Minister Shorten Interview on Today with Allison Langdon


SUBJECTS: RBA, Cost of Living, Voice to Parliament

ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: Nice to have your company this morning. It was an apology of sorts. The RBA Governor saying sorry to the hundreds of thousands of Aussies who took out a mortgage on the guidance that record low interest rates wouldn't rise until 2024.

PHILIP LOWE: I'm sorry that people listened to what we'd said and acted on that and now find themselves in a position they don't want to be in, but at the time we just thought it was the right thing to do and I think looking back we would have chosen different language.
[End of excerpt]

LANGDON: Well for more we're joined by minister for government services and the NDIS Bill Shorten in the studio and Scott Emerson from 4BC. Nice to see you both.

So, Bill, say you've got like a $500,000 mortgage, you're paying an extra $800 or so a month. Do you reckon that apology cuts it?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Well I don't think it's going to contribute an extra dollar to your mortgage, so I won't insult people who have got to pay the extra mortgage. But the Governor of the Reserve Bank's an independent position so the last thing – you've got to respect the independence of the office. He said sorry, you know. I'm not sure it's going to change for a lot of mortgage…

LANGDON: Yeah, I get that he said sorry but if you, you know, you read that and you go, “if you listened to me and sort of did what, made decisions based on what we said”, well of course a lot of people did because you make the decisions as to what happens with interest rates.

SHORTEN: Yeah, so I think the question in that statement is what do we think about him? He's the Governor of the Reserve Bank, it's an independent position.

The politicians piling in is not going to help. If his saying sorry is not going to change the amount of mortgage you're paying, us piling on him is not going to change the amount of mortgage you're going to pay either, so try and keep the politics out of it.

LANGDON: Yeah, and I've noticed that all of our politicians won't sort of go there. I know Scott will though. What do you reckon of an apology with so many caveats?

SCOTT EMERSON: Oh, come on. And Bill there saying, “Oh, well, we don't want to pile in on him”. We saw Albo yesterday saying, “I've got complete faith in this bloke”. Well, who else has complete faith in this guy? He came out and said interest rates weren't going to rise until 2024, then he says, “Oh, I've put all these caveats on it”. Well, no one heard those caveats. He didn't want anyone to hear the caveats. He wanted people to believe interest rates wouldn't go up.

He got it completely wrong. The sorry does not cut it. I know there's a review into the Reserve Bank. That review should conclude at the end that he should be gone. That's just the reality for all those people who are paying massive rises in their mortgages because they took the advice of Philip Lowe.

LANGDON: Is there a disconnect with Canberra as to the impact of that statement and the decision that people made?

SHORTEN: There's no disconnect for me when I know mortgage holders are doing it tough. Whether or not he apologised ultimately is not going change the mortgage you're paying.

The challenges in the economy are probably, they are definitely much bigger than whether or not the Governor of the Reserve Bank says sorry. I'm not defending the bloke and I'm not putting the boot in. We are where we are with mortgages. It's tough for people. We've got to do the best we can to help with cost of living. Mr Lowe's apology or not is not going to change that.

LANGDON: Okay, so you'll help with cost of living. Energy bills, we're told they're going to come down by $275 by Christmas.

SHORTEN: Well, we're doing everything we can to decrease energy bills. Of course, the promises made before the election when   before Putin's invaded Ukraine. That has certainly upended a lot of things. We've got nine years of denial and delay by our predecessors. The reality is energy policy's been kicked into the long grass for nearly a decade. We're now taking it out of the long grass and tackling it. It'll take some time to turn around.

LANGDON: Totally get that but when are people actually going to see a bit of relief with their bills?

SHORTEN: Well, it's going to be tough for a while, there can be no doubt about that.

LANGDON: Okay. Let's talk now about the Nationals officially opposing an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, NT senator Jacinta Price delivering a pretty scathing dressing down of Indigenous affairs minister Linda Burney. Have a listen.

JACINTA PRICE: Minister Burney might be able to take a private jet out into a remote community dripping with Gucci and tell people in the dirt what's good for them, but they are in the dark and they have been in the dark.
[End of excerpt]

LANGDON: Bill, she did not miss.

SHORTEN: I don't think she - I think she missed completely actually. I think that was a below the belt attack on Linda Burney. Linda Burney's been a great activist for First Nations people, and indeed people generally.

The issue is about whether or not we put First Nations people on the nation's birth certificate, the constitution. People are entitled to their view, I get that, but I feel that was a pretty heavy personal assault on a person who didn't deserve it actually.

LANGDON: Yeah, Scott your thoughts on that, and also the Nationals killing the debate before we even have the detail, I mean it doesn't bode well for it?

EMERSON: Well I'm not necessarily advocating personal attacks on what people wear or do and those ways. Look, the reality is a lot of people are confused about this Voice to Parliament. They haven't seen the details, they've got concerns.

Now the Nationals have come out and said they won't back it. We know the history of referenda in Australia. We've had 44 so far, only eight have got up. And look, without a unified approach to this it's unlikely it will get up. Now, this is only early stages. I guess the question is what will Peter Dutton and the Liberals do now. David Littleproud has put a lot of pressure on the Liberals now to see where they go. Let's see what Dutton does do.

LANGDON: It is pretty much jammed you guys a bit, I think the Nationals coming out like this and Jacinta has made the point that this is just going to add another level of bureaucracy and doesn't actually fix any of the problems. Whether that's true or not people are going to hear that and go, “Maybe this isn't the right thing”?

SHORTEN: Well, first of all, there's plenty you can do to help First Nations people in terms of programs and policies on the ground.

But I've got to just pull up what people are saying when they say there's been no debate or no discussion. This proposal to have a voice where you have to consult First Nations people before you make decisions about them in Parliament, that's just good manners. It was proposed in 2016/2017. There's been 15 years of debate, so I don't accept that there hasn't been a lot of detail and a lot of debate.

When will it be time to give First Nations people a say in our own constitution? That's all. When is the good time? Because there's always people up there knock, knock, knocking saying it's not time.

It is 120 years since we became a Federation, when will we finally include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the constitution? If not now, when?

LANGDON: Lovely. Thank you, Bill, nice to see you this morning.

SHORTEN: Thank you.

LANGDON: Nice to have you in the studio by the way.

SHORTEN: It's good to be real, not virtual.

LANGDON: Seeing you in person. And Scott, next time, we'll get you in here next time, all right.

EMERSON: Thanks.