Australian Prime Minister Radio Interview – FIVEAA

Prime Minister

: Well, the Prime Minister has called in to the program this morning because he’s at ASEAN this morning and he had a couple of spare moments. Prime Minister, good morning to you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning. Good to be with you. And it is indeed very relevant for South Australia and the wine industry there. ASEAN represents our second largest market and that is absolutely critical. Just to our north, those growing economies of Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, that represents potential markets, as the middle class grows, we are living in close proximity to the fastest growing region of the world in human history. And that presents itself as a huge opportunity. So, I’m really looking forward to welcoming all of the leaders here to Melbourne over the next few days. We have a bilateral meeting with Malaysia today to kick it off with Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of Malaysia.

DAVID PENBERTHY, HOST: Hey, PM, can I just ask you, you must have a bit of a spring in your step after Saturday’s election result there in Dunkley? A lot of people were saying this was a chance for Peter Dutton to fire a big shot across your bows, but it clearly didn’t eventuate along those lines.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it was a positive outcome. We had a cracker of a candidate in Jodie Belyea and she’ll be a real local champion to follow on, of course, from the tragedy, the tragic circumstances of losing Peta Murphy, aged just 50, to cancer. And Jodie is someone who was found by Peta Murphy. She works with disadvantaged women through a program called the Women’s Spirit Program in the region around Frankston. So, Jodie, I think, will be a really strong advocate. But importantly as well, I think it might, I hope, get some of the people who ran such a negative campaign through Advance, to have a second thought about some of the misinformation and quite frankly, nasty campaign, that was run – trying to press various buttons out there during the by-election.

GOODINGS: You mean talking about border protection issues?

PRIME MINISTER: And just the way that it was done about foreigners, and there was some not too subtle comments made, essentially seeking to divide the community, and I think that was not positive. I don’t want to see Australia go down the American route. I noticed a very incisive article by Mr Penberthy on the weekend, about polarisation and US politics.

PENBERTHY: Flattery will get you everywhere, PM.

PRIME MINISTER: …and where that’s got to. Never hurts to compliment the interviewer, during a live interview. But you’re right, we don’t want that sort of stuff in Australia, and it was rejected by the voters of Dunkley and our vote went up, which is remarkable during a by-election. But we know there’s more work to be done. We’re concentrating on cost of living measures each and every day and on getting things right. That’s what this ASEAN summit is about. Working with the great Don Farrell on trade and Penny Wong on foreign affairs. It’s a real South Australian team that we have in this area, and it’s in Australia’s national interest – one in four of our jobs is dependent upon trade. And that’s why these next few days are really important.

GOODINGS: Have you got a potentially awkward conversation to have with the Thailand representative, given the fuel efficiency standard policy and the concerns that they’ve raised with regard to what that would mean to car exports to Australia?

PRIME MINISTER: No, not at all. There’ll be no banning of any vehicles here. That was part of their ridiculous scare campaign overseas. Every industrialised country in the world has fuel efficiency standards, except for Russia. And I don’t think anyone at this ASEAN summit wants to line up with Vladimir Putin and their standards. I don’t think that’s the model. All we’re doing here is the same standards that have existed in the United States since the 1970s, exist around the world.

GOODINGS: But the Thai industry Minister has said this will lead to a decrease in exports from Thailand to Australia.

PRIME MINISTER: No. Well, local parochial interests attempt to push parochialism. That wouldn’t be the first time. We have an interest here in getting access to more efficient vehicles. We’re not telling anyone what they can drive, how far they can drive them. But I’ll tell you what, if you have more efficient vehicles, you can drive further for every dollar that you put in the tank, and that’s the objective here. Simple as that.

PENBERTHY: Prime Minister, can you see any circumstances whereby you would ever change your mind, as others have, Bob Carr being one of them, from the Labor side, where you would ever change your mind on nuclear power?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it doesn’t add up. I think nuclear power can work overseas and does work. I’ve got no problem at all.

PENBERTHY: But what if there was a business model showing it could work? I mean, we’ve had people like former Governor Kevin Scarce talking about how much money we could have made from nuclear waste disposal in SA. That’s the disposal side. Some people say it could actually work economically.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, no one has ever been prepared to put up a dollar. And that’s the truth of the matter. The market is what’s determining where that investment goes, and the market shows that renewables is the cheapest form of energy – and in South Australia in particular.

PENBERTHY: Is there a moratorium on nuclear power in Australia still?

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, there is, put in by the Howard Government by the way.

PENBERTHY: Who’s going to put up a dollar when there’s a moratorium?

GOODINGS: That well known lefty.

PRIME MINISTER: No, no, but there’s no one saying that – hey, we want to invest in this. No one.

GOODINGS: There’s a rule that says you can’t.

PRIME MINISTER: No, that’s because it doesn’t stack up.

GOODINGS: A waste of a time putting other business case, wouldn’t it? No, but why do you need a rule if the business case doesn’t stack up, to ban it?

PRIME MINISTER: Because it doesn’t stack up.

GOODINGS: Well, get rid of the moratorium, then.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the Howard government did that. Get John Howard in. He makes an appearance when there’s a by-election.

PENBERTHY: You’re the Prime Minister though.

PRIME MINISTER: It’s a distraction from the debate. And every 10 years – you both have been around a while, not as long as I have been – but you know that there’s a debate every 10 years. There was at the beginning of the Abbot Government, guess what? Nothing happened for that decade. There was during the Howard Government, guess what? Nothing happened. This is just an excuse for inaction on cheaper and cleaner energy. I was at Whyalla last year at the Steelworks there, turning off the coal furnace, was turned off in the week when I was there. You know what they’re doing? They’re investing in hydrogen, green hydrogen, powered by solar in order to produce green steel. The vision that Peter Malinauskas has, for that reason, the Spencer Gulf, and for cleaner, cheaper energy driving manufacturing is, I think, quite visionary. I want to work with the South Australian Government on a real plan, not on something that doesn’t stack up. Meanwhile, nothing happens. I mean, that’s what happened under the former Government. The problem was that nothing happened in terms of investment and setting ourselves up for the future.

PENBERTHY: Hey, we’re glad we’re still talking to you, Prime Minister, because I was a bit worried we might have been on your ‘you know what’ list after our last interview about the $275 power bill thing.

PRIME MINISTER: No, I’m not precious, David. If I was precious, I’d never talked with you. We would have ended our relationship decades ago.

PENBERTHY: Always a pleasure. Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, with a surprise phone in chat there. Talk to you again soon, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, guys.

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