Australian Prime Minister Doorstop Interview – Burnie

Prime Minister

Thanks very much for coming everyone, can I first of all acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. My name’s Anne Urquhart, I’m a Labor Senator for Tasmania, based here in Braddon, I’m the Duty Senator for Braddon. And today, I’m very excited because I have the Prime Minister here beside me. I know he loves coming down here and I love him coming down here to show off the great things that we do here in Braddon. And we’re here on the Burnie Port today with TasRail, and I want to thank all those people who have helped us put together today. And the Prime Minister will talk to you about why we’re here today. But we’ve got some fantastic information to provide to you. And I’m just absolutely thrilled that we can be here today and do what we’re going to do. So I will now pass over to the Prime Minister.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, thanks so much to Senator Urquhart for the extraordinary work that she does representing this north-west coast and area of Tasmania, as well as the whole great state of Tasmania here. It’s always great to be back here and today and tomorrow, being in Burnie and Devonport, I’m really looking forward to renewing my engagement with this wonderful part of Australia that contributes so much to our national economy. Now, in nine day’s time now, we’ll be on the eve of a new support to address cost of living pressures here in Australia. It was in our Budget to give tax cuts to every single taxpayer, to give energy price relief to every single household, to have cheaper medicines by freezing the PBS payments which people have to pay, and as well, there’ll be a wage increase for everyone who’s either on the minimum wage or on an award wage, more than two and a half million Australians will receive that wage increase from July 1. So we want people to earn more and to keep more of what they earn. But in addition to that, we’ve always got our eye on what future economic growth will be and what the drivers are, and part of that, of course, is infrastructure. When I was the Infrastructure Minister, a decade ago, I funded through the government more than $300 million for the Tasmanian rail revitalisation program. And we provided additional funding at this port here in Burnie. In our recent Budget, we increased the funding for the shiploader by an additional $18 million, taking this program to $82 million. What that means is a doubling in the capacity of the shiploader, compared with the old one that’s just in front of us here. What that’s about is increased productivity, increased efficiency for Tasmanian businesses, and for our exports. That’s part of our agenda to have a future made in Australia. We want to see more Australian products made right here in Australia for domestic purposes, but also for export. And Tasmania, of course, plays such a vital role in export of our resources, but also exports on agriculture and other products as well. And with programs like Marinus Link, we will have an example of renewable energy being exported from the south island here to the north island, because Tasmania will have more than 100 per cent renewable energy. And that stands in stark contrast to what we’re seeing from the Coalition yesterday, which announced a half-baked plan that hasn’t lasted 24 hours. With their nuclear energy plan where nothing will happen, they want to stop renewables and stop other investment between now and 2040, for a plan that is the most expensive form of new energy, something that will be delivered far too late, and something that simply Australia doesn’t need and where they can’t say what will happen with energy security in between this nuclear fantasy that they are proposing. That’s why yesterday, a plan that had no costs attached, can’t be taken seriously. They can’t say how much it will cost. They can’t say what form of reactors there will be. They can’t say what will happen with the impediments which are there, be it the national ban put in place by John Howard, or the state ban put in place by State Governments and still supported by people like David Crisafulli, the LNP Leader in Queensland. This is a half baked proposition from a mob that never believed in climate change action. They had 22 different energy policies and didn’t land one the entire time they were in government, and none of those 22 mentioned nuclear, because simply, nuclear energy doesn’t stack up for Australia, which is why no one will finance it, which is why they’re saying that taxpayers will get the big bill going forward. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Just to clarify, you’re not announcing anything new in terms of funding or cost of living relief here today?

PRIME MINISTER: What we’re doing is looking at the productivity benefits, which are here. We have announced in our Budget, our cost of living relief, and it will benefit every single worker, who works here, will get a tax cut. Now under the former Government, economies and communities like Burnie, like Devonport, like Wynyard, would have seen so many people miss out on getting a tax cut. Just like if the Coalition had their way, you wouldn’t have 60 day dispensing and cheaper medicines that they opposed as well. And you wouldn’t have from the Federal Government energy price relief, because they opposed that as well. They have opposed every single cost of living measure that has been put forward. And now they’re saying that taxpayers should foot the bill, the large bill, for the most expensive form of new energy that they say will be developed over the next, into the 2040s, over more than a decade and a half away.

