Interview with Minister Bill Shorten on The Today Show


KARL STEFANOVIC: Well, he had his whole life ahead of him. A Gold Coast University student studying nursing, Dean Hofstee, just wanted to give back to others. Great smile. The teenager's life was cut short in 2008, killed by drunk driver, Puneet Puneet, who fled Victoria for India. Horrific. After three years on the run he handed himself in, was granted bail on 20,000 Indian rupees which amounts to less than 370 bucks - out on bail while he awaits extradition, a hearing into that.

To discuss, we're joined by the Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten, in Canberra. Bill, good morning.

BILL SHORTEN: Good morning.

KARL STEFANOVIC: And 2GB's Jim Wilson. Nice to see you this morning.

JIM WILSON: Hey, Karl. Bill.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Is Ray Hadley alright, mate? I'm just worried about his health at the moment. Is he okay?

JIM WILSON: He's fine.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Okay. We'll get onto that a little bit later.

JIM WILSON: [Indistinct]… about that later.



If you want to go on with it, it's…

JIM WILSON: [Interrupts] No, I don't want to go on with it.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Hey, Bill. I saw this story this morning and I could not fathom, I could not fathom how this guy hasn't been brought back to Australia already. Are you surprised?

BILL SHORTEN: I think we're all thinking that, and my thoughts are with Dean's family. But I do distinguish the Indian Courts to the Indian Government. The Australian Government, both sides, have been pursuing Puneet. He should face justice here.

The only way an extradition matter can succeed is for the Indian authorities pursuing it - they are pursuing it, it was the High Court in Delhi who gave him bail, that's different to their Government - I'm grateful that the Indian Government's actually backing us in this matter, as they should. But I think the Indian Government's got its teeth into this issue, so we've got to remain optimistic that justice will be faced.

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Interrupts] Geez, I tell you what, I hope you're right. Because it doesn't - I mean, I'm not sure. I mean, what this guy did, and he's been on the run.

BILL SHORTEN: [Talks over] Terrible.

KARL STEFANOVIC: It's shocking. It's shocking.

BILL SHORTEN: It is terrible.

JIM WILSON: And he's also facing domestic violence charges as well.


JIM WILSON: I mean, you know, he's got to be brought back here and face the music, and be brought to justice for the sake of that family, of that beautiful young man who lost his life and another one who was severely injured. And, this is horrific. The bottom line is to get out on the 300 bucks bail. Bill's right, it's not an Indian Government, it's a court decision. There's an extradition hearing happening in October. I hope that at that extradition hearing. It believes, according to Mark Dreyfus - Bill's colleague, the Attorney General - this is a high priority for the Indian Government.

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Talks over] He's arguing that he's going to be discriminated against here. I mean, what?

JIM WILSON: Give me a break. I mean, yeah, come on. Hopefully in October at that extradition hearing, he's brought back to Australia, he faces the music and faces the rightful [indistinct]...

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Talks over] But Bill, what you're saying, Bill, this morning is that you've got the Indian Government who are working pretty strongly here on this.



BILL SHORTEN: I've reached out to the Attorney-General when we saw the story, and he confirms the Indian Government's been very helpful. I've got no sympathy for Puneet. I mean…

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Interrupts] Yeah.

BILL SHORTEN: …jail's full of people who feel they've been discriminated against. It's called justice.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Good line. Well, moving on and here we go again. Victorian students aged eight and over are being told to mask up in the classroom, but the Government is insisting it's not a mandate. Now, Bill, you've got kids. I would have thought this was onerous. And if you're from any other part of Australia, they just don't want this. But in Victoria, I mean, you're a glutton for punishment down there.

BILL SHORTEN: Yeah, let's mask up. I mean, for me, thinking as a parent, a kid should be encouraged to put a mask on. We've had 300 days of home schooling and the schools closed - to me, it's a no brainer. Do you want your child sick at home or do you want them running around but wearing a mask?

