BIG READ: Bill Shorten faces the music over Labor defeat
BILL Shorten returned to the Queensland seat Labor should have won to find out why his party came up 1111 votes short of victory.
And the message couldn't have been clearer.
People are fed up with major party politics. They are sick of politicians speaking and not listening.
They are tired of politicians coming up from Canberra for a day, promising the world and delivering bugger all.
They want to see action on jobs, youth unemployment, and a plan for Australia that is beyond a two or three word slogan.
In a region battling double digit youth unemployment, the closure of shops and even a major tourist resort, they wanted to know what Labor planned to offer the worker worried about putting food on the table.
Mr Shorten fronted a forum in the marginal seat of Capricornia, retained by the LNP's Michelle Landry, where he acknowledged the rise of support for other candidates tapping into dissatisfaction with Labor and the LNP.
About 70 people turned up. But after the longest election campaign in decades, the Labor leader was grateful for every one of them.
As he took questions from the floor - three at a time - Mr Shorten made it clear he was more interested in listening to ordinary Australian viewpoints than espousing his ideas.
A coal mining worker, made redundant at 59, told of how he had been offered little support from Centrelink in trying to set up a business because he had too many assets.
Another spoke out about the casualisation of (Capricorn) resort staff who had all been told to reapply for their jobs - only to lose them later.
Mr Shorten was told how local jobs had been replaced with overseas workers on 457 visas at a meatworks.
"Times are hard. I really would like you to have a look at that if you could,'' the worker said.
"Send some of those people home until economic times pick up again.''
Mr Shorten faced a biting question on Nauru where Labor's advocacy for asylum seekers was described as being no better than that of the government's Peter Dutton or Scott Morrison.
He was told how broadband was better in Cambodia than in Central Queensland, while workers looking after children were paid appallingly.
If there was one recurring theme, that Mr Shorten acknowledged, Australian politics had to be driven from the 'bottom up' - not the top down.
"I'm very conscious of the bigger point you're making,'' he told the first questioner asking him about the lack of jobs and infrastructure for resource-rich northern Australia.
"The communities want to have politics and politicians representing their issues to the national stage,'' Mr Shorten said.
So what's Bill Shorten's plan to create jobs?
The Labor leader said he believed the best way for the federal government to create jobs was not to cut taxes for banks and businesses, but to invest billions in public infrastructure.
During the mining boom, he said there had been about an extra $100 billion in capital investment which generated jobs.
Since 2012, however, there had been about $25 billion a year less being spent.
He said state and federal governments had to step in to fill that gap to get the economy going again.
"If we want to find that extra growth which allows revenues to increase, more jobs, a rising tide that lifts all boats… it's hard to walk past public infrastructure.''
"That's why I get annoyed when I hear this government talk about the Northern Australia Fund."It's not the worst idea in the world, it's just that nothing's happened.
"These guys have got back in. They didn't do much in the first three years. We are going to be on their case to do something in the next three years because what we need is that extra drive in our infrastructure.
"When the economy is a bit average, it is up to the state and federal governments to work together to push projects along.''
Shorten blasts use of cheap overseas labour
The former Australian Workers Union national secretary vowed to turn up the heat on Malcolm Turnbull on workers being exploited and Aussies being replaced by cheaper overseas labour.
He said it was appalling that 7-Eleven 'backslided' on the deal it made to properly investigate the exploitation of its workers.
"If shonky employers think that just because Mr Turnbull carries on about bagging unions that Labor is not going to stand up for workers being exploited or Australians not getting priority in jobs, they have got another thing coming to them.''
Mr Shorten said he believed what was driving some of the disaffection with politics in Australia was a growing sense of inequality -the gap between the rich and poor.
"We have to jealously guard our safety net of conditions, including wages (and redundancies).
How will Australia continue to afford Medicare?
Mr Shorten said it was nonsense to say Australia could not afford Medicare because workers were already paying for it through the Medicare levy.
He said many workers had actually foregone wage rises in the mid 1980s to help the second iteration of Medicare be introduced.
'Australian people have paid for it, not once but twice.''
He said Australian productivity would not come through attacking working conditions.
"The best way to deal with the alienation and dissatisfaction with politics is to make sure we have greater equality in this country.
"A fair society is a productive society.
"A society where you can afford to go and see the doctor, where you get paid reasonably to work, where you are getting your superannuation.
"A fair society actually enhances economic activity. It builds the middle class.''
"A society where an older Australian, who's 59, can get a bit of a leg-up to have another crack for another decade, that is a fair society.''
"Where you've got youth unemployment, of the sort of numbers we see in this area, that is not a fair society.''
"Where you see the work visa system being ripped off and rorted, that is not a fair society.''
At the end of the forum, Mr Shorten vowed to come up with better policies to take to the next election which incorporated the views of ordinary Australians with real issues.
"Whenever I do a public meeting, come and listen, there's always things that surprise me.
"I'm giving myself a tick for turning up because you've taught me stuff I wouldn't have known if I hadn't come here.
"What I can promise you is this, we're not letting go of the Medicare issue… we're not letting go of the banking royal commission issue.''
But he acknowledged the biggest issue facing locals was jobs.
"This is a good place to live but it's a better place if you've got a job.''
"So we will talk to the mayor and talk to the local representatives.
"You watch us in the next two years.
"We think we had some good policies at the last election but through this discussion and other discussions I'll have, we'll have even better policies at the next election.''