JOURNALIST: We just found out that the Liberal Member here in Braddon won’t stand at the next election. Is that why you’re here to show face for Labor and the support Senator? Are you’re going to announce a new candidate for Labor at the next election?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we certainly will have a very strong candidate. And we have a number of people who put themselves forward to be the candidate for Braddon at this time, have expressed an interest. And that interest has just gone up. Gavin Pearce, I pay tribute to him. He has announced his retirement and I wish him well in his retirement. But what that means is that this seat is very much up for grabs. And we want a strong voice for Braddon in Government as part of a Labor Government. And we’ll be here campaigning very strongly. Senator Urquhart, has made sure that Labor has had such a strong presence in this electorate of Braddon. And that means, that I think, in part because of the Senator’s efforts, we will have a real opportunity to return this seat to Labor hands at the next election.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s good he’s taking time out from attacking his own Premier, to attack now the Federal Government. The truth is that Tasmania has received record funding from the Federal Government. It’s not to us to fund the Tasmanian Liberal Party’s state election promises that they made during the last campaign. We have had increased health funding here in this electorate and throughout Tasmania as well with increased numbers of Urgent Care Clinics. We have record funding for public housing and social housing here in Tasmania as well. As well as, additional funding for infrastructure projects such as this one here at Burnie, but also important road projects throughout Tasmania. In addition to that, we’ve provided considerable funding for projects like Marinus Link that will benefit Tasmanians as well.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is a very unstable government, I must say. I have a good relationship with Premier Rockcliff and I’ll continue to work constructively with him. We have managed as well, in addition to that, the funding that we’ve provided for Macquarie Point for urban redevelopment there, the funding that we provided in Launceston for the upgrade of the stadium there, as well 50-50, half of that contribution for the upgrade there. And I was there just a few weeks ago. And I think my presence here in Tasmania once again, I was here last month, I’m here most months. And I continue to engage here in Tasmania, and that stands in stark contrast to what happened under the former Coalition Government, where Prime Ministers turned up at election time and not much in between.

JOURNALIST: Given the announcement yesterday from the Leader of the Opposition, and the questions that may raise for Tasmania’s energy future, do you currently have a better relationship with Premier Rockcliff than Peter Dutton might?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think that Peter Dutton doesn’t have good relationships with our side or his own side when it comes to State Premiers and Leaders. Peter Dutton’s someone who’s always looking for a fight, never looking for a solution, always looking for an argument, not looking for discourse, not looking for a discussion, never looking to try and find his way through for solutions. Peter Dutton is often very angry, he’s angry at people on his own side, he’s angry at people on our side, he’s angry at the fact that he’s not in government anymore. And he’s angry about people raising his own record. When he was Health Minister, of course, he wanted to charge everyone a fee, a GP tax, for going to the local doctor. He wanted to charge everyone a fee for going to the local emergency department. He ripped $50 billion out of the health system and he wanted to increase charges for pharmaceuticals. When we raised this, he thinks somehow the fact that we point out that the Australian Medical Association regarded him as Australia’s worst Health Minister ever. And when we raise issues like on climate change, the fact that he thought it was funny to make jokes about our Pacific neighbors drowning, they don’t see the joke. What they see is someone who doesn’t take those relationships seriously, as well. So we continue to engage clearly, I will continue to engage constructively with people across the political spectrum. That’s my record of doing so, always looking for solutions.

JOURNALIST: On the issue of ports, we’re here at obviously the Burnie Port. The WA Ports Minister has expressed interest in having conversations with the Commonwealth about the Australian Antarctic Division. Could Hobart lose that facility under your Government?

PRIME MINISTER: I want Hobart to continue to have that facility. Antarctic research is really important. Hobart is very close to the Antarctic and it’s played a really important historic role and I want to see that continue into the future. Thanks very much.

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