Why was Bill Shorten forced to cancel his speech?

Ross Greenwood speaks to Devenport Chamber of Commerce President Stacey Sheehan after the opposition leader was initially forced into the embarrassing cancellation in the Tasmanian by-election seat of Braddon because organisers managed to sell just 15 of the 80 tickets.

Introduction: Why was Bill Shorten forced to cancel his speech?

Ross Greenwood: Welcome back to Monday news right around Australia. Poor old Bill Shorten, what’s going on here? Business people don’t want to hear Bill Shorten speak. Now, is there any real surprise given the fact that Bill Shorten, for example, doesn’t want to hand out tax cuts or what’s he doing here? Then obviously there’s penalty rates. Bill Shorten says immediately that he becomes the prime minister, if he becomes prime minister, he’s going to repeal the penalty rates.

As a result, when he’s tried to turn up in Davenport, beautiful part of the world, I can say I know Davenport very well. He’s found out that they didn’t get enough ticket sales for his business lunch so they called it off. Now, he’s got problems because tomorrow he’s due up the road at Burnie, there’s a big business breakfast there. Anyway, somebody asked him about this today. This is what he had to say about North West Tasmania. Beautiful part of the world and the people of Davenport.

Bill Shorten: First of all if some liberal business people would rather listen to their liberal leader than the labor leader, I don’t take it personally.

Ross Greenwood: Hang on. Hang on. Liberal business people are listening to liberal– No. I don’t get that because surely if you are the Prime Minister of Australia or the potential Prime Minister of Australia, you have got to appeal to all people and surely you want business people on site. Bill doesn’t want that because he’s done everything he can to create a class w– Anyway, let’s go to Stacy Shin, who’s the president of the Davenport Chamber of Commerce. They were putting on the lunch, they’ve had to call it off. They haven’t gone ahead with the lunch, I think. Hello, Stacy. How are you?

Interview with: Stacey Sheehan,President, Devenport Chamber of Commerce

Stacey Sheehan: How are you doing?

Ross Greenwood: Jeez, I’ve got to say, now lovely lunch at the Quality Hotel Gateway. The Gateway hotel, a beautiful place. You could have taken Bill up to the, up to the lighthouse there, shown him a beautiful part of the world, Davenport. I can’t believe that he’s called it off.

Stacey Sheehan:  [laughs] Well, actually the lunch did go ahead as we suggested in. The numbers were a little bit light on to start off with particularly late last week, but at the end of the day with all the publicity we had nationally, we used that to get a surge in numbers. We ended up with close to 50 today for a business lunch.

Ross Greenwood: Close on 50?

Stacey Sheehan:  Yes.

Ross Greenwood: Did the ticket prices surge or the ticket sales surge when they found out that Bill Shorten wasn’t coming?

Stacey Sheehan:  Well, I don’t think you have the [laughs]. The concern was that, and we were all– He’s got Burnie tomorrow morning as he suggested. Both two cities are pretty close and that was discussed with Mr. Shorten’s office, but for their own reasons they decided they wanted to go to both cities.

Ross Greenwood: Now, the thing is that your area, and also Burnie for that matter, are both in the city of Breton. That’s an important area. That’s the reason why principally political leader would turn up in that area to canvas for votes. Why is it that Bill Shorten needs to get the business people in your area on site?

Stacey Sheehan:  Well, that’s probably a question to him, but the chamber’s motives to invite him were that we’re a non-partisan business group and half of our members would vote labor and half would vote liberal. It’s really important that we get those opportunities and we’re very grateful for them. We had the in town a couple of months ago speaking to the chamber members and we got Bill in today. Equally, there are people who are now liberal voters that were listening very intently to what he had to say. Despite the rocky start, it was a good lunch and he covered a couple of issues that we were concerned about but particularly around tax.

Ross Greenwood: Hang on. Bill said, apparently, that the people in your area are all liberal business people and if they didn’t want to turn up, well, bad luck for them. What happened there?

Stacey Sheehan:  I don’t know. That’s probably a question you’d have Bill Shorten. Certainly, we turned up and our members were there and interested in what he had to say. There would have been people, as I said liberal and labor side as well, all very interested. Look, I don’t know. I’m not sure why he would think that it was only liberal voters who were going to go because there’s certainly a good cross-section across.

Ross Greenwood: All right. The lunch has gone ahead, Bill Shorten is there, what was his performance like there?

Stacey Sheehan:  Well, he got up and spoke for about 15 minutes. Basically, his pitch was labor has a desire to certainty. There was a couple of questions about a regional airports because Davenport’s really just advanced. We have quite expensive flights in and out. That was one of the questions. Also on tourism, what they are going to do for tourism. Manufacturing. In the end, biosecurity. Those sorts of issues that are key to the area.

He only took questions for about 20 minutes. Didn’t require an MC. It was a good prospect of questioning on what labor was offering for the next term of government if they get in.

Ross Greenwood: I’ll tell you what, the interesting part about it, no matter which side of politics you might be on, you have got to win over the business communities in small towns such as Davenport or wherever you might go. Clearly, Bill certainly did not get the crowd that he expected in Davenport today but that does not necessarily mean he won’t keep on trying. Tell you what, Stacy Shin, the president of the Davenport Chamber of Commerce. Thank you so much for your time on the program today, Stacy.

Stacey Sheehan:  Thanks so much. Much appreciated.

 

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Image source: 2GB

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