Minister Shorten interview on the Today Show with Karl Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: Senator Payman; Religious based parties; Midwinter Ball;

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Well, after being suspended for crossing the floor, West Australian Senator Fatima Payman has officially quit the Labor Party. Let's bring in Bill Shorten, who joins us live in Canberra, and opposition leader Peter Dutton live in Brissy. Good morning guys. Nice to see you. Bill, Fatima flames out for Labor. Did a little bit of your party die yesterday?


STEFANOVIC: It sounds like it.

SHORTEN: No. I'm disappointed. No one ever likes to lose a vote or a person. It's not the first time that someone has been elected under one flag and changed flags. I think at last count, Peter's got David Van, Andrew Gee. Russell Broadbent. It does happen. It's not the norm. I wish it hadn't happened. But on the other hand, well, you know, politics and politicians, they keep moving around the place don't they.

STEFANOVIC: Damaging for your leadership. Right?

SHORTEN: No, it's not. Listen, in an ideal world, you'd never lose a member of Parliament to the crossbench, would you, Peter? But sometimes it happens. I mean, and it's not just the Liberals. The Greens lost Lydia Thorpe. Jacqui Lambie pretty much has lost Tammy Tyrrell. I think the big bopper when he was here, Clive Palmer probably hung on to people for five minutes and then they left.

STEFANOVIC: The Big Bopper Pete. It is damaging for Labor no matter what way you look at it, but I'm not sure how it helps you.

PETER DUTTON, LIBERAL PARTY: Well, Karl, I think you were dead wrong about what you just said. I think this is very good for Bill Shorten's leadership.

STEFANOVIC: Oh, come on Pete.

DUTTON: The Prime Minister.

SHORTEN: Channelling he's just trying to be modest.

DUTTON: He's trying he's trying not to eek out advantage here. But this is all playing in Bill's direction, let me tell you. So, I think there's disquiet, there's general disquiet in the Labor Party at the moment. And if you can't govern yourself, you can't govern the country. So, for the Labor Party, they've got a huge split within their ranks. You're seeing it with the anti-Israel stance at the moment. And I think the Prime Minister here has just demonstrated that he's you know, he might be a nice bloke, but he's just not up to the job.

STEFANOVIC: All right. You've had people leave the party before though, as Bill mentioned. Senior Labor figures Bill are saying this morning Fatima might have suddenly a citizenship problem despite endorsing her in 2022. Talk about throwing your toys out of the cot.

SHORTEN: Well, as you know, as leader of the Labor Party, when, we had a series of constitutional excitements, I think we lost. I think we lost four. But the only person who got more excited premiered a case of premature constitutional excitement was Malcolm Turnbull, who, I think he lost Barnaby and a sentence never uttered. How do you lose Barnaby? And anyway, listen. That's up for Senator Payman. I the Constitution is the constitution. Oh, my Lord, it's a trigger moment for me.

STEFANOVIC: All right. Peter, do you have a problem with religion-based parties? Because they are coming, whether you like it or not?

DUTTON: Well, Karl, first of all, I mean, it's pretty red hot if there is a constitutional issue. The Labor Party knew about it. So, they've supported a member of Parliament knowing that she wasn't constitutionally valid to sit in the Parliament, which I think is an outrage. That's quite different than somebody who has a Section 44 issue. So, there's that question to answer. Look, I don't think we need sectarianism in this country. We saw it with the Catholics and Protestants many decades ago. And if you look at the Muslim Vote website, they talk about their principal aim, their first objective to support Palestinian territory. If you're elected to the Australian Senate, you're there to represent the people of Australia and your state. If you're a Senator for New South Wales, your first charge is to look after residents in New South Wales. So, we don't need that sort of approach. I don't believe, and if you vote for these candidates, you end up voting for Anthony Albanese in a minority Government, which will be a disaster for the economy. And interest rates just go higher, and the economy really will, you know, it'll be a disaster.

STEFANOVIC: Pete, do you have a problem with the Christian Democrat Party or the Australian Christians Party?

DUTTON: Well, Karl, I don't have any problem with a party that has a religious view. My problem is not with somebody of Islamic faith. Quite the opposite. Not with somebody of Jewish faith. But when you say that your task is to, as a first order of priority to support a Palestinian cause or a cause outside of Australia, that is a very different scenario. So, I think when that is the main cause, we have all sorts of problems, and I just don't see that in any other party in the country at the moment.

STEFANOVIC: Let's just circle back a couple of things Pete mentioned there. Bill, did Labor support Fatima when she did have a visa issue? Let's clear that one up.

SHORTEN: No, I'm sure that the West Australian Labor Party would have checked that out. I think going to the. So, no, that's just.

DUTTON: It's just emerged overnight somehow.


DUTTON: It just appeared in the papers today. They knew nothing about it. They just thought about it yesterday. Really?

SHORTEN: You lost. You lost more members of your political-

DUTTON: So much you can do to defend Albo.

STEFANOVIC: What's going on?

SHORTEN: Mate, you lost more members of your political party under the constitution than I think Collingwood got, you know, awarded unfair free kicks in the last footy game.

STEFANOVIC: Come on, Bill, come on. Okay, okay.

SHORTEN: Well, no, but let's go to the serious issue about the religion and the political party matter. People bring personal faith to politics. So, I don't think it's a black and white line about religion and politics. We bring our values. It helps make us who we are. If we've had a religious or a Christian or whatever upbringing. But of course, some of the worst countries in the world, are where there are oppressive theocratic governments who use religion to justify the persecution of minorities. So, I just think this is one where you step very carefully through it.

STEFANOVIC: This could be a teal moment for you right at the next election.

SHORTEN: Well, no, we've got the Greens already. They run around, they pop out of the trees, they pretend they're koalas, and then they want to do every other bit of nutty stuff, the reality- But when it comes to- when it comes to-

STEFANOVIC: Whatever you had last night, it's fabulous. Give me some, give me some.

DUTTON: Well, you've been on a bender Bill, what's going on?

STEFANOVIC: No, no, I like it.

SHORTEN: No, no, no, Pete, when you have a sense of humour, it doesn't mean that you're drunk. It just means that you can laugh at yourself.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, I don't have one unless I’m drunk.

SHORTEN: Self-deprecation. I think self-deprecation has been outlawed in the Liberal Party, hasn't it?

STEFANOVIC: All right, now, listen, guys, before you go, I want to talk to you about this. The obviously, you guys got decked out the other night. It was beautiful for the Midwinter Ball. This is a chance for you to say something beautiful about the partner you took to the ball. Pete, you're up on Kirilly. Say something beautiful about her and cry.

DUTTON: Oh, I took my beautiful wife to the worst event in the parliamentary calendar. That was a sign of true love. But she'd go to that god awful event with me. So, it's a true testament to her. So, thank you, sweetheart.

STEFANOVIC: And, Bill, your daughter looked beautiful.

SHORTEN: I love taking Georgette there. I've dragged my kids, my three kids through politics. She's now an amazing young adult, and I probably had the nicest time I've had in Parliament in 17 years.

STEFANOVIC: Oh, mate, that's nice. Hey, well done lads. And Bill, I'll talk to you later because that sounds like the good stuff.

SHORTEN: Oh, brilliant, Karl you’ll have had that in the past. Don't worry son,

STEFANOVIC: Hey great stuff guys. Thank you.