Australian Prime Minister Press conference – Parliament House, Canberra

Prime Minister

Good morning. Happy King’s Birthday weekend everyone. The first time I spoke from here in the Prime Minister’s Courtyard was when we legislated Australia’s 2030 target, creating certainty for business, certainty for investment, certainty for jobs. Peter Dutton is walking away from climate action. His decision to abandon the 2030 target means him walking away from the Paris Accord. If you walk away from the Paris Accord, you’ll be standing with Libya, Yemen and Iran, and against all of our major trading partners and all of our important allies. Peter Dutton has never believed in taking action on climate change and the Coalition have been a mess. For ten years, they had 22 policies and didn’t land one. We’ve had one policy, we landed it, a 2030 target of 43 per cent, net zero by 2050, both of them legislated. We have cooperated and reinvigorated our relationships, particularly with our Pacific neighbours, for whom this is an existential threat to their very existence. We have engaged with business, and when we announced that policy, we had the support not just of the conservation movement, the mainstream parts of it, but also of the Business Council of Australia, of significant industry groups, including ACCI and others, who all said what business needed was certainty to provide that investment so those jobs are created, particularly in our regions. You can’t shape the future if you’re afraid of it, and Peter Dutton is afraid of the future and he’s incapable of leading Australia towards the future that we need. Peter Dutton is worse than Scott Morrison on climate change. He is all negativity and no plan. And what we’ve seen now for two years under Peter Dutton is a reluctance to announce any policies. We’ve seen three, now, Budget replies without a single costing, and now he and the Coalition are exposed for what that means. If you have a Budget reply without any media releases, without any costings, without any serious policies, then you can’t be taken seriously as the alternative Government of Australia. Peter Dutton has moved to the right since the 2022 election resulted in not just a majority Labor Government but seats which historically have held past Liberal Leaders. Seats like Kooyong, Higgins, Wentworth, Warringah, North Sydney, Curtin – all going to non-Liberal hands. When you look at Sydney Harbour, there’s not a seat where the Liberals touch the water. That says a lot about the way that they have abandoned any sensible policy. Australians know that the world is moving towards a clean energy future. The whole global economy is in a transformation. This is an opportunity as well as a challenge. It’s an opportunity which my Government is determined to seize. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: One of the issues with renewables is the slow pace of the rollout of renewables so are you concerned at all with the 2030 target that those projects are not being approved fast enough and not being built fast enough and that that’s a problem for your Government, not for Peter Dutton, that you need to pick up the pace on the rollout?

PRIME MINISTER: When we legislated for the 2030 and 2050 targets, what we did was we made sure that there was ongoing accountability. And last December, we released the information in a transparent way, done by the Climate Change Authority. And that showed we’re on track for 42 per cent by 2030. The target is 43 per cent. And that was before we had the announcements that we had in the recent Budget, for example, with the policies to provide support through the tax system for critical minerals, as well as for green hydrogen. Now, those policies, of course, we know that production tax credits have also been opposed by the Coalition. They’ve opposed production tax credits. They’ve opposed the safeguard mechanism, even though that was their policy that they had in theory, but never actually implemented. But they set up the framework. It was Greg Hunt’s idea for that to occur. They have got nothing positive to offer. I’m very confident, like with other infrastructure projects, they don’t go in a straight line, they ramp up. What we’re doing is providing that business certainty so that you will see that ramping up.

JOURNALIST: We’ve seen overnight in France, Macron calling an election, because of the rise of the right there, the possibility of the Trump election in the United States, are you worried that the final consensus could flail again with push back from the right? PRIME MINISTER: Well, elections are, of course, a matter for the people in the respective jurisdiction. I do note President Macron calling that election. And of course, this year, amongst all years, there is, more people will cast their ballot than at any time in human history. That’s a good thing. And we’ve seen results of those elections come through in places like Indonesia and India, in our own region. And I look forward to welcoming the President Elect here, soon, of Indonesia as well as I had a good discussion with Prime Minister Modi this week. When you look at the Paris Accord, though, as I said, this is where the world has signed up to. It’s only Iran, Libya, Yemen that Australia should not want to be associated with. Peter Dutton apparently thinks that’s ok.

JOURNALIST: There is, I think, you know, cynicism across the country and the world about if we really can meet these immediate targets. Even the UN in November was talking about how national climate action plans still are insufficient. We’re not on track. People are hearing that all the time. What is your message to the Australian people in terms of how confident we are to meet those targets? Are you clear eyed about the fact that we might not in that medium term.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ve just indicated where we’re at – on track. We will produce information every single year and new policies will be added. As I said, we’re on track for 42 per cent last December, and since then we’ve had significant new policies announced that will further enhance the opportunity. We’ve had record numbers of solar panels put on roofs in the last couple of years. We have businesses coming to see me, through that door, businesses like Rio Tinto and others, that are transforming the way that they engage in advanced manufacturing. So, I’m very confident not only that we can get there, but importantly, that we must get there. This isn’t some academic exercise over whether, you know, Souths win their third game in a row next Friday night, which is important. But this is about our environment, this is about our lifestyle, this is about natural disasters. And for a country like Australia that is so susceptible to cyclones, to flooding, to bushfires, there are economic consequences behind not moving forward as part of the global community. And if Australia steps back from that as well, there’s also consequences for our relationship in the region. We speak about strategic competition. The idea that I would go to, or a future Australian Prime Minister would go to, a Pacific Island Forum meeting and say, “sorry, guys, I know that Tuvalu and Kiribati are under threat, their very existence, but you know we’re stepping back because Matt Canavan and a few people tell us we should,” would be catastrophic for Australia’s relations in the region and the world.

