Minister Shorten Interview on Sky News with Peter Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: Safeguard Mechanisms, Dan Andrews travelling to China

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Bill Shorten. Bill, good to see you. Thanks for your time, as always. So this morning, the gas industry is pushing back against safeguard mechanisms, saying it will lead to reduced investment, drive up prices, and also risk the pathway to net zero by 2050. What's your response to that?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: I'm sorry, they've taken that view. They are probably motivated to pursue their own profits. That's their right to have an opinion. But the Parliament's got to take the national interest, as has the Albanese government. I think it's a really positive breakthrough. Peter for 14 years, ever since the collapse of climate measures in 2009, this nation has been stuck in neutral gear. Now, at last, we're moving forward, creating clear rules for investment. There'll be new investment in energy, I've got no doubt about that.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, so that was my next question. Can you guarantee it won't stifle investment and then push manufacturing offshore?

SHORTEN: I'm very confident that by having clear rules, we'll be able to cut away all the thicket of garbage and allow people to make investment decisions. All around the world, people are investing in renewable energy. For 14 years, we've missed a lot of the upside of the renewable energy boom. We need to have renewable energy as part of our mix, both to reduce carbon emissions, but also to provide new energy into the system. So I'm confident that we'll see progress. Yeah, I really am.

STEFANOVIC: AEMO has pointed to gas shortages in the short term. If investors are spooked, will this lead to a loss of new supply, though?

SHORTEN: Well, investment decisions – from making the investment decision to building new facilities – will take years and years. AEMO has pointed to a short term challenge which wouldn't be fixed by future decisions not yet made by gas companies. So I think we're comparing apples and oranges there. We have got a problem with our energy in Australia but the reason why we've got the problem is because there hasn't been clarity about investment rules. Coal power stations have been closing anyway and we haven't seen enough renewables come on to replace them and we should have. Gas has still got a role in our energy mix going forward and there will be gas. The Greens political party wants to eliminate all new gas and coal. We haven't done that. We are saying that for new gas facilities they've got to be international best practice which they will be. We've made clear for industries which I used to be a union rep in, such as steel, cement and aluminum, that they've got special rules to allow them to make adjustments in a way which keeps us manufacturing these valuable products on shore. So I think that Minister Bowen and indeed Prime Minister Albanese have got to a landing which doesn't make everyone on the left happy, and certainly doesn't make everyone on the right happy. But I think it's the hallmarks of a good compromise which allows us to take the first real action on climate in 14 years nationally.

STEFANOVIC: How much ground did you give up to the Greens in the end?

SHORTEN: Listen. Where they had sensible suggestions, we listened. Good ideas don't come with a particular colour: green, blue or red. It's about what works. But on silly ideas from other people in the Senate, we didn't agree. So it's been a mixture of agreeing to some things which make sense, and on other measures, we've stuck to what we said before the election. We've kept our promise.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. Just a couple of Victorian matters, Bill. Do you support Dan Andrews’ trip to China?

SHORTEN: Yeah, good luck to him. I hope he can create trade opportunities for Victoria and China. China is fastest growing economy in the world. We're crazy to lock ourselves out of the economic benefits. I've got a simple sort of template. I apply to our dealings with China. We cooperate where we can, we disagree where we must, and we always engage in the national interest. Or in the case of Premier Andrews, the Victorian interest.

STEFANOVIC: At the very least, though, should the media have tagged along?

SHORTEN: Oh, I don't know if he's got room on a plane to bring the media. Listen that's up for him. I'm not going to start second guessing what state politicians do with the media.

STEFANOVIC: Right, but is there a problem with - is there a problem with - transparency?

SHORTEN: There’s not an issue with transparency, mate. Now, I'm not going to get into whether or not Sky's feelings are hurt. I think everyone wanted to be on board, given Dan Andrews relationship with China in the past. The media. I love the media. There are some politicians who are accused of speed getting up past the traffic camera so they can get their photo taken. So journalists in the media –

STEFANOVIC: Are you smiling, you smiling through gritted teeth, Bill?

SHORTEN: No, I love being on your show.

STEFANOVIC: What about the Victorian Liberal leadership, John Persutto? How thin is his hold on power at the moment?

SHORTEN: When it comes to the Liberal Party anyway, listen, I think he's trying to do the right thing by the Liberal Party. They've got a shocking problem all around the country that they're lurching too far to the right. I think he took a principled stand, and if they worked out a compromise that's on them. But the fact that he was on the 7.30 report last night and this rogue MP was on social media undermining his position. At the end of the day, I've been opposition leader, you need to be able to run your own party. And if the people around him aren't going to sort of adhere to the deals and adhere to his sort of leadership, ultimately it’ll come down to be an issue. It's who's more important to the Liberal Party, this rogue MP in the upper house or John Persutto. I mean, if the Liberals eviscerate their own leader and make him look like a hollow man, that's a giant problem for the Liberal Party, I would have thought. But that's their business. Well, I've been Opposition leader. I've been where he is. He needs to show who's boss there now. And maybe a compromise was sensible. I don't know. She said that she didn't know the Nazis were there, what have you. But now social media - going on social media when your boss is on TV on your social media comments seem to contradict what he's saying on TV in realtime. Listen, the Liberal Party's got to decide who they want more, John Persutto or Moira Deeming, because it seems that you can't seem to have both. And I think that it's not healthy for democracy if the opposition is as divided as it is.