ALAN JONES: The Prime Minister is on the line, good morning.
PRIME MINISTER: G’day Alan. Yeah it was a great afternoon. Josh Philippe, 57 runs off 53 balls. He had a great innings.
JONES: Do you know a bit more about cricket than you know about sheep?
PRIME MINISTER: Maybe just a bit. But I’ll tell you what, George Bailey is a great guy. He is a terrific bloke, he knocked up his 50 on the last ball with a boundary which took the game. It’s the first win the PM’s XI has had in five years.
JONES: Well if your predecessor could pick up the phone and bully Cricket Australia as he did the ABC and others, to have these people suspended for twelve months when in fact the International Cricket Council only suspended the Captain for one test, fined Cameron Bancroft and didn’t suspend David Warner at all, I wonder if you could pick up the phone and suggest to Cricket Australia that the game is up, time to let them back into the game?
PRIME MINISTER: Well they’ve got a big job, Cricket Australia, to restore trust. But I mean, Steve Smith and Dave Warner will be playing down at Coogee Oval I think, this weekend.
JONES: But people want them playing for Australia, don’t they?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I’m looking forward to that happening.
JONES: Well pick up the phone and say: “Listen, time to put, time to abandon this ridiculous punishment.”
PRIME MINISTER: Look, I’ll let Cricket Australia run their own show. But what I think Steve and Dave and the others affected I think Australians will want to see them back there playing. But yesterday the PM’s XI did a great job, a great team of youngsters and it shows the real depth and strength of Australian cricket.
JONES: Now look, to the serious stuff. I’m not going to dwell on the polls but can I just ask you, what you are going to do - because people are very concerned about this - to bring back the Liberal Party members, Let’s face it, it was not so long ago that the Liberal Party won a landslide election, in a massive vote. To bring them back all back into the tent? Because you’re not just captain of the team, you’re the coach of the team. Isn’t it important that you fight on a narrow rather than a broad front? There’s a story there to sell; of low unemployment, significant tax return, you’ve talked about work ahead of welfare, border security. The magazine The Economist said this week: “Australia boasts the world’s most successful economy.” Is everyone singing off that sheet of music and prosecuting that case?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah in my team in the Parliament they are. And it’s important that we do just that and also for members right across the country. I’ve been tremendously encouraged over the last nine weeks with members coming back to the Party. We’re seeing that particularly up in Queensland. We’re seeing it right around the country and I appreciate that. Because what I’ve been saying to the Party, from that very first moment when I said: “We’ve got to go back to those beliefs, those values upon which our Party was based”.
One of the key differences between us and Bill Shorten and the Labor Party is, we don’t think you have to bring people down to raise others up. We think if you give people a go, they’ll take that, they’ll get on with their lives, they’ll run successful businesses, they’ll employ young people, they’ll work in their community, they’ll raise their families, they’ll make the choices that make our country stronger. That’s why the Liberal Party was formed. And as I refresh and get us back to those values, I’m finding the Party membership responding very strongly.
JONES: Okay. You’re going to announce today a $500 million nine-year expansion of the Australia War Memorial. He is an outstanding Australian, Brendan Nelson. I have to say, he has given you and Mathias Cormann a big wrap. He said: “Scott Morrison, Mathias Cormann have been a rock on this. Bill Shorten has been supportive.” He’s been struggling for this for some time and no Government has listened. You have. Briefly, what is it about?
PRIME MINISTER: What we’re doing is we’re spending just under $498 million and that’s to ensure that the War Memorial - which has always been a memorial that recognises and memorialises service of all Australians in all conflicts - what this will enable us to do is ensure that the more recent modern conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, in peacekeeping missions, in the Solomons and recognising what happened in East Timor - this means that all of these stories can be told.
Now it’s a shame that we have to actually expand the Memorial because of all of these things we have had to do serving the country over many years now. But that’s what the Memorial was always designed to. It opened in 1941 and it was originally intended just to be a memorial to the Great War. But even in 1941 when, you know, the darkest days of the war were still ahead of us in the Second World War, they then understood that this was going to be a memorial for where Australians served forever.
We’re honouring that pledge and that promise that was made at the time of the opening and we’ll be expanding that. But you’re right, this has been going for several years. What Mathias and I and the whole Government was keen to do, is we also had to ensure we were doing the living memorial to our veterans now.
PRIME MINISTER: And over the last few Budgets we’ve been investing particularly in veterans’ services. We’ve got the call, the waiting times for processing veterans’ applications on their claims down from 120 days down to just 33 days. We want to take it down further. But we’ve been investing in the services for veterans first in our Budgets and now we’re in a position because of the strength of the economy and the Budget coming back into balance, that we can invest this money to ensure our War Memorial honours all of those who have been serving in these conflicts.
