PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Prime Minister, welcome to Britain.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Good to be with you and great to be in London.
MORGAN: I have a strict rule. I have to confess, normally I don't fraternise with any Australians in the run up to an Ashes series. But I have made an exception for you.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's going to be a cracker of a series. And hopefully, we'll go well.
MORGAN: A legendary Australian cricketer Keith Miller, who flew with your Air Force in World War Two, was once asked about pressure, and he said pressure is having a Messerschmitt up your bleep. You've been Prime Minister not even a year. How's it going? The reality is that when I last saw you, you were contesting the election. And you've been a career politician. This moment, this period. What's it been like for you?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm enjoying it. It's an incaredible privilege and an honour to be the Prime Minister of a country that I love dearly, and one that I think is the greatest country on Earth, with respect to the UK, but I think can be even greater in the future. And it's an exciting time for us.
MORGAN: You’re here for our Coronation of King Charles the Third, how do you feel about that? You're a lifelong Republican. What are you doing here, Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think you can be a lifelong Republican, which I am, and still respect our institutions. And certainly I have a great deal of respect for King Charles. I am having an audience with him this afternoon, and I'm very much looking forward to that.
MORGAN: Me in the morning, the King in the afternoon. I like the way your schedule is going, Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: I'm very much looking forward to it. I had terrific meeting with him at the Palace when I was here for his mother's funeral. That was a real moment of reflection. That was an extraordinary time. And it's a great honour to be here representing Australia. All Australians wish King Charles well, regardless of the different views that people have about our constitutional arrangements.
MORGAN: The Queen, you were here for her funeral, as you said and you actually went to her lying in state at Westminster Hall? What was that experience like?
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, it was very moving. Queen Elizabeth was the only Head of State in my lifetime up to that point. And she was a constant in our lives, a reassuring presence. So her passing was something that was a very significant event. But she also, I think, was very loved and respected by all. To lead your nation and the Commonwealth for seven decades is extraordinary. We won't see that, certainly you and I, won't see that again. And the queues, we went running one morning along the Thames and the queues of people, including Australians, who had travelled to London in order to queue for 36 hours to pay their respects to Her Majesty lying in state was a remarkable time,
MORGAN: When you were standing there with your partner, and you were paying your own personal respects, did you feel emotional in that moment, notwithstanding your long-held position about the monarchy?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's a moment in history. I had the great honour, I met Queen Elizabeth at the Palace during the first G20 that was held during the Global Financial Crisis. And her leadership and her capacity, her strength was quite remarkable. Her passing was a very significant moment in the world's history. And unlike even previous monarchs, of course, she came to that position at such a young age. And during the era, the first era of television, modern communications, the pressure that she was under during this seven decades grew, and she carried herself with such dignity and grace during that entire period.
MORGAN: Your birth was actually delayed because of the Queen.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, kind of true. My mother was on her way to the hospital in 1963. And the Queen was visiting Australia, and my mother insisted on going through the streets and seeing the banners and the commemorations for her visit on the way to give birth to me. So that was my mum. That is an example, my mother voted Yes on the Republic, but she had enormous respect for Her Majesty the Queen.
MORGAN: This question of what happens to Australia, whether it becomes a Republic, is obviously not going to go away. Many people think it's inevitable. Hugh Jackman was recently quoted, one of the national heroes, saying it's inevitable. You voted in the 1999 Referendum in favour of a Republic and said it's inevitable, everybody accepts that. But that referendum came back 55 per cent against, 45 per cent saying Yes to a Republic. My first question, are you going to have another referendum while you are Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: My sole priority that I put forward for constitutional change is to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our Constitution, and to listen to them through what's called a Voice, essentially that they be consulted on matters that affect them. And that's a referendum that we will hold between October and December. That's my timetable. I'm not looking beyond that. I think that Australia should have an Australian as our head of state, I don't shy away from that. I haven't changed my views. But my priority is Constitutional Recognition. I can't imagine going forward, for example, as has been suggested by some, that we should be having another referendum on the Republic before that occurs. For me, the absolute priority is that recognition.
MORGAN: But once you've done that, it would be odd for somebody who's such a diehard Republican as you, notwithstanding the respect for the key players in the royal family and the monarchy, which you've shown in this interview already. Notwithstanding that, it would be odd, wouldn't it, if you were Prime Minister and you didn't want another referendum? Otherwise, what's been the point of opposing it all this time?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, look, I think at some stage in the future, that will occur.
