Subjects: The energy crisis; cost of living pressures; the government’s broken promise on a $275 cut to your power bills; Indigenous Voice to Parliament; 2022 wrap up; Liberal Party; the Samuel Review; Yellowstone.
Every Thursday on the program, for a number of years now, I speak to the Opposition Leader Peter Dutton.
He’s in Brisbane today where it’s scorching hot, not as hot as they thought it would be, down from 37 to 33/34, but still very hot. The Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, good morning to you.
Good morning, Ray.
I hope you’re in a comfortable circumstance given the heat in South Eastern Queensland and other parts of Queensland today?
I’m going out for a planting of a tree, in my electorate at one of my high schools, so hoping we get a little bit of shade and I hope we don’t have to dig too deep, Ray. We had a cracking storm here overnight, so it will cool it down a bit, but we’ll probably end up with one this afternoon I’d say, as well. But it’s a scorcher.
Yeah, I’ve got 17,000 homes and businesses still without power up on the Sunshine Coast down to Moreton Bay. Now, I’ve had a number of emails about Chris Bowen this morning and you and I feel about the same about his administering of various ministries over the years. He’s gone on the ABC this morning – a lot of platitudes, a lot of suggestions but no answers. I watched him on Sky News about an hour ago or a bit over an hour ago, the same sort of thing. A lot of gobbledygook but not much common sense.
Can we expect an answer tomorrow from the premiers and the Prime Minister?
Well Ray, it’s hard to know what the Prime Minister’s intent is here because they’ve essentially raised every possibility and flown every kite trying to see what the public want. You know, price capping, super tax, distribution of support to businesses and then could they give money out to families, and could they do it in a way that wasn’t inflationary?
I think if they had a plan, you would have seen the plan in the October budget. They had a five month run up to it and they knew the problems, they’d been detailed to them about the energy market, about the concerns. They knew, obviously about the situation with Ukraine and there was no plan in the budget. As we know, the Prime Minister promised before the election there would be a decrease in power prices. He made that promise on 27 occasions after the Ukraine war had started so he doesn’t have any excuses.
I just think this Christmas, we want to spare a thought for a lot of families, a lot of people who are on fixed incomes – pensioners, self-funded retirees, and a lot of families who just don’t know how they’re going to pay these mounting bills. A lot of mortgage rates are going to effectively double from what they’re on at the moment in their fixed packages.
You’ve got Chris Bowen, as you say, out there wanting to close down every source of energy except renewable and that is a recipe for what Germany has done – that is that the lights go out and the prices continue to go up.
Now, speaking of prices going up and this appearance he had on the ABC this morning where he said a lot but said absolutely nothing. I see that they’re trying to suggest this morning that the National Party in New South Wales and the Liberal-National government are at odds with what’s happening in Canberra, particularly with the National Party. Then I read the guts of the story by Ben Franklin, the Minister involved where he says ‘look, we support the Voice, however, we want to see more detail’.
How’s that any different to what you’ve said or what David Littleproud has said in relation to the Voice? I’m sure everyone supports in principle the Voice, but they want to see the detail, which they’re not seeing.
Well Ray, media outlets have decided that you’ll be on the wrong side of history if you don’t support the Voice or somehow you’re racist if you’re questioning what the Voice is about. It’s so juvenile in approach, it’s embarrassing, and frankly, that’s the way the Prime Minister’s conducted himself in this debate as well.
You can’t say to the Australian public, we want to change the Australian Constitution, it’s our foundation document and if you make a change in the Constitution, you can’t undo it without going back to the people. It’s not like a law where you find that it didn’t work and you can change it or amend it. The government can go to an election and seek mandate, or the opposition can do the same and if they get voted in and they can adjust the law and do away with a bad situation. That’s not what we’re talking about here and the Prime Minister’s continuing to say ‘well, look we’re not going to provide any of the detail, People can vote on the Saturday about whether they want to change the Constitution and if that goes through, then we’ll give you the detail on the Monday’. I just don’t think it makes any sense.
Lots of people in the debate at the moment who don’t support the Voice, who possibly could support it when they get to detail and vice versa. I just think you show a great deal more respect to the Australian public and stop treating them like mugs if you give them the information and let them make their own decision.
Everybody’s in favor of reconciliation. Nobody wants to see the violence and the disparity in health outcomes and life expectancy and infant mortality rates etc. We all want to see a better situation, but to be told that, you know, this is a model that you must accept and don’t ask for the detail, you’re unreasonable if you ask for the detail, that’s not how you conduct a public debate. I think the PM has tied himself in all sorts of knots on this issue and frankly, it’s why a lot of Indigenous leaders are coming out now saying they can’t understand why the Prime Minister’s dumped this out into the public debate and refuses to provide even the most basic of detail.
You see we’ve got a poor history of voting ‘yes’ for referenda. I mean, if you look at the history, I think there have been 44 matters dealt with since Federation and eight successful, so if they’re going to get it right, they need to make sure they carry the electorate with them.
