site advertisement

Television Interview - Flashpoint WA

Television Interview – Sky Sunday Agenda

ANDREW CLENNELL, HOST: Prime Minister, thanks for joining us.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good to be with you, Andrew.

CLENNELL: So you’ve had a few wins lately – Labor leader, Prime Minister, AUKUS at national conference. Is the Voice where it stops?

PRIME MINISTER: We’re determined to ensure that Australians take up the opportunity to advance reconciliation. If not now, when? We do need to recognise Indigenous Australians in our Constitution and we need to do it in a way that respects the request that has been made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be listened to with an advisory body that will result in better outcomes. We know that when we listen to First Nations people, we will get better results.

CLENNELL: I was struck by this line this morning in your speech. You say, “we take this on not because it’s convenient, but out of conviction.” You’re almost saying there you’re the underdog? You’re saying there it’s a tough fight.

PRIME MINISTER: Referendums are hard to win in this country. Something like 8 out of 44 referendums have been successful. And the referendums that have been successful have enjoyed bipartisan support. But we want to give Australians the opportunity to vote on this. This is something that was promised – Indigenous recognition – that it would be advanced under John Howard. We’ve been through successive governments, we’ve been through a decade of consultation, the Uluru Statement was way back in 2017. And if not now, when?

CLENELL: On the Voice. I mean, you told Neil Mitchell during the week that it wouldn’t seek to legislate it if it’s not successful referendum. But why not? I mean, if it if it fails at a referendum, that’s maybe because people, they might not mind the Voice, but they don’t want to constitutionally enshrined you see the distinction and some Liberals might even cross the floor. Why not legislate it if it’s so important?

PRIME MINISTER: I think you have to respect the outcomes of a referendum. And Indigenous Australians themselves have asked for the instrument of a body in the Constitution. The third clause makes it very clear that Parliament will determine the composition, will determine the functions and procedures relating to the Voice. So the primacy of Parliament is enshrined. But the fact that there must be a body is enshrined in the Constitution. I think, very clearly, that when you have a referendum, you have to respect the outcome. But I also think that your question draws out one of the great contradictions that we’re seeing played out, which is that Peter Dutton and the Liberals say they support constitutional recognition, tick, tick, same position. They say they support legislating the Voice, both sides are therefore saying that. We’re saying if the referendum is passed, then there will be the legislation passed for the Voice. The Liberals are saying that should happen as well, but without the referendum being passed. So the difference here, with all of the noise that is going on, is just simply whether a body that the Liberals say will make a difference, that the Liberals say is worthy of support, otherwise why would they be legislating it? It undermines some of the fear campaign that is there about the impact of the Voice.

CLENNELL: It’s whether or not it is permanent. If you fail, this could actually be the reason because people go, ‘I don’t mind the sound of a Voice but shouldn’t we see how it goes first? If you put in the Constitution it’s permanent, that’s it. If the wrong people get on it, we’ve still got it.’

PRIME MINISTER: No, what’s permanent is that there’s a body. The composition is subject to the Parliament. That’s very clear. And so there’s no difference between the Liberals’ position and ours on whether Parliament would determine the composition of the Voice. The only difference is whether that body can be abolished with the stroke of a pen. Indigenous Australians have waited a long time for constitutional recognition. They have asked for it in a form which enshrines the existence of a body in the Constitution. I think that’s a gracious invitation and one I’m very hopeful that Australians will accept.

CLENNELL: The other distinction is that Peter Dutton says regional voices, not a national voice.

PRIME MINISTER: No, the Liberal Party decision made it very clear in the caucus room and the document that went to that room that there would be a national Voice.

CLENNELL: What’s your plan B for closing the gap if it fails?

PRIME MINISTER: We will continue to always do what we can to close the gap. But I’m very focused on winning this referendum. This is important. And today we’ve got a call for action from the Labor Party to our membership to get out there and campaign. Australians will focus in the last few weeks when they have to determine whether they write yes or no on their ballot papers. And if they say no, then more of the same will continue. We’re meeting four out of 19 closing the gap targets. We have an eight year life expectancy gap. We have a suicide rate that is twice as high for Indigenous compared with non-Indigenous Australians. So we need, in my view, to do something better. This is a generous offer that I sincerely hope is taken up. We have support. Every faith group in the country will be campaigning and saying yes to a Voice, every major sport in code, unions, businesses, people in civil society groups and not for profits will all be out there campaigning for Yes. And certainly the Labor Party membership, as well as people of goodwill like Julian Leeser, I pay tribute to his courage, Bridget Archer, other people from the minor parties as well as Liberal Party members out there campaigning as well. This should be something that is above politics. And when it’s successful, who will look back, just like they look back now, at the apology to the Stolen Generations. No one says that was a bad idea. No one says it had any downside. This is all upside. There are only winners from this. And the winners from this are the most disadvantaged group in Australian society, First Nations people.

CLENNELL: It felt like you were really in your element during the AUKUS debate, addressing a conference, I have to say. Can you talk us through why AUKUS is such an important policy position for you as PM?

