Australian Prime Minister Radio transcript – Triple M Adelaide

Prime Minister

: Never thought you’d have your own song did you, Prime Minister?

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Indeed, it’s a bit of spin on the Eagles.

HOST: Yeah, that’s right.

HOST: Do you like music?

PRIME MINISTER: I love music.

HOST: I just want you to sing when the music stops for me. Here we go.

[HAWTHORN THEME SONG PLAYS]

PRIME MINISTER: We love our club, and we play to win, riding the bumps with a grin.

ALL: At Hawthorn.

HOST: Well done.

HOST: Now, we saw you there last week.

HOST: Yeah, that’s right. People out there might not realise you’re a big Hawthorn supporter.

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, I had it questioned. Who in 2024, you’d be pretty dumb if you were living in Sydney and you chose opportunistically to back Hawthorn rather the Swans, given the Swans are a big chance of the flag this year, so they’re a second team. But I, growing up as a kid, always supported the Hawks. I got to see them in 89 was my first Grand Final I went to. On the weekend I was actually wearing my old VFL scarf from all those days and that was a magnificent Grand Final actually. Ablett kicked 9, won the Norm Smith in a losing side.

HOST: There you go. You could have been Bruce McAvaney.

HOST: Let’s not worry about the Budget, let’s just talk old footy.

HOST: Let’s talk some Budget stuff, shall we? Now, many, many positives. A lot of Australians yesterday would have thought, “oh, we’re getting some money here.” I’ve got a question for you and I want to be positive, but there are some things that need to be questioned. 1.2 million homes to be built over five years. Is that realistic? When you look at my street at the moment, Prime Minister, four homes are being built. It’s taken two years and they’re nowhere near being finished. I mean, this is very ambitious.

PRIME MINISTER: It is ambitious, but if you don’t have a target and you don’t have ambition, you’ll never get there.

HOST: Gotta have realistic targets, though. You can’t just say 1.2 million homes, that’s a lot.

PRIME MINISTER: This is realistic, it can be done. And that’s why we have a range of measures, $32 billion now of support for housing programs in our Budgets, including new investment done, a new deal that was signed last Friday by states and territories, a five-year deal for social housing and for homelessness going forward. We have as well incentives for the private sector to build to rent. We are working with state and territory governments, including Peter Malinauskas’ Government, are doing good work on planning, making sure that more homes can be built. It needs to be a priority. We need to address housing supply and the Budget last night adds to that support.

HOST: Prime Minister, everyone’s getting $300 back from their power bill, which is, you know, some people need it and some people don’t, to be honest, the $300. But you’ve chosen to give it to everyone. I don’t know why, but I know one thing I would like you to do is to stop everyone’s power bills going through the roof. Mine went up 50 per cent. Why don’t you just fix, try and fix that instead of giving everyone $300?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they, of course, are private sector companies, but what we’ve done here is to provide that $300 for every single household, just like we’re providing tax cuts for every taxpayer. Energy bill relief for every household is a positive thing that will make a difference to provide that cost of living relief while at the same time making sure that it doesn’t add to inflation, that was a difficult task that we had. But the other thing we’re doing in the Budget is a future made in Australia as well, supporting Australian manufacturing. And the sort of work that Peter’s Government is doing in the Spencer Gulf with the transition that’s occurring, will make an enormous difference. I was there at Whyalla where they turned off the coal furnace. They’re looking at green hydrogen producing green steel there. That is a part of that future agenda that will create prosperity into the future.

HOST: I’m just going to give you an example. So, my house, my power bill’s gone up over a year, at least a couple of thousand bucks, you’re giving $300 off. I’m still net a long way from breaking even from where I was last year. I used to be in the pub game. I’m not now, but I know one publican in one pub a month is more than $10,000 higher for his power bill. Now they’ve got to put their price of schnitzels up, the price of beer up, the price of that affects everyone. We’ve got to get power prices under control. It’s just that it’s out of control.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what we’re doing is seeking to add to supply through the measures that were put in place and that is happening.

HOST: They’re not working, though, are they?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, one of the things that we had is the biggest energy crisis globally since the 1970s. That occurred with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and what we saw throughout the entire world, this isn’t something that just happened in Australia, throughout the entire world, we had energy prices really contribute to what was a massive spike in inflation. In places like the UK, inflation hit double digits as a result of these changes that occurred. There are many economies in the world that are in recession now, advanced economies. The Australian economy, we’ve had 780,000 jobs created since we were in government. Real wages are increasing. Inflation is moderating down to 3.6 per cent on an annual basis. We need to push it down further. We accept that, but that’s why we’ve got in the Budget as well this cost of living relief, namely the really big measures, are primarily tax cuts, is of course, the biggest one. And that’s why we wanted to make sure that every single taxpayer got a tax cut. And we are providing energy bill relief for households, but also for small businesses.

HOST: Now, kudos on the highway that’s going to be built in South Australia. And there’s some really good stuff in this Budget. I’m slightly concerned about HECS. I have a HECS debt that is taking me a really long time to pay off. The indexation is killing me. I know a lot of my friends are hundreds and thousands of dollars in debt to the government because of the education that they were encouraged to pursue. What’s going to be something, I mean, how are we going to fix this in the long term? Getting small little bits of relief is great, but this could really have a huge effect on industry. If people are not getting education because they can’t afford it, that has a massive effect, a run on long term effect.

PRIME MINISTER: Sure, well, there’s long term reform in this Budget. The first thing that we’ve done is to provide $3 billion off people’s HECS debts we’ve cut. And we’ve done that by essentially wiping off last year’s figure that was very high because of the spike that occurred in inflation. And what we’ve done is change the system so the HECS debts or payments will be the lower figure of either CPI inflation or wages going forward, and that will be a permanent change. That will be of permanent benefit. And the other thing that we’ve done for people studying teaching or nurses or social welfare or early educators, is that for the first time, when they’re doing their Prac course, so they’re going into the classroom to learn how to be a teacher, or they’re going into a hospital or a surgery, a medical centre to do their Prac training, to be a nurse, they’ll be paid for the first time and that will make an enormous difference as well.

HOST: Prime Minister, why would you allow record immigration when we’ve got a housing crisis? And then on top of that, that’s leading to inflation as well. Why would we have double the amount of immigrants coming in to Australia at the moment? And I’m a grandson of an Italian immigrant, so I’m all for immigration, but why would we have a record when we haven’t got enough houses to start with?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we’re going to halve the immigration rate going forward. What occurred, of course, you might recall the pandemic we had. Our borders were shut and so we inherited an immigration system that was broken. There are massive numbers of, for example, students coming in, people were coming into Australia. The projected population figures are much lower than what was projected before the pandemic, but we’re dealing with that through the changes that we’ve made in the Budget and, for example, last night for students. So, if universities want students to come in from overseas, which is an important contribution to our economy, as well as assisting people to learn and then go back to their country of origin with skills benefiting from the time in Australia, the universities will have to provide student accommodation as well as part of that condition of bringing people in. So, we’re addressing these issues. The spike was there in students. So, instead of what had happened for a long period of time, where students would come in, do year one, year two, year three, year four, and then leave, everyone came in all at once, obviously, because of the pandemic and the borders being closed. So, the numbers of where we are now are lower than what was projected when the former Government was in office. But we are clamping down, making sure, as I said, that we halve that immigration rate because we know that we do need to keep the numbers appropriate.

HOST: All right, well, good luck with that. Getting inflation under control. Good luck getting the interest rates down and we’ll go out with your song just to give you another boost of the day. Here we go.

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