Radio interview – Triple M Coffs Coast Breakfast
ROHAN CHABAUD, HOST: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, welcome to Triple M.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, good to be with you and it was great to be in Coffs on Saturday.
CHABAUD: You’re a bit of a regular now, you’re on Triple M this morning, you were here Saturday and we turned on the weather and everything.
PRIME MINISTER: It was a beautiful day and Coffs locals, and right from the whole of the mid north coast I think, were there in their many hundreds. I was stunned by how big the audience was but it was so positive. People going through and having a look at Yarrila Place, and for your listeners who weren’t there on Saturday, take the chance to walk through this amazing building that brings together the arts, Council facilities, the library, meeting rooms. It’s going to be a real hub for the community for many years to come and it’s so welcoming as a structure as well, I was really struck by it and I was incredibly impressed. I remember talking to Denise Knight, who was the Mayor many years ago, about the concept when I was Shadow Minister of Local Government, but they’ve done a fantastic job and the community really was up for it and it was such a positive event.
CHABAUD: There’s no doubt and we know that Denise really put in a lot of work in the background to get you here and to have the centre open for us, and you’re right, it looks a million dollars. I was watching one of the news reports and they had your mic set up in front of the coffee machine, which I thought was a really nice little hook because the cafe there looks pretty good. Did you have a soy latte or something while you were there?
PRIME MINISTER: The cafe is a work of art itself. I had a little piccolo there to give me a bit of a boost before the event happened but it’s been designed, like a lot of Japanese artists, essentially it looks kind of like a cartoon, is the best way to describe it. It’s black on white and it’s a work of art itself, including the chairs and everything. It just adds to the whole feel of the facility and I just think it will be such a positive thing for, not just the Coffs Harbour locals, but it will become an attraction for people to come from around the country and indeed from around the world, for international visitors as well. We know that the Coffs Coast is such a beautiful place, I’ve spent a fair bit of time there over the years and you’re very lucky, your listeners, to be enjoying it and don’t take it for granted because it is indeed a wonderful part of Australia.
CHABAUD: We know it, we know it. Well, it’s great to have you here and yes, so many smiling faces, I think a lot of people were really blown away by it. So, Yarrila, definitely something worth checking out, maybe next week with the school holidays, take the kids. So, the other thing we want to talk about, of course, is a referendum, Anthony Albanese. Now, we have today to enrol to vote, eight o’clock tonight local time, is when that wraps up, if you’re not enrolled, which you have to be for the referendum. Now, there’s not long to go, but there’s something I want to put to you. Obviously, there’s been a lot of misinformation and a lot of stuff going out that is putting fear into a lot of people. That’s a bit of a vibe that we’re getting. And so, I obviously know which side of the camp you’re on, if you were on the Coffs Coast right now, walking down the esplanade and someone came up and said, ‘You know, I’m just not sure, I just don’t know quite how it works and I’ve heard some negatives but I’ve heard some positives.’ What could you say to them in 30 seconds or so that would clear the air?
PRIME MINISTER: What I’d say is, this is a really simple proposition to recognise our history, that our country didn’t begin in 1901 with Federation and we left off the oldest continuous culture on earth, and we should acknowledge our history as a mature nation and acknowledge first peoples. Every other country in the world that was a former colony has done so. That’s the first point. And secondly, is it’s just an advisory committee is being asked for. An advisory committee that will only have the power of its ideas, it won’t change the way Parliament works or government functions, just an opportunity to listen to advice by people who are directly affected. And so if I want to know something about Coffs Harbour, it’s probably a pretty good idea that I ask people in Coffs Harbour what they think, rather than just decide from Canberra. And that is essentially what this is, asking people what they think, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, about matters that affect them, so we get better results. And at the end of the day, too, it’s about the fair go, simple as that. Australians are fair people. This is a fair thing to do. It won’t change most people’s lives, but it just might make the lives better for people who are very disadvantaged, which Indigenous Australians are.
CHABAUD: Well, I love how you put that, as you know, if you want Coffs Harbour to be represented, you have to come and check out what’s happening in Coffs Harbour and we love our voice being heard in Canberra. So, that’s a really good parallel. Albo, look, one question without notice – is Jodie tired of you playing ‘You’re the Voice’ in the car every five minutes? Does she say, ‘Darling, you’re not at work, can we play something else?’
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ve got to say, it does play a lot in the background memes and of course it’s on the news all the time too. But it’s an anthem. It’s such a positive, uplifting song. And so, for John Farnham, it was great that he lent his voice to it. And, as well, there’s a great Paul Kelly song, too, ‘If not now, then when?’ And that says it all to me too, ‘If not now, then when? If not us, then who?’ is how it goes and he’s written it for the referendum and it speaks about getting rid of a stone in any shoe, which is what this is. If we don’t do it now, after 122 years, when are we going to recognise Indigenous Australians? So, this is a once in a generation chance to do something positive, to vote Yes, and we’ll feel better about ourselves as a nation, as we do I reckon when the Apology was done the next day, or that very minute, the country felt like a burden had been lifted off its shoulders. Like when marriage equality happened, there was a fear campaign about that too and no one’s existing marriage was affected, it just gave a group of people the same rights and it was a good thing to do. It was a fair thing to do and so is a vote for Yes on October 14.
CHABAUD: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, thank you so much for joining us here on Triple M, an absolute pleasure, it was great to have you in town on the weekend as well. And one more question, are you allowed to be at a polling booth for the referendum or isn’t that kosher for the PM?
PRIME MINISTER: No, absolutely, just like in a normal election. I get one say though, I get the same say that you do and the same say that all of your listeners do. I’d encourage people to have a look at the words that are proposed, they’re really simple, they’re really clear. There’s just four little points. One, recognition. And then two, it says, ‘There shall be a body called the Voice.’ Three, ‘It will give, may give, advice about matters affecting Indigenous Australians.’ And the last point is the primacy of the Parliament will run the procedures and composition and all of that detail, like we do for other things. But the Constitution just sets out the principle, which is that Aboriginal people should have a Voice on matters that affect them.
CHABAUD: All right, well, we look forward to seeing you maybe cooking up a democracy sausage at the booth you go to and again, thanks for your time, it was great to chat.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much. Have a great day.