THE HON PETER DUTTON MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
MEMBER FOR DICKSON
THE HON DAVID LITTLEPROUD MP
LEADER OF THE NATIONALS
MEMBER FOR MARANOA
JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE
5 June 2022
Subjects: Coalition Shadow Ministry; Chinese fighter jet incident; Defence bases.
I’m very pleased to be here today with David Littleproud who will go through the details of The Nationals. We’ve been able to work very closely together and what you are seeing in this line-up is some fresh faces. We have an incredible depth of talent, not just on the frontbench, but on the backbench as well and I’ve been very cognisant of trying to bring some of those people through for an opportunity and you’ll see that we have some very impressive appointments today.
I’m really proud of the fact that Sussan Ley, as my Deputy, will not only be the Deputy Leader, but the Shadow Minister for Industry, Skills and Training and Shadow Minister for Women. She has a very significant workload, but Sussan has a great capacity and is a very significant part, of not only our response in the urban areas, but in regional areas as well.
I’m really pleased that we have in our Cabinet of 24, 10 women. I should note that Marise Payne originally had asked me not to be considered for the Shadow Cabinet. I’ve worked with her very closely for a long time. I’ve got the utmost respect and Marise is going to fill the position of Shadow Cabinet Secretary, which is a very important role. She’s had a breadth of experience as I say, has been an exceptional contributor to our team over many years, and her wise council and experience I think will be of great assistance to us in helping us rebuild our team.
We have I’m very pleased to tell you, from the Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Michaelia Cash, is going to fill that position. Karen Andrews will be the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, the Shadow Minister for Child Protection and Prevention of Family Violence. Anne Ruston is in the area of Health and Aged Care and the list goes on.
I’m pleased that Andrew Hastie is going to join us from WA as the Shadow Minister for Defence. We have from Victoria a number of colleagues who’ll be on the frontbench, but I’ll make note of a couple, that includes Sarah Henderson and also Jane Hume. Jane Hume will be the Shadow Minister for Finance, and Sarah Henderson the Shadow Minister for Communications.
So, we have a very experienced team. I want to thank all of those that have served in the Cabinet and in the Ministry otherwise that won’t be continuing on in those roles, but we’ve tried to get a balance here; and the balance is not just across jurisdictions, not just in terms of gender, but experience and I’m very proud of the team that we’ve been able to put together. I’ll ask David to outline his plans and then I’ll be happy to take any questions.
Well thanks Peter. It’s great to be with you and great to work through what will be a new Coalition, a new Coalition team that will hold this government to account. I’m pleased to say the National Party has secured six Shadow Cabinet positions.
I’m pleased to say that the team, the Shadow Ministry team that I bring forward for the National Party is about renewal and generational change. It’s about making sure we draw on those that have the experience to bring the harmony and peace within our party room, but bring the next generation through.
Now, I’m pleased to say that I’ll continue on as the Shadow Agriculture Minister. That Perin Davey, as my Deputy, will be the Shadow Minister for Water Resources and Emergency Management. Senator Bridget McKenzie is also our Leader in the Senate, will now be the Shadow Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister.
I’m pleased to say that trade is coming back to the National Party. Trade and Tourism will be held by Kevin Hogan, the Member for Page, who did an outstanding job during the floods in Lismore. Bringing some new energy and enthusiasm to my frontbench will be Senator Susan McDonald from Queensland, who will take over the Resources and Northern Australia shadow portfolio.
To round this off, I’ve asked the former leader Barnaby Joyce to be the Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs and to ensure that this generational change is nurtured through. I’ve also asked, in the outer Ministry, for Michael McCormack to take on the shadow portfolio of International Development and the Pacific, one that is acknowledgement of these two men’s leadership in the National Party and one that I will continue to draw on, both of them to ensure that the National Party is able to nurture the next generation in a harmonious way, in making sure that we are a constructive part of this Coalition, leading this Coalition to the next election in 2025, and making sure that we are a credible alternative to the current government.
