Transcript: Interview with Jon Faine, 774 ABC, 6 February, 2012

06 February 2012

  yesterday's caucus meeting, leadership speculation


JON FAINE:  It's almost comical, isn't it?  That's Mike [Symon] arriving at Parliament House and meeting the media pack who have all been sent out by their chiefs of staff with one thing in question.  They've been told go out and get a grab that suggests Julia Gillard is on her last legs.

Bill Shorten is the Assistant Treasurer, one of those who installed Julia Gillard.  We'll speak to the Opposition in a moment as well but Mr Shorten has been all weekend furiously trying to shore up support for Julia Gillard. Bill Shorten, good
morning to you.

BILL SHORTEN:     John, good morning.  I haven't been furiously trying to do anything.  This…

JON FAINE:  It won't go away, will it, this speculation?

BILL SHORTEN:     John, I think for people out there beyond the belt way, the easiest way to understand this is do you remember in 1999 we were told that we all had to have Y2K protection programs because as of 1 January the computer systems of the world were going to crash?  Then we woke up on January 1, 2000, perhaps some of us with a hangover, and the computers were still working, the clocks turned over.  This is a hoax.

JON FAINE:  But why do you think there's this - I mean, it's almost as if it's becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

BILL SHORTEN:     Well, it's not.

JON FAINE:  If enough people say Julia Gillard is wobbling, does she start to wobble?

BILL SHORTEN:     No, because the point is at the end of the day you've got to have some substance to it.  I don't want to kick along these speculations for another day but I do feel an obligation just to clarify for listeners there might be half a dozen people who are unhappy with her.  They anonymously talk to the press.  The media gallery, because, I don't know, it's summer and they don't have other stories, get pretty worked up about this.  But what I'm saying to you is that - and to your listeners - is that the Government, ministers, backbenchers, are focused on the big issues of 2012.

That includes making sure that we get our legislation through.  That includes making sure that we focus on jobs.  The Prime Minister last week announced a much greater emphasis on skills.  In the future, the issues of an ageing population, the rise of Asia and the extra customers that brings us…

JON FAINE:  [Interrupts] Sure, all of those things, but…

BILL SHORTEN:     [Interrupts] But when you say sure, that's actually what we are working on, that's what the Australian people…

JON FAINE:  But you have to tell your story better if you're going to overcome some of the doubts, don't you?

BILL SHORTEN:     Yes but we also need not to be sucked in by the hoax and, you know, I loved it.  So you know, some TV stations were breathlessly running, it's a crisis meeting.  Well, I can tell you it was more meeting than crisis.  It was the appropriate start of the year planning session, hearing what's going on, where's the focus of the Government.  Our narrative is jobs, it's skills, it's social justice such as the National Stability Insurance Scheme.  It's lifting superannuation retirements.

JON FAINE:  Okay.  Don't you have to have it out with the gutless ones who are prepared to go round talking but not do anything about it?

BILL SHORTEN:     I'm not going to get into name-calling but I do think the gallery has got a - or if they don't identify themselves it's a little hard to do anything…

JON FAINE:  You know who they are?

BILL SHORTEN:     No, I don't.  The journalists don't give up their sources.  One thing which I've noticed in all of this stuff is there's breathless unnamed source says X, an unnamed source says Y.  You know, how do you wrestle with
smoke?  The best way - and the Prime Minister and indeed Bob Hawke spoke to us last night - the best way that a Labor Government governs is by being united and by focusing on the issues which families are facing, such as making ends meet.

JON FAINE:  I'm indebted to you for your time and undoubtedly we'll speak again soon.  Thank you.  Bill Shorten, Assistant Treasurer and one of the key Gillard supporters.