Sep 30, 2013

Transcript of Q&A

TONY JONES: Good evening. Welcome to Q&A, live from the ABC studios in East Perth. I’m Tony Jones and answering your questions tonight the two men who want to lead the Labor Party: Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese. Please welcome our guests.

Well, under the Party reforms introduced by Kevin Rudd, rank-and-file party members, as well as Labor MPs, now vote on who should lead the parliamentary party. Tonight, for the first time, the two contenders will face a representative audience of Liberal, Green and undecided voters, as well as Labor stalwarts, the same audience they’d face if they led their party to a national election. So which man has the arguments to swing the national electorate? As usual in Q&A debates, the panellists will keep their answers to strict time limits and have one minute at the end to sum up their case. Our first question tonight comes from Simon Perry.

SIMON PERRY: Since Keating, the Party has lacked vision. Will either of you be able to run a party that is not focus group driven but develops policies that truly benefit the nation, regardless of what the media say? Will we again see the light on the hill?

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, the first part of my campaign is about vision. I don’t accept that Labor hasn’t been a party of vision. I think we have continued to do that and deal with the immediate circumstances of the global financial crisis, for example, when we last come into office, while looking forward into the future. I think Labor always has to be the party that deals with the immediate concerns but does deal with the long-term. The long-term transformations that are required, whether that be in terms of dealing with climate change and a carbon-constrained future, whether it is about dealing with the ageing of the population or whether it is about dealing with other social challenges which are there in terms of moving towards a more equal society removing discrimination. I think we always have to get the economy right first and I think in terms of being forward-looking, part of what we have to do is to create the jobs and skills for the future. So that means us being an innovative, creative, smart economy…

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …and not trying to compete with our region on the basis of our wages.

TONY JONES: A very quick follow-up, because part of the question you didn’t answer and that is: would you be prepared to get rid of focus group polling all together and go on gut and instinct and belief?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, I think I have always been, in terms of politics, someone who has been pretty clear about what I have stood for. I was arguing for action on climate change well before I think it was such a key focus of the economic debate. I argued for example…

TONY JONES: Sorry, is that a yes, you would get rid of focus group polling?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes, absolutely.

TONY JONES: Get rid of focus group polling?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, you are always going to – it is disingenuous to say that politicians aren’t going to be interested in what polling says. Of course they are. The key though is that you shouldn’t be…


ANTHONY ALBANESE: …shaped by it. By taking leadership, you can actually shape what opinion is and that’s the key.

TONY JONES: All right, Bill Shorten, the original question?

BILL SHORTEN: I think for Labor to be successful in the future, we need to be relevant to the future of Australians’ lives. I think politics can be a process which brings out the best in the nation and provides the best for people, so long as the Labor Party, the party I love, the party Anthony loves, is one which talks about the future. We know where the future is going in part. We know we are living longer. We know that Asian societies will keep rising. We know that women need to be treated equally. Labor is best, to that light on the hill that you referred, which is a quote from Ben Chifley saying “Labor’s light on the hill” – there are issues which are important in our future. If Labor talks about the lives that people are living, doesn’t do everything for people, but we can help be part and work alongside Australians as they try and have long lives full of quality and meaning. There is plenty of rooms for big ideas in a big Australia where we have a generous view of our fellow Australians and our place in the world.

TONY JONES: We’ve both heard – or we’ve heard both of you, I should say, championing education reforms and DisabilityCare reforms. Do either of you have a vision on how you are going to pay for these big ideas? Start with you.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, when I was pushing the Disability Insurance Scheme in the first term between 2008 and 2010, I actually had people in the Labor Party say to me, “Bill, don’t get people’s hopes up about disability reform.” They said it’s too expensive. It’s too hard. You can’t be in the business of raising hopes. I just want to make it clear the sort of leader I’d be. It is the job of leaders to raise hope. It’s not to feed them unrealistic expectations. I get that. But the idea that we would reduce our vision for the future, be it education, be it disability, so I supported us putting a levy in terms of how we found disability. See, I – I don’t think Australians necessarily want to pay more tax but if they know the benefit they are getting – in other words this idea that disability, which could affect any of us, that we require then some support from Australians to help any of us, you can win progressive arguments in Australian politics if you articulate the goal and you explain the benefits. I don’t think Australians mind paying for things so long as they see a result at the other end.

TONY JONES: Okay. All right. I’m going to throw to Anthony Albanese on that. You have got 30 seconds but really the question is about how you pay for these big reforms? We know that education reform and disability reform, the really big ramp-up of spending on those giant reforms happens in six years’ time, which will be towards the end of the next government.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes, but the hypothecation of the tax support for disabilities has widespread Australian support. The other thing is it shouldn’t be seen as a zero sum game. What it is is when you invest in education and skills, you are investing in future productivity that produces a return to government. So what are the consequences if you don’t invest in education and future skills is that it has a contractionary effect on the economy. So it’s not a matter of saying this is – it should be seen as an investment, not just a cost to government and investing in our people is one way that we can do it and investing in infrastructure in physical capital is the other.

TONY JONES: Okay. Our next comes from Adam Baker.

ADAM BAKER: If you were elected…

TONY JONES: I’ll get you to stand up, Adam, if you wouldn’t mind.

ADAM BAKER: If you were elected Leader of the Opposition, will you oppose the scrapping of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax by the Coalition Government and if you are re-elected to government next term, would you like into modifying the tax in light of the lower-than-projected tax revenue generated in the first year of the tax?

TONY JONES: Start with you. One minute.

BILL SHORTEN: Yes, we would oppose scrapping of the Mineral Rent Resources Tax. I think it is appropriate that we have a – all policies get decided by Caucus ultimately but as one of the candidates for leader people should know my personal beliefs. With that caveat or – I do believe we should keep it. I think that the idea that all Australians get some fair return from the natural resources of this country is a good idea and we will fight the government on that matter because I think Australians need to re-invest, have re-investment from large multinational mining companies in the Australian infrastructure. It is us, the taxpayers, us the community who educate your work force, who build your roads, who build your hospitals. I don’t accept this argument put out by some at one end of the political spectrum who way that somehow there is a sovereign risk, merely because we want our fair share of natural resources being re-invested in Australia.

TONY JONES: Would you allow it to be modified to raise more money?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, let’s see how the tax works to begin with. I believe that it will raise more money than some of the conservative critics of the tax say. I mean Tony Abbott and the Coalition want a bet each way. On one hand they say it is not raising any money, on the other hand they want to scrap it. If it’s not going to raise any money, why do you need to scrap it?

