Subjects: The Prime Minister’s bizarre press conference; Labor’s cost of living crisis; the Prime Minister’s meeting with Alan Joyce; Labor’s sweetheart airline deal pushing airfare prices higher; Labor’s immigration shambles.
Every Thursday, as you know, Ray speaks when he can to the Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who joins me on the line from Queensland this morning.
Peter Dutton, happy New Year. I hope you’re well. Do I say welcome back to work? I think I saw you’ve been back for a week or so now, have you?
Oh, it’s sort of, we’re easing back into it I think is the best way to try and describe it, Luke! So happy New Year to you, and to your listeners. It’s been an eventful summer, as it always is. A lot of people still doing it very hard at the moment – you know, the clean-up after floods and torrential rains and the cyclone etc. So, a lot of people haven’t had a very restful Christmas at all.
Yeah, you’re right to point that out. It seems you’re right, every Christmas now, every summer period where many people are on holidays, things don’t go as perhaps they once did.
While the Federal Government continues to tell Australians that cost of living support is the Federal Government’s top priority, you know, the old ‘cheaper childcare’, ‘cheaper medicines’ – although I see they went up on the 1st of January. The Prime Minister has said that Australians should not expect cash handouts to relieve the pressure and that, you know, might be the best way forward not to give out cash but find some other way to help people out. But you and I both know, don’t we, Peter Dutton, that this Government was, in part, elected on the back of promises about ‘lower energy’, ‘lower energy costs’, about ‘higher renewables’, and that would save the planet and reduce those weekly bills. And to say this kind of stuff and almost appear to be void of ideas is for lots of people – not just now because of where the Prime Minister’s put himself spending a year on the Voice – not just disappointing it’s in fact become quite annoying.
I think that’s a really good summary, Luke.
I think for a lot of Australians – and one of the good things about my job is that you get to move around the country regularly, speak to literally thousands of people each year – and I just can’t find anyone who is paying less for their electricity bill or finding it easier to pay their mortgage, or getting more groceries for their $100 when they turn up to the check-out, or finding it easier when they pay their insurance bill. It seems that all of these things have gone up.
You’re right. The Prime Minister looked the Australian public in the eye and said that, ‘I hear that you’ve got concerns about cost of living pressures and your family’s struggling and I’ve got a plan, I’ve got a solution: I’m going to reduce power prices by $275’. It’s okay for the Prime Minister to go there now saying that he hasn’t got any support for people, but the Government’s had two Budgets now where they did have an opportunity to make it easier for families, but they made decisions that have ended up driving interest rates up and making inflation higher for longer. If that’s the case, then, I think the Prime Minister has to take responsibility for that.
But when you see his press conference yesterday, which was a little bizarre, it’s almost like this year has started off like last year finished for Anthony Albanese. He was obsessing for the first 12 months, as you point out, on the Voice. Now he says that it didn’t matter, that it went down, even though it cost $450 million. He’s obsessing about trying to get square with John Howard over the release of these Cabinet papers – which is a beltway issue: the papers should be released, but that’s an issue for the bureaucrats to work out – but he spends half his interview talking about that, where he should be talking about what is going to be done to help families, because not just a lot of people suffering from natural disasters at the moment, it’s from man-made disasters and Anthony Albanese’s the man that’s made them.
Yeah – very good point. And I just remind my listeners and I might just play this briefly, this is I agree with you, Peter, it was bizarre, this press conference yesterday. It began with the Prime Minister removing himself from the high office of Prime Minister and appointing himself as Australia’s ‘Chief Lost Property Officer’. Have a listen:
I am very positive as we enter the New Year and later this morning I will be attending briefly the beginning of Davey Warner’s last test match at the SCG. And I do hope if it hasn’t happened already, whoever knows anything about the missing caps – Dave Warner has represented Australia on more than 100 occasions – the baggy green caps belong to him. He has earnt them and they should be returned.
I mean, frankly, we’d all love to see David Warner get his caps back and we hope he has a brilliant final test, but I asked you, with no prompting, how things were and you reflected on Australians that had been doing it tough over summer. This bloke’s saying ‘Davey’s me mate, let’s get his hat back’.
