Interview with Allison Langdon, Today Show

11 Nov 2021
Prime Minister

Allison Langdon: Prime Minister, good morning. 

Prime Minister: Good morning, Ally. 

Langdon: Well, why haven't you kissed a baby yet? Because then we'd know for sure. 

Prime Minister: Well, today, as you know, it's all about Remembrance Day. And I'm here at the Doncaster RSL, I'll be at the Shrine a little later and we're just giving thanks and paying our respects to all those who have sacrificed so much for Australians over so many generations. And whether it's most recently, on the way back from overseas recently I had the great privilege to call in in Dubai at AMAB and thank all of those who were so involved in evacuating 4,100 people fleeing to safety. And now so many of those are living in Australia now, becoming Australians. And so whether it's saying thank you to them or of course, those who went ashore at Gallipoli all those years ago, we honour them and their sacrifice. 

Langdon: Well said, it is an incredibly important day. Let's just talk election for a moment, because Albo wants December. Are you running a little scared of a Christmas election? 

Prime Minister: No, I always said it was next year. I've been saying that all year. Others have speculated, he thought it was going to be this year, I don't know why he would think that. I've been pretty clear. I said, you know, governments are elected to serve for those three years and that's always been my intention. We've got a lot of work to do. The job now, particularly, is focused on securing our economic recovery. We've come through COVID incredibly well compared to so many other countries around the world, which was reinforced to me when I was overseas. And we're now going to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. Victoria, here, will soon hit the 90 per cent mark. New South Wales is already there. The other states are really starting to catch up, which is great. And so with that, one of the lowest fatality rates in the world from COVID and one of the strongest economies coming through COVID as well, the figures we've seen just this morning on jobs data picking up, confidence coming back. And certainly here in Melbourne as I've been out and about catching up with people who are just so pleased to be out and about, whether it's at the pub last night or other places. Melbourne is really coming back to life, which is great. 

Langdon: All right. So look, it's next year. Whether it's March or May, the Coalition is behind in the polls. Do you have a trust problem? 

Prime Minister: Of course not, because at the moment and at all times, you know, elections are always closely fought in Australia. They always have been. And what this election is going to be about is who is best placed to secure this economic recovery and ensure that we can stand up for Australia's interests, particularly in a part of the world, which is becoming increasingly uncertain. You've got to have the strength to stand up for Australia and stand up for the policies that are needed to secure this recovery and keep Australians safe …

Langdon: But when a world leader and a former Prime Minister call you a liar, and whether that's true or not, you must be concerned that that will stick?

Prime Minister: Well, no. I see Anthony Albanese backed in the Chinese Government and a number of others in having a crack at me as well. I mean, that's up for him. What I'm always going to do is stand up for Australia's interests. And whether that's making sure we make the right decisions about what submarines Australia needs to defend our interests or what's the right set of climate policies to protect jobs in rural and regional areas and the suburbs of our major cities, I'm always going to be standing up for Australia. I'm not seeking to pander to others in other places and try and impress them. I have one audience and that's the Australian people. And I have to do the right thing for them. And that often means you've got to be strong on these things and you've got to be prepared to cop the flak and the sledges that they come from, whether it's from Anthony Albanese or elsewhere. 

Langdon: I'll tell you what, over the last couple of weeks you've had to have broad shoulders. There's been a few coming in from different directions.

Prime Minister: Well, it goes with the job, Ally. 

Langdon: You just mentioned climate policies there too, the $1 billion fund for low emission technologies that you announced yesterday. So we've got the likes of Matt Canavan, he's going to cross the floor on it. One Nation thinks it's a waste of money. You'll need Labor's support and Anthony Albanese told us this morning that you don't have it at this point. So is it dead before it even gets started? 

Prime Minister: Well, it's important that we do do it, and Labor should support it. They've already voted against, in the Parliament, us being able to invest in carbon capture and storage. Now this is an important technology. Not just me saying it, President Biden is saying it, Bill Gates is saying it. These are the technologies that actually will get you to net zero by 2050 without having to put taxes on, without telling people what to do. See, the Australian way that we're getting emissions down, and it's important to recognise Australia's emissions are down by more than 20 per cent. There are only four countries in the G20 that has a better record than that. And when you look at our emissions reduction as a share of our economy, only the UK has, we rank second in the G20. We've got the highest rate of rooftop solar in the world. And so Australians are getting on and doing it. But we're doing it, not by telling them what to do and taxes. That's the Labor way. The Liberal-Nationals way is to invest in this technology, so we'll be able to hit those marks and let the entrepreneurs, the risk takers, the scientists, the manufacturers, they're the ones who are going to make this work. Not governments getting together and telling everybody what to do. That's Labor's approach. 

