Minister Shorten TV interview on the Today Show


SUBJECTS: US military personnel helicopter crash; military exercises; federal opposition inquiry into the cancellation of the Commonwealth Games; Collingwood v Melbourne finals clash

SARAH ABO, HOST: Welcome back. Well, more now on our top story. Three US military personnel confirmed dead, and five others injured after their helicopter crashed off the coast of the Northern Territory. Joining us to discuss today's headlines is Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten and 3AW presenter Neil Mitchell. Thank you both for your time this morning. Bill, an investigation is now underway into this tragedy. Our hearts go out to those affected. It's just so, so sad to see military personnel go down again in an incident of this nature. What do you expect will come of this?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Well, first of all, it's just dreadful for the Marines for the loss of life, for their families. These are American servicemen training in Australia. And it just reminds me of the risks that all of our defence personnel do when they train for our warlike situations. There are risks involved. The other thing is that when I see people criticise the American alliance with Australia, the sacrifice of these men are just reminds me of how important our relationship is and what both nations give to make sure that our values are upheld.

ABO: I mean, these are obviously exercises to better prepare our services and the region for war should it arrive on our doorstep. But, Neil, I mean, there's got to be a way to prevent incidents like this from happening in the first place. There's always risk involved, but we need to improve the safety here.

NEIL MITCHELL, 3AW: Well, remember, it's only four weeks ago to only a couple of weeks ago, we lost four people, four Australians, in a helicopter crash on exercises. Neither of these incidents was during war games, if you like. They were transporting people. So maybe that's the price of travelling in these sorts of aircraft. But it's awful. It's awful. And I think there's an indication or there's an argument that we could see more of it because we're going to have more war games, more of these exercises because of the tensions with China. That's what's underlying it. And we've got to do it and we should do it. But I agree with Bill. This is just reinforcing that message that the military is dangerous.

ABO: Yeah, it's sort of about that question, is it worth it? But I suppose we have to be prepared. We don't really have a choice, do we? All right. Well, moving on, it has been revealed that Victorian town of Morwell was chosen to host Rugby Sevens for the now cancelled 2026 Commonwealth Games despite having no local rugby clubs. That'll be among the number of questions posed in the inquiry that gets underway today, Bill. There were calls for the event to be moved before the games were cancelled. I mean was the Commonwealth Games in Victoria doomed from the beginning?

SHORTEN: I don't know about that. But now that Dan Andrews has made the decision to cancel it, I think that was the sensible decision. I think it's pretty audacious of a Coalition controlled Senate inquiry to start investigating another sovereign government. I mean, imagine if the Victorian Government chose to investigate former Coalition sports minister Bridget McKenzie sports rorts. I mean this is an inquiry about a Games which has been cancelled, which is sensible. I noticed they've called former Minister Martin Pakula. Now he's a very good fellow. I mean, he's a long-suffering Carlton Tragic, but he wasn't even in the government when they decided to cancel it. So, I think this is an inquiry looking for some work to do. It just seems to be a spectacular waste of taxpayer money.

ABO: It's not just about when it was cancelled Bill, it's about the process that led to them even having it in the first place. You know that. And I mean, as Neil knows too, the evidence has been mounting that this should never have been announced to begin with.

SHORTEN: So, but what’s the Coalition outrage, is it that -

MITCHELL: Martin Pakula has to give evidence, he’s one of the blokes who put the deal together. What nonsense, Bill. That is just - even for you that's nonsense. Martin Pakula, and I agree he's a decent man, I agree he’s a decent man, but he was there putting it together. Of course, we've got to know from him. Of course, we've got to know from him.

SHORTEN: He hasn’t even been in Parliament!

MITCHELL: And you see, Dan's already sent him a message saying, remember, you're not allowed to tell any secrets.

ABO: Oh, they'll just say they don't recall. Neil. Right?

SHORTEN: I think this is - well, but let's go through this. This is an inquiry by the federal opposition into a state government. I mean, if we've got this amount of money to waste on inquiries, I want to know what really happened to Phar Lap. I want to know if Elvis is still alive in Patterson Lakes. Come on. We know that there's life on the dark side of the moon.

