Interviewer: Some of your critics have said that you used the
mine rescue drama as an excuse to get your head on television. How do you react
to that? Beaconsfield
BS: Well, this is the sort of personal smear which the Far Right like to indulge in.
Int: Personal smear?
BS: Sure. It isn’t my fault I’ve got a big head shaped like a peanut. It is something I’ve learned to live with, of course, but it hasn’t been easy. At school, for instance, I couldn’t participate in a lot of organised sports, which was very depressing for a little Aussie battler. I mean, I’m more Australian than Abbott and look at him: he wants people to earn take responsibility for their own lives, which is about as un-Australian as you can get, and he played rugby, does boxing, swimming, cycling, triathlons …
Int: Well, its not that big, surely you could have played some sports. What about cricket?
BS: Nah, no good.
Int: It was no good?
BS: No, I was no good. I kept getting hit in the head and the school didn’t have a helmet big enough, which is exactly why we have to stop this Far Right ideologue Abbott from slashing $80 billion from education funding. If schools don’t get that money …
Int: Okay, we’ll get to the politics later. If we could just continue on this theme: cricket was out, what about swimming.
BS: No good. I tried. I’m a little Aussie battler. Tried my heart out, but it just didn’t work.
Int: You couldn’t swim?
BS: No, no. It was the bow wave.
Int: Created too much resistance and slowed you down?
BS: Nah, the wash from the bow wave kept knocking the other kid’s eggs off their spoons. They complained and had me kicked out.
Int: That must have been a painful experience for a young child, how did you deal with it?
BS: Well, it was painful, but in a way it was the incident, or the conflict resolution skills it taught me, that made me realise that the union movement would be my life’s calling.
Int: You have said that bringing parties together was a speciality of yours. Was this the start of you developing that skill set?
BS: No. I found out where the other kids lived, rode over on my bike and left a spoon and a broken egg outside their front door. They got the message pretty quick, I think.
Int: Yes, well, back to sport. You mention the Prime Minister was a boxer. Surely that could have been something you could have tried?
BS: Nah. With this head? No, it wasn’t something I was interested in anyway. I’m a sensitive man. I abhor violence, well, on a personal level. If there is a matter in dispute I’d prefer to resolve it by negotiation. If I can’t do it, I’ll often call on some friends to fix it and make the other party see sense.
Int: That sounds …
BS: It’s the Labor way. The union way because what you get from the union movement – a movement that lies at the heart of all that is good about vis country – is honesty. There is no deceit, no playing games: it is a movement that prides itself on calling a shovel a shovel.
Int: Just to digress for a moment and follow up a point you mentioned just there about honesty in the union movement: the Royal Commision into Union Corruption …
BS: It’s a witch hunt. Nothing but a witch hunt perpetrated an extreme right wing Prime Minister afraid to face us on a level playing field.
Int: A witch hunt?
BS: It is designed purely to smear the name of a great Australian Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. It is designed to hunt down Gillard, ergo it is a witch hunt.
Int: Hhmm. An interesting juxtaposition, but they are your words and if you are happy to speak them I’m happy to let them stand. Just on the issue of the spoken word, I notice your speech impediment has disappeared: have you been having therapy for it?
BS: Speech impediment?
Int: Yes. You know, vis and vat, the fankless task vat is an opposition leader’s lot, but you are fankful for ve support of ve member for Kingsford-Smith Matt Fisslefwaite?
BS: Oh, that! Ve fankful fing? Nah, that’s just a put on to enhance my working class credentials. I mean, let’s be honest: middle class parents, fee-paying private school Jesuit education, Arts/Law degree, Union career, triple figure salary – not to mention the Super board fees - never done an honest day’s work in my life: what worker in his right mind is going to think I can relate to him? Never going to happen.
Int: Hhmm, I see, but why the speech thing? Why not just get a job on the production line for a few years?
BS: Well, basically, if I was a manual labourer or process worker I’d never get ALP pre-selection. Obviously though, I needed some way to connect to the people who make the thingimajiggies and doo-dahs and things, so I went for the speech thing.
Int: You think that has endeared you to Labor voters?
BS: For sure. Everybody knows that your actual worker isn’t that smart, so if I say ‘fink’ and ‘fank’ it is only natural that they are going to think I’m the same as them. It’s a pretty simple concept, but let’s face it, when you are dealing with ALP voters you aren’t exactly going up against rocket scientists.
Int: Er, hhmm. Well, we’d best leave it there Mr Shorten. The next time we speak we’ll look at the origin of some of the nicknames you’ve picked up over your working life. Names such as Showbag Bill, Dicky Knee …
BS: What? Dicky Knee? I’ve never been called that. Where the fuck did you get that from?
Int: Oh. Er, it was common currency among the media pack during the whole
thing. Every time there was a camera turned on, your head kept bobbing up and
down in front of it like, erm, well, Dicky Knee. I thought you knew about it …
everybody else did. Beaconsfield
BS: No, I didn’t know about it! Which organisation do you work for?
It can’t be ABC because my mate Malcolm owns the ABC. Do you want to work in this town again? Do you want a spoon outside your door? How about some broken eggs, mate? You just watch yourself. I’m the friend of the working man. I eat fucking pies, mate, and everybody knows that pies are working man’s food. You want to give me cold pies? No working man likes cold pies, mate, and right now you are looking like a cold pie to me.
Int: Bill Shorten, thanks for your time.
BS: Fanks bruvver.