Minister Shorten interview on the Today Show with Sarah Abo


SUBJECTS: Crime in Melbourne; AFL concussions and tribunal; Bill Shorten and Neil Mitchell’s bet

SARAH ABO, HOST: Welcome back. Well, police are on the hunt for a gang of masked teens believed to be behind a number of robberies across Melbourne. Meantime, schools across the city are hiring permanent security and people are scared to go to Bourke Street. So, the question is, is Melbourne safe? Joining us to discuss, Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten and 3AW presenter Neil Mitchell. Thank you both for your time this morning. Bill, we've seen an increase in crime right across the country, notably in Queensland, but now these latest cases in Melbourne have given us new cause for concern.

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICESHORTEN: My thoughts are with the family of the man who was run down in Bourke Street and the other people who were injured. It is shocking and there's no doubt in my mind that there's a real challenge at the moment, I think, especially with stabbings. So, it is a problem. But I'd still go to Bourke Street. I mean, this is just a terrible incident. No, you can't call it anything other than that.

ABO: It really is. But the problem is, Bill, some people don't want to go to Bourke Street anymore and it is going to have an impact on the city that's slowly starting to recover post COVID. I mean, Neil, we've seen so much video footage. This latest one shows the moment the car barrels through Bourke Street. I mean, it's horrifying to watch, especially for a city that really, we saw that tragedy in carnage following the 2017 Bourke Street rampage. Do you think people are too scared to go into town?

NEIL MITCHELL, 3AW: Ah, some are, yeah. And it is the third fatal incident in Bourke Street in since Gargasoulas. It's been a short time. Perceptions are crucial, perceptions are crucial. I agree with Bill, Bourke Street is probably no more dangerous than it really ever was, but people are frightened of it. People are frightened to go there. The whole city has a bit of a rundown feel to it. We need to liven it up. We've had a problem with gangs in the city before, some years ago, and the police targeted it very deliberately and cleaned it up. The nightclub precinct was a disaster. I think we need that sort of focus, but we need more than policing. Somehow, we’ve got to, I don't know, lift the lift the vibrancy around the city, get more people there, more involvement. It just it feels rundown, which is very sad.

ABO: Yeah, you were talking about a sort of a crisis of confidence. What are your listeners saying, Neil?

MITCHELL: My listeners, some of them are saying we won't come into town anymore. And yes, you can argue that's an overreaction, but it doesn't matter. If people have that perception, it's a negative thing and it's also self-fulfilling. They are worried about coming into town. You can't put more bollards in. You can't really stop it. It's not a government fault. The government's done everything they can and you're always going to be vulnerable to this sort of thing, you see it around the world. But people are losing confidence in the city. The numbers are down during the week because people are working from home. They have been up in the weekends. Be interesting to see how it goes now.

ABO: Yeah, absolutely. All right. Well, let's move on to a debate that has had everyone around the country talking. This hit on Demon star Angus Brayshaw by Collingwood's Brayden Maynard. Bill let's leave our biases aside. Brayshaw has a history of concussions, he may never play again, which no one wants. What do you think should happen if the tribunal tonight?

SHORTEN: I'll leave that for the tribunal to decide. There is an issue in football with concussion and head injury, it's finally being revealed. In regard to that particular incident. I wouldn't want to start being judge and jury, but there's no doubt - the Senate's doing an inquiry into concussion, which is important. It's Anika Wells, our sports minister, has been talking about the issue. So, in general, it is a challenge and I think it has been one of the sort of underbelly issues in the AFL for a while and now it's finally coming to light.

ABO: It absolutely is an issue, Bill, but was this intentional? I mean, obviously it wasn't.

SHORTEN: I think it was an accident.

ABO: And so, Neil, where does that leave us?

MITCHELL: Well, I'll be judge and jury. And I feel for Angus Brayshaw. He's a lovely bloke. History of concussion could be the end of his career. And there is, Bill’s right, there's a big problem with concussion in the AFL and they've been pretty slow to react on it. But and this is strange for a Melbourne supporter, I don't - I think it was accidental. I think it was entirely accidental. Maynard's got no history for malice in his play, but I think he’ll get 3 to 4 weeks at the tribunal tonight and I think he'll go to the appeals board, and he may well get off at the appeals board, which gives the AFL a problem. The AFL says that what is important as a serious factor in this is the degree of the injury, the consequences, not just the act. So, the AFL will want punishment here and if it goes to the appeals board, it'll be interesting to see where it goes.

ABO: Yeah, absolutely, because they're already at conflict with the MRO. So, it will be interesting to see how the AFL rides this out. All right. Well how about this, guys? Because I remember it wasn't that long ago, we had a bet riding on that first game of finals. Neil, you thought Melbourne might win. Neil, you were wrong. And that means the mic is over to bill.

SHORTEN: Yeah. Neil Neil's conceded that he's going to honour the bet as I would have and we're just we're just negotiating the time slot.

ABO: Just remind us, what the bet was again Bill?

MITCHELL: No, no, no, no, no. No.

SHORTEN: Neil challenged me, and he said, if Melbourne win, I want to interview you for ten minutes, no spin, all truth. And then I said, well, right back at you. If Collingwood win and the Mighty Pies won on Thursday night, so I'm looking forward to hot miking with Neil and I've been preparing some questions. I've gone to the Australian Government Vetting Security Agency, their questions for a security clearance.

ABO: What's the date, hey?

MITCHELL: Well, I've gone to the politicians, I've gone to the politicians for guidance. So let me be perfectly clear here. I didn't say that. I misspoke. I was totally misrepresented. You all got it wrong. It's the media's fault. No comment.


ABO: Brilliant. Brilliant. Hey, it works for them, Bill.

SHORTEN: Neil, I don't mind, I don't mind you. I cannot - it's like opposites day. I get to interview you. To be honest, I'm very, very excited, Neil.

ABO: I cannot recall. Let's go with that as well.

SHORTEN: I’m very excited.

ABO: We look forward to it. I cannot wait.

MITCHELL: I can't recall.

SHORTEN: Yeah. I've got to help boost your ratings. I'm going to boost the ratings.

MITCHELL: I couldn't make that bet, there’s no such bet.

ABO: Karl, you recall though, don’t you? You remember? That bet was definitely made, wasn't it Karlos?

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: I think he's a man of his word, Neil Mitchell. I've got a photo of him exclusively by a paparazzo of him in a Collingwood beanie, which I'll show.

ABO: It suits you, Neil! You look like one of us. Very nice.

MITCHELL: That's a worry!

SHORTEN: He was down at the Magistrates Court.

STEFANOVIC: [laughs] Down at the Magistrates Court. Oh, I love it.