Bill's Transcripts

Interview with ABC AM






SUBJECT/S: Victorian election; Tony Abbott’s Year of Broken Promises; Australian Defence Force pay deal; Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget


CHRIS UHLMANN: The Opposition Leader's demanding the Abbott Government act on the Defence pay deal today.

A petition with nearly 60,000 signatures will be handed over calling for the offer to be boosted.

Political correspondent Louise Yaxley spoke to Bill Shorten about the pay deal and the Federal budget.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I believe this Government knows that it has blundered in the way it's treating our tens of thousands of ADF personnel.

It has proposed a real pay cut, not keeping pace with the cost of living; it has proposed taking away recreational Christmas leave entitlements of our Defence personnel. The Government is adrift and it has until the end of today to ensure a fair pay deal for Australian Defence Force personnel.

Tony Abbott loves to talk about "Team Australia" but he refuses to pay the team that protects Australia properly.

LOUISE YAXLEY: So, how much are you saying that the Government should increase its offer to?

BILL SHORTEN: Ultimately it's a matter for the Government, but common sense would say that, for the families of Defence personnel, who've got to pay for the shopping every week, the very least the Defence Force wages should be doing is keeping pace with the cost of living.

LOUISE YAXLEY: It appears that the Government's not going to do that but it is suggesting that there's a possibility it could go back to the original Christmas allowance plan, which is an extra day. Would you be prepared to see some compromise there?

BILL SHORTEN: They can't negotiate their pay and conditions, so when the Government pretends to offer a compromise, it's doing so on the basis that the Defence men and women have to accept whatever the Government says. It’s not a real negotiation so the Government should stop pretending that they're doing people a favour.

If you are good enough to put your life on the line for the Defence of this country, your wages for your family should at least keep pace with the cost of living.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Are you indicating that this should be part of a Government strategy to recover from the damage done by losing the Victorian state election?

BILL SHORTEN: This Abbott Government should just keep its promises. In terms of our military personnel, they shouldn't even be in the newspapers on this matter; the Government shouldn't need the Opposition to give them a lecture on what's right and wrong.

If the Government haven't got the moral compass to treat our men and women and our defence forces properly, then that's their problem. This is not a political matter, this is a new issue of fundamental judgement of the Abbott Government.

We have seen a first term government lose in Victoria, do you now expect that you can replicate that federally?

BILL SHORTEN: What I expect is that the Australian people, like Victorians- what I believe is that they don't like to see governments break their promise, they don't like to see their governments create a trust deficit for the Australian people.

What Australian people want is not a government that's succeeds in everything, but a government that keeps its word and tries as hard as it can. The Abbott Government should drop the GP tax, drop the $100,000 university degrees, drop the cuts to schools and hospitals and stop telling lies.

LOUISE YAXLEY: You’re not confident that you can replicate that result, that Victorian result?

No, what the Abbott Government needs to do, is to understand the lesson of Victoria across the nation. The lesson of Victoria is, if you don't keep your word, if you cut the conditions of families, if you are not interested in fighting for jobs, then you will pay a price.

For me it's all about the future of this country, not about a particular election. Tony Abbott just needs to be the person he said he would be before the election because since the election, he's been something else altogether.

LOUISE YAXLEY: The Government accuses you of the similar thing, saying that some of the measures that Labor proposed when it was in government you're now opposing and that's getting the way of returning the Budget to a surplus, aren't you doing the same thing?

BILL SHORTEN: The Abbott Government loves to blame everyone.

Once upon a time, I thought denial was a river in Egypt; it's actually the attitude of the Abbott Government. They need to buy a mirror if they want to see what's wrong with this country at the moment; they need to stop blaming the Opposition. The Abbott Government hasn't got over being in opposition and they're acting like an opposition in government.

No to a GP tax, no to cuts to schools and hospitals, no to decreasing the effective real increase of pensions, and they should stop mucking around with the Defence forces pay.

The Abbott Government's future is in its own hands and Australians will be quick to punish governments they perceive as not maintaining the trust of the people.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Do you then take some responsibility by opposing those Government measures for the state of the budget that will be revealed in the mid-year economic update?

BILL SHORTEN: Oh the Abbott Government could easily help improve the Budget by dropping their multi-millionaire paid parental leave scheme, by not going soft on multinationals who shift profits overseas.

The Abbott Government could do a lot more than they're doing but their only strategy is to punish the bottom half of income earners in this country.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The Opposition Leader Bill Shorten speaking to Louise Yaxley.