Subjects: Liberal Party leadership; National Party leadership; holding the Albanese Government to account.
Peter Dutton, the former Defence Minister, says going forward all policies will be aimed squarely at the forgotten Australians. He says by the time of the next election in 2025, we will have presented a plan to Australians which will clean up Labor’s inevitable mess.
At his side he’ll have Sussan Ley as his Deputy Leader.
And he’s on the line right now. Peter Dutton, the new Opposition Leader. Good morning to you.
Good morning Ben.
You do have a lot of work to do, don’t you?
There’s a lot of work to do, but we’ve got a great country and we want to defend it.
We want to make sure that Labor’s not going to trash the economy again. We don’t want the boats to restart and we have a lot of work to do to put forward good policies.
We’re not going to be Labor-lite. We’ll be having very clear policy differences between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party, and that’s all ahead of us over the next three years.
I like what you’ve had to say about the argument about ‘Oh we need to go further left, we need to go further right. We need to, you know, chase some of the votes that went to Pauline Hanson or Clive Palmer, or we need to try and chase some of the votes that went to Climate 200.’
You’re saying, ‘No, no, no. Let’s just focus on families and getting the job done.’
That’s exactly right. I think people don’t want to hear about the political machinations.
The reality is that on Election Day, the early analysis I saw, was that about 200,000 people had voted for teal candidates, about 700,000 people had left the Coalition to go and vote for candidates on the right. So we’ve got a problem on the left and the right.
We are the Liberal Party. We’re not the Conservative Party or the Moderate Party, and that is something John Howard believes very strongly in as well. We’re Liberals, and we have a responsibility to put forward a good alternative.
People know that we are stronger on national security and border protection. People know that the Liberal Party is always better at economic management.
The first few days of the Albanese Government has included this huge broken promise where Mr Albanese had said at the election that he would support a 5.1 per cent increase in wages – which of course he hasn’t done now – and he slipped that out last Friday afternoon in a tricky move to really try and cover up for what is a major deception. He was very clear in the campaign and they’re now walking away from some of the figures. They realise that they’ve got expenditure that they’ve committed to in the campaign that they never provided for in their costings. We’ve now had a credit agency who’s already pointed out that if Labor spends that sort of money, our credit rating could be at risk as a country, which means we pay a higher interest rate for the debt that we have.
So I think the economic problems and concerns that people always have with Labor have already started.
We know that we have been in the freezer with China for the last couple of years after we innocently asked questions about the origins of coronavirus and now we’ve had our farmers and primary producers who have been punished with unreasonable tariffs.
We’re told today that Beijing is willing to cooperate with Australia in the Pacific, and this is after the Chinese Premier sent a letter of congratulations to Anthony Albanese.
Is it time, at some stage not too far down the track, to say okay, we’ve stood our ground, we haven’t backed down, we don’t apologise for the position we’ve taken, but we’re better off trading with China?
Well of course Ben, we want a good trading relationship with China, we want the relationship to be normalised, but the assessment of the Australian Government, of the Americans, of the Japanese, of the British Government, is that China under President Xi is heading on a particular path.
China hasn’t stopped making nuclear weapons, they haven’t stopped building a navy the scale of which we haven’t seen in history, and they’ve been very clear about their intent in regard to Taiwan.
Now, if people believe that that’s changed within 48 hours, then just wait a little longer because in this business, I think you pay on results and the words are pretty cheap. Let’s see what see what happens.
The government does have to be strong and to stand up for our values and they can’t compromise. I suspect Penny Wong and Anthony Albanese will be saying one thing behind closed doors and something else to the Australian public, and we’ll call them out for that.
So yes, of course we want a strong trading relationship with China. We want peace and stability within our own region. That’s exactly what we stood up for and it’s why we invested a lot into the Australian Defence Force because we wanted to make sure that our country continued to stay strong and safe.
We’re talking to the new Opposition Leader, Peter Dutton. You’re already on Albo’s case, and that’s your job as Opposition Leader, but he’s been giving you a wrap.
He says Peter Dutton has never broken a confidence that I’ve had with him. So he seems to be giving you a compliment.
Well, I’m very grateful for that Ben. I’m a person of my word and I take my integrity very seriously. I’ve had 20 years in Parliament, and you’ve never seen a suggestion by anyone, frankly, that I’ve broken my word or that I haven’t lived up to what I’ve said I would do and I believe in conducting yourself in that way.
There’s a lot of work that we have to do, as I say, over the next three years because I think it is going to be very tough under Labor. I think people just don’t realise yet how bad they are, and you know, we shouldn’t have forgotten the Rudd and Gillard years. The same people are still on stage now and they are going to make bad mistakes, they are going to spend like crazy.
I want to do all I can to help families, to help small businesses, micro businesses and help them grow into bigger businesses, but it’s hard to bring Australian jobs back and grow those businesses and build manufacturing in our country, when electricity prices are going to go through the roof, which is what Mr Albanese’s plan will involve.
I’m worried about energy security. We need to have a situation where the lights turn on and that we have the security of that electricity supply, which I think is at risk under what Mr Albanese is proposing at the moment.
It is going to be a tough time economically across the world, but that won’t immune Australia from that reality and we have to be very conscious of that.
I’ve only got 30 seconds or so until the news, but just briefly. David Littleproud is in, Barnaby Joyce is out of the National Party leadership. Have you spoken to Barnaby? How’s he doing?
I’ve spoken to both Barnaby and to David. Both are good friends and I wish Barnaby all the best and I’ll catch up with him for a steak and a beer soon.
But similarly with David Littleproud, I’ve known him for a long time and he’s a very decent person, he’s hardworking, he comes from rural background and I think he’ll do well in his role.
We appreciate your time this morning. You have a lot in front of you. Thanks so much.
Thanks Ben. Take care mate.