Bill's Transcripts

Fairfax Online with Tim Lester

Fairfax Online with Tim Lester
07 March 2013

SUBJECT/S: New Victorian Premier


TIM LESTER: Bill Shorten, thank you for your time.

BILL SHORTEN: Good morning.

TIM LESTER: The relationship between the Gillard and Baillieu Governments has been downright hostile. Do you now expect the relationship between the Gillard and Napthine Governments to be much better?

BILL SHORTEN: Well I think in the hours after the very confusing and chaotic events within the Liberal Government in Victoria, there potentially is an opportunity to be constructive in the interest of Victorians. Premier Napthine has an opportunity to show that he is the new premier of a new government rather than just being the new premier of the old government and no changes in policy. The Victorian Government struggles with its workplace relations, they're involved in the biggest industrial dispute in Australia, with forty thousand of Victoria's teachers. There's a real circuit-breaker opportunity for Premier Napthine to honour the promises made at the last election to Victoria's hardworking teachers.

TIM LESTER: Realistically, what chance do you think he'll do that?

BILL SHORTEN: Well the Baillieu Government has made a series of bad decisions. They won't commit to the National Disability Insurance Scheme meaningfully; they have proven that they don't make a good employer because they seem to fire all their employees - the paramedics, the nurses, the teachers. So I think there's opportunity - we don't have national OH&S laws in Victoria, even though we've got them everywhere else. I just think that to validate the chaotic events of last night, there's an opportunity for Premier Napthine to be a more cooperative personality, though it remains to be seen if he can take his party [inaudible] with him.

TIM LESTER: The teachers' pay has been a particular issue for you, Bill Shorten. What must Premier Napthine do on that issue specifically to get it going? What's the biggest, single step he could now take?

BILL SHORTEN: There's no magic formula for workplace relations. Teachers want a certain amount; they want promises to be kept. I'm sure there's a compromise which can be made between the Government's hard line two-and-a-half per cent offer or fairly low offer and what teachers want. In workplace relations you've just got to be prepared to give a little to get a little. Victoria's teachers aren't well-paid, and they work very hard, so I think it sends a bad message about your ability to solve problems if you can't get teachers on-board.

TIM LESTER: Do you have concerns about the stability of the Victorian State Government now, given how rapidly these events have occurred, and frankly how unforseen they were?

BILL SHORTEN: Well you can make the best of minority government. I think in terms of concerns, it's interesting. Tony Abbott says that when it's a Labor minority government, it's all doom and gloom, and when it's a Liberal minority government, I wonder if he'll be so quick to demand they have an election next Saturday.

TIM LESTER: You think that the Liberals might be happy to - or that the Federal Liberals might lend support to a minority government in the Victorian context?

BILL SHORTEN: I'm saying that for the Federal Liberals, their complaining about minority government has only ever been about the ruthless pursuit of power and that when you have a Liberal minority government, Tony Abbott is perfectly happy with that outcome - perfectly happy. So if Mr Abbott fails to condemn the minority government in Victoria, what it shows is that his criticism of the current Federal Government has never been about principle, it's just been about the ruthless pursuit of power.

TIM LESTER: Dramatic leadership changes can be taken negatively by the public, and to some extent they were in the Federal setting in 2010. Do you think that the public in Victoria might be put off by how quickly this has occurred, and the fact that they're not, in effect, electing their current premier? They're having the current premier foisted on them.

BILL SHORTEN: We don't know what's happened in Victoria other than at the six o'clock news, Premier Baillieu was in charge, and at seven-thirty, we've got Premier Napthine. Our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, went to the polls very quickly after she was elected by the caucus to lead the Labor Government. So she went to the polls and we've had an election. It's up to the Liberal Party to sort out what's going on there. What I'm interested in is good policy for Victorians. I'm interested in seeing Victoria's hardworking teachers get a fair deal, Victoria's hardworking carers; people with disability get a fair deal, and making sure that we have national safety laws - all things which were too hard for Premier Baillieu to fix.

TIM LESTER: Should there be an election reasonably soon in Victoria because of this change of leadership, or not?

BILL SHORTEN: Well there's a lot of moving parts, so I think there's a bit more information to come out about the lies and what's happened here. What I do know is that for my interests, which are workplace relations, a better deal for people with disabilities, better workplace safety, Premier Napthine doesn't have to have an election to actually genuinely change direction. He should keep the promise from the last election about making Victorian teachers well-paid. I mean, the challenge is that Premier Napthine is now not even agreeing with what Premier Baillieu said at the last election, which is they wanted to make Victorian teachers the best paid in Australia.

So there's a lot of slipperiness going on from within the Government about the way they view Victoria's teachers. We should have the Victorian Government and Premier Napthine just sign up like his Liberal colleague in New South Wales did, to a National Disability Insurance Scheme. They should probably also reverse the TAFE funding cuts, where they've taken three-hundred million dollars out of the system. So the Liberals may have a second chance here to right the wrongs, but if Premier Napthine is just continuing the same policies as Premier Baillieu, it's shifting deck chairs on the Titanic - it's not a substantive change.

TIM LESTER: Bill Shorten, thank you for your time.


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Mr Shorten’s Media Contacts: Jessica Lindell 0408 642 804