Bill's Transcripts





ABC 774

05 AUGUST 2013





Subjects: Better Schools Plan; Asylum seekers; ICAC



JON FAINE:                                      Bill Shorten, good morning to you.

BILL SHORTEN:                             Good morning John.

JON FAINE:                                      Why should anyone vote for the Labor Party after what Tony Abbott says has been years of dysfunction, and a Parliament that he says hasn't worked?

BILL SHORTEN:                             Because the Labor Party's got the best policy to create and maintain jobs. We've got the best policies to look after our schools. We've got the best policies to raise people's superannuation so they don't retire poor. And we're the ones who are driving social justice by introducing a national disability insurance scheme.

JON FAINE:                                      And you've got a credibility problem of course now after the way Julia Gillard was treated- and is it Labor Party policy to not mention her name throughout this campaign?

BILL SHORTEN:                             Not at all. I think Julia Gillard did a great job in a lot of areas, and in particular I've had the privilege of taking up the baton in the relay about getting Better Schools, which we were able to announce yesterday morning. I mean, what does it say about the Coalition, that after three years of bagging our education reforms, three years, as late as last Thursday their Shadow Minister said that it was all a con. Then on Friday they realised that the Liberal Party have got a complete credibility gap in terms of education, so the Coalition said last Friday “oh, we'll give the money to the States with no strings attached”.

The Federal Government - Labor - wants to provide greater resources for our schools so kids get the best start, but what we're also doing is saying that we want to see a needs-based funding model. We want to see the States put some money in. I'm pleased that after Friday's completely implausible Coalition policy-

JON FAINE:                                      Is it party policy to not mention her name throughout this campaign?

BILL SHORTEN:                             Not at all. I think Julia Gillard did a great job in a lot of areas and, in particular, I've had the privilege of taking up the baton in the relay about getting Better Schools, which we were able to announce yesterday morning.

JON FAINE:                                      You've both got a credibility gap when it comes to these sorts of issues.  Yes, they've got a problem to explain how they've suddenly done a U-turn on education.  But you've got to explain how you've done such a U-turn on asylum seeks and boats.

BILL SHORTEN:                             Well, just on your assumption that we've both got a credibility problem on education, how can that be-

JON FAINE:                                      No, no, on different issues.

BILL SHORTEN:                             Alright, well, thanks.

JON FAINE:                                      Theirs is on education. Yours is on boats and asylum seekers.

BILL SHORTEN:                             Well, I appreciate you recognising that we don't have a credibility problem on education, and that means that a parent of every child who goes to a school in Victoria should know that when you vote Labor, what you get is custodians nationally who are fundamentally interested in their kids getting the best start in life.

In terms of the boats issue, there is no doubt that the people smugglers are testing the resolve of exploiting people in what could only be characterised as mass drownings, by holding out the promise that if you get to Australia you'll be resettled here. It is not an easy issue. It is not an easy issue.

JON FAINE:                                      No but aren't we entitled to ask, what do you all stand for when you clearly-

BILL SHORTEN:                             That’s right-

JON FAINE:                                      Well, you're prepared to change whatever you believe in on boats. They're prepared to change whatever they believe in on education.

BILL SHORTEN:                             Well, wait a second.  In terms of boats, we wanted to put forward a solution which would have seen people processed in a regional settlement in Malaysia, which the Liberals and the Greens knocked off.  So we've been pushing regional resettlement for quite a while.

Anyone knows that the people smugglers, the criminal syndicates in Indonesia, are selling a promise that yeah, you may drown.  But if you don't drown you can get a permanent life in Australia.  We need to break that.  I cannot be party to a system which says that with the new criminal syndicates pushing hard, that somehow allowing mass drownings and call it - it's better to be faux humanitarian and saying people can get here and we want to be humanitarian and instead, risk people drowning.

If we knew that the MCG- if we knew the Grand Final would see 4000 people out of 100,000 who attend, that they’d die on the way to getting to the Grand Final, you wouldn’t call it humanitarian to say keep the match going, would you?

So we need to challenge our policies and if that means doing a regional resettlement agreement with PNG, in the long run that is the most humanitarian outcome.

JON FAINE:                                      The issues on the environment, on economy, on health, on education, all of these, of course, pale into insignificance, compared to leadership.  Now, you have all sorts of confusing messages on leadership.  Sure, Kevin Rudd is more popular than Julia Gillard.  But do you really think the electorate have forgotten everything that went on?

BILL SHORTEN:                             I believe that when you look at the competition between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, the people who want you to forget what the leader is like are actually the Liberal Party of Australia.

I think any person watching Tony Abbott knows that everything that they say is a focus group scripted remark.  We know that the Libs, if they get into power nationally, the only way they can pay for their $70 billion black hole is if they keep making up policies and not explaining how they'll pay for them, such as their false position on education.

We know that the only way the Libs can do that is by cutting, cutting services, not moderately, but by cutting to the bone. They're proposing thousands of job losses. They're proposing abandoning the car industry.  They are proposing - when they get in they will no doubt say oh, we need to have a Commission of Inquiry about the finances.

They'll then use that to say listen, we didn't - we couldn't tell you before the election, but gee, what a surprise, we are going to cut health and education services to the bone. These guys haven't done the homework in Opposition. They've relied on the minority Parliament and all the tough debates, to just skate them into Government. They haven't done their homework. They're not ready to govern Australia.

JON FAINE:                                      And then in New South Wales, just finally, the ICAC report suggests that the Labor brand is utterly toxic. That's not been ignored around the rest of the country and surely, that is an inexplicable state of affairs for the Labor Party. Every time it's raised everyone just roll their eyes and you lose more votes.

BILL SHORTEN:                             It is completely hopeless conduct by those people. It's more than hopeless. It's illegal. I note that- Kevin Rudd and all of us in Federal Labor, have made it clear that we've obviously got no time for that corruption.

I know that several business leaders have also been - had adverse findings against them. Conduct by business people, politicians or anyone else of that nature, is completely wrong and no-one has any time for it.  I certainly don't think that represents the whole of the Labor Party or the Liberal Party or the business community.

But this conduct by these people is appalling, reprehensible.  Kevin Rudd has stepped into New South Wales Labor.  He's intervened. We've also changed the way we're picking our leader. We want to be very clear that politics in the future has to be from the ground up, involving people. That is why we encourage people to join the Labor Party, have a say in your political processes. This election needs every person who is interested in progressive politics to get involved.

JON FAINE:                                      And just finally, finally - I know it's my second finally.

BILL SHORTEN:                             That's okay.

JON FAINE:                                      The front page of The Daily Telegraph today says Throw this Mob Out. The Murdoch tabloids and The Australian, the Murdoch newspaper empire, undoubtedly now campaigning against the Government. What's your response to that?

BILL SHORTEN:                             Well, just because some vested interests don't like the Labor Party, in my opinion, makes it more important than ever that we have a balanced media and it makes it more important than ever that Labor's returned.

If some vested interest wants to see Labor thrown out, you've got to ask yourself why do they want that?  Is it for the interests of the little person or is it for the interests of big business?  There is no doubt that the Liberal Party have raised a lot more money from business than Labor can or is going to.

So what is clear to me is that part of this election is about making sure that we have Australia governed for all, not just the interests of some.

JON FAINE:                                      My time is up and your call is - your time is very much required elsewhere for the meeting that Kevin Rudd has called, somewhat oddly, on the first day of an election campaign. Thank you for joining us from our Canberra studios this morning.

BILL SHORTEN:                             Thanks Jon.  I look forward to being back in Melbourne this afternoon.