Australian Prime Minister Radio interview – 6PR Perth Live

Prime Minister

: Earlier, the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, outlined the Future Made in Australia plan in Brisbane, a keynote address and new legislation he wants to bring before the federal parliament. I am pleased to say the Prime Minister joins me live on 6PR today. Anthony Albanese, good afternoon.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: G’day, Ollie. Very good to be with you.

PETERSON: Good to have you on the program, Prime Minister. You want to make more things here, you want to create more jobs. How can Australia have a competitive advantage over other countries capabilities?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, there is a new global contest underway. It’s a race for a new generation of jobs, but a new generation of opportunities as well. And Australia has competitive advantage in so many areas with the resources that we have under the ground, not the least of which are there in Western Australia, of course, with lithium and nickel, cobalt or vanadium, all of these new minerals that can make an enormous difference. And we also have the capacity to make green hydrogen that can produce green metals. We have a capacity as well to have advances in agriculture, to produce pharmaceuticals here. We are going to be producing mRNA vaccines in Victoria. Right around Australia, we have opportunities. The race is on, and we need to be in it to win it. We need to make more things here because that’s how we create jobs. That’s how we create opportunities. And if we don’t do it, we’ll simply sit back and watch the world go past us.

PETERSON. So, what you’ve announced today, your Government will, what, fund these projects? Will you give them tax concession, subsidies? How’s it going to work and which companies are you going to be able to choose?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we’ll have a range of programs under the umbrella Future Made in Australia legislation. We already have our National Reconstruction Fund as well, with the fund of $15 billion. We have a critical minerals fund and we’ve already made some announcements there, in the Northern Territory, we did a short period of time ago. We’ll have another announcement with Minister Madeleine King next week in that area. We have an enormous opportunity with our Hydrogen Head Start program to see green hydrogen producing value adding there, because we have a range of advantages, one of which, of course, is our space. We have an enormous space in order to have solar energy, particularly in our regions, and powering the production of green hydrogen and using that to manufacture new metals and new products as well. The world is changing, and we need to shape the future, or else the future will shape us. That’s what I mean by a Future Made in Australia. I want to encourage investment as well. So, it’s not about government doing everything, but it is about government facilitating that investment and providing that supportive environment for that investment.

PETERSON: Could an unintended consequence of this become that we are protectionists and fly in the face of Australia being a trading nation?

PRIME MINISTER: No, this isn’t the old protectionism, this is the new competition. And when we have the United States with its Inflation Reduction Act, we have Japan with its Economic Security Act, we have similar legislation in Korea, in Europe, of course. And we need to make sure that we do compete. Our global markets are really important, and we’ll continue to export resources to the world. But where possible, where can we value add, rather than just export the resources, wait for someone else to add jobs and add value, then import it back at greater cost. So, we have a real opportunity, not to do everything, but to identify areas in two broad categories. One is, where do we have a competitive advantage, either through innovation, such as we have produced the most efficient solar panels in the world, that will be able to compete, or where we have all the products that go into advanced battery manufacturing as well. But also where, in terms of our national sovereignty, is there an interest in making sure our economy is more resilient. So, in areas like mRNA vaccines is a great example of that. We don’t want to find ourselves with future trade disruptions, where we’re unable to function as an economy.

PETERSON: Yeah, the solar panel example, though, they’ve got to be cost effective. If they’re cheaper to be imported from somewhere overseas, like China, Australians are going to pay through their wallets.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we can compete, and that’s by producing the most efficient solar panels in the world. Using copper rather than aluminium for the production, has lifted the efficiency of what SunDrive have effectively produced, they are willing to provide significant investment, they have a deal with AGL, and that’s an example of where we can produce world class manufacturing. I was in Ipswich, in Queensland just last week, where a German company is making Boxers, they’re advanced military vehicles there, with a contract with Germany alone that’s worth over a billion dollars, and then exporting those vehicles to Germany, but to other militaries as well, where we have a relationship with them, but also for use in the Australian Defence Force. We can make things here. And one of the differences between now and perhaps 30 years ago, Ollie, is that labour, which is always the big argument that overseas, particularly in Asia, you can produce things cheaper because wages are lower. Well, wages and labour are far less a proportion of the cost of production now because of mechanisation, because of advances in technology and the ubiquitous nature of it, that everyone can get access to that. The costs now are transport, access to resources, a whole range of other things as well. We have a range of advantages here. We’re a sophisticated economy. We have a consistent legal system. We can provide legal certainty for investors. We have $3 trillion superannuation accounts that are looking for areas of investment. We have our natural resources and the best solar resources in the world. So, we have, I think, all of those advantages, we need to look at where we can turn those into economic growth and into jobs.