In other words, explain what they have in mind, explain how it will work, not just, you know, arbitrarily say, ‘well, this is roughly the guide and we’ll figure it out once you say ‘yes’’, because people won’t say ‘yes’ to it and I think it’s very important that people do say ‘yes’ but they must know the detail.
Well Ray, I mean this is the point, Australians aren’t stupid. If the Prime Minister just wants to sort of rush it through in the dead of night, I don’t think that’s going to happen and at that point he’s got a lot to answer for because if the argument is that this goes to referendum and it goes down, then it’ll be the Prime Minister explaining why he’s presided over a process which has led to its failure. It’s as simple as that.
You can’t deny history here, as you say, people understand the difference between a constitutional change and a legislative change. As we’ve seen in the past, there’s been no shortage of money by either side of politics put into this issue, and this is not about money or resources. It’s about how you can deliver better outcomes.
When I was up in Alice Springs – we’ve spoken about this a couple weeks ago – but when I was up in Alice Springs, almost a month ago, the women up there, their voice is loud and clear at the moment, but the Prime Minister refuses to listen to it and that is that the kids aren’t going to school. They’re sleeping during the day because they’re out at nighttime and in many cases, that’s because there’s a high prevalence of sexual abuse or physical abuse, they don’t want to go back to an environment, to a home place where they feel they’re at risk, and that’s why they’re out galivanting around at nighttime and you’re seeing all of the problems in Northern Territory. Now, my question is, in terms of the Voice, how would that shift the dial, you know, one degree on that problem in Alice Springs? if it did then then, you know, you’re voting for a good thing, but the government can’t explain how that situation will improve for those kids on the ground in this day and age.
It really is frustrating, it’s upsetting when you know what these kids are going through and I think the Prime Minister, frankly should have more trust in the Australian public to decide whether they think this is the answer, whether it’s going to make a bad situation better or worse.
We’ve had a particularly big year, your Party lost the federal election, of course. We’ve had floods across parts of New South Wales and parts of Queensland. We’ve had Russia invaded Ukraine back in February and that’s still going on. We’ve had three British Prime Ministers in 12 months. We’ve had the passing of the longest serving monarch. And now you’re confronting 2023 after the loss in Victoria, and they’re about to announce the new Victorian Liberal Leader by the way, I’ve just noticed. You’ve got New South Wales, the incumbents, facing election – Dominic Perrottet up against Chris Minns. So I guess that’ll be a litmus test as opposed to, you know, an opinion poll on where the Liberal Party and National Party stand in the state of New South Wales and perhaps reflective of where they stand in other places as well.
Well Ray, you’re right, it’s been a hell of a year – good and bad, mostly bad as you point out in relation to those issues, but a lot of good that’s come as well and I’d also spare a thought for a lot of families, particularly those in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, where they’re still flood affected or they’re still recovering or cleaning up lost crops and structures. It’s been a real blow. Also, I think we should take every opportunity to say thank you to those who wear a uniform, either the first responders or to the Australian Federal Police, that ASIO work that will be done over Christmas to keep us safe, the Australian Defence Force, all those people who will be working around the clock here and internationally to keep us safe. So I want to spare them a thought, a very special thought at this time of year.
In terms of the Liberal Party – look Ray, I’ve been around long enough to hear reports of both parties being written off after election losses. When Kevin Rudd was elected in 2007 and the ABC were jumping for joy, you know ‘Rudd was there for generation, the Liberal Party was out’. We came back within three years to almost win, we lost by one seat and we won in 2013, six years later. I remember when the Labor Party was voted out at the end of Julia Gillard’s period and then Rudd’s period again, the Labor Party was written off for a generation. It’s a nonsense. The fact is that a lot can happen in three years and it does and it will over the next three years. I think the Australian public get that the economic calls that Labor is making so far, the calls they’re making on energy now aren’t going to be in our country’s best interests and it’s incumbent on us to be a credible alternative and we’re that, we’ve already announced good policy and we’ll do that before the election. So, people can write us off, particularly the ABC and The Guardian, The Daily Mail, all these left wing publications, etc. But it doesn’t it doesn’t count for much in my mind. I think we’ve got a great team, I’ve got a unified team, and we’ll present a very credible alternative by the next election. I don’t want the lights to go out in our country.
I don’t want people to be struggling to pay their power bills, and I don’t want investment to go offshore, which is what will happen if the government gets these calls wrong on energy market intervention. They’ve got to get more gas into the market. You can’t have more demand, particularly during a hot summer and a cold winter ahead. If you’re restricting supply, which is exactly what they’re doing, you’re going to drive prices up which is what they say they will do in their budget document, and we don’t need to go down Germany’s path.
They’ve got a plan Ray, to roll out 28,000 kilometers of high densile wires spanning across all sorts of private properties, rural properties, national parks, to make this renewable model work. We all want to see renewable models in the mix, but you’ve got to be able to firm it up and they are taking us down Germany’s path at the moment. It may not be realised for two or three or five years time, but that’s what is happening, and we’re going to push back against that.
I think there’ll be very different positions by the parties on these key issues by the next election and the public will make the choice on that basis. I think we can win the next election. There’s no doubt in my mind, but we’ve got a lot of hard work between now and then.
