SUNDAY, 17 APRIL 2016
Subject/s: Royal Commission into the banking and financial services sector; ABCC; Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal
ROB MITCHELL, MEMBER FOR MCEWEN: Well I just want to welcome everyone here today. It's great to have Bill Shorten, Chloe and my colleague Maria Vamvakinou here in Craigieburn, which is an essential part of McEwen. There's some 40 000 people living here now. It's important that we have Bill out here to listen to people to talk to them, to hear their views and understand what's going on in their mind. So it's fantastic to have you here and we really appreciate it. It's good to have him back. He's been here quite a few times so it's sensational, so over to you Bill Shorten.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Rob and good afternoon everybody. It's great for Chloe and I to be here at my 22nd town hall meeting. Taking place all over Australia but today in Craigieburn, in Rob Mitchell's electorate of McEwen. We've also got here Maria Vamvakinou from the neighbouring electorate of Calwell. Two very hard working Labor MPs.
It's great to be in Craigieburn listening to people, talking to people. For one thing that's coming through loud and clear everywhere I go in Australia, Australians do not understand why Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison and the Liberal Party will do anything except hold a Royal Commission into the big banks and the finance sector of Australia. Now, we find out today in the newspapers that Mr Turnbull is so desperate to cover up for the banks that he's been talking with the banks about how to divert and stop a Royal Commission into the banking sector. It is disgraceful that reports are now filtering out that Mr Turnbull's gone to check with his bosses in the banking sector to get their permission to see what the banks will allow an elected democratic Government of Australia to investigate. Mr Turnbull needs to realise that his bosses are not the banks of Australia but the Australian people. It is a very, very unhealthy fact for Australian democracy if we find out that the Liberal Government are going cap in hand to the banking sector saying 'excuse me please, do you mind if we do something and how can we investigate you?'. It is very undemocratic that Mr Turnbull is seeking the permission of the banks to find out exactly what he's allowed to investigate in the banking sector of Australia. In fact it just goes to show that anything less than a Royal Commission into the Australian banking and financial service sector is tantamount to a cover up and Mr Turnbull has again today highlighted the need for a Royal Commission, with all of the facts on the table. No more secrets, no more dodgy deals, no more excuses. Australians deserve the best possible banking sector, Labor will give that to Australia through a Royal Commission to put all of the material on the table for all Australians to see. Mr Turnbull should not be asking permission of the banks whether or not he's allowed to investigate them.
Happy to take question.
JOURNALIST: Parliament returns tomorrow, is it a given that the ABCC bills are going to fail and we're going to be heading to an election on July 2?
SHORTEN: Well, Mr Turnbull and his team have really stopped governing Australia for the last few months. They don't really care about passing the ABCC legislation or not. I get the clear impression that they want to have an election because they really don't know what else they're meant to do. Labor will not support creating a different set of laws for tradies in this country on building sites to workers and other workplaces in Australia. Mr Turnbull though apparently hasn’t bothered talking to the crossbenches, so I've got no doubt that all Mr Turnbull's worried about this week in Parliament is when to have an election. I don't think he's thinking about the future of this country, he’s just thinking about the future of his own job.
JOURNALIST: Are you prepared for an early election on July 2?
SHORTEN: Labor's prepared for an election whenever it occurs, be it an early election, which Mr Turnbull wants, or an election on its proper and regular date.
JOURNALIST: What's in your diary for the 2nd of July?
SHORTEN: We are ready for the election because we've got the best polices to promote Australian jobs. To make sure that schools, like the school that I'm standing in now, is properly funded. To make sure that our hospitals and health care system provide quality universal care, where it's your Medicare care not your credit card which determines the level of health care you get in this country. We're ready for this election because we've got the only meaningful policies to tackle climate change. We're ready for this election because we want to give first home buyers a level playing field with the property speculators. We're ready for this election because we want to have the best possible banking sector and nothing less than the Royal Commission will do.
JOURNALIST: Is Bronwyn Bishop a real lose to the Parliament you think? She's lost her preselection.
SHORTEN: Well I must say this to Bronwyn Bishop, love her or hate her she's been a formidable warrior for the last 29 years. It just goes to show how severe and deep the infighting in the Liberal Party is. For the last 29 years the Liberal Party has said she's a great person, now they've just dumped her on a Saturday afternoon. The Liberal party is focused on fighting itself. They see this upcoming general election as sort of a skirmish before they can get back to the business of fighting each other. If Mr Turnbull wins the election he will hunt down and chase out Mr Abbott and all of his allies from the Liberal Party and if Mr Turnbull doesn’t win the election then Mr Abbott and all of his friends of the right wing will hunt down Mr Turnbull and all of his friends and allies. Either way, after this election Australians can be guaranteed of one thing: the Liberal party is ready to rumble against itself. They're not focusing on the jobs of everyone else.
JOURNALIST: What is Labor stance on delaying the introduction of the new pay rates for truckies?
