Australian Prime Minister Radio interview – ABC Perth Radio Breakfast

Prime Minister

Well, in the past week or so, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have been outselling that Federal Budget, headlined by things like the Future Made in Australia plan with billions of dollars pumped into that. We got rock getting tax cuts in July that we knew about, some more energy rebates. But is it all going to drive inflation up or down? That’s one of the big questions. At nine minutes to seven, Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, he joins me. Good morning.

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

GIBSON: You too. Now tell me, the Newspoll is out today which says the Budget’s fallen pretty flat with voters. Almost 40 per cent believe it will cause interest rates to rise. Did you throw too much money around?

PRIME MINISTER: Not at all. We’ve produced a second budget surplus, a projection of $9.3 billion on top of the $22 billion surplus we delivered last year. We turned a $78 billion deficit that we inherited into that surplus. So, $100 billion turnaround in one year. And one of the things that we were determined to do was to provide cost of living relief without putting pressure on inflation. So, tax cuts for every taxpayer, energy bill relief for every household, support for Medicare, increased numbers for fee-free TAFE. So, we designed the cost of living relief in a way that won’t put pressure on inflation. And at the same time, we have our eye on the future, particularly there in Western Australia, with our Future Made in Australia plans which, amazingly, have been opposed by the Coalition. We want to make more things. We think WA, particularly, is well-positioned to benefit from critical industries, critical minerals, as well as from the growth in hydrogen and the products that can be made through use of that green hydrogen.

GIBSON: Just on the rebates, though, I think a lot of people are still trying to work out why you’re giving rebates to everyone, people with multiple homes, multi-millionaires. What is so difficult about means testing these payments?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, because it is an energy bill relief that goes through the companies, and that is so that rather than hand out cheques, which you could do just to recipients based upon income, you essentially have two choices. You either give it just to people who are receiving some form of government payment, that’s what we did previously with the first scheme. Or you give it to everyone because energy companies, of course, don’t have the tax details, don’t have the income details, they don’t have that information. And we determined that every single person was worthy of it. It’s more efficient to do it that way. You make sure, as well, that the cost of trying to differentiate where it cuts in, is $180,000 the right amount, is $150,000 family income the right amount, is $200,000 the right amount. It is far more efficient to give it to every household. It gets that lower energy costs having an impact in lowering inflation, just like our fee-free TAFE, just like our cheaper child care, all lower the costs of doing things. So, it is having a moderating impact on inflation at the same time as it’s giving people that support.

GIBSON: You’re listening to the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, on 720 ABC Radio Perth. PM, what do you think of the Opposition Leader’s plan to cut the numbers of migrants and international students to help ease the pressure on housing?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they’ve got no real plan, have they? When asked about detail this morning on ABC radio, James Paterson has said it’s just by a little bit. David Littleproud is out there saying, ‘Oh, we won’t cut any students from any regional universities’. So, it will just be, I guess, UWA and Curtin that will be impacted by this. They don’t have any modelling of what the impact on the economy will be. They’re giving different figures. You know, we are fixing the mess on migration that we inherited. The numbers are expected to be cut by half over the coming year. We know that is appropriate, but we’re fixing the mess where we had a whole lot of people coming in under the previous regime for students and, indeed, the former Government, Scott Morrison provided an incentive by lifting the amount in which students could work. So, people were coming in, essentially, to work rather than to study. And that is one of the reasons why you saw this big spike in numbers. Of course, when the borders were reopened, it was inevitable that you would get a spike, of course, but the former Government just didn’t have systems in place. We’re doing that in order to ensure that migration is at appropriate levels, but so that we continue to get as well, we need to have the skilled workers coming in, in construction, in nursing, in some of these areas that are needed.

GIBSON: Mr Albanese, you’ve got a battle on your hands, don’t you, over live sheep exports now that this timeline has been made out not just with WA farmers, but indeed with the WA Labor Government.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we, of course, have committed to that at the last two elections. And what we’ve done is put a timeline on of 2028. So, long time for the industry to transition. We’ve provided more support with in excess of $100 million of transitional support to assist the industry. That’s greater than the level of exports in the last year. The sheep meat industry is worth $4.5 billion. It is an industry that has been growing at the same time as the live sheep industry has been decreasing. We think this is a sensible proposition. We had extensive consultation with people involved in the industry. And we want to work with them and work with the WA Government to make sure that the industry and to provide support for that transition.

GIBSON: I’d just like to ask you about New Caledonia. Six people have died as the rioting continues there. There’s been some criticism that it’s taking too long to help. There’s about 300 or so Australians still stuck there. When will they get home?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the problem that we have there, of course, is that the airport is closed. So, we have the Royal Australian Air Force certainly ready to fly pending the reopening of the airport. We do have 300 Australians registered with DFAT. The situation is very concerning on the ground. And I would say to people who are concerned, we have a 24-hour consular emergency centre. The number people can ring within Australia is 1300 555 135. At the moment, the international airport is closed. Roads have been damaged. There are some blockades in place as well. We want to provide support, as Australia always does to our citizens when there are issues occurring in places of the world, including the difficulties that are there now in New Caledonia.

GIBSON: Prime Minister, thanks for phoning in. Thanks for your time this morning.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, Mark.

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