Minister Shorten Interviewed on the Today Show


AMELIA ADAMS, HOST: Well, go back to the drawing board - that is the message from the Senate crossbench as the Albanese government tries to rush through its controversial Industrial Relations Bill. Business leaders have slammed the legislation which would allow multi-employer bargaining in a bid to boost wages. Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and 4BC's, Scott Emerson, join me now. A very good morning to you both.



ADAMS: Now, Bill, first to you. Liberals are calling this legislation a dog's breakfast. Business groups say they are scrambling. You don't have crossbench support. They want this bill to be split. Why not do that and give the Senate time to take a breath and work through the more complicated bits?

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, we’ve been telling Australians for at least the last two, if not three, elections, these are our workplace relations policies. So these are not a surprise to anyone. But more importantly than the fact that we have been transparent is that these laws are designed to try and get wages moving again for millions of Australians who for many years have had small pay rises if none at all. A lot of women in Australia haven't had a proper pay rise in a long time. The enterprise bargaining system which is meant to deliver wages hasn't been working. So when you’ve got inflation running at seven per cent and wages moving just north of two per cent, why is it that the people who are well paid in the Senate are telling Australian workers they have got to wait even longer for a modest pay rise?

ADAMS: Alright. Well, it could be a case of defeat there; it’s going to be a big week of debate. Meantime, it’s been revealed the six Teal candidates who ousted Liberal MPs were backed by more than $10 million in political donations with Climate 200 contributing more than half of that. Scott, it seems like you can buy a whole lot of influence with enough cash?

EMERSON: Oh, I think any- no one would be surprised by that. We knew they were being backed by the rich end of town, by those with harbour side views or from Toorak. The amount of money I think is stunning and these Teals who will claim they are coming from the people there- it will be interesting to see how they defend the massive amounts of money coming from these billionaires backing their campaign. I think the worry is going to be for the Liberals is the Teals are there, they’re entrenching in their seats and we know their backers now very have, very deep pockets.

ADAMS: Alright. Labor is considering caps on political donations. Bill, what would that look like?

SHORTEN: Well, it’s a bit ironic for the Liberal Party, and, you know, I love Scott, but for him to say that the big end of town was backing someone else, you almost hear a hint of jealously that the big end of town is not backing the Liberals every time. I think it’s time for the Liberal Party to consider better disclosure of donations, more transparency. They have been traditionally the laggards when it comes to campaign funding reform. I would like to see less reliance on big money in Australian elections, but, whilst it’s legal, no-one is saying the Teals have done something wrong. Isn't it time the Liberal Party got on board the reform wagon now that they’re at the receiving end of being kicked by big money and engaged with Labor about election reform, donation reform?

ADAMS: Alright. We’ll move on. School leavers could soon could be forced to wear army greens if Tony Abbott gets his way. The former PM has called for a year of compulsory military service for young Australians. Scott, what do you think? Is this a good idea?

EMERSON: Look, I know there will be a few people out there who will say, yep, that is what our young people need. But it’s not going to get past it here in Australia at the moment. Compulsory is the issue here and I don’t know necessarily the army would want all of these people entering for one year in terms of getting trained. I could understand a system where you said, look, there is a volunteer system there for young people to go into, not necessarily just the army, to help out in, say, Indigenous communities, and say, alright then, you do that, you get free HECS for three years. Something like that might be passable but compulsory military service, it’s just not going to fly currently in Australia.

ADAMS: I think parents should have the choice. I’d send my 5-year-old off to military service tomorrow. Keep the other one at home. Bill, what are your thoughts?

SHORTEN: I think it should be voluntary. When I was at university I did a couple of years I the army reserve. I loved it. 

ADAMS: Did you?

SHORTEN: I wasn’t Australia’s greatest infantryman. I’d realised that if ever there was a war someone’s got to be the first to die and I realised it might have been me. You know, so for a soldier I was probably made for something else. But it should be voluntary. I think it’s great to encourage people to do exactly what Scott said. Join- you know, if you want to be in the Army reserve or the Air Force reserve or the Navy reserve, it’s great fun and you learn a lot of skills. I do think- Tony Abbott was Prime Minister of Australia, if only he knew someone who knew a Prime Minister who could do something. So I appreciate his idea in retirement.

ADAMS: Oh, Bill.

SHORTEN: Well, you know, the Libs have come up with a number of ideas since they have gone into Opposition where…

ADAMS: Firing up on a Tuesday, isn't he?

SHORTEN: We’re in the heartbeat of democracy here, you know, I’m practicing my lines for Parliament.

ADAMS: We sure are. Listen, I want to end on this because this is an age-old gender debate which has been put to rest today with new data revealing that men aged 35-49 are most likely to be involved in a car crash. In other words, women are the best drivers. Now, as an excellent driver, this doesn't come as a surprise to me. Bill, your thoughts?

SHORTEN: Yeah, I think it is probably right. You know, blokes are in a hurry. I mean- nah, I think it probably is right actually. The blokes like their muscle cars and the fast cars and I think- so do women, by the way, but I think it sounds right. And I’d be curious - Karl has gone very quiet here, hasn't he?

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: I’ll tell you something, Bill, just quickly. I actually- and this is- I didn’t want to share this with Australia because you are pretty new to the job here on the Today Show, but I wanted to say this, Billy. I drove past and this person drove past - looked like Amelia yesterday – and the windows were wound down and a kid yells out, "Mummy doesn't have a licence."

ADAMS: This is what my 5-year-old does. She trolls me.

STEFANOVIC: It’s true. 

ADAMS: It’s true. She trolls me. That is because my household…

STEFANOVIC: She’s so bad.

ADAMS: has been so brainwashed to believe I am a bad driver. That is why military service should be compulsory for 5-year-olds.

STEFANOVIC: 5-year-olds!

ADAMS: Scott, Bill, thank you for your time this morning. Great chat.

EMERSON: Amelia, can I just say very quickly, my dad is 95 today. Brian, happy birthday. He’ll be watching now. Always watches.

SHORTEN: Happy birthday, Mr Emerson. Good on you.

EMERSON: Oh, look, Brian is 95 today. Well done. He’s a great bloke. 

STEFANOVIC: Aw, that’s nice.

SHORTEN: Brilliant. Good news for you too Scott.

ADAMS: Good stuff. Love a birthday shout out. Thank you both. Have a great day.