Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Canberra - Closing the Gap Report; Liberals doing another dirty deal with the Greens on Tax






SUBJECT/S: Closing the Gap Report; Liberals doing another dirty deal with the Greens on Tax; Stuart Robert; Greg Hunt.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, successive governments including Labor Governments have failed to make any progress on Closing the Gap. Are you confident that we will ever see these targets reached?

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I'm confident that if the nation and the government makes up its mind to tackle Closing The Gap, they can. But until we address fundamental issues such as the unacceptable rate of family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, the presence of trachoma in Australian Indigenous communities, where it doesn't exist anywhere else in the first world, and the unacceptably high rate of incarceration for young Aboriginal men. You know, it's a sad fact that if you're an 18-year-old Aboriginal man the dice is stacked against you. You're more likely to go to jail than you are to university. So yes, I think if the Government would reverse some of their shameful cuts to Indigenous funding, if we as a nation accept we have a responsibility to treat our first Australians as equal then we can do it. But there's a fair way to go.

JOURNALIST: Is it worrying for Labor to see these reports about the Greens actually working with the Government on tax reform?

SHORTEN: The last time the Greens worked with the Liberals on tax we saw some large companies still able to shroud their tax affairs in secrecy. Remember, the Greens did a dirty deal with the Liberals and increased the threshold before which Australians could see what companies are doing in the payment of their tax. So I'm very concerned, not that the Greens are working with the Liberals, but what they're actually going to come up with, and so far, it's led to a diminution in the transparency of the tax arrangements of large Australian companies . There is no single issue in taxation which aggravates everyday Australians more than the really frustrating sense that large companies, multinationals and large Australian companies, are getting away with not paying their fair share of taxation. And we know that when it comes down to transparency in tax arrangements, Malcolm Turnbull always picked the big end of town over the concerns of everyday Australians.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of Greg Hunt being named the best minister in the world?

SHORTEN: I'd like to see what competition he was up against.

JOURNALIST: What do you think he has done that would warrant best minister in the world?

SHORTEN: Well, goodness only knows what the entry requirement was into that competition. As I say, it's nice that Greg Hunt's got an award, but what really worries me is that in Australia, he's backing in policies which are doing nothing to tackle climate change -  that the Minister for Environment and Malcolm Turnbull have turned their back on their previously stated views, they've said one thing and now they're paying big polluters to keep polluting. We see the rate of emissions going up, not down. The only way we're going to genuinely tackle climate change isn't by giving awards to ministers in Dubai, it's by having a focus on renewable energy, it's about committing to real action on climate change, and unfortunately, Malcolm Turnbull had to do a deal with the right wing of his political party and as a result, he's sold out everything he has ever said on climate change and he's backing in Tony Abbott's climate sceptic policies.

JOURNALIST: On Stuart Robert we've seen Martin Parkinson; he is doing his review whilst you're calling for Malcolm Turnbull to sack Stuart Robert straightaway. Don't you think we should wait until the review is completed before any action is taken?

SHORTEN: It doesn't take a $40,000 Rolex watch to know that the time's up for Stuart Robert. Truthfully, the fact that the Minister in question wouldn't even explain himself yesterday in Parliament, the fact that Malcolm Turnbull's outsourced this decision-making to a public servant rather than making the decision himself goes to Malcolm Turnbull's judgment. No, I think that Stuart Robert should go and he should go quickly.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

SHORTEN: Listen, if Malcolm Turnbull was to cover up that report, it wouldn't just be Labor who'd be upset it'd be the Australian people and possibly even the media might want to see it, wouldn't you?

JOURNALIST: How long do you think that investigation should take?

SHORTEN: How long does it take to explain what we've seen? Really, the media have picked up what needs to be done here. Labor has, the Australian people have. The only people who are in denial about the fate of Stuart Robert would appear to be Stuart Robert and Malcolm Turnbull.

JOURNALIST: There are other indiscretions that may have occurred, as Mark Dreyfus said this morning questions about whether he used the Defence provided phone, that kind of thing whilst he was in China. Do you think if he is fired now, as minister, we won't see some of those questions answered?

SHORTEN: You can only fire a person once. The point about it is that he said that he's travelled in a private capacity - plenty of questions to answer. Normal Australian tourists travelling in a private capacity to China don't get to be at the signing ceremonies for major mining deals. You can't just book a package holiday to China and meet with a Vice Minister of the Chinese Government. No, there's plenty of questions to answer here. I've got no doubt that Stuart Robert should go. The only person keeping Stuart Robert in his job at the moment is Malcolm Turnbull. It's poor judgment by Malcolm Turnbull. Australia knows what needs to be done, Mr Turnbull doesn't.