JONES: Yes, yes indeed, that is most laudable. I mean, you had members of your frontbench last week saying and I quote Darren Chester who said: “I have said before in this place and in many ways, the home front has been as important as the frontline throughout our history in caring for our Defence Force personnel.” Can you then place yourself in the boots of Ben Roberts-Smith, who apparently is a victim of Defence leaks to the media and a scarifying attack which has ended up in the courts over a Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith? How does that fit with caring for our Defence Force personnel?
PRIME MINISTER: Well those who are responsible for that, I mean they’re just not showing any of the values that Ben Roberts-Smith -
JONES: Well my understanding is the leaking has occurred from within the Defence Department.
PRIME MINISTER: Well you know Canberra. You know the Canberra bubble too Alan. Those things deeply disappoint me when these things happen. I mean, there are processes for dealing with serious issues but they’re not processes that should be run in newspapers. Everyone should be treated with respect, particularly those that have served our country so valiantly.
JONES: Absolutely, I agree with you.
PRIME MINISTER: And you would have noticed on the weekend that we announced a new programme that is getting a tremendous response from businesses around the country where we’ll put this veterans’ card in place. That means that businesses all around the country can be offering discounts and services and offers to our veterans. That means we can honour our veterans every single day and the response from veterans’ groups and veterans has been fantastic. I had a young veteran come up to me last night at the cricket and he just said: “Thanks.” And I said: “Well mate, thanks to you.”
JONES: Absolutely. Just for the benefit of our listeners, those changes to the War Memorial will increase the exhibition space by over 80 per cent and Brendan Nelson talked about it as being part of a ‘therapeutic milieu’. That is for young men and women who have served in the last twenty years to be able to see their stories proudly told in the national Memorial.
Prime Minister can I remind you though, this probably is a bit of a nightmare that your predecessor, in Indonesia said: “The conclusion that I took and my government took after the very careful and considered advice is that a policy that is well over 40 years old or 50 years old, should remain exactly the same as it is”. This is in relation to where the capital, where the embassy in Israel should be, Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. He said the President expressed to me as he has done to Mr Morrison, the very serious concern held in Indonesia about the prospect of the Australian embassy in Israel being moved. There is no question were that move to occur that it would be met with a very negative reaction in Indonesia.” Then we got the lecture on Indonesia, we’ve got to be clear-eyed, we’ve got to take account of Australia’s national interest.
As a person that is allegedly an emissary or was, of the Government, have you pulled Mr Turnbull in and indicated that you don’t support his repetition of the pronoun “I” and he was there to represent the views of Government? The views he represented were in contradistinction to your own views as Prime Minister of Australia.
PRIME MINISTER: Well I got the report back from his visit, he was there to actually attend an oceans conference, the issues of trade and other things of course were not really part of the brief. But that said, look Alan, my view, our Government’s view about these issues are clear. They’re our view that’s what we’re pursuing and I’m always going to act with respect towards previous prime ministers, regardless of who they are. But I do think the exemplar of previous prime ministers, about how they go about things post, on our side politics is obviously John Howard and on the Labor Party side is Julia Gillard. Now I don’t think there’s a lot of profit in me continuing to go over these issues. All I know –
JONES: Will there be more missions for this man to be able to go to and sprout his own discredited views?
PRIME MINISTER: No.
JONES: Right, are you aware of the “like” that he entered on the Twitter account goes to votes because a tweet was put up which was laughing at the fact that in the latest opinion poll you had fallen, your ratings had fallen and your predecessor “liked” that?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah I’m aware of it but I just brush it off Alan.
JONES: Good on you. Now can we just go to this business about Nauru. Can you confirm what is missed, the argument that Immigration officials are secretly shifting asylum seeker families from Nauru to Adelaide as part of an operation to remove children? If so what is wrong with the facilities in which children live on Nauru including the children on Nauruans?
PRIME MINISTER: Well you make a good point about the children on Nauruans. I mean one of the things that I’ve expressed a fair bit of concern about in the last week or so is, I think people need to be very respectful of our neighbours in Nauru. Because it’s where their children live, this is where their –
PRIME MINISTER: This is where they go to school, this is where they have businesses, this is where they have their lives. I think the denigration on Nauru and Nauruans I think is very un-Australian and I think it’s very disrespectful not just to Nauruans but to our neighbours more generally. I’d make that point first. Secondly, there are more medical professionals on Nauru, than there are children.
