Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Perth - Labor Candidate for Canning Matt Keogh; Tony Abbott’s royal commission






SUBJECT/S: Labor Candidate for Canning Matt Keogh; Tony Abbott’s royal commission; Michael Lawler

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Matt Keogh's family's home. I'm here today with that well known champion of Western Australia, Alannah MacTiernan. I'm pleased to be introducing to the people of Canning and the people of Australia, Labor's fantastic young, energetic candidate for the seat of Canning. Matt Keogh is local born and bred. His family have lived here for three generations. He is a local boy who has done well. He has got a distinguished legal career and he has just stepped down as President of the Law Society to run for the seat of Canning. Matt and his wife Annabel, I think, understand the challenges for new families and he also understands the challenges as a long-time participant in improving this community in Armadale and Kelmscott. So what I would like to do is to talk a little bit about what I think the issues are in this by-election and then I might ask Alannah and Matt to say a few words as well.

Labor believes that this by-election shouldn't be about saving Tony Abbott's job. It should be the start of a national conversation about the future of not only Canning, not only Western Australia, but the whole of Australia. And at the centre of any national conversation about the future, there is jobs. Western Australia has been doing it tough in very recent times, after almost four decades of growth and success. We all know that the mining boom has eased off and this has hit a lot of people in this community hard; fly-in fly-out workers and also people who rely upon the industry which was created through the mining boom.

So Matt strongly and firmly believes that we need a plan for jobs in this country and a plan for jobs in Canning. He and Alannah and myself are very concerned that since Mr Abbott and his Liberals were elected two years ago, unemployment in Western Australia has gone up and up and up. There is now over 90,000 of Matt's fellow West Australians who are unemployed. 30,000 more than when Mr Abbott and his Liberals got elected. This by-election should not be about Mr Abbott's job, it should be about a plan for the jobs of West Australians.

Now we know that this by-election has arisen in sad circumstances, and again, as I did in Parliament, the Labor Party records its sorrow on the passing of energetic local member Don Randall. We also understand that it is hard for an opposition party to achieve the sort of swing which would see Mr Abbott and his team lose the seat. But Labor's made of strong and tough stuff. Matt has decided to put his name forward to the people of Canning because he believes he can make a difference; a difference in this community and a difference throughout the whole of the electorate of Canning. So we see an important national conversation started through this by-election. It is the opportunity to talk about the future, to talk about jobs. There have been dreadful cuts to Western Australian services because of Mr Abbott and his Liberals and their broken promises. Cuts to schools, cuts to university funding, TAFE students in more debt and cuts of course to the health system in Western Australia. We need a local champion who will stand up for the issues which make this such a fantastic community. Now, I would like to hand over to Alannah MacTiernan to talk more about some of the issues she sees coming up in this by-election and then perhaps we could get Matt to say a few words to introduce himself to everyone.

ALANNAH MACTIERNAN, MEMBER FOR PERTH: Great, and it is actually fantastic to be here. I've known Matt since he was a kid, and I have known his parents and his grandparents. These have been people that have been really active members of this community now for three or four decades. They have been the people who have got in there and worked on solving the problems of the community and indeed building community. And it was fantastic that a decade or so ago Matt was actually chairing our community reference group for the Armadale Redevelopment Authority, so Matt has had real experience in understanding what we have to do, how government investment can drive a community forward. What we did with Matt being vitally involved in this, in redeveloping the Armidale Town Centre, developing the Forestdale Business Park, developing Champion Lakes, a whole suite of projects that were designed to take Armadale and this area forward. So Matt really comes to this with an enormous experience.

Now we know that the big issues are going to be out here in this area, are going to be jobs. I mean it is jobs which really creates that opportunity for people in this community. We've got a massive problem, many people here that are FIFO or DIDO and those opportunities have now been dramatically reduced and we've got to make sure we've got 21st century jobs for our community and for the kids that are coming through. So we are going to be very focused on that, on jobs, and we're going to be very focused on the education story, of making sure that we are training our kids in the skills, the coding skills, the STEM skills that are necessary so that they can get the 21st century jobs, and we know in this area people absolutely get renewable energy. So renewable energy and our whole commitment to renewable energy, so people can cut their power bills, do their bit for the environment, and also have really good quality 21st century jobs. People get it out here. We've got one of the highest rates of solar take-up anywhere in Australia in this area, so we will be telling that story and we think the community will really understand that and appreciate it. I am now going to hand over to Matt.

