Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of doorstop interview: Sydney: 17 May 2019: passing of Bob Hawke and his legacy; Labor's case for change; Blanche D'Alpuget; Independents; Morrison pushing for more chaos under a minority government; Labor's climate change policy; enterprise bargaining

Download PDFDownload PDF




Subjects: Passing of Bob Hawke and his legacy; Labor’s case for change; Blanche D’Alpuget; Independents; Morrison pushing for more chaos under a minority government; Labor’s climate change policy; enterprise bargaining.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: My good friend Bob Hawke has passed away. The nation's mourning this. Labor is mourning this. I'm mourning this. I had the privilege to pay my respects to Blanche today. Gee she's such a strong and amazing woman. You can see why her and Bob were such a powerful love. For us in Labor and indeed for many Australians Bob Hawke has been a fixture of the last two generations. I remember being in year 11. Bob Hawke got elected, Paul Keating Treasurer. There was going to be the employers and the workers all coming together. Bringing Australia together. That was his motto. And whilst I'd always been interested even as a teenager in politics that inspires me, bringing people together. So he was my inspiration. Then he became my friend. And now the nation owns him and his legacy. Let's have a think for a moment how Bob Hawke and his government changed Australia for the better. They brought us out of the economic doldrums and the tariffs and they modernised the economy. They made sure that working class kids could get to university. That more kids than ever finished school. They protected the environment from the Franklin through to Antartica. And then of course there's arguably his greatest legacy, Medicare, which Bill Hayden and Whitlam had pushed hard for. Bob brought it home. So we all carry Bob Hawke with us in our wallets and our purses, our Medicare card. It's fantastic. It's a matter of record that he'd been unwell for some time. I got to see him last year, towards the end of the year and I think for a lot of us we might have said our goodbyes then. But he rallied, he's the constitution of a Mallee bull really considering the life he lived. So I got to see him again Monday a week ago. You don't always get to say goodbye to the people you love or you respect or your friends. Sometimes it just happens while you're so busy living life, you're not there. I'm so lucky that I got to see him then. Just think about this scene on the porch overlooking the water, the verandah. He had his seat facing outwards overlooking the water and the boats on the bay. He had his newspaper. I

wondered initially if it was a form guide but it was actually the crossword. He had the dictionary handy. Nice cup of tea. And he still had a twinkle in his eye and I got to just sit down next to him and tell what it's like when someone is your hero and then in adult life you get to be with them and work with them and talk to them. It was to be honest just a pleasure. And again I understand he wasn't just my hero or Labor's hero, he was a nation's hero. But when we were speaking I wondered how he would be. He was asking me about the election, peppering me with questions, giving some choice analysis perhaps of other figures which will only ever be between he and I. He was telling me his plans for election night. He was hanging on. When I saw him last Monday a week ago he had two goals. His stepson Louis' wedding. And to see a Labor government before, this is what he said to me. He did get to see Louis and his new daughter in law, that was great. Sadly he didn't win the fight to be there on election night to see Labor form a government. They told me who was going to be there and he was all ready to roll. Personally it's sad to me that I can't show him that we can win and form a government because I'd be, I'd feel I'd be fulfilling a contract that I mentally made with him all those years ago. But he just wanted us to form a government and I just say to the nation - Bob Hawke’s come along once in your life. He made a difference. He made a massive difference didn't he? It's been quite telling to me today on the eve of our own election that so many people have stopped to pause and think about what he did. A lot of people who’ve never met him, love him. A lot of people who did meet him love him. He's left us all a legacy. Australia loved Bob Hawke. Bob Hawke loved Australians. Happy to take a few questions.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten can I just ask, 12 million Australians will vote tomorrow. As they vote, as they mark the ballot papers should they be thinking about Bob Hawke or should they vote only the issues?

SHORTEN: Blanche said that nothing would make Bob happier than Labor forming a government tomorrow night. I think the time for talk about the election is nearly at an end if it's not at an end. The voters will make their judgement now. I would say to voters, vote for real change, end the chaos, vote for real action on the climate. Vote to extend our Medicare to cover dental care of pensioners and cancer patients. Vote for cost of living measures which help families. Let's get wages moving. In terms of what motivates people, that's the great thing about our democracy. Everyone's entitled to make up their own mind according to their own issues. I do believe Labor has the best, most positive platform for real change to help families in this country.

JOURNALIST: You had the opportunity to sit down with Blanche this morning. What did you tell her and how emotional was that encounter for you?

SHORTEN: She is a truly formidable person. I don't know how many of us would cope in the same circumstances. She did caution me against being too soppy, she said, because that might set her off. She's a great person. He was a great person. And I should also at this point acknowledge the contribution that the late Hazel Hawke made. I should acknowledge that for his children and his extended family and stepson they've had to share this great Australian with all Australians. Grief is complex at any time and when you've got to share your grief with the nation that feels particularly complex because we all feel we knew Bob Hawke and saw him over the years. Blanche is in

good shape. She's strong and she knows that wherever Bob is he'd be loving the fact that people love him.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten you've talked about obviously vote for change. The Prime Minister said last night that if Labor does not form a majority government that that argument of change will have not been accepted by the Australian people and in that event if there's a hung parliament, he thinks there's a strong circumstance, a strong case to be made for the Independents to stick with him as the incumbent. What do you say to that?

