Subjects; Catholic schools funding, US tariffs on steel and aluminium, Yarra River.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Well it’s what’s been described this morning as a Catholic education funding war. Bill Shorten is pledging more than $250 million to Catholic schools if he wins the next election. The pledge comes after Education Minister Simon Birmingham revealed a plan to reduce Catholic school funding. Joining me now is Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese. Guys, good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Morning.
JOSH FRYDENBERG: Good morning.
STEFANOVIC: What the Coalition taketh away, Labor giveth. Is that right this morning?
ALBANESE: Well we have said that we will put back the $17 billion that’s been cut from schools. We had an agreement to end the war over education funding with the Gonski reforms and we’ll put that funding back because we think that every child should be given the opportunity to be the best they can in life.
STEFANOVIC: Why will you be giving money back to the Catholic schools though?
ALBANESE: Because the fact is that the Catholic schools have had their funding cut. We estimate, or importantly, the Parliamentary Budget Office, independent of Labor, says that will add up to about $250 million in the first couple of years, but of course that figure increases over a period of time.
STEFANOVIC: That jams you a little bit, doesn’t it Josh?
FRYDENBERG: Well only Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten would think that a $3.5 billion boost to Catholic education is a cut. That is what they will get under the Turnbull Government and under Gonski 2.0.
STEFANOVIC: It’s a cut in terms of funding overall.
FRYDENBERG: No, it’s not. We’ve been boosting…
ALBANESE: It’s a cut compared to what they would have got.
FRYDENBERG: Welcome to Melbourne, Australia’s most liveable city, Albo. But look, the fact is the Catholic schools will benefit greatly under the Turnbull Government’s Gonski 2.0.
STEFANOVIC: So you’re not worried about this at all? Backlash from Catholic voters?
FRYDENBERG: No, we are focused on our big boost for education funding – more than $25 billion.
STEFANOVIC: You don’t care about Catholic voters, do you?
FRYDENBERG: We really care about Catholic voters, we really care about Catholic schools and we really care about education overall.
ALBANESE: This isn’t about voters, this is about students and kids, giving them an opportunity and that’s what we need to do.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, let’s talk about Donald Trump. He’s preparing to sign off on trade tariffs. He’s given an indication this morning that Australia may be exempt. Here’s what he had to say:
TRUMP: We have a very close relationship with Australia. We have a trade surplus with Australia. Great country. Long-term partner. We’ll be doing something with them.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. We know the PM has been over there. Julie Bishop has also been doing work behind the scenes. Josh, anything to report there? He’s mentioning Australia, that’s got to be a good thing?
FRYDENBERG: This is a very positive sign and Malcolm Turnbull has led a full court press with the Americans, galvanising our ambassadors, galvanising our business community, working with other ministers to put our case as to why our steel exports create jobs both here in Australia as well as in the United States.
STEFANOVIC: Is it going to work? Is he going to relax (inaudible)?
FRYDENBERG: Let’s just see what happens but this is a positive sign and these are welcome comments from the President.
STEFANOVIC: Albo, do you see it as a positive sign?
ALBANESE: Well it is a positive sign and this is a national interest. We’re as one here for Australia. The risk, as well, even if Australia is exempted there is of course a risk that what you’ll see if other countries are imposed tariffs you’ll see an increased risk of dumping of cheap imports here and that’s something the Government needs to guard against as well. I think President Trump would be well advised to listen to people in his own party and the Congress and the Senate and back away from this attack on free trade.
STEFANOVIC: With the greatest respect, do you think the US President is going to listen to you?
ALBANESE: I hope that he’ll listen to the Republicans in his own party and the Democrats, people in the Congress and the Senate, people in the business community, internationally, particularly in the United States, are opposed to this move.
FRYDENBERG: But Karl, Malcolm Turnbull has been talking to Donald Trump about these issues for a long time, going back to G-20. They have a good working relationship. This is a positive sign. The Coalition stands for free trade; it’s in Australia’s interest. If Bill Shorten had been Prime Minister he would have given up, just like he did on the TPP.
ALBANESE: That’s nonsense. The fact is…
FRYDENBERG: He did give up on the TPP.
ALBANESE: The fact is that Labor is the party that actually opened up the Australian economy. It was the Hawke-Keating Government reforms that gave us the more than two decades of growth that we’re continuing to enjoy today.
FRYDENBERG: And we signed the free trade agreements with the United States, China, Japan and Korea.
STEFANOVIC: Okay, tit for tat here this morning. It is a beautiful morning here…
ALBANESE: It is beautiful. I’m a bit worried about you mate.
ALBANESE: The river.
STEFANOVIC: Yes, so a little bit later – why don’t you jump into the river?
ALBANESE: It’s not Bondi Beach.
FRYDENBERG: Do a Jim Courier.
ALBANESE: Well when I win the Australian Open, I’ll jump in.
FRYDENBERG: We’ll be waiting a long time mate.
ALBANESE: Maybe the seniors – over 80s or something.
STEFANOVIC: This is for charity; you two should do something decent for once in your lives and jump in the Yarra with me.
ALBANESE: I think as a Melbourne local, Josh should show the lead and I’ll follow him.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. If you jump in the Yarra and also fix law and order in this state, then we’ll swim across the river.
ALBANESE: Christopher Pyne would have jumped in the river.
STEFANOVIC: Where is Christopher?
ALBANESE: He would have been in.
STEFANOVIC: Where is he?
ALBANESE: I don’t know. He was worried about the river mate.
STEFANOVIC: Thank you gentlemen, have a great weekend.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
FRYDENBERG: Good to be with you Karl.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.