Australian Prime Minister Press Conference

Prime Minister

Morning everyone. It’s an absolute pleasure to be here in the great electorate of Isaacs in Dingley, for the opening of the Hawthorn Football Club’s Kennedy Centre. It’s been a long time coming. I was here on the 2nd of March 2019, with the now Prime Minister in a different capacity when he was Shadow Minister for Infrastructure. We made a commitment then, back on the 2nd of March 2019, and here we are today in 2024 with the turning of the first sod. It’s going to be a fantastic community facility, it’s going to be fantastic for local sport, it’s going to be fantastic across Melbourne, and, of course, it’s a fantastic facility for the Hawthorn Football Club. The Prime Minister’s going to speak in a minute, but we’re here also with Andy Gowers, the President of the Hawthorn Football Club, and Andrew Dillon, from the AFL. It’s a great day, it’s been a long time coming, I’m going to look forward to watching this building grow from today. Thanks very much.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, thanks very much, Mark, and it is great to be in your local community, here in the southeast, eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and good to be with you. I’ll make some comments, and then Andy Gowers will make some comments, and then I’m happy to take some questions. If they’re difficult, I’ve told Andy I’m going to flick them to him, particularly tax policy, he’s all over it. Can I say, this is a fantastic day. This has been many, many years in the making. We made a commitment in 2019, but there was a lot of work done to make sure that the business case stacked up before then. And, indeed it does. This will be an enormous boost for this local community. It’s a boost particularly for women’s sport, but also will make a difference from elite sport right through to the young boys and girls who are here, being able to engage with their heroes in the AFL team, in the AFLW team, but also community and local sport. This is an extraordinary site, and I congratulate Kingston City Council as well on identifying this site. There are, in today’s congested world, not many sites as big as this, that can be turned into a facility that will improve the health of young people, will improve the mental health as well as physical health of people who come here and participate, will build a sense of community here in Dingley, and all of the suburbs around. This is very much a growing part of the great city of Melbourne, and that is why it will make an enormous difference. And I think the collaboration that you see here, between the three levels of government, working with the AFL and the Hawthorn Football Club, to make a difference to this local community, is a great example of what we need to do as a society – bring together, work together, in order to make a difference to local community. So congratulations to all involved.

ANDY GOWERS, PRESIDENT OF HAWTHORN FOOTBALL CLUB: Thanks, Prime Minister, I’d like to echo those sentiments. It is an historic day. This is a transformational site and will be an amazing home for the Hawthorn Football Club. It’ll also be a fantastic facility for the community of Kingston, and Victoria, as we have completely equal facilities for men and women. So to my left here, the community oval will see women and girls and boys play sport, training, playing, competing, enjoying, connecting, and right behind me here an MCG sized oval, which will see major training going on for the elite at the elite level for the men, and in between that oval and here, will be our Harris Elite Training and Administration Facility, which will be state of the art. It’ll be a pleasure to walk into the doors, for training, and working, and building our great game. But we are very, very excited about today, the turning of the first sod is a very important milestone for our Club. And we are so excited about the future for us, the potential for the community to get involved. We thank all of the levels of government, Federal, State and Local, for their funding and their help and their passion and their backing, as well as the AFL who have also supported this project. So thanks very much for coming. And we’re very excited. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Just on the ‘right to disconnect’ Bill, can you guarantee that employers won’t face criminal penalties if they don’t abide by the Government’s new ‘right to disconnect’?

PRIME MINISTER: No, no, this is the Liberal’s penalties that they insisted on yesterday – for reasons beyond my comprehension. There was a Government amendment in the Senate to make it very clear that that would not be a possibility, and the Liberals, in a petulant action, threw the toys out of the cot, and refused to grant leave for the Government’s amendments. So the Government will move our own legislation to fix this issue. But it’s up to the Liberal Party to explain why it is that they acted to not provide absolute certainty that that couldn’t occur.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister – we’re in an increasingly precarious geo-strategic environment. Given this, are you concerned about tensions between Richard Marles and his Department?

