Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Perth






SUBJECT/S: WA Senate by-election; Commission of Audit; Papua New Guinea.

SHORTEN: It’s great to be here in Perth today on a Saturday, at the zoo with the family. Sometimes in politics you’ve got to travel a fair bit so it’s a great opportunity for my family and I to see Perth on the weekend as opposed to just working here. But of course there is the launch tomorrow of Labor’s Senate campaign. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Western Australians to send a message to Tony Abbott that they don’t want a clone of the Barnett Government. One Barnett Government is hard enough for Western Australians, they don’t need another one in Canberra. I think the big story of this election is jobs, how do we fight to keep jobs, create new jobs, and making sure there are not tough cuts to education and healthcare. Happy to take questions.

REPORTER: Bill you’ve been here a few times this year, I think it’s three or four times now. People are kind of cynical about leaders coming for elections and then you don’t normally see them again. Do you plan to have a presence up until the 2016 poll?

SHORTEN: Yes well I’ve only been the leader of the Federal Labor Party for five months, and this is my fourth visit. I guarantee that I intend to keep visiting Western Australia when there is an election and when there is not an election. Western Australia has got a lot of great opportunities, but we can’t take our standard of living for granted. So I’m very committed to making sure that what we do is we have a government that promotes growth but includes all of us, to make sure that everyone gets an opportunity to raise their kids, to be able to access the housing market, and to make sure that we don’t have terrible education and health cuts.

REPORTER: The Abbott administration is highly critical of the fact that you continue to block the carbon and the mining tax abolition. Why won’t you support that?

SHORTEN: Our policy at the last election was to make sure that we have real action on climate change. We would support repealing the carbon tax if there was a real alternative plan from this government. But the idea that you do nothing at all, to me is just a real lack of leadership.  But by all means, we also think this Senate election is not a re-run of the 2013 general election. It’s now been six months and the Abbott Government needs to show what it’s actually done for people. They are good on the slogans but they’re light on action.

REPORTER: Does that mean that your campaign launch tomorrow will have any substantive policy differences then, from last September?

SHORTEN: Well what is important is what is the Abbott Government going to do with the Budget this year. I think it is shameful that the Abbott Government is refusing to release to Western Australian voters before the Senate by-election, the 900 pages of nasty surprises and cuts that they’ve got aimed at all Australians, including Western Australians. The Abbott Government is shifty when it comes to the detail of cuts which will affect families working hard to make ends meet.

REPORTER: How confident are you of seeing Senator Louise Pratt in again?

SHORTEN: I believe we’ve got a strong team, and what Western Australians want is Senators who will stand up for Western Australia. What we don’t need is a rubber stamp for the Barnett Government. What we don’t need is a rubber stamp to the Abbott Government’s cuts to health and education. What we need is a pro-Western Australian Senate team who will keep the Abbott Government honest. If you vote for more Liberals the chances of keeping the Abbott Government honest are very, very low.

REPORTER: It was the actual Labor Party’s preference arrangement which actually saw the incumbent, Louise Pratt, number two on the ticket. I mean how fair, and what does that say about Labor, the fact that the sitting member is number two on the ticket?

SHORTEN: I think the challenge in this election is to see through the minor parties. The challenge in this election is to make sure that people vote. What Tony Abbott wants is a low turnout in the Senate by-election. What Tony Abbott wants is to not tell Western Australians about his 900 pages of cuts, which he’s already read, but he doesn’t trust one and a half million Western Australians enough to tell them before an election what Tony Abbott will do after this Senate by-election.

REPORTER: Do you think it will be to Labor’s disadvantage if there is a low voter turnout, as some people are tipping?

SHORTEN: Turnout is really important. We should never take our democracy for granted. Whilst no one wanted to have a Senate by-election, no one wanted the voted lost which has triggered this Senate by-election, a lot of countries in the world don’t have elections. A lot of countries in the world would love the opportunity to be able to vote on their leaders. Western Australia has a chance to keep the Abbott Government in check by voting for strong Western Australians Senators who will not be a rubber stamp to Tony Abbott’s hidden cuts in education and healthcare.

REPORTER: I’ve got a question about something outside the campaign if that’s alright. There’s been some suggestion that the Prime Minister may have been in discussions with other Pacific nations about resettling refugees outside of Papua New Guinea. Do have any comments to make about that?

SHORTEN: Labor’s plan for regional resettlement, obviously would want more countries involved in regional resettlement. The Abbott Government hasn’t visited at a senior level the government of Papua New Guinea since they got elected, that was six months ago. Now the Prime Minister has said that Manus Island is the cornerstone in discouraging the people smugglers, yet he hadn’t even bothered to visit Papua New Guinea to talk about the issues. So we hope that the Abbott Government is going to do more work in regional resettlement, which was Labor’s idea. We just wish the Abbott Government, again, would just tell Australians what they are doing.  They won’t tell Australians about their hidden cuts, they won’t tell Australians what they are planning in terms of regional resettlement, the Abbott Government won’t tell us what they know or don’t know about this Sinodinos affair. This is a shifty government, and voters have an opportunity to wake them up on the 5th of April at the Western Australians Senate by-election.