Subjects: Address to the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia; The Prime Minister’s divisive Voice, Treaty, Truth proposal; the Prime Minister’s endorsement of Ray Martin’s “dinosaur or d***head” sledge towards No voters; Lidia Thorpe.
Firstly, I just want to say thank you very much to the PGA here in WA. We know that the primary industry sector is an incredibly important part of the Western Australian economy, but also of the Australian economy. The fact that people toil through floods as we’re seeing in some parts of Australia at the moment, an impending drought in another part, and they’re able to employ Australians, they’re able to put their own capital at risk – it’s quite remarkable.
I just want to pay tribute to our farmers, to our pastoralists, to the graziers, and all of those who have been interested enough to be here today and those that are working hard on their farms across the country. We don’t spend enough time stopping and thinking and really paying homage to those who do it hard on the land. It’s a very big part of our economy, of our history, and of our future.
Now, I’ve seen some comments in relation to Lidia Thorpe. I think the suggestions that have been made, the content, the neo-Nazis, it’s completely unhinged, it’s unacceptable, and it should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
I’m really worried at the moment, because, as we know, the Prime Minister’s got us embarked on a path which divides our country. You’re talking about family members against family members, communities against communities, and it gives rise in this sort of an environment to radical lunatics to make comments like they’ve made in relation to Senator Thorpe. I condemn it, absolutely.
I also want to say on a separate issue but related to the Voice.
Ray Martin’s comments deserve an apology to be made by him and by the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister was at that event where Ray Martin was speaking. This wasn’t an off the cuff remark by Mr Martin, it was a scripted comment. Mr Albanese was there, laughed at the comment, and then praised Mr Martin on ABC Radio the next day.
So, I don’t think the Prime Minister can continue to talk out of both sides of his mouth. This is a Prime Minister who’s dividing the country and Mr Martin’s comments are offensive to millions of Australians. I’ve got the highest of respect for Ray Martin and I’ve certainly had that like many other Australians for a long period of time – but he made inappropriate comments and he should apologise for them.
I’m happy to take any questions.
Lidia Thorpe made some quite wild comments in reaction to that video, that our Constitution is ‘racist’, ‘nothing but pain and misery’ for our people, ‘an act of genocide against my people’, and she had a very strong attack on the police, saying that they have failed to protect her and they actually ‘kill’ her people.
Well, these are things that Lidia Thorpe’s said before, and they’ve been condemned – and they should be. They’re not reflective of our modern society. Our modern society celebrates our Indigenous heritage. We’ve got an incredible story to tell. Our system of government, our democracy, freedom of speech, our liberties, our institutions, all due to the British influence, and the wonderful story of migration to our country, now. All Australians are equal and that the Prime Minister is trying to divide us because of our heritage or because of our ancestry is completely unacceptable.
The Prime Minister was warned about all this. Right through the course of the year we’ve asked reasonable questions, which he’s just not answered and we’ve said just in the last Parliament, the last few weeks of the parliamentary sitting: ‘don’t go ahead with this referendum because you’re dividing the country’. It’s come at a cost of $400 million, which could build something like 800 houses in Indigenous communities.
The Prime Minister says, ‘well, it doesn’t matter whether ‘yes’ or ‘no’ gets up because we’ve drawn the public’s attention to disadvantage in Indigenous communities. I mean, Australians know about the disadvantage, and we want something to change. We don’t want another layer of bureaucracy, and I just fear that the Prime Minister has embarked on a course that he either thought there was political advantage of, he was going to have his moment in history, or he hadn’t thought through properly the consequences. I really do worry about the Prime Minister’s actions here, and we should all be working together to unite our country, not to divide it.
I just implore Australians to vote ‘no’ on the 14th of October because this thing’s permanent, it will divide our country, and it’s not something that should be a part of our country in the year 2023.
Given that Lidia Thorpe has labelled the Referendum as ‘genocide’, is it fair now for her to blame Anthony Albanese for these threats against her?
Well again, the comments before, she’s made outlandish comments before and she’ll make them again. I mean that seems to be part of her brand, and I think to be honest you’re better off just to ignore it because it doesn’t reflect anything more than a few percent of the population. I respect that people can hold that view. I think it’s wrong, and I don’t think it’s part of mainstream thinking.
We’ve got to help families at the moment. I mean, the Prime Minister’s been completely distracted by the Voice over the course of the last 16 months. Families can’t afford to pay their mortgages, they can’t afford to pay their ever-increasing electricity bills, you’re getting less for your dollar when you go to a supermarket, your insurance bills are going through the roof.
The Prime Minister’s forgotten about average Australians because he’s been hanging out with elites for the last 16 months and he’s completely and utterly disconnected with the average family and small business across the country.
Opinion polls suggest that 91 per cent of viewers believe that the quality of debate on the Voice to Parliament is low quality. Only 6 per cent says it’s good, 3 per cent says it’s average. Your thoughts?
Well, again, I mean, I wrote to the Prime Minister in January of this year asking 15 basic questions on behalf of millions of Australians so that people could be informed and that we could have a proper debate. The Prime Minister hasn’t had a constitutional convention, which is the precedent in relation to these debates, so that people can hear the arguments for and against. I think people want to help Indigenous Australians, but they know that this is a bureaucracy and the detail doesn’t get decided ironically, amazingly, tragically, until after the vote takes place. So, I just think if there’s a lack of information that people have, they know that the Prime Minister has deliberately withheld that information from them.
I’d just say this in relation to migrant communities as well: it doesn’t matter whether you’re of Chinese heritage, whether you’re of Italian heritage, everybody in our country is equal and the Prime Minister is treating people differently depending on when they came to our country – and that is not something that we should tolerate as a debate in our country in the 21st century. We are a great country and we should make sure that we stick together, and continue to be the great country that we are.