Minister Shorten doorstop interview to discuss Community Cabinet and government services



BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Good afternoon, everybody. It's great to be here at the front of Services Australia South Hedland office with some of the marvelous people who provide support for vulnerable members of our community. I'm Bill Shorten, I'm part of the Albanese Government Cabinet visit to Port Hedland and I wanted to see for myself how government services are helping people.

It's been very inspirational to meet some, despite their youthful appearance, long standing staff of Services Australia. And I've been really moved by their commitment to helping people in their community, not only in Hedland but also in remote communities. So it's been an eye opener and I'm really impressed by what a small bunch of people do to help such an important part of our population here in the Pilbara.

I might ask one or two of the staff to say a few words and I can take any questions you might have. This visit is like taking a photo in time. I get it's not a 365 day a year visit. So it has its limitations. I appreciate. But you've been here. This is a stage manager I'm just getting a chance to thank. I'm getting a chance to thank hardworking public servants. Saying thank you sometimes goes a fair way. And I've now made some more invaluable on the ground context. So when we're forming policy at the national level, I might just give a ring just to check how and what we should do. So it's very impressive.


You make a great point. A country isn't as rich as its richest person. It's as rich as its poorest people. It's no good. Some people moving ahead and others being left behind. But the Albanese government is committed to both. We want to see people aspire to do well, to set up businesses. To make a living. To be able to have dreams and hopes and fulfill them. But we also want to make sure that we have a decent safety net in this country. The previous government ran a thing called Robodebt. It was an unlawful debt raising scheme against half a million of its own citizens. It was completely illegal. The previous government, I'm afraid to say, had a view about two Australias and if you are receiving the safety net, somehow you were a second class Aussie.


I don't have that view. So I think that there's always more to be done. But we will get the blend right. We want to grow the pie. We also want to make sure that everyone's getting at least some share of it. That's what needs to be done here. That's what's sort of next. The last thing the Pilbara needs is a wise man from the East, you know, on a three day trip just saying we need X and Y. But one thing I do know is that we need to listen to local communities. The solutions for the future of the Pilbara are here in the Pilbara. There are people who've sunk their roots here, who raise their families, pay their taxes, work hard.

We've got a tremendous wealth of personal capacity in our remote settlements and we've just got to be better at listening to and empowering people. If you give people control over their own lives, then in my experience that's the best tide to lift all boats. So listening is crucial. This is the first time that a Federal Commonwealth Cabinet has met in regional Western Australia and indeed the first time ever it's met in Port Hedland. Four per cent of the nation's GDP goes through the port here. But it's not just that there's the wealth and people, there's the wealth in working with our First Australians who've got the longest continuing connection to country of any people in the world. So I think we should always remember in politics you have one mouth and two ears and that should be the ratio. You do your listening, to talking to listen more than you talk and you'll probably learn more. Well, good. Thank you.