MORGAN: But you'd like it to happen under your tenure?
PRIME MINISTER: What I don't want to do, is to be a Prime Minister who presides over just constitutional debates.
MORGAN: They are big debates.
PRIME MINISTER: They are, but so is dealing with the challenge of climate change, getting an economy that works for people, making more things in Australia, engaging in our region to restore our relationships, is one of the tasks that I've had as Prime Minister. So I've said, quite clearly, that that's my priority. You'll know because there'll be a feeling from the bottom up, as well, a demand for another vote isn't something that can be imposed from the top because it won't be successful. When that that demand is there, I'm sure a vote will be held.
MORGAN: How close to that feeling do you think Australia is? Because the polls have been all over the place.
PRIME MINISTER: I don't see this as being imminent.
MORGAN: But if you were to win a second term, potentially, you could have a referendum?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don't see as being imminent.
MORGAN: You're being very diplomatic here, Prime Minister. Is that because you're here for a monarchy which many of your supporters would be like, 'Well hang on, you come here to London, to watch a King being crowned the head of an institution that you just don't agree with?'
PRIME MINISTER: But part of the job of being the Australian Prime Minister is to represent all Australians, not just to put forward my own views, which are clearly there. But it is important that the Australian Prime Minister and the Governor General and all of the Governors, and we have some prominent Australians coming along as well on Saturday. Sam Kerr, a great footballer, she will be the flag bearer on Saturday. And I chose her, put her forward, I thought that was a really appropriate thing to do, someone who's a young, dynamic Australian sportswoman, who hopefully will lead us to World Cup glory in the Women's World Cup that that's coming up, being hosted in Australia in a couple of months’ time.
MORGAN: So what are you going to do in Westminster Abbey when you are urged to say the Oath of Allegiance to King Charles?
PRIME MINISTER: I do that every term.
MORGAN: Are you going to say in the Abbey with the world's cameras watching?
PRIME MINISTER: I will do what's entirely appropriate as the representative of Australia. Australians made a choice in 1999, and one of the things that you've got to do is to accept democratic outcome. We made that choice, and I will certainly engage in that spirit.
MORGAN: So you will say the oath?
PRIME MINISTER: As I have done ten times.
MORGAN: I know, but just to be clear - there has been confusion over whether you will - as the Prime Minister of Australia in the Abbey on Saturday you will say the oath?
PRIME MINISTER: As the Prime Minister of Australia, it's expected that I will do that. But that doesn't mean, of course, that Australians don't have a wide range of views. And it's also the case that as Australian Prime Minister, I'm accountable to the Australian people, that's who I serve. And I have that great honour.
MORGAN: Do you know the words?
PRIME MINISTER: To?
MORGAN: The oath?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I know the oath that that I gave in in Parliament each time.
MORGAN: I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successes, according to law so help me God. There's been a lot of action, I'm seeing a lot of kickback here about this entreaty, which has come from the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the public, the British, public and wider world, of course, including those in the Commonwealth, should all crowd around their TV sets and recite this, because as people have pointed out, heirs successors, well that could be, if we're unlucky, Prince Andrew, or God forbid, Harry and Megan.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, people will make their own decisions on Saturday, but I think it will be a very significant historic event.
MORGAN: The Australian Republican Movement has called on all Australians to pledge allegiance to Australians and Australian values on Coronation Day, and not: "obey the absurd request of King Charles for us to pledge fealty to him, and his heirs and successors." As a Republican from Australia, what's your message to them?
PRIME MINISTER: I pledge allegiance to the Australian people each and every day. And that's our democratic system that we have. I think people will have these views, but I think -
MORGAN: But they are your views?
PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely. I pledge my allegiance to the Australian people. They are the people I'm accountable for.
MORGAN: But are you at all worried that tomorrow that your Republican people back in Australia, the side that you actually agree with, they're going to see you on Saturday declaring your oath of allegiance to not just King Charles, but to all his heirs and successors, when actually really what you want to do is get rid of the monarchy? It is a conundrum, right?
PRIME MINISTER: The position of the Australian Republican movement isn't about getting rid of the monarchy, that's a decision for the UK. The position of the ARM is that an Australian should be the Australian head of state. And that's what I agree with. I think you would do that. But Australia would, I would hope, continue to be involved in the Commonwealth. But I'm of the view that an Australian should be our head of state.
