INTERVIEW WITH ALAN JONES, RADIO 2GB
WEDNESDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Liberal leadership
ALAN JONES: Amazing, amazing, the author of that is on the line, Mr Shorten good morning.
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning Alan.
JONES: What an extraordinary, gracious, generous and personal tribute. It is as you say a tough world isn’t?
SHORTEN: It is and I did have plenty of policy disagreements with Mr Abbott. He was a conviction politician, he has his views and I and Labor have our views and they’re very clear and quite often they would be at odds but you’re not human if you don’t understand the immense nature of what’s transpired in the last day and a half. A serving Prime Minster changed, a new Prime Minister in the job and I did get to know Mr Abbott in the - not the front line - but in the discussions, the inevitable mixing up close as you do when you’re the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister and I just wanted to put on record. Not change my views about what his policies or any of that, we had our disagreements and Tony wouldn’t expect me to either. But there is a human dimension which gets sometimes lost in the press coverage and the argument and to toing and froing and I know his family and I know his staff and I know him and you can’t argue that he didn’t believe in what he was doing at all times. He did.
JONES: And it’s true what you said, I laughed when you said that about frustration, just when you’re ready to get angry with him something very personal and sometimes quite flattering and gentle would come across the pathway. He would, I don’t know whether it was the Jesuit training or what it was but there was underneath all that a very generous spirit.
SHORTEN: It was ironic - I’m not a monarchist, I’m a republican but I was carrying out your duties as Leader of the Opposition I was standing in a queue, I think the former speaker Bronwyn Bishop was ahead of me and my wife was behind me and Prince William is sort of one person ahead talking to Bronwyn and I think Kate was behind talking to my wife and in the queue as would happen there’s Tony and I and the person in front of us is having an animated conversation, the person behind and there’s Tony and I looking at each other. I had to tell him that, because this is not long after mum had passed and I just said you can get really riled up about what you’re doing on the budget or some political matter, which is important, but then you do something out of the blue which is personally generous and I’ve got to sort of think, ‘oh well that’s Tony Abbott who’s very nice’. We looked at each other in that sort of awkward silences when you spend most of your time banging on against each other –
SHORTEN: And he just smiled at me and said, again we spoke about the passing of my mum, but he, with a sort of twinkle in his eye said I’m sure ‘I’ll disappoint you again’.
JONES: I know, well I spoke again last night to Graham Richardson because you most probably remember, well it was a couple of months ago now that Richo wrote this piece in The Australian, he writes beautifully Graham Richardson and it was like almost a medical diary about a history of all the problems and Graham’s going through some very significant medical problems but he got the terminology right and what happened and what they were doing and so on and it was clinical. But at the same time it was disturbing because people thought ‘my god, Richo, Richo is not on easy street’.
SHORTEN: No, he’s in the wars.
JONES: Right, so I get a phone call from Tony and he said I’ve just read this thing about Graham Richardson, is he okay? And I said well it’s going to be tough, he says it sounds tough. He said what do you think he’d say if I just had him over to Kirribilli House for a feed, a bit of a dinner and a feed and a yarn just to cheer him up a bit. I said he wouldn’t believe it if you rang him. He said well I’ll ring him, can you give me a number, I gave him a number and he rang. Took him to dinner, no fanfare, no fuss about it but it was just a lovely little gesture to someone who needed a little bit of a pat on the soldier and a bit of cheering up and a jollying up. It’s lovely stuff isn’t it?
SHORTEN: It is and I’ve seen what’s he’s done with Graham and we both know what Graham’s been in the wars and he’s got some big challenges so that was, when I read that, I think Graham wrote it in a column later on I thought that was pretty decent.
JONES: Well I just want to, I think what you did was very decent. I just wanted to say thank you because as you know it is a divisive world often politics and there are people out there who are dyed in the wool and rusted on Labor people and there are dyed in the wool and rusted on Liberal people and the Labor’s Party been through all of this but now the Liberal Party is having its turn and those comments would have resonated very significantly with people in the Liberal Party and I just wanted to thank you because I’ve been a friend of Tony Abbott’s for god knows how long and I thought they were very, very generous and it was clear as you looked and talked about your mother, somewhere out there into the never-never almost as if you were speaking to her and you made these observations which were of a Tony Abbott that the public often don’t see and as I said delivered by a Bill Shorten that the public often don’t see.
SHORTEN: Well in politics you’ve got to stand for what you believe in, you have to be consistent in what you’ve believed, Mr Abbott has. You know, I’ve got my consistent beliefs which I hold strongly but I think it is important in politics not to be a hater. You’ve got to also understand that we’re here to serve the nation, that what we really want deep down is to have a genuine contest about ideas, let the nation be able to select from the best ideas but –
JONES: And we’re people at the end of all of that aren’t we?
SHORTEN: That’s right and yesterday I could see it’s a big thing that’s happened not only for the nation but to Tony Abbott, I respect the fact that was a conviction politician.
JONES: Well I made similar comments I have tell you last week because you also spoke in the parliament about Bart Cummings and the philanthropist Gordon Darling and I said on air I don’t know whether Bill Shorten’s ever had a bet in his life but this was a marvellous tribute to Bart Cummings as if he was a punter. I now find out that you did have a little bit of a dabble in all of that.
SHORTEN: I’m a very unsuccessful punter.
JONES: Very unsuccessful!
SHORTEN: Haven’t owned a horse but I did in my earlier days represent stable hands and jockeys and I love the sport of kings if it’s just for the people who serve the kings who watch the races.
JONES: Well, well done, lovely to talk to you and I no doubt down the track we’ll talk on matters political.
SHORTEN: Thank you.
JONES: Thank you so much for sharing some time.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053