Main Image

15 March 2022


SUBJECTS: Petrol prices and cost of living pressures on the rise; calls for Australia to consider sanctions on China over Russia support; Scott Morrison’s low blow at Albanese, KFC launches a fine dining restaurant.

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: You're watching Today, thanks for your company. The big squeeze on our household budgets is about to get a whole lot worse, with groceries following petrol going up and up. For more, we're joined by Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten and 9News reporter Chris O'Keefe. Morning guys. Nice to see you. To Bill, you first of all, Deloitte research shows reducing tax on fuel costs a staggering five hundred million dollars for just one cent reduction. Would you do it?

BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: Well, we'll have to wait and see what's in the budget. There is no doubt, though, in Australia this morning as people are getting their kids ready for school is that everything's going up except people's wages. So, I think there's a number of things this Government should consider about trying to get wages going again. Lower childcare, you know, cheaper energy costs. There's a fair bit to be done. Inflation is a problem.

STEFANOVIC: Would you do the excise, though? I mean, even indexation, get rid of it for a short amount of time?

SHORTEN: Well, we'll see what happens in the budget, it's got two weeks to go. I think there's no doubt that the price of petrol is a barbecue stopper at the moment. It's north of $2 a litre. I understand that, in part, it's because of the conflict in Ukraine, but petrol prices were going up earlier. One thing I would definitely hope to look for in the budget Tuesday week is: Are they going to encourage more electric vehicles? At the moment I'm driving an electric vehicle and the price of filling up my vehicle with electricity is so much cheaper than petrol. We’re long overdue for doing something about electric vehicles

STEFANOVIC: The reality is that I mean, the petrol prices affect the poor more than anyone else. And it sounds to me like you're taking a bob each way on the indexation.

SHORTEN: No, that's not fair, actually. The reality is that we'll get the budget in two weeks. So, let's see what the Government does. I mean, it's obviously got to be on the table. But the longer-term solution is we knew that energy shocks would come. We wouldn't know what would cause it. And we've done nothing on electric vehicles. So poor people can't get electric vehicles. And I blame the Government.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Chris? 

CHRIS O’KEEFE, 9NEWS: Well, Teslas cost a fortune. I don't know if Bill Shorten is going to get in his Tesla or electric vehicle and drive from Melbourne to Canberra. He won't make it halfway. We run out, at the Maccas? Is he going to plug in at the Maccas, Bill? What are you going to do?

SHORTEN: Chris, do you know why that cost a fortune? Because the Government hasn't done anything to make electric vehicles cheaper.

O’KEEFE: Because Elon Musk is a billionaire, that’s why.

SHORTEN: Yeah, but as you know, Chris, you know, I'm sure you've got your own driving TV show in the works, a lot of electric vehicles aren't made by Tesla. Why have we become anti-technology?

O’KEEFE: Well, Hyundai. I still can’t drive more than 300k without having to plug it in, wait forty minutes and eat a three-course dinner before waiting for it to charge up. It doesn't work in Australia, Bill.

SHORTEN: Here's a free tip, Chris, when you're putting in $2.50 per litre, electric vehicles looking very, very sexy, certainly for cost of living. 

STEFANOVIC: Okay, that's - Bill Shorten's putting the sexy in electric vehicles. I can see the ad right now. Good on you, Billy. Now there are calls for Australia to follow the U.S and consider sanctions against China if Beijing continues to support the Russian invasion of China bill, China does need to step up and step in, doesn't it?

SHORTEN: I think that if China wants to take its place amongst the family of nations in the world, they've got to show they're a good international citizen. It's not good enough for them to sit on the fence, I think. Having said that, I would like Mr Morrison to focus efforts on working with other countries to put meaningful sanctions on Russia so that they pull their troops out of Ukraine. 

STEFANOVIC: He's not going to do that though.

SHORTEN: That is the best way we can help the Ukrainian people. Well, who do you mean Putin or Morrison?

STEFANOVIC: What else would you impose on him to make him act, because he's shown absolutely no ability or acceptance of abiding by any of those sanctions or rolling over?

