Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Melbourne - Prayer Vigil with President Poroshenko; MH17;






SUBJECT/S: Prayer Vigil with President Poroshenko; MH17; Retirement of Senator John Faulkner; Rising unemployment rate; Falling consumer and business confidence.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Today it was fantastic to be here at the Ukrainian cathedral  in Melbourne with the President of the Ukraine, Mr Poroshenko, with our Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Premier Daniel Andrews, opposition and government, both levels, all here together remembering the terrible tragedy and loss of MH17. It was a great outpouring of support from the Ukrainian-Australian community and it was I think a reminder that across the world we actually have far more in common, including our love of family and life, then the arguments which sometimes separate people. So it’s been a very important day I think for the Australian-Ukrainian community and I congratulate all of those involved with organising it.


Also I should just briefly acknowledge that a remarkable Australian politician, a remarkable Labor politician, Senator John Faulkner, has announced formally that he will be retiring and moving on to doing other things. On behalf of a grateful Labor Party, on behalf of millions of Australians who’ve appreciated his hard work, a lion of the Senate has chosen to retire. He goes with the best wishes and gratitude of the Labor Party, the labour movement and I care to believe Australians of all political views because of his distinguished service over two and a half decades.


Happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: How would you sum up his contribution in that time?


SHORTEN: He's a great reformer. His voice will last for a very long time. He left Australia a better place than he found it. That I think is all that we can ask of our elected representatives.


JOURNALIST: Tony Abbott this morning raised the possibility of selling uranium to Ukraine. What's your response to that, any objections?


SHORTEN: Very early days to study that. I mean, we've got rules around who we sell uranium to. I think that that's what we need to make sure, that these matters fit all the protocols of Australia's international relations. I'm pleased that the Ukrainian President’s in Australia, I’m pleased that Australia’s reaching out to Ukraine. They have a very difficult course to navigate in the world, but in terms of uranium sales, let's just wait and see what it all means in terms of our international treaty obligations and the safety of what we do rather than immediately rushing into these matters. Labor's not automatically against it or for it. We'll just study the detail, mindful of our commitments to our international treaties.


JOURNALIST: Does it concern you that we're potentially selling it to such a politically unstable region as, you know, we've been at this service today hearing that?


SHORTEN: Well there's rules around, and treaty obligations, around how we will deal with the sale of uranium to any country, so I think we have processes in place and it will be steady as she goes on this matter.


JOURNALIST: And Mr Abbott seemed quite chuffed to find out that he's so popular in Ukraine. Does that surprise you?


SHORTEN: Well I'm sure he is pleased that he’s popular in the Ukraine and I congratulate him for that. I was just going to say something briefly on unemployment.


Unemployment we note today has now gone to 6.3 per cent. Youth employment even more concerningly has gone from 14 per cent to 14.5 per cent. I'm worried that there's a bleak Christmas for Australia's young unemployed and I think it's a timely reminder that we now have the worst unemployment for young people that we've had in 13 years, and there is no doubt that this is becoming a real crisis. Our young people need to have a better prospect than the prospect of being unemployed.


Since the Budget 47,600 people extra have gone on to the unemployment queues. There is trouble with unemployment in this country and we need to do more and the Government needs to do much more to restore confidence so that people feel that job opportunities open up. And it's very clear to me that this unfair Budget has had a big negative impact on confidence and we're seeing the backwash through the terrible numbers of unemployment for our young people in particular.


JOURNALIST: What message would you want Vladimir Putin to get out of this meeting today with the Government and the President?


SHORTEN: There is a natural sympathy in Australia for independent nations. I do not believe that Australians want to see small nations being bullied by large nations. And of course MH370, whilst it was some months ago I think is sharply etched in the minds of all Australians. It was a terrible tragedy and really what we need to do is see anyone, any nation, any leader of any nation who can provide clarity about who did what and get to us the point of justice, that is what I think Australians want.


Thanks everyone, have a nice day.