MORGAN: There's a new poll out today about the British public's view of this, overwhelming support for the monarchy. Two thirds said, 'it may seem a strange system in this day and age, but it works’. And that's kind of my view about this. I mean, I feel uneasy about this oath to be honest. I won't be saying it the way they want me to, because I'm not really committed to having allegiance to Prince Andrew and Prince Harry. But there's an interesting statement there by the public, which is that they know it's a bit anachronistic. We know it's kind of weird to have people in palaces, not paying proper taxes, of course we do. And yet, the British public feels quite strongly the overriding benefits of a monarchy outweigh the negatives.
PRIME MINISTER: And that's the right of the British people to determine. That's the point I'm making here, I guess, as someone who supports an Australian head of state. We should determine who our head of state is and United Kingdom should determine who their head of state is.
MORGAN: You just have a view about the actual institution of the monarchy?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm not a monarchist.
MORGAN: You would get rid of it?
PRIME MINISTER: We don't have an Australian royal family, that's the point.
MORGAN: But our royal family is your head of state?
PRIME MINISTER: Exactly that's the point, because that's a contradiction in itself. That's why I think Australia should have our own head of state. And I'm of the view that I think that should be an appointed head of state, there should be some process whereby democratically elected institutions, in the House of Representatives and the Senate, have a say in that. There's various models. It's one of the things that's held back the change in Australia is the failure to agree on a way forward. But I would hope that Australia would still, of course, remain a member of the Commonwealth of Australia.
MORGAN: Can an undemocratic monarchy really exist, going forward? Go forward 10, 20, 30 years, we've seen the rapid removal of most monarchies in Europe in the last 50 years or so. I mean, do you think that a monarchy, the idea, the concept, has any real future?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, that's a matter for the United Kingdom. I myself am a Democrat and believe in democratic institutions and that that is how we should be governed. And that is how we should determine our head of state.
MORGAN: You don't believe in the idea of monarchy?
PRIME MINISTER: No, I'm a Republican. But that doesn't mean that I don't respect the institution which is there, which plays a role in our in our system of government. I have to meet with the Governor General regularly. The Governor General has to sign off on our pieces of legislation. And I respect that. I think that it's important that institutions which are there, that have been determined, to be given that respect, and I'd see my role as the Australian Prime Minister in doing that.
MORGAN: When you see the King later, how are you going to explain that you've decided to remove his image or not have his image on your $5 banknotes, given it's always traditionally been whoever the monarch is? You've decided, as a government, you're not going to do this. Are you going to cough up to this when you see King Charles?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm sure that it won't be raised. The Kings portrait, the official one, will be on the back of every coin. And, of course, our dollar notes: the truth is that they've all changed at various times as well, including the $5 note. So this was, I think, much ado about nothing, frankly,
MORGAN: Except you've always had the Queen.
PRIME MINISTER: No, it hasn't always been on the $5 note. That's actually not true. And indeed, we've had different currencies. We went decimal in 1966, so there's a whole history of change.
MORGAN: So nothing personal?
PRIME MINISTER: Not at all, not at all. The decision was made actually by the Reserve Bank - it wasn't even made by the Government - an independent body. They consulted the government and we were comfortable with the decision that was made to have an Indigenous, representation work on the $5 note, which, of course, with the $1 note that was abolished used to have. The lowest denomination of note of currency used to have the Indigenous artwork on it.
MORGAN: Megan and Harry have dominated headlines for three years. Do you have a view about them? Do you think they should be able to keep their royal titles?
PRIME MINISTER: Of all the things that come across my desk that I'm concerned about: global inflation, the increasingly insecure world, the war in Ukraine, dealing with the challenge of climate change, I've got to say, Harry and Megan, have not been front and centre of my thoughts.
MORGAN: Will you be seeking Harry out in the Abbey for a little chat?
PRIME MINISTER: I spoke to Harry very briefly at his mother's funeral.
MORGAN: His grandmother's.
PRIME MINISTER: Sorry, and passed on my respects. And I don't know whether I'll see him or not. But if I did, I'd say hello.
MORGAN: Australia's other Queen, Dame Edna Everage has sadly died, Barry Humphries's incredibly amazing comic character. What were your thoughts about Barry Humphries?
PRIME MINISTER: Just that Barry Humphries was the quintessential Australian character. Barry Humphries brought an Australian larrikinism to life in the characters, including of course most famously, Dame Edna but also Sandy Stone and of course -
MORGAN: Les Patterson.
