MONDAY, 4 JULY 2016
SUBJECTS: Election 2016; Royal Commission into the banks; Labor's positive policies; One Nation; Multicultural Australia; Triple-A credit rating; Labor's united team
EMMA HUSAR, MEMBER-ELECT FOR LINDSAY: Good afternoon everybody and welcome. I am Emma Husar and I am the member-elect this time for the seat of Lindsay. I'd just like to welcome Bill back to Western Sydney and I'm really pleased to have him here today out talking to our voters who are really pleased to see me and to also see Bill and are all hoping that we are able to form Government. So here is Bill.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Emma. Good afternoon, everybody. It's great to be here in Penrith with my fantastic Deputy Tanya Plibersek and two new Labor warriors of the west, Emma Husar in the seat of Lindsay and Susan Templeman in the seat of Macquarie. They ran very strong campaigns focused on putting people first. It is really important for me to come out to Western Sydney today. It's really important that Tanya and I are out here because we want to say thank you, not just to our new Labor warriors of the west, but we want to say thank you to the hundreds of thousands of people who voted Labor on Saturday.
And I'm here to say we won't let you down. It's still not clear if we've won, drawn or indeed just come second in the election. But one thing is for sure, we will not let go of Labor's agenda of jobs, education and of course saving Medicare. We will make sure we keep faith with all of those people, indeed the millions across Australia who voted Labor, that's why I'm out and about straightaway thanking people. The electorate sent a very clear message. They want to see the 45th Parliament work and we're up to that task. In talking to crossbenchers, we're very determined to keep prosecuting and promoting our positive agenda. I can say this because Labor is united, we have a united team and we've got a clear policy platform. We took the Australian people into our trust by telling them the ideas that we would stand for and the policies we would promote in this Parliament. By contrast, though, my opponent Mr Turnbull is a much diminished figure. He has lost the authority of his own partyroom. We are already seeing, now that the election has concluded, we are already seeing an outbreak of internal civil war within the Liberal Party. Mr Turnbull promised stability at the last election. He has delivered exactly the opposite. Mr Turnbull has no chance of guaranteeing stability and there is no support or mandate for his policies. Labor, by contrast, is ready to govern if we're able to get that opportunity and privilege. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Two questions: Are you here because you're still campaigning for your job, and second of all, with the make-up of the crossbench, do you think you will be able to pass your Royal Commission into banks?
SHORTEN: I'm here because I'm saying thank you to people. At the end of the day all politicians only serve at the privilege and respect of the voters. I'm here because for me coming out to Western Sydney wasn't to get their vote on Saturday. For me, representing Australians is a 365-day-a-year task and that's what we are doing every day. We are here not because we want people's votes but we're here because we're saying thank you for their support. And we also say to people who voted for the minor parties, crossbenchers, Independents and indeed the Liberal Party: The Labor Party, we want to stand up for all people, that's why we're out here amongst the people. We are not out of touch. The worst thing I think that people think about politics is once the election is over, they don't see the people who are chasing their votes on Saturday, they can't be bothered leaving their own business-as-usual environment. I'm different. I understand that politics isn't just based in Canberra, it's based in every suburb and postcode in Australia. In terms of the banking Royal Commission, Labor will not be deterred by Business Council advertising campaigns. We will not be deterred by Malcolm Turnbull's trenchant defence of the banks. Nothing less than a Royal Commission into Australia's banking and financial services industry will suffice. And it doesn't matter even if we don't fall across the line and form a Government, but instead we are the Opposition. We would be prosecuting the case for a banking Royal Commission. Mr Turnbull should stop fighting so hard to defend the banks, he should stop talking about giving them a massive tax cut, he should join with us and the voice of the people and have a banking Royal Commission.
JOURNALIST: Will you or have you spoken to Pauline Hanson and will you give her a call to discuss what she wants given the bloc of votes she's likely to control?
SHORTEN: Well, there are a couple of issues there. I was on a radio interview this morning, she dialled in, so we spoke via KIIS FM. In terms of our policy and program, Labor's committed to sticking to our policies and our program. The people of Australia are entitled to elect whoever they want. I will work constructively with all people, all people who get elected by the people of Australia, including, I might add, Mr Turnbull and the Liberal Party. I'm interested in making the 45th Parliament work. For me, stability isn't something you promise on a Saturday and forget on a Monday. I'm very lucky that my party worked so hard in the last three years. We have a very clear policy platform and set of principles. We will work with the Liberals, we will work with the crossbenchers and the minor parties, because this country and this Parliament is too important to just fall foul of needless partisanship, but what we won't do is compromise our principles and our policy program.
JOURNALIST: When you negotiate with the crossbench, would you be at all willing to compromise or reverse any of the budget decisions you made, for example, getting rid of the school kids bonus, if that was something that the crossbenchers wanted, and can you confirm exactly which crossbenchers you're talking too?
SHORTEN: First of all, we stand by the policy announcements we made. We made some hard decisions, because we are committed to budget repair. But we're committed to budget repair that's fair. That's why Labor, I think, did so well this election. Because people do want to see the Gonski principles, needs-based funding, underpin proper school funding, for the next 10 years. That's why people were so determined to stop Malcolm Turnbull's cuts to Medicare. We made some hard decisions, we're not changing our minds on those hard decisions. In terms of working with crossbenchers -
JOURNALIST: And who you're talking to -
SHORTEN: I respect the Australian people. Some people voted Liberal in the last election. Some have voted for minor parties and of course plenty have voted for us. We will work with the Parliament and all of the people in it. In terms of my individual discussions, I'm not going to give a running commentary on that.