MATT KEOGH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CANNING: Thanks Alannah and thanks Bill. So we're all here at my family home where I grew up in the Kelmscott Hills, I went to school down in Armadale at St Francis Xavier and I was involved in the youth group and the church down there so I've grown up in this area and I'm really committed to this area and making it a better place. My mum is a teacher, my dad works in a hospital. One of my brothers is a teacher. We really feel and understand the cuts that are going to be made and are being made by Tony Abbott's Government to health and education and that's one of the things that has really inspired me in to wanting to stick my hand up for my local community.

I met my wife at law school. My first job was working in the local law firm which my grandfather had started here in Kelmscott. I then started working there as a local lawyer working for the local people of Armadale and Kelmscott and all through the Canning electorate actually he had clients that were coming from Byford, from Pinjarra, even down in Waroona and out in Mandurah, and these towns, these places, Armadale and Mandurah back then were country towns as well and they’ve still got that country feel and community about them, and that's why I'm really honoured to have been selected by Labor Party to be able to stand up for my community and to put myself forward as their representative for this by-election. I've worked in this community as a youth group leader, I've worked with St John Ambulance as a volunteer. I've worked on the board of an organisation running refuges for victims of domestic violence, and all of that work and my work as a lawyer has been around advocating for people and for helping them out, and I want to continue doing that and I want to do that for all of the areas of Canning by being their representative in the Federal Parliament.

SHORTEN: Thanks very much, Matt. Are there any questions? You're much politer than in some cities.

JOURNALIST: Thank you. You must think you've got a really good chance because there are precedents where you’ve not run a candidate in a by-election?

SHORTEN: Well, as leader of the Labor Party, I believe that voters should always be presented with a choice at every election. It is not my nature to simply to say to a group of voters that a battle is too hard and Labor won't come to the engagement. Now I think that on paper it's a hard challenge, we've got a great candidate, we've got a great champion here also with Alannah, but on paper it is a hard challenge. The typical swing in by-elections in these circumstances isn't high, it's about 2.5 per cent, but what I think is that it's more than just the by-election which is at stake here.

Some political observers say that a bad result for Mr Abbott, if the voters of Canning decide to turn this into a poll about what they think about Mr Abbott, it could affect his job and that his own party might turn on him. But I'm not just interested in that sort of politics-as-usual approach. This is the start of a national conversation about the future of this country.

We've had two years of this experimental, quite extreme Government and the results are in and they're not pretty. Unemployment is up and growth is down, confidence is down and we're seeing vital services being cut. More than ever young people and young families are finding it more and more difficult to enter the housing market and most importantly it is about jobs. Western Australia has been the poster child of economic success for Australia for decades. Now, a combination of the huge debt run up by Premier Barnett and Mr Abbott who keeps cutting things and cutting things and cutting services, and we see unemployment is up 30,000. Everyone knew the mining boom would come to an end, but in the last two years what is so disappointing is where is Mr Abbott's and his Liberals' plan to replace and transition jobs from the mining boom? So this is an opportunity in this electorate to put down some markers to Mr Abbott and his Liberals and say enough is enough. Enough of no jobs plan, enough of the broken promises, enough of the cuts to pensions, enough of the cuts to hospitals and schools, and by the way, Labor is putting forward a great local champion

Our approach is vote local, vote Labor, vote Keogh.

JOURNALIST: Are you confident you can win this seat though?

SHORTEN: That will be up to the voters. I don't tend to run on the presumption that people will or won't go a particular way. It is all about putting forward the best argument for the interests of voters. When I travel around this electorate in the next four or five weeks, my proposition to voters will be this: you have a chance to send a message to Mr Abbott and his Liberals that the direction they're taking this country is not the direction that we want to go in.

Voters here have a chance to say we want to see more plans for jobs, we want to see more commitment to properly funding our schools, more commitment to our universities, not $100,000 degrees, we want to see more commitment to Medicare, not actually cutting universal healthcare. We want to see more commitment to the Australian dream, that it is your healthcare card not your credit card which determines the quality of health in Canning; and fundamentally we want to make sure that we have a plan and we see a plan in this country for jobs and that's what Labor is going to fight this election on.

JOURNALIST: Just on another issue, should Dyson Heydon be deciding his own fate in the royal commission?

SHORTEN: Tony Abbott's royal commission into his political enemies was always a political witch-hunt. We've seen in recent weeks the revelations that Tony Abbott's captain's pick, Dyson Heydon, saw nothing wrong with saying he would go to Liberal Party events, Liberal Party fundraisers. Now we see this quite amazing debate happening today where the person accused of an apprehension of bias is being asked to judge themselves. Mr Abbott has failed the leadership test yet again. We know that he's got poor judgment when it comes to his captain's pick. Mr Abbott should never have allowed it to come to this debate where the person who's accused of the problem is judging themselves. Mr Abbott should have acted.