PRIME MINISTER: Not at all. Richard Marles is a great Defence Minister, and I pay tribute to every single one of the men and women in the Australian Defence Force who wear our uniform. What Richard Marles is saying, and I know that the Chief of the Defence Force is saying as well, and right through the Defence Force structure, is that we need to move away from what had occurred, the position we inherited, of so many projects being over budget, and delayed, being years and years and years. You can’t defend yourself with a press release, what you need to defend yourself with is assets and people. We have the best people in the Australian Defence Force, and I pay tribute to every one of them. And we have leadership from General Campbell, the Chief of the Defence Force and the other leaders of our Defence Forces. And we have a fantastic Minister in the Defence Minister, who quite rightly, like all of my Ministers, like every single one of them, wants best practice, wants to make sure that we deliver.

JOURNALIST: The Greens have singled you out for your double rental income on two Sydney properties – is that criticism fair?

PRIME MINISTER: They can have a look at their own circumstance. I’m the Prime Minister of Australia, when you’re the Prime Minister, you can’t live at Marrickville. And, so, that’s simply a fact. The circumstances of that – when I did, when I did live at my place at Marrickville, when I was first elected, because of course, there was a delay in Mr Morrison moving out of premises, and that was fine. He had his family, and I said to him that he could take his time, and I was not critical of any of that. But there was a period where as Prime Minister, my little house, I would say to the media – it’s not terribly smart in 2023, to publish photos of my family home. We do live in an insecure world. I just make that point, or any other public figure’s home. And I’d ask people to be responsible. I have conveyed that in the past to various journals. I live in Marrickville, that narrows it down a bit, but it’s not terribly sensible for that to occur. I do make that point. But, when I lived there at Marrickville, I did ask was it okay, could I stay living in my family home. To the great relief of my neighbours who had, on a 24 hour basis, cars with engines on outside in what is a very much a suburban street, a narrow street – if people know Marrickville, it is the equivalent of, I don’t know, Collingwood or Fitzroy – they were very relieved when I wasn’t able to stay there because of the security issues, which are there in today’s modern world. Everyone knows that.

JOURNALIST: Does your Government have any plans to change capital gains or concessions on negative gearing?

PRIME MINISTER: What my Government has on housing policy is a comprehensive plan. We have our National Housing Accord, we want to see 1.2 million homes built over the coming decade. We have our social housing policies, including the social housing accelerator, has seen $500 million forwarded to the Victorian Government in June. I started the first project with then Premier, Daniel Andrews. Victoria is right out of the block to give credit to the Victorian State Government in doing that. In addition to that, we have our tax incentives that we have changed for the private sector to build-to-rent, because the key to housing issues is supply, is building more homes. So, we want more social homes, we want more private homes, we want more affordable homes. We have our Help-to-Buy scheme before the Parliament now. And we want the Coalition and the Greens to actually back that, instead of delaying it like they did our Housing Australia Future Fund. We have a comprehensive plan on housing, and when it comes to tax, we’ve got a pretty big proposal before the Parliament right now. It’s a $107 billion program over just the next four years, to give a tax cut to every Australian taxpayer. 84 per cent of Australian taxpayers will get a higher tax cut than they were going to get under what was previously proposed. People under $45,000 a year benefiting, 90 per cent of women getting more, 98 per cent of young people between the ages of eighteen and twenty four getting a higher tax cut. In addition to that, our changes to the Medicare Levy will either take or reduce the Medicare Levy for 1.2 million low income Australians. Now the difference between us and the previous plan is that we haven’t left people behind. We don’t say: “oh, you’re earning under $45,000, you don’t deserve $1”. That is what the former Government’s proposal had. We have a comprehensive plan, a plan to give a break to every Australian taxpayer, and every Parliamentarian should vote for it.

JOURNALIST: Fines of up to $18,000 can be handed out to employers who don’t follow the right to disconnect rules, how likely is it that fines will be handed out?

