TROY ELLIS, HOST: Marty, the Prime Minister is with us in the studio.
MARTY SHEARGOLD, HOST: Welcome, Prime Minister.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Great to be here. Good to be in Melbourne.
SHEARGOLD: It's the first time I've met you. You seem fit and well and happy and together, which I'm not surprised by, I mean you are the Prime Minister after all.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I am happy in nature. I think that it's a good way to start the day.
SHEARGOLD: It is. It's a better way to start the day than the alternative. You're just recently back from the Coronation, how was it?
PRIME MINISTER: It was terrific.
SHEARGOLD: Not slow and long?
PRIME MINISTER: No, it was such a moment in history. And you had that sense that you were a part of history. And there was amazing people watching, of course, going on…
SHEARGOLD: Who were you sitting next to? Because I saw Julie Bishop was next to Lionel Richie. Did you get that lucky?
PRIME MINISTER: No, we were with the realm, there are 15 realm countries, that is, countries that have the King as our head of state.
SHEARGOLD: I saw them walk in.
PRIME MINISTER: And so I was between, all week, we were between Antigua and Bahamas because they sit you alphabetically.
SHEARGOLD: Did they offer you any rum or ganja as they were sort of sitting next to you?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, they did offer for me to come to the next Windies tour in Antigua, they were like ‘you’ve got to come.’
SHEARGOLD: Oh that’s a very good offer.
PRIME MINISTER: So I got to know more about Antigua than I thought I needed to know, to be frank. But that's okay, they were nice people. And we were just behind the Royal Family, and across from all of the other royals. So we got to see, of course, our own Princess Mary who was very close, from Denmark of course.
SHEARGOLD: Where do you stand on the republic?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'm a republican. But I think that as Prime Minister, you've got to respect the institutions which are there. We were essentially having a coronation for our head of state in Australia, so it was important that we were there. And I got to choose a group of Australians, so Sam Kerr, who scored the winning goal in the FA Cup again last night, she's relentless. She was the flagbearer, and I thought she was a really good choice. And we had a whole group of Aussies who are based in London, like Adam Hills and Nick Cave.
SHEARGOLD: Oh they were all around you, too?
PRIME MINISTER: They weren't seated with us because they're not prime ministers of the realm.
SHEARGOLD: No, they’re not. Well observed.
PRIME MINISTER: Nick Cave would make an interesting Prime Minister.
SHEARGOLD: I reckon, little darker perhaps.
PRIME MINISTER: The music was good.
SHEARGOLD: The music was good?
PRIME MINISTER: The music was fantastic. There's something about a big cathedral.
SHEARGOLD: Had you been in that cathedral previously?
PRIME MINISTER: Only for the Queen's passing.
SHEARGOLD: Gee, you’ve been back and forward a bit.
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah.
SHEARGOLD: For some reason that's been part of the opposition's knock on you is that you've been overseas a lot. But I don’t remember, ScoMo…
PRIME MINISTER: Pretty ridiculous, Australia has to be represented at these things.
SHEARGOLD: Absolutely. And ScoMo seemed reluctant to leave the Shire a lot of the time.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'd be happy, quite frankly, to never get on a plane for the rest of my life, but it's part of the job. So this Friday, I'll be heading to Hiroshima in Japan for the G7 meeting, which is the world's seven biggest economies. And this week, I'm here in Melbourne, yesterday I was also in Adelaide, I'll be in Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Nhulunbuy up in Arnhem Land, and Darwin before I go to Japan on Friday, so it's a l big country.
SHERATGOLD: But it's also, it’s a huge job, and that's an understatement obviously. But then having a personal life around that must be hugely challenging for you as well, particularly in a new relationship.
PRIME MINISTER: It is but -
SHEARGOLD: How are you making time for that? Is that structured? Is it like, ‘Friday fortnights, 7pm, I’ve booked a room at the Darling?’
PRIME MINISTER: It's a bit like that. But the only time we can get by ourselves, of course, is at one of the PM’s residences at The Lodge or at Kirribilli. So my puppy is always glad to see me when I come home, I’ve got to say that.
