Minister Shorten interviewed on Sky News


SUBJECTS: Alice Springs, Voice to Parliament

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Let's go to Canberra now. Joining us live is the NDIS and Government Services Minister Bill Shorten. Bill, good to see you. Thanks for your time this morning. So according to Matt Cunningham live from Alice Springs a short time ago, his sources suggest that the Prime Minister will visit Alice Springs today. Can you confirm that?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Oh, I can confirm that the Prime Minister will visit Alice Springs in the near future. I can't confirm exactly when. I do make the point that Anthony Albanese has visited all over Australia and he doesn't go missing. The issues in Alice Springs concern the Prime Minister and concern everyone. There are real problems there and I think it's going to take partnership with the Northern Territory and the Federal Government to help - and the community, listening to the community to help fix it. But no one underestimates the problem.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, so when you say near future, that could well be today.

SHORTEN: It'll be up to the Prime Minister to announce his diary. But the point is he will be going in the near future, absolutely.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. So, so much of this, as you just pointed out there, so much of this is a territory issue. But in terms of federal intervention, what do you suggest could be provided?

SHORTEN: Well, there are already resources on the table for the Northern Territory Government and the local community. There's a $14 Million fund as part of our Central Australia plan. I don't want to pre-empt what all the solutions look like. I've got no doubt that the people on the ground do have views about what resolves the violence. Resolving the violence won't just be a sort of uniform police issue. It'll be tackling the root causes of what's causing the heartache and the distress. And that is happening in the Alice. So, the local community with state and territory governments and ourselves will, I think, come up with the answers. But it is a crisis. There's no question there are real problems there.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. A root cause suggested by so many is alcohol. Should alcohol bans be reinstated?

SHORTEN: Listen, the Northern Territory Government's given a view that they don't think there should be those bans. I'll wait to see what the people on the ground say to our federal representatives when they're there. I think that the issues will be more than just alcohol, though.

STEFANOVIC: Right. But if there is an increase in violence or sexual violence or anything of that nature that has happened since those alcohol bans were overturned, wouldn't that suggest that something needs to change in that space?

SHORTEN: Yeah, I see what you're saying. But the last thing people in Alice Springs need is a politician sitting in the comfort of a Sky studio in Canberra telling them this is what you need to do. The solutions are going to come from the community. I'm not going to start outlining a five-point plan myself from Canberra, but I do think that it'll be more than just alcohol in the community.

STEFANOVIC: What else? What else is there that comes to mind?

SHORTEN: I'm sure there'll be issues about adequate services. There'll be issues about providing futures for the kids and jobs and the education system. But I also think it will be about making the community safe. So, it'll be all of the above. 


SHORTEN: But again, as I would say to you, what they don't need is experts from Canberra or anywhere else in the country telling them, and I've got no doubt that when the Prime Minister visits in the near future we will see things moving.

STEFANOVIC: Is this a bigger priority than the Voice referendum? Because your colleague Marion Scrymgour certainly thinks so.

SHORTEN: I think they're separate issues. The crisis in Alice Springs is right now, the referendum will be towards the end of the year. This nation is capable of thinking about more than one thing at a time. But the issue in Alice Springs obviously warrants immediate attention.

STEFANOVIC: Polls in today's papers seem to indicate that support for the Voice is drifting. Do you need to go back to the drawing board?

SHORTEN: We've been going back to the drawing board essentially since 1788, haven't we? So, I think - we've tried everything else. When it comes to decision making in this country. I personally believe, it's a fundamental principle of mine, that when you make decisions about people, make them with people. So, the principle in the Voice is that you would consult First Nations people about policies affecting them rather than just inflicting them upon them. The Voice isn't going to give a veto power. The Parliament is sovereign. But the basic proposition, and this is something for viewers to contemplate, is do we want on the nation's birth certificate the Constitution, a statement which says that when we make decisions about First Nations people, who were here for 60,000 years before everyone else got here, that we consult them about their destiny, we empower them to have a say in their decisions. It is a basic principle I think, a courtesy. I think empowerment works, giving people some say and control in their own lives. That's not a left wing or a right wing idea. I just think it's a good idea.

STEFANOVIC: Just a completely unrelated topic Bill, I just want to get your thoughts on this news from Shell this morning that has backed down from its gas suspension. Is that an indicator or some proof that your price cap policy will work in the end?

SHORTEN: Oh, I'm pleased that Shell have arrived at the position where they're going to supply eight petajoules and well under the market cap. To me it shows that the tough issue of gas pricing, that what the government put in just before the end of last year does seem to be working with industry to provide gas, which is a fundamental energy source in our energy mix, at prices which businesses and Australian families can afford to pay. So, it is good news.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Bill Shorten, live out of Canberra. Appreciate it, Bill. Thank you. We'll talk to you soon.