PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Liberal chaos and division; Polls; Canning by-election; Labor’s plan for the future
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone.
JOURNALIST: Good morning. Mr Shorten, what’s your take on the latest poll that shows the Coalition and Labor are neck and neck?
SHORTEN: Well frankly, I think if a drover’s dog – not to put a too fine a point on it – had of replaced Mr Abbott, whoever replaced Mr Abbott was going to get a lift in the polls. This was to be expected. What excites me about the next 10 or 11 months, or whenever Mr Turnbull decides he wants to have an election, is we have an opportunity to debate the future. Who’s got the best ideas for the future of Australia? I am really excited by that. My concern is, of course, is what has motivated the Liberals to dump their sitting Prime Minister unexpectedly on Monday is it was just motivated by their own jobs and their own concern about the opinion polls and nothing else.
I hope that Mr Turnbull dumps Mr Abbott’s direct action plan. I hope Mr Turnbull dumps Mr Abbott’s plan on marriage equality which was just a tactic to spend taxpayer money delaying the inevitable. So I hope there’s a change in direction of the Government because if there isn’t a change in direction of the Government – if we don’t see a repudiation of the harsh, extreme policies of the last two years then all they have done is change the salesman, but not the product.
JOURNALIST: Are you worried about Canning?
SHORTEN: In terms of what?
JOURNALIST: The result?
SHORTEN: In Canning, Matt Keogh is a fantastic candidate. I think we are going to see a lot more of him. What Labor has said in Canning is that it is only Labor who has a plan for jobs. Labor has the best plan for community safety in Western Australia and in Canning. So I think that we’ve been getting the issues which matter to people.
If I was a voter in Canning, I would be quite frankly scratching my head this week. Last week the Liberal Party were all cheering Tony Abbott, now he has been made to disappear and then this week, the Liberal Party’s saying we have a new leader. I think the people in Canning don’t want the games. Remember when Mr Abbott use to say that he wasn’t into the Canberra insider games? Now he has fallen foul of those in the Liberal Party. The voters in Canning want people who are committed to stopping the cuts to their schools, to stopping the cuts to hospitals, to a plan for infrastructure to create jobs and to better policies for community safety. Labor’s got the best ideas and we are most fair dinkum on that, and by the way, we are still far more united than the Liberal party who are seeking the peoples vote.
JOURNALIST: Will Labor have a bigger fight on its hands now that you have now that you have got Malcolm Turnbull in the top job for the Coalition? Maybe Labor voters obviously switching sides because of Malcolm Turnbull’s policies.
SHORTEN: I think that’s all that has motivated the change from Mr Abbott to Mr Turnbull. We’ve got poor old Joe Hockey wondering around on a political death watch – is this his last question time as Treasurer? We have got the Liberals weighing up whether another Defence Minister at a time when Australian ADF personnel are engaged overseas. We’ve got Scott Morrison unable to explain his role whether he was for Tony Abbott or whether he was Malcolm Turnbull or if he was just for Scott Morrison. I think what matters for Labor is putting forward the best views for the future. The Liberal Party are clearly not united.
Secondly, it is only Labor who is proposing policies for the future. We believe in making sure that our young people have the skills that they need to learn at school for the jobs of the future. We want Australia to be leading the world in technology start-ups. We want to make sure that women are getting an equal deal in our society. We want a properly funded healthcare system where it’s your Medicare card, not your credit card which determines the level of healthcare you get. We certainly will keep fighting those dreadful Christopher Pyne-Tony Abbott higher education reforms that we see young people face the prospect of $100,000 degrees. And of course, we are the only party with real policies on climate change.
The challenge for Mr Turnbull is: is he going to keep true to the values he had before he was Prime Minister or will he compromise his views – which he appears to doing pretty quickly – in order to achieve his personal ambition to be Prime Minister and in fact demonstrate that he doesn’t stand for anything.
JOURNALIST: You said that a drover’s dog would get a poll bounce – I hope the drover’s dog wouldn’t have such a big lead as the preferred Prime Minister. How do you convince Australians that you are the best man for the top job?
SHORTEN: By having the best ideas for the future of Australia. I understand from the last two years of work that Australians want to know that they have a government who understands them, who is in touch with them. Australians are concerned that unemployment has gone up under the Liberal Government, it has gone up quite significantly. Now I know there is going to be a real attempt by Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull to airbrush history and almost pretend they weren’t there for the last two years.
The real questions that have to asked is what has changed Mr Turnbull rather than some of the salespeople? Is it the substance? Do you still want $100,000 university degrees? I don’t.
Do you still want real action on climate change or do you want to slavishly implement Tony Abbott’s climate sceptic direct action policy? I want real action on climate change.
Do you want to make sure we have confidence in the community by well-funded, generational, job building infrastructure or do you want the sort of politicking and the do nothing actions that have underpinned the last two years?
I know that when it comes to the next election, Australians want to see a debate about the best ideas for the future. That is what I will deliver and that is what we will keep working on every day between now and the election.
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