Minister Shorten interview on the Today Show with Karl Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: ADF drones announcement; Labor’s tax cuts; IR laws  

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Well. Australia's ambition to build a fleet of killer drones has taken its next step with a $400 million price tag. Let's bring in Opposition Leader Peter Dutton in Melbourne and Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten in Canberra. Morning, guys. Bill, you’re first up. Richard Marles bagged defence force heads yesterday today sending in the drones.

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: No, Richard didn't say that yesterday, but he just wants to make sure that we've got a culture of excellence in defence. The drones announcement, which is being made by Minister Pat Conroy, who's in charge of defence industry, is an exciting development. These drones will be the best in the world, which makes them only just good enough for Australian defence forces. And it's going to employ a lot of Aussie jobs in the process of making them. So, I think it's exciting news later this morning.

STEFANOVIC: Hard to see a negative in that. Pete, as the former defence minister though, why didn't you give our respected defence chiefs a little rev up?

PETER DUTTON, OPPOSITION LEADER: Hahahahaha! Well, where is Richard, Karl? I mean, he's M.I.A. And Bill, I don't know what he's done with him, but THIS should be Richard's bread and butter this morning, but he's nowhere to be found,

SHORTEN: I'll tell him you miss him.

DUTTON: It's a great, great announcement and we support it - yeah. Please do. I understand you two aren't talking, but if you could send him a text.

STEFANOVIC: Oh, standby.

SHORTEN: Stop treating me like an ABC TV announcer and making stuff up.

STEFANOVIC: All right, so just quickly on that announcement.

DUTTON: Great one. Hey, um, mate, look, it's a great announcement. I went out to Amberley Air Base as Defence Minister, we put a lot of funding into this, and it's a huge collaboration with Boeing. It's an export quality product from us. And there's not only sort of a domestic benefit, but this will enhance our global reputation. So, I think it's a great outcome and we support it very much.

STEFANOVIC: Just quickly, do you think, um, Pete, that the defence chiefs needed that pull through yesterday from Richard Marles?

DUTTON: Look, I suspect Richard's frustrated as I was with the delivery of some of the programs and the cost overruns and the rest of it. But in the end, you have to respect our men and women in uniform. And I'm not sure that Richard's done that on this occasion, it seems, by the reporting. And I hope that the relationship can improve because we're in a precarious period and we need a good relationship between the Defence Minister and the chief of the Defence Force. And the minister can't blame his own shortcomings on the CDF.

STEFANOVIC: Moving on. It's been a big week for the government. The PM got his mojo back after losing his voice. I mean, who could have seen this last week coming? Well Bill, Nostradamus Shorten did.

SHORTEN [VIDEO]: Pete, I'm going to make a $10 bet with you that you will have to back in our lower taxes. Otherwise, the Liberal Party will be the party of higher taxes for Middle Australia.

STEFANOVIC: Bill. It only cost you 100 mil, give or take, to get on top of your game again.

SHORTEN: Well, I think it's just cost Peter Dutton $20. These tax cuts are in the best interests of Australians. The Liberal Party, when we announced the changes, had more positions than the Kamasutra. [ALL LAUGH] Poor old Susan - it's an oldie but a goldie - poor old Sussan Ley sort of stumbled into the crossfire and said they were going to roll them back, and I'm never sure quite what Angus Taylor thought, but these are - in all seriousness, they're great for 13.6 million Aussies who go to work every day. So, it's a good outcome. And I think, Pete, you owe me $20.

STEFANOVIC: All right. There you go, Pete. It took you a while to make up your mind. How much skin did you lose this week apart from the 20 bucks?

DUTTON: Well, I'll send Bill the 20 bucks. I'd buy him two schooners if I could. But you can't get two schooners for $20 anymore.

SHORTEN: Maybe, could we get a Woolworth's voucher? Are we back shopping at Woolworth's? We could get a Woolies voucher.

DUTTON: Well, we're all celebrating Chinese New Year. They're stocking all that gear. So that's great. And we're very happy to celebrate all of that.

STEFANOVIC: Ha ha ha ha.

DUTTON: So, let's -

SHORTEN: By the way, it's not just Chinese New Year, it's the Lunar New Year.

DUTTON: It may be Bill.

SHORTEN: It's the Lunar New Year across Asia. It's not just China. But anyway, I'll get you a map.

STEFANOVIC: All right. Um, Bill, um, now you want to send bosses, I mean, you've had such a great week you’re just rolling on with it, IR laws now, um, we want to send bosses to the clink, as much as some of us want to do that. How did that even get tabled?

SHORTEN: Oh, listen, I've seen this latest Tory tantrum on workers getting better rights. Now, we don't think there should be criminal penalties for the right to disconnect.

STEFANOVIC: How did it get in there, then?

SHORTEN: Well, it's in the Act. And we said to the Libs, listen, we just better tidy that up. And would you believe the Liberals threw the toys out of the cot and said, no, no, you've got your laws. We're not going to let you amend it. Goodness me.

STEFANOVIC: All right Pete, even former New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet this morning is saying that he wants negative gearing tax reform. You'd better get in front of this one, maybe.

DUTTON: We've been very clear we don't support it. And Prime Minister yesterday refused to rule out grandfathering people that have got negative gearing arrangements in place already. See, Bill Shorten took this to the election in 2019. And I know he's still suffering - he's probably shaking now, I'm not sure if you can see it on camera, but he went to the election and got smashed because he was promising to roll back negative gearing. Now we don't have rental stock in this country without negative gearing. People who want to save for their family, for their kids and grandkids, look at a rental property as core business. And this government attacks aspiration. Australians are about $8,000 a year worse off at the moment under this government. And if you've got an average mortgage, you're paying $24,000 more each year in net dollars under this government.

So, everybody is feeling the pinch. And yet this government's talking about jacking up the car of prices, the Mazda CX 30, by about $19,000 under their new car and ute tax. And now we understand that they want to abolish negative gearing. This government only dances to the tune of the union movement, as you just pointed out. And I'd say that Anthony Albanese would be pretty smart to have a chat to Bill Shorten and talk to his counsellor to say, do you really want to go through what Bill went through in 2019?

STEFANOVIC: Look, let's not kick him out while he's down, Billy. I mean, you'd love taking tax reform to the electorate. Let's be fair about that. Are you ruling it out?

DUTTON: Yeah. Double down, Bill

SHORTEN: I think that Pete is in quite a dismal mood. This morning. We got the elevator pitch of everything that's wrong with the world. No, seriously, on negative gearing, we're not doing it. I did take a policy to restrict some of the aspects of it to the 2019 election. I have learnt my lesson. I took tax reform to the election, and all we got at the end of it was Scott Morrison. If that's not reason not to do it, oh a good one. I knew that would crack a smile. Is Pete smiling? I hope so.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, Pete’s smiling. Well, Scott.

SHORTEN: I just want to apologize to Australia for helping to give them Scott Morrison

DUTTON: Well to be fair to Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese.

STEFANOVIC: Sorry. Go on. Pete.

DUTTON: To be fair, to be fair, and Bill can't say the second part of that sentence, but Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese, which makes - again, are you sweating or you shaking, Bill?

SHORTEN: No. I’ll tell you what I know that people don't think you have a sense of humour. But this week, the chutzpah of copying Albo and Jim's tax homework and then saying it was yours and then dobbing us in, I think that was…

STEFANOVIC: Excellent use of chutzpah, too. Well done guys. Thank you so much. That was thoroughly entertaining and informative.

SHORTEN: All right, have a nice day.

STEFANOVIC: You too. Sarah.

SARAH ABO: You guys are having way too much fun, Karlos. Thank you.