Minister Shorten interview on the Today Show with Karl Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: Immigration visas for Palestinians; Industrial Relations laws; Supermarkets pricing; US election;

STEFANOVIC: The Government has approved 2000 visas to Palestinians fleeing the war in Gaza, adding further fuel to the already heated debate about immigration in this country. I'm joined now by Government Services Minister Bill Shorten and Shadow Minister for Finance Jane Hume in Melbourne. Good morning guys. Nice to see you. First up to you, Bill. Have you adequately vetted these applicants? You wouldn't want to get this wrong.

SHORTEN: Yes. Well, in preparation for this morning's story, I went and checked and I've been informed that we're doing exactly the same vetting process that the Liberals used to do. The other fact, which in these sort of Liberal propaganda machine hasn't emerged, is that of the 2000 visas being granted, probably 3 or 400 have actually arrived. Most of them can't even leave.

STEFANOVIC: Do they need more vetting given they're coming out of a war zone?

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, we're doing the same as what the Libs did. So, you know, it's a boomerang issue. But secondly, in order to leave Gaza, the Israelis have got to give it the, uh, have a say, too, so they're pretty careful.

STEFANOVIC: Jane, you don't want them here?

HUME: Uh, look, I think Australia has always been very generous with its immigration program. The problem is, you need to have trust in the integrity of that immigration program as well. And this Government has proved itself, uh, that it's failed on almost every hurdle in immigration.

STEFANOVIC: So you're saying..

HUME: There's no wonder, no wonder you need to be a little cautious about these things.

STEFANOVIC: Are you saying they're failing here? I mean, it's the same vetting process and suddenly...

HUME: It does sound unusual that with people from a war zone in particular, quite a very heated conflict, some of which has spilled over into Australia, that processing times for security documents can take up to only an hour. Now, this just doesn't sound right. What are you saying?

STEFANOVIC: What do you say? Just lay it out there.

HUME: You want. You want an efficient. You want an efficient processing program. Of course you do. Hang on. You do. But at the same time, you can't say. It only takes an hour to check the security documents of people from a war zone. And, uh, Bill, mate, it's taking 90 days for an Australian to get a pension.

SHORTEN: Jane, you're chewing up the time here. The reality is, when you use that one hour fact. Let's be honest, that was an answer given in Senate. The global time to process visas across the world is one hour. But it is not right of you to say, oh, if it's on average one hour for everyone coming to Australia, you then say that's one hour applied to these. That's just not true. So to the naughty corner on that fact.

STEFANOVIC: All right let's move on...

HUME: Naughty corner. Naughty corner. It's taking you 90 days to process a pension for an Australian. And yet it's only taking you a day to process security documents...

SHORTEN: I wish that you hadn't cut all those numbers at Centrelink and Services Australia. Then we wouldn't have the backlogs.

STEFANOVIC: I'm going to roll on. Anthony Albanese has turned down the idea of breaking up mega supermarkets over pricing concerns. Bill, Albo said we're not the old Soviet Union, but the profits, the salaries. They grind Aussies' gears.

SHORTEN: I normally on this show I get attacked from the sort of right for-

STEFANOVIC: I'm not attacking, I'm just checking.

SHORTEN: No. Okay, well first of all, we're not going to break up Coles and Woolworths, but it's Labor who said enough is enough with the price gouging. I think I've been on your show 6 or 7 times and said Coles and Woolies need to be accountable.

STEFANOVIC: Do you want to regulate it more?

SHORTEN: Well, I want them to provide better price competition. We'll do what it takes. But the break up that hasn't happened much in the Western world. I think they did it to Bell Telecom in the late 70s. That didn't necessarily deliver all the changes. It's not it's not on the agenda. We just want to make sure Coles and Woolworths aren't ripping people off.

STEFANOVIC: Jane, I can't see how you would support this kind of meddling in the free market.

HUME: Well, we certainly support competition and I think that, you know, Bill has a point. Enough's enough. But why did it take two years to get to this point, Bill? Why is it that, you know, Anthony Albanese, after it took him till January this year to do, to charge the ACCC with an investigation, two investigations? He could have done it a year and a half ago because apparently the cost of living was the number one issue a year and a half ago. But it's taken you this long to do it now. There’s work that can be done with competition for supermarkets, there is no doubt. Why is it that supermarkets are allowed, for instance, to land bank, which prevents competitors coming into the market? I think that's something that should be pursued.

SHORTEN: I mean, if the Liberals-

HUME: Face it, you're a bit, you know, too late and a dollar short on this one, Bill.