PRIME MINISTER: Let's not forget that great Australian politician, Sir Les Patterson. Australians have a particular sense of humour. I think British humour is different from American humour. I'm a fan of Monty Python going back and Blackadder and shows like that, that could only have come from the UK. Barry Humphries could only have come from Australia. What Barry Humphries would say is ‘taking the piss out of ourselves’. And he did it so well and for such a long period of time, so it was a big loss for the Australian arts community. And of course, he was equally as big here in the United Kingdom. And it says something about our common history that that we share in that engagement and interaction. I don't know that Barry Humphries was very big in the United States, or in Asia or in continental Europe. But in the United Kingdom he was big, and in Australia, he was of course larger than life, and there was a great deal of mourning of him.
MORGAN: His comedy - rather like Monty Python, Blackadder, all those kinds of shows which I love too - almost certainly wouldn't survive the modern curse of cancel culture, because of the inappropriateness, apparently. Barry Humphries was cancelled by the Melbourne International Comedy Show, it took his name off the top award for him being allegedly transphobic. What did you feel about that?
PRIME MINISTER: I wasn't even aware of that, I must say, until recent times. And I think people, legitimately can put forward their concerns about someone's comments that were made then. But at the same time, I think that we've got to be able to laugh at ourselves. I think that a lot of humour, you're quite right, that a lot of humour that used to be on. I mean, Fawlty Towers, I'm not sure how that would go.
MORGAN: That would never make it with the puritan senses we have now. This whole idea of cancel culture -
PRIME MINISTER: I think there were 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers and they were fantastic. They were good fun. In my view, today, you look at it and you go ‘well, maybe you might do it differently’. But a bit like rewriting some books, it is what it is at the time. That's the context. And I think that the idea of cancel culture is, in my view, a sad development. Because you get, as well, pile-ons on social media. And you see it happen so often, and things quite often are taken out of context. I try not to look at too much social media, but I know that sometimes people say something to me about an answer in an interview like this without people having seen the question or what was said before or afterwards and make it look like something that it isn't. But I think that we need far more tolerance.
MORGAN: Should the Melbourne International Comedy - Institution, I guess it would call themselves - but should they have cancelled somebody like Barry Humphries? Actually, was that the worst kind of cancel culture? Now since he died, and now some people want to pay homage to him, which seems like stinking hypocrisy.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’m not going to go into the past because I wasn't a part of it. I was never aware that that occurred. But I'll say this, it's good that a tribute is now being made to Barry Humphries. And there will be a state funeral for Barry Humphries as well, co-hosted by the New South Wales and the Victorian Government and the Australian Government. My government will be a part of that as well.
MORGAN: So you won't be cancelling him?
PRIME MINISTER: No, we'll be paying tribute to him at a state funeral. He's someone who has given an enormous amount of pleasure to generations of Australians. And I know that a range of people who friends of mine, knew him very well. I didn't. I met him on one occasion briefly, but I didn't know him. But I know how warmly he was regarded by people in Australia and in the UK.
MORGAN: The issue that got him into hot water was this issue of gender identity. He was defending JK Rowling. The New Zealand Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins was asked to define a woman and he said, ‘Well, people identify for themselves’. He couldn't answer. It was excruciating, to watch to be honest with you. And this has been a sort of hot potato question for world leaders. Some of them seem incapable, including Keir Starmer here. What is a woman, Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: An adult female.
MORGAN: How difficult was that to answer?
PRIME MINISTER: Not too hard. I was asked during the campaign, actually. But I respect people for whoever they are. And it's up to people to be respectful. And I know that controversy can come at times like that, and I’m not a fan of some of, the campaign - there was recently a very controversial visit in Australia that was designed to stir up issues. And young people coming to terms with their identity and who they are, I think that they need to be respected as well.
MORGAN: But what would you do, for example, with this issue of transgender athletes in women's sport? Which many world or sporting authorities are now well now beginning to move to exclude them? Because they say it's simply not fair?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, that's an example in that the sporting organisations are dealing with that issue.
MORGAN: And what's your view?
PRIME MINISTER: My view is that sporting organisations should deal with that issue.
MORGAN: Does it seem fair to you, that people who were born biologically male with all the physical advantage are going to compete against people born with female biology?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, in Australia, the sporting codes are able to deal with that. And they have. And they have, effectively. They’ve done so in a way in which, during the last campaign, there was one of the candidates chosen who tried to make that front and centre, that issue. I've got to say, as I've gone around, my son played junior sport both football, as in Soccer, and Australian Rules Football and Cricket, none of these issues ever came up. And I don't think they're front and centre.
