Bill Shorten drops in for a chat

OPPOSITION leader Bill Shorten was in Sale last Thursday for the funeral of Australian Workers’ Union life member John Clarence, who was an active member offshore for local oil and gas industry workers.

In a death notice in Thursday’s Age, Mr Shorten described John Clarence as a dedicated life member of the AWU.

“He knew what hard work was in Bass Strait and he always stood up for the Bass Strait workforce, sometimes at great personal cost,” he wrote.

“I was proud to call him my friend.

“My sincere condolences to his wife Helen and family.”

Referring to his attendance at the funeral service, Mr Shorten reflected on the impositions public life makes.

“I have missed far too many things like this, so as I was able to clear the decks in Canberra I decided it was time I turned up for a past friend,” he told the Gippsland Times.

While in town, Mr Shorten dropped into the office, turning the tables on the news team and quizzing journalists about local issues.

Rather than answer questions on the political in-fighting in Canberra or his chances of becoming Prime Minister at the next federal election, Mr Shorten turned the visit into a Q and A session with journalists, saying he was keen to be informed on issues from regional and rural communities.

Mr Shorten displayed a solid grasp of the geography of the region, having been for some years involved with the local oil and gas industry through his AWU work and holidaying on the Gippsland Lakes.

Issues discussed included the MID 2030 plan, particularly the need for the Tinamba pipeline upgrade, duplication of the Princes Highway, the possible Air 5428 contract for RAAF Base East Sale, local opposition to coal seam gas mining, the health of the offshore gas and oil industry and the Longford gas conditioning plant, health policies and employment.

He was particularly interested in the dilemma of the Sale Specialist School needing a new facility, expressing a personal interest in disability issues.

When questioned on Labor fielding a candidate in the local state by-election, Mr Shorten said it was a matter for the state council to consider.

While in the office, Mr Shorten also insisted on meeting the Gippsland Times advertising team, wandering into their office area as jaws dropped.

Two advertising representatives asked for photographs with Mr Shorten while excited colleagues photo-bombed in the background before their images were uploaded to social media.

STATE Opposition Leader Matthew Guy will be special guest at an afternoon tea on Sunday, March 1, between 2pm and 4pm.

The Liberal Party fundraiser will be held at Kilmany Park, 1613 Settlement Rd, Wurruk.

Cost to attend is $30 for party members and $35 for non members.

For more information or to RSVP phone Scott Rossetti on 0419 366 686 or email

For catering purposes please RSVP by February 28.