SUBJECTS: Tax cuts; Medevac.
DEB KNIGHT: The Labor Leader joins us now along with the Government’s Peter Dutton. Good morning to you both.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning.
KNIGHT: Peter to you first, we know that you want Labor to prepared pass this, that’s a given. But are you prepared to do any deals with the crossbench to get these tax cuts through?
DUTTON: Deb we went to an election only a few weeks ago and everybody I think voted for our tax reform agenda; that is lowering taxes, and rejected Labor’s agenda which was to increase taxes. It’s pretty simple and if we didn’t pass it people or we didn’t present it to the Parliament people would say that it was a broken promise. So it is going to go in intact.
KNIGHT: And are you prepared to do deals if Labor doesn’t back it?
DUTTON: We’re not doing deals because Labor is proposing to take money effectively out of people’s pockets and we want the tax cuts to go through. Now Albo is barely keeping this car on the road at the moment but we’ll see what happens, because internally they are trying to tear him apart. But there are voices of common sense. Nobody had heard of Peter Khalil but now he seems to be the only voice of reason in the Labor Party.
KNIGHT: Well he has spoken out and that is true, the Victorian MP breaking ranks saying that you should back the tax cuts in full if the Government won’t split them and they’ve said they’re not going to, point blank. He has got a point doesn’t he? They went to the election, they put this to voters, they won a mandate?
ALBANESE: Deb there will be another election before the stages two and three come in and it is really just a triumph of hope over economic reality for Peter to be able to say that he knows what the economy will look like in 2025.
KNIGHT: So are you ruling out that you will back these tax cuts in full?
ALBANESE: No we are considering it. But one of the things we are waiting for, as well is for the Government to give us the information that we’ve requested. They don’t have a blank cheque. And they won’t say what the impact will be on various income groups of these proposed changes. They also won’t say what cuts they will make. If you are reducing revenue, you therefore have to reduce expenditure. We want to know what their plans are, what the proposed full deal is, not just half of it.
KNIGHT: Well we had Pauline Hanson on the show Peter on Monday. She said she has not has heard boo from the Government and she has since heard from Finance Minister Mathias Cormann saying there would be no negotiations at all. But would you consider the idea of crossbench Senator Jacqui Lambie, who says maybe we could have a safety net. If the economy goes bad then there would be a clause in there that you could pull back the tax cuts if the economy can’t afford them?
DUTTON: People have said to me during the campaign and I think they would have said to Albo and to other members around the country that they need additional support for their family. They’ve got increasing rents, they’ve got increasing electricity costs, gas costs, rego, petrol, all the rest of it. And people want to be able to make decisions about their future, about how they invest, about decisions on education and people want certainty.
KNIGHT: What about the future beyond just the immediate? Would you consider an idea like that from Jacqui Lambie?
DUTTON: I think what we want is for the Labor Party to support this in the Senate. I think in the last Parliament we relied on crossbenchers from different parts and different corners etc. But hopefully in this Parliament and we see it on boats as well, I hope that the Labor Party can step up in this Parliament, support us in the Senate and to find a common sense position. But we just went to an election and got a massive mandate for these tax cuts. And unless Albo has …
ALBANESE: I tell you what no one is saying Peter. No one is saying ‘I’ve got this bill, how will I pay for it in 2025?’. No one is saying that. What they need is immediate injection, and that is needed for the economy and you’ve already broken the promise which is that Parliament would sit prior to July 1 in order to get stage one of the tax cuts through.
KNIGHT: But you’re not ruling out …
ALBANESE: We’ve said we support it.
KNIGHT: You’re not ruling out that you might pass these in full?
ALBANESE: What we’re not running doing is doing a day by day running commentary. We want the information, we will make considered decisions as an Opposition. We will be inclusive about how we do that. That’s my intention of how I intend to lead the Labor Party.
KNIGHT: Okay now the other issue that is really boiling along is the fight over border protection. It’s erupted after this Federal Court decision on the controversial Medevac law allowing a doctor basically to transfer asylum seekers without having face-to-face assurances here. The Government is vowing to overturn this law as well. Do you have the numbers to do it?
DUTTON: Well we have the numbers in the lower house, but we need the Labor Party’s support in the upper house, there’s no question about that. And we again went to an election and not just this election but the last three elections where we have received I think a mandate for strong borders. And we want to bring people, provide them with the medical attention that they deserve. We’ve always done that, we always will. But this bill was always about bringing people here for different purposes. And now you’ve got activist doctors who don’t even have to see the patient who can dictate to the Government to the Australian people that these people will come here.
KNIGHT: Are you prepared to challenge this Federal Court ruling in the High Court?
DUTTON: I’m waiting on some legal advice. But certainly I think if there is a chance of us or a prospect of us succeeding in the Full Federal Court or the High Court, then I am going to take that action because it is inconceivable that you can take away from a Liberal Government, from a Labor Government, the ability to determine who comes to our country. People of bad character are able to come under Labor’s law and Mr Albanese should reject it.
ALBANESE: This is nonsense, of course. You can have strong borders without being weak on humanity. This legislation – Peter Dutton said the world would end, there would be hundreds and hundreds, remember 700 people would be coming here in a matter of weeks. It didn’t happen. One thousand people have come here, be very clear, 1,000 people on Peter Dutton’s watch, for medical assistance. You know how many under this legislation? Twenty-two of those 1,000 people. It hasn’t led to a crisis. It’s working. It’s working as it should and Peter of course appoints the panel that gets to determine whether they come here or not.
KNIGHT: Now, we want to end on a bit of a lighter note. This Sunday’s Stellar magazine is showing none other than you yourself Albo dressed up to the nines. These are some of the behind the scenes pictures of the photo shoot. Look at you, hey? Didn’t know you could strike such a pose. How are you feeling about seeing yourself there.
ALBANESE: I haven’t seen them yet, this is a first viewing here. There you go.
KNIGHT: Looking sharp. It’s very Zoolander.
ALBANESE: Very Zoolander? Come on.
KNIGHT: We can’t let you off the hook either Peter, you are also quite the model. Check out these pics of you taking a stroll along the beach with your family, with your pins out, you are a Queenslander.
DUTTON: Way too early for those legs I’ve got to say, let me tell you that.
KNIGHT: Quite the model. Is this a concerted effort from both of you to show more of yourselves, a bit more of a softer side?
DUTTON: I want to show the softer side of Anthony, I mean people don’t see it, I don’t see it. The CFMEU doesn’t see it.
ALBANESE: Could anyone possibly suggest that this bloke needed softening. I mean really.
DUTTON: That’s a ridiculous suggestion. What are you talking about?
KNIGHT: Well fellows, we appreciate you coming on this morning.
ALBANESE: Good on you.
KNIGHT: It’s good to see and we will look for that in ‘Stellar’ magazine on the weekend. Thanks so much.
DUTTON: Thank you.
ALBANESE: Thanks, Deb.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.