SHORTEN: Well today's a day of mixed emotions really isn't it? I'm sad that a man I admired who inspired me to join Labor has gone. I'm also excited at the prospect that Labor could form a government. In terms of Mr Morrison's attacks on us, really it's been the tale of this election hasn't it? The current Prime Minister is now saying vote for Liberals because he can form a minority government? The Australian people are over the chaos. I say vote for Labor for real change because it's in the interests of the people. I say that if we want to have the best Medicare system in the world, if we want to protect our environment and hand on a better environment to our kids and our grandkids, if we want to make sure that working people in this country get ahead again with help on cost of living and childcare, that the pensioners don't get forgotten, that we get wages moving - Labor's made a positive case this whole election. We think this country works best when we are ambitious for the future not captured by the fears of the past. When we uplift the talents of the Australian people. Not write it down and scare and intimidate people. So I'm aiming for a majority government. We've been leading the policy debate. I have a united team. And we think the nation is ready for change. The people tell me this wherever I go. Do you know what people say? Just be positive, don't be negative. Don't spend your time talking about the other bloke, spend your time talking about us. I've taken the advice of the people and I've practised that as much as I possibly can in the last 37 days, 36 days of this campaign.

JOURNALIST: If you do need to rely on the independents to form a government would that give you a mandate to implement these policies or would those policies need to change?

SHORTEN: I hate to bust Mr Morrison's bubble here. His ambition is to win a minority government and get some of the kooky crossbench to vote for him. My ambition is to form a majority government and, by the way, I've spent 2,000 days not talking about the polls. I'm confident Labor will win tomorrow because we've got a positive plan for real change, to stop the chaos. A Prime Minister who says vote for him and he'll give you a minority government and three more years of chaos - that's not what Australia needs at this time in our history.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten if you're confident you will win tomorrow how many seats will you win by?

SHORTEN: That will be up to the voters. But a win is a win is a win. What Australians want is they want positive policies and many of you have been generous enough to cover this campaign. Today is a sad day for the Labor family but also it's an

inspirational day. What people want in this country is they want to enter the third decade of the life of this nation knowing that our kids will get a quality education, knowing that when you're sick it's your Medicare card not your credit card. They want to know that at long last we will take real action on climate change and not kick the can down the road to the future. That's what Labor offers.

JOURNALIST: On climate change policy, in the last week you have had a strong focus on it and you have said that the cost of inaction should be considered more than the cost of action. Have you actually done any modelling on the cost of inaction and what confidence can you give the Australian people that you're not asking them to write a blank cheque for anything you consider to be climate change action?

SHORTEN: Annelise I say this in the most complimentary way, you are consistent and I appreciate the question. The cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of action. In our budget - let's talk about who the costs affect, of acting. While it's good for the environment, it's good for the reef, it's good to help decrease the chances of drought and natural disaster. It's good for the taxpayer. The Government's offering to pay the big polluters to not pollute whereas our plans in terms of taxpayer expenditure are so significantly less. And then of course in terms of the impact of helping business transition we are talking about transitional change. The argument that the government has run is the equivalent of saying let us stick with the horse and buggy because the cost of roads and the cost of cars is just too expensive. Labor is a vote for climate action. The nation's ready. More jobs, lower power prices and we haven't shirked the big question which is handing on a better deal to our kids.

JOURNALIST: In December the ALP endorsed multi-employer bargaining if enterprise bargaining was failing. But we haven't heard still what industries you would look to extend it to. Can you give us some more detail about industry-wide bargaining under a Labor government?

SHORTEN: Well I think talking about bargaining goes to the issues in this election. Wages growth under the current government has stagnated. I thought I was living in a parallel universe yesterday when I saw the other chap mention "vote Liberal for wage rises". I thought well at least we're winning the argument that wages are pretty low. So we've got a range of mechanisms to get wages moving. The penalty rate cuts. Making sure that women get paid the same as men. Making sure we have a living wage, not an adult poverty hourly rate of pay. In terms of bargaining, we do want to revive enterprise bargaining. And the nice thing about your question is enterprise bargaining started under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. I have practised this win-win system my whole life as a union rep, getting the employers and the workers to sit down together. In my 30 years of representing enterprises, representing workers, I have found that when you get people of different points of view in the same room we do better. It was the secret of the Hawke consensus. And I intend to revive that approach. I have said to The West Australian newspaper that we will convene a meeting - and I said this Wednesday morning, before the sad news of Bob's passing late yesterday - that what we need to do is get back to having the employers, the unions, the workers, the small business community in the same room. I can promise Australians, millions of householders, millions of wage earners, I get it. What we will do is ensure modest and

meaningful wages growth but recognise the capacity of industry and business to pay. It won't be nationwide bargaining. But what we will do is revive the system.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten you mentioned the Hawke consensus there you want to revive. So much of your campaign has been about reuniting the past of Labor with the present. Past Prime Ministers reuniting with each other and with the party in the same room. What makes you think that you can be the next Gough Whitlam or the next Bob Hawke? What makes you think you've convinced Australians enough?

SHORTEN: There will only ever be one Gough Whitlam. There can only be one Bob Hawke. And I am sad that he is gone. But I will take from each of them some lessons. Whitlam outlined a vision for a modern Australia, didn't he? Hawke outlined the strategy of bringing people together. I have outlined a plan for Australia in the 2020s. I won't be the sort of leader and my united team won't be the sort of government who says that the rest of the world is a scary place. Who will view our neighbours to the north as either threats or customers. I won't be the sort of person who says to our kids and our grandkids: "Gee I know climate change is bad but I got spooked by the naysayers". You know I want Australia to be back on the international stage. I want Australians to have a quality of life. I want our kids to get the best education. I want us to be the Parliament and the new Parliament after May the 18th who takes real action on climate change. So no, there's only one Bob Hawke. Only one Gough Whitlam. But I promise you, that if you vote Labor you're voting for real change to put millions of working Australians back on top. Thank you very much. Look forward to seeing you on the remainder of the trail. Thank you.