Australian Prime Minister Television interview – ABC News Breakfast

Prime Minister

The Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, is set to announce a plan to funnel taxpayer-funded incentives towards advanced manufacturing and clean energy projects, warning Australia risks being left behind. It’s a major speech in Brisbane today that he’s going to be delivering. He’s going to make the case for a new law called the Future Made in Australia Act, which he argues will attract investment in critical industries. Let’s go straight to the man himself. Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, in Brisbane. Good morning to you, PM. How are you going?

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning. Thanks for having me on the program. It’s a beautiful day here in Brisey, so I’m going very well.

MILLAR: Absolutely. Cracker of a spot there you’ve got. Look, there’s just a couple of kind of breaking news stories I want to put to you first before we get into the meat of what you’re going to be speaking about. Julian Assange, we heard this very brief comment from Joe Biden saying that he would consider the Australian Government’s plea to sort of drop this prosecution. What contact have you had? What can you tell us about this?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this is an encouraging statement from President Biden. I have said that we have raised, on behalf of Mr Assange, Australia’s national interests, that enough is enough, that this needs to be brought to a conclusion. And we’ve raised it at each level of government in every possible way. We’ll continue to engage diplomatically in that in order to achieve an outcome that I believe Australians want to see.

MILLAR: Do you think it’s more than just a Joe Biden throwaway comment, as he was walking off with the Japanese leader, or is there actually something to this?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this is an encouraging comment from President Biden. It’s a complex issue there. The Department of Justice has responsibility here. And the separation of powers that exist between the political wing, if you like, and the judiciary. So, we have engaged very much diplomatically at all levels, though, including at the highest level of government. I’ve been personally engaged in this since I became Prime Minister, consistent with the statements that I made as Opposition Leader. I believe this must be brought to a conclusion and that Mr Assange has already paid a significant price and enough is enough. There’s nothing to be gained by Mr Assange’s continued incarceration, in my very strong view. And I’ve put that as the view of the Australian Government.

MILLAR: Prime Minister, on global politics still, Penny Wong’s comments the other night, Peter Dutton last night in a speech said it was the most rash diplomatic move in decades to hear those words in regards to are considering Palestinian statehood towards a two-state solution. What’s your response to that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is just more nasty negativity from Peter Dutton, who has nothing positive to offer about domestic politics or about international engagement. A two-state solution is required in the Middle East to break the cycle that has been there for my entire lifetime. I think Australians want life to see that. And I want Israel to exist within secure borders in safety, security and prosperity. But I also want justice for Palestinians. And that is something that is a part of providing that security for both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in with dignity and security.

MILLAR: Prime Minister, what’s the timeline? What was Penny Wong trying to say the other night?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what Penny Wong was reflecting was the international engagement and discussions that have been taking place.

MILLAR: And should they be taking place while hostages are still being held? I think that’s what people were alerted to, I guess.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they are taking place. And you’re aware they’re taking place because you would have broadcast comments from people like David Cameron, a former British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, who made similar comments, the comments of President Biden speaking about a two-state solution. Every one of our like-minded partners, I’ve issued joint statements with the Prime Ministers of Canada and New Zealand, three of the Five Eyes partners calling forward two-state solution. I’ve spoken about this consistently for my entire political career. This has been an ongoing issue. It needs to be resolved in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. And Israel has an interest in resolving this issue. So, that as well as Penny Wong has said, it’s about the normalisation of relations as well between Israel and neighbours like Saudi Arabia is very important. That hasn’t occurred up to now. And Israel will be more secure when these issues are resolved in a way that guarantees that security into the future.

MILLAR: Prime Minister, let’s get to the meat of this speech today. What’s your ambition here?

PRIME MINISTER: My ambition is for a future made in Australia. There’s a global race for opportunity and jobs. And I want Australia to be in it to win it. We can make more things here. We can compete with the world. We need to identify where Australia has a comparative advantage, such as in green hydrogen, producing green steel and green aluminium, producing batteries as well. And we need, as well, to look at our national sovereignty and where we need to ensure that we can stand on our own two feet. We can’t be vulnerable. That is one of the lessons of the global pandemic, is that we do need a more resilient economy. That’s about a future made here. It’s about using the assets that we have under the ground, in the sky, to produce advanced manufacturing, creating jobs and economic growth and prosperity right here in Australia.

MILLAR: Are you talking about the Federal Government putting more money into private enterprise to get this started? Do you think voters are going to be happy with that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this needs to be a private sector led surge that occurs. But where government investment is required as a catalyst to facilitate that private sector investment, then we should be prepared to engage in providing loans or providing support to make sure that those industries can get off the ground. This is a global competition that’s happening. It’s a race for jobs and opportunity. We can’t afford to sit it out. If we sit it out, the world will go past us. But we have an incredible opportunity. We have, when we look at the resources that will power the global economy this century, copper, vanadium, lithium, nickel, we have an abundance of all of those. We have the best solar resources in the world. We have an incredible opportunity. But we must seize it. We can’t just sit back and watch and hope for the best. Because if that happens, we will continue to export our resources overseas, see value added, see jobs created somewhere else in the world, and then import it back at much higher value. This is about engaging in this global competition in Australia’s national interest, to create jobs and opportunity right here.

MILLAR: So, if I’ve got an idea for a green energy start up, what am I going to get from the Government? Am I going to get tax incentives? Am I going to get subsidies? Am I going to see something in the Budget coming up in a month?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, there’s a suite of measures that we’re giving consideration to. There’s a range of funds we’ve already established through the Hydrogen Headstart program, Solar Sunshot program, the National Reconstruction Fund, which is looking at, as well, not every industry. How do we take the opportunity that’s there where we have a comparative advantage? So, for example, on Monday there was the launch of electrolysers here in Gladstone, just to our north. If we can have green hydrogen powering green aluminium and green steel, we’ll go from industries that are currently trade exposed and are vulnerable into industries that can lead the world. We know that is the case, but we need to take up that opportunity. We want to work with the private sector. This isn’t about retreating to the old protectionism. This is about engaging in the new competition. And in order to do that, governments around the world know that they have to be engaged. They have to be engaged in supporting these new industries and new opportunities because it’s about jobs here and it’s about our future economic prosperity.

MILLAR: Prime Minister, just finally on another topic, what do you think about a three match suspension for a homophobic slur? We’ve been talking about it quite a bit on the program this morning. A lot of people pretty disappointed about what we’re still seeing on the field in the AFL.

PRIME MINISTER: Look, I think that homophobia has no place on the field, in the street, in a restaurant, wherever it occurs. We need to respect people for who they are. And this was an unfortunate incident.

MILLAR: Anthony Albanese, always good to have your presence on the program. Enjoy Brisbane.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much. It’s a beautiful day here.

MILLAR: Terrific. It looks fabulous too.

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