JOURNALIST: Dan Andrews and Mark McGowan have been given King’s Birthday honours. Do you think that’s fair enough, considering their track record in the COVID pandemic and the fact they were excluded from the recent of inquiry into the pandemic?

PRIME MINISTER: A few things there. But I welcome everyone who’s received honours in the King’s Birthday awards and I congratulate all of them. The processes are there, independent at arm’s length from Government. Both Daniel Andrews and Mark McGowan were very successful from the people who matter to their respective states in Victoria and Western Australia. I noticed as well, people like Glenn McGrath receiving an award is a good thing. Sam Mostyn will take up very soon on July 1 at commemorations that will be held here in the Senate, of course, on July 1. I think she’ll be an outstanding Governor-General and I think that Simon Crean as well, I was pleased to see him receive an award. Simon made an extraordinary contribution and his farewell and his loss, I know it was particularly felt by Carol and other members of his family, but was felt by the Labor family as well.

JOURNALIST: How do you think of Peter Costello’s interaction with the Australian reporter at Canberra airport, and do you think it was the right thing for him to step down?

PRIME MINISTER: I think it’s the right thing for me to not be a participant in those processes. It’s played out and Peter Costello has resigned from that position.

JOURNALIST: Just on renewables, an issue that’s galvanised the Coalition has been the way that things like transmission lines have been rolled out and consulted upon. Your Government’s had a review on engagement around renewable infrastructure since February. What’s the progress on acting on any of those recommendations? And do you accept that this has become quite a toxic issue in some regions, the way that this consultation and the construction of this infrastructure is rolled out?

PRIME MINISTER: I accept that it’s a good thing, whenever infrastructure is rolled out, to have proper community consultation, and that’s what my Government’s committed to.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned strategic competition a little while ago. We’ve got the Chinese Premier coming to Australia next week. Are you in a position to confirm that? What issues would you like to see resolved, particularly on the trade sanctions front? And just on the back to the Australian, Order of Australia stuff, what’s your view on politicians accepting gongs? When your time is up in 15 years?

PRIME MINISTER: You don’t get three. I’ll give you the big tip. So I’ll answer the one that you asked. The potential visit of the Chinese Premier will be confirmed in the usual way. They are – confirm with statements which are simultaneously released in Canberra and Beijing. That will occur. But certainly I have said that I welcome the reengagement that is occurring with China. It’s a good thing. We want to cooperate where we can, we’ll disagree where we must, but we’ll engage in the national interest. And we have an annual bilateral leaders meeting. Last year I held that in Beijing. This year it’s due to be held here in Canberra.

JOURNALIST: On the climate targets. The climate authority has said that a new target of 65 per cent to 75 per cent, which Australia needs to lodge by early next year, is ambitious but achievable. Does that match with the Government’s thinking and are the Cape-class patrol boats up to scratch?

PRIME MINISTER: You all get one, because otherwise –

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER: I never complain about the media. So, when it comes to the first issue, which you ask about targets, that is something for next year’s consideration. What we’re focused on is our 2030 target on the way to net zero by 2050.

JOURNALIST: Back on the King’s Birthday honours, can you understand why some of the families and victims of the COVID pandemic are so angry that Daniel Andrews has received an award today?

PRIME MINISTER: Daniel Andrews I understand, I looked at the front page of the Herald Sun today. There were similar front pages in the Herald Sun in the lead up to Daniel Andrews getting reelected with an increased majority at the last election. These matters are a matter for – there’s an independent body that makes recommendations. And so I’m sure that with politicians, politicians are never on 100 per cent support, nor are former politicians. I respect everyone’s right to have a view. My view is that these things are done independently of Government. That’s as it should be. And I congratulate every single person who has been honoured in the King’s Birthday honours this weekend. Charles.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, there’s been an attack, an act of vandalism, on the US Consulate in North Sydney. Are these ongoing attacks now starting to damage Australia’s reputation internationally? And what is your message to the people that are carrying them out?

PRIME MINISTER: I think they damage our reputation with ourselves, how we see ourselves. It’s not the Australian way. We should be able to have views, including on issues which are difficult. The Middle East conflict is a difficult issue, it is complex. It certainly needs some nuance and isn’t a matter of just sloganeering. And it reminds me of people when you get emails, when I used to get them I must say, with all caps, as if that matters more or with more exclamation marks doesn’t mean it’s more significant. I would just say that people should have respectful political debate and discourse. That’s in everyone’s interest. People are traumatised by what is going on in the Middle East, particularly those with relatives in either Israel or in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. And I just say, again, reiterate my call to turn the heat down and measures such as painting the US Consulate do nothing to advance the cause of those who have committed what is, of course, a crime to damage property.

JOURNALIST: Why was the visa for the Palestine Football Association President rejected?

PRIME MINISTER: That wasn’t a decision by myself –

JOURNALIST: Does it reflect poorly on Australia, to do that?

PRIME MINISTER: These decisions are made at arm’s length by the bodies, by the Immigration Department. There are a range of reasons why that may have occurred.

JOURNALIST: Can we have your reaction to the raid over the weekend by Israel where they retrieved four hostages at the expense of Palestinian lives?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, firstly, can I say, that I very much welcome hostages being reunited with their families. There should never have been hostages taken. The taking of these hostages and keeping them in captivity close to where there are so many Palestinian civilians, is an atrocity. And it is one of the things that leads us to call Hamas a terrorist organisation. It is actions of a terrorist organisation. I reiterate our call for civilians to be protected. There have been too much loss of life, both Israelis and Palestinians. I reiterate the call for Hamas to release all of the hostages unconditionally. And I reiterate our support for President Biden’s peace proposal. We want a ceasefire. We want to deal with these issues in the short term, but we also want a long term solution, and that requires a two state solution. Thanks very much.

/Public Release. View in full here.