Minister Shorten interview on Sunrise with Natalie Barr

SUBJECTS: NDIS Bill; Latest Newspoll; Live Sheep Export

NATALIE BARR, HOST: Well, NDIS Minister Bill Shorten has pledged that Government funded sex work will be scrapped in upcoming reforms to the Scheme, while saying that most NDIS participants do the right thing, he did admit that the rules have been a bit loose at the margins. Current regulations allow some members to claim sexual services as part of their personal budget, but Shorten says that is not sustainable and will be banned. Let's bring in Minister Bill Shorten now and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce. Bill, we'll start with you. How will you ensure these reforms get it right? And people currently rorting the system in this way won't be able to do it in the future.

BILL SHORTEN MP, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: The NDIS is doing a lot more good than harm. Most people on the Scheme and most service providers are doing the right thing, and they've got absolutely nothing to worry about. But what does happen is that the laws are drafted in a way, which means that periodically participants can claim things which I don't think the Parliament or people with disability ever really intended to be on the Scheme. So, I've put up some regulations in the Parliament for 12 weeks the Coalition and the Greens in the Senate have looked at it inexplicably. They've decided they need another eight weeks to decide if we should be able to rule out things such as cryptocurrency, steam rooms and, indeed, toys of a sexual nature. Now, this is not what the Scheme was created for.

BARR: Right. So, in that list there are sex workers, sex toys, steam rooms, group trips to Japan, taxidermy, weddings, clairvoyants, cuddle therapy, non-assistance dogs, gambling cruises. Let's go to you, Barnaby. Where are you on sex workers and sex toys? Should the public be paying for them for NDIS recipients?

BARNABY JOYCE, NATIONALS PARTY: What are sex toys? I've never heard of them before, but maybe Bill could enlarge on that a bit. Look, all these problems, all these problems, prostitution, pony rides, reiki therapy, whatever, all these other things, paying for you, paying for your partner to do the shopping. Who was always doing the shopping in any case, paying for you, paying for someone to mow the lawn and they don't actually turn up to mow the lawn. All this, that was never intended by the mums and dads who go to work and pay their taxes for what it's there. And it was the case when the Labor Party was in power. In fact, we tried to fix it when the Labor Party was in power. And I agree 100% that the sooner this is fixed the better, because I do not want to pay. You don't want to pay for someone to have a wild all night between the sheets on the taxpayer’s ticket, when it actually comes with a bill. I think we're all on a unity ticket for that. So, for my part, it happened before under Labor. We tried to fix it. All of a sudden politics was played. It shouldn't be played. Now we've got to get it fixed. And I really think we need to go through-

BARR: Barnaby why are we. So, a reports come back from the Senate that now you guys and the Greens are sending it back. Can't we get a ruler and put a line through some of these things that a lot of people would agree might be valuable to people, but the taxpayer shouldn't have to pay?

JOYCE: Well, I'd never do a preference deal with the Greens. I mean, they're just, you know, you can see what happens when you start going down that path-

BARR: But can't you guys’ support some of these things and say, well, look, taxpayers are not willing to pay for taxidermy.

JOYCE: I will put my ass on it that we that we will be supporting it. Not only, we'd be prepared to go further, really tighten it up because this is way out of what they call the financial envelope. It's costing the taxpayer way too much. And it's because let's not be let's not beat around the bush. It's being ripped off. Unless you honestly think they should pay for people to go to knocking shops.

SHORTEN: No, but-

BARR: Yeah. So, Bill, it sounds like you're going to have Coalition support on this and you're going to start putting lines through some of these items.

SHORTEN: Yes. It sounds like they're going to do it. What I don't understand is we've just left Parliament for two weeks and they didn't support it then. The Actuary of the Scheme has said the delay is going to cost taxpayers and people on the Scheme $1 billion. Now, I don't blame Barnaby. I think if Barnaby was in charge, he probably would have voted it in the last two weeks. But it is ludicrous that it's now going to cost an extra billion dollars because the Coalition and the Greens had some sort of tanty and threw the toys out of the cot. But I must also just be very clear. Do you know this? It's something about any reference to sex seems to drive the nation nuts. The number of cases where it has-

JOYCE: Whatever that means. You’ve got to be more-

BARR: Well, it gets the headlines, and it symbolises wastage, doesn't it? Because people say, hang on, what are we paying for?

SHORTEN: It does. But I just want to also reassure people today who are thinking about the NDIS -- there are 380,000 transactions or invoices a day, there's about 100 million transactions a year. I'm aware of one sex worker being paid for about three years ago. So, whilst we want to rule it-

BARR: Okay, I think we'll leave it there because-

JOYCE: We find more. Bill, will you support us? We like going to inquiry. We might be able to find more savings.

BARR: Yeah, I think we all know we need to save. And we're not saying some of these things are not valuable. So that's the take home. Moving on. The Coalition has pulled ahead of the Government in the key battleground state of New South Wales and even further ahead in Queensland, according to two party preferred figures in the latest Newspoll. Peter Dutton is also now the preferred PM in Queensland, up two points. Bill with Dutton now ahead in Queensland and Labor falling in key states. Would you win if you took on Dutton?

SHORTEN: One thing I know is that polls are not your friend until the day of the election, Barnaby.

BARR: But we all know you look at them, Bill, don't we? Because you do your own.

SHORTEN: Yeah, we do look at them. But the point about it is we've now got the tax cuts coming through. We've now got the cheaper medicine coming through. I mean, Mr. Dutton's got this new divestiture policy, which Barnaby, I think secretly knows is more is tougher on paper than in reality. I mean, Barnaby knows that the Coalition's got its issues, doesn't it? That divestiture policy that David Littleproud is sort of hanging his shingle on. Goodness me, you could drive a truck through it couldn’t you?

BARR: Barnaby, Bill v Dutton. Who would win?

JOYCE: Look, I think that what you've got to do is. Look, I know we've still got to do some work. Western Australia. Right? Yes. The Labor Party just the other day decided that the, a West Australian industry, the live sheep trade, we had the typical Eastern states telling the Western Australia what's morally correct. You know, you imbeciles, you shouldn't have the live sheep trade-

BARR: I know.

JOYCE: But here in Palm Beach, Manly, we've been, we've been looking at this and we've decided in Sydney that, you, thou shalt not have it. You'll have your money from your iron ore, we'll definitely have that, but you shall not have-

BARR: I know a lot of farmers coming from WA. I know a lot of angry farmers on that. That's for another time. We've got to go.

SHORTEN: Sterling defence of David Littleproud there Barnaby.

BARR: Thank you. It's not just David Littleproud. It's a lot of farmers in WA I can promise you that. Thank you both. We'll see you next week.