So to you Peter, and to the Liberal Party, this is a Coalition that has lasted the test of time and will continue through our hard work and collaboration, and our honesty and transparency with one another. I look forward to the fight that we put up to this Labor Government – not only now, but right through to the 2025 election.
So David, you talk about renewal and generational change. Has the dynamic shifted in the Coalition between the Libs and the Nats?
Well, it’s always predicated on the hard arithmetic of politics – as John Howard so eloquently and pointedly pointed out – so it goes down to simply the number, a quota of the numbers that we hold in relation to the total Coalition.
So that formula is one that has stood the test of time and will continue, and one in which Peter and I have been able to work through constructively to make sure that we have a team, a total team that complements one another in taking that fight up. It draws on the diversity and skills that they bring to the Parliament, to make sure that we can not only hold them to account, but also bring forward policies that are relevant to an evolving and modern Australia.
Peter, what’s Alan Tudge doing?
Alan Tudge will be in the position of Shadow Minister for Education. Alan’s obviously incredibly experienced in that portfolio. He’s worked in the Parliament in an exemplary way and he is a very significant part of our team and he will perform the role of Shadow Minister for Education.
And Shadow Treasurer?
Shadow Treasurer will be Angus Taylor. Obviously again a breadth of experience in government and has I think a great capacity to hold this government to account.
The reality is that we’re already seeing from this government, excuse, after excuse, after excuse. They didn’t know the numbers were what they were, they didn’t know that the economy was going to be difficult, they didn’t know that energy was going to be an issue.
Well they told the Australian people before the election that they were the party with the answers to all these problems, but it turns out that they don’t have the answers. If you look at somebody like Chris Bowen, it’s obvious that he has the choices between him, in terms of what he has to do on energy, and he can’t make a decision.
It’s going to be tougher under Labor over the next three years, there’s no question about that and the team that we bring together today, Julian Leeser, who is going to come in to the Attorney-General portfolio and into Indigenous Affairs – an incredibly bright individual and somebody who has contributed to our party for a long period of time.
So, some new faces coming in, about which I’m really genuinely excited and I think our team will work very closely together to hold this government to account.
Why haven’t you got an Indigenous person in the role of Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs?
Well, as you know Jacinta Price sits in the National Party and she’s just come into the Parliament. So, we will have, I hope, a job for her a very shortly, but she’s just come into the Parliament now and will be a significant contributor – as you’ve seen already – I mean she’s not opposed to making comments and to contributing to public debate.
She’s a very thoughtful, informed person and no doubt at some stage she’ll be on the frontbench, but she’s just come to the Parliament now.
Shouldn’t you have someone with lived experience in that role?
Well, you’ve got somebody like Alan Tudge, for example, who’s worked in, and alongside people like Noel Pearson within the indigenous space. Julian Leeser, again, one of the smartest minds in the Parliament is well versed in this space and I want to make sure that Jacinta has a very significant role.
There’ll be a process within the Coalition to look at what the Government’s proposing and there’ll be a very specific focus from us on practical ways in which we can provide support to Indigenous communities – not just in capital cities, but obviously in regional and remote areas.
I want to make sure that we can increase the support provided for health outcomes, the education outcomes, the housing outcomes and as a team, we will be working on that because it’s one of the most significant issues that as a country we have to do deal with.
You lost votes to both the left and the right in the election, which voters are you trying to appeal to with this frontbench?
To all of them, to all of them. I think there will be a lot of people with buyer’s remorse by the end of this three-year period because the decisions that Labor make will drive up inflation. Decisions that Labor makes over the course of the next three years, which is obvious already – they hadn’t even included all of their spending proposals in the pre-election figures that they released – and already you have a ratings agency which is out there talking about our Triple-A rating being negatively impacted because of the amount of money that Labor is proposing to spend.
Now, if you spend that in a high inflationary environment, interest rates will be higher, cost of living will be higher under Labor and that’s going to be the lived experience, unfortunately – but that’s what Labor do – they always spend more than what they have, which is why they tax more, and that has a dampening impact on the economy as well.
