Bill's Transcripts







SUBJECT/S: Trip to South Korea and Japan; New Zealand Election; Marriage equality postal survey; AFL & NRL grand finals; ATM fees.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning. Today, Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong and I fly to South Korea and Japan. We are visiting South Korea and Japan at a time of unprecedented crisis for the Korean Peninsula. And it is very important to stress that both sides of Australian politics show support and solidarity for South Korea and Japan, who are currently experiencing unprecedented tension because of the North Korean regime's missile test. 

Furthermore, we will be meeting with the Prime Minister of Korea and former United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to be able to get a firsthand understanding of the pressures and challenges for governments in the region.

It is a critical time for these countries, and these countries are critical to the security and economic prosperity of Australia. Australian foreign policy, when it comes to standing up to the North Korean regime, is bipartisan, and that's as it should be. 

We look forward to getting further firsthand insights from both Japan and South Korea about this tension and unprecedented threat to our security and the security of the region.

Happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, do you have any fears for your safety travelling to South Korea? Did DFAT provide any advice on your trip?

SHORTEN: No, I am not concerned about our personal safety, and DFAT have extended all possible assistance.

As I say, South Korea and Japan are critical to the economic and national security of our region. And it is therefore important at a critical time, that both sides of Australian politics have the best possible understanding so we can make the best possible decisions.

And to be very clear, that this escalating tension in the Korean Peninsula is a matter which goes towards the security of the region, but the broader world. That's why it is very important that all nations, including China and Russia, support the increased United Nations Security Council resolutions to put all possible pressure on the North Korean regime.

JOURNALIST: What should the world do if North Korea tests a Hydrogen bomb?

SHORTEN: Well, let's hope they don't test a Hydrogen bomb. What the world needs to do is to put all possible pressure on the North Korean Government to stop its dangerous and escalating nuclear missile tests which are undermining security in the region and without a doubt, are the greatest threat to regional security in 60 plus years.

JOURNALIST: What's your reaction to the New Zealand Election result?

SHORTEN: I am very pleased that New Zealand Labour has made such a strong show and I congratulate both sides of New Zealand politics, and we will have to wait in coming days to see who can form a government. But I also congratulate Prime Minister Bill English and the National Party as well as New Zealand Labour who put in a very strong performance.

JOURNALIST: Do you think there are any lessons for Australian politics, your party going forward to the next election?

SHORTEN: Oh listen, I think the dust is still yet to settle and the counting is still yet to be concluded. But it certainly shows that people should never underestimate Labor, and I think New Zealand Labour came from behind to give it a pretty good shake.

JOURNALIST: Same-sex marriage opponents used Friday's head-butt on Tony Abbott to push their cause. In your opinion, how appropriate was that given that the accused said it was nothing to do with the issue?

SHORTEN: What happened to Tony Abbott is completely unacceptable, but I would be careful of either side of the marriage equality debate seeking to grab some political opportunity out of the random violence which Mr Abbott was on the receiving end. I have been in touch with Mr Abbott, I've expressed my concern for him.

But this marriage equality survey is about making sure that all Australians have the same chance to get married. It's about the freedom to get married, and I certainly don't want to see other issues, extraneous issues from the fringes, being used to discourage people from voting in this survey. And voting Yes for marriage equality and the freedom to get married.

JOURNALIST: The marriage equality campaign has also sent unsolicited text messages to people. In your opinion, is that appropriate?

SHORTEN:  I think by and large this campaign has been conducted to a very good standard of debate and respect for people. Labor didn't want to have the survey. We think that it was $122 million wasted when ultimately, it is going to be up to the parliamentarians to vote. But it is the system the Government has given us. I do support the freedom to get married. I do think it is fair and I just think we should get on with it.

JOURNALIST: London has banned Uber. Do you think that action is needed in Australia?

SHORTEN: I think that whilst gig-economy and apps like Uber do provide new forms of flexible transport for Australians, but it's properly regulated. I think it is important that the new app services are regulated so that people are paying their correct taxes, to make sure that people who are in the taxi industry, who have invested previously in taxi plates, aren't ripped off. To make sure that the new business models that are coming into Australia also adhere to the standards of safety and community service which older forms of taxi businesses already do. So I think it is an area which needs further work and light-touch regulation so there is a level playing field for everybody.

JOURNALIST: And just a cheeky one, who is your tip for the NRL and AFL grand finals?

SHORTEN: I think they're both going to be very exciting grand finals. As a Victorian, it would be interesting to see how the underdog Richmond could go. They haven't seen grand final silverware since about 1980, so they're the underdogs and I always like an underdog.

I have to say though when it comes to NRL, Storm’s another Victorian team, they're my team so I hope they do very well but both them and the Cowboys are very spectacular teams.

And one final point I would just like to make. I notice that the Commonwealth Bank has overnight said they're going to stop charging hapless consumers with the $2 withdrawal fee when you use their ATM machines. The $2 charges that all of the big banks have been levying on people for using their ATMs is a rort. The rort of charging people from other banks to use their ATMs needs to stop. Now, the Commonwealth Bank has finally realised that the game is up and the rort has got to stop. I expect the other big banks to stop rorting their customers with these $2 fees.

And I would also would just say that this shouldn't be used by the Government as an excuse to go soft on a banking royal commission. There hasn't even been a banking royal commission and we are already seeing the pressure of it, seeing the $2 ATM fees removed. Imagine how we could get better banking for all Australians if we had a banking royal commission.


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