Minister Shorten Interview on Sky News First Edition with Peter Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: Victorian Firefighters pay deal; Matilda’s historic World Cup tilt; international development policy initiatives

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Let’s go to Canberra now, joining us live is the NDIS Minister, Bill Shorten. Bill, good to see you. Just off the back of that, that's a big pay rise. Do you have any concerns that that will be inflationary?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FO RTHE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Well, the inflation rate is higher than that, but I don't know that the EBA has concluded yet, so I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens. But to be very straightforward, I think firefighters earn their money. The job they do is one which is crucial. And I know - it always bemuses me actually, that when workers are debating getting wage rises, which are certainly less than the headline rate of inflation, somehow there's a lot of pearl clutching from the big end of town. Why don't we have the same coverage about the bank profits when mortgagees are, you know, practically weeping tears of blood? Why don't we have the same discussion about massive corporate profits when inflation is going up? And I worry sometimes that big corporations are using the fog of inflation to basically enhance their own profits at the expense of consumers and mortgage holders.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. Just switching topics, and this will all be unveiled later on today, Bill, but foreign aid, I've just got a short amount of time, but Mark Bosnich went over, we'll blame him in the Matildas, this will all be unveiled later on, but did you watch the game last night, by the way?

SHORTEN: Absolutely. You know, it's great watching the Matildas Their commitment to each other, and they're having fun. They're committed to their team members; they're making continuous effort. What I really love, though, is that there's a generation of young Australian girls being inspired by the Matildas. What the Matildas are teaching young Australian women is that there's no boundaries to what they can achieve in the future. It's just fantastic.

STEFANOVIC: No great, a great World Cup. Hopefully, we can keep going as well.

SHORTEN: Fingers crossed.

STEFANOVIC: Bill, now yeah, foreign aid projects above $3 million they'll need to address gender inequality and 80% will need to have climate change objectives. It's under a new development policy. So, is that the quid pro quo? I mean, these details are coming out later on. So, if you satisfy those requirements, you go and get the money?

SHORTEN: Well, I think, I know that our Foreign Minister and our Pacific minister will talk further about this in the course of the day. But for a decade, there's basically been a vacuum in our Pacific policy, and other nations have sought to fill the vacuum. You know, the world doesn't stand still if Australia doesn't take an interest in our neighbourhood. The Pacific is important. I'll never forget that you know, our grandparents, you know, relied on people of the Pacific nations in the war against Japan. I think we do have an obligation to work with them, not in a paternalistic manner, but in a friendly manner. And I think the proposals, climate change is an existential threat for some of these Pacific nations, but some of the policies or principles that we've already seen outlined in this morning's media is that we're not going to tie strings to what we do. We've got the principle of transparency. We want to make sure that we only support high quality projects. We also want to make sure, of course, that we engage in local priorities and use local contractors. And I think this is also going to help Pacific nations with their rapidly ballooning public debt. It's doubled in recent years and at least 20% of that debt is owed to China. So, I think Australia is being a good neighbour and I look forward to more detail today.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Yeah, more detail, more reaction coming up on that too. And just finally, Bill, because you're in the ACT there, just I mean, we've got what appears to be some farcical scenes that are going on in the ACT when it comes to the Sofronoff inquiry at the moment. Have you got a thought on what's going on?

SHORTEN: Well, we're going to leave, I've got to leave that to the ACT government and to comment on. But some of the revelations have been staggering and certainly not the legal system's finest hour. I mean, they don't need another, they don't need another talking commentator from another level of government. They've got a lot of stuff to sort out.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, I mean, on the face of it, though, it just seems exactly how not to run a case.

SHORTEN: Uh. Well, we've got this inquiry. It's come out. The ACT Government's officially released it. No doubt they're all digesting the implications of it. But what the ACT legal system doesn't need is another politician commenting on it. So, I'll spare them. I'll spare them my views.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. You don't have a green and gold tie on this morning?

SHORTEN: It is amazing what they're doing. It was fantastic, wasn't it? I mean, the Danes were - the Danes are great, but they were - I'm really loving watching the soccer. And you just get a sense, it reminds me a bit of how sport should be. You get a sense that those women, those elite women athletes are enjoying themselves. Yeah, they are. They seem pretty unselfish, too. They're a genuine team. And undoubtedly, Sam Kerr has a leader's charisma. You know, when she came on at the in the last ten minutes, you just - the stadium went crazy. Yeah, we went crazy when I was watching in my lounge room. It was fantastic.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, no, us too. I didn't catch the end of it, though. I was fast asleep, but the start of it was great and the result was even better when I got up this morning. Bill Shorten, good to see you. We'll talk to you again soon.