SATURDAY, 27 JUNE 2015
SUBJECT/S: National security; Marriage equality; Liberal Party’s ads that look like they were made on a Commodore 64; Liberal Party love-in
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Labor condemns these attacks in the strongest possible terms. These are cowardly crimes of murder. We extend our condolences to the families and to the nations who’ve experienced these crimes. These are acts aimed at the innocent motivated by fear and hatred. Sadly it’s worth noting that almost half the victims are Muslim. These are not the acts of religion against religion, these are the acts of crazed terrorists against people of all faith. Finally, the terrorists also need to understand they will not divide Australian society, they will not divide Australias politicians. We will fight the scourge of terrorism together.
Happy to take any questions people have.
JOURNALIST: Just on that unity, there were suggestions this morning that the Government may be moving to look at suspending suspected terrorists, suspending their citizenship. What’s Labor’s view on going that extra step at least when it comes to citizenship?
SHORTEN: Labor will do everything we can to keep Australians safe, and we will do everything we can within the rule of law. We haven’t seen the latest proposals from the Government. We will consider them constructively and we will be consistent in our approach. We will work with the Government but we will also make sure that whatever is proposed will withstand court challenge and actually deliver the outcomes which we’re seeking, which is make Australians safer.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten have you been briefed by the Government on the events overnight?
SHORTEN: Not yet, we will be briefed by the Government. The Government in these matters will extend cooperation as they have in the past, of that I’m sure. But of course it’s just deeply concerning to Australians, we understand that there’s no immediate evidence yet of it being all coordinated across all four countries. And again I’d just like to make the point that amongst the victims there have been Muslim victims as well as Christian victims and really what we have to remember here is that these terrorists know no faith. They have a crazy ideology which is designed of creating fear and hated in our society. That’s why, again, I reiterate that they will not divide Australian society and they will not divide Australia’s politicians.
JOURNALIST: Are you expecting to be briefed today?
SHORTEN: We’ll be in touch with the Government, I’m sure we’ll get briefed very soon, I’m sure as the Government has information to hand. I will say on this that we work pretty cooperatively together.
JOURNALIST: Have you had any information about a teenager in Darwin who apparently, it was reported that he had a list of people he wished to behead?
SHORTEN: I read those media reports, we haven’t been updated by the security services. Again I might just say here because they’ll be a lot of Australians who’ve woken up this morning and watching these broadcasts and the shocking scenes from three different continents. Australians should rest assured that our security services are amongst the best in the world. They’ll leave no stone unturned in their professionalism to keep us safe and I believe that we have the best people possible keeping us safe in our security and defence services.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten can I just ask you, the Liberal Federal Council’s on, it’s been on all today, one of the things they’ve done is seem to sharpening, the Liberals seem to be sharpening their attacks against you. Overnight they posted a YouTube video saying that you can’t be trusted to lead a government or be the Prime Minister. What’s your reaction to the sort of attacks that you’re experiencing from the Liberals at the conference?
SHORTEN: I’m not really surprised that a meeting of a hundred paid up Liberal Party members they’re not recommending a vote for Labor at the next election. But what concerns me more though is that the more that the Liberal Party talk about the Labor Party - the more they attack Labor, the more they attack me - every day they attack us just shows that they have no plan for the future. Australians don’t really want this sort of tit-for-tat, you know, business as usual politics. They want to hear a plan for the future. They want to know that their politicians, be it the Prime Minister or the alternative Prime Minister, have got a plan for the future. Every day that the Government and Mr Abbott spend attacking me and the Labor Party shows that they’d rather live in the past and they’re not focused upon the future.
JOURNALIST: The other thing to come out of the Liberal Council meeting seems to be this suggestion that there won’t be an early election. Yesterday Brian Loughnane said an election is still 15 months away, how do you feel about that? Do you think that’s bought yourself a bit more time given that the last two weeks have been pretty torrid for Labor and yourself?
SHORTEN: I think the last two years have been torrid for Australia under the Abbott Government –
JOURNALIST: The last two weeks have been torrid for you though.
SHORTEN: I heard your question, I was just answering it. The last two years have been very hard for Australia. At the last election Mr Abbott promised they’d be no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no cuts to pensions, indeed no cuts to the ABC or SBS, he said they’d be no changes to taxes. All of the things that Mr Abbott said before the election to get peoples vote, he’s broken his promises afterwards. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Budget that the Government brought down this year can’t last 12 months and that we’ve got a real confidence issue in Australia for investment going forward. Now I think that Mr Abbott needs to make it very clear for the sake of Australia and the sake of business confidence that he will go his full term or not. But this sort of will he/won’t he speculation, I think is undermining our confidence in terms of being able to make long term decisions.
JOURNALIST: They do seem to be suggesting they will go their full term, there won’t be an election until the second half of next year, do you accept that?
SHORTEN: Well –
JOURNALIST: Haven’t you also been saying that you think they’ll be an early election and the Government will go early, even to your own colleagues?
SHORTEN: Labor’s ready whenever there is an election. But what I also believe is that when Mr Abbott promises to do one thing, many of us in Australia get very nervous that it’s exactly the opposite. We’ll just have to wait and see if he keeps his word on when he holds the election. I think it would be good if he just set a date and spelled it out. If it’s going to be, as you say, in 15 months’ time he should just say that’s what’s going to happen, full stop, no shilly-shallying or changing that matter.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten your reaction to the overnight ruling in the United States in regards to gay marriage?
SHORTEN: I welcome the historic decision of the United States Supreme Court. I think the implications for Australia are much the same as when Ireland made the decision. Ireland’s a nation which has great influence culturally and emotionally upon Australia. It’s a famously religious society and if they could vote for marriage equality, why couldn’t we in Australia? And that certainly prompted me to put on a bill to propose marriage equality in Australia. But America is another society which is very influential in Australia from its media, its culture, to its system of government in many ways. So now America too has moved on the path of marriage equality. I invite Mr Abbott again, if the parliament resumes, to take up the promise that he made and that we’ve extend that we should have a free vote in the Liberal Party on marriage equality. Labor has said that the bill I moved, and I’m very supportive of marriage equality, doesn’t have to be moved by me. If we want to whole parliament to own it, I extend the invitation again to Mr Abbott that a Liberal can move it. For us it’s not about who moves it and who seconds it, for me it’s about the outcome. But what I say is in return for a Liberal moving the legislation please agree to have a free vote. That’s all that people are seeking. Marriage equality should not be a party political issue.
JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten just again on the video, another aspect of the video that was released last night suggest that the Liberals, are suggesting that you’re a weak leader, what’s your reaction to that?
SHORTEN: I’ve learned not to take too seriously Liberal Party propaganda.
JOURNALIST: Just on that issue, are you saying that the bipartisanship on tackling terrorism, what about the use of that, the brochure that they’ve sent out and also this view that they’re pushing that Labor is soft on terrorism?
SHORTEN: Well I think the Liberal Party administration let itself down by trying to raise money through saying that somehow by donating to the Liberal Party you can do something about international terrorism. The Prime Minister has since, from questioning from Labor in Question Time at parliament, disowned, disowned that leaflet. I think it was wrong, I think he should make clear that whatever money they’ve raised will be sent back to people.
JOURNALIST: But you maintain that there still is bipartisanship?
SHORTEN: There is from Labor, and we’ll keep being constructive. Our track record whist I’ve been leader of the Labor Party is that whenever the Government’s proposed national security legislation, we’ve amended it and we’ve voted for it and indeed Mr Abbott’s been generous enough to acknowledge my support on the national security matters on numerous occasions.
Any other questions? Thanks everyone.
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