Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

The Project

26 January 2016

Canberra

Prime Minister

E&OE

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Welcome, Prime Minister. We know you've had a crazy day today. Be honest with us, how many snags and sauce have you had to cram down your throat for the cameras today?

PRIME MINISTER:

Not one. Not one. No, I haven't done a public or indeed a private barbecue today. So the sausages are safe!

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Why? Hang on!

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it's true! We had the flag-raising ceremony and a citizenship ceremony and then Lucy and I went for a great walk right up to the top of Red Hill and said hi to some people up there, including some very - would you say, very well-ornamented Australians with flags in their hair and all that sort of stuff. So it was good.

WALEED ALY:

Is it fair to say you've learnt the lessons of your predecessor's proclivity for eating on camera?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, there is a lot of things that are better off not done on camera and eating is probably one of them.

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Although onions do go well with a snag!

PRIME MINISTER:

Of course! Of course!

WALEED ALY:

Let's get to issues, because both the Australian of the Year and the Opposition Leader have put the republic firmly on the agenda. You were Mr Republic some... what, 16 or 18 years ago. Are you going to take this up as an issue?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, the issue - the issue is there, it's on the agenda. But, look, I am a passionate advocate, or a passionate supporter of a republic. As you know, I led the republican movement in the referendum in 99. But referendums are very, very hard to win and you've got to make sure that you get the timing right, and I think the next big watershed event, when people will say, ‘Hey, yeah, this is something we really should focus our minds on’, will be after the end of the Queen's reign. That's my opinion, but time will tell. If you get a sense of real momentum in favour of this change, then everyone will know and politicians on both sides of the debate will say, "Hey, yep, yes, the people have got to be given their say".

WALEED ALY:

Let's come to what the new Australian the year David Morrison said. You famously came to office saying there's never been a more exciting time to be an Australian and it seems like he has kind of, well, he’s picked it apart a little bit, hasn't he? Is it an exciting time to be an Australian if, for example, you are a woman or, you are Indigenous at the moment, or if you are disabled?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it is an exciting time for all Australians. This is a time of enormous opportunity. The pace of change has never been so great. The opportunities have never been so great. And yes, there are…

WALEED ALY:

I think he was making a point though about equality, though, isn't he?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, he is making a point about equality and those are issues we must address. There has never been a more exciting time, with greater opportunities, to address these challenges of inequality, of discrimination, of disrespecting women - we've got an opportunity now to really take these issues on, and we are.

PRIME MINISTER:

Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has decided to stay in politics and he also decided to talk to an anti-gay, anti-abortion, far-right Christian group. How do you feel about one of your backbenchers doing that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, look, Tony is entitled to, he is obviously entitled to renominate for the seat of Warringah and I wish him all the best for that. And he is entitled to speak to such audiences as he wishes. You know, he is ... I'm not sure that the group is quite as you characterised it, but he does have a fairly conservative position on issues like that, so he probably would find he's talking to people with similar views, perhaps.

WALEED ALY:

Prime Minister, there will be a lot of Australians disappointed to hear you say that because on the one hand you've just finished telling us about it's a great time to take up the challenge of equality and on the other hand people a lot of people will interpret this as a slap in the face of the entire agenda. Don’t you need to be stronger on that?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, you see, what you are saying, what you are asking me to do is to censor Tony Abbott.

WALEED ALY:

No, I'm just asking for your position to be more in line with what you just said.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, everyone knows what my position is. But there are people in the Parliament, there are colleagues, there are, you know, fellow members of the Coalition, who have different views, and they are entitled to respect them - they are entitled to express them, and I respect their right to do so, just as they would respect my right to disagree with them.

PETER HELLIAR:

Prime Minister, it is Australia Day so let's have a little bit of fun. It's time to play a little game!

I have some simple questions that determine how Aussie you are, Mr Turnbull.

One, if you are excited, you are going off like a what?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I would be taking off like a Bondi tram, or if I was, that's if I was heading off somewhere quickly, or if I was just being very, very excited, I suppose going off like a cracker, like a Catherine wheel or something like that.

PETER HELLIAR:

I will take that, I would have also taken "Frog in a sock", but I will take Bondi tram!

What is a quandong, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

A quandong? That sounds like a marsupial to me. But you might be testing me. What is it?

PETER HELLIAR:

It is a native tree!

PRIME MINISTER:

A native tree, well there you go, well I'm sorry I missed that, I'm very fond of Australian trees! But mostly I've focused on eucalypts for the most part.

PETER HELLIAR:

You might be waking up to that headline in the morning, Prime Minister!

Final question, now that knighthoods have gone, how will you recognise Mick Fanning punching a shark?!

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, just such admiration. I guess, well, a good Aussie gift, a slab of Cooper's would be appreciated.

PETER HELLIAR:

Lovely Cooper's reference, too, Christopher Pyne will be happy with that!

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Well we had better let you go. I think we saw Lucy in the background before, I think it might be dinner time, she is waiting for you to get to dinner, sip we'll let you go but thanks for your time tonight on Australia Day.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thanks very much and have great, happy Australia Day.

ENDS