Minister Shorten interview on Sky News with Kieran Gilbert


SUBJECTS: NDIS Bill; Senator Fatima Payman; Greens target seats; Gaza;

KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: Joining me live in the studio is the NDIS Minister, Bill Shorten. Thanks for your time. Cameron just pointing out the difference in the message from Paul Fletcher from today to a couple of years ago, where he was calling the PM Airbus Albo. Today the criticism in fact, Simon Birmingham called it a dereliction of duty that the Prime Minister is not attending the NATO summit next week, should he be there?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: To be fair Paul Fletcher is not known as the funniest man of the coalition frontbench, but he must be having a lend of it. He's got the memory of a goldfish. He bags the Prime Minister for going overseas, then he bags him for not going overseas. The reality is that we're not a member of NATO. The Prime Minister did attend in Lithuania. Our Defence Minister is going to a defence conference. I think the Coalition need to get back to focus on cost-of-living measures, rather than worrying about the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister and who's doing what on a given day.

GILBERT: I do want to talk to you about the NDIS, because it's been a big focus in the last couple of weeks, the Coalition and the Greens teaming up to delay the vote on the on the reform Bill. But on Fatima Payman, will the Government, will the Prime Minister have to consider shifting your approach, Labor particularly, with your rules, to accommodate younger members like Fatima Payman?

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, it's not just young people who have diverse opinions. But let's go to what I think the issue is here. I think the Prime Minister is doing the very best he can in the circumstances. And indeed, Senator Wong and the leadership. When you become a Labor candidate, you sign a pledge to adhere to caucus decisions. Now, Senator Payman, I think is a clever, smart and clearly very tough-minded person. I think what the Prime Minister has done is he's resisted the Liberals call to expel, the Greens called to ignore it, and instead he said, listen, let's work through the issues and give people time and space to think about it. If you don't want to agree with the strategy of the team, then it's okay to sit on the bench. We want her. Let's be clear. We want her and let's just work this issue through. The broader question you raise about having a binding caucus position, when you sign up, you can have that conversation, but you wouldn't do it now in the heat of the kitchen. It's lasted us a long time. If there's calls for greater flexibility in the future, we need to have that at a considered way. She's not being suspended or sitting on the bench because she has a strong view on Palestine. That's legitimate. I think most Australians want to see the death stop. They want to see the hostages back. They'd like to see the tanks out. But we've just got to work through and make sure that we've got a process where we respect the rules, but we also respect strong people thinking through their propositions.

GILBERT: The Greens are exploiting the politics of it, obviously with that, that motion and then potentially another one later in the week. Now they're they've released their target seats for the winter break and the doorknocking they're going to be in Wills, in Perth, Patrick Gorman's seat and others. Is this what this is all about? The Greens trying to sort of divide Labor in this sense and then peel off votes on the left.

SHORTEN: Well, I choose to respect that Fatima Payman, has got her own views and that she's not just a sort of a Green tool here. I don't buy that analysis. She's got her own strong views. But in terms of the Greens, they really are disgraceful. They're not a party of government. They are seeking to disrupt social harmony. A lot of conscientious Australians want to see the violence end in Gaza. A lot of conscientious Australians do not want to see the atrocities of October.

GILBERT: A lot of your fellow caucus members.

SHORTEN: Most Australians.

GILBERT: But talking to some of your colleagues, there's a, I want to say the word anger, but there's a huge grievance here because there are consciences being tested in your party across the board on these matters, but they are sticking tight and trying to influence from within. That's not been the approach from Senator Payman.

SHORTEN: No, that's true. And we all sign a pledge to stick by caucus. But we are where we are. And I'm for one, think that the Prime Minister has handled it pretty much as best he can here by saying, all right, you feel strongly we still want you in our party. And Fatima says she still wants to be in our party, but we've got to work out what the road rules are. And so, I think time to think and work through how we do it. That's just sensible, isn't it? Because the reality is that we've got bigger issues. I mean, I'm not saying this is not a big issue, by the way. And I'm not saying the Middle East isn't a gigantic issue. It is. But we also need to make sure that we have the numbers to advance our cost-of-living measures. I tell you what most Australians really want. And talking about the Greens targeting Labor MPs. Most Australians don't want people importing these arguments from overseas to a point where it becomes dangerous and disruptive to the way we live, our beautiful democracy and way of life here.

GILBERT: Indeed. Yeah. Hard to disagree with that. Now the NDIS Bill. It's been delayed. Sent back to a parliamentary committee. Is this about more scrutiny? What's going on here? You're saying it's going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars this delay?

SHORTEN: Yeah, I have with me a letter which I'll leave with you. It's from the actuary of the NDIS. It says that the delay of two months to this reform Bill will see, an extra billion dollars put on to the national credit card, which it shouldn't. And when I say a billion dollars, maybe people think that's just monopoly money. It is the equivalent of funding 60,000 kids on the Scheme for a year. It's the equivalent of everyone with a diagnosis of MND getting support for a year plus more. Now the Liberals are saying, oh, we're rushing it for two years. They've said we're not doing enough to fix up the NDIS, are we had a one-year review. Thousands of people consulted this Senate committee, which the Liberals want to put the draft bill to look at, has already had 12 weeks. All that we're going to get in the next eight weeks is two days of public hearings. That's going to take, according to the actuary, a billion dollars. And I also just a little bit of homework for my Kieran Gilbert interrogation, the sort of things which we want to stop money on the Scheme being spent on include fines and penalties. We want to make sure that people are not buying jewellery and watches. We want to make sure that people aren't taking cruises or trips to Japan. We want to make sure that, we have legal costs not paid for by the NDIS. We want to make sure that I've, you know, trampolines and these are ordinary matters, the Liberals-

GILBERT: One of the things that the Liberals have, you know, Coalition and other critics have raised is sex workers that that they're-

SHORTEN: They’re obsessed over sex workers over there.

GILBERT: Can you get that ban in?


GILBERT: Well, what's the late, can you, can you get them across the line before the winter break?

SHORTEN: Well, we should be able to you know, all the Liberals seem to think the NDIS is spent on is sex workers, which is a complete lie. I don't think there's been a claim approved in ages on it. What we have is operational guidelines, what you can spend money on and what you can't. But the problem is, because the legislation isn't well enough drafted when the operational guidelines are tested in the courts, we lose. So, what we want to do is use section ten of the draft Bill to say this is in and this isn't yeah, that provides certainty for participants means we use evidence-based therapies like the Liberals are now fighting to the death to spend an extra billion dollars so people can get cuddles therapy. Like I have to say to the Liberals, wake up there is a cost-of-living crisis. We're trying to do our best with tax cuts and energy prices. Aussies are paying the taxes, and the Liberal Party is playing a shameless game where they think a billion dollars. This is classic Liberals. When it's Government money, they don't actually think it's their money, but it's actually taxpayer money and participant outcomes.

GILBERT: Will you try again before the end of the week?

SHORTEN: Oh, listen, I have brought a packet of Tim Tams and I say to the Liberals, you like a biscuit, let's have a biscuit and a cup of tea and save a billion dollars for participants. Then you go on a two-day frolic. If there's two public hearings in July. That's half a billion each day. And the Liberals say they need time to look at amendments. They've had 12 weeks. Listen, I don't think they're the brightest tools in the shed, some of them in the Senate, but, you know, the sharpest tools in the shed. But we can work out amendments. We've done national security amendments on far less time and not even a Tim Tam.

GILBERT: Okay. Michael Sukkar, if you're watching the Tim Tam offer has been made.

SHORTEN: Tim Tam, time Michael!

GILBERT: Bill Shorten, thanks for your time.