Minister Shorten interviewed on the Today Show


SUBJECTS: Superannuation policy; Harry Styles

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the show. The Assistant Treasurer is causing a buzz this morning – buzz, get it? - referring to Australian superannuation savings to honey that should be managed in the best interests of the hive. Stephen Jones said the Government's plan to legislate an objective to superannuation was a proposal for an objective for the hive. In the self-managed sector there are more than 600,000 funds holding around $870 billion in retirement savings. That's a lot of honey and “we want to make sure there is plenty of honey to go round”. Joining us to discuss Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten and Neil Mitchell from 3AW in Melbourne. Billy, I didn't realise that our super honey was for the collective, comrade?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: That's not what he said, I spoke to Stephen about it. I googled this conference on superannuation and the front of the conference has a picture of a bee and a hive and I think the Assistant Treasurer made some dad jokes. The real issue that he was saying was that we need to strengthen the objective of superannuation. That's a policy we took to the last election.

STEFANOVIC: Now it's a dad joke. He did say this, though. He's confirmed the Government is looking to impose higher taxes on funds over $3 billion, just in case anyone missed that buzz from the bee, that that is a new tax, is it not?


SHORTEN: I think the issue that he's talking about is that there's about 1% of people who have over $3 million in their superannuation. So, I think the average for this group of people is $5.8 million. And I think he was just raising the question, should taxpayers be subsidizing someone who's already got nearly $6 million in their superannuation account?

STEFANOVIC: Well, what he's talking about is taxing those accounts over 3 million. That's a new tax. Neil, you grilled the Treasurer during the week. It's not fair that we have to grill Bill Shorten, but I want to see it anyway.

MITCHELL: Yeah, alright. Well at least he's not Winnie the Pooh like Stephen Jones, sticking his big mitt into the honey pot. This is class warfare, Bill.

SHORTEN: Yeah here we go, with the honey jokes.

MITCHELL: Now come on, Bill. Bill! Bill! Bill. Bill! Bill!  In 2019 Bill, you blew an election on the basis of trying to fiddle with the superannuation policy. Go to Albo, say to Albo, mate they won't wear it. This is class warfare. It is a new tax. And come on, Bill, it is a new tax, isn't it? You're not going to try and spin that one.

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, Neil, I’d like you to know, I'm glad that you've stepped up to defend the people with $6 million in their superannuation account, which is good of you. The reality is - .

MITCHELL: It’s money Bill, it’s their money

SHORTEN: Oh no, it's not about their money. That's fine. Absolutely. The objective of superannuation is retirement income. But as I understand from the speech which was given, which has got, you know, an attack of the vapours going around because of some of his dad jokes, the fact of the matter is we did say at the last election that we want to legislate the objective of superannuation. And I think beyond that, should taxpayers be - .

MITCHELL: You said no major changes. No major changes.

SHORTEN: That’s right. And the Prime Minister’s said that again.

MITCHELL:  Is this a major change? These awful people who've been successful enough to get money into their super account, what awful people they're successful. Even Garry Weaven, your old union mate, is saying you you're unsettling the whole industry and that's a new tax, let’s accept it, and you’re going after the top end.

SHORTEN: I'm not aware -

STEFANOVIC: Can I just hop in?

SHORTEN: Alright, I'll give you a chance to take a break and a breath there, Neil, and catch your breath as you get all excited by this.

STEFANOVIC: Bill. Bill, I just want to ask you this. I mean, basically you’re confirming this is going to happen. It is a new tax.

SHORTEN: No, I'm not.

STEFANOVIC: Why are you why are you defending something?

SHORTEN: Because I don't know.

STEFANOVIC: Yes, you do.

SHORTEN: Well, I think what we're doing is having a Friday morning discussion - oh, no, I literally don't - we're having a Friday morning discussion about a principle. Do you think it's right that people who go to work every day pay their taxes should be paying their taxes to give a concession to someone who's already got several million dollars in the account? I mean, is that – tell me that’s fair. Tell me that’s fair, then, that the nurses -.

STEFANOVIC: It may very well be the case that that is good policy. But you don't go into an election saying -

MITCHELL: Thanks for telling us before the election.

STEFANOVIC: - that there is going to be no changes to super, and then you change it. And then and then on top of that, there's no -

SHORTEN: We’re just now having -

STEFANOVIC: It’s like the guys from The Muppets

SHORTEN: We're just having a chat about it. We're having a chat – Waldorf and Stadler - we're just having a chat here. I don't know the detail of any proposition.


SHORTEN: But just, just from me to you, Mr. Waldorf to Mr. Statler, why is it that when we see multi-millionaires getting tax concessions that some people just rally around the flag?

STEFANOVIC: So it's definitely the multi-millionaires.

MITCHELL: All those evil people who've made. Pardon? What about Albo? He's on about 400 grand a year.  He's richer than any of them.

STEFANOVIC: By the way -

MITCHELL: You get 15.4, we get 9%.

STEFANOVIC: By the way, our pollies, Bill, our pollies do seem to have some pretty good super. You know, it's just, just quietly, your super is pretty good, Bill. I don't know.

MITCHELL: 15.4% you get, we get 9%.

SHORTEN: Mr. Howard and Mr. Latham changed all of that.

STEFANOVIC: Just because obviously - 

SHORTEN: Neil, if you're getting 9%, you're one and a half percent below the minimum. So, I'll have a word to your bosses about that. I don't mind being a shop steward again.

STEFANOVIC: All right boys, we do have to move on. There's a couple of other big issues. I was going to talk about cranky coaches out there in the media, but I just might finish, I just might finish with this one. I know you two are very big fans of Harry Styles. He's hitting Melbourne tonight. Neil, Neil, do you like a bit of Watermelon Sugar High?

MITCHELL: Oh, I like As It Was or Sign Of The Times. Why are you so sad when he's singing? Hey Bill, he is so successful. We've got people queued up all over Melbourne, put a tax on him, Bill. You’ve gotta tax Harry

STEFANOVIC: Billy. Oh, final word, Bill.

SHORTEN: I'm sorry you woke up grumpy this morning. Neil, I hope your day gets better. That’s a good one.

STEFANOVIC: All right. Have a good one. It's going to be better than the Assistant Treasurer's. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.