Australian Prime Minister Doorstop Interview – Canberra

Prime Minister

Can I say that all Australians will be sending their best wishes to King Charles for a speedy recovery. This is difficult news. And we hope for King Charles, for His Majesty and for all of their family, all of the very best. We want to see His Majesty return to full duties as soon as possible. We, of course, look forward to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting that will be held in our region. And of course, we have invited King Charles to visit Australia and we sincerely hope that is able to occur.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what options are on the table to respond to the suspended death sentence of Yang Hengjun in China?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we have conveyed, firstly, to China our dismay, our despair, our frustration, but to put it really simply, our outrage at this verdict. This is a very harsh sentence on Dr Yang, who is a man who’s not in good health. And we will continue to make the strongest representations. We, of course, called in the Ambassador yesterday, but we will make representations at all levels.

JOURNALIST: Your Government’s worked so hard on restoring ties with China. Where does this put the relationship now?

PRIME MINISTER: We have said very clearly that we will cooperate with China where we can, but we’ll disagree where we must. We must disagree with this harsh action by China. We have done so. We will continue to do so.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, will you cancel your invitation to Chinese Premier Li following this suspended death sentence?

PRIME MINISTER: We will respond very directly to China. We’ll respond directly and clearly and unequivocally to China. What we won’t do is conduct diplomatic negotiations through the media. That’s not what we do. We’ve made our position very clear, the details of which we will make directly to China.

JOURNALIST: PM, looking to the year ahead, what now for the truth and treaty elements of the Uluru Statement, and are you still committed to the Makarrata Commission?

PRIME MINISTER: What we’re committed to is what we said during the referendum. What the Voice to Parliament was about was making a practical difference on housing, on health, in education, in all of those measures. We’re looking at ways in which we can advance those. We’re doing work particularly on employment, making sure that real jobs are created with real training and real skills to lift up opportunity for First Nations people. And we’ll be having more to say when we respond to the Closing the Gap Statement, which we’ll be doing coming weeks.

JOURNALIST: The Makarrata Commission.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ve just answered the question.

JOURNALIST: Can Australians trust your word after the changes to the stage three tax cuts?

PRIME MINISTER: I went to the National Press Club and said very clearly that the Government had changed its position because of cost of living pressures. I was quite clear about us changing our position and why we were doing it. I note the various reports today saying that the Liberal Party has changed its position on stage three tax cuts. If this is carved in stone, how is it that they have changed their position? If they are fair dinkum, then their response must be to not only oppose what we are putting forward with our legislation we’ll introduce it today, but to promise to roll it back. Unless they do that, then it’s all just wind, it’s all just politics. What we are about is people, not politics.

JOURNALIST: You’ve spent the last couple of weeks campaigning for the Liberal’s support. Why are you now saying they should oppose them, roll it back?

PRIME MINISTER: We haven’t to campaigned for anyone’s support.

JOURNALIST: You’ve been tightening the screws on the Liberals.

PRIME MINISTER: They’ve been tightening the screws on themselves as they tie themselves in knots. First they said they’d fight it. Then they said they’d roll it back. Now they say they’ll have a different position completely. Then they say, ‘Oh, we’ll wait and we’ll decide in weeks to come’. We provided the legislation to all of the Parliament. We’ve said very clearly, there are two options here. Our option is to give every taxpayer a tax cut. Is to overwhelmingly benefit low and middle income Australians. Is firmly targeted at middle Australia, as well as providing economic benefits. It’s the right decision done for the right reasons at the right time. And that’s what we’ll be advocating in the Parliament. Thanks very much.

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