Minister Shorten interview with Peter Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: Mark McGowan retirement from politics; referral of Price Waterhouse Coopers to the AFP

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Let's go to Bill Shorten live in Canberra. Bill, good morning. Thoughts on Mark McGowan's retirement.

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Oh, congratulations to Mark and Sarah and the family. He has been a colossus in Western Australian politics. He always stood up for his state, so I only wish him the very best for the future. I think there's one test of people's contribution in public life, be it Liberal, Labor or whatever persuasion it is. Do you leave the place better than you found it? And I think that his contribution he has left Western Australia and therefore the nation better than he found it before he became Premier.

STEFANOVIC: Does his retirement make it harder for you to maintain majority government at the next federal election?

SHORTEN: I don't see why. Obviously, the confidence that West Australians had in him certainly gave us a positive reception in Western Australia. But I think now people have seen Prime Minister Albanese and the team. I think we were doing quite positively, and people see that we're interested in them, not ourselves.

STEFANOVIC: Would you like or even expect him to run federally?

SHORTEN: I think Mark’s just said he's tired, so I won't put that hex on him.

STEFANOVIC: You're not going to ask him to?

SHORTEN: I think Mark's press conference yesterday was pretty self-explanatory. We've got some great MPs coming out of Western Australia. You know, Anne Aly and Matt Keogh and Patrick Gorman and a whole range of people. Tanya Lawrence has been doing a really good job and our new MPs across a range of seats. So, I think we're well represented from the West and hopefully we can add some more new faces at the next federal election.

STEFANOVIC: Bill, you've been in the game for a while, but burnout does happen. It happened to Jacinda Ardern, it happened to Peter Gutwein. Now Mark McGowan, how hard is it to juggle burnout in politics?

SHORTEN: I think the last thing that people want to see on their morning TV is politicians feeling sorry for themselves. I think while you've got the fire, you should make the contribution. Every day in politics is a privilege. I think I'm very lucky to be in politics. In my areas, be it the National Disability Insurance Scheme or people who rely on Services Australia or fixing up the problems after Robodebt I think every minute is precious. So, it's an individual choice, isn't it? But I think the vast majority of members of Parliament, no matter what their political partisanship, realise they're lucky to be here and we're lucky to be able to make a contribution.

STEFANOVIC: PWC, Bill. Can PWC be trusted with government information moving forward?

SHORTEN: Well, the whole nature of this scandal is pretty shocking, isn't it? I don't want to get ahead of any investigation. The Treasury Department's referred PWC to the AFP. We don't want to get in the way of those investigations, but the principle that are people receiving privileged Commonwealth information to then monetize it for their personal profit or the profit of big corporations globally, it is a shocking betrayal. So, we'll see where this goes. Senator Deb O'Neill has been doing a great job. I know the government generally feels incredibly let down by this conduct and there will have to be repercussions. But we've got an investigation to do that. But it is, as you say, shocking. And, you know, I feel sorry for some of the rank-and-file members of Price Waterhouse, who have been let down by their leadership because Price Waterhouse is a is a damaged brand at the moment.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, damaged is one way to put it. Would you call it toxic and is it salvageable?

SHORTEN: Uh, listen, that's going to be for others to decide. The issue, though, that governments have to consult people before they introduce laws and test ideas, but the idea that then people would take that privileged Commonwealth information and then monetize it for personal gain is an abuse of trust. It's a shocking abuse of trust. And I don't think that's how all of business operate, by the way. I think there's a lot of people in business who are shaking their heads at what's happened. But I think there's a long way to go. And who knew what is certainly going to be a big topic for people and what they did or didn't do. This is why the investigations is crucial, because it's a real breach of trust by Price Waterhouse.

STEFANOVIC: Would you like to see all of those who were involved named and shamed?

SHORTEN: Well, I want to make sure that all those who are involved are held accountable, whether or not putting the names out today as opposed to in the course of a structured investigation is another matter. I do think that we need to make sure that we don't get in our own way. I don't want people getting off because of some premature release of names. I do want accountability. I know the whole government does. This is a shocking breach of ethics. But in terms of the timing of particular information, that's why we have official investigations. And the last thing we want is to let some someone get off the hook because of perhaps premature discussion of particular individuals.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Bill Shorten, good to see you. We'll chat to you soon.

SHORTEN: Nice to see you.