Minister Shorten Interview on Today with Brooke Boney


SUBJECTS: Voice to parliament, Prince Harry’s media blitz, North Sydney local council planning to blacklist leather

BROOKE BONEY, HOST: Welcome back. Thanks for your company this morning. The Prime Minister has pushed past demands from the opposition to reveal more details on how the proposed Indigenous Voice to Parliament's body will operate. For more, we are joined by Minister for Government Services and the NDIS, Bill Shorten, and commentator, Tom Tilley. Good morning, guys. Thanks for being with us.

Bill, to you first. Why is the PM holding back on details? 

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: Oh, he's not. What we've got here, I mean, the essence of it is that we want to make sure that First Australians are consulted about decisions which affect them before they're made. This whole proposal emerged in 2016 and 2017, Indigenous Australians met at Uluru and said, "Let's make sure that we have a say in decisions which affect us."  It doesn't mean that the Parliament's not the sovereign body. It's just including our First Australians on the nation's birth certificate, the constitution. I think that sadly, Mr Dutton can't organise the Liberal Party to one point of view, so they're playing this game of death by a thousand cuts by trying to raise questions and say this or that, and stroke their chin and say, "We don't have enough detail." 

There's plenty of detail out there, and I think some in the opposition just need to prioritise First Australians rather than their own political goals.

TOM TILLEY: Well, it could be. It's a tricky balance for Anthony Albanese. If he gives too much detail, then there's too much for the critics to sort of pick up and throw stones at the proposal; not enough and he leaves a vacuum. I think at the moment he actually does need to give a bit more detail, maybe not the full 15 points that Peter Dutton is asking him for, but we need to know the basics of who could be on this voice, what its relationship to the Parliament will be exactly, and have it explained. I think to get this right, Albanese needs to get on to the front foot. If he does leave this vacuum for too long, it creates too much dissension and he might not bring the Coalition on board, and he needs both, they need bipartisan support.

BONEY: Do you know who's giving us a lot of detail at the moment, maybe too much; Prince Harry. He's continued his media blitz overnight. Charles, Camilla, William and Kate, all in the firing line. Bill, he's branded Camilla is a villain, and says that William has betrayed him as well. How far does Harry have to go before the royals reach out to try to stop him, do you reckon? 

SHORTEN: Oh, listen, I've got very mixed reactions about this. At one level it's like being at a ringside seat in a family bust-up, and some of the detail is remarkable, but to me it just shows there's a lot of damage and trauma, but at another level, this is just family gossip, and that reminds me that this family are the Head of State of Australia, and it really, I think, puts a question mark around our governance structures, where we've got a sort of feuding family on the other side of the world who seem to really not like each other at the moment very much, and they're actually people technically the Head of Australia.

So at one level, it's gossip, it's scintillating, at another level it's a shame to see a family bust up, but perhaps at the deepest level, why do we still need to keep following a dysfunctional British family to be the Head of State of Australia?  

BONEY: Tom, what did you make of it all, because parts of it were really quite heart-wrenching, you know, when he was talking about his mother, and then there's the other parts, you know, the other side of the PR coin, where it did seem like he was trying to drive a knife into some of the people who had hurt him? 

TILLEY: Well, I feel for Harry. I'm about the same age. I saw him walk behind the coffin with his brother all those years ago, and I really feel for him, and he's clearly hurting, he's still traumatised by his childhood, by losing his mother by the way the media intruded into their lives, and he's felt disempowered, so this has been a strategy to go all out public and just throw grenades.

I would really like to see it go behind closed doors. I just think he's damaging his relationship with the most important people in his life. I get that he had to make some kind of statement, but I think it needs to end, and they need to get together behind closed doors. I do think the sort of, the barbs thrown at Camilla, for example, show that some of it is a bit petty. We're talking about their relationship with the media, and if Camilla is, you know, dangerous, and a villain, and he talked about, you know, them being the abusers and him being abused, I think it's gone a bit too far, and he's probably losing some of the public when it goes to those kind of extremes.

BONEY: Yeah, and I think that some of the detail that we saw in the book is probably a little bit too much. It's more than what I wanted to know about Prince Harry, or frankly anyone, really, it's a bit too much.

I wanted to ask you guys about this as well, the iconic RM Williams boot could be soon blacklisted in one of Sydney's council areas with a proposal to ban fur and leather at events.

Bill, boots, bags, soccer balls, are these really controversial? 

SHORTEN: Yeah, I   no, I realise that if this resolution's passed, I'm wearing a pair of RM Williams now. If you're driving to North Sydney, you've got to take your shoes off at the border. I would, I mean, frankly, I would rather stick - Local Government is a very important level of government, but sometimes some of the issues that they get into, I would rather stick my finger in a pencil sharpener than run for local council election. So sometimes it's just - they do important stuff, but they just - this is Sideshow Bob stuff.

BONEY: It is a bit silly, isn't it? 

SHORTEN: I'm going to keep my RMs on as well. 

BONEY: Tom, what's your back up she, if you can't wear RMs; what are you going to wear? 

TILLEY: I guess you've got to go for some vegan shoes, which will look pretty out of place in Kirribilli. Look, I think if you're using elephant tusks, and you know, seal fur on local council, then you probably need a bit of a shake up. But I don't think they're quite at that level. So I think common sense will probably prevail here. This was a motion about taking a look at the policy. They're not voting to ban, you know, rabbit fur Akubras, if it got to that level I think some of these councillors would be out of a job.

BONEY: Yeah, I reckon too. Hey guys, thanks so much for being with us this morning.