SKY NEWS – AM AGENDA
THURSDAY, 30 MAY 2019
SUBJECTS: Labor caucus meeting, shadow ministry
KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Joining me now Labor frontbencher Stephen Jones. Mr. Jones, thanks very much for time. In relation to Jim Chalmers, first up: It's important that Labor has a senior Queenslander as part of this rebuilding effort. That's fair to say, isn't it?
STEPHEN JONES MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS: Yeah look, Jim's been an excellent advocate for Queensland and an excellent advocate for Labor. I think people saw him throughout the course of the campaign, raised his profile enormously. He'll have a very senior role for us, I'm confident after next week.
GILBERT: And in relation to what portfolios when, when do we know from Anthony Albanese? Would it be at the weekend is that most likely?
JONES: So what'll happen to day Kieran, we'll have our Caucus meeting at 12:00 today. We will formally select our frontbench team. That's a list that goes to Anthony and Anthony will make a decision about what portfolios go where. So he's got some nice problems to deal with, there's a lot of talent there and I expected they'll be a mixture of experience and new faces coming forward.
GILBERT: Well, you do need to refresh as Jim Chalmers said. What's the mood like? It must be very disappointing given you thought that you'd be in Government this week.
JONES: Look, let's not beat around the bush. We had dinner with some of our colleagues last night, some of the newer members were there which gave us a bit of a cheer up, but there's no doubt that people are very despondent about the loss. Many of us thought that we were a very good chance that didn't turn out to be the case. We've now got to go through the long, hard process of reviewing our policy, our personnel to ensure that we're competitive at the next election, but one thing you can be confident of: We're not going to drop the towel. We are going to be from the very first day of Parliament, and before, ensuring that we keep this Government to account. A Government the talks about a mandate but doesn't have one, because they took no policies to the election and we'll be keeping them to account and be proposing alternative policies for the Australian people to consider.
GILBERT: And instead of, we won't drill into the detail of policy just today because obviously you've got to finalize your team first up. But in a general sense, do you need to focus more, do you need to address the concerns of aspirational voters?
JONES: Look there's no doubt that we were sending messages to middle Australia that 'Labor thinks we want you to stay in your place.' There's no doubt that those messages were going out there and we've got to review that. The formal process is Kieran, after an election loss, all policies are on the table. Everything is up for review and we will do that. Let's sort out the personnel first and then we'll go through the arduous process of policy review. Anthony has already indicated that he wants to do a tour of the country, a listening tour to hear directly from voters about what went wrong and what they would like to see Labor focus on but we won't step away from those core Labor values of prosecuting the case for fairness, for dignity, for workers in the workplace, for people who want to make a go...
GILBERT: Well the fairness element, you know, if you look at when you've been successful in the past, fairness has been one component. But if you look at any of your successful Governments in the last couple of decades, there has been another component and that's been about growing the economy, about providing opportunity for aspirational voters, those that want to get ahead, and that was not there this time.
JONES: That's absolutely the case and I think Anthony said a few times: we got to spend more time talking about how we're going to grow the pie as opposed to redistribute it and that will be core. I think that was there to be fair in many of our policies but they got buried underneath some of the other rhetoric and we've got to look at not only what the policy looks like, but how we talk about them and that's what Anthony is listening to and what it'll be about over the months to come. We got a lot of work to do. It was a humiliating defeat for Labor. Let's not get away from that. We don't intend to have another one in three years time.
GILBERT: Is it really a place for Bill Shorten given he was the front-man for that humiliating defeat.
JONES: Bill is an incredibly talented Parliamentarian. He's been a Minister and a Shadow Minister in the past. I think there is a place for him on our frontbench and he's got a contribution to make and I'm certain that he will show the sort of solidarity and loyalty to Anthony that he enjoyed over his period as the leader of the Labor Party.
GILBERT: Some of the ways the Labor party goes about putting its team together can be very clunky to say the least, you know with the factions choosing who will be their representatives and sometimes you don't always get the best people on the frontbench, most notably in this last 24 hours while Kristina Keneally has strong support within the party. So does Ed Husic, and he's had to stand aside?
JONES: Yeah. Look, I'm not going to lecture my colleagues on their decision-making processes. My group has got a bit more flexibility about the way that they deal with that. Ed's a great mate and a great contributor and I sincerely hope that the Labor Party finds a way to get him back in a prominent role as soon as possible.
GILBERT: He's one of your best communicators.
JONES: He's a very good communicator.
GILBERT: And you need that in politics.
JONES: Absolutely. No doubt that somebody like Ed, not somebody like Ed. There is absolutely no doubt that there is a role for Ed Husic in a prominent role within the Labor party.
GILBERT: When you've got more flexibility, your left faction chooses on a nationwide basis basically all the left together as opposed to the right faction, which does it on a state-by-state basis, whereas if you have some, you know, better representatives or you know stronger advocates in one state you can have more.
JONES: Look I think we need to find a way to ensure we bring the best people forward from whatever state they come from, whatever groups they come from within the party. I think it's important that as a Labor party. We have the best team which represents the nation, represents both on gender, on geography, on different viewpoints. We need to have a place in a big tent to represent the country.
GILBERT: Stephen Jones we wish all the best it's obviously tough day for many of you as you get back into Caucus, but it's three years of toil ahead. We wish you all the best for it. Thanks.
JONES: Good to be with you Kieran.