SUBJECT/S: Election 2016
KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: With me now the Labor frontbencher Michelle Rowland. First of all congratulations on winning the seat of Greenway again. There were suggestions that the Liberal Party were pretty confident in your seat but you held on.
MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURALISM: Thanks Kieran, I'm very grateful and very humbled for being returned and I really thank the people of Greenway again for returning me to the Parliament and it's an honour and a privilege to represent them.
GILBERT: What was the key issue that got, not just you across the line but it's being described now, a bit of a fortress New South Wales, in terms of the various wins across western Sydney. I think the only western Sydney seat where there was a swing to the government was Craig Laundy's seat in the seat of Reid.
ROWLAND: Kieran, I think there were very strong campaigns run all across New South Wales. The issue of Medicare, protecting our health system, wanting to invest in education, wanting to invest in vocational education and wanting to build a real National Broadband Network were all issues that resonated certainly across Greenway and I think across all of Western Sydney. And I think for all of Malcolm Turnbull's rhetoric about jobs and growth, when everyone looked around no-one could explain from the Liberal Party exactly what they were going to do for our local area. So I think all these things combined, in addition I must say the tens of thousands of volunteers who haven't only been involved in the campaign, not only on polling day either, but in the months preceding the election. This victory is really due to their dedication and I'm very grateful to all of them on behalf of the Labor Party.
GILBERT: What did you make of the talk the day after the election about a possible challenge to Mr Shorten's leadership? I know that the rules governing the Labor Party put in place by Kevin Rudd said that there's only one window to do it after the election but given that you've basically pushed the government likely into a minority government, how does anyone come to the thinking that they should challenge the Labor leader?
ROWLAND: There was one political leader in this country who went to bed last night secure in the confidence in his party as leader and that was Bill Shorten. If anyone should be concerned about their position here, it is one person only, and that is Malcolm Turnbull. I will be astounded if he survives for any lengthy period of time, who knows what will happen. We'll let the AEC do their jobs but already the recriminations are out in the Liberal Party, the recriminations are out in the community, he ran a campaign that failed. He didn't take responsibility for it on election night. He gave the most ungracious post-election speech I have ever witnessed and in that he took no responsibility, he didn't say the buck stops with me, he didn't thank people, he didn't offer any opportunity for a way forward and I think that this speaks volumes about the real Malcolm. This guy started off full of promise, full of his own self-importance, and at the end of it, it's been his own hubris that has brought him undone.
GILBERT: Well let's say you're right in all of that, and I guess many people would agree with your assessment on that performance on the weekend, but why then, and I know for a fact senior figures in the party were talking about the prospect of a challenge to Bill Shorten, how do you explain that? Do you think there's any possibility of that happening?
ROWLAND: I would say there is zero possibility of that happening.
GILBERT: But why would there be discussion of it as early as the morning after, given that Bill Shorten, as you say, was so successful in pushing this Prime Minister and this government to the brink of minority government?
ROWLAND: I haven't heard any discussion about that at all, Kieran. I would be amazed if any such discussions are being held. But I can say one thing for certain, the only person who should be worried about his job as leader is Malcolm Turnbull.
GILBERT: So if there was to be a challenge, Bill Shorten would win comfortably with the rank and file and the parliamentary party.
ROWLAND: I have no doubt.
GILBERT: Do you feel a bit unhappy about the way this result has been tarnished for Labor by that text message that was sent to voters, we're not sure how many voters received it, but it was fairly widely received in Queensland, this Medicare message sent via the name Medicare, it's fraudulent isn't it?
ROWLAND: I have very limited knowledge of the details, Kieran. The only thing I do know is that it wasn't sent from the national campaign. But let's be clear here, it was an election about the future of Medicare. This isn't some fly by night issue that's sprung up at the last minute. In fact this is an issue that Labor had been prosecuting for three years in the Parliament.
GILBERT: That's true but to send something reportedly on behalf of Medicare to people as they're going to the ballot box that's fraudulent and misleading.
ROWLAND: I can't answer that Kieran. I have very limited knowledge of the details. All I know is that this formed the centrepiece of Malcolm Turnbull's ungracious speech on election night and so be it.
GILBERT: And just finally, what are the prospects right now of minority Labor Government and would you welcome that or is it better in a sense to let Malcolm Turnbull try and struggle ahead with the difficulties of managing a crossbench given your recent history shows how tough that is?
ROWLAND: Kieran, Bill Shorten is a consensus builder. I know that he has been reaching out to the Independents who will be taking their seats in the Parliament. I don't think we should get ahead of ourselves though, we need to let the AEC do their job, we need to see where we are placed, we're not even having any counting come through today so I think we need to let them do their job but certainly Bill's interests and Labor's interests are the best interests of the country so obviously we would welcome the opportunity to form a government but we have to wait and see what the result will be.
GILBERT: Michelle Rowland we'll talk to you soon, the newly re-elected Member for Greenway. Thanks once again.