the world they live in for the better. This is about Labor being a membership based party and we welcome all those to our ranks.

UHLMANN: It’s a fair point though to say that the factions and the unions put you in charge of the Labor Party didn’t they because under the rank and file vote you would have lost.

SHORTEN: I believe that the members of the party and the members of the parliamentary party exercised their choices and wanted to see renewal. I believe I have that mandate for rebuilding. Today I am saying that the Labor Party should be a membership based party not a faction based party. We need to be delivering the best candidates; we need to open up the Labor Party to more people so that we can rebuild and be strong at the next election so that issues including jobs and Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme don’t get denigrated by the current Abbott Liberal Government.

UHLMANN: Could the changes that you propose push the party further to the left and is that where you think the majority of Australians sit on the political spectrum?

SHORTEN: Chris I’ve always been a moderate, moderate of the Labor persuasion, a moderate of the left. I believe most Australians sit roughly just slightly to the left or slightly to the right of Australian politics. What I want to do is increase our Labor Party and double the size of the membership. This won’t happen overnight. I believe when Labor has more people involved from all walks of life we’ll be able to provide a sensible alternative in Australian politics which is strong, which is about change, which is about Labor changing and rebuilding.

UHLMANN: You say in your speech today that the Australian people put you in opposition, well there’s no sign from the WA senate election is there that there’s any desire to put you back in Government any time soon. What do you say to 21.6 per cent of the primary vote?

SHORTEN: We need to do better in Western Australia, it wasn’t the only factor but the rancour in Western Australia senate selection process shows that we need to have a local component.

UHLMANN: Do you still think that Joe Bullock’s a good candidate?

SHORTEN: He’s been elected to the Senate, what he said about his colleague was hurtful and completely, he shouldn’t have said it. What I also know is that the challenges for Labor in Western Australia and nationally are more than the individuals, it’s about rebuilding the Labor Party, it’s about being strong, it’s about demonstrating to people  that we’re a membership based party, not a faction based party. I want to be able to talk to young Australians and when they say, why should I get involved in politics. I can say, well when you join the Labor Party you’re welcome, doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from but political involvement gives you the ability to change and improve issues in your community and the world you live in.


UHLMANN: What about changing some of your policies, even Louse Pratt was critical of the way the mining tax was designed so will you abandon support for that?

SHORTEN: Today my speech is about rebuilding the Labor Party Chris, it’s the start of this campaign. When I was running for leader of the Labor Party I said it’s about people, then we work on our policy and then we also initially have to work on the party so this is about rebuilding Labor. Australians want to see us change; they want to see us be competitive and strong. Today I’ll be announcing a campaign which says if you’re interested in politics regardless of your background, if you live in a small country town, or a suburb in the cities, we want you, we are worth getting involved in and you will have a say in our policies and our pre-selections.

UHLMANN: Sure, parties are also about policies, you have to sell those to the people.  Do you think that there should never be any change to the pension for example?

SHORTEN: What I do think about the pension is that before the last election the Abbott’s Liberals, Prime Minister Abbott’s Liberals said in opposition, nine times at least that we’ve counted, that they’re not going to change the pension. They went to the election on a promise which they’re clearly doing everything they can to break. I believe that it’s important if a government, whoever they are, whatever politics is going to make a significant change to pensions that they’re upfront with the Australian people. This is fast becoming a budget of broken promises and twisted priorities.

UHLMANN: Bill Shorten, thank you.

SHORTEN: Good morning Chris, thank you.