Australian Prime Minister Radio interview – 2GB Drive

Prime Minister

: Well, this is a bit concerning, seven murderers, 37 sex offenders and 72 violent criminals, none of them Australian citizens mind you, all of them released into our community after the High Court determined that they could not be kept in detention indefinitely. However, the Albanese Government rushed through laws that allows them to preventatively detain them. But then we learn today the Government has not applied to have a single one of them put back behind bars. And all the while, six of those released have been arrested and charged for breaching visa conditions. And a further 18 have been charged for numerous offences and various offences by state and territory police. Why are they not re-detained? Well, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is on the line to explain. Prime Minister, thanks for your time.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: G’day, Chris. Good to be with you.

O’KEEFE: So, why haven’t you applied for some of these murderers, rapists and paedophiles to be detained once again?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, as Senator Paterson from the Liberal Party pointed out, there’s a very high legal threshold to be met for a court to agree to the ongoing detention of an offender. What we want to make sure is that this is got right. There’s no point putting in an application that is not successful. We’re preparing applications. We have serious work underway. But the Coalition know these processes do take time to get right, because our detention and community safety order regime is modelled on the Coalition’s high risk terrorist offender scheme.

O’KEEFE. So, how many are you looking to re-detain?

PRIME MINISTER: It’s modelled on that. We want to, we are taking advice and we will take action for everyone who the advice suggests can be successfully detained. That’s the action that we’re taking and we have released today, the reason why you’re talking about this this afternoon, is because we’re being transparent. The information was all tabled in the Senate today and that stands in stark contrast, of course, with the former Government and the lack of transparency which was there.

O’KEEFE: What about, this reeks to me as a bit of a political fix. He goes, ‘Oh, you know what, we’ll just pass this legislation, we’ll get ourselves the power to re-detain these people with no intention of ever doing it’.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that’s not right, Chris. And the high risk terrorist offender scheme under Peter Dutton, of course, took years before any action was taken and it was taken against a couple of people. We will take action against anyone who the advice suggests we will be successful at detaining and we’ll make sure that we line up the ducks, as they say, to make sure that we’re successful.

O’KEEFE: Are you expecting this one to take years too?


O’KEEFE: Okay, negative gearing, let’s move on. Can we get a straight answer on negative gearing? Will your Government fiddle with it?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we have no intention to, Chris. What amazes me is that the Opposition want to talk about anything except for what we are doing. What we are doing is giving every Australian a tax cut, all 13.6 million of them. And 84 per cent of them will get more. 90 per cent of women, 98 per cent of young people. This is good policy. On housing, the one tax change that we have put in place is the one that we’ve considered and that is an incentive for Build-to-Rent. In addition to that, we have additional money for public housing. We’ve got our Housing Australia Future Fund. We’ve had our National Housing Accord that we’re working with the private sector and State and Territory Governments. The key to housing and what the Greens don’t seem to understand is supply. That’s the key. And I must say Chris Minns and his Government, which I’m sure you’ve had either Chris or Rose Jackson on your program, who are really taking up the ball to say we need to get more appropriate development. I myself have spoken about Parramatta Road being an example of where you could have more medium density development in order to deal with housing supply, because that’s the key to creating housing opportunity.

O’KEEFE: When you say no intention to change negative gearing, and it’s not really the Opposition’s fault, this has been thrust into public debate. It is the Greens’ fault because they’re trying to hold you over a barrel to pass your housing plan. They say they’ll only support it if you change your approach to negative gearing.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, there’ll be no negotiations on that basis and I made that clear in Parliament. What we will be doing is, one of the schemes they’re talking about, Chris, this shows the Greens hypocrisy. It’s the Help-to-Buy scheme. Now, that’s a scheme which operates in New South Wales, in Victoria, in WA. It’s operated successfully in WA now for almost 50 years. And what it is, is that the State, or in this case it would be the Commonwealth Government, essentially partner with an individual or a couple, a family. So, if they’re going to buy a house for a million dollars, then the State or the Commonwealth can take a share, 30 per cent of that, that cuts down the mortgage to $700,000. The Commonwealth or WA have been making money out of this for a long period of time, continue to essentially have that ownership of that proportion of the house, and then later on, if people are in a financial position to do so, they can then purchase that off the financial institution. It’s a way of getting people out of the rental market and into the home ownership market.