TONY JONES: But you’re not against raising it if you feel it’s not raising enough money?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, let’s just see how the tax works to begin with. I believe that the projections say it will raise significant support for Australia’s expenditure needs.

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese, you have a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it’s a profit-based tax, so at a time where commodity prices are lower, which they have been in the last couple of years, therefore there is a reduction in the tax that would be collected. But it’s also – so I certainly would, as well as Bill, agree with keeping the tax and let’s just wait and see over a period of time how it flows through. But can I make this point as well: that tax is providing money for the regional infrastructure fund. Here in Western Australia that’s going to fund the North West Coastal Highway upgrade and the upgrades to the – to the Great Northern Highway. The incoming government is saying they won’t go ahead with those regional infrastructure projects on those important regional roads and more than $2 billion was cut 48 hours before the election was held on September 7 when they put out their documentation. Now, I think when people actually realise that it will have a real impact in terms of infrastructure investment, not just here in Western Australia…

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …but particularly here and Queensland.

TONY JONES: Okay. Let’s go to our next question. It’s from Alex Banzic.

ALEX BANZIC: Hi. I have been a Labor member for over ten years. At a 29% primary vote in the last election, there is no doubt that we failed here. Federal Labor I think fails to get WA, both in policy and in message. It doesn’t get the WA yearning for growth, aspiration and perhaps even personal advancement. How can we change this and get our message and get our policy to better reflect that West Australian aspiration?

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN: The Labor Party needs to make clear that we stand up for Australians who are disadvantaged, but we also stand up for all Australians. We need to make it really fundamentally clear we welcome people being successful. We need to make it very straightforward that we support – that we are not class warriors of old, that we don’t have an us versus them mentality. On the other hand, I think there is plenty of issues in WA which only a Labor government can help fix. I look at the cut backs of the Barnett Government on education, going after integration aids and some of the support staff. There is no case for that. No State can dumb its way to greatness. I look at the challenges for fly-in fly-out families. We have got a great work force in Western Australia, very productive, but the pressure that having one of two family members away at mines or working offshore on rigs is a huge pressure. So I think there is more support that can be done for families in Western Australia, where you have got a lot of, effectively, FIFO widows raising families on their own. Also I believe that the Western Australia mining boom has been unevenly spread. There are some people who have done very well…

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

BILL SHORTEN: …but there is a lot of people who aren’t. So I believe Labor’s story is a story which is inclusive but also only we can stand up for people who are missing out on some of the benefits which are going to some and not all.

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Labor has to always stand up for people who need assistance. That’s part of our commitment to social justice. It’s a foundation of who we are. But we also are the party of aspiration. We are the party that wants to create opportunity, not so people can stay where they are; so that they can advance. What do working families want? They want their kids to have a better education than they had, to have access to housing, to have better living standards than they had, to make sure health care is there if they get sick. That’s what working family wants. Labor understands that. This is my sixth visit to Western Australia this year. I am a regular visitor here. I think we have a real opportunity to make the case over specific issues here in the West. For example, our preparedness to fund urban public transport, the rail line to the airport, the light rail project in the northern suburbs of Perth. Tony Abbott has said that’s someone else’s problem and Colin Barnett is saying “Well we can’t do any of that without Federal Government support”. That creates a real issue because we know that whilst…

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …whilst there has been a great boom in terms of resources, that also is placing particular pressure on people who live here in Perth who are dealing with increased costs, particularly housing but also transport and other costs as a result of that boom being uneven.

TONY JONES: Very briefly, that question was about WA philosophy really. The philosophy of the government here is to borrow to build, to actually spend – it’s very different, in fact, to the Federal Coalition’s philosophy, according to Colin Barnett anyway. Is that also your philosophy in Labor?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, we certainly accept that there is a case in terms of if you borrow for capital investment, it is different from the $5.5 billion on the paid parental leave scheme that will go every year and not leave a legacy. So the difference between investment and just spending is something that we draw a distinction on but I think we have got a pretty good record here in the West in terms of investing in infrastructure. Obviously there is more that needs to be done but I think it is a real area of differentiation between us and Tony Abbott.

TONY JONES: And Bill Shorten, same question to you. It really is about what sort of philosophy you might take into government. If you ever became the Prime Minister, would you be a borrow to build sort of Prime Minister? Would you worry about borrowing large sums of money to build infrastructure?

BILL SHORTEN: I think there is more we can do to unlock our superannuation funds to be used to invest in infrastructure. People mightn’t be aware but we actually, courtesy of successive Labor Governments, have the third largest privately managed superannuation funds market in the world. Now, you wouldn’t put all of your superannuation savings in infrastructure but the nature of superannuation money is that it is long-term. You don’t need it at call. So I think there are opportunities for Labor to explore having a pricing mechanism which would support the private investment of superannuation money backed up by government guarantee. So I think some of the solutions going forward should build on our strengths and…

TONY JONES: That’s 30 seconds.

BILL SHORTEN: …we need to build infrastructure.

TONY JONES: All right. Let’s go to our next question. It’s from Sarah Tonkin.


SARAH TONKIN: Hi. My question is how do you expect the rank and file members of the Labor Party to make an informed decision on who to vote for as the next party leader when all you do is compliment the other and provide very few differences in policy or opinion?

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese, we will start with you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, what you are seeing with this campaign is a reflection of the fact that Bill and I have a lot more in common as Labor Party members of similar age, of similar generation and experience than people outside the Labor Party and I don’t make any apologies for that. I think, if anything, there has been too much emphasis on differences within Labor and what the feedback that I get, and I’m sure Bill gets as well, is that people want to see a mature political debate and that is what is occurring. It is occurring in a range of forums, some of them public but a lot of them private as well, forums around the country, and just three weeks after a significant election defeat, we’re here tonight talking about the future of Labor. We are talking about a future agenda. We’re talking about positioning ourselves for 2016. That hasn’t occurred in the past after an electoral defeat. A political party tends to go into a corner and just have a bit of self-reflection for a while. I think this is incredibly positive. It is mobilising the party. It is strengthening the party and it is…

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …unifying as well.

