Australian Prime Minister Radio interview – ABC Radio National Breakfast

Prime Minister

: There’s been mixed reaction to the Albanese Government’s third Budget with big spending on electricity bill subsidies for everyone and the big future made in Australia’s centerpiece, nearly $23 billion over the next decade for critical minerals, hydrogen and manufacturing. But the Opposition has already vowed to vote the Future Made in Australia bill down. The Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese joins me now. Prime Minister, welcome and congratulations on your Budget.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, PK. It’s good to put the third one away, in under two years.

KARVELAS: It’s been a busy period. Prime Minister, let’s just settle this. Is this a pre-election Budget or can we expect another Budget in March?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the next Budget is due to be held in March. The election’s due in 2025. I think terms are too short, not too long, and so I’ve just focused on getting the economic settings right. This was a difficult Budget to land, how to provide cost of living relief whilst continuing to moderate inflation and set Australia up for future growth through the Future Made in Australia agenda.

KARVELAS: The Opposition has blasted the billions of dollars in production tax credits in the Budget as tax cuts for billionaires. Does this mean you need to negotiate with the Greens to get it through?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we need support of the Senate to get any legislation through, but the truth is that production tax incentives, what they do, these credits, is that they reduce the tax bill of companies that produce outcomes. So, it effectively is an incentive payment for new industries, in this case hydrogen and critical minerals, to set Australia up for the future. So, it makes a difference, it rewards success and that is really necessary, which is why it’s been welcomed by the business community, by the Minerals Council, the WA Liberal Leader’s out there backing it today, I know.

KARVELAS: Well, to get it through, you’re right, you’ve got to get it through the Senate. We all know that. That means you do now have to deal with the Greens. They’re going to push for new curbs on coal and gas. Are you prepared to do that to get this future made in Australia bill through?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what this does is stack up on its own merits. You know, what we’re not about is linking a whole range of things that aren’t connected. This is about whether we want to make things here. This is about Australian jobs. This is about whether we will take up the opportunity that we have to seize it, of the changes in the global economy where we are positioned with an enormous advantage. We can have the best green hydrogen industry in the world because we have the space to do it.

KARVELAS: Ok, but you’re saying you don’t want to cross trade on this. This is the bill and you’re not going to negotiate with the Greens about its terms?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we’ll introduce the bill, we’ll argue the case and every single Senator should back it, because if they don’t back it, they’re not backing Australian jobs and they’re not backing Australian industry.

KARVELAS: PM, Treasury has published a paper strongly indicating the billions of dollars needed to make solar panels or batteries would be better spent elsewhere because of the extreme concentration of solar and battery supply chains. Have you ignored Treasury advice?

PRIME MINISTER: Not at all. You look at a company like SunDrive, which will be producing what are the most efficient solar panels in the world, right there at the old Liddell power station. They’ve got a deal with the providers there to set up. There’ll be more jobs there in the Hunter Valley –

KARVELAS: Sure it will make jobs. That’s not the question. It’s about whether it’s a good use of money.

PRIME MINISTER: I’ll tell you what’s a good use of money, is recognising that there are not just industry policy objectives, that it’s also a national interest test. And when you have more than 90 per cent of the world’s solar panels that will help to power the global economy produced in one country, then that leaves us vulnerable. That is another reason why –

KARVELAS: So, you’re saying we’re vulnerable because they’re mostly made in China?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what I’m saying is we need to be more resilient as an economy. We need to recognise that trade disruptions can have an enormous impact. We need to make more things that are necessary here, just for the same reason, there’s a few countries producing pharmaceuticals too, but we are setting up in Melbourne to produce important vaccines and important pharmaceuticals, because we know from the pandemic that’s important too. We need to be more resilient as an economy. Surely that’s one of the lessons of the pandemic. It’s one that the Labor Party learned. It’s a pity that the Coalition seemed to have forgotten that.

KARVELAS: Domestic violence advocates are all disappointed with the Budget and the lack of significant funding for the sector. Australians are obviously outraged by the number of women being killed at the hands of a partner. Why couldn’t you do more in this Budget? Budgets are about priorities. Isn’t this a top priority?

PRIME MINISTER: It is a top priority, which is why we’ve invested more than $3 billion –

KARVELAS: But they’re saying it’s not enough Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Patricia, you’ve been around a while and you know that every single group, you could claim any group, health, education, any group will always say, we need to do more and we recognise we need to do more in this area. This is a national crisis, but we are doing across the board. If you look at just three measures. One, the 500 additional community workers that have been funded, the first two payments going through to the states to actually deliver the services, to the leaving violence payment, making that permanent $925 million in the Budget for that. And thirdly, the $1 billion additional for housing, emergency housing for women and children escaping domestic violence.

