Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Whittlesea - Labor’s plan for the jobs of the future; Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission






SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan for the jobs of the future; Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission; Dyson Heydon; 7-Eleven workers; Cabinet division; Hockey job speculation; O’Herns Road; Peter Dutton’s incompetence

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everyone, it's great to be at Whittlesea Secondary College with local Member of Parliament Rob Mitchell. Whittlesea Secondary College of course, the school community here was terribly affected by the Black Saturday bush fires back in 2009, where teachers, students and family members were lost in that terrible bushfire. Yet the very premises we're standing in now on the school shows how the school has fought back and how previous Labor governments have invested, providing the best technical and science teaching available for the students of this community.

What we've seen this morning is the students of today preparing for the jobs of the future. The students that we've met this morning; they're brave, they're optimistic, their parents work hard to send them here. What they deserve is a Government who is as brave and optimistic as they are. It is the job of Government to make sure our kids get the best start in life and they have the skills for the future. Only the Labor Party is talking about providing greater support for science, maths and technical and engineering education. More opportunities to go to university, better opportunities to go to TAFE and also supporting our really hard working teachers. The Labor Party is getting on with the big issues of this nation and there is none more important than making sure that our young people have got the skills for jobs. That's what a future Labor Government will do, we'll make sure that our kids get the best start in life. Happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: Over to Dyson Heydon if you don't mind, so why is Labor pursuing a vote in the Senate given that it's the Governor-General that makes that decision?

SHORTEN: I think it is appropriate that the Labor Party and that the Parliament takes up the matters of this shambolic and tainted Royal Commission. I think a lot of people today will be saying how on earth can the captain's pick by Tony Abbott, the Royal Commissioner, just simply say that it's okay to go to Liberal Party events? It sort of speaks volumes for the political nature of Tony Abbott's royal commission. The man in charge of the inquiry says it is okay to go to the Liberal Party events. But then what we also see, is that, what's next? Will Eddie McGuire declare himself okay to be the umpire in a Collingwood Grand Final? It is not right that the head of an inquiry thinks it is okay to go to Liberal Party events.

JOURNALIST: But this vote's not going to produce an outcome, it's been called a stunt is that what it is?

SHORTEN: When it comes to calling things for what they are, Tony Abbott's royal commission is a stunt. Labor has zero tolerance for criminal and corrupt behaviour, be it by employers or union reps in workplaces, zero tolerance. But we think it would be a better use of scarce taxpayer dollars to actually support the police and other crime fighting organisations directly than have a political royal commission designed to smear their opponents. It is not right that someone who is in charge of an inquiry investigating unions and also people in the Labor Party, that he think that it is okay to go to Liberal Party events. Tony Abbott set up this Royal Commission to smear his enemies and he is using the taxpayer money to do it.

JOURNALIST: Have you consulted the Crossbenchers, do you even have the numbers to get this motion through the Senate?

SHORTEN: I think that the issue is sufficiently important that we should put it to a vote and then ask people of good conscience to support it. Everyone knows that this royal commission was set up, using taxpayer money by Tony Abbott to prosecute and chase his political opponents. That's what it looks like and that's what it is.

JOURNALIST: So have you spoken to the crossbenchers about it?

SHORTEN: It will be up to my colleagues to be speaking in the Senate to crossbenchers.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask you about another thing, about Peter Dutton, it relates to his comments about a ‘jihad’ against the Government. Surely you can relate to that given Labor's troubles with the newspapers over the years when you were in Government.

SHORTEN: I think you work at the ABC, do you?

JOURNALIST: That's correct; I do work at the ABC.

SHORTEN: I don't think it is right for the Minister for Immigration to just start blaming the newspapers for his own mistakes. This is a Government who everything they touch seems to go wrong. Remember last week they were going to have uniformed people asking for peoples' papers under the clock at Flinders Street. Peter Dutton isn't in control of his ministry and he's now seeking to blame everyone else. Tony Abbott famously said and I've got a quote for what Mr Abbott said when he was Opposition Leader. He said in 2013: “If you want better coverage, be a better Government.” My advice to Peter Dutton is if you want better coverage, be a better Government.

JOURNALIST: Do you reject that comparison though? Do you feel like Labor was using the complaint against the News Corp papers as an excuse for some of their failings in government?

SHORTEN: How on earth can this be an issue about the Labor Party when it's Mr Abbott's Liberal ministers who are complaining that they are getting unfavourable coverage. We know the real problem here. This Government is making a lot of mistakes - it's not just in terms of that farce last week where they were going to have government people in uniforms asking to see peoples' papers. There's 800,000 Australians who are unemployed. Labor's obsessed about making sure that people can find jobs and create jobs. Mr Abbott's Liberals are obsessed about finding and keeping their own jobs. What’s happened here is that the Abbott Government is becoming a giant blame factory. All they want to do is blame the unions or blame the media or blame the environmentalists or blame the economists. In fact the only people they never want to seem to blame is themselves and that is where I think they should start looking.

JOURNALIST: Speaking of the ABC, regarding the 'Four Corners' story last night, do you think the Fair Work Commission should investigate the claims that 7-Eleven was underpaying workers?