JOURNALIST: I remember only a few weeks ago we were standing in a very similar park like this, and we all asked you many questions about whether you would do deals with the crossbenchers. Have you not already broken an election promise by even considering forming a minority government?
SHORTEN: No, not at all. First of all Eliza, I've said very clearly many times that Labor's got a lot of positive plans for this country and we've outlined our priorities - taking real action on climate change, having a banking Royal Commission, making sure that we have a first rate NBN - not a second rate Turnbull-copper NBN, making sure that we save Medicare and reverse the freezes to GP rebates, or reverse the price hikes that Mr Turnbull is introducing for prescription medicine. We do believe in the Gonski-based education, needs-based funding principles. We will stick to our guns on our principles. What I'm also saying though, is that I'm not going to be bloody-minded and just simply not talk to anyone else. That's an arrogant path. That's what we've seen for the past three years under the Liberals. What we saw under Malcolm Turnbull it was his way or the highway. Australians have said to Malcolm Turnbull that they didn't want to go his way. We'll keep being very constructive. The real challenge here in the next few days is that the people have spoken. The AEC is going to professionally count the votes. We don't know what the ultimate outcome in those last few seats is going to be. What I'm outlining is not only my gratitude to the Australian people, what I'm outlining is that we will do whatever we can to make the 45th Parliament constructive. People are over the partisan, everyone has got to score a point off everyone else. I'm saying that we've got a clear set of policy principles, they're very positive policies. We are saying we will work with MPs, whatever their political stripe, but what we won't do is compromise our principles. I have to say by contrast, remember what this election was about, according to Mr Turnbull, it was about stability. Mr Turnbull proposed Senate reform. He has made a bad situation worse. How on earth did Mr Turnbull think that an idea of reform could end up with two or three One Nation Senators in the Senate? This is farcical. Mr Turnbull clearly doesn't know what he is doing. Quite frankly, I think he should quit. He has taken this nation to an election on the basis of stability. He has delivered instability. His own party knows he is not up to the job, the Australian people know he is out of touch and he has given us Senate reform which involves two or three One Nation senators. The bloke is not up to the job.
JOURNALIST: Did the Coalition underestimate the value of the ethnic vote?
SHORTEN: I absolutely think the Coalition underestimated Australians, but there is no doubt in my mind that people who make up the voting population, including people from non-English-speaking backgrounds, they've made their voice heard. In my experience, one of the things that ricocheted around migrant communities is that the Turnbull Government was proposing to change eligibility for the old-age pension for people who travel overseas longer than 6 weeks. There is a lot of older migrants who came out here from Europe in the 1950s and '60s, paid their taxes, worked in the factories, raised their kids, they want to go back and spend a bit of time in the old country as they've grown older, as they retire. And because under Mr Turnbull's proposals, they couldn't spend more than six weeks. I think he paid a price for that. I also have to say I think that Peter Dutton's intemperate remarks attacking the quality of our migrants and saying that somehow immigration just led to a whole lot of people not being as good-a-citizen in Australia. I think the Liberals paid the price for being out-of-touch with the needs of people.
JOURNALIST: (Inaudible question)
SHORTEN: The rating is very important, but clearly Mr Turnbull has jeopardised the rating by delivering instability. There is a fair bit of irony, I think. Mr Turnbull tried to capitalise on the Brexit vote and say, well, therefore because of what happened in England, you had to vote for him in Australia. He Brexited himself. This guy is like the David Cameron of the Southern Hemisphere. He leads a divided party, he has had an election and he has delivered an inferior and unstable outcome. No, Malcolm Turnbull, his idea of reform is to be able to put more minority parties in the Senate. Malcolm Turnbull is the reason why One Nation is back in the Senate after 18 years. This guy is not up to his day job. He doesn't know what he is doing, he has lost the confidence of his party. Here is another example: How is he going to work out the Liberal line-up in the Cabinet with his National colleagues? There is 14 Liberals or so who have gone, one extra Nat in the Parliament - National Party Member. The balance has changed in that Coalition, so which Liberal Cabinet ministers are no longer going to be Liberal Cabinet ministers because the Nationals demand to have their conservative views heard more in the Cabinet? Mr Turnbull has a range of problems. I might take one or two more questions, thank you.
JOURNALIST: Have you spoken to Anthony Albanese about any possible leadership spill after we get the results of the election, and if Mr Turnbull doesn't have a mandate, as you said, does that mean your government won't have a mandate and every policy will be up for discussion?
SHORTEN: Well, first of all, let's deal with the policies and then go to our united team. Labor has got a mandate because we put out our policies. Mr Turnbull had one policy, a $50 billion tax cut, that was his policy, Australians didn't like that. We've got our policies. At the centre of them is of course, is saving Medicare. There's properly funding education, helping our hospitals, making sure we take real action on climate change, making sure we lift the childcare rebate, prioritising Australian jobs and apprenticeships. We have got our platform. We believe we do have a mandate for our policies because we were upfront with people before the election. In terms of my united team, I have got no concerns whatsoever about any of the issues that you're going to in terms of leadership. As I said yesterday, I'm very happy with all my team - very happy with Tanya and Albo, very happy with Chris Bowen and Tony Burke. My whole team has been doing an outstanding job and I'm grateful for the work that every one of them has done. But I haven't, as I said yesterday, I haven't felt more secure in my position as leader at any time in the last three years as I did yesterday, and again, today.
Thanks, everyone. I did say -
JOURNALIST: Have you heard from the police - I think it is an important question.
SHORTEN: Oh Eliza, I haven't heard from anyone to do with that issue.
Thank you everyone.