Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Cost of living pressures; Bronwyn Bishop






SUBJECT/S: Cost of living pressures; Bronwyn Bishop; Climate change; Renewable energy.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone and welcome to the fabulous North Western suburbs of Melbourne, we're here at Sam's Market, a lot of small businesses working hard from before sunrise to deliver great product to the consumers. We also have an opportunity here today to talk to pensioners and other people who are trying to make ends meet. That is why the Abbott Government's daily attack on pensioners, on fixed income earners, on low income earners, on typical families in Australia is so out of touch and repugnant. The people here work hard, they do their best and they don't need an Abbott Government which is constantly cutting payments to families, which is going after pensioners.

But indeed, we have just seen over the last 24 hours reports of just how out of touch the Abbott Government is. The revelation that Mrs Bishop, the Speaker of the Australian Parliament, Mr Abbott's captain's pick to be the Speaker of the Australian Parliament, has spent over $5,000 to take a helicopter from Melbourne to Geelong just shows how arrogant this Government is. This is the sort of arrogance - using taxpayer funds to attend a party political event, this is the sort of arrogance which makes Australians so angry. We have vulnerable families, low income families being slugged thousands of dollars by the Abbott Government, and yet we have Mrs Bishop who thinks she is so important that she can't even be bothered getting a car between Melbourne and Geelong, a one-hour car trip. Mrs Bishop who thinks she is so important she has got to use $5,000 plus of taxpayer money to get a helicopter between Melbourne and Geelong when the rest of us just simply drive. Mr Abbott, if he is to retain any respect for his government, must take action on this. Every day in the Parliament, we see how arrogant the Government is and now again we see Mrs Bishop spending thousands of dollars because she thinks she is too important, too important to drive down the Geelong Road like hundreds of thousands of other Australians. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Do you think Mrs Bishop should repay the money spent on the helicopter?

SHORTEN: I think it is such a colossally arrogant thing to do. No wonder Australians are turning off the Abbott Government and in politics. When we have the Speaker of the Parliament, who thinks she is too good to drive in a car for one hour and instead gets a helicopter funded by taxpayers to go to a Liberal Party function, I don't think it is just a question of Mrs Bishop repaying the taxpayer the money, I think the fact of the matter here is that Mr Abbott needs to say today, not tomorrow, he needs to say today that he repudiates the action. That when families are battling to make ends meet, we have got an out of touch Abbott Government, an out of touch Speaker of the Parliament, catching a helicopter to fly down to Geelong from Melbourne when everyone else would normally drive.

JOURNALIST: Should she resign?

SHORTEN: I think that's a matter for Mr Abbott to decide, but he needs to restore some faith in Australian politics. I think this is one of the most egregious abuses of entitlements. When you are too arrogant to drive in a taxpayer-funded car and instead you want a taxpayer-funded helicopter to fly above the people from Melbourne to Geelong to go to a State Liberal fundraiser. I mean Mrs Bishop's spokesperson says she is concerned for the country, no she's not, she was concerned to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser using taxpayer money. This is a shameful abuse of taxpayer money and it goes to the character of the Government. If Mr Abbott does not repudiate the actions of his captain's pick, the Speaker of the Parliament, then he is effectively endorsing a view which says that they are so important they don't even have to drive on the same roads as the rest of Australians.

JOURNALIST: Terri Butler says we should give her the benefit of the doubt before she actually explains herself. Do you agree with that?

SHORTEN: I look forward to hearing the explanation. What I would say though very clearly is this: one, you shouldn't be spending $5,500 of taxpayer money to go to a Liberal Party fundraiser. Two, what on earth is Mrs Bishop thinking when she decides that she is too important to drive for an hour in a car and instead wants the helicopter and the full orchestra of that. This is a gratuitous, egregious, silly use of taxpayer money and Mr Abbott needs to come out and say does he agree with Mrs Bishop and her helicopter jaunt or does he agree with the Australian people. Australians hate this sort of arrogance.

