Bill's Media Releases

Doorstop Interview: Moonee Ponds






SUBJECT/S: Victorian election; Tony Abbott; Australian Defence Force pay deal.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Last night Victorians made history by turning out a first term Liberal Government, and instead choosing a new Labor hero, Daniel Andrews. I want to congratulate Daniel and his Labor colleagues for running a positive campaign, for talking about the future and having a vision for Victoria. I also would like to put on record my appreciation for not only for Daniel, but for his whole family’s contribution. Cath Andrews, I think as Victorians got to meet her, they liked who they were meeting. So Daniel Andrews has pulled off an earthquake, all congratulations are due to him.


I also think it is fair to say that Tony Abbott did play a significant role in this election, even if he didn’t come to Victoria. There’s no doubt that on the one hand, Victorians wanted a strong leader who would stand up to Canberra, whose boss would be the Victorian people, not Tony Abbott. On the other hand, Tony Abbott’s policies were clearly a factor of some anger in the Victorian electorate. Cuts to schools and hospitals, the GP Tax, a $100,000 university degree. Victorians clearly didn’t like the way Tony Abbott is taking the nation, and they wanted a strong leader in Victoria to stand up. Last night was historic, Daniel Andrews and his team ran a great campaign, and they clearly showed that they could win the confidence of the Victorian people. Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Obviously the Liberal Coalition is spinning this as an election not fought on federal issues but on state issues. What do you say to that? That’s expected obviously.


SHORTEN: Well I think part of the way you’ve just framed your question shows what we all think about it. If Tony Abbott and his Coalition team in Canberra, with their unfair Budget and broken promises, are in denial about one of the factors in this election, well that would be a dreadful mistake. I take nothing away, in fact I congratulate Daniel Andrews and his team for the campaign they ran. There were certainly lots of state issues very much front and centre in this election. But if Tony Abbott thinks that merely by not being here, by putting his hands over his ears, by closing his eyes, by singing ‘la la la’, and somehow pretend that there were no federal issues in this election, then I think Australia has more problems than we even thought we had under this unfair Budget.


This week in Parliament Tony Abbott has a chance to show that he’s listened to Victoria, that he’s heard the message. He mightn’t have come here, but Victorians have spoken loud enough that he could here this message anywhere in the country. This week, Tony Abbott should drop the GP Tax, he should scrap $100,000 university degrees, he should rule out cuts to schools and hospitals, and he should also make sure that Victorians get their fair share of infrastructure spending, rather than punishing Victorians because they wouldn’t vote for Tony Abbott’s preferred candidate.


JOURNALIST: What do you make of the Greens winning their first ever lower house seat in Victoria?


SHORTEN: Well it’s the preferential voting system, I congratulate the Greens for winning one seat in the Victorian Parliament. I believe obviously that Labor, as the only party challenging Tony Abbott, can form an alternative government. And so I get that some people want to vote for protest parties, what I would clearly say though, is that Labor’s got the policies and they demonstrated in Victoria they form governments, not just simply to be the party of complaint and protest.


JOURNALIST: Do you consider the Greens to be a protest party?


SHORTEN: Well I have to say that they aren’t seriously ever going to form a government in this country. I have made it clear that if I was to lead a Labor government that we wouldn’t go into coalition with the Greens. I do not believe the Greens can form a government in this country. So yes, I think that we should recognise them for what they are.


JOURNALIST: But why then are votes leaking from Labor to the Greens? Can you explain that?


SHORTEN: Last night Labor staged a historic win –


JOURNALIST: No, but in particular seats. You know the question that I am asking.


JOURNALIST: Why are you using the inner city?


SHORTEN: Well first of all, Labor won the election last night. And I know that perhaps the Federal Government want us not to talk about them. Certainly, Labor has to make sure that it can reach out and appeal to all Victorians, but Labor got a big swing to it across Victoria, I think this is a remarkable accomplishment. That the Greens won a seat does not in my opinion take away from the fact that the conceived wisdom has always been that first term governments never lose. In fact in Victorian history it last happened in 1955 when the Labor Party split. So the conceived wisdom is that first term governments never lose.


Daniel Andrews, a new Labor hero and a great Premier for Victoria in the making, won and defeated a first term Coalition Government. And I believe that some of the issues which contributed to it – some of the issues, not all of the issues – were the fact that Tony Abbott has brought down the most unfair, unpopular Budget in living memory. And the very fact that a Prime Minister of Australia had to send their Foreign Minister to Victoria, and wouldn’t visit Victoria himself except for the most fleeting visits that if you blinked you’d have missed his arrival and departure in Victoria, this is story across Australia.


And again, this week Parliament sits for the last week of the year. I think the lesson of Daniel Andrews, why he was successful, is he was positive, not just negative. That he had a view that he was going to fix up the disputes with the ambulance officers, that he was a leader who would not go to war with firefighters, nurses and teachers, but rather work with them. That he would restore TAFE to the position it should be in, he would fight to secure jobs for Victoria, including in manufacturing, and he would look after our education system. That’s how you grow an economy.


Tony Abbott, when all is said and done this week, should look at himself in the mirror and say okay, no more just changing of my speaking notes, no more just spinning, I will just drop the GP tax, it’s clearly not in the best interests of the nation. Tony Abbott should drop his $100,000 university degrees. Tony Abbott should rule out the Victorians missing out on their fair share of infrastructure. And I think to complete it this week, he should make it very clear that he will not engage in engage in wholesale cuts to hospitals and schools.