KARL STEFANOVIC: How'd the kids feel about it? Her kids.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, we know what's good for them.

JIM WILSON: Well, it's invasive. Kids have been through a hell of a lot in the last couple of years. But the bottom line here is we're in the middle of winter, there's a spike in COVID cases and in the flu - not just for kids, but across the board. I'll be frank with you, in indoor settings now, if I go to Bunnings or the local supermarket, I'm masking up. I'm just doing that.

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Interrupts] How often do you go to Bunnings?

JIM WILSON: Mate, I love Bunnings. Are you kidding. I should be on a retainer with Bunnings. Mate, that's my favourite thing on a Saturday.


JIM WILSON: Is going to Bunnings, having the sausage sizzle despite the fact it's gone up to $3.50.

KARL STEFANOVIC: It's outrageous.

JIM WILSON: No it's not. It's good for charity, Bill.

KARL STEFANOVIC: That's true. I mean, thank you. Jim, for correcting me on national TV. I mean, it's good for charity.

BILL SHORTEN: Jim 1, Karl 0.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yeah, that's it.

JIM WILSON: Thank you, Bill.

BILL SHORTEN: Just donate. Donate.

JIM WILSON: Yeah, exactly.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Anything more you'd like to say about Ray Hadley?

JIM WILSON: Let's move onto Qantas.

KARL STEFANOVIC: One all, that's one all. Finally, imagine this. Your bags are packed, you've conquered the airport queues, but the travel time to your destination blows out by an extra 11 hours. That's exactly what Qantas passengers are facing after Heathrow Airport imposed caps on the number of passengers' airlines can take with them. I mean, this is a schmozzle over there. We think it's bad here. Bill, you'd be ordering a few extra drinks at the airport obviously, on the lighter side of things. But in all seriousness, an 11-hour stopover on the way home.

BILL SHORTEN: Listen, it's a bit of a nightmare scenario. Melbourne Airport's in my electorate. I distinguish what Qantas, though, has done at Heathrow to what they're doing domestically. Frankly, Heathrow's now capped the number of passengers at 100,000. If the choice is being delayed or having your plane cancelled as so many other countries are having, you know, I probably think Qantas is probably doing better not to have the planes cancelled. They've secured the slots, they're delayed.

But domestically, flying at the moment by Virgin and Qantas, it reminds me when I was a Uni student backpacking in third world countries. You'd turn up at the airport - maybe the plane's there, maybe the plane's not there, you know, like domestically. I would just say to Qantas, I think you're probably doing a better than worse job with Heathrow, well done. But I wonder if there's a bit of regret and recrimination cutting all the baggage handlers, and now all the Qantas staff have got to be air side loading up the bags themselves because all the skilled blokes, men and women, have got the cut.

KARL STEFANOVIC: I think they probably would regret some of that. By the way, those bags that we saw there, that's Heathrow - That's how well they're going over there. Jimmy, quickly on that.


JIM WILSON: Well, yeah, I mean, it's tough - resources wise, staffing wise, Heathrow's feeling it enough. It's an 11-hour stopover. Qantas is coming to the party as far as paying accommodation for passengers.

KARL STEFANOVIC: That's a 20- that's a 32 hour ride home from London.

JIM WILSON: It is. It's long, yeah. But, again, as Bill said, it's better than having the flight cancel altogether. They're paying for accommodation, it's beyond their control on this front, Qantas. And I think that it's tough. The one thing we've got to be careful of here is that if travel becomes so difficult that people just go, you know what, stuff it - we'll stay at home.

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Talks over] I don't know. There's this massive appetite for it right now though. Massive.

JIM WILSON: Well, there is. But how about the airfare prices?

KARL STEFANOVIC: eah, no, it's ridiculous. It's obscene. Good on you, Jimmy. Nice to see you.

JIM WILSON: Good on you, Karl. Good on you, Bill.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Excellent. Thank you, Billy.

BILL SHORTEN: See you gentlemen.