PRIME MINISTER: AUKUS is very important because as Prime Minister, I’m very conscious of the strategic competition in our region. I’m conscious that there’s a land war going on in Europe. Now, that was something that a decade ago, we would have thought would not happen again. But we’re seeing it played out with the illegal and immoral Russian invasion of Ukraine and the implications of that reverberating around the world with global inflation and with economic consequences for us here in the supermarket. Now, if you take a position that defence is important, which I do, then I have come to a view as I told delegates yesterday, that is an island continent submarines are a particularly important piece of our military hardware. And then you have to ask yourself, what’s the most effective form of submarine? Now because of issues of detectability, distance travelled, the time that they can stay underwater, then because of all of those issues, I’m absolutely convinced that nuclear-powered, conventionally-armed submarines are the way to go for Australia. This is the right thing to do, as a part of our Defence Strategic Review, which has looked at, what are the assets that we need, where we need them. So I’m convinced that part of my responsibility is to invest in our capability, but we’re also investing in our relationships. And if you look at our relationships right around the world, but particularly in our region, they have improved – with the Pacific Island Forum, with ASEAN, with our neighbours, there has been significant improvement in the way that Australia is perceived and being good globally citizens.

CLENNELL: Pretty obvious during a conference speech that cost of living is front and centre for this government. I once stumped a PM over the price of petrol. Can you tell me what the price of petrol is, roughly, at the moment?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don’t go and fill up my car, but it was around about $1.80 last time I did.

CLENNELL: It’s $2.10 to $2.20 now, is there anything you can do about it?

PRIME MINISTER: Well that’s about a global impact that we know the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a major impact on the price of all energy, including the price of oil. And we need to continue to do what we can to put low pressure on inflation. So when it comes to inflation, we’ve got a three part policy. One is turning the $78 billion deficit that was anticipated into a surplus that will be around about $20 billion. The second is that we are taking cost of living relief, our Energy Price Relief plan, our Fee-Free TAFE, our Cheaper Childcare measures, are all measures aimed at lowering the cost of living without putting pressure on inflation. And the third element is to deal with the supply chain challenges. So fee-free TAFE as part of that skill shortages, the creation of Jobs and Skills Australia. But so is our national reconstruction fund as well. What are the new industries that we can create? What are the existing industries that we can transform?

CLENNELL: Do you hope you’ve seen the last rate rise? Given inflation’s coming down, not fast enough, and unemployment is rising a bit, are you hopeful that we’ve seen the last of the rate rise?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that, of course is a decision for the independent Reserve Bank. What I’m confident of is that we are managing fiscal policy in a way that is assisting the implementation of monetary policy. And that is something that we can do to make a difference. The highest inflation rate, this century has been the March 2022 quarter, 2.1 per cent, under the former government. What we have done is to make sure we haven’t gone out there with cash splashes, we’ve been responsible economic managers, and that is making a difference.

CLENNELL: You copped an Airbus Albo headline this morning, you know, the cost of VIP flights? What do you say about spending $4 million since in office?

PRIME MINISTER: Which meetings that I’ve been to should I have not attended and should Australia have not been represented at?

CLENNELL: All right, finally, when John Howard was about your age, we were both in Canberra at the time, you’ll remember he mulled over considering retirement at age 64. Is that when you might consider your future if you’re elected? How long do you see yourself in this job?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ve just got here 15 months ago. I have enormous energy for the task. And one of the themes of this conference, of course, is ‘Working for Australia’. And that is the focus not just a theme that this conference, that’s the focus of my government, working for Australia to put in place a long-term Labor Government. That’s my focus, doing good government, securing the support of the Australian people on the journey of change. Because if you don’t change, the world moves past you. And we have enormous opportunities this decade to set Australia up for a really bright future. This is a global economy that is in transition. We live in the fastest growing section of the world in human history. What that presents is opportunity, opportunity for our nation, but also opportunity for our citizens to benefit from economic growth, from the transition that’s occurring to be an ever more inclusive society as well, which is what our agenda for economic gender equality is about as well. That’s what our agenda for recognition of First Nations people in the Constitution is about. I’m very energised. And when I was at the NATO summit recently, I was certainly not one of the older leaders who who was there. I think that I had the great honour of being elected Prime Minister in May of last year. It’s not something when I went into Parliament that was on my to-do list. It’s a job that I’m enjoying, that I regard as an incredible privilege. I love this country. We’re a great country. I think we’re the greatest country on Earth. But we can be even greater in the future. If we make the right decisions and set ourselves up for that long term future.

CLENNELL: So a 2025 election for you – you said that year in the conference – and then full term then is what looking looking at?

PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely. I certainly will be going to the next election with the intention of fulfilling a term. Politics can change quickly. And we take nothing for granted, certainly not the next election for granted. But as you know, Andrew, during the last term, before elected, I spoke about plans for 2022 and beyond, and 2025. What you’ve seen playing out this delivery on the commitments that we’ve made. This conference has been an important step, and readying us for the 2025 campaign and beyond. And I’ve never seen such a sense of unity and a sense of common purpose as I’ve seen at this national conference. I do think it has been a great success. People are committed, they’re united, and we’re moving forward as a movement in order to achieve what we want to, not for ourselves, but for the people we seek to represent for the Australian people. And that’s, I think, one of the really important things is that the Labor Party in 2023, and this conference reflects this, is focused outwards. We’re not focused inwards on ourselves on internal issues. We’re focused outwards on the responsibility that we have to deliver better government.

CLENNELL: Prime Minister thanks so much.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, Andrew.

View Original | Disclaimer

Have Your Say

We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia

Disclaimer | Contact Us | AusPol Forum
All rights are owned by their respective owners
Terms & Conditions of Use