24 October 2023

SUBJECTS: Queensland election; Annastacia Palaszczuk; reports on state debt; Donald Trump’s comments on Anthony Pratt 
SARAH ABO, HOST: Well, Annastacia Palaszczuk is wasting no time in her bid to secure a fourth term, the Queensland Premier releasing a video that looks a lot like a campaign video asking voters to stick with it. Take a look.

VIDEO PACKAGE FEATURING ANNASTACIA PALASZCZUK: If you know me, you know I don't give in. No matter what. You give me that strength. Every person who stops me with a kind word, every show of support on social media, every little kid who reminds me of where I've come from and why it is so important to follow your dreams. We are building a better Queensland one the world is only just discovering. Let's keep going.

ABO: It's been released 12 months out from the state election. Well, joining us to discuss today's headlines is Minister for the NDIS and Government Services, Bill Shorten from Canberra and 3AW presenter Neil Mitchell from Melbourne. Good morning gents. Good to see you, Bill. What do you think, is this a campaign video?

BILL SHORTEN, MINISTER FOR THE NDIS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES: I think it's a lovely video where she's reminding people how hard she's working. I mean it has been hard for Queensland though, between the Brisbane Lions and then the Broncos on that weekend, I think Queensland does need a little bit of feel-good pick me up, so that's nice.

ABO: Is that how you see it? A feel-good pick me up?

SHORTEN: Yeah, I felt motivated, it was good.

ABO: It doesn't take much to motivate you then Bill, does it? What do you reckon, Neil?

NEIL MITCHELL, 3AW: Oh, look. And she says, I want to remind people where I came from. They'll tell her where to go, I think. I think it's awful. 

ABO: It does look budget, doesn't it? 

MITCHELL: But you can hear people screaming, just leave us alone till we've got to vote. Now, Bill, you'd be expert on this, though. You did a 1400-kilometre tour around Queensland when you were trying to be Prime Minister. How did that go?

SHORTEN: Oh, Neil, you know, are you a glass half empty guy or a glass half full guy? I'm a glass half full guy. 

MITCHELL: Oh, Bill. 

SHORTEN: Come on, let the better angels of your nature out.

ABO: Do you reckon, though? I mean, Neil, we've seen – 

MITCHELL: The Bill bus! 

ABO: - we've seen a few Premiers leave before finishing their term. Could Annastacia Palaszczuk follow Dan Andrews out the door?

MITCHELL: With a video like this, she might.

SHORTEN: Everyone finishes at some point. But you know that's good if she's still got the petrol in the tank, good on her.

ABO: All right. Well, her video is an interesting use of taxpayers’ money. You mentioned that, Neil. It comes at a time new research from Ernst and Young lifts the lid on our Premier's big spending. The Australian this morning reporting states are set to borrow more than the Commonwealth for the first time in history. I mean, Bill, Victoria naturally tops the list with more than $33 billion in debt. That kind of spending isn't really going to do much to help curb inflation, is it?

SHORTEN: Well, there's good debt and there's bad debt, isn't there? Are you borrowing money to cover current costs? 

ABO: $33 billion? 

SHORTEN: Oh, no. Where debt is being used to create productive, a productive economy. That's good. If you're borrowing money just to sort of pay the ongoing bills, that's a problem. That's why Jim Chalmers is doing such a good job with our $22 billion surplus that we banked in the last budget and our cost-of-living relief.

ABO: Maybe the state Premiers need to take a lesson from him. Neil, what do you reckon?

MITCHELL: 60% of it’s Victorian debt. Look, Bill will say it's glass half full stuff again, but I think we've got to put the big boy pants on. I think we need an adult conversation about this debt. The only way to reduce - you can't buy your way out of it. You can't grow your way out of it. You can't increase immigration and get yourself out of it. The only way to deal with it is to cut spending or raise taxes. And this is a debate that both state and federally, they refuse to have before the election. I don't see an option. I think this is a serious problem and we need a big boy approach to it. We need adult conversations about cutting spending or increasing taxes. How are we going to do it? How are we going to manage it?

ABO: Well, what do you propose, Bill? I mean, housing is a massive issue as well.

SHORTEN: Well, I think it's the quality of the investment, frankly. It's good if we're investing, borrowing money to invest in things which make the economy work better and create jobs. And if the debts are on projects which don't make sense, then it's not so good. That's the issue. Federally, that's why we're reviewing all our infrastructure projects to make sure they're actually value for money. Because one thing you don't want to do is borrow money and then it turns out the projects are lemon.

ABO: Yeah, absolutely. All right. Well, Donald Trump has labelled Aussie billionaire Anthony Pratt a, quote, redheaded weirdo. They're not my words, just putting that out there, amid a damning investigation from 60 minutes revealing extraordinary private dealings between the pair. Bill, did you happen to watch this story? The 60 minutes yarn on the weekend?

SHORTEN: I have followed the story a bit. I think Washington only has room for one red head and that's Donald Trump. I think I think the good news is that our Prime Minister is over there with Joe Biden, which is the main game.

ABO: Yeah, but come on, Bill, I mean, you've had your own private dealings with the Pratt family. You've taken the private jet on a luxury vacation. You've dined at Raheen. Any secret info that you've leaked to him? 


ABO: No?

SHORTEN: Maybe I just don't know anything. I don't know any good secrets. You discover that every time I come on this show. 

ABO: Neil, what do you reckon? I mean, it doesn't wash with the public, does it?

MITCHELL: No, it doesn't. I'm disappointed. I thought Bill was very close to the Pratt family. I thought he'd know all about it.

SHORTEN: I was very close to Richard, no question.

MITCHELL: Yeah, things like Paul Keating and Tony Abbott getting paid a lot of money. Paul Keating, 25 grand a month. Tony Abbott 8 grand a month. They're entitled to do that. They're entitled to give advice. But I reckon if you're going to make public statements on things, as both of them do, you should declare the payments. I have to on radio, Bill has to on his list at the Parliament. Surely Paul Keating and Tony Abbott should say when they're making a comment, oh yeah and I get 25 grand a month from the top end of town, as Paul Keating does.

ABO: Oh, you've gone you've gone soft on Bill there, Neil. I thought you might fire up a little bit, but we've got to go unfortunately, guys, we'll save this debate for another time. You've been you've been saved by the clock, Bill.

MITCHELL: I'm scared of Bill. I'm scared.

SHORTEN: It's okay. Extend the interview Sarah, I’m cool. Thank you.

ABO: Thanks, guys. We'll catch you again soon.