Minister Shorten Interview on Today with Karl Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: tennis, taxi fares, fitness centres for truck drivers

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Great to have your company live from Melbourne Park, and what a night it was too where former world number one Andy Murray has ousted Thanasi Kokkinakis in a marathon match that lasted almost six hours. No sleep for us last night. The showdown now being called one of the greatest matches ever. Joining us to discuss, Minister for Government Services and renowned tennis player Bill Shorten, and 3AW's also renowned tennis player Neil Mitchell. Better mixed doubles, Neil, for you.

Okay, Bill, for you. First of all, I mean, there's been so much criticism of this tournament, unwarranted. We knew it was going to come and then it came last night. Did you stay up all night?


STEFANOVIC: What? That’s a big build up.

SHORTEN: It's amazing. I've been talking to some of the workers and the staff who were here coming- checking in at four o'clock in the morning.


SHORTEN: And as one lady said to me, when she woke up she said: Oh, who won the match last night? And then they said it was still going. It's awesome.

STEFANOVIC: It was incredible. And Neil, for you, did you stay up? I know you're a busy preparer when you're getting ready for your show, but did you? You look tired, Neil.

NEIL MITCHELL: No, I was getting up as it finished. I didn't stay up and watch it. A bit silly, isn't it? Do we have to do it that way? Was there no option? I mean, they started the game after 10 o' clock and finish at 4am. You've got to feel for the players and the workers, and the- and it was a great game. Clearly a great game. I guess you'll replay it today, but got to be a better way to do it than having a finish at- you know, start after 10, finish at 4am?

STEFANOVIC: I think because- and then Craig Tiley, by the way, is coming up after 7.00, but I think it's because of the postponed matches they had to fit more in. But do you actually feel sorry for the tennis players?

MITCHELL:  Oh, how else do you earn a couple of million in a few hours. No, I don't feel sorry for them, but it's- they're elite sportsmen and they're paid well, but…

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, yeah…

SHORTEN: I guarantee you one thing. There'll be more people who said they were watching that match than were. You watch it over history, the next few years.

STEFANOVIC: One hundred per cent. Okay, look, the players too, despite how well they are remunerated, some of them, there have been a few complaints and I feel a little bit awkward about raising this, so I'm just going to go to Sarah briefly and then come back to the lads. Sares?

SARAH ABO: Yeah, I don't know what you're talking about. Apparently the balls are a bit fluffy, but they look alright to me. They still work. Karl?


SHORTEN: Well, Melbourne balls are bigger.


ABO: Are they, Bill?

MITCHELL: Oh, this was inevitable wasn't it? Hey, there's…Dear me.

STEFANOVIC: At least I didn't raise it.

MITCHELL: No, I'm not getting into it.

SHORTEN: No, that's good. You're going highbrow.

STEFANOVIC: I am. All right, let's move on. Great stuff, Sares. Welcome to the team. I knew it wouldn't be long before you sunk to our levels.

ABO: They're working. It's fine.

STEFANOVIC: Exactly. They're working, I love it. All right. Now, obviously when this match finished in the early hours of this morning, there were plenty of cabs lined up. But cab drivers are under the pump - not just in Melbourne, around the country - accused of price gouging with reports of charges of up to $100 for short trips. Neil, do you reckon something needs to be done here?

MITCHELL: Yeah I do, and I think Jacinta Allan, the Acting Premier says: Oh, everything's working beautifully. Tell that to the disabled guy who couldn't get a cab because they wouldn't take it. Tell it to the people paying 100 bucks to go a few hundred metres from the tennis to the CBD. It is not working. Even the Taxi Association says there are greedy drivers ripping people off. Uber is into surge pricing. It's been going on for more than a year. It happens for every major event we have. Bad for tourism, bad for the customers. Sort it Premier - It's not, fixed, it's not working.

STEFANOVIC: I know it's a big tournament, but there's plenty of traffic around too. Does there need to be some regulation around this, do you think?

SHORTEN: I feel the cab industry has been slammed by the rise of Uber, but the cab industry doesn't help itself by this opportunistic price gouging. So there's got to be some sort of cap where if it's a short job, it's a short job. And you pick someone up late at night - sure, maybe you put a bit of a loading, but the $100 stuff is just ridiculous. It's piracy.

STEFANOVIC: All right. Finally, one of the unhealthiest jobs in Australia could be getting a health kick. I, for one, don't believe this, but anyway, this is what they're saying. New gyms and fitness stations will be rolled out across truck stops in a bid to help truckies shed the kilos I mean, Neil, it's almost un-Australian.

MITCHELL: I won't- look, it's a good idea. It's worth a try. But not many people know, Bill and I, when Bill used to talk to me, every Friday afternoon and we'd get together and work out…

SHORTEN: Happy New Year…

MITCHELL: work out for five hours rather than go to lunch. We wouldn't go to lunch. We'd work out for hours together, didn't we, Bill, when you used to talk to me?

STEFANOVIC: Is that right, Billy?

SHORTEN: Yeah. Well, I do remember talking to you once upon a time, but I don't remember the five-hour gym sessions.

STEFANOVIC: Do we need to get you guys together just to talk it out now so that you can now re-establish…


SHORTEN: You want to think about it?

MITCHELL: That's a good idea. I love that.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, come on.

MITCHELL:  Why did you ban me for three years, Bill? Three years you've banned me.

SHORTEN: The good thing about you, Neil, is that you never hold a grudge. That's- I just want to clear this up on national television.

STEFANOVIC: I love the angst in Melbourne. I love it. Thank you, guys. We'll see you very soon.