TONY JONES: Where are your differences of opinion though? Are there any on anything that you know of?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes. Yes. We’ve had some differences over things like today, over quotas for people from gay and lesbian or Indigenous background. That’s something that I haven’t supported. There is a range of differences in terms of emphasis on policies rather than stark sort I’m for it. I’m against. We have different approaches and I think that would reflect itself in terms of our respective leadership, whoever is successful. But by and large, the truth is that we will be able to work together. I think that’s a good thing.

TONY JONES: Okay. Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, Sarah, there is a couple of points you said and then I might go to Tony’s point as well. First of all, this is the best thing that the Labor Party has done in a long time. I’m sorry if there is not enough red meat and blood on the floor for some people but, on the other hand, look at the Labor Party. We are having a debate about ideas, what we think. The Liberals, they would just die of – they’d have a massive heart attack if they invited you into their deliberations. This is being done all out there and it’s not being turned into a circus. So I think that’s a good thing. It shows that Labor is capable of learning. The second thing is, of course, you’ve always got to be mindful that it is not the job of the Labor Party to turn ourselves into a circular firing squad, is it? It would be great if, you know, perhaps everyone saw a whole lot of…

TONY JONES: You mean not now, because it has been in the past?

BILL SHORTEN: No, I agree. That’s exactly right. So I know that there is some in the media who are frustrated there is not more, you know, slings and arrows and everyone having a dig. This is the way the Labor Party should be. We’ve got two candidates. We’re putting up our respective cases. It does show that we are capable of learning. I think we are changing politics in Australia because it shows that it can be transparent. We have invited the televisions in to watch us have our debates. That is a new development and hopefully it can build some sense of momentum. The other thing, though, going to Tony’s point about what are the differences, I’d say it’s a difference in strengths. I’d say that Anthony is a good parliamentary tactician. He did a very good job in the last Parliament. I’d say my particular strength is turning minorities into majorities. When I raised disability in the first parliament people said, “You’re crazy. No one will ever do it.” But it’s a way of convincing people. I think a lot of politics takes place outside of Canberra. My speciality when I was a union rep was organising the unorganised. How do you convince people who have no say or no power that you can, in fact, have a say? My strength, I think, is helping communicate to the over a million Australians who have changed their vote away from Labor. But we’re a team and whatever happens we will all be working on the same team, Sarah, to try and win your vote and everyone else’s.

TONY JONES: Do you want to briefly respond, 30 seconds, on that strength that he claims that perhaps he’s suggesting you don’t have?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: He wasn’t as blunt as that, Tony.


TONY JONES: I’m interpreting.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, I think if you look at my record, the creation of Infrastructure Australia, the creation of safe rates for truck driver, shipping policy reform, areas where I was able to bring unions, business and the community together to promote reform, reform, in terms of Infrastructure Australia. When we introduced the legislation, it was the second piece of legislation introduced by the Rudd Government. I was opposed by the Coalition. Now they say they want to make it stronger. So I think I won that debate and I have a history of winning debates, not just inside the Parliament but outside the Parliament as well.

TONY JONES: That’s 30 seconds. Okay. You are watching the national Labor leadership debate. Our next question comes from Martin Moody.

MARTIN MOODY: Welcome to WA, Bill and Anthony. Now that the Labor Party has formalised its rule regarding its leadership, that to change the leaders would require a no-confidence motion of 75% of the caucus, the resignation of the leader or the loss of an election, do you, Bill and Anthony, concede that this could be a potential problem for the ALP considering that the Prime Minister, as an incumbent Labor leader, would hold a lot of power? In fact, arguably more power than the President of the USA.

TONY JONES: Let’s start with Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, what people don’t want is what happened in June 2010 where people woke up in the morning and reads their newspapers and found out that there had been a change. So there was a reaction to that and a rule change to ensure that there needed to be a proper process. I actually think that the number doesn’t matter all that much. What matters is that…

TONY JONES: Oh, so I just want jump in there. I mean does that mean the 75% rule is not hard and fast? Because it was the last time you came on Q&A?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No. No. No, it was – it was carried but it doesn’t matter all that much. What matters is that there’s a process, that in order to change the leader there has to be this process, more Q and A, more forums over a period of weeks so people can’t change it instantaneously. There has to be a debate and it’s a debate that involves not a few people. It’s a debate that involves the 44,000 people who joined, who have a vote in this ballot and the 2,000 people who have joined the Labor Party in the last two weeks as a result of this process. So that, I think, is a real handbrake on the real problem that was there, I think, in terms of 2010 which is the case wasn’t made for a change of leader and there was…

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …a reaction against it.

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, there were two changes. There was 2010 and 2013. I think in both cases that involved hard decisions. I, therefore, think that having the party membership involved is a game-changer. I think the idea that we are going to – that we’re having even this debate is a game-changer. Australians want more of their politics than, I think, they have traditionally expected or perhaps they have always wanted more but they haven’t seen it until now. The challenge will be if the Coalition are strong enough to say they will invite their membership to have a say in their future leadership. In terms of the specific question you asked, Martin, I think once you have lost the confidence of a majority of your colleagues, putting a 75% requirement that you’ve got to lose 75% of your colleagues’ confidence is probably a bit over the top and, as Anthony said, the number doesn’t matter. The point about it is you’ve got to have a mechanism whereby people are involved in the process of making decisions and just one group making the decision is not the way of the future for the Labor Party.

TONY JONES: I’m just going to press you on this because if your suggestion is taken up, for example, that it was only 50% of the caucus that needed to be dissatisfied to cause a spill that led to a leadership vote of the sort you are having now, that suggests that if you don’t have more than 50% of the caucus, you don’t have the confidence of the caucus and yet you are about to have a leadership vote where that could well be the case?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, we’re electing a new leader. There’s a vacancy. I think the circumstances are different if someone is moving against you. There is a vacancy. Kevin Rudd’s…

TONY JONES: But I’m talking about the principle of the 50%. If more than 50% support you, then you are secure as a leader. If fewer than 50%, you may not be secure. And yet, at the end of this vote, it could be you have a leader who doesn’t have the support of more than 50%.

BILL SHORTEN: Yes. No, that’s a good point, Tony. What I would say is you need to have your party membership with you. The difference between the past and the future is that we have got 44,000 members of the Labor Party. Hopefully we will have a lot more in the next three years because people will realise that Labor is fair dinkum on talking about the future and the big ideas for the future. That’s, I think, the handbrake upon, you know, capricious conduct or the sort of sudden changes which caused such anxiety.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: And what you couldn’t have, Tony, it is an important point, is in 2010 or 2013, the leadership changed pretty close to an election. You couldn’t change the leaders and, in June of 2010 or June of 2013, then go out and have this process. Meanwhile …


ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s just not practical.