So, there’s a lot ahead that we’ll have to deal with and the team that we announced today, I think has a great capability and the great capacity to take the fight up to Labor; to propose good policy by the time of the next election, but to hold this government to account.
Do you think you’ve done enough to win back female voters?
I think what people have seen in my history is somebody who’s dedicated himself to public life since the age of 19. I have worked as a police officer and I worked in the area of sexual abuse. I went to countless domestic violence incidents. All of us have those experiences that will stay with us forever, and I want to do whatever I can in this position to reduce the incidence of domestic violence, violence against children.
As the Home Affairs Minister, I cancelled the visas of 6,000 criminals in our country – including a very sharp focus on people who had committed sexual offences against women and children – and that was quite deliberate because I’d worked in the sex offenders area, and had prosecuted people for rape and sexual assault and many of those young lives are destroyed. I want to do, as I say, whatever I can to improve the situation.
When you look at the line-up that we’ve got, we’ve got some exceptional talent, men and women and the 10 women that we’ve got in the Cabinet will be a very significant part of speaking with one voice to the Australian public.
We do want to win votes back from women who supported the Greens, for example. Don’t forget that people left the Labor Party at this election as well. We’ve got a good story to tell and I intend to tell it.
Just on the second act of intimidation by the Chinese military in the South China Sea, is that concerning for Australia?
It is concerning. I think it vindicates the position that the government, under Scott Morrison, took before the election. This is a very serious time and we will support the government in whatever actions they need to take to keep our country safe.
An act of aggression, as we’ve seen here, is not dissimilar to what we’ve seen on a regular basis in the East China Sea. The reality is that the Japanese are experiencing these sort of provocative acts and acts of aggression on a daily basis on the water and elsewhere.
China says one thing, but you’ve got to look at their actions and their actions here are dangerous. The government is right to point out that this could put lives at risk of the Australian Defence Force – and in this case the Royal Australian Air Force. It’s very concerning and we will support the government in whatever action they take to keep our country safe.
Why did you intervene to stop dual Indigenous nations being given to military bases?
Well because I have a great deal of respect for Gallipoli Barracks, for example, or Kapooka and other sites around the country which have a lot of history. When you speak to the men and women of the Australian Defence Force, they didn’t support the change in those names.
There’s a lot of heritage and people have served on those bases for a long period of time – in peacetime and in wartime – and I think when you look at the recognition, the acknowledgement of Indigenous leaders within those local communities, the engagement with those leaders, Defence was an exemplar in that area.
But, did I think that we should abolish the name of Gallipoli Barracks? No I didn’t, and that reflected, as I said, my consultation with men and women of the Australian Defence Force on the ground.
They were suggesting two names, it wouldn’t abolish the name.
Well, you can go back and have a look at some of the detail, but I made it very clear that I wasn’t going to allow those names to be degraded because they have a significant place in our country’s history. There are men and women who have fought in conflicts or in peacekeeping missions; they’ve trained on those bases and there is a lot of sentimental attachment, and a lot of history that goes with it and I wasn’t going to disrupt that.
It wasn’t a sign of disrespect, because as I said, Defence engages with local Indigenous groups on a daily basis. They have a very significant say in developments, and that’s as you would expect. So it’s not a degrading of that, but I felt that, in consultation with the men and women of the Australian Defence Force, that was the right decision to take.
Do you think Indigenous people who served would find it degrading to have Indigenous names on military bases?
I think they serve their country with great pride and distinction and frankly, I don’t think their skin colour makes any jot of difference to it. They are proud Australians and I’m proud of every Australian’s worn the uniform for our country.
When I speak to those men and women, some of whom have lost some of their colleagues in war and they trained at these facilities with them, I think there is a lot that we should respect and I did respect that. That’s why I made the decision I did.
Do you know any more detail about the maneuver of the RAAF plane?
I don’t. We haven’t received a briefing from the government, so only what’s publicly available at the moment.
Thank you very much.