Bill's Transcripts






SUBJECTS: Childcare; Abbott Government’s broken promises; Asylum seekers; Whaling.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s great to be here with Labor’s talented candidate for Griffith, Terri Butler. It’s also great to be visiting this really great childcare centre with lovely children and hard-working staff, with Labor’s spokesperson for childcare, Kate Ellis. I think today, visiting this childcare centre with Terri Butler, reminds us very clearly that the Abbott Government said one thing before the election on childcare, but after the election they’ve broken their promises. Before the election, the Abbott Government was signed up to a better deal for childcare workers. I think everyone in Australia knows that childcare workers commit not just intellectually and physically every day, they commit emotionally. They’re given charge of our most precious resource in our country, our children. And they do a great job all across Australia. After the election, the Abbott Government’s walked away from arrangements that was to see better conditions for childcare workers across Australia. Before the election, the Abbott Government said when they were in Opposition, that there would be no tampering with childcare benefits, with childcare rebate. Now what they say is that a means test is on the table and it’s up for consideration. There is no topic that the Abbott Government before the election has not been prepared to walk away from their promises and break them after the election. But childcare is surely amongst the most serious issues of broken promises for the Abbott Government. I’d like to ask my colleague Terri Butler to say a few words from the local perspective.


TERRI BUTLER, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR GRIFFITH: It’s great to be here at one of the great childcare centres of our electorate. Childcare is such an important service. It’s important to our kids, and it’s important to allow working parents to get back into the workforce, and as a nation we need that. Labor has always prioritised childcare. Labor has always been the party of making childcare more affordable and more accessible, and Labor has always valued the work that childcare workers do. It’s been so lovely to meet the staff here, you can see the dedication just looking at them and how happy the kids are. So thanks very much for having us here.


SHORTEN: Are there any questions?


JOURNALIST: Marriage counselling, is that something the ALP will be giving its support on?


SHORTEN: Oh, the Abbott Government. Marriage counselling is a nice idea. But really, when you’re cutting the Schoolkids Bonus, when you’re seeing childcare workers’ promises being unfunded and childcare workers not getting properly paid, you know, where are the priorities of the Abbott Government? On one hand, they’ll take away from working parents and the Schoolkids Bonus, they’ll talk about a GP tax, making it more expensive for families to take their kids to the doctor, or they’ll take away from conditions in the childcare industry. So I think this is a government who doesn’t quite appreciate that cost of living can put pressure on marriages. Breaking promises which the ordinary Australians not getting a square deal from, educating their children, the health of their children, the childcare of their children. This is a government whose priorities, in my opinion, are all wrong.


JOURNALIST: So where would you [inaudible]?


SHORTEN: Well first of all I’d say to the Abbott Government, why not go back to what you said before the election? They said there would be no cuts in education and health, or defence. Perhaps the first thing they could do with this $20 million is say ‘alright, we’re actually going to keep our promise that we made to voters before the election in order to get them to vote for us at the election’. I would say to the Abbott Government, stick to your promises, don’t break your promises, understand that Australians are trying to make ends meet, understand that cost of living is an issue in every household, and if you haven’t got the cost of living right, that’s what puts pressure on marriages.


JOURNALIST: [inaudible]


SHORTEN: I can say that the Abbott Government said before the election that they would be a government of no surprises and no excuses. Now they’re full of nasty surprises and pathetic excuses. Why should a talented woman working here only be paid $17 an hour, when she has in her responsibility the wellbeing of our most precious resource, our kids. The staff here work weekends, they put in extra work, these are not people who are looking for some special deal, they just want a fair deal. And why on earth should people in the electorate of Griffith have to face the prospect of paying co-payment or paying extra taxes to go to the GP when their kids are sick or their older relatives aren’t doing so well? You know, we will judge the Abbott Government by the promises they break, and they seem to have shown an addiction to breaking promises.


JOURNALIST: Do you think that there should be an independent investigation into claims that the Navy mistreated asylum seekers?


