Minister Shorten Interview on the Today Show


SUBJECTS: Netball Australia, Melbourne cup

Allison Langdon, HOST: Netball Australia's been handed a lifeline from the most unlikely sponsor after severing their multimillion-dollar deal with Hancock Prospecting. So who's fronting up the 15 mill? The Victorian Government. For more, we are joined by Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten; and Editor-in-Chief of Stellar magazine Sarrah Le Marquand.


LANGDON: Nice to see you both. Bill, Victoria's got $165 billion of net debt, that's more than any other state. Is there a problem with the optics of this?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES:  I think it's great that Dan Andrews and the Victorian Government have stepped up to back in netball in Australia. I mean, you look all around Australia, when it comes to building football stadiums for blokes to play in or male-dominated sporting events, they've been getting sponsorship for a long time from governments and the private sector. For once the women, the elite women athletes of netball are going to get a modest sponsorship. 
I mean, in the big scheme of things I think it's wonderful, especially as Gina Rinehart tossed up her hands and abandoned the sport. So, I'm glad the Victorians have stepped in.

LANGDON: Look, I think there's a decent amount of support for Gina Rinehart in taking the position that she did - that's one that's divisive. But if you look at what Daniel Andrews is spending, it's a drop in the ocean, right. But when you have a crisis with 000, ambulance response times, there's been a floods disaster, is this the time to be spending money on sport?

SHORTEN: No-one would argue that ambulances are more important, or cleaning up after the floods, but I don't think it's an either, or. The reality is, there is lot of effort going into our ambulance system - it is crucial; there's a lot of effort going into flood relief. But I also think we're capable of supporting, in a modest way, women's sport. 

I have to say that I actually am quite supportive of Donnell Wallam and the netball players in the recent matter, and so I think it's good for netball that a white knight has emerged.

LANGDON: Sarah, plenty argue this is good value for money and it is great for women's sport, but is it the best use of taxpayers' money?

LE MARQUAND: Well look, it is great for women's sport but it it's not a charitable act. Let's not forget, Visit Victoria has a strict charter and its charter is to attract tourism to the state, because we all know that every tourist that visits the state pays for itself over and over again. So, I actually think this investment is pretty low. 
I mean, you look at the branding that Visit Victoria and the greater state of Victoria will get by extension. We are talking about the Diamonds essentially making Melbourne their base, they're going to be wearing their logos in games that are beamed all around the world. Women's netball is a sport that's really got a spotlight rightfully shining on it at the moment. There this a world- class champion team. 
I think it's smart money and I know it's easy to spin it as a lot of Daniel Andrews critics have said, why would we take money out of areas that need it - what you've just talked about, hospital and those dire areas. But there's always going to be money in tourism. It's not as though this 15 million has gone on ferrying a bunch of politicians around in their com cars for a fancy lunch or redoing a bunch of stationary with a new letterhead. I think it's a really sensible stance.
And I also applaud the Diamonds for standing by their principles and I think Gina Rinehart was totally valid to make her decision too. But I really applaud Visit Victoria stepping in here.

LANGDON: And it will bring more international games to the state as well, which is a great thing.

LE MARQUAND: It will, it will pay for itself.

LANGDON: You talked about putting a spotlight on the city - well, nothing more than what we're about to see today, right. That is the race between Melbourne and Sydney, right? [Laughs]. You're duelling horse races today as the nationally iconic race that stops the nation, Melbourne Cup, taking on Sydney's Big Dance. Bill, it's kind of- look, it's kind of like Paul Gallen fighting Karl, right? No competition.

LE MARQUAND: Like that.


SHORTEN: I assume you're saying Paul Gallen's the Melbourne Cup though, just to be clear?

LANGDON: Well, open to interpretation.

SHORTEN: Well, I think, I mean, it's great that Sydney's got a horse race, but it is the support act today on the national racing card, isn't it? I mean, let's think about it - Melbourne versus Sydney, it's a bit like comparing Frank Sinatra to an Elvis impersonator at the Rooty Hill RSL, isn't it? No, the Melbourne Cup's got it hand's down.

SHORTEN: But have a nice day in Sydney. 

LANGDON: You need to spend more time at Rooty Hill RSL. That's a good show, I'm telling you, Bill.

LE MARQUAND: Yeah. I mean, look I have to admit…

SHORTEN: Yeah, yeah. No, I'm sure it is. I'm sure it is.

LE MARQUAND: Okay, Bill, I'm actually flying to Melbourne this morning to go to Flemington for the Melbourne Cup. You've almost talked me around. I'm thinking I might need to refund my flight. No, look, I'm not into this Sydney versus Melbourne rivalry.

SHORTEN: Oh, Sarrah.

LANGDON: You know it's also going to hail, there's going to be thunder storms and freezing cold.

LE MARQUAND: Yes, exactly. It's a good thing Melbourne's got the Melbourne Cup, because their weather sure isn't helping them is it? And Visit Victoria needs to really needs to fight that weather.

LANGDON: Sarah, do you know that our very own journalistic integrity at the Today Show has been called into question by 3AW's Ross Stevenson. Listen to this.

ROSS STEVENSON: Anyway, we hear about something, I just noticed on the Today program on Channel 9 as I walked past, looked up, it had two reporters on a split screen. One at Flemington and one at Randwick. 

RUSSEL HOWCROFT: There we go. 

STEVENSON: Why would you have someone at Randwick?

HOWCROFT: There's a lot of work been going on here, Ross.

STEVENSON: On Melbourne Cup day for God's sake.

LANGDON: Exactly. The audacity of us.

LE MARQUAND: No, wait. I am really flying into enemy territory today, aren't I?

LANGDON: Mm –hm.

SHORTEN: No. You’re Welcome, Sarrah.

LE MARQUAND: I will be flying the flag for Randwick at Flemington.

SHORTEN: You’re welcome.

LE MARQUAND: Thanks, Bill. 

LANGDON: Hey, Bill, I hope you've got your gum boots, your parka, your beanie and your gloves.

LE MARQUAND: Yeah, and I've got my form guide.

LANGDON: Brilliant. Lovely. Well, have a great day.

SHORTEN: It’ll be fine.

LANGDON: Just before we go I want to show you a picture that Bill sent in celebrating Halloween yesterday with the family. We've got picture there of - there we go. That was at the Shorten household yesterday afternoon.

LE MARQUAND: Went all out.

KARL STEFANOVIC: What a lot of kids.

LANGDON: It was nuts, yeah. Didn't realise that so many kids there, Bill, but congratulations to you and Chloe. Have a great day.