PETERSON: On another matter, Palestine, Israel and the two-state solution speech by your Foreign Minister Penny Wong, a few nights ago. Here’s what the Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has said on 2GB this morning.

PETER DUTTON, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Look, I think, frankly, Anthony Albanese and Penny Wong need to move past their university politics days. They’ve got a real blight against Israel. I think the Jewish community here is reeling from the speech made by Penny Wong.

PETERSON: Prime Minister, have you gone too soon with the remarks when Israeli hostages are still being held? Is it inadvertently rewarding Hamas?

PRIME MINISTER: Not at all. Penny Wong’s speech made it very clear that Hamas has no role in a future Palestinian state. But a two-state solution is something that the whole world is talking about across the political spectrum, talking about what happens when this conflict is over. How do we, Ollie, for yours and my entire lifetime, this conflict has been a major cause of disruption and division in the world. And Israelis and Palestinians alike have an interest in peace and security in the region. A region where Israel can continue to exist within secure borders, where they’re recognised by the nations in the Middle East and not threatened, where Palestinians can have justice as well, and be able to have self-determination and not live in the despair which generations have now lived in. It is not acceptable that this continue on forever. And what is happening is, whether it’s David Cameron, the former British Conservative Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, or whether it be President Biden and his comments and others as well, who are certainly friends of Israel, have said that we need to have a two-state solution and it needs to be a political solution that provides security for the region.

PETERSON: There’s been suggestions from leaders in the northwestern Australian regions that speedboats might be being used by asylum seekers making their way to the mainland now near that Truscott Airbase. Is that your understanding? Is speedboats the new vehicle of choice?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, we have had no reports through our processes of that, but Operations Sovereign Borders is in place. When there was an arrival there last weekend that was dealt with swiftly, in accordance with our policies.

PETERSON: Are you going to boost the nation’s defence forces around the northwest? Are we vulnerable?

PRIME MINISTER: We are boosting our defence forces right across the north and boosting our defence forces right across Australia, lifting their defence spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP. But Operation Sovereign Borders has never had as much funding ever in its history since it was created as it has today. We’ve increased funding and that is very clear. But people smugglers, of course, people smuggling is an evil trade and it’s something that we’re determined to keep in place. Operations Sovereign Borders. And we have, which is why these people who arrived haven’t been allowed to settle in Australia but have been removed.

PETERSON: And Prime Minister, housing, because the rental vacancy rate has just hit a new record low in Perth today, it’s 0.4 per cent. The surge in immigration is putting the nation short 200,000 homes just this financial year. Are you going to tighten up migration?

PRIME MINISTER: We certainly are, and we’ve made that very clear. We inherited a mess in immigration from the former Government where people were coming on student visas, for example, and not doing real courses and then using that to stay here for a period of time. We’ve made it very clear that we’re acting. And in the speech that Clare O’Neil, and the policy that she released at the end of last year, those measures are being put in place to make sure that we deal with the deficiencies that we inherited.

PETERSON: Property prices predicted to hit 25 per cent the next year here in Perth. 25 per cent. I know you can’t build homes overnight, but what’s the solution?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the solution is to put our shoulder to the wheel and that’s precisely what we have done. When I was in Perth just a few weeks ago, of course, I went with the Premier at a site where you are seeing investment in new housing, a significant site there in inner Perth. We have our $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator. We have our Housing Australia Future Fund, we have our Build to Rent schemes. That’s encouraging investment in private rentals as well. We’re determined to increase supply, that is the key to resolving some of the pressures that are there in the housing market.

PETERSON: Prime Minister, before I let you go, and next time you’re here in Perth, it’d be great for you to take some talk back from our listeners. But this one comes from Luke, who says, in the wake of the alarming findings in the Cass Review release yesterday in the UK, are you looking to launch an inquiry into Australian gender clinics and their practices that affect our children?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, I haven’t seen that inquiry in the UK, I’ve got to say. So, I’m not aware of the UK system. We’ve been concentrating in the last 24 hours on the major speech that we had today on a Future Made in Australia.

PETERSON: Prime Minister, thanks for your time.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much.

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