TONY JONES: But Anthony Albanese, we thought it might be possible.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s just not practical.

TONY JONES: We found something that you two might disagree on, and that is the 75% rule, which you said on Q&A was hard and fast when you voted for it.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it is there.

BILL SHORTEN: It’s the rule.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s the rule.

TONY JONES: It’s the rule.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s the rule.

TONY JONES: Should it then be cemented in as the rule?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think that – I think you are missing the point and …

TONY JONES: No, we’re just getting confused.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: With due respect, no. No.

BILL SHORTEN: I agree with Anthony.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: With due respect, Tony, you are missing the point, which is that…

TONY JONES: Well, we just, sorry – we – we …

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It is not a matter of the threshold.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: It is a matter of the process is the key.

BILL SHORTEN: Control of the membership.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The fact that you’re going to involve 44,000 people…

BILL SHORTEN: That’s right.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …is the critical point because you can’t change…

TONY JONES: So why did you vote on 75% then?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, it’s as good a number as any, Tony. It is 60 in Opposition, by the way.

TONY JONES: As we can see, the ALP Spring has room for movement. Let’s hear from Brad Griffin.

BRAD GRIFFEN: G’day. My question is for Bill Shorten. My vote in the leadership ballot will most likely be for Albo because, while I understand the decisions that you made in supporting Gillard and then swapping to Rudd, many Australians see this as a black mark against your name, so should you win the ballot, how do you intend to win the respect of those who see you that way and counter the inevitable attacks from the Coalition and the media on that issue?

BILL SHORTEN: Thanks Brad. First of all, from some in the media and the Coalition, they’ll attack me because I’m Labor. What I would say, though, about the issue of leadership change is this: it was an incredibly hard decision and all Caucus members have had to make these decisions. In 2010 I think the mistake, one mistake that was made, is that Prime Minister Gillard and some of her senior supporters didn’t explain why it had happened. Now, you can argue that it shouldn’t have happened but for those who did do it, they should have explained that. In terms of…

TONY JONES: Well, they explained in some senses. They came out and all attacked, subsequently, Kevin Rudd and trashed his reputation in the sense of the circular firing squad you were talking about before.

BILL SHORTEN: And you will know that I wouldn’t participate in that because I thought that was – the public disparagement of people in Labor by other people in Labor is just stupid and it doesn’t matter if Liberals do it to Liberals or Labor does it to Labor or Greens do it to Greens, it is a bad look because it doesn’t breed any confidence in people. But to your point, Brad, these are hard issues. What has motivated me and this is how I would explain it and I have and I will, that when you are a Labor parliamentary representative, you have got personal commitments and affections. You have got a commitment to the Labor Party more generally, what’s in the bests interest of that and to the nation. I cannot believe and I still don’t believe that it’s in the best interests of the nation back in June of 2013, when those very hard decisions were made, to see Tony Abbott get unfettered control of the Senate and the House of Representatives. So that’s a hard call and if I was leader, what you want in your leaders are people who will make hard calls. Leadership changes have occurred in politics on both sides. I mean, I think that John Button…


BILL SHORTEN: …managed to have a good career in politics, even though he supported replacing Bill Hayden with Bob Hawke. I think that Paul Keating was a very good Prime Minister.

TONY JONES: Okay. You’re over a minute.

BILL SHORTEN: But there is changes.

TONY JONES: We’ll go to our next question, because it’s to Anthony Albanese on the same subject. It’s from Yaron Fisher.

YARON FISHER: Mr Albanese, Mr Shorten has just spoken about how both the decisions he made in 2010 and 2013 were very hard but he still made those decisions. So do you fear that if you get the top job, you could be awaiting the same fate? I mean, can a leopard really change its spots?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I certainly don’t. I think that whoever is successful through this process, whether it is Bill or myself, will have more legitimacy than any political leader of a major political party in Australia’s history. This transparent process that everyone is watching, I mean, you know, the Conservatives won’t do it. The Greens won’t even let media into their party conferences. We are here debating who the next leader of the Labor Party should be with whoever the ABC has chosen to come in here tonight. That’s a great thing. It is a great thing. And what it will do, and we are seeing it already, we had – we attended a barbecue this morning here in Hyde Park in Perth. 500 people showed up. I was told by some of the West Australian Labor people they hadn’t seen more than 100 people gather at any event for some time here in Western Australia. Incredibly positive. People are engaged. They are mobilised and I’m absolutely confident that whoever is elected through this process will lead us into the 2016 election and I believe we can be successful and actually win that election.

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten, just a quick one for you. I mean, 30 seconds on this. ‘Can a leopard change its spots?’ was the question that was asked there and really that is directed to you.

BILL SHORTEN: Yeah, I worked that out. What I would say to your question is this: in the caucus now there are not people who define themselves as Rudd people or Gillard people. That was perhaps a feature of some people in previous caucuses or previous parliaments. What I see now is people in the Labor Parliamentary Party who are interested in winning in 2016. The sort of corrosive fault lines which built up in the Opposition years under Howard, which bled into the Government of both Prime Minister Rudd and Prime Minister Gillard, have evaporated. A lot of that tension has moved in on, in part because Australian voters, people who vote for Labor, expect us to do better and, in part, this process of asking people their views forces you to play to your best strengths, not to play to the worst issues of, I don’t know, jealousy or rivalry or some of the stuff which can happen in organisations.

TONY JONES: Okay. Our next question is from Fay Davidson.

FAY DAVIDSON: Hi. The given the apparent success of the ALP’s experiment with the democratic process for the selection of the Parliamentary Party leadership through the leadership primaries, would either candidate pursue an extension of this process to candidate pre-selection or policy matters – policy primaries?

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Absolutely. I wrote a paper calling for direct election of leaders, direct election of delegates to ALP national conference rank and file pre-selections in 1991. So it’s been a long time coming, this process, and a lot of people have argued the case for this for decades. What people want nowadays from political parties isn’t attending a cold hall on the second Tuesday to hear from their local councillor, as valuable as that might be from time to time. What they want is to be able to participate directly and, just as social media has meant that people expect more direct engagement, so people expect more direct democracy and this vote is showing that that is the case. There are people who no-one knows how the rank-and-file are going to vote in this. It is unpredictable. That’s a great thing and we need to use our resource, our rank-and-file membership to work on policy development, I think directly electing…

TONY JONES: That’s minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …national conference delegates would be one step but there are others as well.