MORGAN: That's because it wasn't happening then. You didn't get biological males competing against biological women. And that's the problem. To me, I can support transgender rights to fairness and equality right to the point where they infringe on women's rights. I mean, they've got to also have fairness and equality.
PRIME MINISTER: And that's why sporting codes should be dealing with it.
MORGAN: You are the Prime Minister of Australia, you must have a view?
PRIME MINISTER: That’s my view.
MORGAN: Are you ducking it?
PRIME MINISTER: No I'm not. I'm saying that what shouldn't be done is to try to politicise an issue that should be made on its merits, based upon the proper assessment of whether it's fair or not, but done in a way as well, that doesn't seek to essentially target a very vulnerable group, and that's my concern.
MORGAN: I don’t think they should be demonised in any way.
PRIME MINISTER: That's my concern.
MORGAN: I get that. But I think there's also, there are serious issues which have to be addressed.
PRIME MINISTER: Of course they are, but it should be done without the targeting of a vulnerable group of people. And that's my view, that people should be respected. The sporting codes are dealing with it. And what occurred when this debate happened in Australia, is the sporting codes said themselves, ‘We're dealing with this, we don't need this to be politicised’. And we don't need politicians buying into it.
MORGAN: You'll see Rishi Sunak, the British Prime Minister, while you're here.
PRIME MINISTER: I will.
MORGAN: Are you going to mention that you've just been in a poll named the third most popular global leader, while he languishes at number 10? And that you also made Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People, and in fact the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, said that you were effectively a progressive champion around the world? It's been a good couple of months for you, Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, Prime Minister Trudeau was very generous in his comments. I wasn't aware that I had been named or that he was writing the citation until it was pointed out to me by the media. I did send him a little message saying thank you for his generous comments and I am looking forward to seeing him again on the weekend. He, of course, will be here at the Coronation as the leader of another Commonwealth country. As for the first, that’s the first I've heard of it, but I won't be raising that with Rishi Sunak. This is my third meeting with him and we'll be talking about the Free Trade Agreement that can make an enormous difference for Australia and for the UK, about how we can have mutual benefit from increased economic engagement. And of course, we'll also be talking about our AUKUS arrangements, further strengthening the cooperation when it comes to our defence.
MORGAN: One of your predecessors, Paul Keating, wasn't exactly complimentary about the AUKUS arrangement. He described your $368 billion deal for the nuclear submarines, as ‘the worst deal in history’. He said you could have had 40 to 50 conventional subs instead. He also attacked you for working with the UK. He said, ‘after the great problem of Brexit after that fool Boris Johnson, destroyed their place in Europe, they're going to put together global Britain. So we're looking around for suckers’. Are you a sucker, Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: The AUKUS arrangement to me, should surprise no one. Australia, if you look at our history, we have 65,000 years, a proud history, the oldest continuous culture on earth is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. But then we have the relationship with Britain. And that's a relationship that goes back to 1788 to the First Fleet. And ever since then we have stood side by side as great democratic nations. Our Parliament takes the Westminster system as the basis of our democracy. And we have common interests, of course, since the Second World War in particular under Labors Prime Minister John Curtin, we turned to the United States. Ever since then, the United States has been our most critical alliance partner. So getting greater cooperation between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, not just in Australia being able to build our own nuclear-powered submarines is, to my mind, a very sensible thing to do in today's uncertain world. And I know, former Prime Minister Keating made some colourful comments. I have every respect for Paul, but on this I just disagree with him.
MORGAN: Was Brexit a good idea?
PRIME MINISTER: That was a matter for the United Kingdom.
MORGAN: So was it good?
PRIME MINISTER: Well as the Australian Prime Minister, I don’t see it as my place to put forward matters, which are strictly a matter for the people and the government of the United Kingdom.
MORGAN: One of the big reasons for AUKUS, of course, is the ongoing threat of China potentially invading Taiwan. Paul Keating said this, ‘I dare the Prime Minister to explicitly suggest or leave open the question that Australia might go to war over Taiwan at the urgings of United States or anyone else’. So, I dare you to answer that question, Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: I want a region that is peaceful, that is secure, that is stable, and that is prosperous. And that's what we're working towards. But one of the ways that we're also engaging in the region is by lifting up our national security, we don't apologise for that. We have the AUKUS arrangements, we've just had our Defence Strategic Review as well to look at what are the capabilities that Australia needs, and where do we need them.
