Sunrise Interview with Minister Tanya Plibersek 22/04/24

22 April 2024






NATALIE BARR: Well, support for Labor has fallen to its lowest level since the 2022 election, while support for the Coalition has increased. A shock new Resolve poll shows Labor has fallen to an historically low level of 30 per cent, down 2 points from a month earlier, while the Coalition has jumped from 35 to 36 per cent during the same time. The government’s drop in support comes as voters feel the pinch from rising prices and high interest rates. Joining us now, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce. Good morning to both of you.




BARNABY JOYCE: Good morning.


BARR: Tanya, it seems to be the cost of living keeps coming up. More than half of respondents said they would struggle to pay if they had a major expense of a few thousand dollars. What’s your response?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, it’s the reason that we’re so focused on cost of living. We want to see wages go up, and they have gone up under Labor. We want to see people keep more of what they’re earning with lower taxes, and that will happen in the budget. We’ve also helped with electricity bill relief, lower childcare fees, cheaper medicines, making it cheaper and easier to see a doctor, extra paid parental leave, free TAFE, more support for housing for affordable housing. That’s why we’re focused on these cost of living measures.


BARR: They’re kind of not believing you, are they?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, I think people are doing it tough, and it’s a reflection of the fact that it is hard to make ends meet. But people have also got to remember that under the previous government, Barnaby's mob said that they want to keep wages lower. They said low wages are a deliberate design feature our of our economic architecture. We’re turning that around with higher wages, with people earning more and keeping more of what they earn and other cost of living measures to help out with electricity, with childcare fees, with all of those things that I mentioned a moment ago.


BARR: Barnaby, despite the increase in the primary vote, opposition Leader Peter Dutton still trails Anthony Albanese on preferred PM despite the cost of living difficulty. Why isn’t Peter Dutton higher?


JOYCE: Well, I’d just like to thank Tanya for the narration of the talking points from the Prime Minister’s office. The trouble is that people do realise that they were better off under us than they are under you –


BARR: So why aren’t they marking you higher? Why don’t you have more support?


JOYCE: Well, the issue – the way you get elected is you get the majority of 151 votes. It’s not really a vote about the leaders as such as of primary importance. It’s certainly important but not of primary importance. And the Prime Minister is always supposed to be leading the show, leading the popularity stakes. And Mr Albanese, you can see it when you walk the street; he’s peeled off. There are people just saying, “Oh, look, I’m over it. I don’t want to listen to him anymore,” because while you bang on about intermittent power and swindle factories and solar factories and every narration about climate change – and you lost people when you started talking about the Voice and the social change of Australia – people just say, “You’re not focused on me.”


You can narrate all the talking points you want, but they’re completely irrelevant because I’m living – I’m in Sydney at the moment, as you can see, away from the beautiful hills, but people as you talk to them, they said, “I’m living week to week. I get to the end of the week working out if I’ve got enough money.” And that is not - there’s no dignity in that. “I can’t go on holidays. I can’t do the basic things. I’m worried about what my kids want when they go to school.” And, you know, this is your job. So, you know, yeah, climate change – lovely discussion, “But you’d better make sure I’ve got some loot in my wallet at the end of the week because otherwise I have no dignity.” And, you know, you just seem to be focused on the things that really comfortable people focus on and not focus on the things that people are doing it tough focus on. If you’ve got all these talking points and you’ve knocked them all out, then why isn’t my life better?


BARR: Yeah, and because of all that, you would just think that people would be swaying to your side, and week after week they’re just not.


JOYCE: But they are.


BARR: Well, it –


JOYCE: But they are, Nat. The polling is – but I have to say –


BARR: Well, the Newspoll shows you’re even, and this poll shows that Peter Dutton’s not increasing very much at all. So –


JOYCE: You can’t – the Resolve poll, the Labor Party cannot win in its own right on 30 per cent. It’s just not possible. Let’s just be realists about that. They’re the same vote as everybody – as the non-parties. So people who don’t want to vote for either party, it’s the same vote as the Labor Party, and that is just – you can’t work on that.


BARR: And you’re right – and polls, they’re not necessarily even right, are they. Moving on, the Coalition has indicated they will back Labor’s crackdown on violent extremists and misleading content being spread on social media. It comes of the Elon Musk has refused to take down videos and commentary on his social media company X, which was Twitter, of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel being stabbed last week. Tanya, what’s Labor’s plan to force these social media companies to remove violent content? Elon Musk is saying no to removing this – the stabbing of a bishop.


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: It’s just – it just beggars belief, really, doesn’t it, that this guy, this egotistical billionaire, thinks that it’s more important for him to be able to show whatever he wants on X or Twitter or whatever you want to call it today, it’s more important for him to have his way than to respect the victims of the crimes that are being shown on social media and to protect our Australian community from the harmful impact of showing this terrible stuff on social media.


We are acting in Australia. We have quadrupled the budget for the eSafety Commissioner. We tried to introduce a misinformation and disinformation bill last year. Sadly, the Liberals and Nationals didn’t support it at the time. Peter Dutton and Sussan Ley said that they will now. That’s good. We need to keep Australians safe from this terrible stuff on social media. And Elon Musk doesn’t dictate to the Australian government what we are doing here domestically with our laws.


BARR: Yeah, well, it will be interesting because he says this does not breach its own rules on violent content - that stabbing - and Australia's laws have no power globally. So we’ll see what happens next week. We thank you very much – we’re out of time. We’ll see you next week. Here’s Shirvo.