Bill's Transcripts



2 MAY 2013



REPORTER:            For the Government’s perspective this morning let’s cross live to Melbourne now and the Minister for Workplace Relations and Employment Bill Shorten joins me live from his electorate. Bill Shorten thanks for your time. You’ve been a strong advocate of DisabilityCare for a fair while now. Tony Abbott said why doesn’t the Prime Minister bring it in before the election, he wants it dealt with. It makes sense doesn’t it?

BILL SHORTEN:     Well first of all in the last four and half years Labor has made disability and people with disability and their carers a national political issue. The fact that we have come so far so quickly is testament to Labor’s reform drive. It’s testament to the fact that Labor understands that there are hundreds of thousands of people with severe and profound disabilities, literally millions of carers who need better than what they are getting now. There are carers even now that might have been up most of the night with midnight anxiety: who is going to look after my adult-child, who I love, with a severe or profound disability?

                                    And the reason why I’ve gone to that level of detail is that because it’s the people with disability and their carers who matter. Not games about whether or not Tony Abbott wants to hold back an approval. As far as I can see Tony Abbott has no choice. This is a fight where the bell has been rung. It is over. The siren has blown.

Labor is saying, not only do we have this good idea, not only do we believe in bringing hundreds of thousands of people out of their second class status in Australia and trying to give them some power and some money, but we are explaining how we will fund a sizeable proportion of it through a Medicare levy.

You know, if you earn $70,000 a year, it’s 96 cents a day. Sometimes in life we’ve got to believe and Tony Abbott you’ve got to understand that Australians are actually not mean. It could be any of us that have a baby child who we discover has a developmental delay. It could be any of us that have a catastrophic injury. So we will bring on the bill so long as the Liberals agree.

But if they won’t agree we are going to take it to the election. We aren’t going to get set up with some nonsense debate where they can play games and stuff around with the hopes and dreams of millions of people. It’s over. Tony Abbott will just simply have to say yeah we are going to vote for this.

If he doesn’t he needs to look in the face of people whose lives are second class and say ‘I regard me getting into power is more important than your life’. No one could be that dumb. No one could be that dumb. I’m sure we will get bipartisan support, because to do anything else would be a betrayal of Aussies.

 REPORTER:            Bill Shorten the Prime Minister has said though that she is still in the months of governing, not in campaigning. If that is the case, why if this is the Government’s policy, just put it to Parliament? If you’re governing, legislate.

 BILL SHORTEN:     Mate that is the difference, we’re governing and the other side is politicking. But there will be an election this year the Prime Minister has said if I can’t get bipartisan support, we’ll have a poll.

 Why on earth would Tony Abbott say yeah I’m going to demonstrate that I’m on some sought of power trip and you can put it in but I won’t tell you what I’ll do because I’m going to try and extract the last bit of tactical advantage. Well no way, disability should be above politics. The levy makes sense, I believe it makes sense. And now is the time to do it.

 If  Tony Abbott is the sought of person that sees disability and the national disability insurance as nothing more than a political football then he shouldn’t govern Australia. Now I don’t think he will be that dumb. It’s over, the siren is over. These guys are still in the ring trying to punch on, the crowds gone home. The fight has been declared. The disability insurance scheme, DisabilityCare, it’s here and it needs to be here.

  REPORTER:            To be fair to Tony Abbott he has backed DisabilityCare from the outset and in fact he was the one he proposed a bipartisan Committee to elevate the whole thing above politics. Isn’t it a bit harsh to accuse him of playing politics with it?

 BILL SHORTEN:     I’d say this to Tony Abbott, I made a speech about the need for this scheme in 2008. You know it’s great if they come late to the party and say they believe in bipartisanship. There is an old saying words are cheap, actions are what count. You can lip-sync bipartisanship all you want, he now has a chance to be bipartisan. That’s it, words are cheap, actions are what count.

                                     The Prime Minister has said, here is our action. Tony Abbott if you really believe that disability isn’t a political issue, then let’s do it. We’ve explained the mechanism; you know what you’re getting. We’ve got the trial site starting the 1st of July. This is not that hard. Tony Abbott you’ve just got to open the door and reach out to the Prime Minister who is waiting for you, as are millions of people; carers and people with severe and profound disabilities. Open that door and do the right thing. 

 REPORTER:            What do you make of the comments from a representative of Myer who spoke about the impact on retail sales and also from the Business Council who suggest that this in some way is putting the cart before the horse, coming up with a tax before the final insurance scheme is set?

 BILL SHORTEN:     Well first of all it’s not the cart before the horse. The four launch sites start. This levy wouldn’t come in until the 1st of July 2014. There’s been a lot of homework done on this issue. In terms of some ill-informed, ignorant people who just simply say that this isn’t a priority and we shouldn’t be doing it this way and let’s spend the money some other way.                                 

                                    I’ll tell you what, you run for Parliament against me and I will run on the platform of DisabilityCare and you can run on, I don’t know, ‘buying stuff in Myers’. I’ll tell you what the Australian people want, they are a generous people. They don’t want to see money wasted, but all this money is going exclusively to DisabiltyCare. And for the record this DisabilityCare is about packages of individualised support for families.

                                     The idea that some people, who don’t live the lives of the carers and the people with disabilities, don’t trust people with disability and their carers how to spend money. That’s just wrong. I’m sure that in the cold hard light of day you will hear the screech and smell the burning rubber of tyres as these people are throwing their verbal cars in reverse and retreating away from what they said. It was an ill-thought out set of comments.

 REPORTER:            Bill Shorten joining me live from Moonee Ponds in Melbourne this morning. Thanks a lot for that, appreciate it.  

 BILL SHORTEN:     Thanks mate. We will get their on disability, carers and people with disability should know this. We will get there.