JOURNALIST: Is his role tenable?

SHORTEN: Well I think that Mr Abbott hasn't made it tenable at all, we'll have to see what happens today and in coming days. I think a lot of Australians are saying it seems unusual that where a royal commission set up to investigate Mr Abbott's rivals that the judge in charge of it was happy to go to Liberal Party events and would do so in the future if he could. I think there is a real problem here and we'll just see what happens today, but Mr Abbott has set up a royal commission to investigate his political enemies and in the last two years of this government, Mr Abbott has spent taxpayer money to put three different Labor leaders into royal commissions. This is certainly, I think, all signs of a witch-hunt, and Mr Abbott should have acted before today.

JOURNALIST: Will you take the matter to court if Mr Heydon doesn't resign?

SHORTEN: Let's not get ahead of ourselves. I think that there's serious arguments being put today about all of these issues. Mr Abbott should have acted. We've seen him time and time again get his captain's picks wrong. Bronwyn Bishop; he got that wrong. I think he's got this one wrong with who he's appointed to the royal commission. Mr Abbott's judgment which constantly gets the whole nation caught up in matters when we need to be getting on with the issues of jobs, education, healthcare and fairness.

JOURNALIST: Should the Government meet the US's request for assistance with its bombing campaign in Syria?

SHORTEN: I just spoke to Mr Abbott a few minutes ago. Labor will be briefed by the Government next week. Let me state at the outset that Labor always seeks to achieve bipartisanship in national security. We believe that there is no more important role for the Parliament than to make sure that Australians are safe. So we've been very constructive in the last year and a half, two years as these matters have arisen. We will be briefed next week. That's what Australians expect us to do. I was just, as I said, speaking to Mr Abbott a few minutes ago. We will be seeking an explanation of the legal basis upon the proposition which the United States has asked us, is it legal what the United States has asked us to do.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, can I ask you about the GST? Are you comfortable with broadening the GST for online articles under $1,000?

SHORTEN: Well, Mr Abbott said before the last election "no change to the GST." So he went to the people of Australia and said and promised consumers, there'd be no change to the GST. He has broken every promise he's made since he got elected, this is yet another one. I understand the argument from the point of view of small business, that with the expansion of online shopping some goods are coming in from overseas which don't attract the GST, whereas goods which are sold locally do. So there is a debate here about tax equity, but by the same token, I also understand the view of consumers who say if it costs more to collect this tax than is actually raised then there are no winners in this. We want to see the detail but as a general proposition Mr Abbott should not be touching the GST without going to an election. It is a broken promise.

JOURNALIST: So does that mean Labor supports it or not?

SHORTEN: No we haven't seen enough of the detail but we do not, we do not support increasing the GST or broadening the GST. Where there has been technical arguments that a new category of goods or say a digital download which didn't exist when the GST was invented, well then we'd be more flexible on that, but as a general principle, we do not want to see consumers paying increased cost of living merely because Mr Abbott hasn't got a plan for Australia’s jobs and future business.

JOURNALIST: Do you know whether it is right that an alleged rape victim was kept on Nauru for three months before being flown to Australia for medical treatment?

SHORTEN: I don't know the circumstances to which you are referring. Certainly the way you put the question that would not be right. I do think that the Government needs to take away the veil of secrecy by which it’s handling the processing of people of Nauru and Manus Island. I think Australians should just be treated honestly with the most information that's available as opposed to any culture of secrecy but I don't have any more information on that particular matter.

JOURNALIST: Mr Abbott seems to be leaving it open to you to make a parliamentary challenge to Michael Lawler's position. How do you feel about that, is that something you'd consider?

SHORTEN: Well there was a question asked in Parliament yesterday about another captain's pick, Michael Lawler, who is a Vice President of the Fair Work Commission and the partner of the disgraced Kathy Jackson. We asked the Prime Minister yesterday did he stand by his captain's pick. He significantly refused to do that and said that there are matters to deal with it. So we will see what emerges, what evidence emerges in coming days and weeks and see what our options are.

JOURNALIST: You would like him gone?

SHORTEN: We'll see what evidence emerges in coming days and weeks, but there is no doubt that Mr Abbott has said clearly in the past he thinks this person is an excellent person. Yesterday he significantly wouldn't back him in and he challenged Labor to take up its options further, and we will certainly take up Mr Abbott's invitation and investigate what options there are.

Thanks, everyone.