Okay, I’m just going to share something with you that I think will make you grip at the side of your car arm a little tighter.
The Independent Environment Protection Agency has been given greater oversight over federal proposals and emission standards – development proposal that is, as well as greater protection for plants and animals, sweeping changes to be implemented by the federal government. This has been announced by Tanya Plibersek. The environmental law overhaul, so you’ve got state governments – Labor and Liberal – saying at the moment ‘look we’ve got to kickstart development, we’ve got to get more housing into Sydney, in South Western, North Western Sydney, Western Sydney. The same is being said on the Gold Coast and in Queensland and in other areas. You know, apart from the resources boom, they’re saying we’ve got to get the building industry healthy again and that’ll help us, that will bring down inflationary trends, that will hopefully answer the calls of the Reserve Bank to stop putting interest rates up, and at the same time, it appears the federal government’s intent on making life much more difficult for developments and the likes.
Well Ray, I mean, there’s one person who pays the cost, and it’s the end consumer. So, if you’re moving into a retirement village, or you’re worried about the cost of the road being built or you’re worried about whether you can get more hospital beds into a new hospital development, then if you’re wrapping it and red tape and green tape and making it more expensive, as a consumer, you are going to pay more for that retirement village spot or for that new home. You are going to be paying more for that road or for that tunnel, you are going to get less beds in the new hospital. That’s the reality of it and as we’ve seen already under this government, in the case of BHP and Glencore, they just say, ‘well, you know what, we’ll go to another country, and we’ll go and make money there because it’s easier to do business’, and we lose out on jobs here we lose out on economic productivity.
Labor always make the wrong economic decisions. They always make decisions that make it harder for families and particularly for small businesses. We’ve got the early days now of the Labor government, and we’re seeing exactly that. You’re right, at a time when you should be trying to take the cost out of doing business, when we’ve got wage costs, when we’ve got all sorts of input costs, businesses have to make a decision about whether they invest or not, and under this Labor government, they won’t invest and will miss out on the jobs, we’ll miss out on the economic activity, and I worry for a situation next year, in particular, and perhaps the year after, where the economy sours. You’re talking about to inflation at eight per cent, and people will pay more for all of their cost of living inputs and the government’s, for all these decisions going to put more inflationary pressure into the system, which means that interest rates are going to be higher under Labor as well. So that’s a concern for all Australians, and I think the penny will drop as people talk about this over Christmas.
Now, just one final thing. You may remember the Greens’ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young many years ago, confusing the fictional TV Series ‘Sea Patrol’ with what was actually happening in reality TV with the Border Force that you control. Let me just replay it so that people can remember what was happening.
SENATOR SARAH HANSON-YOUNG:
We have a television show publicising techniques that you’re using for border security at airports. We have another television show, of course about the coast guards. There does seem to be a little bit of a double standard here
Sorry Senator, the TV show about the Coast Guards. Sorry, is that the fictional Sea Patrol Program? I don’t know which one you’re talking about?
Yeah, well, there you go.
It was the fiction Sea Patrol she was talking about. She thought it was reality TV. But look, that brings me to a final question for 2022. Has the Senator sought you out about your cousins in the United States of America, on Yellowstone? I’ll just play this. This is Peter Dutton’s cousin Beth Sarah, this is Beth Dutton, his cousin.
Yeah, well, have you encountered to Sarah Hansen-Young that you’ve tried to counsel Beth on Yellowstone about her behavior as your first cousin?
Well, all I’d say Ray is that if you haven’t watched Yellowstone, it’s a great series based on a pioneering family in Montana in the US, John Dutton is the main character played by Kevin Costner, and I’m a huge fan of the show.
So, thank you for playing Beth and Beth is one of my favourite characters, but I’ve got to say for the benefit of the good Senator, it is a fictional character. Actually, these people, I mean, they’re actors. They don’t exist in this form in real life, as these characters. They’re playing their role as cast.
I will say this, Ray, I’ve got a fantastic family. I’m really looking forward to Christmas Day and bringing everyone together. Similar – kids and cousins and nephews and nieces and whatnot playing together, which is a nice thing. But I would like to have Beth Dutton at Christmas lunch, I think it would be a cracking day.
She’d liven things up a bit. Mate look, the thing about this is everyone’s got a Beth Dutton in the family.
Everyone’s got a Beth Dutton in the family, I mean, it’s the aunt, it’s some distant cousin, that you know if she comes there’s going to be a blue, and that’s what Beth’s all about – having a blue.
I think if Beth was there, you’d want to eat your lunch quickly and then grab the popcorn and grab the chair in the corner, and just watch it unfold because it’d be a pretty lively day.
But anyway mate, thank you to you and to your staff and producers. Really appreciate the engagement, the friendship and to all of your listeners, I get stopped regularly at different places – at airports and shopping centers, all over the place, saying they’re big fans of the Ray Hadley Show. So, thank you for having me on again this year and I hope you can get a break with your family, and spend some time with your beautiful grandkids.
All the best to you, thanks Peter. We’ll talk to you in the new year.