Minister Shorten Interview on The Today Show with Karl Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: Safeguards mechanism and Dan Andrews trip to China

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: The Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and 3AW’s Neil Mitchell. Morning guys. Bill, to you first. First up, if we are restricting supply, there is only one way for prices to go, right?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: I'm confident this is a good news announcement. The amount of carbon that we're going to take out of the emissions is the equivalent of taking two thirds of our cars off the road by 2030. So I'm confident there'll be energy for the future, but I'm also confident that we'll have more renewables in the mix.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. That wasn't answering the question about power prices. Industry leaders saying can only be borne out of by households. Do you have some miracle power supply you go to conjure from your magical renewable hat in the meantime?

SHORTEN: No, but I think there's a fair bit of scaremongering going on here. The reality is that the Greens political party wanted us to ban all new coal and gas projects. That's not going to happen. I think what we've got is a path which has been negotiated with industry, negotiated across the Parliament and I think Australians expect us to take action. I'm not I'm not losing my hair over the issue of scaremongering on power prices.

STEFANOVIC: But it is going to go up, right?

SHORTEN: Well, I do think that if you want to look at what's driving power prices, I think there's other factors in the system like the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine.


SHORTEN: And I genuinely - you're putting forward a proposition - you're putting forward a proposition that somehow this is bad news, and I don't agree with you.

STEFANOVIC: Neil. Off you go.

MITCHELL: I would suggest that whenever the Greens are happy with something, the average person suffers and the Greens are happy with this bill.

SHORTEN: You have some general science on your side, but not on this case. Sorry.

MITCHELL: What about some truth, as a member of the Government, can you guarantee prices of power and gas will not go up? One. Can you guarantee that major projects, gas projects will not be cancelled if the industry is saying this will happen? Can you guarantee us prices won't go up?

SHORTEN: Okay Neil, straight down the barrel of the camera to you. I think what you just said in the first part was absurd. The reality is that with prices, what's driving prices are other factors. We have had a dysfunctional energy market in Australia for the last 10 years. It's been dysfunctional because the Libs in the Conservatives and some of the commentators just say no action on climate and as a result we haven't had new investment in our energy grid. This clears the way for new investment. So I actually think that this is a –

MITCHELL: Deflecting a bit.

SHORTEN: No, I'm not deflecting at all, mate. What your point is that –

MITCHELL: You’re deflecting the – answer it. Can you guarantee prices won't go up –

SHORTEN: Neil, I can guarantee that, what we've done in terms. Well, hang on a second, mate. You asked the question. I'll give you the answer. I can guarantee that our measures are going to, in the long term, help make sure that we have reliable, secure energy for the future. But we don't know how much is for the last 10 years, people like yourself have ruled the roost on climate policy and it's got us precisely nowhere.

STEFANOVIC: Bill. No, Bill. Bill also, Bill, you also promised before the last election, to be fair to Neil, that you would reduce power prices, but now this deal is going to guarantee that that won't happen. And the prices they have to go one way if you cut supply.

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, what we said is that by 2025, we'd lower prices. And yeah, do I wish the Russians hadn't invaded Ukraine? Absolutely. Mainly for the Ukrainians, but also a little bit for energy prices.

STEFANOVIC: This deal makes it worse, though, right?

SHORTEN: No, I think that this deal actually provides a runway for new investment. I think if you had a good look at our energy poles and wires and supply system over the last 10 years, coal power stations have been exiting the market. We haven't had replacement energy investment. The other point that Neil said he had two issues.

One was about new coal and gas. The Greens wanted us to ban new coal and gas, We didn't. We haven't. What it will mean is that our facilities will have to be enhanced.

MITCHELL: The industry says you have.

SHORTEN: Oh well, okay. The industry, the industry putting all this up.

MITCHELL: Seriously, you say it's good, you say they're scaremongering. Are you really saying they're making it all up? They're making it all up saying that they're just saying they are scaremongering.

SHORTEN: I am saying they're scaremongering. And I'm glad you're putting the industry's viewpoint up. But what the parliament is doing is putting the nation's viewpoint. When are people going to realise that we have to take action on climate?

STEFANOVIC: Okay, but you can't go around saying that.

MITCHELL: When are you going to realise you're going to pay bills.

SHORTEN: I understand that, Neil. I live in the real world too. Don't worry about that. And that is the point about it is you’re –

MITCHELL: You and I are paid enough. We can afford it.

SHORTEN: Yeah, sure. But the point about it is that the sort of head in the sand do nothing on climate attitude, well, gee, that's been a success for the last 10 years, hasn't it, Neil?

MITCHELL: I'm not. That's not what I'm arguing, Bill. You know, I'm not arguing that. I'm saying, well, you know, that I'm not doing it in. Are going to put up prices. Let's be let's be honest with people. Is it going to put up prices? It must.

SHORTEN: I actually think there are other factors which drive prices more, let's be honest. And furthermore, if we don't have a reliable investment marketplace and clear rules, what's going to happen is that if we keep going down your path, are we going to have this same argument at three and six years and we're going to wish then that we had done this now.

STEFANOVIC: All right, guys. At the end of the day, it is going to mean that in the short term, at the very least, people need to get used to the idea of paying more for their power. That can't be under any question. Now, it seems obvious. Guys, I wanted to talk about other stuff. You know, Dan Andrews, going to China, all that secret stuff.

MITCHELL: I've got a tip on that.

STEFANOVIC: Oh, yeah, Go quickly.

MITCHELL: I've got a tip on it. I've got a red hot tip, quick one - that when Dan will go to see John Holland, the Communist Party owned construction company which has already $400 million over budget on one Victorian project, he's going to try and get the prices down. I hope that's right.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Bill, how would you respond to that?

SHORTEN: You can't, you can't blame a guy for not consulting me on his travel diary. But I think all the [I think all the] pearl clutching about a politician visiting China is a bit overheated. The point about dealing with China is there is a reality. We'd like to have trade with them. We cooperate where we can. We'll disagree where we must. And I expect that Premier Andrews to always engage in the Victorian national interest.

STEFANOVIC: All right. Good to talk to you guys. We finally we finally agreed after six minutes and great stuff. Thanks, guys.