Australian Prime Minister Television interview – Weekend Today

Prime Minister

: In less than a week voters in the Victorian seat of Dunkley will head to the polls. For both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, it’s a crucial battle that could really set the tone for 2024.

JAYNE AZZOPARDI, HOST: Saturday’s by-election in Melbourne’s southeast is the first real test for Anthony Albanese after his shake up to the stage three tax cuts. And the Prime Minister joins us now from Melbourne. Good morning to you. PM. So, do you think that tax cutting decision –


AZZOPARDI: Well, you’re in Frankston, but we want to talk about Dunkley first. Do you think your tax cut decision will get you over the line there?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what they know is that we’re prepared to make the tough decision in the interests of low and middle income earners. Our tax cuts are aimed squarely at middle Australia, making sure people aren’t left behind. And we had good news this week as well, for the fact that real wages are increasing. So, we want Australians to earn more and to keep more of what they earn. Peter Dutton wants Australians to work longer for less.

STANAWAY: Ok, so PM, if this does go well for Labor there in Dunkley, could you actually call an election this year, do you think? Is that beyond the realms?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, the election is due in 2025. I think three year terms are a bit short myself. So look, we’re focused on just continuing to govern each and every day. And here in Dunkley, you’ve got the Urgent Care Clinic here in Frankston making a difference. We’ve had a new road opening as well. We have level crossings that have been removed on the way here from the city. And what we have is a government, my Government, that’s focused on the needs of Australians, focused on dealing with cost of living measures. All of the measures that we’ve put in place, whether it be cheaper child care or fee-free TAFE, which today we’re announcing 350,000 people took up that opportunity of fee-free TAFE last year. We promised 180,000, we’ve delivered 350,000. And in Jodie Belyea, our local candidate here, she’s someone who went through TAFE, she’s someone who has benefited directly from it. And, of course, every taxpayer here in Dunkley will benefit from our cost of living tax cuts.

AZZOPARDI: Speaking of higher education, Prime Minister, there is a big report into the university sector out today, and one of its recommendations is a big increase in the number of Australians with tertiary qualifications. That is going to cost a lot of money. Do you think now is the right time to be increasing funding to the university sector?

PRIME MINISTER: We need to plan for the jobs of the future, and that means giving people the skills and knowledge that they need. So, what we’ve been focused on is more Australians getting either university or TAFE qualifications so that they can fill those jobs, drive that economy, as well as provide a good quality of life for themselves and their families. More and more, we know that the world of work is changing as well. So, people will have to have retraining. People will have more than one career in their lifetime for the younger generations coming through. And it’s really important that we back education, which my Government is doing from early childhood learning right through to TAFE and universities and of course, through the school sector as well, where we’re negotiating out with State and Territory Governments to make sure that all schools are brought up to that standard so they can get a quality of education.

STANAWAY: Prime Minister, back to cost of living, if I may. The big supermarkets have been making plenty of negative headlines lately. We have, what, three inquiries going right now? Is there anything you can do right now to help people who are hurting?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I reckon that these inquiries are having an impact because they’re putting a spotlight on what was occurring. And I think Australians know that if farmers are getting less for their goods, then they should be paying less at the checkout. And that’s why we’ve got inquiries, including by our competition council, looking at whether we need to move away from the voluntary code of conduct, which is there, to a more mandated code, so that customers, when they get to the checkout, we want to see them paying as little as possible. We want farmers to be properly rewarded for their hard work as well. And I think transparency measures as well are really important so that people can see what feeds into that cost at the checkout and pressure therefore put on the supermarkets. They do have a concentration of power. People know that that’s the case. And that’s why we do have these three inquiries, one by the Senate, one by the competition council and one by Dr. Craig Emerson, looking at ways in which we can continue to put that downward pressure on costs of living.

AZZOPARDI: PM, you certainly seem like you’re in a good mood this morning. Do you think this could be why? We saw some vision of you shaking it off at the Taylor Swift concert. Where’d you learn those moves?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, I used to do DJing for charity through Reclink. And I’ve got to say, if you want to get, as I do occasionally go into local primary schools in my electorate, I’m sure that you’ve got some footage in there of Annandale Public School and places in the Inner West of Sydney. If you want to get little kids up and dancing, and of course, shake it off is a great message for young girls and young women as well. It’s about female empowerment and so all a good bit of fun.

STANAWAY: Jodie’s having fun as well, too, PM.

PRIME MINISTER: Indeed. Well, I must say, Taylor Swift’s been pretty good for the economy here in Melbourne with those sold out gigs with 96,000 people at the MCG. And also for Sydney, where, of course, she’s got a couple of nights to go there.

AZZOPARDI: Do you think, Prime Minister, she has a good wedding song for you? Which one of Taylor’s would you choose?

STANAWAY: Maybe Katy Perry. I don’t know.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, she’s got some great tracks. Many of them, of course, are not great wedding songs because she is, she’s very good at the breakup song.

AZZOPARDI: You want to steer clear of those don’t you?

PRIME MINISTER: You’ve got to be very very careful about what you play.

STANAWAY: Steer clear Albo.

PRIME MINISTER: “We’re never, ever getting back together.” But she’s a great songwriter. I think she’s a great lyricist. I think she’s in the genre of Joni Mitchell and people who’ve come before her in writing in ways that people can really relate to.

STANAWAY: PM, thanks so much. Joining us live there from Dunkley.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, guys.

/Public Release. View in full here.