Interview with David Koch and Natalie Barr, Sunrise

11 Nov 2021
Prime Minister

David Koch: The Prime Minister joins us now from Melbourne. Prime Minister, thanks for your time. Why do you think the Australian public has fallen out of love with you? 

Prime Minister: Well, what matters now is the economic recovery out of this pandemic. I've been down here in Melbourne this week, it's fantastic to see how the economy's opening up again. It's great to see people out and about here in Melbourne. Today's Remembrance Day, of course, a very important day. I'm here at the Doncaster RSL and people will be coming together and frankly giving thanks for the tremendous sacrifice of our Diggers over more than 100 years. And so we, you know, we think of them today. And my job is to focus on securing this economic recovery. That's what matters to Australians. We're seeing people getting back into jobs, we're seeing the recovery lift off, which is exactly what we want to see. And securing that recovery and the decisions we make to do that is really what the future is all about. 

Natalie Barr: Yeah, you're right. It is so important for this country, isn't it? But the polls, 54 to 46, that's a big gap. Is that why you've started this election campaign so early? 

Prime Minister: Well, I said before we went to Glasgow that it was really important that we go and explain the decisions that we're making. I mean, Australia has reduced our emissions by more than 20 per cent. There are only four countries in the G20 that have actually done better than Australia on that front. And when you look at emissions as a share of our size of our economy, only the United Kingdom has. We've got the highest rate of rooftop solar in the world. We put more renewable energy installed into the grid in one year than the Labor Party did in six. So Australia is getting this done, but we're going to keep getting it done, not by telling people what to do. We're going to do it by the “can do” spirit of Australians who just get on with it. Our entrepreneurs, our scientists, the people who risk their own money to get these things happening in Australia, which has already seen us achieve more than 20 per cent reductions in our emissions. So Australia's track record is strong, it's positive and we're getting on with it. And we're not going to do it by telling people what to do in their lives. I think Australians have had enough of governments telling them what to do in their lives, particularly over the course of this pandemic. And so it's now important that we get governments out of the way and let the Australian people and businesses get the economy roaring back to life.

Koch: Yeah, Prime Minister, you've launched this Low Emissions Technology Fund and a new electric vehicles policy. You've got a big focus on sort of reducing our emissions, encouraging electronic, electric vehicles. But Australians remember this back in your last election campaign. This is what you said. 

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Koch: It's a massive backflip, isn't it? What changed your view? It was almost a come to Jesus moment for you.

Prime Minister: Well, Bill Shorten and the Labor Party wanted to force people to do this. And I still don't want to do that. You don't get people to do something else by pushing up the price of what they're currently doing. And that's still what Labor wants to do. They want to put up your petrol prices. They want to increase your cost of living to force you to make other choices. We want to respect the choices people make. People want to buy electric cars. Fantastic. That's what our policy was at the last election. But the way you achieve that is ensuring you drive down the technologies. And that's our approach to getting emissions down. Not by forcing choices on people. It's about respecting the choices Australians want to make. We back them, they make good decisions. Remember, the Labor Party wanted to spend $6 billion paying people to get the vaccine that they'd already got. We trusted the Australian people and look at our vaccine rates now. On the pandemic, we're going to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, and that goes with having one of the lowest fatality rates for COVID and one of the strongest economies amongst the advanced world as we've come through COVID. So that's a pretty good trifecta of achievements that the Australian people had been able to put out there.

Barr: Prime Minister, the Labor Party weren't forcing people, were they? It wasn't a mandate at the last election that they were introducing. It was a non-binding target of 50 per cent. Wasn't that the same as yours? 

Prime Minister: Well, no. They were going to put up the price of fuel. Now that's not going to help anybody sitting out there commuting on their way to work today from the outer suburbs, whether it's here in Melbourne or up in Sydney or Brisbane or elsewhere. They were going to put up the cost of fuel to try and force people to switch over. That's not how we do things. We don't, we're not a government that goes around trying to tell people what to do. I think Australians have had a gutful of governments telling them what to do in their lives. That's not how you're going to spark up your economy, going around telling businesses what they have to do with more regulation. What they want is to be able to get people, staff back in their businesses. They're opening up again. We're seeing that happening. I mean, having come through this most difficult part of COVID, getting those vaccination rates to one of the highest in the world, now we've got to secure that economic recovery. Economic management has never been [more] important than right now. And the choices we make, the way we seek to run our economy and let the business sector get ahead now, that is going to be crucial to securing people's prosperity going forward. Now the Labor Party likes to tell people what to do. They love telling people what to do. That's not my approach. That's not my government's approach. 

Koch: OK. Just finally, New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, would be interested in your thoughts on his comments, has called for anti-vaxxers to be stripped of Medicare for ignoring the warning signs of the virus. Has he got a point?

Prime Minister: Well, again, again, I mean, we don't have a mandatory vaccine policy as a Federal Government. That's not something that we have done. We respect people's choices. Of course, we want people to get vaccinated and they have been getting vaccinated under these policies. I mean, New South Wales is now at 90 per cent double dose. Victoria will soon be there. We've got other states we've had less COVID now at 80 per cent up in Queensland when it comes to their first doses. We'll hit 90 per cent first dose this weekend for the whole country. And we got there because we've just trusted Australians. They know what they need to do. But, you know, we live in a country where we're not going to go around demonising those who want to make their own choices. I think that's very important. That's not how our government sees it. Of course, we want people to get vaccinated, but we're not going to take that heavy handed approach, which the Labor Party just always seems to like doing, whether it's Bob Carr or many of the others who we've seen come down with those types of views. It's not our approach. 

Koch: All right. Prime Minister, appreciate your time. Thank you.