SHORTEN: I think those sanctions are beginning to have effect. The problem with sanctions is they take longer than the Russian troops are in Ukraine. Ukraine, I think, has surprised the world with their determination. They're doing a lot better than I think a whole lot of world experts thought. But the ruble is just, you know, plunging in value. Those oligarchs and Russian criminals are helping run the top end of Russian society want to have their money from the West. So, I wouldn't underestimate the power of sanctions. But we have to go the distance, and that's where we get back to the topic at the start, the fuel prices. I always predicted that with Ukraine going to war, with the Russian invasion, that it would affect all of us in the world. One thing we should make clear is the Russian government are war criminals, and I'd like to see Mr Morrison talking more about the fact that, you know, you can't invade another country and not be deemed a war criminal.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. China is a very different kettle of fish, as we know. There is a Queensland senator right now calling for those sanctions to be brought against China because of its inaction against Russia. Now, Chris, is that possible, plausible?

O’KEEFE: It's plausible to a degree. It depends on what the sanctions are, so that'll hurt a lot of people in Australia given that's our biggest trading partner. But the Chinese put a bunch of sanctions on Australia and our beef exporters, our grain exporters, our wine exporters. They were resilient. They figured out different markets, they figured out a way around the Chinese market and they're flying now. So just because, you know, the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Government tried to be heavy handed towards Australia doesn't mean that we can't fight back. And whether it's a sanction against the Chinese government or, you know, it depends what impact that will have on our own markets. And you know, things are pretty expensive, as is. We don't want to make it worse.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah. Let's talk about the election. It's just weeks away, isn't it? But voters are not exactly thrilled with the choice of who leads the country at the moment. Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese both struggling to win the trust of the nation in a new poll. This was Scott Morrison on Sky News last night.

SCOTT MORRISON: I'm not pretending to be anyone else. I still wear the same glasses. Sadly, the same suits [applause] and I and I weigh about the same. And I don't mind a bit of Italian cake either, so I'm happy in my own skin. I'm not pretending to be anyone else.

STEFANOVIC: All right. Prime Minister clearly watching 60 Minutes on Sunday night. Bill, is Albo the great pretender here or is the PM a bit out of line there? Should he have really bought into that when he didn't need to?

SHORTEN: I think the Prime Minister is threatened by Albo. As for makeovers, I remember Mr Morrison before the last federal election, you know what? He seemed to get a new pair of glasses and he did his best to do a makeover. Albo’s match fit. That's what we want. I think that the Little Green Monster is sitting on Mr Morrison's shoulder and he’s a bit jealous of Albo.

STEFANOVIC: [laughs] The Little Green Monster… Chris?

O’KEEFE: I think that was a bit of a low blow for the Prime Minister. It's a bit schoolyard stuff, isn't it? Pointing at someone's appearance and having a go at someone's appearance? You know, Albo has lost 14 kilos because he went on a health kick. Good luck to him. That's called discipline. Isn't that what you want from a Prime Minister? It's hard to lose weight. I'd love to lose 14 kilos. But losing that and the makeover, good luck to him. Are we really going to have a crack at someone's appearance? I think it's well beneath the Prime Minister of Australia. If Scott Morrison wants to have a go at Albo, how about we ask what the hell is he going to do for us as Australians if we vote for him because I’ve still got no idea?

STEFANOVIC: Well, look, it's certainly going to be interesting come the next couple of weeks. Well, as soon as the election is called, you can see what they're going to go at. They're going to they're going to. The Coalition is completely on - 

O’KEEFE: But Australians won't cop that. That's bullying,

STEFANOVIC: Yep. Talking of not losing weight, KFC finally is opening a world first fine dining restaurant in Sydney with some unbelievable takes on the fast-food menu. Bill, it is different, but is it as Aldi says, good different.

SHORTEN: Yeah… You know, at the end of the day, you just want to get your fried chicken. Sometimes if you've got a winning formula, don't change it. It’s not my fine dining.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, exactly. Chris?

O’KEEFE: Yeah, I if I want an expensive night out, I'll take it to the BP. 


O’KEEFE: You like that one?

STEFANOVIC: I do, back when I was in Rocky, and I was working for Win TV in Rockhampton, we used to go to the to the Mobile 24-hour service station for a special occasion. And that was fantastic.

O’KEEFE: Microwave dinners. Beautiful. With a bit of gravy.

SHORTEN: They still they still talk about you in Rocky, Karl the big spender.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, you know the hamburgers you put it in a microwave for 30 seconds? Delicious

O’KEEFE: What about the reflux? 

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, they repeat - long after the price is forgotten, reflux remains. All that stuff. Thank you, guys