KARVELAS: And they’re saying, while acknowledging that exists, that’s not enough. Are you telling me that it is a priority for you to spend more in this area on frontline services?

PRIME MINISTER: It’s an absolute priority for us –

KARVELAS: And will we see it happen soon?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, you can never do enough, Patricia. We’ve produced a Budget that is producing substantial investment in this area. Could be always do more in this area? Of course that’s the case.

KARVELAS: Prime Minister, just on a couple of other issues. Prime Minister, this meeting between Scott Morrison and Donald Trump is interesting. It happened in the US. He said it was nice to catch up, particularly given the pile on that Donald Trump is currently dealing with in the US. Is he dealing with a pile on?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, I’ll leave matters that are before the courts. Here in Australia, I play straight bat to them, I certainly am not about to intervene in matters that are before courts in the United States.

KARVELAS: Are you happy, though, that Scott Morrison has raised AUKUS and reportedly Donald Trump was favourable?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, Scott Morrison is a former Prime Minister of Australia. I respect the office of Prime Minister. Scott Morrison, I know, was meeting with the US, our Ambassador to the US, while he was in Washington, Kevin Rudd, and that’s entirely appropriate.

KARVELAS. So, are you using Scott Morrison as a way of getting in with Trump and the Trump camp?

PRIME MINISTER: I have not had a discussion with Scott Morrison in recent times.

KARVELAS: He might be useful, though. Is that worth pursuing?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I will leave our diplomacy, funnily enough, to diplomatic endeavours. I won’t be discussing them on RN, but we use our former Prime Ministers from time to time. I was very pleased to travel with former Prime Ministers Abbott, Howard and Turnbull, for example, to the Abe funeral in Japan. That was appropriate because of the relationships that they had.

KARVELAS: But are you pleased to hear that Donald Trump, who could win the US presidency again, is favourable to AUKUS?

PRIME MINISTER: I assume that anyone who looks at it, the AUKUS arrangements, will say that the arrangements that we have put in place are very sound and are in the interests of all those who support a more secure and peaceful region and world.

KARVELAS: Prime Minister, Labor Senator Fatima Payman yesterday accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. She said, “how many lives need to be lost before we say enough?” In fact, she addressed those comments to you. Have you spoken to her?

PRIME MINISTER: No.

KARVELAS: Are you going to?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I speak to her all the time and the last conversation I had with her was very, very pleasant indeed. She’s a young Senator from Western Australia. But we speak for the Government’s policy and the Government’s policy has been very clear from our opposition, unequivocal, to the terrorist activity of Hamas on October 7, our call for the release of hostages, our call for humanitarian ceasefires, our call for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people of Gaza, our opposition to any ground offensive in Rafah –

KARVELAS: Okay, so you stand by your policy. Senator Payman ended her speech saying, “from the river to the sea, we will be free.” You’ve criticised others who’ve used the term, but your own Senator has used it. Is it appropriate?

PRIME MINISTER: No, it’s not. What’s appropriate is a two state solution. A two state solution where both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in security, in peace and in prosperity. It is not in the interests of either Israelis or Palestinians to advocate there just be one state. That is a forerunner of enormous conflict and grief. And we are seeing enormous grief in Gaza that is having a significant impact on people who have relatives and friends in Gaza. And that is a very traumatic occurrence, just as a lot of trauma is being experienced by Jewish Australians due to the rise in antisemitism that we’re seeing here, where people who happen to be Jewish are being held responsible for actions of the Netanyahu Government. I don’t believe that it is appropriate, the targeting of people because they happen to be Jewish.

KARVELAS: Just finally and very briefly, I know you have to go. Prime Minister, the story on the front pages of a couple of News Corp tabloids this morning, they’re reporting a tenant in one of your properties has been given an eviction notice. He’s pleading with you not to kick him out. Does he have to leave?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Patricia, from time to time people’s personal circumstances change and my personal circumstances and their changing have been pretty public.

KARVELAS: Are you referring to getting married?

PRIME MINISTER: Yes. And I’m changing arrangements. The person who’s in the property will say in his own words, I have been a more than fair owner of that property. He’s lived there for four years, other people were there at the time and his personal circumstances have changed. He’s a small business owner, I have had him in the property with the rent being about half what is the market rent for four years.

KARVELAS: But you’re not prepared to keep him in for longer?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, he’s refused to have discussions with the real estate agent. That’s a matter for him. I wish him well. He has been well looked after for a long period of time. But I am entitled to make decisions in my personal life, including selling a property that I own, because I wish to move on in my personal life in a different direction. The property was bought when my personal circumstances were different.

KARVELAS: Fair enough. I’m not going to police your personal circumstances. Prime Minister, I appreciate your time on the show this morning. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much PK.

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