JONES: Yeah, 65.
PRIME MINISTER: Now, children have been transferred off Nauru, that’s been happening for some time. I haven’t been showboating about it, I haven’t been drawing attention to it. It’s been done in accordance with our policies, our existing policies and I obviously don’t go into the operational arrangements of where they –
JONES: I’m sorry to interrupt you, can I just say, on your first comment –
PRIME MINISTER: I’ll just finish - that arrangement has been an important part of what we’ve been able to achieve.
JONES: Yep, sorry to interrupt you. Just in relation to your first comment though, this is almost insulting to Nauruans whose children live in the same circumstances as the children of refugees. Now Tony Abbott has been there, Peta Credlin has been there. They said: “This is not a hellhole, they’re well looked after.” He said: “I’ve been there.”
PRIME MINISTER: I’ve been there probably more than any of us.
JONES: There you are. Well, you’ve seen this. Now 65 health professionals. What is the message therefore and the urgency, of saying, Kerryn Phelps in Wentworth: “We must get these people off Nauru”? What is the danger to the children? Can someone tell me, I don’t understand?
PRIME MINISTER: Well people on Nauru are also not living in detention.
PRIME MINISTER: They haven’t been in detention for years. I mean our Government is the government that got people out of detention.
PRIME MINISTER: Not sending children to Nauru. I mean you don’t get children off Nauru by putting more on by having weak border protection policies. This is why the Labor Party are so dangerous on this and we’ve got to focus on them. I mean I have no doubt that if Bill Shorten were sitting around the National Security Committee with Tanya Plibersek, if they had to implement again, because of the boats starting again under a Labor government, what I with Tony Abbott and others had to do five years ago – they wouldn’t be able to do it. They’d say; “Oh well, we’ve changed our policy, we did it down at the conference.” Well, the floor of the Labor Party conference is not the meeting room of the National Security Committee. It’s a very different thing and as someone who has been there, done it, had to make the calls, I know they’re not up to it.
Now on Nauru we provide the services, we provide the facilities. It is our policy that if any vessel were able to get to Australia, they would go to Nauru.
JONES: Okay, you’ve just –
PRIME MINISTER: Offshore processing, temporary protection visas, turning boats back, that’s our policy.
JONES: Well people are tired of listening to this stuff, I’ve got to tell you. You know, it’s an insult to Nauruans.
PRIME MINISTER: Yes.
JONES: An insult to Nauruans, they’re living with their families and our refugee children have the same access to facilities as do the children of Nauruans.
As always, look, in the couple of minutes that are left, can I just ask you something because you mentioned the ALP policy. Now this social platform, the general Labor Party platform is out. They’re going to have, in that they mention “transgender” 36 times, “bisexual” 33 times, there are all sorts of references to all of those issues. However amongst the 64 mentions of “sexual orientation” 59 of “intersex” and so on, policies for all of this, they go on to have a new Commissioner for Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status Issues. Does this stuff worry you?
PRIME MINISTER: Well it does at a number of levels. But the main one is, why aren’t they talking about small business? And family businesses? Why aren’t they talking about getting taxes down and electricity prices down? Why aren’t they talking about those issues? I mean they’re obsessed with this stuff I honestly don’t understand.
JONES: Remove gender from birth certificates?
PRIME MINISTER: I mean that was yesterday, that’s what they’re going to debate at the Labor Party national conference apparently. That is “the” issue. Not what people are having to pay for electricity or -
JONES: Right so let’s get down to nitty gritty. So, Israel Folau decides today that he identifies as a woman, that he feel like a woman. So under the Labor Party policy, he should be allowed to play women’s sport and he should not have to participate in any kind of test as to whether or not he’s a woman.
PRIME MINISTER: It’s ridiculous, just simply ridiculous.
JONES: Well who is prosecuting that? To tell the electorate that it is ridiculous?
PRIME MINISTER: Well me, I did yesterday as did a number of my colleagues who were up saying exactly this. And at two levels; a) it’s ridiculous, but b) that just shows a betrayal of the objectives and the priorities of the Labor Party. I mean you see, the Labor Party, that’s what they’ll be talking about –
JONES: Okay, we’ve got to go. I’ll give you a warning, I want to talk to you next time, I want to ask you why we’ve got, we’re the world’s biggest coal exporter but haven’t built a coal-fired power station for 11 years. That’s for another day.
PRIME MINISTER: Sure.
JONES: Thank you for your time.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks Alan and congratulations to the PM’s XI. Great.