Australian Prime Minister Television interview – Weekend Sunrise

Prime Minister

: We’re just under a week away from the Dunkley by-election after the seat was left vacant by Labor MP Peta Murphy, who died in December from cancer.

MATT DORAN, HOST: So, political experts are calling it a high stakes litmus test, where the result will indicate to us how Australians are feeling about either camp this year. So, the top issue for voters, cost of living pressure. The question becomes, has the Government done enough to retain the seat?

WRIGHT: And joining us this morning from the foreshores of Frankston in Melbourne’s southeast, is Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you, PM. Great to see you. Looks like a glorious morning there.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Morning from beautiful Frankston. It is lovely here.

WRIGHT: All right, now you’re in Dunkley, of course, ahead of next weekend’s by-election held on your birthday, incidentally. Now you need to win by a really good margin right? Above 4 per cent, to keep the momentum for the year.

PRIME MINISTER: Look, a win’s a win, if we get there. It’s tough, a by-election. But we’ve got in Jodie here, Jodie Belyea, an amazing candidate who Peta Murphy, tragically of course, did lose her life to cancer at age just 50 in December, but she recruited Jodie to the Labor Party and wanted her to be the candidate. And Jodie will continue the work that Peta has done for this local community, standing up for them. And Peta stood up for issues like cheaper child care and making a difference on fee-free TAFE. There’s been 350,000 Australians who commenced fee-free TAFE last year. We promised 180,000, we almost doubled on that commitment. That’s made a difference. And of course, we have legislation, hopefully will go through the Senate this week, which will give every single taxpayer here, and indeed every taxpayer watching your program this morning, a tax cut, not just some. And that will make an enormous difference coming on the top of the news this week that real wages are increasing. So we want Australians to earn more and we want Australians to keep more of what they earn.

DORAN: So, Prime Minister, just to pick up on your comment that a win is a win. I mean, the average by-election swing against an incumbent government is about 4 per cent. Are you predicting it could be closer than that?

PRIME MINISTER: No. Well, it’s 7 actually, for a held seat by the Government, and the margin here is under that. So, we know that it’s a tough fight, but we’ve got the best candidate for this seat in Jodie, in contrast to the local Liberal candidate who was a mayor here, who voted for rate increases time after time after time. And Jodie’s someone who’ll stand up for this community and be a voice in government as well, not just a voice saying no to everything. We need a positive representative here, Jodie will be that. And you can see behind me there’s lots of volunteers out there who want to make sure that Peta Murphy’s legacy is carried on in this fantastic community.

WRIGHT: Okay, currently being held by a 6.3 per cent margin, but PM, the Opposition is getting traction about the infiltration of our borders by asylum seekers arriving in boats, but also planes. How much do you think that that issue is going to hurt you next weekend?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, record numbers, of course, came by plane on Peter Dutton’s watch. What we have is a position on Operation Sovereign Borders that makes sure that people who arrive by boat as unauthorised arrivals will never settle here. We saw that last week, where people were moved very swiftly on to Nauru. We have strong borders here and notwithstanding the fact that Peter Dutton has been a bit of a cheer squad and has made some irresponsible comments in the last week, we’ve increased funding by $470 million over the forward estimates. We think it’s really important that we have a migration system that works and we’ve been cleaning up the mess that we inherited.

DORAN: There were those something in the order of 12,000 asylum applications in just six months. It seems to be a big issue. Are you giving it enough of a focus?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, there was more than that on Peter Dutton’s watch, many times more than that when he was the Minister. What we’re doing is cleaning up the immigration mess that we inherited. And there have been reports by people like Dennis Richardson, former head of Department of Defence and Department of Foreign Affairs, and former ASIO Director General, who’s pointed out the mess that was there with the Department of Home Affairs. We’re making sure that we have an orderly system and that’s the right thing to do by people who come here in an orderly way to make Australia their home and to make a better life for themselves and for their families. That’s what we want and we want to make sure as well that Australia gets the skilled migration that we need to fill those skilled shortages where they are.

WRIGHT: Okay, I just want to ask you about this leaked memo which has come from your office. It sparked some speculation about an early election. Are you going to serve a full term? Are we going to the polls this year? Just a yes or no would do.

PRIME MINISTER: No, the election is due in 2025.


PRIME MINISTER: Well, we’ll make a decision. I’m not announcing the election date here today. That’s been done in the past and it hasn’t ended well. What we’ll do is announce an appropriate date when we get there. But I believe governments should serve full terms. I think three years is too short. The election is due anytime from the end of the year through to May next year. It could actually go longer, but then you’ve got to have a separate half Senate election, which would be quite disruptive as well. I think people will get to vote here in Dunkley next Saturday, March 2nd. They can vote early, of course, in pre-poll already. But the election campaign I expect to be in 2025.


DORAN: So, Mr. Albanese, I wonder if Australians know how rhythmic, Mon, would you say? Our Prime Minister is a big fan of live music dancing at Katy Perry last night. You had Tay Tay on Friday, a big week.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I gave a speech last night at the food and beverage annual dinner. Last year that was held in Sydney. This year was held here in Melbourne. It’s an annual event and it’s an opportunity to talk to manufacturers. One of the things I want is a future made here in Australia. And last night I was talking with Wesfarmers, Bundaberg, Asahi, Arnott’s biscuits, all those fantastic Australian companies who make products here for domestic purposes but also export to the world. The good news that I got last night from many of the businesses was that they’re expanding their operations. That means more jobs here and it means our economy is more resilient here as well.

WRIGHT: Okay, yes, and Katy Perry was playing. You buried that bit, but that’s very exciting. We just were looking at some vision of you dancing to shake it off with Jodie on Friday night. Just got to ask you before you go, did you get any friendship bands? Did you do any swapping?

PRIME MINISTER: I did get a few friendship bands. Look, I think at a time where there’s so much turmoil in the world, one of the reasons why Taylor Swift’s tour has been such a success is it’s so positive, it’s so uplifting, and that is her message. That’s why she sold out all those concerts here at the MCG with 96,000 people night after night after night. And she’ll be playing in Sydney, of course, for another couple of nights to come. And she’s a very welcome visitor here. And her message of female empowerment is, I think, a positive one. And secondly, as well, it’s been pretty good for the economy as well. Good for jobs and good for economic activity. So, that’s always welcome as well.

WRIGHT: It has been pure joy, hasn’t it?

DORAN: It certainly has. Prime Minister, thank you very much for your time.

PRIME MINISTER: It has indeed. Thanks very much. Have a great day.

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