Minister Shorten on Today with Karl Stefanovic


SUBJECTS: RBA interest rates and bringing home families from Syria.

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back. It's D-Day. Everyone is nervous about the impact of yet another rate rise today. For more, we are joined by Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten. G’day, Bill.


STEFANOVIC: And from Radio 2GB, Jim Wilson. Good morning to you, Jimmy.


STEFANOVIC: Bill, do you have faith at all in the Reserve Bank Governor to get this right?

SHORTEN: Listen, they are independent of Government and the last thing punters want to see is the politicians just commenting and engaging in free commentary about the Reserve Bank which is independent. But…
STEFANOVIC: They're big decisions, though?

SHORTEN: Yeah, there's no doubt that mortgage holders are bleeding at the moment and of course there is a lot of Australian mortgage holders who fixed their loans a year ago or- anyway a lot of fixed loans are going to, sort of, unfix at the end of the year, beginning of next year. So people shouldn't just look at the rate rises and the current reaction, there's going to be a lot of pressure on people who are facing- who have been able to absorb some of the rate rises but it's going to hit like a tsunami.

STEFANOVIC: Household budgets. Jim, I listen to you every afternoon on 2GB, and I hear people calling in saying, “look at the price of fuel, look at the price of groceries, my mortgage has gone up, I don't know how I am going to make it.”

WILSON: Yeah. Well, it's cost of living pressures and a lot of people are under- are feeling it at the hip pocket. Now, we've had in New South Wales- or across the board, of the fuel excise discount ending. Then you've got tolls going up again at the weekend in Sydney with a number of major tollways. You've got grocery bills going there the roof. You've got electricity going through the roof. And now another 50 basis points too going take the cash rate to 2.85%. And then on Melbourne Cup Day- on Melbourne Cup afternoon, at 2:30 it will go up again, beyond probably 3%. Now, there's forecasts that it could reach around about 3.6%, even up to 4% cent next year. 

So I get the fact that they're trying to have to rein in spending and ease inflationary pressure, but on the other hand you're creating a cost of living pressures which a lot of individuals and families can't keep up with. So yeah, it's…

STEFANOVIC: It's a delicate balance.

WILSON: A hundred per cent it is, and that's why the housing market is obviously it's feeling it, and I think obviously with this another 50 basis points today, more to come in coming weeks, you know, the housing market's going to decline even further.

STEFANOVIC: You go too hard and you start running the risk, Bill, of bringing back the risk of bringing back the R word into these conversations?

SHORTEN: Yeah, there's no doubt that it's pretty delicate balancing and people are doing it hard. I mean, some of these factors causing it are beyond our control. But I will say that we've got our budget coming down in October and what we'll see is some building blocks with cheaper childcare, cheaper medicine, trying to get the wages moving a bit, and now we're moving to renewable energy - that'll eventually have an impact there in terms of prices. But in the short term, I think it's very, very tough for people, I know. I just think there's a lot of pain out there.

STEFANOVIC: There sure is. Okay, the decision to bring home Jihadi brides and children from Syrian refugee camps is dividing you at home. I think the Government is pressing ahead with it despite all of yesterday. Tara says, “Where are they going to live? There's a housing crisis here already. There aren't that many of them.” Danny says, “This is a very touchy subject, they chose to go back with the family, they have been subjected to terrible situations, but how can Australians trust them to live in our country?” Tahnee says, “I sincerely hope that the steps are in place for the rehabilitation of these families.”

Bill, it requires, doesn't it, a certain conviction to move over overseas with your bloke and take part in Islamic State wars. How do you reckon that sits with most Aussies?

SHORTEN: I think people want to make sure that we're secure. 


SHORTEN: They want to make sure our national security is intact. Listen, these are national security matters, not a lot I can add at this point. But what I can just reassure viewers is that national security is number one assumption here. I mean, a lot of these kids are under six of course and they didn't have any say in what happened to them. But it's a national security matter and there's probably not much more I can add there, but that's our number one consideration.

WILSON: But considering that though, Bill, you talk about the risks involved. The risk for our security officials going into Syria in a hostile environment, as well as the fact that back here the resources it will tie up as far as state and federal authorities. I mean, it looks as though this is going to happen but by the sounds of it, when you talk about the risks and if national security is the number one priority, should it be happening?

SHORTEN: Well, I guess there's a general argument you could have there. But, you know, do I have a…

STEFANOVIC: It sounds like you don't agree with it?

SHORTEN: Well, no, not at all. I don't have sympathy for some of those blokes who went over there, and no sympathy at all. But if you're a kid under six, let's not pretend anyone really asked their permission or what was happening to them, and if they're Australian citizens. Anyway, I can see both points of view but…

STEFANOVIC: I know you can, but I'm picking up what you're putting down. I mean, I don't think that you would necessarily support this if you had a choice.

SHORTEN: Oh no, that's- no, no, no, Karl. Well, if I've conveyed that, that's not right at all. I just want to reassure people it's about national security first, they'll be the considerations. A lot of these, they were kids under six so, you know, I'm not going to pretend you just give up on Australian citizens under six. 

WILSON: It's complex this. There's a human side to it, Karl, and a practical…

SHORTEN: It is complex. I just…

STEFANOVIC: I get that but I think if you make a decision to go overseas…


STEFANOVIC: …with someone and fight for Islamic State, you're making the decision as a family. There's no way in the world you should be allowed to come back here.

WILSON: Yeah, but children under the age of six.

STEFANOVIC: Look, I get it, but you make a decision as a family to go over. I just don't think there's any way.

WILSON: Well, I think- again, I think it is a very, very complex situation. We've got kids involved. Women who, who knows if they've been radicalised.

STEFANOVIC: Well you make that decision when you leave the country. You make the decision that you're going to fight.

WILSON: The children didn't make it…

SHORTEN: Well, some of the…

WILSON: The children didn't have a choice.

STEFANOVIC: No, but of course. 

WILSON: But the children didn't have a choice.

STEFANOVIC: But you have to, when you leave the country, be making a decision, okay, I'm putting at risk…

WILSON: Oh, I think that's being harsh. 

SHORTEN: Karl, I'm not…

WILSON: I think there's a human side to this but I think there's also practicalities and they have to be weighed up. It's a very, very difficult issue.

STEFANOVIC: So what are you going to do? Bring them back…

WILSON: Well, I think they'll come back. I think that…

STEFANOVIC: …just on their own?

WILSON: Well, I think they will come back.

STEFANOVIC: What do you do with the partners? I mean, they come back as well.

WILSON: No, no.

STEFANOVIC: This is the whole thing. So you set…


WILSON: ASIO's done the security checks.

STEFANOVIC: But you set a precedent saying, look, it's okay. Go and fight and then come back, and you can come back at some point.

SHORTEN: But Karl…

WILSON: Well, ASIO's done security checks, they're the experts. So, you know, it's…

SHORTEN: Karl, we're having a…

STEFANOVIC: It ties up resources.

WILSON: Of course it's tying up resources, I get that, and they're things that have to be considered. But I think we've also got to consider the human side of this. 

STEFANOVIC: That's a good debate. It's a good debate. It's fiery. Good on you, Bill. And thank you to you, Jim.

WILSON: Thanks, Karl. On you, Bill.