Shorten engages with Lismore people at town hall

Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Darren Coyne

Thankfully the media conference was brief.

Nobody wants to listen to politicians at the best of times, let alone a pack of journalists when free sandwiches have just been served up outside.

Bill Shorten, Labor’s hope of wresting the Prime Minister’s mantle from Malcolm Turnbull, was in Lismore yesterday, working hard to portray himself as a man of the people.

And he was more interested in answering questions from voters, spending two hours discussing a range of issues, then setting aside just five minutes for local media.

Flanked by Labor’s Richmond MP Justine Elliott and former Page MP, and candidate Janelle Saffin, Shorten congratulated the crowd for turning out, describing Lismore voters as politically aware, and claiming the underdog tag from the government.

In the wide-ranging question and answer session, the Labor leader dealt with a range of issues including the National Disability Insurance Scheme, climate change policy and mining, renewable energy, refugees and free trade agreements.

He pointed out that Labor had introduced the concept of a NDIS, only to have the Coalition government scale it back.

He said prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was more interested in in his own popularity and when to call an election, rather than tackling real issues.

Mr Shorten made it clear that Labor would be adopting an old-style approach of electioneering by engaging with voters at town hall style meetings where all questions would be welcomed.

He described Janelle Saffin as a ‘trusted, known quantity in the seat of Page’ saying voters did not know where Nationals MP sits.

‘The National Party are the brothers-in-arms to the Liberal party and then they try to hide themselves up here in Richmond and Page and try to say they are standing up to the government,’ he said.

‘Nine out of the ten poorest electorates are held by the National Party, which says a lot.

‘If you want a fighter then you should always be on side with the underdog.’

Mr Shorten described the voters of the Page electorate as ‘politically switched on’.

‘If we are to restore faith in Australian politics Labor and Liberal need to go out and talk to the people,’ he said.

‘The path to Canberra is through 100 of these town hall meetings.

Speaking on changes to the voting system which could make it more difficult for micro-parties and independents, Mr Shorten took swipe at the Greens.

‘The Greens have been conned by the Liberals. If we had this voting system Tony Abbott would have had a majority in the Senate and we would already have a 15 per cent GST,’ he said.

‘When it comes to political preference, people considering voting Green must understand that their votes could go to the Liberal party,’ he said.

He promised that schools would be properly funded and there would be no cuts to health.

As well, first home-buyers would have a level playing field with property owners buying their seventh investment property.

Mr Shorten said Labor was committed to having 50 per cent renewable energy by 2050, and would be shutting coal mines to achieve the aim.


3 responses to “Shorten engages with Lismore people at town hall”

  1. Len Heggarty says:

    We are ready to go. Ready
    The light is red. The engine is labouring as we blip the accelerator.
    Roarr. Roarrr, The Tacho rises and falls at 4000 revs.
    Our knuckles turn white as this is white-knuckle action.
    This is an election campaign.
    We depress the clutch and engage first gear bring the pedal back up a bit just to feel the inching of forward motion. Roar, Roar.
    The light turns green.
    Snarrrlll and the tyres spin as we are thrust back into the seat as the campaign begins.

  2. John Drysdale says:

    Was Darren actually at the meeting or did he just cobble this together from other reports?
    Bill Shorten specifically said Labor would NOT be shutting coal mines although he acknowledged that there would be many in the room who wanted them to.

  3. Craig says:

    What a liar. Greens preferences have ALWAYS gone to Labor.
    Not only that, Labor have been all for the senate reforms until just 2 months ago when they started to use the issue to attack the Greens. They are scared and rightly so.
    Labor have voted with disgusting LNP policy 36% or the time, The Greens, just 6%.
    Labor have voted with the LNP to continue to lock up asylum seeker and jail doctors who report abuse.
    Labor have voted with LNP to bomb Syria without debate.
    Labor have voted with LNP for mandatory data retention.
    The list goes on and on. The lies go on and on.

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