Bill's Transcripts

Press Conference: Sydney - Malcolm Turnbull’s arrogance on Stuart Robert; Liberal Party’s chaos and division; political donations






SUBJECT/S: Malcolm Turnbull’s arrogance on Stuart Robert; Liberal Party’s chaos and division; political donations; NSW pre-selections.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: The Stuart Robert scandal should not have gone on as long as it did. Malcolm Turnbull should have sacked Stuart Robert on Monday. But today we see a Prime Minister hiding from the Parliament, taking out the trash, in a Friday statement.

Malcolm Turnbull is too arrogant to answer questions in the Parliament on the Stuart Robert scandal, too arrogant to face the media, too arrogant to be accountable to the Australian people. I do not believe that Mr Turnbull's Liberals understand what Stuart Robert has done wrong, even now. The new Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, has said, and I quote, "what was the crime?" Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said and I quote, "it's perfectly acceptable." Treasurer Scott Morrison and Stuart Robert ally has said that it was a “beat-up”. Even today in Mr Turnbull's media statement, he has not actually said that Stuart Robert has done the wrong thing.

The truth of the matter is that Malcolm Turnbull didn't sack Stuart Robert because of ministerial propriety; Malcolm Turnbull sacked Stuart Robert because of political reality. Malcolm Turnbull did everything he could to avoid sacking Stuart Robert. He has questions to answer about his own judgment now. Happy to take any questions people have.

JOURNALIST: Do you think more transparency is needed in, you know, what about revealing Minister's diaries and their interests and things like that?

SHORTEN: Well, to be fair, I didn't think that Liberal ministers needed it explained to them that their job is to work for the people of Australia, not to squire rich, fat-cat Liberal donors around the capitals of the world. I'm amazed that Malcolm Turnbull has let this matter go on for five days. To me, this highlights a deeper point of division within the Government. Everyone knows that Stuart Robert was Scott Morrison's key ally and that Scott Morrison, the Treasurer, didn't want Stuart Robert to go. So what is clear, is that Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull are divided about tax reform, Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull were divided about what to do with Stuart Robert. Division lies at the heart of this Turnbull Liberal Government.

JOURNALIST: What about party donations, Mr Marks has donated millions, using sort of opaque entities, do you think there needs to be more clarity, more transparency around that?

SHORTEN: I really appreciate that question. There should be more transparency about donations. When donations are made they should be reported in real time and not months and years later. Secondly, there should be a threshold. In other words, where more than $1,000 is donated by an individual or a company, that should be disclosed without any veil of secrecy. The threshold should be $1,000 - currently it's $12,500. Labor would support Mr Turnbull tomorrow introducing laws on disclosure and transparency, because that's our policy.

JOURNALIST: I just had a question about Jill Hall, she says that you told her the decision about whether or not she was to run for Shortland is entirely up to her. Is that what you said to her?

SHORTEN: I certainly think that all of my team have been doing a great job in Opposition. So I certainly believe that Jill Hall and all of our people who are currently Members of Parliament, should have a say in whether or not they continue and no-one should pressure them otherwise. But the final say about what happens to Labor candidates for pre-selection is decided by the membership of the Labor Party.

JOURNALIST: Does that mean that Joel Fitzgibbon will contest the new seat of Hunter or Paterson?

SHORTEN: That will be a matter for the New South Wales Labor Party. But I'm a fan of Joel Fitzgibbon and he has an ongoing contribution to make to the Parliament. He's been the Shadow Agriculture Minister and has done a good job at keeping Barnaby Joyce held to account.

No other questions? Thanks everyone.