Television Interview - ABC News Breakfast

06 Jul 2022
Prime Minister
Prime Minister’s visit to flood affected regions, disaster support payments for those impacted by the floods, ending the politics of division and working together with states in the national interest, tackling climate change, repairing Australia’s engagem

MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: The Prime Minister joins us now. Mr Albanese, good morning.

PRIME MINISTER ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning Michael, thanks for having me on the program.

ROWLAND: I warn you, you're about to see some pretty confronting images when you come to the flood zone. What are you planning to do alongside the New South Wales Premier, Dominic Perrottet, when you do arrive?

PRIME MINISTER: Well I'll be visiting with the Premier this morning, as well as with his Minister and my Minister, Murray Watt, to see firsthand the impact that these floods are having on people not just of course there, but around the Windsor Hawkesbury area, but in the Illawarra and the Hunter as well. I can say that the Australian Government has made a decision already that the disaster recovery payment will be available from tomorrow. That will be $1,000 for every eligible adult who has been impacted here, $400 for every child will be available across the 23 local government areas that have been impacted so far.

ROWLAND: OK, that will be welcome news for flood-affected residents. Just clarifying, that is separate to the initial assistance flagged by the Federal and New South Wales Governments a couple of days ago?

PRIME MINISTER: That's separate. That is on top of that, the Cabinet made that decision yesterday based upon the advice. We know this is having a real impact on people and we want to make sure the supports are available as soon as possible. That's why we've been very quick to act in partnership with the New South Wales Government and it is pleasing that we've been able to work together so strongly. We know that these circumstances have impacted people there in the area where you are for the fourth time in just 18 months, and we know that those communities were also impacted by bushfires. So my heart goes out to people who have been impacted there. And we'll be seeing it firsthand with the Premier this morning.

ROWLAND: OK, what Australian Defence Force equipment and personnel has been offered? Have you decided to increase that to people in the flood zones?

PRIME MINISTER: It has been increased. A third helicopter has been made available, that will be undertaking work this evening. That's one that works at night-time and we have the offer of 250 ADF personnel, 100 are already on the ground. 100 are ready to act at any time when it is needed. And 50 personnel have in addition been allocated to help with clean-up activities once they occur. Let's just hope that that can occur as soon as possible. We know that there's still warnings out there and I encourage people to follow the advice of the authorities. I'm here at the headquarters here in Homebush and I'll be receiving an up-to-date briefing very soon after we finish this interview, with Premier Perrottet, this morning.

ROWLAND: You mentioned you're working quite closely with Dominic Perrottet. He has been very complimentary of you and your government and equally you and your ministers have been complimentary of him and his government. It hasn't always been the case as we know between federal and various state governments. Do hope this will be the model moving forward in terms of the Commonwealth working with states to help disaster victims?

PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely, Michael. People have conflict fatigue and they don't want to see governments arguing. They don't want to see governments acting with the sort of childish comments we've seen from some of my federal counterparts in the last day, criticising for example me for not making a phone call while I was in the Ukraine, and on radio silence without any electronic equipment, where I travelled from Saturday. Premier Perrottet has been extremely responsible in the way that he has acted. I'm very pleased that my government through Richard Marles, the Acting Prime Minister, and Murray Watt, the Minister, have worked closely in partnership. That's what people want. People want governments to work together in the interests of the population, not to engage in politics.

ROWLAND: Prime Minister, what advice are you getting from the experts about the impact of climate change and sadly making these sort of extreme weather events, be they floods or bushfires, much more common in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, sadly the science was telling us and it's been warning for a long period of time now, whether it be the IPCC at international level, or our local scientists and climate experts, that these extreme weather events would happen more often and be more intense. We know that Australia has always suffered from natural events, be they floods or bushfires, so we can't say that every single event is because of climate change. What we can say though is that the events are occurring more frequently and with greater intensity. And that areas for example during the bushfires that had never been the subject of fire before, tropical areas, were impacted there. And the flooding has occurred in the Hawkesbury for example, four times in the last 18 months. People who have lived in those communities for a long period of time know that the flooding events have occurred more regularly and with more intensity. And we need to act on climate change, we've been saying that for a long period of time. We need to make sure as well that we're a part of global action because one thing that is true is Australia acting alone won't be enough. But we need to show leadership and encourage that action. And that is one of the reasons why my Government is taking climate change seriously and engaging with the world to ensure that that global action steps up.

ROWLAND: Mr Albanese, I'll let you get to that briefing. Really appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us this morning.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much, Michael.

ROWLAND: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, as he mentioned he alongside New South Wales Premier Perrottet will be visiting Windsor and other flood affected areas over the course of today.