Australian Prime Minister Television interview – Sky News First Edition

Prime Minister

: A stoush between Elon Musk and Anthony Albanese. I’m not sure many people would have had that on their bingo card at the start of the year, but here we are and joining us live now is the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. Prime Minister, good to see you. Thanks for your time and I promise you we will get to the trek in just a moment. But I want to ask you about Elon Musk. He’s mocked you this morning for choosing censorship and propaganda over free speech and truth. What’s your response to that?

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, this is a bloke who’s chosen ego and showing violence over common sense. I think that Australians will shake their head when they think that this billionaire is prepared to go to court fighting for the right to sow division and to show violent videos which are very distressing. He is in social media, but he has a social responsibility in order to have that social licence. And what has occurred here is that the eSafety Commissioner has made very sensible suggestions. Other social media companies have complied without complaint. But this bloke thinks he’s above the Australian law, that he’s above common decency. And I tell you what, I say to Elon Musk, that he is so out of touch with what the Australian public want. This has been a distressing time. And I find this bloke on the other side of the world, from his billionaires establishments, trying to lecture Australians about free speech, well, I won’t cop it and Australians won’t either.

STEFANOVIC. So, what happens if the vision in question here isn’t taken down?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, of course there is a court order that has been put in place. It’s a sensible proposition. No one is above the law. Not Elon Musk, not any Australian citizen when it comes to operating here in Australia. He has a business that gives him a lot of profit. And I just find it extraordinary that this bloke thinks he’s above the law and above common decency. This shouldn’t be a matter of the law. It should be a matter of people doing the right thing.

STEFANOVIC: Can you get a meeting with him or should moves be made to speak to him? Would you be even interested in that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think our position is very clear. And Mr Musk has made his position clear. This bloke thinks he’s above everyone. Well, that’s not the way that Australia operates. And we have sent a clear message across the board. Politicians in Australia, across the political spectrum, are backing the eSafety Commissioner, and they’re backing the eSafety Commissioner because she’s acting in the interests of common sense and in the interest of common decency.

STEFANOVIC: Does that, the fact that he does not care though, does that show how weak laws are to try and stop him from doing what he’s doing?

PRIME MINISTER: It shows how arrogant this bloke is. That’s what it shows. But we’ll continue to pursue. He had a loss in the legal system last night with this interim decision and we will back the eSafety Commissioner, as I’m sure every parliamentarian will. And Mr Musk should be very conscious of the fact that Australians are united on this issue.

STEFANOVIC: Ok, you’re about to walk the Kokoda Track, which good on you for doing it, to be fair, Prime Minister, how are you feeling about it? And have you got enough Aeroguard?

PRIME MINISTER: I certainly do. Well, we are well prepared and I’ll be walking with Prime Minister Marape, my friend, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. And it will be an incredible honour to show respect firstly to those extraordinary Australians, as well as the PNG soldiers and citizens who helped our Australians at our darkest hour in World War Two. It’s a reminder of the courage and correct decision that John Curtin made to bring our troops home to defend our homeland here in Australia. And the courage against a much larger enemy at that time, the Japanese forces were on the march south and they were stopped by the courage of a much lesser number. But the courage and sacrifice that they showed is something that I want to honour in the lead up to Anzac Day. On Anzac Day, we’ll be at Isurava, which was the scene of a battle where 99 Australians lost their life. And it will be an opportunity to pay tribute to them, as well as showing respect for all those men and women who serve in our Defence Force today, to keep our way of life and to keep us safe.

STEFANOVIC: It was Japan then, but in many ways it’s China now, Prime Minister. So, is this trek with Marape as your bodyguard key to keeping China at bay?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the relationship with Papua New Guinea is very important and we signed an upgraded defence agreement when he was in Australia last December. Prime Minister Marape was the first Pacific leader to address our Parliament in February. I was the first foreign leader to address the Parliament here in Port Moresby last year. We are very close. Papua New Guinea, you can see from the island of Saibai in the Torres Strait. We are less than 1000 kilometres from the mainland of Australia, from Cape York. And so it’s a very important and close relationship that we have. It was certainly forged during World War Two and ever since then we’ve been mates and will continue to be so into the future.

STEFANOVIC: But has there been any guarantees from him that he would choose Australia over China as it continues its flirtations with many Pacific island nations?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Prime Minister Marape, at the official state dinner last night, again referred to Australia as Papua New Guinea’s partner of choice when it came to national security. This is an economic, social and security relationship that is so important between our two nations. Of course, PNG received the independence from Australia 49 years ago. They, at the time of World War Two, were regarded as part of the Australian territories. And so this relatively young nation has achieved a great deal. Australia will continue to support PNG and PNG will continue to support Australia. I make this point, there is no country on earth, including Australia, which is more passionate about rugby league than PNG. You can’t help but notice people walking around in NRL jumpers and State of Origin jumpers. You only have to go a couple of hundred metres. It just shows how close the relationship is, through those personal relationships are really important.

STEFANOVIC: Prime Minister, appreciate your time this morning and best of luck with the trek. We’ll talk to you soon.

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