Australian Prime Minister Radio Interview – 5AA Breakfast

Prime Minister

The Prime Minister of Australia joins us on the day the Federal Government is announcing funding for two major critical minerals projects. One is in Queensland, the other here in South Australia. $185 million to be announced for the development of stage one of the Siviour Graphite Project here in SA. Prime Minister, good morning to you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning. Good to be with you.

PENBERTHY: How many jobs does this create in South Australia and what does it mean in terms of a timeline fast tracking this project?

PRIME MINISTER: What it means is that stage one will be fast tracked there. We expect there to be direct jobs in the order of a couple of hundred. But the development of the region there means that the jobs that will flow will be much greater than that in the future. South Australia has such an exciting opportunity to take advantage of the opportunities for a future made in Australia. And critical minerals, we know, are going to play an important role. We’ve got a fund that provides loans and support for private sector operators, essentially to get them going, to get them across the hump that they might need to attract capital and funding. And this is just the latest example of us pitching in to make a difference as part of the thing that we know, which is we’ve got to make more things in Australia. Here, just in construction alone, there’ll be 150 jobs directly, 125 ongoing jobs. Stage two will be 225 construction jobs and then an additional 120 jobs on top of the previously created jobs just near Port Adelaide. So, it’s jobs for Adelaide, but also jobs on the Eyre Peninsula there.

PENBERTHY: Prime Minister, it’s obviously been a terrible week here in Australia, nowhere more so than Sydney. Everyone here in Adelaide has been just stunned and appalled by the violence that we saw at Bondi Junction on Saturday. Can I ask you, though, you, I think, with significant public support, flagged the prospect of giving citizenship to the French national who tried to attack the knife wielding assassin with a bollard to protect other people. Overnight, one of the real first responders who injured, along with his friend who lost his life, the Pakistani gentleman who’s recovering in hospital who was working as a security guard there at Westfield, he’s come out and said, flagged the prospect of his own citizenship. Is that something that you’d entertain, particularly given the sacrifices that these two men made?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes, we certainly will. And the citizenship of Damien Guerot, the French citizen who was praised overnight by my friend, President Macron, was out there, very proud of him. What he was after was he was here on a temporary visa. He was after a permanent visa, not to change his citizenship, but a permanent visa will be granted to him today. My understanding is that will be done. And certainly, the circumstances where people are there working as security guards, I mean, the tragedy of Faraz Tahir, who lost his life. This other person, Muhammad Taha, he confronted this guy, the perpetrator, Joel Cauchi, on Saturday. And it just shows extraordinary courage. I mean, these are people who were putting, not thinking of themselves, putting themselves in danger in order to protect Australians who they didn’t know, just people going about doing their shopping. And that’s the sort of courage that we want to say thank you to, frankly. There was extraordinary stories of bravery in amongst the carnage and tragedy that we saw on Saturday. And at a time where, when you look at what occurred, it can be incredibly difficult and traumatic to deal with. It’s a bit of light in amongst the darkness. The fact that you saw these extraordinary acts, whether it’s from the amazing policewoman Amy Scott who went in there not knowing what she was going to confront by herself, and took out this guy and therefore save people, whether it be the security guards or the bollard man, as he will forever be known, I think, in Australian culture.