PRIME MINISTER: None if the Liberals get out of the way. This is an issue because the Liberal Party refused to grant leave to have a Government amendment to make it very clear. It’s up to them, so I’d suggest that the question should be asked of Peter Dutton. Why is it that his team are so negative in voting against everything, in opposing everything, that they’ve engaged in such a destructive negative action as they did yesterday. And this is an Opposition who take that title too literally. When I was the Labor leader, I called myself the Labor leader, because I tried to be constructive at every opportunity. They have opposed to cheaper childcare, they’ve opposed cheaper medicines, they’ve opposed increased social housing funding, they’ve opposed better wages for working people, they’ve opposed the legislation that we have before the Parliament on tax. They said they’d not only oppose it originally, then they said they’d roll it back and increase taxes for 12 million Australians, now they don’t quite know what they’re doing. And anyone who saw the train wreck of an interview that Peter Dutton did on 7.30 program the other night will know why it is that Peter Dutton sticks to soft interviews on Sky After Dark where he can just agree with the with the questioner who is not so much holding him to account, but really is a cheer squad.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, while we’re talking about Peter Dutton, he’s in Dunkley at the moment, obviously highlighting rising cost of vehicles there, relating back to your emissions policy at the moment. Are you planning on visiting Dunkley?

PRIME MINISTER: I’m not in Dunkley today, but I’ve visited Dunkley many times. I was there last Friday, launching the campaign of Jodie Belyea. She’s an amazing candidate. She will make a great local member. And can I pay tribute to Peta Murphy, who I think might have been here in 2019. This area, facility here will of course service people throughout the region. And Jodie Belyea will carry on the extraordinary work that Peter Murphy did as a Local Member. Peta Murphy was taken from us, and from her local community, too soon, at the age of just 50. And that was a tragedy. But she was a fighter for her community. She identified Jodie Belyea to be a member of the Labor Party, recruited her to the party. She’s now candidate, and she will represent people. Now, with regard to the scare campaigns from Peter Dutton. Peter Dutton this week, said that he was prepared to be constructive on issues. He called for a Tax Summit, to sit down constructively to talk about tax, and then he runs out there – it’s a return to the idea that people won’t be able to drive a ute, as was said, as Scott Morrison famously said “it would end the weekend”. Let’s be very clear about what our proposals are – our proposals are to bring Australia in line with the United States of America by 2028, in four years’ time. Now, I don’t know – maybe on TV, they fiddle it, so they show big cars and utes and SUVs in America, and it’s not real, but I reckon it is. And I reckon us joining the rest of the world – there are two advanced economies in the world that do not have emissions standards. They are Russia under Vladimir Putin, and they’re Australia. Now, Peter Dutton might want to line himself up with Russia. I don’t. I’d prefer to line myself up with the United States of America.

JOURNALIST: You visited Dunkley a number of times, and have spoken to voters, and have access to internal polling. How confident are you that Labor can retain the seat?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we’re out there campaigning every day. We don’t take anything for granted. We know we’ve got a fantastic candidate, we know that the opposing candidate, the Liberal Mayor put up rates on people and hasn’t been out there doing things like Jodie has been doing, which is supporting cost of living measures, like cheaper childcare, like our Medicare Urgent Care Clinic that I visited in Frankston, tripling the bulk billing incentive for people when they visit a doctor, working with the Victorian Government on the massive investment of over a billion dollars in the rebuild of Frankston Hospital, providing support for people at work so people can earn more, and they can keep more of what they earn. That’s our positive agenda for people. Jodie Belyea will be a voice for the people of Dunkley in Government as a member of Government. Peter Dutton’s candidate will just be another one complaining and saying no to everything and no to every support. What the people of Frankston and the people throughout the Dunkley Electorate need is someone who’s a strong advocate for them. Jodie Belyea will be just that. Thanks very much.

/Public Release. View in full here.