Minister Shorten interview on the Today Show


KARL STEFANOVIC: Well, thousands of Australians are stranded in Bali after multiple Jetstar flight cancellations. Travellers scrambling to find emergency accommodation as they wait for more than a week for the next flight home. To discuss, we're joined by Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and 2GB's Jim Wilson. Good morning, guys. Nice to see you this morning.

JIM WILSON: Morning, Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Bill, eight return services between Melbourne or Sydney and Denpasar have been cancelled since September 1. We know people are struggling to get back to Perth. This is incredibly tough for those passengers who are stuck there, and ridiculous all round.

BILL SHORTEN: It's a disaster. I mean, it's like a massive case of Jetstar Bali belly, isn't it? I feel for the families though…


BILL SHORTEN: …and the kids. The one job an airline's got is to take off and land, and these sorts of cancellations on a repeated basis is very poor form. It's just- if I was there, I'd just be furious.

KARL STEFANOVIC: I think that's right and we're talking to people after 7 o'clock. I mean, the airline is saying they had three different things happen to the airline itself. That being said, it's compounded our feelings towards the airlines at the moment, in general, don't you reckon, Jim?

JIM WILSON: It is. I think certainly we expect a level of service and I think that what's happening with Jetstar- and, you know, you look at those scenes with families, as Bill just mentioned, being stranded in Denpasar and it seems to me that the recurring theme is the lack of communication…


JIM WILSON: …and not communicating to people what's going on. I mean, this whole thing- I mean, they're saying because there are engineering issues. Well, the safety and welfare has to come first but how about actually putting people up, don't leave people stranded, and actually communicating to people. That might be a good start.


JIM WILSON: Listen, I think Qantas- there's been a lot of criticism of Qantas, and some of it is justified. I think they're an easy target. A bit like Telstra, everyone thinks they should be- should have a say in our national carrier like they should in our biggest Telco. But, you know, they've made mistakes. But I think- what would they have done differently? What should they have done differently?

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Interrupts] Well, I would say this…

JIM WILSON: [Talks over] Yeah.

KARL STEFANOVIC: …the 1500 baggage handlers, I think that that's probably one of the issues they may- they would probably revisit if they had the opportunity…

JIM WILSON: [Interrupts] Absolutely. But…

KARL STEFANOVIC: …in hindsight.

JIM WILSON: The whole aviation industry is brought to a grinding halt.


JIM WILSON: You know- and I know that Alan Joyce has made some mistakes in the baggage handlers, absolutely. But what was the solution? I just- yeah, I think that right now they are an easy target. And airlines across the board, around the world, are struggling to [indistinct]…

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Interrupts] That is for certain. And the one thing I will say too is that we asked a couple of weeks ago for Qantas to outline their progress back from where they were and credit where credit is due, they are 100 per cent improving their schedule. They're making more flights on times - I think the percentages are going much higher than what they were, and also in terms of bags lost, it's now only, I think, four or five per thousand. So they're getting there.


KARL STEFANOVIC: However, that being said, the Greens this morning, they're taking all of this PR, this bad PR that Qantas has had, Bill, and they want to- well, they want to take Qantas back as a public company. What do you think about that?

BILL SHORTEN: I don't know what the Greens have been smoking…
…but they're not going- you're not going to renationalise…

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Interrupts] I'm pretty sure I know. 

JIM WILSON: It's Cheech and Chong. The Greens up in smoke.

BILL SHORTEN: No, I mean- I actually think that Qantas has got its people relations wrong in terms of the way it treats its own staff. My electorate's an airport electorate, Melbourne airport. They are- I think they wielded the axe too hard. I think it's a blind spot for them. They're not- I used to be a union rep where we used to do- look after the engineers there, so I think they're a bit hard-line on their own workforce...

KARL STEFANOVIC: [Interrupts] So you don't want to nationalise Qantas again?

BILL SHORTEN: But you're not going to put Humpty back together again. You know, this is just sort of crazy-nomics from the Greens. If you had the billions of dollars it would cost to buy an airline, I'd rather pay down Government debt, or look after Medicare and the hospitals. As the priority goes, Government's got out of owning airlines in the 90s so I think that- would I like Qantas to treat its workforce better? Yes. Do I want them to not cancel as many flights? Yes. But I don't want to buy an airline.


BILL SHORTEN: It's not on my top ten, you know, bucket list things to do when in Government.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Bill, what are they smoking?

JIM WILSON: It's called- I'll tell you what it is. It's actually called staying in their lanes.

BILL SHORTEN: [Talks over] Well, I just don't know what they're smoking. This is the mystery.

JIM WILSON: [Talks over] It's called stay in their lanes.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

JIM WILSON: I mean, seriously.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Alright, just quickly, I've got to get you on Liz Truss becoming the third female Prime Minister when she's sworn in, taking over from Boris Johnson. Bill, how will she work in with Australia? It seems like she's pretty tough- pretty tough lady. Britain's struggling at the moment as we know, but she should be able to get on with both sides here.

BILL SHORTEN: Well, traditionally both sides of British politics have got on with both sides of Australian politics.


BILL SHORTEN: So for Australians, now that they're waking up to a change of British Prime Minister, I think it means that we'll probably get on with our trade agreement which is good. [Audio skip] for us, I think it's, you know, that's fine. I think in Britain she seems to have made both sides of politics happy. The Scottish Nationalists and Labour think that she's more of the same like Boris Johnson, so they feel up and about, and the Conservatives voted for her so they feel up and about. So, you know, this morning it seems everyone's happy.

KARL STEFANOVIC: She's going to suspend energy bills, or she's going to look to try and do that. That's how bad they are off over there in trying to find energy from somewhere else is going to be a very difficult thing for them right now to plug that gap immediately. Just before we go, Tracy Grimshaw announced last night on A Current Affair that she'll be winding up at the end of the year. Jimmy, I mean, what a legend.

JIM WILSON: Yeah, I worked with her in the Nine newsroom in Melbourne in the late 80s, early 90s, and she's the one person in the world that calls me Jimbo.
So I take that as a badge of honour. No, she's been terrific. I mean, I think she's an outstanding journalist. I think she's a great interviewer, and she's a great person. And I think that she's grounded, she's humble. I loved the line last night when she was signing off from A Current Affair saying, but to all the gossip writers, before you start saying, you know, pedalling rubbish, I haven't been pushed out the door by the boy's club at the age of 62. I'm not too old, but look, this is my call. She's doing it on her terms which is very rare in our caper, Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC: She could do it for another 20 years if she wanted to.

JIM WILSON: [Talks over] And you two worked together in Beaconsfield, didn't you?

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yeah, no, no. We were- I had a whole year on the Today Show.

JIM WILSON: [Interrupts] That's right. Yeah, yeah.

KARL STEFANOVIC: She basically taught me the ropes, or I tried to learn the ropes. But Bill, you remember that Beaconsfield- we were down there and she was doing A Current Affair but I was doing Today Show, we ended up meeting you for the first time and, you know, one of us went on with it.

BILL SHORTEN: And Tracy's had a great career.

Yeah, no, Tracy's had a great career since Beaconsfield.

KARL STEFANOVIC: I'm still here.

BILL SHORTEN: No, she's a real professional I reckon. Good on her. And she's brought information, news, and interviews to Australians for our televisions, into our lounge rooms, for a long time. So anyway, hats off to her. She's been excellent.

JIM WILSON: Very [audio skips].

KARL STEFANOVIC: Excellent stuff guys, thank you.