Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Moonee Ponds - Abbott Government’s cuts to the pension; national security




MONDAY, 29 JUNE 2015


SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government’s cuts to the pension; national security; immigration; China FTA; workplace safety; climate change


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Welcome everyone to Woolworths Moonee Ponds. Great opportunity this morning, first working day after Parliament’s risen, to talk to people who work hard every day, either part-time or full-time, on reasonable but not excessive wages to see how they’re making ends meet. And of course any supermarket in Australia can tell you about the cost of living pressures of their customers – that is why again we call on Mr Abbott to stop his broken promises and his attack on the conditions of working Australians. What we see is changes still being proposed to cut payments to families, putting incredible pressure on people with incomes of $50,000 and $60,000 a year and there is great concern out in the community, especially among prospective retirees, people in their 50s, late 50s early 60s who haven’t got a lot of money saved, all of sudden face the prospect of not even being able to access a part pension because Mr Abbott’s cutting pensions in Australia. So there’s real issues out there on the high street of Australia. Labor remains committed and determined to stand up to help relieve the pressures on cost of living for Australians and that comes through not supporting Mr Abbott’s Budget putting pressure on family budgets.


Happy to take any questions.


JOURNALIST: What can the Government do to help Khaled Sharrouf’s family?


SHORTEN: Well I think as a parent those scenes of one of Sharrouf's children being part of a war scene and atrocities, these children have been through child abuse. I cannot understand for the life of me what any self-respecting parent is doing dragging their kids to the middle of this hell hole and subjecting them to this sort of trauma. In terms of how these children are helped, I am going to leave that to the security agencies and the people on the ground. We don't need politicians sort of second guessing our defence and security experts but let me be really unequivocal, no self-respecting parent who loves their kids, who cares about their children growing up safely and securely would ever do what Sharrouf has done to his children. They’re the victims of trauma but in terms of how we best assist these children, I’m going to leave it to the experts and work with them.


JOURNALIST: Will Labor adopt the Government’s boat turn back policy?


SHORTEN: Labor believes in a compassionate approach to refugees and a constructive approach to asylum seekers. Labor are the people who started regional resettlement to help break the people smugglers' model. I am determined to make sure that never again do the seaways between Java and Christmas Island become the opportunity for people smugglers to put unsuspecting people into unsafe boats and drown at sea. That is our position.


JOURNALIST: Do you want a boat turn back policy as part of your policy?


SHORTEN: Part of the dilemma with boat turn back policy is that the Government insists in shrouding it in secrecy. We want to see what the actual policies are and how they are actually working. Our first priority is the safety of refugees, genuine refugees but also discouraging the people smugglers, making sure that we can put them out of business. The Government has too much secrecy in the way it conducts its business.


JOURNALIST: Are you worried like the ETU is that the Chinese free trade agreement would allow workers who don’t have the right skills to work on Australian sites?


SHORTEN: There is no doubt that whilst there is some very good aspects of the China Free Trade Agreement and the Government’s been enthusiastic to bring out the pluses of the deal to the public scrutiny, that there appears to be a disturbing lack of protection for Australian jobs and Australian labour standards. I am most concerned, if it’s as the electricians are saying, that people could come and work in Australia with lower training, that would make these jobs that they’re prospectively doing unsafe for the guest workers and unsafe for Australian consumers. It is most important that the proposed Free Trade Agreement has the scrutiny of the Parliament, we’re seeing all the upside, I just want the Government to come clean on potential downside for Australian jobs and Australian safety and labour standards.


JOURNALIST: Do you accept Australian workers will be concerned that electricians who speak another language aren’t going to be tested before they work on Australian sites given the dangers and nature [inaudible]?


SHORTEN: I think you are exactly right. Occupational health and safety standards require zero tolerance for failure. What that means is that people need to be able to understand the safety systems that they’re working on. They need to be able to communicate appropriately with their fellow workers about safety and about the licensing standards. When people start doing electrical work, it’s a highly skilled task. We need to make sure that whoever is doing the work is capable of doing the work safely, not only for them, but for the people who will end up using the electrical systems that are being worked on at the time of the work.


JOURNALIST: And what would feasibly come out of an alliance between environmental and business groups?


SHORTEN: I think with the announcement today of the Australian climate change coalition, which includes everyone from environmental groups, through to the Aluminium Council and everyone in between, there’s only one person in Australia who doesn't seem to be part of the real action on climate change, and that's Mr Abbott. Mr Abbott’s living in the past on climate change, the rest of the world’s moving to act on climate change. Labor supports real action on climate change. Australians don't want to pass on to the next generation lower standards in terms of pollution and climate than what we inherited from our parents. Mr Abbott has to stop living in the past and join with millions of other Australians and the climate change coalition. What we need is real action to make sure that our country has a sustainable climate and energy system, not just burying our head in the sand and pretending it is not a real issue.


Thanks everyone, see you a bit later.