SHORTEN: Well our relationship with Indonesia is important. It’s important that we’ve got a strong, sensible relationship with Indonesia. Clearly the Abbott Government policies are causing real friction in our relationship with Indonesia. The reports are very concerning, but I would also say this about our Navy. They do an extremely tough job and they’re being asked to implement the Abbott Government’s political agenda which is extremely difficult to do. So I don’t like seeing our Navy getting caught up implementing the Abbott Government’s extreme policies. And furthermore, it’s the Abbott Government who are just not being straight with people. Before the election, Tony Abbott said in Brisbane, in Griffith, he said before the election that if it’s a good week about boats, or if it’s a bad week about boats, or if it’s an in-between week about boats, they will tell the people the truth and the whole truth. That promise, like childcare, like the Schoolkids Bonus, like a whole lot of things, has been just thrown out the window now they’ve been elected.


JOURNALIST: Should Australia send a delegation of officials to Indonesia to help with the investigation?


SHORTEN: Again, I’m going to let the official avenues who resolve these matters, resolve these matters. I don’t like seeing the Navy being cast in the position of being a political football. To their families at home, concerned about how their loved ones are going on water at sea, let’s be very clear, the Opposition doesn’t see them as a political issue. What I see as an issue is that the Abbott Government seems to have clearly got the relationship with Indonesia the wrong way around, and we hope they can get it back on track. And they also clearly are not interested in keeping their promises about being transparent and open with the Australian people.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you think that people in the Navy could have harmed asylum seekers?


SHORTEN: I’m not going to start speculating about the Navy, they do a good job. What I do know is the Abbott Government is creating this problem because they’re just not telling people what is going on. On one hand the Abbott Government sends our Navy to do difficult work, but then they won’t even be upfront about what’s going on. The Abbott Government’s hiding behind uniforms, military uniforms, and not being upfront about what’s really going on.


JOURNALIST: What message should the Prime Minister be sending to Indonesia and what guarantees, if any, should he be making in regards to this issue?


SHORTEN: Well, our relationship with Indonesia is important. We’ve got trained professionals in foreign affairs, we’ve got trained professionals in the military, we’ve got trained professionals in immigration. I think what the Abbott Government should do is take the politics out of our relationship with Indonesia and just get on with being upfront and straight with the Australian people. The Australian people can take being told the truth, about our relationships with Indonesia and about what’s happening on our borders. The best thing you can do if you want to avoid the Navy getting caught up in all sorts of debates and blame games, is for the Government to be straight with the Australian people. Our men and women in uniforms have got a difficult job to do, they shouldn’t and can’t be expected to go out and explain everything that they’re doing, that’s the job of Minister Morrison and the Abbott Government. It’s not enough for the Abbott Government to take a holiday and to leave the military to have to explain the Abbott Government’s policies.


JOURNALIST: [inaudible]


SHORTEN: I think it’s cocky of the Prime Minister to dare Holden to leave this country and take thousands of jobs. I think it’s cocky of the Prime Minister to say to thousands of childcare workers ‘I don’t think you’re worth more money’. I think it’s cocky of the Prime Minister to introduce, or to float the idea of a GP tax for the voters of Griffith, and break your promises from before the election to after the election.


JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister decided not to raise whaling with the Japanese Prime Minister in Davos. Do you think that’s a reasonable approach given that there’s a court case ongoing?


SHORTEN: The Prime Minister, before the election, talked tough about whaling. They were going to send a ship to the Southern Ocean, the Prime Minister was going to be the whales’ best friend. Now what happens once he gets into power, gets overseas, starts rubbing shoulders with other people including the head of Japan, dead silence. Tony Abbott should be the same leader overseas that he is in Australia. It’s no good talking big back home but when you go on the international stage, not raising the issue of whaling. It’s a legitimate issue and if Tony Abbott’s got this great relationship with Japan, why wouldn’t he raise issues that you can raise with friends?


JOURNALIST: What should Australia be doing in relation to Japanese whaling?


SHORTEN: I think first of all the Australian Government should keep its election promise. Again, send a ship, don’t just send aeroplanes, send a ship to monitor the activities and make it clear about Australia’s interest in this matter. It is not good enough for the Abbott Government to be engaged in a chase for votes before the election, and develop amnesia when you’re talking to the Japanese Prime Minister after the election. Thanks everyone, nice to see you all.