Langdon: It's very strange hearing a Coalition leader put climate change front and centre of an election. Electric cars, do you think we'll see any more of Bill Shorten's policies in the lead up to the election? 

Prime Minister: Well, it all depends if he tries and rolls Anthony Albanese, I suppose.

Langdon: Nice come back. 

Prime Minister: But you know, who knows what their policies are. Because, you know, it's after COP26 now. We still don't know what their 2030 target is. We still have no idea how they think they're going to get to net zero by 2050. They're always happy to be rubbishing our plans, but our plans are about backing Australians in the decisions they want to make, not telling them what to do. So if he doesn't like our plans, he must be wanting to tell people what to do and put taxes on them. Because that's what we've seen before. I mean, their electric vehicles policy was about pushing up the price of petrol to force people to change. That's not our view. I'm not going to go and send lots of taxpayers money to multinational car companies to bolster their profits so they can try and sell cars in Australia. 

Langdon: So when are we going to see your modelling? When are we going to see that, the modelling? 

Prime Minister: Well, before we get back to Parliament. 

Langdon: So will we potentially see that this week? 

Prime Minister: You’ll see it soon.

Langdon: All right. Hey, I want to talk to you, too, about Paul Keating. It was an extraordinary defence of China yesterday saying it's not a threat. Is he out of line? 

Prime Minister: Well, I don't think he's out of line with a lot of people in the Labor Party, he's certainly out of line with what our Government's policy is, and we certainly don't share that view. As people know, we've taken a very strong position here in the Indo-Pacific and we've taken a very strong stance standing up for Australia's interests. And we've worked closely with our allies and our partners right across the region, not just the United States, but of course, Japan and India and the many nations of ASEAN who we work closely with, to make sure that we aren't pushed around in this part of the world. But the views that Paul Keating has expressed is in line with many, I think, in the Labor Party. And that's why, you know, I said at the start, how we secure Australia's interests in our part of the world, you've got to be strong. You've got to be able to stand up for it. You've got to be able to see things clearly. And we are. That's why we're investing more than the nation has invested in our defence at any time since the Second World War. And so that is why, you know, our Government is focused on this challenge. And I think Australians get it. We want to have a positive relationship with countries like China and trade with them. But at the same time, we're not going to get pushed around. 

Langdon: What did you think about that line, about the submarines being toothpicks? It was quite odd yesterday. 

Prime Minister: Oh look, again, the Labor Party walks both sides of the street on these issues, and that's why you really can't trust them when it comes to these national security issues. I mean, Anthony Albanese was joining with the Chinese Government and others from overseas having an attack on me the other day. So when it comes to these issues, you need someone who actually is prepared to stand up for what Australia wants, stands up for the decisions that we're taking. And sure, you get a bit of flak here and there, but you've got to be prepared to cop that to do what's right for Australia. With the Labor Party, on these issues, people know they're just not solid. 

Langdon: So just give us an idea then. Campaigning, are we looking at four months here or are we potentially looking at six months? 

Prime Minister: Well, the election is due, of course, in May of next year. That's when it has to be held by. And I've always been pretty open about this as you probably know, Ally. People have been asking me about it for ages and they were saying it was going to be this year. I said, no, it's not. It's going to be in 2022. 

Langdon: So May 2022, is that right? 

Prime Minister: It's due, it's due in May of next year. So the election will be next year. And I've always been very clear about that. Others have speculated, I don't know why they've done that. I've been pretty upfront about it, actually. 

Langdon: I think we just all want to know, you know. I mean, I know we haven't seen you kissing babies yet, but we did see you pouring beers. 

Karl Stefanovic: There we are. 

Prime Minister: Yeah, that was fun. 

Langdon: That's alright, so if this job doesn't work out for you, there you go. I mean, you know, a bartender.

Prime Minister: I can get down to Northies.

Langdon: Well pubs are crying out for workers, so there you go. 

Prime Minister: They certainly are. 

Langdon: Prime Minister, always nice to talk to you. 

Prime Minister: You too, Ally, take care.