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN: I have supported in the Victorian ALP, where I belong, where I’m a member of, use of primaries to pick candidates. I think the more people that get involved in this election, the better candidates. It is not a uniform rule but my view is that a person who can convince more people within the Labor Party to vote for them is probably going to do better at convincing more people in the community to vote for them. So I think that it is impossible to put the genie back in the lamp. I think that the pressure will be on other parties to expand the way they do business and, for us, I also think it should be easier to join the Labor Party. For people who are watching this show who are interested in politics and interested in the Labor side of it, you should join. It is crazy we have got branch rules where you can only join for an hour the third Wednesday of every month. You know, no one sells a product or really gets great engagement from people. So I think it is not just pre-selections of our candidates but I also think that we need to make sure that more people feel that they can join the Labor Party. That’s one of the reasons I’m happy for this show tonight, because it’s – it just tells people you too can be involved in politics and it is not beyond your ability to get involved if you want to. We want you to get involved.

TONY JONES: Our next question is a video. It’s from Joy Toma in Coogee, New South Wales.

JOY TOMA: If the Messiah era is over, can both candidates please, please, guarantee that they will not give Kevin Rudd a position within their Shadow Cabinet? Now, your answer is going to directly affect my vote because it will indicate to me how sincere you are about a genuine line in the sand. Thank you.

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese, we will start with you there.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Kevin Rudd doesn’t want a position in the Shadow Cabinet. He has made it very clear he is going to stay as the Member for Griffith. He is entitled to respect, just as Julia Gillard is entitled to respect. The sort of argument that I have seen put out there, including by some of the colleagues, saying Kevin Rudd should resign from Parliament, cause a by-election, which we would lose in the current circumstances, is, in my view, disrespectful and not appropriate. Kevin will continue to serve as the Member for Griffith for as long as he wants but he is – and he is entitled to think, I believe, former Prime Ministers are entitled – I am not a believer in by-elections but I believe former Prime Ministers are entitled to make decisions if they so choose. But it has got to be their decision. He is entitled to respect. He will get that from me, as will Julia Gillard, as will other former leaders as well, such as Kim Beazley here in the West and Simon Crean.

TONY JONES: That’s a minute. Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN: Yes, I agree with what Anthony said. I know that – well I don’t know but I understand Kevin is not seeking to be on the front bench, so to Joy’s question, you know, don’t worry about it because it is not – your scenario is not an issue. But beyond that, Joy, we would be making a mistake, Anthony or I, if we said “No, we don’t want Kevin back”. People would go, my goodness me, they haven’t learned a thing. In Joy’s question, she said, you know, you have got to rule a line under your past. Yeah, you know, you are right. You have got to rule a line under your lessons. The lesson would be if one of us got up and said person X or Y shouldn’t have the opportunity to be on the front bench. You’d just have to slap yourself on the head and say “When will these guys get the message?” We’ve got the message. So whilst I don’t think he wants to nominate, I certainly wouldn’t be in the business of ruling him out. What I’d also just say to you is this: I supported a change that would see the parliamentary party pick who the ministers are. It is not up to the leader to say A or B are in and X and Y are out. You know, like we need to move away. When I say the year of Messiahs is over, we need to take the pressure of saying that one individual, whilst he should be a strong leader, should be responsible for all decisions. You get the best out of a team by involving the team, so we would let the caucus or the parliamentary members pick who should be on the front bench.

TONY JONES: All right. Our next question is from Hannah Weickhardt.

HANNAH WEICKHARDT: Evening to both of you, gentlemen. My question is more directed to Bill Shorten. It is regarding the recent quotas that you spoke of regarding Indigenous Australians and also possibly gays and lesbians for Parliament on the basis of under-representation. My question is, in all sincerity, Mr Shorten, I know you are an advocate for minorities, would you also consider quotas for things like professional athletes, asylum seekers, long-term unemployed and religious leaders? Do you think there could be a slippery slope that could tend towards a majority parliament of minorities?

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN: In terms of – I don’t actually think – I heard Anthony say earlier that there is some differences. I am not sure there is a great deal of difference here and I will just clarify what I mean by that. I don’t believe one population group in Australia has a monopoly on all the brains and skills. Look, I was amazed when I saw the Liberals find one woman to serve in a Cabinet of 20. So I don’t liken professional athletes or ministers of religion to some of the bigger issues around the fact that Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders have, in my opinion, not been sufficiently represented in parliamentary life. I’m not saying – what I’d actually said is that we should consider the question of quotas. I am not saying we should have quotas. There is the community commonsense test and, you know, you are right. Your question says it wouldn’t be sensible to go down the path you said. So the community commonsense test always applies in all our actions. But we are Labor. Labor should actually – we’re in Opposition as well. If we are not willing to debate ideas about how we improve representation now, when will we be? What I think is that there is many ways to improve people’s representation. I look at Emily’s List, which is an organisation designed to encourage the representation of women in Parliament. I look at leadership programs to mentor…

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

BILL SHORTEN: …and encourage Indigenous Australians. So there is a lot we can do to improve diversity and I am very happy that we are having a discussion about how do we make our parliament more diverse to gain the strength of all Australians because merit does not just belong to, you know, white men in their 50s and 60s.

TONY JONES: A very brief answer because it’s (indistinct). Did you actually mean it when you talked about bringing in quotas for certain groups?

BILL SHORTEN: What I have said…

TONY JONES: Did you mean it or was that just a rhetorical flourish?

BILL SHORTEN: No. What I’ve said is we should consider ideas about how do we improve diversity? Anyone who could look at the current status quo and say that is sufficient, well, I can’t agree with that. Now, of course we have got to apply commonsense and I appreciate your question because that helps me make that point very strongly, but anyone who is satisfied with the status quo in terms of the current parliaments and anyone who says that we have got enough of diversity in our parliaments and our decision making in Australia…

TONY JONES: Okay. All right.

BILL SHORTEN: …I don’t agree with you. Don’t vote for me if you think the status quo is okay.

