Australian Prime Minister Television interview – Weekend Sunrise

Prime Minister

And the polling booths have opened for today’s Dunkley by-election. Joining us from Frankston is the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, on his birthday. Happy birthday to you, Prime Minister. Lovely to see you.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good morning. And thank you for the birthday wishes.

WRIGHT: I hope it’s a lovely day. Gosh, a winner. Be nice for you, wouldn’t it? I want to take you back to last week when we talked to you.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, guess what I want?

WRIGHT: Yes. I can just imagine. Might not be that easy, though. You said last week, a win’s a win. Right? But I want to bring you back to that margin. Because absolutely so many experts are saying that that margin is really going to indicate how Australians are feeling about your leadership and in particular your recent tax cuts. How much do you see that this whole election is a litmus test on how you’re going?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, by-elections are tough for governments. We spoke about this last week. The average swing against the government is seven per cent and we hold the seat by 6.3. So, the maths are pretty simple, that it is difficult to hold on to a seat like this. But we believe we’ve got the best candidate in Jodie Belyea. We’ve got a positive position, not just tax cuts, but fee-free TAFE, cheaper child care, the Medicare Urgent Care Clinic that’s open here in Frankston, where all people need is their Medicare card, not their credit card. All of those measures that we’re putting in place, fee-free TAFE, 350,000 Australians have had access to fee-free TAFE just last year. And passing on the way here to the foreshore, the beautiful Chisholm TAFE here somewhere where Jodie Belyea, our candidate, studied a few years ago. So, we have a positive plan. Peter Dutton has just had a really negative plan, has nothing to say that’s positive. Opposed the tax cuts, said they’d roll them back, said there should be a general election before eventually voting for them and allowing them through, but still arguing against them. We have a positive plan that is making a difference here. We know there’s more to do, but we know that Jodie Belyea will be able to carry on from Peta Murphy’s legacy. It’s so sad that we’re having this by-election. Of course, Peta was lost to us at age just 50, to cancer. But she was such a strong hero of this local community. I want Jodie to be able to carry on that work.

WRIGHT: Okay. I want to just pick up on something that you were talking about there when you’re talking about positivity, because from the very beginning of your leadership, you said that you wanted to change politics. You wanted to make it clean and kinder. And you’ve just talked about some positivity there. But it seems as if things have disintegrated in this campaign. You’ve accused Peter Dutton of having a pathological addiction to negativity, that he always puts politics ahead of people. Isn’t that just what you didn’t want to do?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, if you have a look at what Peter Dutton’s done, he has not put forward any positive ideas on tax. They say, well, they don’t like our plan. They let it go through, but they’ll have another plan, but they won’t tell people what it is. We saw all week, the Opposition negativity on display. They don’t have any positive plans for Australia’s future. And I do think that is unfortunate. It’s beyond my comprehension why you would oppose things like cheaper child care, why you’d oppose fee-free TAFE, why you’d oppose the measures that we have put in place to assist people. But that is what they’ve done. They opposed cheaper medicines and 60-day dispensing, which means that people who have those regular medicines that they need don’t have to get them every month. They need to get them every two months. That halves the cost for them. Even that was opposed by the Coalition.

WRIGHT: Okay, but even some of your comments that I just raised then, they’re pretty negative, right? Does that mean that it is impossible in this country for us to have politics without the negativity? Is that something that you have worked out during this leadership, that you need to go on the attack?

PRIME MINISTER: No. I wish we could be more positive and have a debate about ideas. But you’ve only got one side of politics, the Government, putting forward policy ideas. The other side is a policy free zone, just running scare campaigns and looking for areas of fear. We saw that this week with fake accusations made, extraordinary tweets put out by the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party about crime. You saw that with Peter Dutton telling people a few years ago that people couldn’t go out in Melbourne at night because it wasn’t safe. Now, that’s no way to advance the national interest. We’ll continue to put forward positive policy ideas. And Jodie Belyea will be very much a part of that.

WRIGHT: Okay. All right. Now, I want to move on to this decision by Facebook boss Meta, that will no longer pay for Australian news publishers for their content. Are you prepared? I know you came out pretty strongly on this yesterday, but, really, you’re going to have to stand up to those social media giants. Or are they just too powerful for even governments to take on?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they shouldn’t get a free ride. Journalism is really important. And journalists need to be paid for the work that they do. And some multinational company just being able to get that free ride off the back of the hard work of news organisations here in Australia is not on. The Government will look at all the options that are available to us, but we don’t believe that Meta’s response, they make a lot of money, the idea they should just get free access undermines journalism. You’re part of an important profession. You play an important role for Australians. And in order to be able to do that, you need to be paid for what you do. Now, what Meta are saying is, ‘We’re this global giant, we should just get a free ride’. Well, we’ll look at every option that’s available to us. We’ll consult with media organisations as well. But we think that a fair thing is for people to pay for any product that is the result of people’s hard work. It’s just fair.

WRIGHT: All right, well, let’s hope that you are going to be successful on that. Your birthday tonight, have you got a favourite birthday meal? What’s on the cards?

PRIME MINISTER: I think we’re having fish tonight. I was asked whether I wanted fish or steak, so I’m just looking forward to having a nice night with my family.

WRIGHT: Well, enjoy. Thank very much. Anthony Albanese there for us. We really appreciate your time in Dunkley.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you so much and everyone. Have a great day.

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