MORGAN: But do you think China may invade Taiwan, as many do?
PRIME MINISTER: I don't think it is constructive to speculate on matters like that. We support the status quo when it comes to Taiwan.
MORGAN: Would you would you support Taiwan if they were invaded?
PRIME MINISTER: Taiwan is not assisted by people speculating on hypotheticals, we support -
MORGAN: Well, President Biden has. He’s already said that America would support them.
PRIME MINISTER: We support the status quo being maintained. We support stability in the region, and we're investing in our capability. But we're investing in something else as well, we're investing in our relationships. Whether it's AUKUS, whether it's ASEAN, whether it's our Pacific friends through the Pacific relationships that we have, rebuilding them. But also, we're engaging in the region. My government hasn't engaged in rhetoric that is inflammatory. What we've said with regard to China, is that we will cooperate where we can, we'll disagree where we must, and we'll engage in our national interest.
MORGAN: You wouldn't just sit back would you? If Taiwan was invaded, you wouldn't sit back as Australia's Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: I don't see it as constructive to speculate on hypotheticals. What's important, and the role of peace and security and stability in the region is advanced by having a very clear position, which is support for the status quo of no unilateral action by either side in those issues. And our position on China has been to engage constructively, but to continue to put forward that the impediments to trade should be removed, to say very directly to President Xi, that Australians such as Cheng Lei, need to be given proper justice, and that they're not receiving that at the moment and to raise those issues, to raise human rights issues. So we don't shy away from that. But we do so in a way that's constructive and respectful. And that's how you advance diplomacy. That's how you advance positive outcomes.
MORGAN: Okay. President Biden said he's running again for office in 2024. He would be 82. And he'd be 86 at the end of the second term, is he too old?
PRIME MINISTER: That's a matter for the United States. But I don't believe that -
MORGAN: Would you want to be Prime Minister at 86?
PRIME MINISTER: We'll see how I go.
MORGAN: That will send a shiver down your opponent's spine.
PRIME MINISTER: Can I say this about President Biden, I think he's doing an extraordinary job. I regard him as a friend of mine, I regard him as an important leader of our most important ally. I'll be welcoming President Biden to Australia this month for the Quad leaders meeting. And he, through his actions, not just in international relations where he is strengthening the United States’ engagement in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, that's something that we welcome.
MORGAN: You don't think he's too old? In your dealings with him, you don't get a feeling of it?
PRIME MINISTER: Not at all. He's totally on top of his brief. He's someone who's very conscious about regional affairs in the Indo-Pacific region. He's someone who's engaged with our friends, with ASEAN. I noticed today, he has the leader of the Philippines, Bongbong Marcos, they're hosting him in the White House.
MORGAN: He's also got to engage with potentially Donald Trump, if Trump wins the Republican nomination. President Trump is actually in Britain at the moment, are you going to hook up with him?
PRIME MINISTER: No, no, I engage with President Biden, I look forward to meeting him in May.
MORGAN: Would you be happy to engage with Trump if he was to win the White House back?
PRIME MINISTER: Our relationship with the United States is a relationship between countries and between peoples, based upon our common democratic values.
MORGAN: You'd have no problem dealing with Donald Trump if he wins?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's not up to me to determine -
MORGAN: But you wouldn't have any trouble dealing with him if he was President?
PRIME MINISTER: No, I'll deal with whoever the President or the Prime Minister -
MORGAN: Even if he's been, even if he's facing, he’s been indicted on criminal charges. You're comfortable with that?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, that's a matter for the people of the United States and I have no intention of interfering in their internal political processes. I expressed my concerns -
MORGAN: Would an Australian Prime Minister, do you think be able to, would an Australian politician be able to run to be Prime Minister if they were indicted on committing crimes?
PRIME MINISTER: They would I think, speculating on that, in terms of either a Labor or a Liberal candidate, I would think have issues if that occurred. But look, I said very clearly, I expressed my concern about the events that occurred in the Capitol on January 6. I don't shy from that. I think democracy is a precious commodity. A whole lot of the world, it's under threat, and that's why we need to support our democracy, including supporting our democratic institutions.
MORGAN: Russell Crowe has part owned the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the Rugby League club, and you're a big fan of them, he’s known you a long time.
PRIME MINISTER: I’m a former board member.
