Minister Shorten Interview on Today with Karl Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: Business profits; superannuation; cost-of-living; restaurant dress codes

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back. There's hope on the horizon for mortgage holders, with Westpac altering its cash forecast, now believing interest rates will be cut seven times over 2024 and 2025. Joining us to discuss is Minister for Government Services, Bill Shorten and 3AW’s Neil Mitchell. You two light it up every week. Bill, your first up. That must have been music to your ears.

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Yeah, it'd be good if it was true. I just worry that we've had the predictions that they weren't going to go up and then did go up. Now we've got predictions they'll go down. I think they’ll still seem to be going up. But I'll tell you what really gets on my goat. It's the fact that your Coles and your Woolworths, your big banks, while the mortgage rates are going up, while there's a cost-of-living crisis, they are making billions of dollars of profit. It doesn't sound right, doesn't feel right because it's not right.

STEFANOVIC: Inflation is going to hang around too Neil, like a bad smell, so those profits are only going to increase, I would have thought?

NEIL MITCHELL, 3AW: Yeah. Look, I agree with Bill to an extent. Don't take any of the predictions seriously. If the Reserve Bank couldn't get it right, what hopes anybody else got? And there are so many uncertainties. I mean, there's so many uncertainties. We've got China, we've got Ukraine, we've got COVID. We still don't know what's going to happen there, and we've got Albo. I mean, anything could happen over the next few months with interest rates. I don't know about Bill and the profits, though. What are you going to do, Bill? Are you going to nationalize everything, stop them getting profits? And this is part of the class war thing that you're embracing. Too much profit is not necessarily bad. High profit is not necessarily bad. It means they employ more people. It means the economy is going well. It’s not all evil.

STEFANOVIC: I've started to get - 

SHORTEN: Neil, Neil, Neil. What’s happened to Neil Mitchell?

STEFANOVIC: Bill, Bill. Hang on a second. Bill, Bill. I've started to get a feeling when Neil needs to say something. He mentioned Albo a couple of times there. Why don't you just say it, Neil?

MITCHELL: Ooh. Albo, he's treating us like idiots, Bill. And you know, this. This nonsense he went on with yesterday, it's not a broken promise. Because I said I didn't intend to change taxes. That means that any promise for the future is meaningless. He also said, Oh, we've got to debate. We've got to enter the debate. He started the damn debate. I mean, we are being treated as fools. Forget the superannuation issue. The way he's running this campaign is insulting to the average voter.

STEFANOVIC: Your response, Bill?

SHORTEN: No, I think that's rubbish. I think he's doing a top job. The real issue is that we've got a cost-of-living crisis. The mortgage rates are going up. The Government's making difficult and genuine decisions to try and help relieve pressure on families. But there was something Neil said earlier where he said somehow for me, criticising massive profits by the banks, that somehow it's class warfare. I'm just not going to genuflect in front of the top end of town and say thanks very much for making massive profits, putting the price of food up, for making more money on the mortgage rates bill. Neil, what’s wrong with - why is it that it's wrong to criticise companies in a time of inflation where the people getting up this morning going to work, see everything going up and just saying to the companies and the banks, you know, hey, just slow down, share, the issues with the community rather than trying to chase - 

MITCHELL: There's nothing wrong with criticizing at all, Bill, of course. But what worries me when you do that, what are you going to do? What's your answer? Are you going to control them? Are you going to introduce some sort of socialist scheme that says you have a profit bigger than X and we're going to take it away from you? You can't fiddle with it. We live in a capitalist society, you’ve got to recognise that.

SHORTEN: Neil, there's just there's a giant there's a giant gulf between -

STEFANOVIC: Neil, just on that, we do need to move on the boss, the head, the boss of industry. Super Australia is getting behind the tax crackdown, saying the revenue raised from the wealthy could be used to help those with less savings and lower incomes. Bill, it must be nice to have Comrade Combet fall into line.

SHORTEN: Well, you know, I don't want you getting a dose of the Neil Mitchellitis and just bagging the messenger here. The point about it is that – 

MITCHELL: The messenger? You are the fiddler.

SHORTEN: How is it fair that you have a system where 20 nurses go to work each year and all the tax that they pay is then given away by someone who's, to someone who's got a $6 million superannuation account?

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Neil, on this, it'll be interesting to see where the very progressive teal independents fall on this. Joe Hildebrand I reckon perhaps says its best this morning. He says the problem with rich lefties is sooner or later they end up having to choose between being rich and being a leftie. And spoiler alert they always choose the money. Huh?

MITCHELL: Well, if yeah, if you have a look at the most of the two electorates, they're pretty wealthy. Goldstein Which is Zoe Daniel here in Victoria is the wealthiest seat in Victoria. So of course, they'll work for their constituents. Who would have thought? But they'll go that way, of course the lefty tendencies will come back to the right, I’m sure

STEFANOVIC: Talking of class warfare, this one to finish, Russell Crowe, he's had a run in with the Melbourne restaurant, as we know, after he didn't meet the dress code, which is, I think, a little bit silly. It's rusty. I mean, he's an Oscar winner. Bill, Sarah reckons Melbourne is deliberately hoity toity. Does it need to relax a bit though? I mean in Queensland you can wear your pluggers and a Bintang singlet to a fancy restaurant and no one gives a damn. Does Melbourne need to relax? 

SHORTEN: Oh listen, I don't know. I'm not as familiar with some of the restaurants in the high-end resorts in Queensland Karl, but in Chapel Street, in Chapel Street, I mean, I didn't realise that a dress code for anything. I think the person who bounced Rusty is very brave myself. Imagine trying to tell the millennials that they've got to dress up.

STEFANOVIC: Oh, exactly.

SHORTEN: We should get them working on the budget.

STEFANOVIC: There you go.

SHORTEN: They're tough.

MITCHELL: I never thought I never thought that I would identify with Russell Crowe. But I'm a fellow slob. And I reckon the three of us, Karl, you can fund this, will buy a restaurant. Slobs only. Slobs only.

STEFANOVIC: I'm in. I'm in.

SHORTEN: I’ll do the dishes.

STEFANOVIC: And what we can do is, we can record Neil's new podcast titled Neil Mitchell Asks Why at the lunch, on podcast streaming platforms. So, it'll be out there and it'll be rocketed to number one on the best-selling list. So there you go, guys. I'm available any time. Any Friday.

SHORTEN: Yeah, I'll come and clean the dishes in your restaurant. Neil.

STEFANOVIC: It'll be an interesting lunch. I'm looking forward to it.

MITCHELL: Yeah, Karl’s paying.

SHORTEN: Hey, that's true. Okay, I'm there.

STEFANOVIC: Righto, righto. I'll get the first one. You guys get the next six. Thank you, lads.