Minister Shorten interview on the Today Show


KARL STEFANOVIC: Well, thousands of Aussies are outraged, forced to juggle unplanned complications due to a surprise public holiday for mourning the Queen. Surgeries, school graduations, and retail trade, most of which are on hold. Here's a snippet of what people have had to say so far.


VOX POP: Friday would have been better. It's disruptive for a business, a small business, like, on a Thursday. You know, we're closed Thursday and then we're open on Friday.

VOX POP: About $10 to $15,000 worth of work that we'll lose next Thursday.

VOX POP: Just because obviously it's such short notice.

[End of excerpt]

KARL STEFANOVIC: For more, we're joined by Government Services Minister, Bill Shorten, and host of 4BC's Brisbane Live, Neil Breen. Morning guys, nice to see you.

NEIL BREEN: Morning.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Obviously, I love a public holiday as much as anyone else, but I'm not in retail and I'm not in hospitality. For them, it's a bit of a joke, isn't it Bill?

BILL SHORTEN: No, I wouldn't accept that. On one hand, there are some people who don't want the public holiday, but it's not really the government's fault the Queen's died. This is a one in 70-year event, and I did a quick survey behind me in Moonee Ponds and on one hand, the small businesses, they- they're not excited by the public holiday. Mind you, when I asked them what is their favourite public holiday, some of them don't really like any of them. On the other hand, I've got representatives of the local council depot and, you know, the boys down at the depot were giving it the big thumbs up. So I think it depends if you work for yourself or you work for someone else.

KARL STEFANOVIC: That sounds like a galaxy survey. You've interviewed five people and they're all positive. Breeny, what do you think? And again, I'm not going to stand in the way of a Queenslander and a public holiday, but I just don't know if you need it, do you?

NEIL BREEN: I think it's come up too quick, Karl, and not enough time for people to get organised. The Prime Minister yesterday was asked about surgeries, and he said, oh, well, of course, surgeries will take place, they would always take place. Well, that's actually not the case because elective surgeries are booked in, but you've got to have staff at the hospitals. You have to have nurses and everyone'll say, well, they can work on the public holiday. What if they've got kids in day-care? The day-care centre's closed. What if they've got kids at school? The kids at school are at home now.


NEIL BREEN: I think a public holiday, fantastic, and we all want to commemorate the Queen, much loved in Australia, but maybe just a little bit down the track so we can fully absorb it.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Yeah, and hopefully on a Friday or a Monday so that we can have an even longer weekend. You know, that was just selfish of the Prime Minister. Look, Bill, the king is headed- he's headed down under, Charles III and Queen Consort, Camilla, already drafting up plans for their first royal visit. Bill, I wanted to ask you, where do you think they should go in Victoria? What's your place du jour, as they say over here?

BILL SHORTEN: Oh, they should probably go to the MCG. You know, it's Australia's sporting capital and that is the temple at the centre of Australia's sporting capital. The MCG. Of course, hopefully he'll have his own plane because if he's coming down the- and comes commercial, the airlines will jack up the fares, I suspect, otherwise.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Well, just on that. That is outrageous, isn't it? Just ripping off poor old footy fans. We've had it tough all year.

BILL SHORTEN: Yeah, I- you know, fair go for the- fair go for the fans I say. I didn't realise. But Alan Joyce, or some of his senior executive, are big fans of the Today Show because last week when I was mildly disapproving of the way they treated their staff during COVID, we got the please explain phone call afterwards. So I suppose we'll get another one today. But I think it is wrong to jack up and double some of the fares for fans going up to Sydney to watch the footy finals. That's opportunistic behaviour and it's not quite keeping in the spirit of the Flying Kangaroo or Virgin or Jetstar or any of them really.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Good luck to flying with them next time too, big fella. Breeny, the Sunshine State. I reckon Camilla is going to love this. Cane toads, snakes, cheap booze. I mean, it's like Christmas at your joint.

NEIL BREEN: There's only two places for them, Karl, and you know them very well. The Sunshine Beach Surf Lifesaving Club and the Noosa Head Surf Lifesaving Club. We'll get Camilla a rose, we'll get a couple of rum and cokes into Charles, and they'll have a fantastic time. I'll sing the praises of Queensland all the way home.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Bill, I mean you can't argue with that. It is Queensland.

NEIL BREEN: [Talks over] You're laughing because you've drunk rum and cokes at both of them. It's fantastic. Hey, on those airline prices, I've never seen a company in Australia that needs a clean out more than Qantas likes to…


NEIL BREEN: Look, Alan Joyce has been there a long time. He earned $75 million between 2012 and 2020. He's done very well. The company needed $2 billion in handouts from the government to stay alive during COVID, including $800 million in JobKeeper, and now it's giving a poor service to the people of Australia. They washed their hands of Jetstar. Jetstar's a disgrace. I had a flight to Sydney on Saturday at 6:30 in the morning, got put on the 5:20 pm flight because the flight was cancelled. If you pay for a service, the company has to deliver the service and I think it needs a clean out and a go again. And I think the price gouging that's on at the moment, post-COVID, is disgraceful.

KARL STEFANOVIC: I think there'll be a lot of Australians who agree with you, but I won't. I just had the most magnificent flight coming over here on Qantas so I can't fault the service. It was on time.

NEIL BREEN: [Talks over] Oh yeah, you're in that chairman's lounge setup thing.

BILL SHORTEN: [Talks over] Yeah, yeah, yeah.


KARL STEFANOVIC: It was just magnificent.

NEIL BREEN: Yeah, of course.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Hey, thanks guys. Appreciate it. We'll talk to you soon.