MORGAN: Right. So he said this about you, ‘with all the opaque bullshit we've had to deal with the last 10 or 15 years, we've got a guy - you - who is at least going to tell us the truth. Now, he might not make the decisions that you might, that you want individually every time. But over time, what Anthony would do is improve the lives of the people in this country’. And he also said you’d never asked him for anything, unlike everybody else. So that's a pretty good review coming from Russell Crowe, I shouldn't think he suffers fools gladly. He thinks you're an honest person, you may make mistakes, you might get things wrong, but essentially you're an honest person.
PRIME MINISTER: And I am. And one of the things that I've done as Prime Minister is to say things the way that I see them. So we've got a budget coming up next week, now we'll do a number of measures to assist people with the cost of living, but we can't do everything on day one. I haven't been in office for a year yet, and it follows almost a decade of, I think, a government that was characterised by inaction and delay and denial, that we were left with a trillion dollars of debt. So we've explained that, but we have fulfilled the commitments that we made in the lead up to the election to the best of our capacity. But of course, all governments and all individuals, including myself, will make mistakes from time to time.
MORGAN: Are you unafraid to admit when you're wrong? I'll give an example, the small boats policy which is a big issue here, a big issue in Australia, what you do with people who wash up on your shores. You were very opposed to it, and you changed your mind. Is that is that political expediency, the reality?
PRIME MINISTER: No. Well, it's looking at the facts the way that they are. And being upfront about it.
MORGAN: You said this in 2015, ‘I couldn't ask someone else to do something I couldn't see myself doing. If people were in a boat, including families and children I myself couldn't turn that around’. But now you can, what changed?
PRIME MINISTER: The facts. I didn't think that -
MORGAN: But you still get people, families and kids turning up in boats. I mean, they are still happening.
PRIME MINISTER: And they have been turned around.
MORGAN: Are you comfortable with that?
PRIME MINISTER: Yes. Because if you look at what happened in practice with boat turn backs, the view of what was occurring, was that the advice to us when we were in government, was that if you tried to do that then they'd scuttle the boats and it would result in in tragedies. So, the fact is that the boat turn backs policy was a part of something that did make a difference. I support an orderly migration program. I have said that you can be strong on borders without being weak on humanity. So one of the things that my government has done, because we have ensured that the boats, contrary to what the conservatives said before the election campaign, I must say some of the media as well said, ‘Oh, well, if Labor's elected, the boats will, and it will all start back’. That hasn't happened. We have kept in place strong border security measures. But we also have an increasingly humane policy. So for example, the people who had arrived and were in limbo for more than ten years on temporary protection visas, who no government was going to send back to Iran or to Afghanistan, we have said that they should be entitled to permanent security to become permanent residents as well. So we’ve abolished those temporary protection visas.
MORGAN: So tell me, you're tough on borders, you’re anti cancel culture, you know what a woman is, are you sure you’re a progressive left? You’re not a secret Tory in disguise are you?
PRIME MINISTER: I’m an absolutely consistent -
MORGAN: Are you an old fashioned liberal of my kind? An old fashioned who actually realises the woke left is pretty nutty and that way madness lies?
PRIME MINISTER: I'm a Social Democrat who believes in markets, but believes that the state, the power of the state can make a positive difference to people's lives. The philosophy I took to the election was two parts, no one held back and no one left behind. No one held back, what does that mean? That people aspiring to a better life for themselves and for their families is a legitimate thing. We need economic growth, that's why I want to make more things in Australia. That's why I want to lift wages, that's why I want industry policy to kick in, that's why I want to challenge climate change and tackle it because we’ve seen the environmental impacts.
MORGAN: Will you be talking to the King Charles about that because he's obviously been at the forefront of that for many years?
PRIME MINISTER: He's had a very strong position on it.
MORGAN: Has he been proven right, King Charles, about environment and climate change?
PRIME MINISTER: He certainly has been. And one of the things about King Charles over a long period of time, is that the stance that he has made on climate change, on the urban environment as well, on Indigenous issues are ones that I think bring him great credit. Now, I won't talk about what I will talk to him about because the protocol is that that remains a private discussion. And we'll have a discussion this afternoon. But I certainly think that his stance on those issues has been very significant. But to go back to, because I don't want to miss the second point. The second point about what a Labor Prime Minister does, is we don't leave people behind. So we're looking at that in terms of the Budget, but we're doing that as well with cheaper childcare, to allow greater women's workforce participation. We're dealing with that as well through things like, I marched in the Mardi Gras to show my support for inclusiveness, and I'll continue to do that. We are having a referendum to give Indigenous people recognition in our nation's Constitution. I think you can do both things. And that's something that my government is focused on achieving. We're only one year into our first term.