TONY JONES: All right. Anthony Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Parliament should represent the community more fully. One of my state members is Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman elected in New South Wales. She is a fantastic local member and now is the deputy Labor leader in New South Wales. I don’t support, though, moving to quotas for Indigenous people or for people based who – based upon sexual preference. Sexuality is just one aspect of people. It doesn’t define who people are and in terms of I don’t know how practical it would be to go down that step. So I think, in terms of diversity, by all means, and that should be a factor which is considered but I think we have also got to consider in our internal processes that the punters out there get a vote as well and you want to make sure that every candidate being put forward by Labor, who has the honour of carrying the Labor flag, is someone who we can say is the best person. I think we can do that while satisfying…

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …increased representation, based upon the community to make it more representative.

TONY JONES: All right. Let’s go to our next question. It’s from Stevie Modern.

STEVIE MODERN: Gentlemen, right wing unionist Joe De Bruyn made it a condition of his support for Julia Gillard as leader that she not push the issue of equal marriage and, in fact, oppose it. He has been quoted in The Australian as saying that Mr Albanese is rabid on this issue and that he thinks he will support Mr Shorten, because he seems less likely to push the issue. Will both gentlemen give their unequivocal support tonight for doing their utmost to bring about marriage equality, representing the majority of secular democratic opinion in Australia and their party, or will their position be subject to union leaders like Joe De Bruyn?

TONY JONES: Let’s start with Anthony Albanese. As part of your answer, could you address the question of whether Joe De Bruyn, union leader, had that significant impact on Julia Gillard as claimed?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Two points. The first one, I don’t accept the premise of the question. I think that Julia Gillard came to her own position. I had discussions with her on it. I have had strong views on these issues for some time but it is up to her to indicate how she came to that position. But I don’t accept that Julia Gillard was someone who traded off support in that way because I know that’s not the case because Julia – and I trust her totally because I’ve had the discussion with her. Secondly, in terms of Joe De Bruyn’s views, now look, you know, I think people can make their own judgment about who is obsessed about people’s sexuality: myself or Joe De Bruyn? I happen to think – I happen to think that whoever people love is a matter for them, that you can give people rights without taking away existing rights from anyone, that when this is done, people will wonder what the fuss was about because – because it won’t diminish anyone’s existing rights.


BILL SHORTEN: And I agree with that.

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten.

BILL SHORTEN: You know, I…

TONY JONES: Are you less rabid on this subject?

BILL SHORTEN: I don’t think I’m rabid but I don’t think Anthony is rabid on it either. I actually don’t think homosexuality is evil or antisocial. I think, you know, frankly, who you choose to love is your business and it’s not mine and I think – I voted for same-sex marriage in the parliament. Labor has a conscience vote. The Liberals don’t. The next step in this journey is for the Liberal Party to let their members of parliament exercise their conscience rather than binding people’s conscience to one person’s view. So, in terms of Joe De Bruyn, he has no greater sway on me than he has on Julia or Anthony Albanese. What I do know is that on this issue, the jury is – the jury is back for me. Like, where is the problem? I don’t know why it is the – I think Anthony is right that eventually, over time, people will just work out what’s the fuss. Now, no doubt I will get lots of emails tomorrow from people of faith who say you don’t respect our position. I do respect people’s faith. I do respect that people have strongly held views. But what I also respect is that, frankly, the best protection in a secular society for organised religion is to depoliticise…


BILL SHORTEN: …people’s love for each other and just let them be.

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese, just a quick response.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yeah. Just to make one further point, I think if you are a supporter of the institution of marriage, it is beyond me why you wouldn’t want more people to be participating in it, rather than less.

TONY JONES: Okay. Let’s move to our next question. Thank you. It’s from Michael Lee.

MICHAEL LEE: What plans do each of you have to steer the Labor Party back to the core values on which it was founded? It is evident that, by taking the right-hand fork in the road on the asylum seeker issue, you have alienated many supporters. What steps will you be taking to remedy this issue, so that a true believer can truly believe once again?

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I don’t accept that we have abandoned our values. I think in terms of the Labor Party must always be a compassionate party and must have concerns for genuine refugees and I believe that I had that and Bill has that. So any party, regardless of who the leader is, would do that. At the same time we did have to deal with a practical issue, an issue that was leading to people risking their lives at sea. We had to deal with that. We couldn’t just wish it away. That’s what being in government means and the fact that many people and, indeed, we have seen another tragedy in the last week where people have lost their lives. So what I want is a policy framework – I’d like to see a move back to a national consensus on this issue. I think a lot of the debate has been really unfortunate and unseemly. We had a national consensus about getting rid of the white Australia policy. We had a national consensus in dealing with the Vietnamese refugees in the late 70s and early 80s.

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Unfortunately a lot of that has broken down but I want to see – I’m opposed to the people smugglers’ business but I want people, as well, to be treated compassionately in accordance with our law and international law.

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN: We can Labor needs to very clearly re-state, as I believe we have but I I’m not sure everyone has heard us, so we have got to to re-state it very clearly, that we support immigration in this country. Other than Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, we all came here by boat or by plane and we need to be a party who says “We are not pulling up the ladder after we are here”. We need to say that we do recognise that Australia does best as we have a big view of ourselves. It was the Labor Party up to the Second World War who welcomed refugees from southern and eastern Europe. That was to our advantage and some of you in this room will have parents or grandparents who came here because of that Labor plan. Labor needs to, I think, re-state our conviction that we believe in immigration and within that, we believe in family reunion delivering us immigrants, skilled migration delivering us immigrants and refugees. We need to make it very clear so that we don’t get pinged on the left, that we are actually a party who believes in bringing refugees to Australia. There is a lot of refugees who not only might be our next Albert Einstein but just might be a good taxpayer or a good neighbour. This country should bring more refugees to Australia.

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

BILL SHORTEN: But we shouldn’t – and that’s why I agree with what Anthony said then and I think the government did some good work in the last few weeks before the election – we can’t stand by and allow people smugglers to put people at risk at sea and people drown.

TONY JONES: I am going to do a quick follow-up here and if you could answer briefly that would be good, but would a Bill Shorten future government like to see a huge expansion of immigration, just based on what you just said?

BILL SHORTEN: I do believe that immigration levels can go up. I think this country, we are a very lucky peoples in Australia. We get to occupy a whole continent. Now, I get that lots of Australia is, you know, old and lots of Australia is environmentally fragile but, as a nation, we don’t go backwards by immigration. So no doubt tomorrow I will get all the hate mails from people who will say, you know, “You don’t understand”. I do understand. Immigration has been a plus for us and we should be certainly, as a party, being seen to be pro-immigration and pro increasing it.


