Minister Shorten interview on the Today Show with Karl Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: Cost of electricity; calls to ban dangerous dog breeds; Sydney council calls for all pets to be allowed on public transport; calls to rename Premiership Cup for Ron Barassi

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back to the show. There are calls for urgent power bill relief, prices in Victoria alone have risen by up to $800 per year. Joining us to discuss, Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten. Not easy to say on a Tuesday morning, and Heidi Murphy from 9 News and 3AW. Good morning, guys. Nice to see you. Bill first up, families are being smashed by rising prices left, right and centre. You know that, they need help. Some are paying $4,000 a year more now in electricity and gas. You said you were going to fix it. You ain't.

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Listen, there's no question that family's doing it really hard. But in terms of what we've done, we're investing $20 billion to refresh our energy grid. We're providing 5 million people with rebates, a million businesses. So, there is a bit going on. And the other thing to say here is that you can't turn around ten years of neglect of investment, the illegal war in Ukraine has emerged since the election or just before the last federal election. These are difficult times. And I just want to put on the record I think the privatization of energy in the 90s was a disaster. It just made money for power companies, but nothing for consumers.

STEFANOVIC: That may very well -

SHORTEN: So, there’s a bit going on. It is tough and we're doing things.

STEFANOVIC: New South Wales is going through that now and a little bit of navel gazing, but the horse has bolted. Heidi, what help would you like to see here?

HEIDI MURPHY, 9 NEWS AND 3AW: Well, I'd like Bill’s cheaper power bills, my $275 cheaper power bills that I was supposed to get Bill, from your government. What I would like is an end to, I guess the spin, that's all I can say, governments or parties that promise to lower power prices when the reality is they cannot. Power bills are going in one direction and one direction only and that is up. We've got more poles that need to be built, more transmission wires that need to be built, to connect all this new renewable energy. It is going to get a lot worse. I don't want a political party telling me they can lower them. They can't.

STEFANOVIC: Bill, it's a good point from Heidi. Don't promise it if you can't deliver.

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, that $275 was modelled in 2021. I'm sorry, we didn't have the crystal ball and presume that Putin was going to invade the Ukraine. But if you don’t want -

STEFANOVIC: It's not the only reason.

MURPHY: But is it just Putin or is it years of neglect? Is it which - I mean, can you have it both ways?

SHORTEN: Well, welcome to a complicated world. I really wish that the Liberals hadn't been had their head in the sand on renewable energy for so long. I wish they had invested, but they didn't. And if you want miracle solutions, let's not deal with the spin that you can just simply sort it out overnight. There's ten years of neglect and I wish maybe we'd all been able to focus, our predecessors - you can't build a transmission tower or wire overnight. You can't do the cable between Bass Strait and the mainland overnight. I mean, they've got the Snowy Hydro scheme, which is just run massively over cost. So yes, it is complicated. It's really hard in the meantime, I know the government is providing support.

MURPHY: But be honest, prices are going to keep, they're going to keep going up, aren't they?

SHORTEN: Until we can make long term investments, life's going to be choppy for people.

STEFANOVIC: That’s a yes.

SHORTEN: But isn't government about also being straight? And let's be straight. You can’t fix this overnight.

MURPHY: That's what I'm saying, yeah, let's be straight. They will go up.

STEFANOVIC: Bills will, bills will go up, it's not going to be choppy. It's going to be going up. Let's move on. There are calls to ban dangerous dog breeds following a series of scary attacks across the country. A Sydney man attacked by two escaped dogs yesterday. A Perth woman still in hospital today after a brutal attack by her own Rottweilers. Two more hospitalised after an attack in Adelaide last week. Meantime, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to ban one breed within the year, the American bully Dog. Heidi, are we coming to this now? I mean, it just seems to come around every couple of years, but it's pretty tough out there.

MURPHY: I think there's always a pushback from the owners of some particular breeds, too. But I am firmly on board banning dangerous dog breeds. I don't see what the argument is for keeping them at all. It's very simple from my perspective.

STEFANOVIC: I agree. It's just zeroing in on what's dangerous or not. Bill, what do you think?

SHORTEN: I went to the funeral of a little girl, one of my constituents, who got mauled by a dog and died in 2012. There are a few breeds which are essentially sharks on legs, and you should ban some of these breeds. They're a minority. The other thing is, unless you're a dog breeder, I don't know why we don't have a conversation about desexing dogs as well. So, I certainly think that for a few breeds, absolutely just proven that owners can't control all of them.

STEFANOVIC: What about this namby pamby council in Sydney? They want to be they want to allow pets on all public transport. But animal experts are slamming the idea, saying it would cause chaos. Bill, should we allow you to go on public transport with your Shih Tzus?

SHORTEN: Well, I've never been to that location, but I certainly think - I've got two British bulldogs. Listen, I know I didn't get to be Prime Minister, but I've made it to the peak of Dogdom. I'm the patron of the British Bulldogs Club of Victoria, but I wouldn't take my - not everyone loves dogs, so I accept that whilst I think British Bulldog is a handsome, majestic animal, I wouldn't want to take them on a tram or a train. Not everyone likes dogs. Well, the breathing's okay. There's no fat shaming bulldogs. They're handsome.

STEFANOVIC: They are a handsome dog. You've got to love ugly things, though. Heidi, what about you?

MURPHY: I know I'd love to take my spoodle on the train. Sure. I'd love to bring her into work all the time, but not everybody else would like that. I tend to agree with Bill. It's as much as you'd like to be able to, I think there are a number of people who are made uncomfortable by even cute little fluffy dogs. And so why put them out?

STEFANOVIC: I’d just love to take my German Shepherd on a train. Just be beautiful.

MURPHY: Public transport can be wild enough at times as it is.

STEFANOVIC: Just quickly before we go, yea or nay, AFL premiership cup in honour of Ron Barassi. Bill?


SHORTEN: Yeah, I reckon that's a nice way to do things. I'll see what the AFL say, but I think he's a very special man and like, I had the chance to meet him on a number of occasions. A real gentleman of football.

STEFANOVIC: All right, that's two yeas. Good on you.

MURPHY: Yeah, it is. Bill, I should let you know your good friend Neil Mitchell says definitely a yes as well. So that's three of us. Excellent.

STEFANOVIC: There we go. We can change policy.


STEFANOVIC: Sarah, thank you.