Minister Shorten interview on the Today Show


SUBJECTS: Labor’s job strategy; wages and cost of living; Qantas pilots call for CEO’s resignation, footy finals
SARAH ABO, HOST: Welcome back. The Government has released its jobs strategy, with Treasurer Jim Chalmers stating his goal is to reduce the unemployment rate so 2.8 million people, more and more Australians can bolster the country's productivity. The white paper comes despite the jobless rate sitting at a near 50 year low of 3.7%. Joining us to discuss today's headlines is Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten and 3AW presenter Neil Mitchell, both in Melbourne. Thanks for joining us this morning, guys. Neil, there are those who have called the timing of this white paper a bit awkward amid those record low unemployment rates. What are your thoughts?

NEIL MITCHELL, 3AW: Oh yeah. I think it's probably timely for the government who's trying to convince us they can think about something other than the Voice. The other conflict here, though, I'm interested in Bill's view on this, is with the industrial laws, the new industrial laws. Almost immediately the business world has, and some lawyers have said, hang on, prices are going up, the cost of transport is going up, the cost of groceries is going up. This is going to do nothing to help any of that. In fact, it's going to make it worse. And I'd love to know from Bill, does he accept the principle of having non-union labour in a unionized workforce? Do you have non-union labour on a job? Is that a right, Bill? 

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Of course you can Neil. But, you know, I know you want to fight the industrial relations battles of the late 1990s, but let's get back to the issue here. Our vision is that you can actually pay people properly and still have full employment. Everyone wants prices down, Neil. Of course, they do. And maybe you should spend more time beating up on Coles and Woolworths - 

MITCHELL: And how does this bring it down?

SHORTEN: - and big companies than you do beating up on trade unions? You started the Today Show - well, you know what? Why don't you call out Coles and Woolworths and the big banks for taking very high profits at a time when people are doing it hard? You don't seem to have any hang up at all about very large corporations price gouging, but if you’ve got a building worker or a laundry worker getting a pay rise - 

MITCHELL: It's not about me, Bill. It's not about me. It's about people. 

SHORTEN: I know that.

ABO: What a way to start a Tuesday morning, You two bickering. I mean, Bill, it's not just those big companies that you mentioned 

MITCHELL: Bill, it’s not about me, grow up.

ABO: The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry -

SHORTEN: Neil, Neil. Neil. Do you know it's like watching the Flintstones, listening to you talk about what happened in the Stone Age. Union membership is barely 10% of the workforce yet you think that's the only issue in town?

ABO: It's not - 

SHORTEN: Yabba dabba doo, Neil. 

MITCHELL: But how does this bring prices down, Bill? How does it bring prices down, Bill? 

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, I'm going to let you into this secret, Neil. Just you and me and the whole of Australia already knows it. When workers don't have proper wages, they can't spend it in the high street and that contracts the economy. I'm just not hung up about strong minimum wages the way you are. I mean, we’re all, you, me and probably Sarah and Karl in particular, we’re all doing much better than the minimum wage.

MITCHELL: How does this bring prices down. 

SHORTEN: Well, you need to have money in the economy for people to spend it.

ABO: Bill, Karl said, not to bring him into it. Hey, can I just ask you this, though, Bill? I mean, it does this undermine the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry saying that the Government's IR laws will nullify the gains that the Treasurer is trying to make through this white paper? Do they undermine it?

SHORTEN: No, not at all. 

MITCHELL: Are they the Flintstones, too?

SHORTEN: Reality is that we're looking - oh, well, if everything that we ever do in the economy comes back to having a whinge about a low paid worker getting a pay rise, then yes, I actually think that is pretty primitive view. 

ABO: You know it's more than just pay rises though, it’s an overhaul of the system entirely.

SHORTEN: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So why don't we move beyond having a sook about minimum wage increases in this country? 

ABO: All right, well, let's move on because we have got a lot of other stuff to get through. I want to move on now to the Qantas pilots who are joining calls for Chairman Richard Goyder to step aside. Bill, Pilots Association boss Tony Lucas says his colleagues have totally lost confidence in Mr. Goyder. The chairman has recently insisted he has no intention of leaving. Will these comments make any difference?

SHORTEN: I don't know. But one thing is for sure. I believe that the Qantas workforce, many of whom who live in the northwest of Melbourne, where I live and represent, the Qantas workforce, have given greater loyalty to the board and senior management than they've received from the board and senior management in recent years. I mean, Qantas was taken to the High -  Qantas took a matter to the High Court and they were found out to have illegally sacked their workforce. I don't know what makes a board or a chairperson resign these days. I mean you can illegally sack 1700 workers. I don't know, what does it take to resign in this country?

ABO: Neil, does it wash? Do you reckon, with the public that Goyder reportedly received $100,000 pay rise, but Qantas workers are being asked to accept a two year wage freeze?

MITCHELL: No, of course, it doesn't wash with the public and nor does the idea they're going to spend a pile of money to find out what's wrong with Qantas. We know what's wrong with Qantas. There's no service, that is the problem. I'm delighted to hear Bill's talking, somebody from government talking, that isn't in Qantas pocket though, because the rest of you are.

ABO: Nothing to add. Bill?

SHORTEN: I'll take that as a compliment, Neil. I don't think my colleagues are, but thank you, Neil.

ABO: All right. Well, finally, guys – 

MITCHELL: Ask Qatar.

ABO: - it's a massive weekend of football. We've got the AFL grand final Saturday, the NRL grand final on Sunday. Last night, Lachie Neale took home the Brownlow Medal, his second. Surely this is the Brisbane Lions big win of the week. Am I right? Hey?

SHORTEN: Yeah, I hope so. I hope that's it. Anyway, congratulations to Lachie Neil. Well done. I think Nick Daicos was robbed. 

ABO: Yeah. He's a champion player, isn't he? 

MITCHELL: I reckon this is going to start - he is a great player and he's a good winner. But this is starting the whole debate about how the Brownlow votes are conducted again. There's already a petition started to get the fans voting on the Brownlow. I mean, Lachie Neil got three votes in a game where he got seven kicks. Josh Kelly got 41 kicks. 

ABO: Yeah, that was a controversial round. 

MITCHELL: Cameron kicked six goals. It's very strange, very strange. And this petition is seriously saying let the fans vote. So, Bill could vote for Nick Daicos.

ABO: Well, exactly. If the fans voted with 106,000 members, Collingwood will probably win the Brownlow every single year, so that's not such a bad idea.

MITCHELL: The Logies of footy.

SHORTEN: Justice for Nick Daicos.  

ABO: Yeah, that's right.

MITCHELL: The Logies of footy.

ABO: All right, guys, thank you so much. May the best team win on Saturday, which will obviously be Collingwood, right Karl?

MITCHELL: Don't be so grumpy, Bill. Lighten up. Bill, you're too grumpy today. 

SHORTEN: Go Pies! 

ABO: Yeah, lighten up the lot of ya. 

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: I love the Flintstones, too. I love the Flintstones. Yabba dabba doo. Come on, boys.