Minister Shorten Interview on Today with Tracy Vo


TRACY VO, HOST: Well, the plan to make power bills cheaper has been labelled a Soviet‑Style policy; the CEO of a major gas producer claiming it's a form of nationalism.

Minister For Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and journalist, John Mangos, join me now. Good to have you here this Friday morning, John and Bill. Bill, to you first. These are strong words. There are concerns, of course, that bills will rise again in the long‑term. Is there a guarantee; is there a promise for Australian households that this won't happen?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Listen, I think we've just got to look at where we were at before we passed this legislation on the last day of Parliament yesterday. If the Australian Government does nothing, the prices are going to increase massively. This is because there's a war in Ukraine, and of course for 10 years our predecessors had 22 different energy policies, none of which they landed. So we are facing a perfect storm, and more importantly, families are, and manufacturing businesses in Australia. 

So extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. What's been passed in Parliament yesterday, it's not going to stop the increase in energy prices, but by capping the price of gas and the price of coal, what we're going to do is take some of the sting out of the increases. If we do nothing, families are going to pay an average of an extra $230 next year, and a whole lot of manufacturing businesses; cement, aluminium, steel, they're facing a horrible set of circumstances of potential job losses.

So just to the gas companies, I respect they've got a position to put, but they're making a lot of money, and at this point in a beauty parade between big companies and their big profits, and the Australian people and Australian businesses, we've got to put the national interest first.

VO: Okay. Let's talk about the independent modelling that shows bills could spike to more than $700 from next year. We do have to express that this research was commissioned by an oil and gas company, John.


VO: How much do we read into this?

MANGOS: Well, I'm reading into it a lot, because I thought, and I'm going to disagree with Bill here, I'm not convinced that capping is going to keep the price down. The predictions are that there will be a lot of short‑term usage, which will mean that there will be a shortage, which again will push prices up. I thought Australia was about deregulating, not regulating.

So I think the government's taken a huge gamble on this, and we are going to see prices go up in the short term, and there's no guarantee that they'll come down. So good luck to the government, I hope it does work, but I suspect, as the oil and gas companies say, that this is a Soviet‑style ‑ it's regulation which we're not known for in Australia, we'd rather deregulate.

VO: It is a tough situation for the government, but look, it has gone through, so we'll see how it plays out in the next few months.


VO: Moving on now, there are new calls for Australia to form a National Firearm Registry following, obviously the horror shootings of the two police officers in Queensland. Bill, governments have been trying to implement this for decades. Why is it such a struggle to get this through?

SHORTEN: Well, it shouldn't be, but first of all, I'd just, like many Australians, just want to send my condolences to the people of the Western Downs of Queensland. For the last few days, all Australians are part of the extended family of the Western Downs of Queensland. It was a shocking murder; just horrific.

In terms of the Firearms Registry, the Queensland premier said she wants to have this debate at the National Cabinet. It shouldn't take crisis sometimes to move the policy needle along the dial, but there's going to be an inquiry and investigation. The Prime Minister said let's get the results of that and the recommendations. We just wish we could bring these police officers back, and Alan Dare, the neighbour, but if we can learn anything out of this shocking event, then we need to.

VO: Well, John, as Bill mentioned there, it shouldn't take such a tragedy to get something like this across the line. What do you think needs to be done?

MANGOS: Well, on this Bill and I are in furious agreement. I too send my condolences to the families. Look, I'm an anti‑gun person, so as far as I'm concerned, you can't do enough to stamp out guns, and I applaud Premier Palaszczuk for wanting to put it on the National Agenda next year. I wish it could happen tomorrow, frankly. And Bill's right, it's taken way too long for this to land, and we shouldn't wait for tragedies to do something about it. So, you know, the sooner we wipe out guns the better, and the sooner that people have guns are registered ‑ and now I see that there's some talk about having, you know, making sure that they're in good mental health.

VO: Yeah.

MANGOS: I'm all for it. I'm all for it. I hate guns.

VO: Yeah, couldn't agree more. John and Bill, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you so much for your time.

MANGOS: Thank you.

SHORTEN: All right. Cheers, guys.