Subjects: Albanese packing his bags for Tokyo ahead of federal election.
BEN FORDHAM: Anthony Albanese is already making plans for next week. The Opposition Leader says he wants to swear himself in as prime minister straight after winning the election – well he’d have the Governor-General swear him in – but he also wants sworn in Penny Wong as foreign minister. And they want to do this straight away. They want to do it immediately after the election and he says there’s a reason for the rush. Mr Albanese wants to attend the Quad meeting with our allies in Tokyo that starts on Tuesday – so that involves Australia, India, Japan and the United States.
So a few days after winning the election – if he does win the election – he wants to be representing Australia on the world stage. He’s told The Australian “we’re not pre-empting the outcome, but I plan to visit the Quad and renew my acquaintance with President Joe Biden.” It sounds like he’s already got the bags packed. The Defence Minister Peter Dutton is on the line this morning. Peter Dutton, good morning to you.
PETER DUTTON: Good morning Ben.
FORDHAM: Is this fair enough that Albo’s getting ready to go to Tokyo?
DUTTON: Well Ben, it sounds a lot to me like he’s taking people’s support for granted. Already packing your bags and getting the passport ready to head off overseas before the final votes have been counted – reminds me actually a lot of what Bill Shorten did.
I mean remember Bill Shorten had the removalist truck booked, ready to take the furniture into The Lodge. He had that spooky photo taken like the Addams Family photo with Penny Wong and Richard Marles and all of them sitting down in their office, like they were already in office.
I think at the moment you would have thought Anthony Albanese’s focus would be on trying to release their costings – which they’re refusing to do – explaining to people in the last few days of this campaign why they can be trusted with the economy.
Then you’re seeing this talk from people smugglers about restarting boats again. I think Mr Albanese is showing a lot of inexperience in this campaign. I think people’s doubts about Mr Albanese are vindicated when he makes statements like this, and taking for granted that you’ve already become prime minister or you’re on the cusp of it, I think is hubris writ large.
So instead of concentrating on taking people’s votes for granted, frankly, they should be getting out their costings at the moment because they’re spending money like drunken sailors.
I mean Jim Chalmers is out there saying ‘just add a few billion dollars each year to the debt that we have, it won’t matter.’ Well, that’s the sort of talk we had from Kevin Rudd and from Wayne Swan. It would be a disaster for our country.
FORDHAM: Interesting that he’s saying that he wants to be sworn in and he wants Penny Wong to be sworn in as foreign minister because he would take the Foreign Minister with him. Would that normally happen for a Quad meeting?
DUTTON: No it wouldn’t. The Prime Minister – as you’ve seen with Scott Morrison when he’s on the world stage – he can hold his own. He’s there representing our country and Joe Biden will be the same – I mean he’s there as the leader of his nation, he doesn’t need his hand to be held by Tony Blinken – or in Scott’s case, by Marise Payne.
The Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister have their jobs to do and it’s quite a bizarre statement from somebody who seems to me has still got his L-Plates on well and truly and that he would need the support of Penny Wong to get through these meetings. It’s a statement frankly of what he knows to be some of his own deficiencies.
FORDHAM: I’m just surprised that so close to the election – and with the polls tightening – he’s obviously the favourite to win the election on Saturday night, but he would have learned, I would have thought from Bill Shorten last time around – as you pointed out – that photo of the team saying we’re ready to go and having the delivery trucks ready to drop off the furniture at The Lodge – I just would have thought that you’d just be just taking your time at the moment, as opposed to talking about having Penny Wong sworn in as foreign minister on Sunday.
DUTTON: I think you’re spot on Ben and I think it really goes to people’s hesitations around whether Anthony Albanese is up for the job. I mean you see the press conference yesterday where he’s running away again from legitimate questions. I mean people want to know whether or not the economy would be in safe hands, whether they would manage the budget well or they’d rack up debt again.
By refusing to release these figures and only releasing them right at the 11th hour so that people can’t properly scrutinise them, and by making the admission so far that they will end up spending billions of dollars more each year – which is all borrowed – I think people are really having more and more doubts as we get closer to polling day on Saturday.
But for him to make the same mistake as Bill Shorten, I find quite remarkable, but at least Bill Shorten had the guts to turn up to press conferences, to answer the questions and to put out his economic statements. Anthony Albanese’s not doing that.
FORDHAM: It was bizarre yesterday in WA he was holding a news conference with the WA Premier, Mark McGowan and he was asked some questions about his policy costings, and keep in mind that Anthony Albanese said at the start of the campaign,” I’ll answer any questions.” But all of a sudden when he was asked about those costings, he walked.
He’s now walked out of two press conferences, but at the same time he’s getting his travel arrangements planned to go to Tokyo.
DUTTON: I just think his priorities are all wrong. I think the hubris that he’s showing, the fact that he’s taking people’s support for granted, it just again goes to his lack of experience. He’s never held any significant portfolios – Infrastructure was his thing in the Rudd-Gillard years, he was the Deputy Prime Minister to Kevin Rudd – so no doubt inspired by Mr Rudd.
But to be in this position now where he’s never had an economic portfolio, he’s never had a national security portfolio, he’s never been involved in international relations and I think the nervousness shows because if you’ve got to take Penny Wong to hold your hand, and get you through the meetings, then you’re in real trouble.
I think there are real doubts about who their defence minister would be and as the days go by, I think people have more and more questions in their mind about whether you would risk going to Anthony Albanese and Labor at a time when it matters.
It matters in terms of the national security situation in our own region. It matters in terms of what happens economically, particularly if there’s inflation from overseas and Shanghai being shut down as a port, other supply chain issues for businesses, businesses finding it tough to get staff; that handled the wrong way could be a disaster for jobs and for security of people’s own budgets.
So as that risk grows, the Labor Party hubris continues to grow, and that was the recipe for disaster for Labor at the last election.
So I think he’s taking a lot for granted at the moment. He thinks he’s got this in the bag. He’s packed his bags ready to go and to jump on the Prime Minister’s plane to head overseas to represent our country. I think as people see Anthony Albanese standing up each day, frankly, I don’t think they envisage in their own mind that he would be a strong leader on the world stage at a time when Australia needs that.
FORDHAM: Last question, just say he gets his way, he wins the election on Saturday night, he’s sworn in as prime minister on Sunday. Penny Wong is sworn in as foreign minister. They then take off to go to Tokyo for the Quad meeting. Who’s the Acting Prime Minister back home?
DUTTON: Well this is the problem with Labor’s policies right; they never think one or two steps ahead. They make their policy announcement on housing, where the government becomes a part owner in your house, but then they can’t answer the question what happens when…
FORDHAM: …who would be the Acting Prime Minister? I know it’s not your party – but who would it be? Who do you reckon to be Acting Prime Minister?
DUTTON: Well, nobody can answer that. It can’t be Richard Marles because he wouldn’t be sworn in. He wants to be defence minister, but he won’t say that, and he’s been running his speeches past the Chinese Embassy, which is never a good look.
So I think the show unravels pretty quickly and Anthony Albanese is obviously desperate to get on the plane and be photographed with Joe Biden and to have Penny Wong there walking alongside him. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Why would you risk going to Labor in this election Ben? I think the doubt is just continuing to grow and people’s minds.
FORDHAM: A very strange own goal, if you ask me. We appreciate your time. We’ll here with Ray tomorrow, no doubt. Thanks for your time.
DUTTON: Pleasure mate.