Radio Interview – ABC Sydney Breakfast
ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Can I join you in congratulating the wonderful William Barton on his awards.
VALENTINE: Yeah, he’s such a magnificent musician. If you haven’t encountered his music, just look him up and start engaging with it. He’s a composer. His didg playing is incredible. Have you ever heard him sing?
PRIME MINISTER: No, I haven’t. I’ve heard him play the didg or Yidaki on a number of occasions, particularly representing Australia, not just here, but overseas as well. There was one of the times where an Australian delegation arrived to London, where there he was welcoming us in that most Australian of ways. And it is such a unique instrument, it is just extraordinary. And every time I hear it and there’s no one better than William Barton, of course, you just feel very Australian.
VALENTINE: Yeah, yeah. Well, if you ever have an opportunity to hear him sing, his voice, it’s just chilling, it’s just, it’s a bit like Gurrumul, you know that incredible strengths and depth. It’s a magnificent voice. It’s extraordinary. Prime Minister, have you spoken to Emmanuel Macron? Is he now an Australian supporter?
PRIME MINISTER: He is an Australian supporter. He has Tweeted out publicly that he, of course, is a man of his word. And we did an agreement that whoever won out of Australia and France would support the other team versus the English. And now, of course, everyone wants to get on board this phenomenon that is the Matildas.
VALENTINE: Yeah, it’s pretty extraordinary, isn’t it? Now, you’ve been calling for public holiday, should they get through to the final and win.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ve said that the state and territory leaders should consider it and I know that it’s received a pretty warm reception in most quarters, I’ve got to say. This is something much more than just a sporting event. This is an inspiration to young girls in particular, but also young boys. The idea twenty years ago that, both of us have been around a while, that we would be having an interview here on ABC after packed stadiums had watched women’s team sport around the country, is something that could not have been anticipated. It’s been well documented that when the Matildas played Brazil not that long ago in Brisbane, they played two games versus, of course, the Brazilians, known for their football prowess. The first game, a couple of thousand people turned up, and the second game, they didn’t open the stadium because it would have cost more money to open it than to allow any fans in. So, it was a fan free event. And now what you’re having is, I’m sure you could fit quarter of a million people in, if a stadium was big enough on Wednesday night.
VALENTINE: Yeah, that’s for sure. Now, we’ve been running a poll on the public holiday idea this morning, Prime Minister, and I always call this like a highly inaccurate, somewhat flawed polling system, but people texting a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether they want the public holiday. It’s a 67% ‘no’ to a public holiday. Lots of concerns about hospital bookings, costs, workers, people running businesses. It’s 67% ‘no’, 33% ‘yes’. It’s about 700 votes at the moment.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, let me tell you that hospitals run on Christmas Day, they run on New Year’s Day, they run 365 days a year. The world doesn’t stop on a public holiday. And so, I remember when we did the National Day of Mourning for the Queen, that was designated as part of the process that had been set down years in advance. There was, some of the fears about what would happen and small businesses had the biggest boost, if you’re in the hospitality industry, that they had for a very long period on time on that day. And, look, we’ll have a discussion with state and territory leaders on Wednesday. Regardless of what happens, what we need to do is to have a proper celebration –
PRIME MINISTER: – of the Matildas and their achievements. It has been extraordinary. The way that they carry themselves, not just on the field during a game, but afterwards as well. Everyone would have seen the footage of Sam Kerr handing her jersey to a young fan, a young girl, and that was just an amazing gesture, that is typical of what this team represents. And one of the reasons why I was very pleased to select Sam Kerr to be our flag bearer for Australia at the King’s Coronation earlier this year.
VALENTINE: Yeah. Hearing from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. You’re on ABC Radio Sydney. Eleven minutes to eight. Perhaps, onto a more important poll, what’s the date of the Voice referendum?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, you won’t have long to wait now, I’ve said that it will be sometime after the Grand Finals, but before the wet season really sets in in Australia’s far north in the last quarter of this year. So, we’ll be setting a date, that narrows it down to October, November. We’ll talk with the AEC. We have continued to engage on these issues. I’ll be at Sydney Airport this morning, Qantas are launching its livery or painting on its planes, three of them this morning, supporting the Yes campaign. It’s just one of the examples of business and community organisations supporting a Yes vote in the referendum, together with every faith leader, with sporting codes and others as well. So you’ll see –
VALENTINE: Well you’ve got all that support, but polls is putting you at a No in every state. It’s not looking, you know, despite that confidence you’re expressing now, that’s not the support you’re getting in polls and indications around the nation. You’re saying, you’ve been saying all along, you’ll be able to do this in the lead up to the poll. You’re looking at a poll in mid-October, which is only eight weeks away. Can you turn it around?
PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely, because what the polls are showing is something very close, a close outcome. That’s as referendums always are, and also elections in Australia, usually 52, 48. This is one where when people –
VALENTINE: You need better than 52, 48. You need 75.
PRIME MINISTER: You don’t need 75.
VALENTINE: Well don’t you need three quarters of the states? Don’t you need a majority in three quarters of the states? I mean, you need a lot more better than 52, 48.
PRIME MINISTER: You need a majority. No, you need a majority in a majority of states. So, you need above 50% in four states out of six. And if you get a majority in four states out of six, then you will have an absolute majority around the country. I have no doubt about that.
VALENTINE: And you’re confident if we’re looking at mid-October, you’re going overseas in November, it’s mid-October, right?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, it will be October or November. I’m also travelling to the G20 meeting in September, so I wouldn’t read too much into that. But I do see some, quite frankly, unbelievable polls. The idea that, as I read in the paper yesterday, that the Liberal Party are polling at this stage in the cycle, are polling in Wentworth and Warringah is, quite frankly, fanciful. If people believe that, I’ve got a Harbour Bridge I can sell to people. So, some people are out there pushing the No poll in order to try to dampen enthusiasm. But what I see when I go right around the country is tens of thousands of Australians knocking on doors, is an enormous campaign that is stepping up. We will have our ALP National Conference this week in Brisbane. That will be an opportunity as well, to talk about the way that people are campaigning. The Liberal Party leader in NSW, Mark Speakman, came out over the weekend supporting a Yes vote in the referendum. He joins Jeremy Rockcliff, the Tasmanian Premier who’s been campaigning very strongly for a Yes vote. Pat Farmer will arrive in Sydney soon, he’s run right around Australia, the former Liberal member for Macarthur, and he’s run, literally thousands of kilometres every day, he’s doing that to raise awareness of the Yes campaign.
VALENTINE: So, you’re hoping all that is going to push the momentum along? Because a lot of people are saying the Yes campaign seems somewhat invisible.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, when people, well, we don’t control the media, of course. And there are, for example, some of the media outlets are pretty determined to promote the No campaign. That’s the way it is. But when people focus on what is at stake here, a very simple and clear question, that is just about recognition of Indigenous Australians in our constitution and listening to an advisory group so as to get better results, then that is on the one hand. On the other hand, there’s more of the same. If we keep doing the same thing, we should expect the same outcomes. And the outcomes aren’t good enough. We’re only reaching four out of nineteen, closing the gap targets. And that’s why when people are out there door knocking and talking with people about what the question is about, they get a very positive response.
VALENTINE: Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, James.