SHEARGOLD: I wasn't sure what you were talking about, could have gone either way for me then. But you are very happy to stay at The Lodge, unlike a previous Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, it’s a great residence, and it's more private than the Sydney residence.
SHEARGOLD: There’s a big wall around it.
PRIME MINISTER: But my electorate’s in Sydney so I, of course, do spend some time there as well. But I base myself, essentially, at The Lodge.
SHEARGOLD: First divorcee to become Prime Minister. It was a very public divorce for you as well, wasn't it? It must have been an incredibly challenging time for you and your ex-partner, personally.
PRIME MINISTER: It was, but you live in the public eye. So it was very difficult for me personally. My wife Carmel made a decision that she wanted to move on with her life, it came as a surprise to me, I've spoken about that before. But it was something that -
SHEARGOLD: Totally out of the blue?
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, it was New Year’s Day. So clearly, it was a decision that had been made. Our son had reached 18, had graduated from school, and so she made that decision which I found difficult, but just had to accept that she, of course, had a right to do that. So I didn't quite understand it, so I had to accept it rather than understand it.
SHEARGOLD: When did you feel like you were coming good after that?
PRIME MINISTER: I went away in March, so it was January 1, I went away to London to see friends, and to Lisbon, I had two weeks to clear the air, determine what I wanted to do with my life, whether I was going to run again in the election in May.
SHEARGOLD: Tinder profile?
PRIME MINISTER: No, I never did that.
SHEARGOLD: Oh, really?
PRIME MINISTER: In spite of some of the silly stuff that's been written, of course, I didn't.
LOREN BARRY, HOST: It’s fine if you did.
PRIME MINISTER: It would be fine except you'd all know about it. So yeah, I just came to terms with it.
SHEARGOLD: And then of course, you met Jodie in Melbourne, sort of twelve, fourteen months later.
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, I met Jodie here in in Melbourne.
SHEARGOLD: I bet you couldn't believe your luck.
PRIME MINISTER: I couldn't. I’ve been very lucky to find someone to spend time with and to have a terrific relationship with.
SHEARGOLD: Is it awkward finding language to use around that, as a Prime Minister, to be having emotions attached to that new relationship, and find language that we're all going to feel okay with? Because men still find it difficult to say ‘I'm in love with my partner and we're having a loving time.’
PRIME MINISTER: Indeed. Thank you for that, Marty. But no, it's great. And it has been really important. I have a very complex job that involves a lot of pressure and having someone to spend your life with, your personal life with, along with my son, is fantastic.
SHEARGOLD: That is lovely. Then, of course, big life change for you when you had a car accident in Marrickville with a 17 year old kid who ended up getting pinged for negligent driving. So he's T-boned you.
PRIME MINISTER: It was head on. He just went on the wrong side of the road. And so he hit the front corner of my car, which was a complete write-off.
SHEARGOLD: And could have been a very different outcome for you if that had been a foot the other way.
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, absolutely. I was in the car driving, I was very close to my home in Marrickville, going up Hill Street it's called, so there's a hill funnily enough. And I was going quite slowly, thank goodness, and he wasn't, clearly, he was just not paying attention and just came across, bang. And I thought as the car was coming towards me, I thought ‘this is it’ -
SHEARGOLD: I’m in trouble
PRIME MINISTER: This is how it ends. It was not really scary. It was just matter of fact.
SHEARGOLD: An observation, I am in trouble.
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah. And then the bang, and then realising, okay, I'm still here, and making sure that you know, I wasn't you know, I hadn't lost anything. But yeah, I was stuck in the car for a while.
SHEARGOLD: Well it gave you a wake up didn’t it?
PRIME MINISTER: Certainly did.
SHEARGOLD: Because you then went on and lost a lot of weight, started, I'm assuming, to cut back on a bit of alcohol, not that there's any suggestion that was ever an issue, but you started to look after yourself, and here you are looking really fit and well.
PRIME MINISTER: I got fit, I dropped almost 20 kilos.
