Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Western Sydney - Tony Abbott’s cuts to pensions; Weak economic numbers






SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s cuts to pensions; Weak economic numbers; ChAFTA; Canning by election;


MICHELLE ROWLAND, MEMBER FOR GREENWAY: It is great to be joined here in The Ponds today with Bill Shorten, and he was very well received at our local seniors forum this morning talking about issues that are really important to members of the community here. Things like housing affordability, especially for people’s children and their grandchildren. The National Broadband Network and whether it is going to be fully rolled out in this area and also, retirement incomes – something that is really important to these people. They were very interested to hear Bill’s views on this. So thank you very much Bill, it has been a pleasure to have to here and thanks for helping make it such a wonderful morning for everyone.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Michelle. It is great to be in the Ponds with Michelle Rowland, who is working so hard for her constituents. It is a real eye opener when you talk to Australian seniors to take the temperature on what is making them happy or unhappy about national politics. It is very clear after speaking to a couple of hundred seniors today yet again; one, Australian seniors are really unhappy at Mr Abbott and his Liberals mucking around with the age pension and part pension tests. There is a lot of Australian part pensioners who feel ripped off. Mr Abbott before the last election said there would be no change to pensions. People have worked hard their whole lives; they have saved. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a significant number of part pensioners who feel penalised because they saved money and worked hard and but now, they are being penalised by the Abbott Government. The other big issue which many of the seniors were talking about is their fear for the future of the health care system. They don't understand why the Government wants them to pay a GP tax; why they are increasing the costs of going to the doctor. For a lot of senior Australians, their health is really important to them, it is one of the issues which is important to their quality of life. They are very upset at the cuts to the health care system in Australia and they certainly that clear to me today.


Happy to take any questions.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, GDP grew by 0.2 per cent in the three months to June, below expectations. Is that a concern?


SHORTEN: It is gravely concerning that the economic growth numbers for this country came in at half what the market expected. It is now cemented a trend under Mr Abbott and his Liberals. Every quarter since Mr Abbott and his Liberals got elected two years ago, economic growth has come in below trend and this explains why we have the highest number of unemployed people in Australia in 20 years, 800,000 people. Our growth is down under Mr Abbott and what is happening in Australians are losing their jobs as a result.


JOURNALIST: Why have you taken a position that is so isolated on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement? Ignoring Hawke, Carr and Labor state leaders and premiers, the Chinese Ambassador and former Chinese Ambassador.


SHORTEN: I don't agree with the assumption of your question but let’s go through what you said there. Labor believes in the principle and benefits of free trade agreements. But we want to make sure that these free trade agreements are putting Aussie jobs first. Yes, I am different to Mr Abbott. I don't automatically sign a blank cheque and not worry about the consequences on Australian jobs. Australian jobs is an obsession of mine. It doesn't matter if it is building submarines or the car industry, which Mr Abbott let go, or our aviation industry or seafarers. And this China free trade agreement can't afford to see people put on the scrap heap because it is a sloppily negotiated agreement in terms of the detail of labour standards. Labor does stand for Australian jobs first. We get the benefits of trade but we’re not just going to sign any old deal which undermines Australian jobs. And in terms of the commentators, I won't make a comment about the Chinese Government but I will say it that the State Labor leaders who I have spoken to today are on the same page. They are committed to Australian jobs first.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, they’ve said, Daniel Andrews, Luke Foley and  Andrew Barr that the China free trade deal is good for jobs and they want you to sign it. Do you understand why they’d say that and why are they wrong?


SHORTEN: Well first of all I think you’re wrong in what you’ve just said. I spoke to Mr Andrews, I don't know if you saw his 8 o'clock press conference this morning? I think you'll find that our position is the same. Let's be really straight here. We support a trade agreement but we don't support any trade agreement if it's a dud deal. Mr Abbott and his Liberal team have the capacity to stand up for Australian jobs. We want to make sure that we don't see people coming here on visas being exploited and undercutting Australian jobs. I think we've all been appalled and disgusted by the scenes at Subway (7-Eleven) where literally thousands of people on visas are being ripped off. Why on earth do we want to undermine Australian labour standards, Australian skills standards which protect the safety of Australian consumers? Now we'll sort this issue out but Labor will not be bullied to give up on standing up for Australian jobs by the shouting of Mr Abbott and his Liberals.


