Minister Shorten Interview on the Today Show with Sarah Abo


SUBJECTS: Emergency at Sydney Airport; Gina Rinehart calls for nuclear power; Prime Minister’s comments on Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton.

SARAH ABO, HOST: Welcome back. Thanks for your company this morning. More now on that emergency at Sydney Airport, with a man in custody accused of terrorizing passengers aboard a Malaysia Airlines flight over several tense hours. Joining us to discuss today's headlines is Minister for the NDIS and Government Services, Bill Shorten and 3AW’s Neil Mitchell. Gents, thank you both for your time this morning. Bill, this must have been such a frightening ordeal for those passengers. I mean, you can't help but wonder how was something like this allowed to happen even in the first place?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Well, no doubt we'll find out exactly what happened and how it got to happen. But my thoughts are with the passengers. How terrifying. If you're trapped in one of those big aluminium tubes and you've got someone behaving or going crazy, that's a disaster. Very scary. I'm pleased that it's seems they're on the ground and is being resolved.

ABO: I mean, I think I saw reported that there were some concerns about this particular passenger before they boarded. Neil, it makes you wonder why they weren't better checks and balances in place. I mean, it's understood as well, the passengers were forced to wait on the tarmac for three hours for this situation to be resolved. It's just such a long time with so much unknown.

NEIL MITCHELL, 3AW: Well, I guess the courts will sort out the detail, but there's a lot we need to know around the edge of it, isn't it? Like how long on the on the tarmac? Similar thing happened in Melbourne some years ago and they also sat on the tarmac for hours. I agree with Bill. It's almost claustrophobic in an aircraft and in that situation it'd just be terrifying. But it also raised a question with me. I don't know the answer. Do we still have sky marshals? Remember, we used to have people scattered around the various flights undercover and they were armed, and they were there to involve themselves in incidents such as alleged here. I don't even know if they still exist because in a sense, the heat seems to have gone out of the issue.

ABO: Yeah, well, this is the problem, I guess. There is so much unknown. It's been some time since we've had an incident like this. It's difficult to know how to respond. Right?

SHORTEN: Well, I just watched Idris Elba in that show Hijack. Need to get someone like Idris Elba on your plane.

ABO: We've got to turn to Hollywood, don't we, for the nearest example?

SHORTEN: Unfortunately.

ABO: Yeah. All right, well, we'll see how it plays out. Obviously, a bit of investigating to go for authorities. Let's move on now to Australia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart. Now she's thrown her support behind nuclear power, pushing for greater investment in the energy source locally, in addition to wind and solar. Bill, she's not the first person to make this call. We've got uranium. Is this something the Government would consider or is it just a blanket no.

SHORTEN: No, I think with nuclear power, I think it's a debating point made by the opposition. But until they can explain, how much would it cost? How long would it take? And most importantly, where would it be? I don't take their proposition seriously, I'll have to say.

ABO: Well, it's interesting if somebody like Gina comes out, I mean, she has the finances to help potentially back something like this. I mean, Neil, when we look at the US, you know, they get almost 20% of their power from nuclear. 70% almost, in France. You know, we know various countries in Europe and Japan rely on it, too. I mean, is it time Australia stopped shying away from nuclear?

MITCHELL: Of course it is. You know the Federal Government will hold an inquiry into the quality of wine in the Members bar. Why wouldn't we look seriously at the situation with nuclear power? The technology has changed. The whole approach has changed. I did ask the Prime Minister about this yesterday on my podcast. You'll be aware of it, Neil Mitchell Asks Why, just gone up - anyway. I asked him about it, and he said no, unequivocally no, because he said it is not financially viable. Now, maybe he's right, but Gina Rinehart can count a dollar. I think we need to look at it very seriously. It is clean, it is comparatively clean. If it can be cost effective, you would only need one reactor in Australia, only one to serve the whole country. It’d produce waste about the size of a car. The experts tell me we're mad not to look at it.

ABO: Yeah, I think it is one of those ones, if we're looking at mixing up our energy sources, we do need to look at these things. I mean, Bill, you can't argue with the bills that Australians are receiving at the moment.

SHORTEN: No, of course not. But let's not go down hypothetical rabbit burrows. I didn't notice if Gina Rinehart was saying she was going to donate her own money to the nuclear power industry. I mean, this is the opposition who've spent a decade plus opposing climate change. Now they're converts to nuclear power. Let's be straight. If you think it's a good idea –

MITCHELL: Forget them. Forget them, Bill.

SHORTEN: - how much will it cost and where do you want to put them,

MITCHELL: Of course, forget the opposition. Take them out of it. Go and have an independent assessment about whether nuclear power is a good thing for this country. Don't play politics with it. Sit down and assess it independently. And if the opposition is right, great. If they're not, great as well.

SHORTEN: Okay. But before you start having - well, why don't you have an independent inquiry into unicorns? I mean, just because someone wants to have an independent inquiry doesn't mean you have one. And for the record, Neil, we're not having one into the wine in the members bar or whatever. Come on.

ABO: All right. All right.

MITCHELL: Must be a scratched Commonwealth car, is it?

SHORTEN: Oh, mate, when did -

MITCHELL: Be honest.

SHORTEN: To be honest, this is the fairies at the bottom of the garden. You don't know how much it’s going to cost.

ABO: Okay, okay, okay.

MITCHELL: Nuclear power is real!

SHORTEN: How much would it cost to fly to the sun at night time?

ABO: Enough talk about unicorns and fairies. I don't think nuclear would take us down that path.

SHORTEN: Why don't we have an inquiry into flying into the sun at night time?

ABO: I think you should make a list of inquiries, Bill. And we should all vote on whether they should actually be acted. Let's get that, that might be interesting.

MITCHELL: He’s got enough, they cost us a fortune.

SHORTEN: Neil’s in favour of all of them.

ABO: All right. All right. Let's move on because, Neil, I do want to touch on that podcast you mentioned just a moment ago, because on it, the PM has dished out some brutal honesty about his predecessor. Take a look. Have a listen to this.


ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: I get on much better with Peter Dutton than I did with Scott Morrison.

MITCHELL: You didn't like him much, did you?

ABO: Scott Morrison? No.


ABO: I don't know if that's a compliment or not, that he prefers Peter Dutton over ScoMo Neil, what do you reckon?

MITCHELL: Oh, he really didn't like Scott Morrison. We went on a bit further about that, but he also gave me his full assessment of Bill Shorten, which was riveting.

ABO: Ooh, do tell.

SHORTEN: Excellent.

MITCHELL: Good, good close mates they are.

SHORTEN: You’ve got to listen to Neil's podcast, that’s a teaser

MITCHELL: Yeah, really

SHORTEN: We're getting on fine, Neil.

MITCHELL: Quite right, Bill, we agree.

ABO: Now you’re getting on pretty well, but what do you reckon? I mean, do you prefer Peter Dutton over ScoMo? Bill?

SHORTEN: Oh, listen, I don't want to be too hard on ScoMo the man I know the guy is looking for a job outside of politics. I know Peter Dutton wants him to go, so maybe I won't be too hard on him because we just - maybe Scott needs to do something else. But that’s up to him.

ABO: Oh, you’re playing nice as well.

MITCHELL: You got a job for him, Bill? You got a job for him, maybe he could work in -

SHORTEN: Like Tony Abbott, he could -

ABO: Maybe he could head the unicorn inquiry. All right, guys, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it.