SHORTEN: Sorry. Chewing up the time again. But if you were, really the cost of living warriors that you claim to be, why is your Liberal candidate and Dunkley, the former Mayor, every time he was Mayor, he put up the rates three times in a row.

HUME: Not as much as the Labor State Government down here. So let's not go that far.

SHORTEN: Ohh, zing!

HUME: No no no no.

SHORTEN: Three times the Liberal-

HUME: You want to [unknown] Dunkley I'll be happy to do that.

STEFANOVIC: So can you stop-

SHORTEN: Three rate increases!

STEFANOVIC: Stop looking at me when you're referring to the Liberal Party. It's very off putting.

SHORTEN: Someone told me off camera, look at the most handsome man in the room.

STEFANOVIC: Well, that's true, that is true. Well, keep looking away, Bill Shorten. Um, look, um, the other thing. Big story. This morning, in IR legislation, work at home obviously being discussed, but also the unions are now talking about, the gig economy, superannuation and even leave entitlements. I mean, do you want to kill small business?

SHORTEN: Well, let's not muddle up a whole lot of concepts here. What we don't want to do is see gig workers getting killed on the roads, uh, which does happen because they're paid ridiculously low conditions. It's not about small business. It's about making sure that in the new forms that people work, that they're not getting ripped off. I mean, it's great to get your pizza delivered. That's fantastic. But we just want to make sure the people delivering it-

STEFANOVIC: Do they do they get leave and do they get superannuation because that's a killer for some small businesses.

SHORTEN: Under our changes, that's not what's proposed for every person. People still got a right to set up their own legal structures to be employed. But we want to make sure that people who are doing employment-like activities are not being ripped off. Are you really...are we really saying that someone who's delivering, you know, the Uber, uh, that they're that they're genuinely just pure sole independent contractors? I think not.

HUME: Jane, would you wind that back if you got into power, if they made those kind of changes?

HUME: Well, we're certainly always going to be the party that stands up for small business because small business employs so many Australians and they're doing it really tough right now. These Industrial Relations laws that that the Labor Government have brought in have been a regressive step. They're taking us back, uh, you know, back to the 1970s. Productivity is going backwards in this country.

STEFANOVIC: So you'll wind it back?

HUME: The economic growth has come to a standstill..

STEFANOVIC: Is that a yes or no?

HUME: - have come to a standstill. You know, quite frankly, someone's got to step up.

STEFANOVIC: Will you wind it back?

HUME: We will stand up for small business? Right. They're not in the-

SHORTEN: Jane a lot of words died in those sentences. But are you going to wind back the IR changes?

HUME: Why don't you just roll over and have your tummy tickled by your union paymasters? You're really good at that.


HUME: Let's stand up for - why don't we stand up for small business.

SHORTEN: Is that a yes or no?

HUME: Well, how about we stand up for small business.

SHORTEN: Or are you going to hide it till after the election?

STEFANOVIC: I had no idea it was so electric between you two. Uh, the tummy tickle. The tummy tickle from the Unions. I wouldn't mind seeing that, but..ha ha ha.. Hey, speculation, speculation is rife this morning. Well, I basically made this up. Uh, that Taylor Swift could run for office once she's done making billions. Um, Jane, do you think she'd make a good president of the United States of America?

HUME: Oh, she's got quite the reputation, Karl. Like that? See what I did there?

STEFANOVIC: I didn't really see it immediately. But I've got it now. Yeah, okay. The young producers have got my ear and said, "that's a song". Um. All right, Billy, you're on mate, this week. I love this, uh, former PM Paul Keating. Your old mate, um, reckons Joe Biden would be too infirmed to run again. I mean, anyone's got to be better than Old Yeller.

SHORTEN: Well, there's one person. Listen, you got to admire American politics. It's, um, got someone in their late 70s running against someone in their early 80s. And I want to wish Paul Keating happy birthday. He turns 80. Who knows what Australia would be like if he'd be allowed to run for Prime Minister when he's 80. So just say to Paul, don't give up on the octogenarians.

HUME: Oh my God.

STEFANOVIC: Jane, you'll you'll finish-

HUME: You set off my nervous twitch there. Bill, don't do that to me.

STEFANOVIC: You guys are awesome. I love this.

SHORTEN: You're only 20. You're only 30. Jane, you're doing fine.

STEFANOVIC: You guys should have dated back in the day. It would have been awesome. We could have had it on MAFs.

SHORTEN: All right. Karl, always has to go there. Say hello to Nick for me, Jane.

HUME: Ah, yeah, I will. No worries. You- and Chloe right back.

STEFANOVIC: There you go. All right. We have peace at last. Sarah.