Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Liberal Party chaos, division and dysfunction






SUBJECT/S:  Liberal Party chaos, division and dysfunction; Liberal’s unfair Budget; Report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security; Financial Services; Cost of living; PHI increases under Liberal Government.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Another leadership rumour from the Liberal Government. The Liberal Government are not focused on looking after Australians, they’re just worrying about themselves and who gets to do the job of Prime Minister. The real issue here though is it doesn't matter who is running the Liberal Party, they all support the same unfair Budget. It doesn't matter if they pick could have been, has been or never was - all of the contenders, Julie Bishop, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott all support the same unfair Budget. Australians just want the Liberal Government in Canberra to get on with looking after Australians, not just worrying about their own jobs.


Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: What effect do you think this is having on the economy in Australia? Businesses actually getting a raw deal out of this leadership speculation?


SHORTEN: We see business confidence in the high street of Australia, be it in large cities or small country towns, is not doing well at all. There is a real sense of disappointment I think, not only in business but indeed the whole community that this Liberal Government has unravelled so quickly. It is possibly the worst Government in Australian history. It's barely been 18 months since they got elected and now they are arguing over who should be in charge, the Australian people are really feeling betrayed and let down.


JOURNALIST: Do you think if they could change leaders next week then they should go straight to an election?


SHORTEN: I think what they need to do is reverse their unfair Budget. What Australians care about is they want to make sure they can go to the doctor and afford to be able to go to the doctor when they’re sick. They’re really unhappy that they were lied to about cuts to pensions. They don't support $100,000 university degrees and they certainly don't like the $6000 cuts to family payments and indeed the rising cost of childcare. Unemployment is up and as we said earlier, business confidence is down. I think this Government has run out of rope. We’ve never seen a Government in Australian history unravel as fast as the Liberal Government in Canberra. It doesn't matter who they choose, Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop or Tony Abbott, the real problem is they all the support the unfair Budget and they’ve got no plan for Australia's future.


JOURNALIST: So my question was do you think they should go to an early election if there is a change of leadership, given you’ve just they’re the worst government in Australia’s history?


SHORTEN: I think they should go to an early election. I think they have no mandate for their Budget. They’ve stolen 18 months of the nation's time which we will never get back. They had no plan when they got into Government and they’ve exhibited, and all they’ve done is break their promises. Everyone knows that this Liberal Government is not the Government they thought it would be when they had the last election and with the broken promises and the lies, simply changing the sales person, simply shooting the messenger isn't what this Liberal Government needs to do. They need to change their message and the best way to do it, would be to submit their unfair Budget to the Australian people for their verdict.


JOURNALIST: You’ve been called the hollow man of Australian politics. Are you able to articulate a vision for your plan?


SHORTEN: Labor believes fundamentally that what this country needs is growth, growth with fairness. We understand that if this country is to fulfil its bright future, what we need to do is make sure we have the best education possible for our children and indeed our adults as they retrain. We believe in a strong safety net of a proper health care system which also makes sure that we’re a productive Australia. We believe in ensuring that our small businesses can get ahead. We believe in providing business certainty but by not having constant rigmarole we see in the Liberal Government. We understand that we are a proudly international society and we need to engage with Asia. We also appreciate that this country can only go forward when we look after older Australians by lifting superannuation. We believe fundamentally in the equal treatment of women, through that we will see better outcomes for all Australian society. We also really understand that we need to have a sustainable climate change policy. Climate change is real and the Government's policies are not helping take Australia to the future. Labor is ready to govern and what we are also ready to do is talk about the future of this country, not just squabble over whether or not it's Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop or Tony Abbott in charge of the Liberal Party.


JOURNALIST: We’re likely to see the metadata report dropped out at 3 o’clock, what are you expecting to come out of that?


SHORTEN: Well let me state very clearly Labor's principles in terms of national security and then come specifically to the issue of metadata. Labor will fight terrorism and defend national security alongside the Government. We also believe in getting the balance right in protecting our democracies and freedoms in this country. The terrorists win when this country becomes a lesser destination and surrenders freedoms and rights which in fact make us one of the most envied countries in the world.


We’ve got the metadata report coming out at 3 o'clock, as you observed. This report is by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security. What these Labor and Liberal MPs have been doing, has been examining the legislation that was introduced by Malcolm Turnbull into the Parliament, in the House of Representatives late last year and inviting the community and the experts to have their submissions about whether or not this legislation as introduced is right or can it be improved or should it be changed. I wrote to the Prime Minister earlier this year and expressed my concerns about a range of matters. We needed to see what the costs are. Not that the costs issue is a deal killer but we should go in with our eyes open, the cost to industry, to small business, to individuals.


In particular though I drew his attention to the importance of press freedom. I do believe that one of the things which makes Australia a great democracy is having a free press. I understand the importance for security agencies to be able to obtain metadata but we need to be careful that we don't trample on the rights of the press. Now I know a lot of hard work has been done and I am hopeful that 22-plus propositions from the Labor Opposition, doing our job as we should, conscientiously getting the balance right, will be taken onboard by the committee report. We’ll see what happens at 3 o’clock. We haven't reached a final position but I certainly would hope and I have reason to believe that the Government will accept Labor's propositions and will amend their initial legislation so we can get the balance right.


JOURNALIST: Just on another matter, would the Labor Party support a Royal Commission into financial services?


SHORTEN: We certainly think that there has been a real problem in terms of people being ripped off by dodgy financial planners. Let me state very clearly, there are many conscientious, professional and excellent financial planners but there is a trail of tragedy which we've seen across a range of large, respected organisations, where some of our financial protection laws for consumers are clearly being gone around or let down. I am certainly up for a discussion about further monitoring of what has been happening and we've seen some very recent scandals at NAB and in other organisations in terms of the planners, and so I think that it's a work in progress. But one thing's for sure, the Liberal Government always say that they just want to defer to reducing regulation and just letting the market rip. The problem is, as we see from a range of issues, including financial planning, consumers deserve protection too. When you lose your family's livelihoods, that is a disaster which is really hard to recover from.


JOURNALIST: Given the revelations that we’ve had recently isn't it time to look at a Royal Commission and is there a reason Labor’s not supporting that?


SHORTEN: Well we’ve said in the past that we’re open to this idea but we also want to make sure, we’ve got Senate work underway, we want to make sure that the solution that we come up with is the best solution for all. But there is no doubt that it's been Labor leading the charge both when we were in Government and again in Opposition making sure that consumers of financial products get the best protection.


JOURNALIST: Health insurance premiums are going up on average 6.1, 6.2 per cent from the 1st of April, is that fair?


SHORTEN: It's the story of Liberal Australia isn’t, cost of living goes up, pressure on families cost of living budgets keeps going up. You’ve got health insurance, that's a slug on the family budget, but of course all of this comes on top of the Budget. The problem with the Liberal Government in Canberra is that they have got a Budget which puts all their problems on to the household budget. Going to university shouldn't cost $100,000, pensioners should not have their real rate of indexation cut, we should not see sick and vulnerable people being charged more to go to the doctor, family payments shouldn't be cut.


The Liberal Government’s got no idea about how to curb excessive increases and prohibitive fee increases in childcare. This is a Government who’s lost control of many aspects of the economy and they’ve got an unfair Budget and all they want to do is squabble at the moment. They want to fight over who’s in charge. It doesn't matter if it never was, could have been or has been in charge of the Liberal Government at the moment; they all support this unfair Budget. Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop, Tony Abbott, they’re all cut from the same cloth.


Thanks everyone, have a nice day.