SHORTEN: Labor's position in terms of the heavy vehicle industry and properly paying truck drivers minimum wages of pay is driven 100 per cent by safety. Last year 210 Australians died in heavy vehicle truck collisions. The heavy vehicle truck industry has a fatality rate at 12 times the national average of fatalities across all Australian work places. Labor does not want to see a set of circumstances in this country where the very low pay of owner drivers is incentivising drivers who are fatigued to cut corners, to drive faster. Not only am I concerned about the heavy vehicle truck drivers, I'm concerned about the safety of all Australians who use our roads. Mr Turnbull's never really shown any interest in truck driver safety ever in his parliamentary career. A search of Mr Turnbull's parliamentary words in the parliament show that he's used the work truck only on eight occasions and never, and never in regard to safety or remuneration. Mr Turnbull probably has the votes of the crossbenchers to secure his abolition of an independent tribunal. Mr Turnbull should explain what he intends to do to improve the safety of truck drivers and motorists in Australia. What he's doing is creating a free-for-all in terms of a race to the bottom of wage rates. We will see truck drivers cutting corners, forced through their very low pay to take risks which will jeopardise the safety of themselves and other motorist and Mr Turnbull has shown no interest in explaining the detail of his measures to improve truck drivers’ safety and motorist safety on the roads of Australia.
JOURNALIST: Hundreds of owner drivers have rallied in Canberra today in support of the abolition of the road safety remuneration tribunal, it's a pretty resounding message isn’t it from this truck drivers that they are in favour of the tribunal being abolished?
SHORTEN: Well I think what’s happening is that there's been a lot of confusion about the implementation of new minimum rates and I can respect the concern that causes. But the solution, if there's detail about minimum rates of pay, isn't to get rid of the independent umpire. The solution to road safety in this country isn't to deregulate the wage rates of owner drivers so it's just the law of the jungle applying in terms of what people get payed. We don't want to be in a race to the bottom. All the evidence shows that where you can tackle safety, where you can put downward pressure on the speed of heavy vehicle trucks, you're going to get better safety outcomes for truck drivers and their families and all Australian motorists. There's two statistics which Mr Turnbull never talks about, 210 people died on our roads in heavy vehicle truck collisions last year, he never talks about that. He never talks about also the fact that heavy vehicle truck driving, the fatality rate in this industry is 12 times the national average. The Labor Party is committed to road safety, we believe that one of the ingredients to greater road safety is in making sure we don't have such an unsafe system of pay rates that people take risks, cut corners and then we have all of the terrible, terrible tragedy which occurs when one of these collisions takes place.
JOURNALIST: Are you willing to entertain the delay though?
SHORTEN: Absolutely, we've said that we think the independent tribunal should delay some of the new minimum wage orders until the first of January next year. That's how you fix things. Image if the independent tribunal passes a minimum wage case for workers and Mr Turnbull doesn’t like that. Imagine if the independent umpire decides to increase casual loadings that people receive or penalty rates. What is Mr Turnbull now going to do if a few 100 people complain about the national independent umpire for wage rates? Mr Turnbull is only doing this to keep the right wing of his political party happy. He has no consistency of interest in the issues of road safety that I’ve seen him speak about. No, I think that Mr Turnbull needs to explain to Australians how he's going to improve road safety because all he's doing at this point is jeopardising it.
JOURNALIST: Should the Queensland Nickel workers get more than 13 weeks redundancy under the Governments scheme?
SHORTEN: The Queensland Nickel workers should get all the money they're entitled to. I visited and spoke to Queensland Nickel workers; I was at the Townsville refinery on the last day before the plant shut operations. They have been led up the garden path by the senior management of that company. My Turnbull and his Government haven’t acted quickly enough to help provide the minimum entitlements for these workers. It was very fortunate that Labor was able to stop the current Government from abolishing the safety net of paying people their minimum entitlements, otherwise these workers would have got not a cent or rather a lot less than what they are currently going to get. The truth of the matter is though the responsibility of the Queensland Nickel lies with the senior management of that company, including Mr Palmer. And I would just ask Mr Turnbull and others not to cut the safety net of people's entitlements but on this issues my focus is even more on Mr Palmer and his management than it is on the Government.
JOURNALIST: So you don't think there should be additional provision for these workers from the Government?
SHORTEN: I was the minister who introduced the safety net of entitlements called the Fair Entitlements Guarantee. I think it is appropriate that there is a safety net. Where a company becomes insolvent there should be some minimum payments which the government helps reimburse the worker. But just to reassure Australians, once the government reimburses these workers for their minimum entitlements the government then stands in the shoes of the creditor and then they chase down the former management to reimburse the Commonwealth for the money which the Commonwealth has forwarded on to the workers.
Last question if there is one thank you.
JOURNALIST: The Greens has smashed their campaign funding targets in inner city Melbourne about Batman and Wills already, how worried is Labor that the Greens will come up and start taking those traditionally safe seats from you?
SHORTEN: Tell you what worries me, will the schools of Australia properly get funded. Will we have proper funding for our health care system. What can we do to help reduce the waiting times for cataract surgery or hip replacement or knee replacement work. What worries me is whether or not Australian jobs are going to be kept in Australia through the proper promotion of manufacturing industry. What concerns me is will our kids be able to afford to be able to bid for a house in the future against property speculators being subsides by unfair tax concession. What worries me is will pensioners have to face further attacks if a Turnbull Government gets re-elected, attacking and undermining their pension. For me the Greens are not the main game. The main game for me is the people of Australia, the middle class and the working class. I believe that the top one per cent, the very wealthy in Australia are pretty good at looking after themselves and good luck to them. What I want to do is create a fairer Australia where people in the middle class and the working class are reasonably assured that if they get a good education they will be able find a good job. That if we have good quality health care when they're sick they'll be able to get the attention they need. The pensioners don't have to have anxiety about if they can afford the shopping or the power bills. I find that if we look after the middle class and the working class then everything else will be alright on the day. Thanks everyone.