Bill's Transcripts

Radio Interview: 6PR - Mornings with Gary Adshead





SUBJECT/S: Education and trades training; Jobs.


GARY ADSHEAD: Welcome back. I’m joined now by, of course, Bill Shorten is here to take your calls if you’d like to ask him any questions as we head towards the April 5 Senate election here in WA. Let’s hope we don’t get a repeat of that one, Mr Shorten, just quietly, the way that that turned out. Grant is on the line, g’day Grant.


GRANT (CALLER): How’re you going Gary? How’re you going there Bill?




GRANT (CALLER): Look, mate, I can’t understand why Tony Abbott would be letting more 457s come into this country when we’re slowly losing Australian citizens in the employment sector. Can you please explain to me why no one is concerned about this? That’s all, thank you.


SHORTEN: Thanks Grant. Well Labor is concerned, we’ve always had skilled migration as part of what makes Australia great. And periodically we’ve used guest labour, temporary  labour where there’s been skills vacancies, I have no objection to bringing in people for where there’s skills vacancies or where there’s – and obviously skills migration is part of the backbone of this country.


But I don’t support just the wholesale use of 457s visas at a time when there’s increasing unemployment, at a time when there’s a lot of adults who would like retraining, at a time when the Abbott Government’s cutting back on trades training centres in schools.


So to me it is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. It is possible to have a good immigration program, but at the same time there’s nothing wrong with prioritising young people and not so young people in Australia getting a chance to get the job opportunities that exist, especially when so many jobs are going overseas.


ADSHEAD: Thanks for the call, Grant – but I like the idea of people talking about, I saw the other day a discussion paper and a speech that was made by the Assistant Minister for Education federally talking about the issue of kids in schools, identifying those kids that quite frankly are just not going to make university, and sending them on the track to a trade. Because there is nothing wrong with having a trade, and there is no shame in having a trade, and you know if you get the right trade you’ll probably be making more money than your average millionaire in no time. And I like the debate about that.


SHORTEN: It is a legitimate debate. Grant’s sounding a real, genuine community note of frustration. My dad was a fitter and turner from the north of England, he went to sea. When I was at school my mum and dad said to me if you want to go to uni, we’ll support you there, but if you want to go and do a trade you can, they just wanted to make sure that there was enough money to pay for what we wanted to do. And also so that we felt we had choices in our education. Somewhere in the ‘90s and the early 2000s, the educational theory became point everyone at university, which isn’t where all kids want to go, and frankly our community needs good tradespeople as much as we need tertiary educated people. And I reckon apprenticeships, and pushing apprenticeships – you can’t go wrong doing that.


ADSHEAD: Yeah, exactly. Alright, Ian’s there. G’day Ian, how are you?


IAN (CALLER): G’day, how are you Bill?


SHORTEN: Good thank you Ian.


IAN (CALLER): Just one that I can’t understand – we’re always trying to cut back and do this sort of thing, where the politicians once they get political power, they’ve still got all these perks. I mean we’re still supporting Gough Whitlam. How the hell can we afford to do this when the country has only got about 23, 24 million people? We can’t afford it. The politicians don’t stop. They rake the people. And all politicians around the world do exactly the same. They suck people dry. I’m a small businessman, and I’m paying tax after tax after tax. It never stops, and it goes straight down the gurgler or is goes to some people that don’t spend it wisely.


SHORTEN: Thanks for your contribution there. This mightn’t necessarily cheer you up because you’ve got a pretty strongly held view, but after 2004 all the politicians who got elected when they finish up in parliament don’t get a lifetime pension. So there has been some cutback on conditions, the day after I finish in politics I’ll have to go and get another job, which makes me no different to anyone else. What I would say to you mate is that Australian politicians though, at least we have a democracy, at least you can express your views which you’ve just done. There’s plenty of countries in the world where you can’t even criticise the politicians, so thanks for your call.


ADSHEAD: Ok, and Graham’s there, g’day Graham.


GRAHAM (CALLER): I’m just wondering, there’s a lack of jobs, nobody wants to employ older people and yet you’re raising the pension age, where’s the logic behind all this?


SHORTEN: Graham, I think the Treasurer, Joe Hockey wants to raise the pension age to 70, although he hasn’t quite come out and said that it’s just a thought bubble, but it’s the sort of kite flying which you get and then maybe they do it, maybe they won’t.  You’re right there is a catch-22 about people saying we need older people to work longer when the reality is people discriminate against older people in the workplace. The truth of the matter is that men in their 50s will spend longer periods of time unemployed than men of an earlier age. So there is real discrimination out there. I think you can’t have a debate about lifting the pension age until you adequately deal with changing the community’s attitudes. The other thing is there are a lot of people who are in physically demanding work. If you lay carpet, if you work in a concrete plant, if you drive trucks  - the idea that you can keep automatically doing it is not one which we should just simply assume that people are robots that they don’t wear out. I’m not saying some people can’t –


ADSHEAD: Do you support it? You don’t support 70 as -


SHORTEN: I think there’s some building blocks you’ve got to put in place first. I’d like to see us engaging in more retraining of adult workers so that there’s greater support for them to learn new skills. I also think that we’ve got to do something about the discrimination; it’s not just men, it’s women too. The truth of the matter is, that we tend to think, there’s an attitude, it’s almost like an unconscious attitude that someone who is in their 20s is more energetic and that’s the sort of person you want. The reality is, someone in their 50s and 60s often has a lot more life experience, often has better people skills, I mean here’s a plug for Bunnings – I think they’re very good at employing people from diverse backgrounds. You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. So I think that before you get into some of the debates around the pension, we’ve got to get into a national conversation about giving older people a fairer go.


ADSHEAD: Alright, thanks for that. Just before I let you go, bit of an issue that raises passions among people, the Australian flag. In New Zealand the Prime Minister is going to campaign by the look of it on removing the union jack from the New Zealand flag. Do you see any merit in that, or will that only unleash the republican debate again?


SHORTEN: Maybe it means that at the Olympics, other countries when we win a gold medal won’t put New Zealand’s flag up, if there’s clearer product differentiation between us and the Kiwi’s. I think at a more serious level, I’m not keen to change our flag, I think our flag reflects our history. I think the republic's a different issue, but in terms of having a debate about the republic and an Australian born head of state, I think that's one which the people of Australia sort of have to show a level of interest in, and it needs to be bipartisan. Nothing is going to change unless you get bipartisan support on becoming a republic. But on our flag, I would keep it as it is, I think it does reflect our history. I’m proud of the fact that we have people from all around the world who are Australians. I’m also proud of that fact of our British heritage too.


ADSHEAD: Thanks for joining us this morning, good luck with the rest of the campaign, we might see you again in WA before April 5 I think.


SHORTEN: Both before and after.


ADSHEAD: Alright, Bill Shorten thanks very much


SHORTEN: Thanks.