I just think one of the things that people I think are seeing in the Prime Minister is somebody who wants to be friends with everyone, but in the end, if you’re Prime Minister of our country – particularly in tough times – you need to have the strength of character and the ability to make tough decisions that aren’t always popular but are in the country’s best interests. We’ve seen, as I say, for two budgets now, where the Government should be making decisions to help Australians, and they’ve made decisions that have made the situation worse for our country and for families and small businesses, and a lot of people are really starting to wind back on expenditure now and unemployment’s predicted to go up, but the Government’s pumping extra money into the economy, they’re making inflation higher for longer, as I say, and you can’t just pretend that it’s not happening by not talking about it.
The Prime Minister then in the press conference that you just played went on to do a roll call of countries around the world that had elections due this year. I don’t know what the relevance of that is to families who can’t pay their mortgage under an Albanese Government, or can’t afford to fill their car up because petrol’s tipping over $2 a litre. So, there’s a lot of work that he’s got to do, but if he starts this year like he finished last, then I think a lot of Australians are going to continue to be disappointed.
I think the first thing he should do is apologise for wasting $450 million on the Voice when it was unnecessary to do so. It’s divided our country. He hasn’t spoken about Indigenous Affairs since then, and now he says that, well, it didn’t matter to him, it was Indigenous people that wanted it, but he’s the Prime Minister of the country, so I think, again, the Government’s got to get their priorities right and put Australians first.
Does the Prime Minister owe us all an explanation in relation to meeting Alan Joyce? Now, he’s made it clear in the Parliament that there was no lobbying and the like. Now we’ve got a freedom of information request that has revealed in his diary that there was in fact a meeting. What do you make of that?
Well, it’s interesting because, I mean, your listeners will remember that there were a lot of questions asked about the relationship, the friendship, between the Prime Minister and Alan Joyce. They socialised together, they’re on the red carpet, they were co-authors, effectively, and advocates for the Voice. The Prime Minister mixes a lot with these elites and people that are completely out of touch with average Australians and they were best of friends – and the Prime Minister was happy to tout that right up until Alan Joyce became unpopular.
It was also off the back of a decision that the Government made to stop Qatar getting extra access, which would have driven down the prices of international airfares for people who want to travel overseas and also domestic airfares. It’s important to point out that we’re paying more for travel between Sydney and Melbourne, or Sydney and Brisbane, or Sydney and Perth because we don’t have that extra competition from Qatar on the domestic legs as well.
The Prime Minister, when he thought that the meeting wasn’t going to be made public – his meeting with Alan Joyce – he said that there was no meeting and no lobbying. As it turns out now, after the Prime Minister’s fought against this in the court for this information to be released – so for 16 months he’s fought against this information being released – it turns out that he did meet with Alan Joyce.
Now, I don’t know whether he’s misled the Parliament or not, but I think there are some serious questions for the Prime Minister to answer here, because the decision has had a direct negative effect on the travelling public, and the Prime Minister, it appears, has met with the CEO who surely would have lobbied on this issue on behalf of his company, and the Prime Minister didn’t want us to know anything about it.
Yeah, I’ve only got 45 seconds, but people that claim that they’re coming to Australia as a tourist and then turn miraculously into an asylum seeker – that’s a story in the News Corp papers today, that really is disturbing. Is that something that started under the former Government, and can you see a way through it?
Well, it’s a huge issue, Luke. When the Government was last in power, when Labor was last in power, 50,000 people arrived – don’t forget, and some of those drowned at sea. Well, it turns out that this Government is a soft touch on criminals, and we’ve seen that in the last 12 months, but we also have seen in relation to some of these asylum seekers as well.
If the Government loses control of their borders – which they’ve done – then people smugglers will put people on those planes. The numbers that we’re seeing now are alarming – they’re up to 30,000 already, so not quite the 50,000, but this Government’s only been in power for 12 months.
Yeah, yeah, we’ll give them a chance.
Good to talk to you, stay well Peter, thanks so much.
Thanks, Luke. You too mate. Happy New Year.
Good on you. Yeah, you too.