BILL SHORTEN: Making sure people go to wherever it is sustainable for infrastructure and support but we are an immigrant country and we shouldn’t ever hide from our destiny.

TONY JONES: Okay. I’m just going to quickly go back to Anthony Albanese on this. To my right here we’ve just heard the possibility of a future Labour Government seeing a huge expansion of the immigration program. Would you accept that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think you are paraphrasing Bill there, Tony.

TONY JONES: Well, that was the question. He certainly didn’t deny it.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Look, I don’t have a fixed view on it. I think there are times, depending upon economic circumstances, where immigration numbers should go up and there are times where they should reduce. You shouldn’t have just a fixed number. You need also to make sure that we get the infrastructure issues right and you also need to make sure that you have proper settlement programs, proper linking in terms of employment and skills and opportunities so that you have a successful migration system rather than being fixed on a number. I think that’s the key. We are an immigrant nation. I’ve – if I am elected leader, I will be the first person with a non-Anglo Celtic name to lead a major political party in Australia. I think that’s a good thing and funnily enough…

TONY JONES: And we’ll have to work out – we’ll have to work out whether to call you Albanese or Albanese-y, because we’ve heard both tonight.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: That’s why everyone just calls me Albo. It’s easier. So–

TONY JONES: All right. Fair enough. Is it Albanese-y.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It depends. It’s actual Al-ban-s.


ANTHONY ALBANESE: It depends where you’re from.

TONY JONES: Thank you for clearing that up, Mr Albanese.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s a very gentle s in Italian but you always use the vowel at the end. But no one says Bolognese-y, do they?

TONY JONES: No, they don’t.


TONY JONES: Let’s move on. Our next question is from…

ANTHONY ALBANESE: There you go. If you learn nothing else tonight.

TONY JONES: It is how to pronounce your name. Our next question is from Nic Coleman. Over here.

NIC COLEMAN: Good evening. Nice purple tie as well. How will you, as potential leaders of the Opposition, ensure that climate change sceptic views that are salient in the Liberal Party and in the independents do not become socially acceptable and that there is serious action against climate change?

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN: Thanks, Nic. We cannot afford to take a backward step about putting a price on carbon pollution. The science is with us and I actually think the community are with us on that. But what Labor has to do is be strong for our – what we stand for. What I hope at the next election is if Abbot and his – if the Coalition are running on their climate change scepticism that people will seek out our how-to-vote card because we actually believe it is real. We believe it’s man-made and we believe that you can take proper action on it. The other reason why we can’t afford to take a backward step is that what sort of political party would we be that if we said to the future generation, “The problem was too hard for us”? So I – you know, they say to us and journalists have said “Doesn’t Mr Abbott have a mandate to do what he has got to do?”. We’ve got a mandate too. All the people that voted for us have given us a mandate to stand true on the issue of climate change and I know that, across the party, we will.

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think part of winning the debate is ensuring that it’s not just an environmental issue, it is an economic issue. It is an environmental issue because it is about saving the planet. It’s about sustainability. But it is an economic issue because if we don’t take action, there are economic consequences. It is also an economic issue because those economies that are successful between now and the end of this century, that are most successful, are those that have moved first. First mover advantage in terms of a carbon-constrained economy. So there are real economic opportunities for job creation by tackling climate change. There are also consequences in terms of us being a part of the international community. I mean, if Tony Abbott, who has actually now got to front up to these big international forums goes along and says what he thinks about climate change, he will be laughed out of town. It will be an embarrassment saying those comments to David Cameron or Angela Merkel let alone President Obama.

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: So I think in terms of climate change, it has to be front and centre of our sustainability agenda but also our economic agenda.

TONY JONES: Quick follow up. Was it a mistake not to go back to Parliament and legislate for an Emissions Trading Scheme when you had a chance to do that a couple of months ago?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We didn’t, Tony. We didn’t have the numbers.

TONY JONES: You are absolutely sure about that, are you?


TONY JONES: What, the Greens told you they wouldn’t.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: We didn’t have the numbers.

TONY JONES: The Greens told you they wouldn’t?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: The Greens didn’t control the House of Representatives, Tony. We had 70 votes out of 150 is where we started and that was where we were at.

TONY JONES: Okee dokee. Our next question is from Rob Paparde.

ROB PAPARDE: Hi Bill, Albo. I’m a Liberal voter. You are now selling yourselves to get votes from your party faithful to become the party’s leader. Now, if successful, how are you going to sell yourselves and the party over the next three years to get my vote for you to become our country’s leader? How are you going to be able to sway me should you want to?

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten?

BILL SHORTEN: Well, first of all, Rob, I’d ask what you do and what you are interested in.

ROB PAPARDE: Well I’m interested in – I’m interested in small government, small business, enterprise and supporting people who want to basically help other people, good causes and genuine people and hard effort, the Australian way.

BILL SHORTEN: All right. What I would say to you, Rob, is what matters is the future of this country and Labor’s got the best plan for the future. Some of the things I have spoken about in this leadership campaign have been “How do we write Australia big?” and what I mean by that is Australia will only advance if we re-commit ourselves to the agendas of science, research, innovation, higher education. What that means is that you will have a smarter work force. More entrepreneurs will be able to innovate ideas from the laboratory into commercial reality. I also get that, Rob, in this country we all aspire to live longer and I think it is long overdue for us to have a debate and a discussion, how do we properly fund people’s retirement? I am not talking about superannuation in the first few years but all of us have got parents and grandparents. You see something happen to their 80s and 90s. They may have a fall and you see the spark of confidence, perhaps, dim a little more. How do we make sure we pay for people’s medical care? What I’d also say to you in this country is that this country can’t advance unless we support small business so what we have to do is make sure that our tax policies back up small business, that we are supporting small business…

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

BILL SHORTEN: …in terms of how they deal with bigger business. I think that there is plenty of opportunities for Labor to re-define our policies, because entrepreneurs and innovators are part of what will make us successful. So I think we can do it and I’ve got three years to work on your vote.

