Australian Prime Minister Radio interview – WSFM Sydney

Prime Minister

It seems our Prime Minister might be fighting a battle to win Australia back and he joins us this morning. Prime Minister, hello.

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

BRENDAN JONES, HOST: Great, Anthony. I just wondered, how does that affect you when you hear that? Because I know if I was in a room and everyone was just booing me, I’d think, what, am I doing the wrong thing here?

PRIME MINISTER: Part of an Australian tradition is what I’ve heard before. And the difference is, the year before, of course, someone yelled out, ‘Give us a wave, Albo’ when I was on screen and I did a wave and people reacted very positively. I think that during a presentation, I’ve never yet seen anyone welcomed from public life during a presentation. That’s fine.

KELLER: It seems that, and I’m confused because there’s lots of discourse around you having broken an election promise in these tax cuts. But the tax cuts are benefiting 90 per cent of Australians. I’m confused at the rhetoric here.

PRIME MINISTER: Exactly, because the Opposition haven’t got any criticism of substance. This is about every taxpayer getting a tax cut – all 13.6 million of them. And previously, if you earned under $45,000, you weren’t getting a single dollar. But people like myself, politicians, were getting a very good deal. Now, this is about responding to the cost of living pressures that people are under. Your listeners who are lower middle income earners are under pressure. And I have a responsibility as Prime Minister not to make the easy decision, but to make the right decision for the right reason. That’s precisely what we have done here. So, that people on the average income, which in Australia for an individual is $73,000, they’ll get double the tax cut. For people on $130,000, where mum and dad are both working, they’ll get more than double the tax cut. So, providing that cost of living relief, you can’t just identify the problem, you’ve got to do something about it. And my Government’s determined to do that.

JONES: And there’s good news with inflation coming down. So, Jim Chalmers alluded to an interest rate drop happening around May. Is that going to happen, do you think?

PRIME MINISTER: Well that’s a decision, of course, for the Reserve Bank. But yesterday’s figures were really positive news. The monthly indicator dropping to 3.4 per cent in the 12 months to December, down from 4.3, a very good figure. Inflation moderating to 4.1 per cent over the year in terms of the December quarter, that’s down from 5.4 in the September quarter. That is a very significant drop and it shows that the Government’s plan, which is, how do we provide cost of living relief whilst putting that downward pressure on inflation, is working. And that’s the key to what we want to see, which is people being better off. In addition to that, the last two quarters we’ve seen real wages increase for the first time. Didn’t happen under the previous decade, but now wages going up, we want to see people earn more and we want to see them keep more of what they earn. And that is what our plan is.

KELLER: It does seem that we are going down that American way of just being divided along party lines, that even if something is better for you, the fact that it’s a broken promise is an easier argument to have. It’s quite weird to see. Do you get alarmed that we’re doing the same thing that America seems to be doing? There’s no middle ground, you’re for or against?

PRIME MINISTER: I am concerned about the conflict-based politics, where the Opposition just oppose everything. When I was the Labor Leader, I did, I used to say, ‘I’m the Labor Leader, not the Opposition Leader’, because my job is to do the right thing. So for example, throughout the pandemic we, even where we thought the Government’s measures weren’t perfect, we said, we won’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And we voted for, we supported all of that. We supported the measures that were in place that we needed to do to get through the pandemic. And it is disappointing that all of the measures that we’ve put in place, today is the 40th anniversary of Medicare, the birthday of the centre of our health system. And just one of the measures that we’re putting post a tripling of the bulk billing incentive has meant that 360,000 additional people have seen the doctor for free as a result of that measure, in just November and December. This morning I’ll be on the Central Coast visiting the Urgent Care Clinic there. They’ve been incredibly successful. But all of those measures, cheaper medicines, have cost the budget $250 million, but they’ve really helped people. As have fee-free TAFE, cheaper child care. Figures came out this week saying that on average, costs have decreased by 11 per cent The energy price relief plan, all of these measures have made a difference. But this cost of living tax cut will make a big difference going forward. And I think that it should be supported by everyone in the Parliament because it’s doing the right thing.

JONES: Yeah and I guess with that, it’s all with the gift of hindsight. And when you think back to the Voice, would have you rather, if you had your time again, would have you wanted more bipartisan support from the Opposition and you would have gone through with it knowing what you know now?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that’s another example, frankly. The Voice wasn’t my policy, it was something that came out of the Uluru Statement in 2017, after a five-year process, most of which occurred under the Coalition Government. Peter Dutton appointed Julian Leeser as a spokesperson on Aboriginal affairs, but also as Shadow Attorney-General and he was a big supporter. Of course, he resigned from the frontbench as a matter of principle. That was a very courageous thing that Mr Leeser did, and he has my respect. You’ve got to be able to be consistent. And it had had, both parties went to the election saying they supported constitutional recognition, and Peter Dutton saw an opportunity to wreck and went about doing so. And I think that is a lost opportunity. But we respect the decision. But I think every measure that the government puts forward, the Coalition I say have become the No-alition, they just say no to everything. And that’s not a way to advance the country. And we see in the United States, we do see a real polarisation that is not helping them. It’s not helping their economy, it’s not helping their social cohesiveness either.

JONES: Yes, and we don’t want to go down the path of America. Well, Prime Minister, it’s always great to catch up with you. Might I suggest next time you’re at a big function, just skol a beer as they’re about to yell your name out, because that seems to work.

KELLER: Australians love it. Do a shoey.

JONES: No one’s going to boo you doing that. So, that’s just my hot tip.

PRIME MINISTER: That would be the go.

JONES: That’s the go, mate.

KELLER: Even in Parliament. Do a shoey.

JONES: Skol a beer.

PRIME MINISTER: Do a shoey in Parliament. I think that might have a cut through impact.

JONES: You’ll definitely get another term out of that one. Anthony Albanese, thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks so much, guys. Have a wonderful day.

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