PENBERTHY: To flip, though PM from the types of people that we do want in Australia to the type of people who we perhaps don’t want Australia. And this is in light of the appalling violence that we saw in Western Sydney at the Assyrian Church on Monday. Do you think that we as a nation are doing enough to combat radicalisation? And also, do you think that we need to be even more vigilant now? And we’ve seen a proliferation of hate preachers, particularly in your neck of the woods, in Western Sydney, making all sorts of florid comments about Jews, Christians and so forth. Do you think that we need to start muscling up a bit more in terms of protecting ourselves from Islamic extremism?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, there’s no place for hate speech, whether it be Islamic extremism or other forms which are there. And radicalisation of young people, not just face to face, but online, of course, is a real issue as well. And we have Michelle Rowland’s taken really strong action with some of the online products, Facebook, X, as it’s now known, to get material taken down as well. That can be really, really confronting. The misinformation, disinformation as well as using online propaganda to promote hatred. You know, going back a bit, on election night I spoke about the need for more kindness. And I’m amazed at how many times over the last couple of years people have said to me, ‘I remember on election night how important that was’. And I think that we’re searching out for that. And that’s why the stories of bollard man and others, heroic stories from Saturday, come into play as well, why they resonate with people. We’re a country that need to respect each other, regardless of people’s faith or ethnicity or gender, just respect each other. And by and large, we shouldn’t forget this. By and large, that is what happens around our society, but where it doesn’t, you know, I’m very concerned about vilification, about attacks on the basis of people’s religion, and certainly there is no place whatsoever. And the authorities, certainly, my view is the authorities need to be given whatever power they need to crack down on these issues. Certainly the police and security agencies, I think, have done an extraordinary job on Saturday. Firstly, they had, in the midst of, there was a lot of misinformation, including from some mainstream media outlets, they went out there, they calmed, I think, the public about there not being an ongoing incident occurring. They provided information about the perpetrator’s mental health, being a driver very early on. And then on Monday night, with the incident around the church in Western Sydney, they overnight very, very quickly, and I think it was the right call to make, there’s been some criticism of the police for that, I’ve seen, for calling it a terrorist incident. Well, it was. They made that declaration very early on and the security agencies are doing their job at finding information. They’ll release that in an appropriate time suitable for their investigation. And that’s why people taking the law into their own hands that we saw on Monday night was also entirely inappropriate. I mean, police officers are there to protect people and they deserve to be respected, not attacked.

PENBERTHY: 100 per cent. Prime Minister, in the announcement regarding the funding for the graphite mine in South Australia and the mine in Queensland too, a moment ago referenced your Government’s pivot to ‘made in Australia’. It’s a policy that’s been skewered by the Productivity Commissioner, Gary Banks, who this morning in The Aus has described it thusly. He says, seeking to obtain benefits to society through subsidies for particular firms or industries, including in the form of tax concessions, has proven a fool’s errand, particularly where the competitive fundamentals are lacking. Why is he wrong?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the world’s round, not flat. That’s why he’s wrong. And we’re in a race for competition here as the economy shifts and changes. And if you just sit back and say, ‘Oh, well, we’ll just allow the market to operate without any engagement’, then we’ll fall behind. The United States will fall behind. All of our competitors, Japan, Korea, the European Union. What we’re about here, to be very clear, is there’s a role for government, not in replacing the private sector. This isn’t the old protectionism. This is about how Australia supports industries which will be able to stand on their own two feet. What we’re talking about here as well is loans through our critical minerals facility. So, this isn’t corporate welfare, this is something that will be repaid. And in the meantime, the Government, as well as South Australians, will benefit from the creation of hundreds of jobs in construction, firstly, but then also operational, and then we’ll benefit from the ongoing taxes that’ll be paid from what will be, I have no doubt, a successful industry, in this case, the Siviour Graphite project there. In South Australia, there is a role for government sometimes in just providing that support to get over the hump so that companies can begin to produce and provide that capital base. And so, I make no apologies for saying that we can’t continue to sit back and just say, ‘Oh, well, Australians can’t manufacture things. We’ll just export our resources, wait for value to be added and then import it back at greater value’.

PENBERTHY: I think you dropped out.

PRIME MINISTER: That is what is going down.

PENBERTHY: No, we thought we’d lost you, Prime Minister. We’re going to have to leave it there, PM. But just before we let you go, one of our listeners, Matt in North Plympton, wants to know, is that Toto in the background we could hear earlier?


PENBERTHY: She’s quite lippy.

PRIME MINISTER: My security are obviously arriving to take me to Parliament House.

PENBERTHY: You might want to go and give her a Schmacko.

PRIME MINISTER: No, she’s just saying hello. She’s the first line of security here at The Lodge in Canberra.

PENBERTHY: That’s right. We’ll get her on the show again one of these days and we’ll get you back soon as well. Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, thanks for joining us this morning on FiveAA.

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