JOURNALIST: Is it a fair explanation she has a lot of events to attend (inaudible)?

SHORTEN: Anyone who lives in Melbourne knows it is a one hour drive to Geelong. No-one thinks it is reasonable that you just hop in a helicopter to attend a Liberal Party fundraiser in Geelong using $5,000 of taxpayer money when you can hop in a perfectly good car and just drive down the road. It's this out of touch arrogance. It is consistent with the way Parliament gets treated in Question Time by the Speaker, and then you look beyond that, you look at the decisions of the Government's Budget, Mr Abbott's Budget. There are people in this market who have had their family payments prospectively cut, who've seen their cost of going to the doctor go up, who see a lack of funding for the schools for their kids. This is an out of touch, arrogant government who are cutting the incomes of vulnerable Australians yet, at the same time, they are wafting around above our heads in taxpayer-funded helicopters when you could have just driven down the road like the rest of us.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten are you going to bring back the carbon tax?

SHORTEN: There was a story yesterday in parts of News Limited which was absolute rubbish. We are not going to bring back the carbon tax. That matter was decided at the last election. But what I will do and what Labor will do is take real action on climate change. I think that Australians are increasingly alarmed that Mr Abbott keeps sticking his head in the sand over climate change and not wanting to act. I think it has been economic vandalism and environmental vandalism of Mr Abbott to sort of, keep putting scorn and rubbish and smear on the wind energy and on solar energy. Renewable energy is a big part of Australia's energy mix in the future. I do not understand for the life of me why Mr Abbott is so reluctant to act on climate change, why he is so stuck in the past and he won't deal with the issues of the future. Labor is determined that future generations of Australians don't have a more polluted environment when we could handle this matter now.

JOURNALIST: Specifically what action would a Shorten Government take on climate change, would you introduce and ETS?

SHORTEN: We have said for the last year that we believe in strong action on renewable energy as part of our energy mix. We believe in an emissions trading scheme, working with the rest of the world, not dragging behind the rest of the world. Mr Abbott is making Australia an international laughing-stock when it comes to climate change. What he is doing by refusing to tell Australians the truth and the need to have some change is he is creating a bigger problem for future generations. Australians all know that if you keep putting off a problem from today to next week to next month to next year to next decade - climate change is real, we should be doing our bit to make sure that we can keep downward pressure in terms of the warming of the world and the heating of the climate.

JOURNALIST: How are you going to sell an ETS?

SHORTEN: Well, Australians understand the importance of climate change. I think they are hungry for a political debate in this country which is positive, not negative. On the one hand, you have Mr Abbott going out and damaging investment in renewable energy from solar rooftops which millions of Australians have, through to wind energy and other forms of renewable energy. On the other hand, you have Mr Abbott defending spending taxpayer money for Mrs Bishop to get a helicopter down the Geelong Road rather than drive. This Government is out of touch when it comes to the future and the real issues and instead, they are just focussed on defending their own jobs. Last question, thanks.

JOURNALIST: How do you convince the public it's not a carbon tax, is it an unwinnable debate?

SHORTEN: First of all, we are not going to engage in the politics of fear campaigns. Everyone knows climate change is real. Everyone knows that if we can help reduce our carbon pollution, then we are taking real action on climate change. Labor's focus will be on improving renewable energy as part of our energy mix in the future. We are not going to introduce a carbon tax; we are not going back to what happened in the past. But what we won't do is give up on arguing in favour of real action on climate change. All Mr Abbott's doing is paying billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money to big polluters not to pollute. That's not a sustainable long-term plan for climate change. We want to work with the rest of the world; we want to focus on renewable energy. We are the only major political party who's actually committed to improving the environment for future generations. Mr Abbott always wants to talk about the past because he has no plans for the future. No plans for climate change and, indeed, no plans for better education, better hospitals and more jobs for Australians. Thanks everyone and welcome again to Sam's Market.