Bill's Transcripts

Weekend Today - Marriage Equality; Labor’s plan to create the jobs of the future.




SUNDAY, 31 MAY 2015


SUBJECT/S: Marriage Equality; Labor’s plan to create the jobs of the future.


DEBORAH KNIGHT: Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten joins us live from Melbourne, good morning to you. She’s got a point hasn’t she, this Bill should be above politics and not owned by a single party?


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Of course it should. In fact since March of last year Tanya Plibersek invited the Liberal Party to co-sponsor exactly what we’re putting forward on Monday, and again today we reiterate that invitation. I think it should be bipartisan. Of course the Irish referendum’s given this debate momentum again, and I’m glad we’re discussing today marriage equality, and it’s because Labor has put a Bill into Parliament and we look forward to bipartisanship and a free vote from the Liberal Party to its members.


KNIGHT: Well if it is an issue that you do say that you are so passionate about, we don’t doubt that at all, why not then try to team up with the Government on this rather than put it forward as a Private Members Bill with Tanya Plibersek backing it? Why not just try and work together?


SHORTEN: Well in fact Tanya Plibersek has offered and Labor is offering and I am offering to team up with Government Members, so it could be one Government Member and someone from the Labor Party to do this jointly. The fact of the matter is though the Government doesn't have a free vote. If there is a free vote in the Parliament I have no doubt this will happen, and of course it should be bipartisan.


KNIGHT: So how are you hoping to redefine marriage? What will be in the Bill tomorrow?


SHORTEN: Well there’s a range of sections but we just want to vary the Marriage Act to include same sex couples, it really is time for marriage equality. I think most Australians have reached a point where they’re not quite sure what the fuss is about opposing marriage equality. The Bill will make it very clear that religions or priests who don't want to conduct same sex marriages in their own churches don't have to and that’s fair enough. But what we do want to do is stop this silly situation where committed couples have to go overseas to be able to get married because their relationship won't be recognised in their own country. I think there are a lot of Liberals who do want to see this happen. Labor is more than happy to be bipartisan, absolutely, it should be owned by the Parliament. But in order for it to be owned by the Parliament the Liberal Party has to provide a free vote to its own members, just like the Labor Party does.


KNIGHT: Well it seems like they are moving towards that outcome.


SHORTEN: It’s good isn’t it?


KNIGHT: So we’ll see what occurs. Now your leadership is under increasing pressure. It’s been described as terminal by former Labor heavyweight Michael Costa and we’ve seen your support in recent polls slumping too. Will you lead Labor at the next election?


SHORTEN: Yes I will, and what we think is important in the Labor Party isn’t the internal instability which we’re seeing leak out of the ranks of the Liberal Party over national security, for us it’s all about jobs, education and health care. I’m very fortunate that my Labor team is focused on these issues, and we wants to make sure that we provide a plan for the future at the next election beyond just a plan to win the next opinion poll.


KNIGHT: Well the leaks and rumblings aren’t coming just from the Liberals, we did see Dennis Shanahan write in The Australian newspaper yesterday that ‘there are grumblings within the ALP about Bill Shorten’s organisation, his Parliamentary tactics, some of the responses to the media and staffers telling MPs what to do in a salty and forthright manner’. The Prime Minister says he’s been forced to change his ways, do you think you need to do the same?


SHORTEN: I think what Australians wants is a debate about a positive plan for the future. The Australians I talk to are concerned about where will the jobs come for their kids. I think they are upset that last year the Government said there was a debt and deficit crisis and this year the Government’s now saying there’s no particular crisis and they’re splashing cash everywhere. What Australians want is more than just people worrying about the day to day, they want a political party providing a plan for the future. That’s why we’re talking about teaching our kids better science and maths in schools. We want to get behind small business, we also want to make sure that we properly fund our schools and hospitals and prevent a lot of those hidden cuts in the Budget from really harming our future.


KNIGHT: Do you think though that it’s important that if there are members of your own party who are disgruntled, leadership rumblings are occurring, that it is important to take stock and perhaps have a rethink of the way you are performing?


SHORTEN: Well first of all if you want to look at instability, it was only in February that 39 Liberals out of Tony Abbott's team voted for a spill.


KNIGHT: Okay but what about within your own party?


SHORTEN: I’m very confident that our party is united – we’ve learnt the lessons of the past. There’s no way that people are going to go back to some of the terrible goings-on and instability that we saw in the last government. No, what Labor’s focused on now is holding the Government to account. We’re going to make sure that Medicare gets protected, we’re going to make sure that pensions just don’t get chopped up and promises get broken. But also we judge everything about jobs. We want to make sure that the kids have jobs and people in work can keep their jobs. We want to rebuild confidence, we want to work on the infrastructure of our cities to make sure that people aren't spending all their time in the traffic. We’re concerned about housing affordability and making sure that the next generation of Australian parents are able to buy into the housing market. We’ve got a positive view about the future and I know all of my team are equally dedicated to that proposition. And tomorrow we’re going to start the debate hopefully for the final chapter towards marriage equality in Australia, so it’ll be an exciting week this week Parliament I hope.


KNIGHT: Alright well we’ll see the response it gets when its tabled. Bill Shorten, thanks so much for your time.


SHORTEN: Thanks Deb, see you.