Australian Prime Minister Television interview – Sunrise

Prime Minister

Returning to our top story this morning, the Federal Budget, and I’d like to say good morning to the Prime Minister. Well, the Treasurer has essentially promised that we can have our cake and eat it too, so to speak. You’re treading a tightrope at the moment, aren’t you? Cost of living measures, trying to get more into the back pockets of Aussies, but also trying not to make inflation worse. Has it worked?

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well that’s exactly right, Shrivo, and that was the big task we had. How do we provide cost of living support whilst continuing to moderate inflation? And that is what our objective was and that’s what we’ve done. That’s why we’ve got in this Budget a tax cut for every Australian taxpayer. We have energy bill relief for every household, we have strengthening of Medicare in every community, and we have more homes right around Australia. All while delivering a $9.3 billion projected surplus on top of the $22 billion surplus that we delivered last year. So we have been concentrating on that moderation of inflation. But we know people are under pressure, which is why we put in place both broad measures, but also some targeted measures as well, such as the second consecutive increase in rent assistance,10 per cent following the 15 per cent increase we had in last year’s Budget.

NATALIE BARR, HOST: Is this an election Budget, Prime Minister? You have to hold one, I think, by about May 17 next year. Will it be early?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, we’re focused on the economy and getting the settings right. We know that people have been under cost-of-living pressure, and we wanted to provide that support to every one of your viewers. That’s why we made the tough decision that we did, but it was the right decision to change the tax cuts so they delivered to every single one of your viewers. That’s why we have energy price relief for every one of the households watching this program. That’s how you make a difference, but also it’s a responsible Budget. We’ve got savings in there, we’ve made sure that all of the cost-of-living measures that we’ve got, whether it be those that I’ve mentioned or Fee Free TAFE and other measures that were all designed to provide that support without adding to inflation. It is a difficult task that we had, but it’s one I believe that we’ve achieved. We’ve been very focused on making a difference, turning a $78 billion deficit that we inherited into two consecutive surpluses, so that we have fiscal policy, or budget policy if you like, working in partnership with monetary policy.

SHIRVINGTON: Can I ask a really simple question? So on average, the stage three tax cuts works out to about $1900 on average, across Australia per year. You add on that $300 of the energy rebate. So you’re looking at $2000, potentially, across the country for people to spend. How do you want us to spend it without pushing inflation up?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the good news is that governments don’t tell you how to spend all of your dollars. But we know that what people overwhelmingly will spend money on, which is why we changed it so that we lower the top, the first rate from $0.19 down to $0.16. If you’re earning under $45,000 a year, you know what? You’ll spend it at the supermarket. You’ll spend it on the essentials of life, on things for your kids that you need. That’s why we changed the tax cuts so they’re focused firmly on middle Australia, so that people on the figure that you give will be, that you just gave, will be on someone around about average incomes in the vicinity of $78,000. We wanted to make sure that those people were looked after. They, frankly, were forgotten under the old tax cut scheme. If you were earning under $45,000, you would have got nothing and the big beneficiaries would have been people at the higher end, such as my income.

BARR: Will there be a budget before the next election?

PRIME MINISTER: The budget, we’ll set a budget for March next year. The election’s due in 2025, and we’ll set out that timetable later in this year. You can’t have a budget and an election at the same time in May. So we’ll have to make that adjustment just as has occurred in the past.

BARR: Right. So, I think you have to hold the election by about May 17. So, there’ll be a budget in March and then the election in May?

PRIME MINISTER: Well you can actually hold the election later, you could hold it as late as August, I think, is the advice. But you’d have to have a half Senate election and get that out of step. We are out of step by having, May elections is not normally when they’ve been held in the past. I’d like to see four-year fixed terms. I’ve made that very clear, but that’s not possible unfortunately. That’s what all the states and territories have done here in the Commonwealth, we’ve tried to do it a couple of times, but we know it’s difficult to make that change.

SHIRVINGTON: Well you’re pushing it out potentially to August, you got some advice. Which also means –

PRIME MINISTER: No, no, I’m just saying that’s when you’ve got to have it.

SHIRVINGTON: Okay, well, it also means that potentially, PM –

PRIME MINISTER: I’m not saying we’ll do that.

SHIRVINGTON: Okay, we’re not going to hold you to it, but it’s on the table potentially. Which also means you’ve got a little bit more time to be the first serving Prime Minister to get married during your term. What about that at the moment? Because we got an email from a viewer, Jill, from Epping in Victoria. She wants to know, now that you’ve done the federal Budget, what about your own wedding budget? Have you gone over?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ve been very much focused on the Budget and it’s hard to set a date when you’re sitting in Expenditure Review Committees going through line-by-line items, making sure that we deliver a Budget for all Australians. That’s been my immediate focus. But we will sit down, we’ll sort out a date. We’ll probably sort it out between me and Jodie, rather than with you, Shirvo. But who knows?


PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, we won’t be taking that position to Cabinet and certainly not to the Expenditure Review Committee. But we’ll be dealing –

BARR: Safe to say it might be after August next year, is that what you’re saying?

SHIRVINGTON: Or at least until August.

PRIME MINISTER: We’ll set a date at an appropriate time. We’ll try to keep it a secret, but I reckon that will last about twenty-four hours. We made the decision about the engagement that there was no way it was going to be kept secret, so we’d just get it out there. It is one of the difficulties of public life, as you guys know as well, there is that focus. But we are very, very happy.

BARR: Thank you very much, Prime Minister on Budget Day, for joining us.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks so much. Thank you.

/Public Release. View in full here.