O’KEEFE: And the Greens don’t want to let you do it, unless you fiddle with negative gearing.

PRIME MINISTER: And we won’t be talking with them about that. Very clear. I’ve made that very clear, Chris. No negotiation with the Greens on that issue. We simply think that this has merit. If they want to argue, and bear this in mind as well, Chris, that the Greens only think they’re in this position because the Coalition are saying they’ll vote against Help-to-Buy. If the Coalition actually were capable of doing something other than saying no to everything that’s put forward, then the Greens wouldn’t be in that position. But if they want to block it, that’s a decision for them. They’ll be accountable for it.

O’KEEFE: Let’s leave the Opposition out of it for the time being. Now, whether you like to hear this or not, there is a concern in the community now when you say you have and your Government has no intention to fiddle or change or roll back negative gearing. Given you said something very similar about the stage three tax cuts, people might find it hard to believe you.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I changed my position, Chris.

O’KEEFE: And you might change it on negative gearing.

PRIME MINISTER: Let me say this, Peter Dutton’s changed his position as well on the same issue. The Coalition are voting for our cost of living tax cut. Indeed, I expect our cost of living tax cuts will go through the Senate and the House of Representatives unopposed. One Nation are supporting it, the Liberal, the National Party, the Greens, I think, will vote for it in the end. They’re a bit upset that they’ve been not in a position to have any influence over it because it’s the right decision done for the right reasons at the right time. And I was upfront about that. I’ve gone through and I’ve ticked off the policies that we announced one by one. But on this you can’t say there are cost of living pressures on low and middle income earners, and I’m not in a position to do anything about it, because I am. I’m the Prime Minister. I’ve shown leadership. I’ve shown strength. I’ve had the guts to make a difficult decision knowing that it would be contentious. And guess what? Australians understand that. And what I’m getting is the positive feedback. Which is why Peter Dutton has gone from saying they’d fight it, they’d roll it back, to voting for it.

O’KEEFE: On the tax cuts then, so in Sydney, you’re a Sydneysider. You know the city like the back of your hand. If you are a single income family that’s earning $200,000 a year, would you say that family is wealthy?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, a lot of people, depending upon what the size of their mortgage is and all of that, certainly not. There’s people in my electorate are doing okay. There are some people who aren’t doing okay, even if they have what is a relatively high income. But guess what? If you’re earning $200,000 a year, you’ll get $4,500 tax cut.

O’KEEFE: They were getting $9,500 and you’ve robbed them of four and a bit thousand dollars. That was money that they voted for twice.

PRIME MINISTER: No, they’re going to get, that’s the point, Chris. Why did the Opposition, five years in advance if they were fair dinkum about this, why did the Liberal Party put forward a tax change and say, ‘We’re going to do this, but there’s one election in between, then there’ll be a whole term, then there’ll be another election’. It was a triumph of hope over experience.

O’KEEFE: But with the same logic, Prime Minister, sorry to interrupt. By the same logic, why did you say there would be no changes to it time and time and time again?

PRIME MINISTER: That was our position. But circumstances have changed and when economic circumstances change, you have to change your economic policy. Now I’ve changed my position, but so has Peter Dutton. Peter Dutton is going to vote for this tax change because he himself acknowledges that it will provide support for low and middle income earners. He does it grudgingly, tries to vote for it, but still criticise it. It’s the right thing to do. And you know what people who are on above 180,000, of course we’re increasing that top threshold to 190,000. I make this point, Chris, the last time the top income tax threshold was increased was 2008, when Labor was in government. I make this point as well, when government changed in 2013, their first Budget, they put in an additional tax on high income earners, the so called deficit levy. They didn’t talk about that before the election. They said there’d be no new taxes before the election.

O’KEEFE: This is 10 years ago Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, exactly. But that’s the last time they came to office.

O’KEEFE: They legislated stage three that was going up to 200,000. So, you can’t say they did nothing for it. Anyway, let’s move on.

PRIME MINISTER: Way down the track though, Chris. That was the problem here and circumstances have changed. People know there’s been COVID, there’s been interest rate increases, we have global inflation. Their Government needs to respond to it.

