Sunrise with Natalie Barr 25/3/2024

25 March 2024





NATALIE BARR, HOST: Welcome back, everyone. Let's get straight into it. Federal Labor has taken a hit in this morning's news poll results, spelling bad news if an election were to be held right now. Primary support for the Party is now lower than what it was for at the 2022 election, falling to 32 per cent compared to the Coalition's 37 per cent. On a two party preferred basis though, Labor does lead the Coalition, 51 per cent to 49. However, some good news for the PM. He is still the better preferred PM, leading over Peter Dutton by 14 per cent. For their take, let's bring in Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, and Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce. Good morning to both of you.


BARR: Tanya, these numbers suggest Labor is heading towards forming only a minority Government at the next Federal Election. How do you hope that is going to turn around?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, we'll keep focusing on what matters to Australians. So right now, we're backing low paid workers' deserving a pay rise. We know that earning just over 23 bucks an hour just doesn't cut it in Australia these days. We've got tax cuts coming up for every single Australian taxpayer, we've dropped the price of childcare, we've helped with electricity bills, we've got fee free TAFE, we're helping with the cost of rent, we're building more affordable housing. We know that Australians are facing cost of living pressures, and we want to help with those pressures, and that's our focus as a government.

BARR: Yeah, but when you see the figures go so low, the Coalition's primary vote's ahead of yours, and this is sort of like, you know, yours are going downhill, you know, do you sit around and go, "Okay, we have to do something, those, you know, the tax cuts aren't cutting it anymore." What else have you got in your kit bag?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Yeah. Well, the tax cuts start on 1st of July, so people will be feeling that from 1st of July, and right now, as I said, we're fighting for better wages for low paid Australian workers. I think the biggest thing for most people at the moment is cost of living, and that's our absolutely firm focus.

BARR: Barnaby, on the flip side, Peter Dutton doesn't seem to be doing it for people. His disapproval rating has risen. Are you concerned about that?

BARNABY JOYCE: No, not really. Look, first term governments generally get a second term, but this is showing that Mr Albanese is giving a red hot shot of making his government a one term government.

Now it's not about supporting low paid workers, they're actually deserting low paid workers because of their fascination with such things as wind factories, swindle factories, solar factories, transmission lines, price of power going through the roof. So you can only get a tax cut for so long.

If you're below around about $40,000 it makes no difference, and for those people the cost of living is determined by the cost of groceries, the cost of power, the cost of fuel, and they're all determined by basically the cost of power, and what we're seeing is basically an endorsement of that poll on a national level; at a State level, it's basically a status quo poll. But it does say that the leading horse in this race is a hung Parliament, and that's just chaos. Might I note that also the Teals vote is going down as well. But unless people get back to focusing on cheap affordable power and stop telling me that it's affordable when it's obviously not

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, that is not nuclear, is it, Barnaby? Nuclear's expensive and 30 years away.

JOYCE: You are taking people to swindle factories and solar factors which just are not doing the job.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, wind and solar are cheaper.

JOYCE: Just not doing the job. No, they're not. See, you keep saying that every time

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: And that's why power prices came down in the last

JOYCE: somebody gets a bill, they know what you're saying is a heap of bumpkin, it's a load of rubbish, and

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: And your solution is nuclear in 30 years.

JOYCE: It's not that well, your solution just doesn't work. It just does not work.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: It is working, Barnaby, and that's why the power

JOYCE: It's self evident it doesn't. See, when you talk like that, that's why

BARR: Barnaby, can I just ask you

JOYCE: That's why it goes down, that's why your vote goes down.

BARR: Can I just ask you, if people are swinging away from the Labor Government on a lot of these issues, why is Albo's approval rating at 44 and Dutton's at 37? Shouldn't and Dutton's disapproval rating is going up. Are you disappointed in that?

JOYCE: No, I feel that Peter Dutton's a very strong leader, and what I always say

BARR: Well, the figures don't seem to show it though.

JOYCE: But that's always the way. You always see that the incumbent leader, overwhelmingly, is always ahead on the approval rating, because it's just what people see on the television set every night. But I'll tell you what, both of them, both Mr Albanese and Mr Dutton only stand in one seat.

What wins is either the Coalition or the Labor Party, but overwhelmingly, like everywhere else in the world, if people can go shopping, they are going shopping, cause they want us both to be straight with them and say, look, mate, the power issue's just not working, we've got to take a U turn, we've got to understand the reality of your life, not our wishes, and your life is you want to get back to the reality of affordable, reliable power, and what we're delivering you is garbage.

BARR: Okay. Let's talk about

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: The reality is, Barnaby, 24 power stations said they were going to close under you, and it is nothing to replace it. Nothing to replace that capacity.

JOYCE: Well, what are you doing about it? You're closing them, Tanya. Tanya, you're the Government, and you're closing them.

BARR: Okay.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: No, we're massively expanding the power and transmission lines.

BARR: The next time

JOYCE: You're still closing them, Tanya.

BARR: we know it's important, but right now, people are worried about how much they're earning, okay; the minimum wage case is going to the Fair Work Commission this week. Tanya, what are you going to push for?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: We think wages should at least keep up with inflation, and under the last government, they said that low wages were a deliberate design feature of their economic architecture. We want to see Australians earn more and keep more of what they earn. We want to see them get a wage rise, and we want to see them get a tax cut, so they keep more of those higher wages. At the moment, an Australian on the minimum wage who's working full time earns just under $46,000 a year. It's pretty hard to make ends meet on that sort of pay. We want to see wages at least keeping up with inflation.

BARR: Okay. So 4.1 per cent. Barnaby, do you support that, a minimum wage?

JOYCE: Well, we always support minimum wages, it's part of the process. But it doesn't matter what you do to wages, if you want people who have not been to university, or looking for unskilled jobs, once more, it's connected to power prices. If you're looking at boiler makers, fitters and turners, chippies, all these things are connected to our capacity to compete with overseas countries, and if we've got higher wages, resources at global prices and higher power, what's your advantage? What's the miracle that's going to happen that all of a sudden these jobs will appear? I mean, this is this distraction of this crazy boarding school here, and the reality on the ground, and that's why people are going shopping, and it's not just the Labor Party, all of us have to realise that you better talk to the fundamentals of, and rather than the aspirations of a small clique who have social policy at the forefront of their mind, and leave behind economics.

BARR: Right. Okay.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: So Barnaby's arguing against a pay increase for low paid workers

JOYCE: No, I'm not, I'm not, I'm asking

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: that's what argument just was.

JOYCE: I'm asking for a fulsome delivery of that rather than just this sort of window dressing. You've got to do the whole thing, you've got to get them a job, Tanya.


JOYCE: You've got to get low paid workers a job not just talk about it.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: And we've seen massive job creation since coming to government.

JOYCE: In the manufacturing industry?

BARR: Unemployment is-

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: We've seen more jobs created under this Government-

JOYCE: In the manufacturing industry?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Yes. About 100,000 extra jobs actually, yes, Barnaby, in manufacturing too.

JOYCE: Aluminium going, plastics are going, cement going.

BARR: Unemployment is at record lows, we need 90,000 tradies, I don't know whether unemployment's the problem, is it, Barnaby?

JOYCE: These jobs are going; these manufacturing jobs are going.

BARR: Okay, we might leave it there. Thank you very much for your time. Lots more to discuss next week. Here's Shirvo.


JOYCE: You're welcome.