SUBJECTS: Tax cuts; John Setka; Alek Sigley.
GARDNER: Joining us from Canberra is the Government’s Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton and Opposition Leader, Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.
DUTTON: Good morning Georgie.
ALBANESE: Good morning.
GARDNER: Peter of course there were three key votes needed to get this over the line. What have you promised Jacqui Lambie?
DUTTON: Well Jacqui Lambie wants tax cuts for people in Tasmania as we want it for everybody across Australia. It is only the Labor Party that sort of turned up at the 11th hour once they realised that the independents were going to support this and get it through the Senate. So it means thousands of dollars back into the pockets of families and they know best how to spend it. It will be good for the economy and good for their families.
GARDNER: So you agreed to it? She was demanding $157 million in housing debt being cleared. You are saying you’ve agreed to keep that promise?
DUTTON: Well Georgie I wasn’t part of the negotiations. I know what Jacqui Lambie said yesterday. Obviously the Government has a good relationship with Jacqui, we did when she was last in Parliament and we do with Centre Alliance senators in South Australia. The Centre Alliance people, they want to see cheaper gas prices. So do we. We will work closely with all of those independents but importantly yesterday we got money back into people’s pockets and I can’t understand why Albo right up to the 11th hour, tried to stand in the way of it.
GARDNER: Without doubt, it is a big win for the Government Anthony, and Labor has indicated it might repeal Stage Three of the cuts at the next election. You are on board with this package and its entirety or not?
ALBANESE: Well we of course tried to amend Stage Three out of the package, because that doesn’t happen until 2025, Georgie. What we also did was we tried to bring forward Stage Two of the tax cuts so that every Australian worker would have got a tax cut sooner, right now. If it’s a good idea in 2022, to give every Australian worker above $120,000, $1,350 in their pocket, it’s certainly a good idea right now because the economy is tanking. We have seen interest rates reduce to just 1 per cent. That is one-third of what they were at the peak of the Global Financial Crisis, the greatest economic crisis that the world has seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. So the first thing the Government did this week was vote against that bring-forward, which would have given ever worker a tax cut. We always supported Stage One, which is the only thing that will happen this term of Parliament
GARDNER: But you will repeal Stage Three?
ALBANESE: No, I haven’t said that at all, Georgie. What we’ll do and what the Government will do too, I will give you the big tip, the Government and Labor will both go to the election campaign in three years’ time, with policies across the board. Economic policies …
DUTTON: But yours will be tax increases, Albo.
ALBANESE: … environmental policies.
DUTTON: Your Treasury spokesman said yesterday you are going to jack taxes up again in three years’ time.
ALBANESE: We did not. We didn’t say that at all. And the only people who voted against a tax cut, and the only people who threatened a tax cut – to stop the tax cuts including Stage One this week – was the Government. They were saying we will stop you getting a tax cut today because of what we want to do in 2025. This is an arrogant Government. They have been elected for this term, they haven’t been elected for life.
GARDNER: But hang on Anthony, you capitulated. I mean when it comes to big policy, voters want to see that two major parties can work together for the greatest good of the country.
ALBANESE: That’s exactly right, Georgie. And what we did was …
GARDNER: You are being the Opposition Leader who who is opposed to tax cuts aren’t you?
ALBANESE: Not at all, Georgie. You have got to follow the play. We said the whole way through that we supported Stage One. Before the election campaign we were supporting Stage One. That’s the only thing that will happen this term, and we argued Stage One, so that Stage Two so that every Australian worker, particularly in the context to where the economy is: we have interest rates at 1 per cent, we have low consumer demand, we have productivity going backwards. We have got a real issue with the state of the economy. The Reserve Bank sounding the alarm bells and the Government is being complacent. We say bring forward the tax cuts …
DUTTON: You are tying yourself in knots here. What is going on?
ALBANESE: … spend additional money on infrastructure.
GARDNER: Let’s move on because I want to get to some other issues. Anthony, you have another real problem of your own, union boss John Setka is challenging you in court to stop you expelling him from the Labor Party.
ALBANESE: Yes. Big deal, he doesn’t want us to expel him.
GARDNER: Are you standing firm on your position?
GARDNER: It’s a big thorn there in your side because he will not go quietly.
ALBANESE: He never was going to, Georgie. This is a big deal. I’m saying that the party I lead won’t have John Setka as a member. Guess what, John Setka is pushing back. But I have the guts to make this decision and to follow it through. We will do that. It was always going to have …
DUTTON: But Labor will still take his cash though, Albo. What’s going on?
ALBANESE: He won’t be a member of the Labor Party.
DUTTON: The CFMEU still donates millions.
GARDNER: You might have the guts Anthony, but have you got the final call?
ALBANESE: Well the National Executive will expel John Setka on July the 15th. He was always going to take legal action, because this is an issue for him. He doesn’t like it. Guess what, he will try to stop it. But he won’t be successful.
GARDNER: All right.
ALBANESE: Political parties have a right to determine their own membership.
GARDNER: All right, Peter we were all of course very relieved to see Australian student Alek Sigley freed from a North Korean detention camp yesterday. He’s flown to Japan, I believe he has been reunited with his wife. The Government was obviously working hard behind the scenes. Are you any clearer as to why Alek was detained in the first place?
DUTTON: Not yet Georgie. And obviously as you know we spoke last week about this and I guess the message we had then was just you know let us deal with this behind the scenes, work with other countries and to the Prime Minister’s credit he’s done that. He has spoken to world leaders and we thank all of those that have been involved. Obviously the embassy now in Beijing has been able to work with him, to repatriate him back to his wife in Japan that’s a great thing. So we should be very fortunate I think in looking at this because it could have ended up very differently, so a good outcome in the end.
ALBANESE: A very good outcome.
GARDNER: And in the event of him wanting to return to North Korea, Peter, what would be your advice to him?
DUTTON: Well, my advice will be pretty clear – I would stay in Japan. I would go back to South Korea. I would come back to Australia. All of those would have to be better options before he returns to North Korea. And we have got advisories out to that effect warning people. So we need – it needs to be an application of common sense here and I don’t think he’d put himself back into that situation.
ALBANESE: It’s probably pretty good advice for Alek but it’s probably pretty good advice for every single Australian as well quite frankly.
DUTTON: What about John Setka?
ALBANESE: What, to go to North Korea?
DUTTON: Well I’m just saying how are you going to get rid of him?
GARDNER: You two. I’m getting the feeling that you are quite liking each other.
DUTTON: We moved closer before we went to air. We shuffled closer.
ALBANESE: They made us sit next to each other.
GARDNER: So clearly no risk of an arm wrestle?
DUTTON: No holding hands either.
ALBANESE: No, no broken arms here.
GARDNER: All righty. Well we like that, sort of. Good to see you as always.
ALBANESE: Although it might make good TV.
GARDNER: An arm wrestle?
DUTTON: Two fat men wrestling, that would make great TV. That’s just what you want.
GARDNER: Peter Dutton, you have got a sense of humour after all. We like that. Good to see you both. Have a great weekend, see you next week.
ALBANESE: See you later.
DUTTON: Thank Georgie, see you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.