O’KEEFE: And we have either your words, your bond, or you’re flexible in the political circumstances. Now, let’s talk about doxxing. The list of 600 Jewish people published with names, photos, employers. I said last week it was obscene in Australia and it made me really sad that people would be publishing lists based on one’s ethnicity or religion. Now, I know a cross party group of MPs have said they want to criminalise that sort of behaviour. Will your Government support that?

PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely, we will. And I’ve asked the Attorney-General to bring forward legislation in response to the Privacy Act review, including laws that deal with so-called doxxing, which is basically the malicious publication of private information online. And let’s be very clear here, these are 600 people in the creative industries, people like Deborah Conway, the singer, people who are in the arts and creative sector, who had a WhatsApp group. Not a WhatsApp group that was heavily political, a WhatsApp group to provide support for each other because of the rise in anti-Semitism that we’ve seen. And what we’ve seen is them being targeted. Now, these are people who have a range of views about the Middle East. What they have in common, though, is the fact that they’re members of the Jewish community. And the idea that in Australia, someone should be targeted because of their religion, because of their faith, whether they be Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Catholic or Buddhist, is just completely unacceptable. And that’s why I’ve asked, as well, the Attorney-General to develop proposals to strengthen laws against hate speech, which we will be doing. This is not the Australia that we want to see.

O’KEEFE: No, it’s not. And it’s got to stop, because this is a conflict a very very long way away. And it just makes me so upset to see it, the fabric of our society here being torn to bits by people’s views on that conflict one way or the other. Now, on Gaza.


O’KEEFE: Before I let you go, 1.3 million Palestinian civilians are sheltering in a town called Rafah, on the border with Egypt. Now, those civilians are displaced and the Israeli Defence Force is moving in. Do you have concerns that we will see an even more intolerable loss of human life?

PRIME MINISTER: I have very deep concerns about the idea of an Israeli military operation in Rafah. This is a place where people who’ve been displaced from their homes, often because their homes don’t exist anymore, have been told to go to be safe. Israel must listen to the international community. There are more than a million civilians who are sheltering in and around Rafah. Israel has a responsibility, as a democratic nation to show care in relation to these innocent civilians. I have no time for Hamas. I unequivocally oppose the terrorist acts that occurred on October 7. But we cannot have disregard for innocent life. And I’m very concerned at the consequences for those civilians and also the serious harm that would be caused to Israel’s own interests in terms of its standing with the international community.

O’KEEFE: Regardless if the IDF just rescued 60 and 70 year old kidnappers, or kidnappees, I should say hostages in Rafah, clearly Hamas activity in that city.

PRIME MINISTER: Look, we want all the refugees unconditionally, should be released. We’ve been very consistent about this, Chris. We’ve unequivocally opposed the actions that occurred on October 7. We’ve called for every innocent life to matter, whether it be Israeli or Palestinian. We’ve called for the two-state solution to be advanced, a political solution, and for the international community to play a role in that. Hostages to be released. We need humanitarian support to occur, including, of course, part of the misinformation that’s out there is about the UNRWA funding, which assists with food, etc. We suspended the additional funding that was provided, but the $20 million in funding that Australia provides was forwarded, the normal level of funding from the Australian Government in order to support that relief. We can’t have babies and children starving in Gaza. We need to have a humanitarian approach there. At the same time as, of course, we have contempt for the values and for the actions of Hamas, who can play no role in the future of the Middle East.

O’KEEFE: Prime Minister, I appreciate your time. Thank you for jumping on and answering those questions. Just before I let you go. Are you travelling to Vegas to watch the Bunnies?

PRIME MINISTER: No, mate. I wish that I had a different life, but I’ll be watching it on TV. But I wish, I’ve got to say, I wish the NRL all the best of luck. I’m very supportive of trying to expand the number of people who watch our great game. With due respect to the Super Bowl, I think rugby league is a hell of a lot better game than gridiron. They actually don’t stop for most of the time, which is what will be happening in American football. We have a great game and it should be showcased to the world.

O’KEEFE: You’d be a brave Prime Minister going to Vegas to watch the footy. I appreciate your time.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, Chris.

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