PRIME MINISTER: And just lived a lot more healthier lifestyle. Because one of the things that, I'm one of those blokes who are hopeless at going to the doctor, like many of us are. And so, when you get everyone from an orthopaedic surgeon, and a cardiologist, and a haematologist – I didn't even know what that was before. They had all these people looking at me to check that everything was all okay and I thought, ‘oh well, I’m doing okay, but I can't take it for granted’. So it really provided that impetus to get fitter and to make sure I looked after myself.
SHEARGOLD: Well, you've ticked you've ticked every box on the way through that a Labor Prime Minister can tick, short of ACTU. I mean, you've done everything else. When you look back over your career, getting to where you've gotten, what are you most proud of?
PRIME MINISTER: I think my resilience, that I’ve hung in there, I've stayed true to my values, and I think I've made a difference.
SHEARGOLD: And you've shifted over time too, because in the early days you were probably considered further to the left than you are now. So some of your ideology must have changed along the way?
PRIME MINISTER: Of course, if you’re not growing as a person, if you're not learning, if you're not prepared to change some views, then that's called arrogance, I think, if you think you know everything when you're young. I learn something new every day, still, in this job. And my mentor was a fellow called Tom Uren who was a magnificent guy, he was a minister in the Whitlam and Hawke governments.
SHEARGOLD: Canberra legend.
PRIME MINISTER: Former prisoner of war of the Japanese, he lived an extraordinarily difficult life. But he used to say me, ‘son, you've got to grow every day, you’ve got to learn something new every day, and you’ve got to grow as a person every day’. And that's the philosophy that I have is to try and learn something new every day and to try and grow as a person.
SHEARGOLD: Are you worried about the Voice to Parliament? Are you worried about the referendum? Are you worried about, if that doesn't get up how that looks and is perceived?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm worried about the impact on Indigenous people if it doesn't get up. I'm worried about the way that Australia will be perceived. This as a pretty gracious and generous request. It's simply asking to be recognised, that our history didn't begin in 1788. We should be proud that our history includes sharing this continent with the world's oldest continuous culture, and that should be a source of pride. And secondly, we should just listen to people, ask them if we're going to have an impact on them, that's just really common courtesy. And importantly, you get better results when you involve people in things that impact them. If people were going to change around this studio here, they probably would ask you, what's your view?
SHEARGOLD: Contractually they have to ask us, it’s part of the deal. The criticism of you and the Government was that you were never clear from the outset on what the Voice actually looked like and meant for people in the suburbs. And then that clarity may have come too late, is that a regret?
PRIME MINISTER: No, the referendum won't be held for many months. And so for a whole lot of your listeners, they will focus, from now, going forward, we haven't passed the legislation yet. It'll be sometime between October and December. And the truth is that overwhelmingly, it won't have an impact on most people's lives. It's not about everyone, because it won't impact, there's no right of veto, none of that – that's all just nonsense sort of scare campaigns. But it just might make the lives of the most disadvantaged group in Australia better. We still have a 10-year expectancy gap in life. We have the highest incarceration rates, we have gaps in health, housing, and education outcomes, and we need to do better. And we've tried telling people what's good for them in Canberra. How about we give listening a go, and that's really what this is about.
SHEARGOLD: I'm aware that you’re pushed for time. What are you in town for?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm in town to look at bulk-billing, I'll be in Prahran in a little while this morning.
SHEARGOLD: I was going to do that today. Snap, you and I doing the same thing around bulk-billing.
PRIME MINISTER: To talk about, we're tripling the incentive, so we're assisting bulk-billing. And yesterday, I was in a child care centre up at Diamond Valley. Last night, I gathered with some of the faithful in the Brighton Hotel, which was a good gathering. I don't think many Labor Prime Ministers have been to the Brighton Hotel.
SHEARGOLD: I wouldn’t have thought so, no. Well it's been really lovely meeting you and having a chat. Enjoy our beautiful city, I know you've got other things that you need to get to now, so thank you for your time, Prime Minister, it's been lovely having you here.
PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much Marty and team, it’s been great to be here.