THE TODAY SHOW
WEDNESDAY, 22 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECT/S: Liberal party civil war; Labor’s plans for a fair go for Australia
KARL STEFANOVIC: Malcolm Turnbull could face another leadership spill as early as tomorrow, with more Ministers believed to have offered their resignations overnight. But his Deputy, Julie Bishop has told me this morning Malcolm isn't going anywhere.
Well Opposition Leader, the man who would be Prime Minister, Bill Shorten joins me now.
Bill, good morning to you.
SHORTEN: Good morning, Karl.
STEFANOVIC: A busy 24 hours. Has it never been easier being an Opposition Leader?
SHORTEN: Well, you know I think the media could be forgiven for saying that I take some pleasure in watching my opponents implode but actually, I have led the Opposition for five years and I have never seen such an outpouring of bitterness. No wonder people hate politics. I actually think this is hurting the reputation of politics in this country and that's deeply disturbing.
STEFANOVIC: There is a lot of the pot calling the kettle back here in relation to your own party. You've done it before, you did it, you were a part of it, you did exactly what they are doing now?
SHORTEN: Well, that is true and the Labor Party has recognised this, we've learned our lesson. I never thought that I would be the leader of a political party, the longest leader of a political party since John Howard. We have learned our lesson.
What I want at the next election is a contest of policy. You know, right now as we speak your viewers are trying to sort out childcare for their kids. We've got farmers in drought, energy prices are up and most Australians haven't had a proper pay rise for years.
And what are we doing in Canberra, we are just watching everyone just fight each other. It's just madness.
STEFANOVIC: Just quickly on policy, NEG, will you back it?
SHORTEN: Well we are up for a NEG framework. We are disappointed, that one of the reasons why I think the Dutton fellow is challenging Turnbull, is because they're worried that Malcolm Turnbull would work with the Opposition in the national interest.
What's happened now is that politics, you've got to be strong to be in politics, and it is strong business, and it's important issues, but Karl, it's not a contest of ideas anymore. All that happens is the Government works out what we think and they want to do something else.
STEFANOVIC: You just called him the 'Dutton fellow'. Interesting terminology, what do you make of Peter Dutton?
SHORTEN: Oh well, he was supporting his Prime Minister on Friday or Monday, and Tuesday he was challenging him. Listen, whoever the Liberals pick, I just want to say it is not the salesman that is ultimately the problem with the Government. It's that they all hate each other and that their policies are out of touch for Australia.
STEFANOVIC: What do you think is going to happen? As I said before, you've lived it, you've breathed it, you've been part of it, what happens there?
SHORTEN: I don't know and the problem is that Australia has a government that can't even do anything about energy or can't do anything about helping wages go in this country.
There's a group of childcare workers on the lawn next to us, they want a fairer deal for early years, for the funding for the places for the three and four year olds. How can the real people of Australia, the everyday Australians, the people who watch your show, think that anything is getting done when this place and the Government is so consumed with themselves.
STEFANOVIC: I think – and you know, the Labor Party has been part of this problem, this revolving door –
SHORTEN: In the past –
STEFANOVIC: Of leaders. It needs to stop –
SHORTEN: It does need to stop.
STEFANOVIC: Everyone at home who are getting their kids ready for school or going off to work or finishing a shift is saying, we're a great country and we're being led so badly. It needs to stop.
SHORTEN: It does need to stop and that's why earlier in the interview I said Labor has learned its lesson. I think the record reflects that when we've had good polls and when we've had bad polls, my party has now stuck with me for five years.
I'll certainly contest whoever the Liberals put up at the next election. Labor has learned its lesson and the proof in the pudding is the last five years.
STEFANOVIC: Do you like Malcolm Turnbull?
SHORTEN: Yeah, I do like him as a person.
STEFANOVIC: Where has he gone wrong?
SHORTEN: I think his policies are out of touch, but it's not just him. All those Cabinet Ministers stood u, like take the Banking Royal Commission. I think he exercised poor judgment there. Of course, Mr Dutton and Mr Abbott, all supported Mr Turnbull. When they stopped a Banking Royal Commission for two years, they showed bad judgment. Now they're trying to give tax cuts to big companies, that's their signature economic policy, and to be fair to Malcolm, Peter Dutton and everyone else never said boo to goose on any of that, they all backed him in.
Now that's unpopular, what they're doing is blaming the salesman. It's the policies. And if a government is divided they can't lead the country. I just want to reassure you, not only have we learned our lesson on stability, but we've got policies which we're developing, that is our preoccupation, putting forward a vision for the country.
STEFANOVIC: Are you afraid of a Peter Dutton, a more conservative leader coming in and shoring up seats in Queensland and everywhere else?
SHORTEN: Again, it is the policies that matter. Do you know one of the big problems in Australia – and dare I say it, it is not just politics – is that gossip has become substitute for news.
Everyone wants to talk about the gossip, but what really helps families is are they getting a pay rise. Everyone is going up in Australia except people's wages. Labor has got the track record to raise wages.
STEFANOVIC: You and I have known each other a long time.
STEFANOVIC: Beaconsfield, and that was a tough time, not just for people of Beaconsfield but anyone who was watching at the time. You're still here. Are you fit for the job?
STEFANOVIC: Are you ready for the job?
SHORTEN: Absolutely ready.
SHORTEN: If it has to be, it has to be. We are ready.
STEFANOVIC: What is your message?
SHORTEN: If you want to talk about lifting your wages, vote Labor. If you want to make sure that your kids get proper childcare, vote Labor. If you want to make sure that the schools and apprenticeships and universities are affordable, vote Labor. If you want to tackle the aged care waiting listings in this country which are unacceptable, vote Labor. If you want to do something about energy prices, we're the only ones with a plan.
STEFANOVIC: Can you almost smell it now, being Prime Minister?
SHORTEN: No I don't –
STEFANOVIC: You must be able to, you must be able to, after days like today and yesterday, you must be able to smell it, Prime Minister Bill Shorten.
SHORTEN: It has never been about me. And I think that's what we've all got to remember, who are privileged to serve. It is about the people, it is about your viewers. You understand that. You can't run a successful show like yours without being in touch with the viewers. Well, to use that analogy, what I am interested in is the everyday Australians who vote.
What I want parents to know is that their kids, when they finish school, can get an apprenticeship or go to university. I want to know, if you are middle aged and your parents are getting older, perhaps they have been diagnosed with early dementia signs, can they get the aged care that they need? I want to make sure that if you are living in the bush, you can get help during the drought.
That is what motivates me, helping people. Not – I mean I understand why people are cheesed off, probably using choicer language. They have woken up yesterday morning and they've said, "not again".
The number of sort of, face-palming, you know hands on the top of the head saying "when will these characters ever learn."
I want to reassure you and your viewers, we have learned.
STEFANOVIC: Bill, good to talk to you.
SHORTEN: Thank you Karl.