MORGAN: It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it?
PRIME MINISTER: It's been a very busy year.
MORGAN: So I want to end just with this. I want to show you a picture, because I found this picture, and I found it very poignant, and I'm sure you will, too. You probably remember the picture. This is a picture on a boat, and this is 1962, and there are two people in that picture. This is the TSS Fairsky, it was a Sitmar line boat. Tell me who's in that picture?
PRIME MINISTER: Well, it's my Mum sitting there.
PRIME MINISTER: Maryanne, on the far right. She's next to her brother, George. And standing up in white is a dashing fellow who happens to be my father, Carlo, who was a purser on the ship that my mother travelled to on that long journey.
MORGAN: To England.
PRIME MINISTER: To England here, where she lived in London for a while.
MORGAN: And she fell pregnant.
PRIME MINISTER: She did. She had a relationship with Carlo. And, I think, not just on the ship, but clearly from piecing it together.
MORGAN: So you were conceived in England?
PRIME MINISTER: Quite likely, that’s right.
MORGAN: So you're actually, you're one of us, you’re English, Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER: I'm still not going for you in the Ashes, don’t try that on, that’s not going to happen.
MORGAN: But you accept you could have been conceived in this country.
PRIME MINISTER: I think I the chances are I was. I think I was here when the ship used to birth at Southampton. And my Mum travelled, met him, had a relationship with him, fell pregnant. When she told him, he was engaged to someone, a person who became his wife back in Italy. And so she went back to Australia and had me. Made the courageous decision in 1963 to be a single mother and to raise me. She was very Catholic so it was a difficult thing for the family.
MORGAN: She was urged to have you adopted.
PRIME MINISTER: She was, and that was what was very common
MORGAN: Your life could have been so different.
PRIME MINISTER: It would have been very different. And at the time, it was to be that I would be adopted out, and that the story would be told in the local community and in the family that she had got news of my father's death, and that had caused her the trauma to lose her child. But she couldn't do that. There was a moment where a nun at the hospital knew that she was the sort of person who didn't, she just really didn't want that to happen. She was under a bit of pressure. So If she brought me into my mum, and my mum was never going to let me go.
MORGAN: What a moment. I mean that’s sliding doors to an incomparable, enormous consequence.
PRIME MINISTER: Oh, absolutely. And she then adopted his name, Albanese.
MORGAN: But continued to pretend that he had died in an accident, including to you.
PRIME MINISTER: That’s right. And I was told that until I was old enough when she felt I could understand.
MORGAN: You were fourteen?
PRIME MINISTER: I was fourteen, fifteen.
MORGAN: How did you feel when you found that he, potentially, is still alive?
PRIME MINISTER: At that time, I was a pretty tough young kid. We had a difficult upbringing. My Mum had rheumatoid arthritis and was crippled upwards and was an invalid pensioner. We lived in a council house where she had lived her whole life, my grandparents had died by then. So it was just me and Mum. We didn't have anything economically, but I had her unconditional love and that was enough for me. And so I said, ‘I'm not interested, you're enough for me’, which is what she needed to hear. So while she was alive, I didn't search for him. But she died in 2002. My son had come along in 2000, and there was a moment where I was at her gravesite and my little boy who was very little said, ‘where's your daddy?’. And I sort of realised that I needed to, and he had a right to understand what had happened. And so I had, I guess, once she passed away, I could then search for him without bringing any sense that she wasn't all I needed. And so I found him in 2009.
MORGAN: It’s an amazing story because this is nearly 40 years later.
PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, 46 years later. I was 46 when we met.
MORGAN: Right. And by pure chance, a friend of yours is now running the ship company that had been renamed several times, it was now Carnival Cruises. You knew this woman and she helped the search and they find your dad's old employment details in some dusty, rickety area in Genoa where the original ship’s stuff had all been set. And from that you were able, by now you’re a Minister, right?
PRIME MINISTER: That’s right. I was a Minister in the government.
MORGAN: And you're able to track down, and you're in a meeting, your office I think, and it's a Thursday and you get a call from this friend of yours who’s running the ship company. And she just says, ‘we found him’.
PRIME MINISTER: It was it was a remarkable moment. And I was chairing a ministerial council meeting of all the state and territory ministers, an important meeting that night, and told my staff to go on without me and it just took a took my breath away. It was an extraordinary moment.