Minister Shorten interview on Today Show with Karl Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: Western Australian home invasion; detainees in the community; university protests; student safety

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: All right, let's bring in Minister of Government Services Bill Shorten and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton now. what do you say? Bill, Nanette just wants some answers, and your ministers can't give them, won't give them. Your government won't accept any responsibility at any level of this. So, what do you say to her?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: First of all, I'm very upset for Nanette and Phil, and as Sarah said, she's a strong lady, but she should never have to put up with these thugs and animals invading her home. So that's my first reaction, mate. Beyond that, yeah, I do think, I honestly don't know why the federal prosecutor, who admittedly is independent, so I'll probably get in trouble for saying this, but why on earth didn't the federal prosecutor oppose bail?

STEFANOVIC: Also, why weren't they being monitored is a fair enough question that she hasn't had answers. Why didn't they have ankle bracelets on?

SHORTEN: Okay, well, the answer to that is that politicians aren't the experts. So, we set up a community protection board. They made a decision to not put an ankle bracelet on this fellow, because previously he hadn't shown any crimes of violence. But again, I agree with probably what most viewers would think, that that is a mistake. But, you know, it's happened, and I just feel for the family and victims of crime should be reaching out to supports, I'm going to reach out to the West Australian government after that interview and say, what are we doing to provide some victims of crime support for Nanette?

STEFANOVIC: Bill, there's been plenty of blame. I'm not saying it's your fault, but there's been plenty of blame here from the government and no acceptance of any level of responsibility. Surely, surely, you're brave enough to do that.

SHORTEN: So, when you say there's been plenty of blame from the government, I know that when these crimes happen, everyone wants answers. And most importantly, we wish that it had never happened. So, I’m pretty sympathetic to that point of view. But on the other hand, we have a judicial system in this country. The High Court made a decision to release these detainees. We've taken the best advice possible to put in place a system. But these thugs have acted - you know, I'm furious that these people exist. There's a court case underway. What I'm not going to do is talk this guy out of further penalty by saying something injudicious. But as a human being and as someone in public life who represents the community, I do not understand some of our bail laws, and I do not understand some of the decisions made to give these people freedom when they shouldn't have it.

STEFANOVIC: Pete, you've called for resignations. That won't happen. Just no winners here.

PETER DUTTON, LIBERAL PARTY: Well, Karl, it has to happen. I mean, let's just deal with the facts here firstly. Nanette never needed to go through the horrific experience that she went through. The High Court never ruled that this individual should be released from custody. The High Court ruled in relation to one case, the Minister didn't produce the evidence required by the court to win that court case. It was negligent, reckless, hopeless. And now they've decided to release 150 more not directed by the court, but off the back of that one decision, it was an excuse to release these people First fact. Second fact is that the Prime Minister's office were putting out talking notes yesterday, saying to their backbenchers, just go out and tell the media that the bail was opposed. Well, as it turns out, the bail wasn't opposed. The bail application was made by, allegedly, by this individual's solicitor. The magistrate, as we now know, says that she thought the Commonwealth was very generous, in her words, and had there been an application to oppose bail by the prosecutor, her inclination would have been to deny bail. That is, to keep this individual in custody and not going out to Nanette’s place. We now know that there is another incident, and we now know that there are others that don't have ankle bracelets on. The Minister has responsibility here. The first charge of the Prime Minister of our country is to keep people safe, not to make them, not to put them in harm's way. And that's what's happened with Nanette. And people are right to be angry about it and upset. This could be anybody's grandmother or mother, and the Prime Minister's office going out there telling people, you know, lies, is just not acceptable. And if the Minister doesn't have responsibility here, I don't know who does.

STEFANOVIC: Bill, we also have the potential, the possibility of this happening again, because there are no guarantees from your government. You're not even across who's wearing these ankle bracelets and who's being monitored.

SHORTEN: I don't think that's right, Karl.

DUTTON: It’s absolutely right, Bill.

SHORTEN: I mean, I do think that the Home Affairs department - well, okay, digger, let's let me finish my answer before you go to your predictable response. Let's just keep it on the issues, not on the politics. Here, I understand that Home Affairs does know where these people are, but you heard my answer. I'd wanted to go through Peter's points. The fact is, the High Court did make a decision. The fact is that that decision had implications for the 150 people. Do you know what, Pete? I really wish you'd written your laws better to begin with so the High Court couldn't have rolled us.

DUTTON: Grow up Bill and start taking some responsibility.

SHORTEN: But I agree with Peter that it is legitimate to be upset and angry about what happened to Nanette. Pete, I'm sorry you were the Minister for Home Affairs, mate. I wish you'd done a better job then. But the point about it now is –

DUTTON: I tell you what, it didn't happen on my watch. Bill,

SHORTEN: - someone has been - let's get back to Nanette, mate. Let's get back to Nanette. What happened to her shouldn't have happened. I think the people who did it are animals. I don't know why the bail wasn't opposed. I do not understand that at all. We share that view, Pete.

STEFANOVIC: All right let's move on really quickly. A couple of other matters to move through, tensions escalating universities both here and overseas, Jewish students and pro-Palestinian protesters clashing. Bill, Melbourne University a hotbed. I can almost see Swanee out there protesting back in the day. They do love a protest in Melbourne. What would you say to students there from both sides?

SHORTEN: Students have got a right to feel safe when they go to university. At university you are allowed to have freedom of speech, but when freedom of speech crosses the line into bullying and to victimization, then that's not freedom of speech. Whether or not someone wants to camp on a lawn is one thing, but when I've had reports from friends whose kids have been in classes where some of the protesters have gone in and made people stand up if they support the protests and take photos of people who don't, I haven't got to the bottom if that's accurate, but if that's happening, Melbourne University needs to stop that. But there's no place for making Jewish kids feel unsafe.

STEFANOVIC: Peter, University of Sydney boss Mark Scott says Jewish students will have to tough it out. I'm being uncomfortable with the anti-Israeli slogans there. What do you make of that? Quickly.

DUTTON: Well, I think. I think it's disgraceful, Karl. I just don't know that we would tolerate this for any other segment of our society. If they were Indigenous kids or if they were kids from Islamic communities, or if they were Catholics or Anglicans or atheists. Tall people, short people. We wouldn't tolerate the segregation and the anti-Semitic conduct that we're seeing at the moment. It's targeted against people of Jewish faith. They have no connection whatsoever with the, you know, with the leadership in Israel. And this is - I mean, as you go around the Jewish community, people now are right to point out that they've got armed guards at schools and preschools. As we know, the allegation in the Western Sydney incident was that the Jewish community was to be targeted. The Jewish community was scared witless when they first heard the thoughts about, first heard the reports of what happened at Bondi, thinking that Jewish people had been targeted. But this is this is the 1930s over again. And if we don't call it out, if we don't start to respond and to bring this to an end, this continues to go on and on and on, and it is targeted at people because of their heritage or their faith. And it's completely unacceptable. It has no place in our country at all.

STEFANOVIC: Heavy week, guys. Appreciate your time today.