JOURNALIST: Andrew Robb has said that you're out of touch on the issue, what do you say to that?


SHORTEN: For one of Mr Abbott's Liberal Ministers to be criticising Labor is hardly a news flash. What we say to Mr Robb is, the ball’s in your court. We are prepared to negotiate. The louder they shout at us the more concerned I am that there’s something not being dealt with on Australian jobs. We know and you know how Mr Abbott and his Liberal team work, they try and bully people into agreeing with their view of the world. It’s very straight forward. And for me this is a matter for Australian mums and dads wanting to see their kids get jobs. For me it’s a matter of making sure that if there's a project of over $150 million of investment from China, that Australians get first chance to work on these jobs. For me it's a matter of making sure that when plumbers and electricians and carpenters and joiners and motor mechanics are working in this country, that they have the appropriate skill level accredited by Australia's safety representatives and our professionals. That's what matters here. Now there's a deal here to be done with the Government, but what we ask of Mr Abbott and his Liberals, please stand up for Australian jobs rather than just worrying about your own job.


JOURNALIST: On the issue of the Canning by-election, it's been suggested that Labor is deliberately running a low key campaign, is that true?


SHORTEN: How breathtakingly arrogant of Mr Abbott and his Liberals to assume that they will just simply win the Canning by-election, and just start making all these sort of overconfident comments assuming what the people in this particular electorate will do. For me and for Labor the issues in the Canning by-election are all about jobs and cuts to health care and education and opposing those cuts that Mr Abbott wants to introduce. I've been to Canning quite a bit in recent times and I’ll be there again a fair bit. When I talk to people, mums and dads, pensioners, people who use our schools and our health care system, people who currently aren't working or want to find a work, they're not interested in the sort of name calling and the politics as usual that we're seeing from the Government. They want to know will Mr Abbott stop cutting funding to schools? Will he stop cutting funding to hospitals? Mr Abbott says he's not the issue here, he desperately wants people to think that. My word Mr Abbott is the issue in terms of the cuts to hospitals and schools and the high unemployment rates and the disappointing news today that our economic growth in Australia is well below what it should be. Now Mr Abbott hasn't been seen a lot in Western Australia, they built an Abbott-proof fence as people have been saying around the electorate of Canning. Now they've opened the wire a little bit, they’ve let him have a little frolic in Canning. I'm sure he'll be out of there in very quick time. The real issue here is Mr Abbott’s cuts to schools and hospitals, it’s the high unemployment rates and it’s the terrible economic growth that we're seeing at the moment. The truth is the Australian economy and the West Australian economy are wallowing in mediocrity and Mr Abbott and his Liberals have no plan for the future.

JOURNALIST: What will you consider to be a success in Canning? 

SHORTEN: Success in Canning will be if Mr Abbott doesn't cut the school funding to the schools in Canning. Success in the West Australian by-election is if Mr Abbott gets the message that he shouldn't be cutting hospital funding. Success for me in Western Australia and indeed in East coast Australia, is when a young person can get a job, when a young person doesn't have to pay $100,000 degrees, where aged pensioners don't have the pension rules changed on them by Mr Abbott and his government. Success for me in Canning is when the Australian economy is growing, and when we have a better future than the one currently Mr Abbott and his Liberal team are taking us on.

Last question thank you.

JOURNALIST: How much of a priority is it for Labor to actually win Canning?

SHORTEN: For me it's a priority to do well, because I believe that Australia needs a new direction. I believe that Australia is sick and Australians are sick of politics as usual. See what I think is when a family is sitting around the dinner table tonight they're wondering will their kids be able to get a deposit to buy a house when they grow up; will they have to pay $100,000 university degrees; can we stop the Government cutting health care because I believe in an Australia where it's your Medicare card, not your credit card which determines the quality of health care. Success for me is when we have economic growth numbers which are not in the current very poor state we see, it's all about a better future for Australians and Australian families, that's what success for me looks like.

Thanks everyone.