JOURNALIST: Obviously those messages weren’t enough to reach inner-Melbourne though, will you look at those results and try to figure out a strategy to try and hold them next time?


SHORTEN: I’m ambitious for the Labor Party and for Australia. We want everyone possible that we can persuade to vote for us. That goes for the inner city, the middle suburbs, the outer suburbs, regional and country Australia. Obviously we would like to see more people voting for us. But let’s not take away – we can talk about one out of 88 seats or we can talk about what happened across all 88 seats. I congratulate Daniel Andrews. He has done a remarkable thing. The history books are being rewritten, political precedence and conventions are turned on their head.


What it shows me, and what Daniel Andrews was able to demonstrate, is that if you can contest governments with trust deficits, if you contest governments who say one thing before the election and do something else after the election, then Australians will punish you pretty quickly. And what Daniel Andrews did is instead offered a positive vision of the future of not just inner city Melbourne, not just Melbourne, but of the whole of Victoria, country and city.


JOURNALIST: As you point out, one term governments are an oddity in Australian politics, does this result send a message that a second term is no longer a given? What do you think about that?


SHORTEN: Well let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. This is a significant outcome, and the political rule books are being ripped up as we speak in terms of what people expect. The electorate want governments who do things, they want governments to be positive, they want governments who don’t just simply cut and cut and cut, they want governments who create jobs, not wave goodbye to jobs overseas. They want to make sure we’re providing – making Australia a better place. Tony Abbott this week, in all seriousness, has an opportunity. This has been a pretty big message which has been heard all around Australia, state issues and federal issues, they’re all in the mix. The only thing not in the mix here was Tony Abbott. He needs to not be in denial, not put his hands over his ears, not just say no, no, nothing to do with me, nothing to see here, keep moving. He needs to instead I think seriously just consider dropping his GP Tax, forgetting about his $100,000 degrees on university students, dropping his cuts to schools and hospitals. Maybe he should reconsider what he’s doing with the ABC and SBS.


If he wants to fix up defence pay, he shouldn’t do it in a half-hearted fashion. What he needs to do with defence pay is make sure that our troops, their wages, are keeping up just with the cost of living. Australia’s defence forces are not greedy people, they do not want to be in the newspapers for these matters. I see reports that Tony Abbott’s considering a half-hearted, half-baked, too little too late response on defence force pay. I think this is the week that Tony Abbott could demonstrate that he’s a leader. Drop the GP Tax, drop the $100,000 university degrees, sort out defence pay properly, not in a half-hearted, too little too late matter, no cuts to schools and hospitals. And of course, even though last week he was making wild and inflammatory statements, reckless statements about taking billions of dollars away, taking billions of dollars away from Victorian infrastructure, he needs to sit down, respect the choice of Victorian voters, work with Daniel Andrews, not stamp his foot and play petty politics.


JOURNALIST: The Greens say that they will move in the Senate for the $3 billion that was to go to the East West link to come to Doncaster rail and public transport in Melbourne, would you support that move?


SHORTEN: Well, Labor has the policy on metro rail which says that we think if you want to sort out Melbourne’s traffic congestion, part of the answer has to be in public transport, and improving that. I hope that Tony Abbott has enough insight, has enough wisdom, is not in denial, he should sit down with Daniel Andrews and work out a plan that Daniel Andrews and the Victorian people want, not just Tony Abbott. Last question thanks.


JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]


SHORTEN: Daniel Andrews has gone to the election with a very clear policy prioritising -  if you want to sort out roads, you have to give people alternatives to driving on our congested roads, which involves of course public transport. So I think that Daniel Andrews will prove to be, just as he was during the election, a surprise package, I think we have every chance to see a great Victorian Premier in the making.


What I would say to Tony Abbott is Daniel Andrews took his policies to an election. Tony Abbott hasn’t taken all his polices to an election. There’s a lesson here for Tony Abbott, that if you want to do reckless and unfair things to Australian society, if you want to divide the community, if you want to cut services, cut education, cut hospitals, at least have the courage to take your views to an election first. Daniel Andrews has done that with all of his polices, and he is a man of his convictions, and I’m sure that Victoria today is a better destination than it was looking like under a Liberal government.


JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] because there’s no guarantee that the contracts are able to be ripped up?


SHORTEN: Well if you want to talk about falsehoods with East West, how on earth did the Abbott Government give $1.5 billion to a political ally, with no cost-benefit analysis? If you want to talk about falsity, why is Tony Abbott just saying – he threatened Victorians, you know I wouldn’t underplay, people don’t like being told that if they exercise their own vote contrary to Tony Abbott, that he’ll take billions of dollars off them. Tony Abbott’s got to understand that if you try and bully Victorians, or if you try and bully the nation, you might get an unwelcome response.


Anyway, let’s see what happens in Parliament this week. Tony Abbott has an opportunity. Drop the nasties in your unfair Budget, keep your promises, and that would be a good way to end the year I think for Australia. If Tony Abbott is in denial, if he says it’s nothing to do with him, if we want to get these mixed messages that we saw last week – is the GP on again, off again? Are they going to try and do it by avoiding Parliament? Are they going to persist with all of these sort of broken promises? Are they going to persist with cuts to the ABC? They’ve got a Defence Minister who is literally at sea. This is a Government adrift. I think this week Tony Abbott needs to carefully consider – not hot-headed, not lose his temper – carefully consider what Victorians have said, take advantage of the wisdom of the people and change the way he’s doing business, otherwise he’s going to have I think more difficulties ahead.


Thanks everyone.