Doorstop interview – Canberra | Prime Minister of Australia
PRIME MINISTER, ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s fantastic to be here in Canberra, having this week been in Western Australia, in South Australia, in New South Wales and in Tasmania. What I get, wherever I go around the country, is that there is momentum behind the Yes campaign. People understand what this campaign is about. It’s about changing our founding document to recognise the privilege that we have of sharing this continent with the oldest continuous culture on earth. It’s about also having an advisory body, a Voice, so we can listen to Indigenous people about matters that affect them so that we can get better results. So, I am campaigning, as are all of these people, here for a Yes vote for recognition, a Yes vote for listening, a Yes vote for better results. All of the fear campaigns which are out there will be no more relevant than they have been for the Apology to Stolen Generations. And I’ve said that my proudest day in Parliament was back in 2008, the first sitting day as Government Leader of the House of Representatives, when that Apology was given. Australia was lifted up, there was a more positive Australia. But we need to do this. This is a process that has been underway since well before the election of this Government. Indeed, under the Abbott Government, Turnbull Government, Morrison Government, there were processes, we were told they’d be a vote after 2019 and there wasn’t. Originally, Uluru was told to be the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, but again, nothing happened. And I say, if not now, when? And we need to make sure that we get this done and all Australians will have the opportunity to vote on October 14, or in the lead up to it. And I sincerely hope that Australians take the opportunity to show respect for Indigenous Australians, to lift up all non-Indigenous Australians as well and make us feel better about ourselves and more confident as a nation going forward. And that we project as well, our statement to the world that we’re a mature nation that can come to terms with our history, just as every other former colony on earth has recognised their first peoples except for Australia. That is just one of the reasons why we need to get this done. And tomorrow, there will be a launch of what I think is an extraordinarily powerful, uplifting, add. People will see that tomorrow. And it’ll be uplifted and compare that with the campaign against this which is negative, based upon things that aren’t going to happen. It is a really clear and simple and straightforward proposition for the Australian people. Happy to take a couple of questions.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on Qantas, should Alan Joyce give back his bonuses?
PRIME MINISTER: That of course, is a matter for Qantas, but people will make their own judgements. I’ll tell you what should happen, what I called for during the week and has happened, which is that customers who booked tickets in good faith, should of course, be able, whether it’s Qantas or any other airline, should be able to get a refund, should be able to get a refund or have that booking fulfilled, that they may in good faith. That is certainly what should happen. The other thing that should happen is that the government, when it designed the JobKeeper program, should have made sure that there was some provision there to ensure that taxpayer’s interests were protected. I noticed that that now, the members of the then government, the then Cabinet, are now talking about this. It is clear, as we said at the time, that they should be, should have been, some provision made by the former government.
JOURNALIST: Should Qantas pay back its JobKeeper?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think that I would like to see every company, when it can, do that. There are, the problem with, JobKeeper was a good thing that people were looked after, we supported it. But we said at the time, the problem of billions of dollars going to companies that were actually increasing their profits at the time, that hasn’t been repaid.
JOURNALIST: Housing affordability is now at its lowest level in three decades, its a pretty dire statistic, how is it acceptable? What can be done?
PRIME MINISTER: It’s not, that’s why we have a housing plan. I’ll tell you what can be done this week, the Greens and the Coalition can vote for our Housing Australia Future Fund in the Senate. That’s what can happen. We have a plan for increased housing supply. We have a plan that we’re put in place to the largest increase for rental assistance in 30 years. We have put in place measures, $2 billion for community housing, an additional $2 billion for social housing that we put in place in June. All of these measures are about our comprehensive plan to deal with housing. The key in housing is housing supply. That’s what we’ve been working on with State and Territory Governments. Thank you, everyone.