SHORTEN: Absolutely. I think it is outrageous that thousands of people working at 7-Elevens across Australia could be potentially being exploited or as we saw last night, are being exploited. It speaks volumes about Mr Abbott and his Liberals. They’re happy to spend $80 million of taxpayers money trying to smear their political opponents, yet here we have real evidence of people being ripped off, ripped off most extremely and exploitatively and Mr Abbott and his Liberals say nothing. It speaks volumes about the priorities of Mr Abbott and his Government. You always know they’re quick to attack people but they’re very slow to stand up for people. What are they doing about unemployment, what are they doing about people being ripped off? Yet all they want to do is attack the ABC, attack the media, attack the Opposition, attack unions. This Government is out of touch with what’s really important.


JOURNALIST: Just regarding the frontbench of the government, would Labor be concerned or worried if Morrison replaced Hockey as Treasurer?


SHORTEN: I’m concerned that we’ve got a government that is more worried about fighting for their own jobs than standing up for Aussie jobs. What the Labor Party believes is Aussie jobs first, second and third. That’s what we do every time we talk about policy in this country. We want the kids at Whittlesea Secondary College and literally hundreds of thousands and other kids like them all over Australia to be getting the best skills training, with the best equipment and the best teachers so they can get the jobs of the future. Yet all we’ve got is some sort of catfight between members of the Liberal Party. Malcolm Turnbull wants Tony Abbott's job, you know the story, Scott Morrison want’s anyone’s job. But in the meantime, that’s just politics as usual which turns Australians off politics. I would like Mr Abbott and his Liberal team to stop worrying about their own jobs and start standing up for Australian jobs just for once, put the jobs of Aussies first rather than your own jobs Mr Abbott.


JOURNALIST: With respect the same was said about the previous Labor Government, it was said day after day after day, they’re staring at their navel instead of looking after Australian jobs.


SHORTEN: Is there a question there?


JOURNALIST: No, it’s mostly to do with - this is what is being thrown at you day after day Mr Shorten.


SHORTEN: Well let's talk about the numbers that count. There are 800,000 Aussies who are on the unemployment queue. There’s over a million Aussies who regularly complain that they’ve got insecure work or don't get the amount of hours they want. There’s over 800,000 people on the disability pension, who for many of them, they’re excluded from getting work. This is the real problem. We’ve got women who are having children who are getting their paid parental leave schemes taken off them by this government. We’ve got families thinking about returning to work who are going to pay more money in child care, going to lose more money in child care benefits if they go back to work. This government is not focusing on jobs. Economic growth is really low. We see real wages growth doing very badly. These are the real issues and instead you’ve got Minister Dutton complaining about being blamed for the stuff-ups in their own portfolio. It isn’t good enough. This Government’s got to start focusing on Aussie jobs.


JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, I have a question about the local area.




JOURNALIST: Residents are in desperate need for another highway interchange. The State Government has pledged money for an interchange at O’Herns Road. Does the Labor Government support that project?


SHORTEN: What I’ll do is I’ll ask Rob Mitchell, the Member for McEwen to answer that question in detail. But I have no doubt that Mr Abbott and his Liberals are not doing enough on infrastructure. We all know that the mining boom has eased up. We know that there is a desperate need to build confidence outside the mining sector. One of the best ways you can build confidence in Australia, get opportunities for people to get jobs and also to help small businesses, is to build more infrastructure. Public transport, the NBN, social housing and of course roads. So we will be developing our policies in terms of infrastructure funding. What we’ll also be doing, as we take you away from day to day politics, we want to make sure that what we do passes the test of Infrastructure Australia, an independent body who can assess the best possible merits of each road deal. I might ask Rob to talk a little further about this.


ROB MITCHELL: The O’Herns Road interchange, which is the one you’re talking about, was supported by Federal Labor in government. Unfortunately four years under the State Liberal Party we had no money for infrastructure into the northern suburbs. They were totally ignored. What we do know now is that the Liberal Mayor of Whittlesea claims that he’s had a nod and a wink from the Deputy Prime Minister which has amounted to nothing. Labor’s always supported the O’Herns interchange on the Craigieburn bypass and we’ll continue to support that. As Bill pointed out rightly we’re going to make sure that every project goes through Infrastructure Australia to make it’s clear and it’s above board and that it brings the best benefit for taxpayers dollars. So in that aspect we’re continuing to support that and already Andrew Giles and myself have already written to the Deputy Prime Minister, we’ve already supported this. It’s good to see that we now have a state government that’s actually backing the infrastructure into the northern suburbs.


SHORTEN: Thanks Rob, perhaps another question then we might finish up?


JOURNALIST: Well, just regarding Dutton once more, he’s sort of using the language of war, there’s a war against the Government, I think the word ‘jihad’ was thrown around. Do you have a comment relating to that language?


SHORTEN: Clearly Mr Abbott and his Liberal team, including Peter Dutton, are under pressure because of their mistakes but I would counsel Mr Dutton and national security ministers from conflating using the word ‘jihad’, which is what terrorists do to wreak their violence upon the world, and just using it against the ABC and Fairfax media. What we need from our government is cool heads and temperate language. The issues are too important from national security to pulling up your socks in terms of economic performance. Mr Dutton should not use inflammatory language associated with the war on terror, with attacking the media doing their job in Australia.


Thanks everyone, see you later.