MITCHELL: We spent $600 million on a Games we're not having. You talk about waste of money, $600 million dollars here on -

SHORTEN: Are you outraged that they – do you know, there's one thing which would have been a bigger waste of -

MITCHELL: - Games that we aren’t having, and to say there shouldn't be an inquiry.

SHORTEN: There would have been a bigger waste of money. Okay. There would have been a bigger waste of money, which would have been to keep going ahead with the Games.

MITCHELL: But whose deal was it, Bill?

SHORTEN: I mean, at the end of the day, we cancelled the Games three years out. I feel for the athletes.

MITCHELL: But who made the mess? Well, who made the mess? Who?

SHORTEN: I don't know. But the point about it is -

MITCHELL: Labor government did it!

SHORTEN: The point about it wasn't you and it wasn't me, but the Games have been cancelled.


SHORTEN: Are you angry that they've taken your toy off the table? You don't have another stick to beat up Dan Andrews with?

MITCHELL: What I’m angry about is that they've wasted -

SHORTEN: You're going to miss Dan Andrews.

MITCHELL: What I'm worried about.

SHORTEN: When he's not around or you're not around?

ABO: Yeah. Who's going to go first, Neil? You or Dan, hey? That's what everyone really wants to know.

MITCHELL: Bill, come back, come back to Victoria, Bill, and see the hospitals struggling, the ambulances -

SHORTEN: I’m in Victoria! I’m in Moonee Ponds.

MITCHELL: - struggling and they've blown, and they've blown $600 million. It is all their own mess. And now they won't even inquire into it. They should do it. They've created the mess and now they want applause for cleaning up their own mess for heaven's sake.

ABO: Bill, I want to know where you where are you in Moonee Ponds at the moment. It looks like you're in front of a Dan Andrews Cafe or something. Dan Dan’s, is that?

SHORTEN: I'm at a very good I'm at a very good cafe called Dan Dan's, but the owner theme did not name it after Dan Andrews.

ABO: You sure?

SHORTEN: You should all come down. I'm sure. I'm sure.

ABO: All right. Well, how about this, guys? We have reached -

SHORTEN: But let's have an inquiry into the name of this café, Neil.

ABO: Oh, Bill.

MITCHELL: $600 million. Come on…

ABO: We are at the most exciting time of the year. Okay? The finals.

SHORTEN: Oh my god, you're going to miss Dan Andrews.

ABO: Everyone breathe. Everyone breathe. Because I can feel you're going to get angry again about this you two, on next Thursday night when Collingwood, Bill your Pies, Neil your Demons, when they come head-to-head at the MCG. It is going to be a big one. I don't think I can handle the pressure you guys, how are you both coping?

MITCHELL: First time, first time in 34 years they've played in a final last time was at Waverley Park, which is now a housing estate. Everybody had a mullet. Bill, I've got a bet for you. Right. You're a Collingwood supporter. I'm a Melbourne supporter. If Melbourne wins, you agree for ten minutes to answer every question and tell the truth. If Collingwood wins, I stop asking questions for ten minutes. What about that?

ABO: Well, we can't have that Neil, because obviously Collingwood is going to win.

MITCHELL: No, I didn't think so.

SHORTEN: Oh no, no. Neil I'll take up the bet with one variation, I get to interview. I get to interview you on your show, you come on to my 3AW show.

MITCHELL: Yep. Done.

SHORTEN: I get to interview you for ten minutes and I'll just – all right

ABO: I like the sound of that.

MITCHELL: And you’ll tell the truth, otherwise?

SHORTEN: What, what -

MITCHELL: Yeah, I'll be in there.

SHORTEN: Okay, well, here's one question to warm you up.

MITCHELL: No spin, no evasion, just the truth.

SHORTEN: Who's going to get – oh yes. And no interruption.

ABO: Oh, my goodness. You guys save all this for the interview the day after the game. All right. We'll catch you later, okay? Thank you, guys. Karlos?

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: I think I can get a sponsor for that segment. That's a good one.