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think this process itself means that either Bill or myself will be given a springboard so that – you are here today – tonight thinking about who the next Labor leader would be and you’re thinking about your vote in 2016. If this process wasn’t happening, you’d be thinking sometime next year, most people, not yourself necessarily, thinking “Who is the Opposition Leader again?” That’s normally what happens. So this is real cut through in terms of 2016. We’ll also need to hold the Government to account and you say you are concerned with small government but I think when people actually focus on areas like the Better Schools plan and whether that’s actually being implemented, the consequences whereby straight after the Federal election, we had or during it we had Colin Barnett say there were going to be cuts in terms of teachers aides being chopped out of the system. I think people do want good services as well, whether it be education, whether it be health, whether it be dealing with urban congestion. In this city, like others, they’ll be worried about the lack of investment in urban transport infrastructure and that, I think, provides us with a real framework going forward. So our job is to hold the new government to account, to draw into attention the fact that, in many respects, they don’t have detailed…

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …policies out there but also for us to advance our alternative. This process means that a lot of the work that’s been done, we are essentially cramming a year’s work into a month. That’s a good thing.

TONY JONES: Okay. We are coming to the end of the program. Our last question, I’m sorry to say, is from Lucy Moyle.

LUCY MOYLE: Hello. It appears that the Republican views present and even characteristic of the Keating era are somewhat diminished, as evident by the ALP pledging support for the Australian flag at the 2013 election launch. But under your respective leaderships, how would the ALP further approach the Republican debate? Would you increase its relevance or would you leave the party to fully support the constitutional monarchy?

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten.

BILL SHORTEN: In my first speech I gave in the Parliament, I said I foresee a time when Australia will become a republic. I do believe in this term of Opposition it is timely to start talking about what would a Republic look like. This Labor Party that I represent needs to be a strong party. People need to know what we stand for. To be clear, I don’t actually support changing our flag but in terms of our Constitutional monarchy, vis-à-vis a Republic, I believe we do need the start laying the groundwork to educate people that moving toward a Republic is a good idea, not a bad idea.

TONY JONES: You’d like to put your mother-in-law out of a job?

BILL SHORTEN: She does a good job and I am not going to talk about the work that she does directly.

TONY JONES: Sure. Anthony Albanese?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I think this is an area of consensus in the Labor Party in terms of there might be one or two but not too many. I think there is an agreement that this is a part of a modern Australia. I think we do need to have more of the debate. I’m a bit of a minimalist, for example, in terms of the sort of Republic. I would be concerned about duelling powers between a Prime Minister and a popularly-elected President. But I do think that we need more debate about these issues. I think it is inevitable that Australia will move to a Republic and I think that, in terms of the flag, I think that’s a very separate question. I don’t support changing the flag. I think that the issue of a modern Australian Republic though is something that’s time has come and it will happen, before or after gay marriage.

TONY JONES: Very briefly, do either of you have a timetable in mind if you manage to come back to government? Would it be something you put at the forefront of your agenda, and I will start with you, since you were talking.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, I think in terms of you need to make sure that we don’t lose another referendum. So there needs to be, I think, a lot more community debate and community consensus before you would risk, in my view, going to a referendum. But obviously there is not going to be a referendum whilst Tony Abbott is the Prime Minister. So the first step is get myself or Bill elected in 2016 and as part of that…

TONY JONES: All right. Okay.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: …the next step is to put a timetable for a debate and a referendum. Myself, I think it would be worthwhile having a two-stage process. The first stage is do you want a republic, yes or no, and then have a debate about process.

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten, would you put this at the top of your agenda if you were the Prime Minister of Australia?

BILL SHORTEN: 5% of politics, in my opinion, happens in Canberra. 95% happens outside of Canberra. In order to make a change in Canberra, be it something as significant as the Constitution or, indeed major issues of policy even, you’ve got to lay the groundwork with people. So I think the challenge is to talk and work with people in communities to get them to understand the benefits. Until that happens, you are just engaging in some sort of ego trip or theoretical exercise. Until the work is done to educate people about the pros and cons of becoming a Republic, I think anyone who made a promise beyond that…


BILL SHORTEN: …is just kidding themselves.

TONY JONES: All right. That was our last question for tonight. Before we finish, each panellist will have one minute to sum up their case of becoming Labor leader. A coin toss has determined the order of the speakers. Anthony Albanese will go first.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’m standing on a platform of vision, unity and strength for the Labor leadership. My vision is around four themes for the Labor Party to emphasise: jobs and a strong economy. That means not just defending jobs but the jobs of the future, new use of innovation, creativity; the second is opportunity. That means, of course, education but it also means opportunity in terms of expanding Labor’s base to small business, to contractors, to making sure that the self-employed feel they have a voice in modern Labor; the third area is sustainability, which must go right across our political approach to all issues; and the fourth is a fair go for all. I also think that I can bring unity to the party. As someone who was Leader of the House in a very difficult Parliament over the last three years, I demonstrated an ability to get support from a Parliament where you needed to get Adam Bandt and Bob Katter on the same page and we carried almost 600 pieces of legislation.

TONY JONES: That’s a minute.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I think in terms of strength, I think my capacity of being both in government and in opposition for the 12 long years of the Howard government positions me in that I know how to operate in opposition and I look forward to working in whatever capacity after this democratic process is concluded.

TONY JONES: Bill Shorten? Your minute starts now.

BILL SHORTEN: I believe that the way the Labor Party becomes relevant to the future of Australia is by us focusing on what matters in the future, the big ideas. I believe that the Labor Party can do this through reforming the party, making it open and more accessible, by our policies, by making sure that we are talking about the issues that will matter to the future of people. Be it making life easier for small business, be it the proper provision of dental care, be it tackling tough issues which no one ever talks about, like domestic violence, by being a brave party, by talking about issues which go our future, such as science, research and innovation. For myself, if I was leader, you will hear less about I and more about the team. My particular skill that I bring is how to turn an idea which doesn’t have support into an outcome, how to turn a minority into a majority, how to make sure that we campaign outside of Parliament. I don’t believe there any swinging votes in the Parliament of Australia but there is over a million people. If the Labor Party gets its party right, gets its policies right and connects with the people of Australia by reaching out then Labor can win the next election and be relevant to the future lives of all Australians. Thank you.

TONY JONES: And that’s all we have time for tonight. Please thank our guests, Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese. Well done Albo.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well done to you too Tony.

TONY JONES: It’s a pleasure.


TONY JONES: Thank you, very much.

TONY JONES: And a very special thanks to our Perth audience and your terrific questions. Please give yourselves a round of applause, if you don’t mind. Thank you. Now, the Labor leadership will be decided within a fortnight but the leadership of the nation was, of course, decided on September 7 and we should just state for the record we have renewed our invitation for the new Prime Minister Tony Abbott to join us on Q&A. We hope that he will be here to face your questions soon.