By Tanya Plibersek

06 November 2023




NATALIE BARR: Now, in the first Newspoll since the failed voice to Parliament referendum, Anthony Albanese has suffered a sharp decline in support. The latest survey shows the two-party preferred contest between the major parties is now at its closest point since the election, with Labor leading the Coalition 52 to 48. The gap between the PM and the Liberal leader. Peter Dutton as preferred PM has also tightened significantly, with just ten points now separating the two leaders. Let's bring in Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce. Good morning, both of you. Tanya, are you concerned by the latest Newspoll results?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER: Oh, look, polls jump around, but the Prime Minister is absolutely determined to do what he promised. He promised a referendum, he did it. He promised cheaper childcare he's delivering. He promised better quality aged care he's delivering. He promised cheaper medicines, we're doing that. He promised higher wages, we're doing that. He promised free TAFE, we're doing that. We're going to keep focusing on doing what we committed to do, which is making life a little bit easier for ordinary Australians.

BARR: You're right, they do jump around a bit, but this one is seeming to be accurate. Newspoll was right on the money, for instance, for the referendum. On the morning of the referendum, it predicted a 60 40 result, and that was bang on. This could be right.

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, two things. I mean, two things. We're still ahead in this poll. And secondly, we're not focusing on that. We're focusing on doing what we said we'd do which is better services, better quality of life for Australians.

BARR: Do you guys kind of get around the table and go, oh, hang on, guys, this is a worry. We are going down in all the measures?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: No, I'm going to Cabinet this morning and I know what we'll be focused on. It'll be the business of government.

BARR: Do you bring this sort of thing up though? Do you sort of sit around and go, okay, hang on, guys, this is a concern, especially in Labor supporters. All the measures heading down, do you mention it at all?

MINISTER PLIBERSEK: No. What we're focusing on is making sure we've got a strong health system, a strong education system that we're investing in infrastructure that people need, housing, roads, the renewable energy transition, the real business of government. That's what we talk about.

BARR: Barnaby, Tanya is right. If an election were to be held today, Labor would still win and there would be no loss of seats. That is, after a referendum where they basically lost, so they still have massive support. Are you concerned about that?

BARNABY JOYCE: Well, when Tanya gives all those lines, just like you heard, it means they've done tactics. There's a place called the Prime Minister's office known as PMO, and they'll be saying, Tanya, these are the lines you must say. Everything's great, everything's wonderful, nothing to see here. But really, the truth is people are lined up outside food banks. She brought up the energy transition. People hate it. Transmission lines, wind factories, solar factories, power prices going through the roof, reliability going through the four overseas-owned companies. Money shooting off overseas. They're taking their eye off the ball. They said, the referendum. We did it. Well, they certainly did. They did it. And what an absolute debacle that turned out to be.

BARR: Yes, okay, it was a debacle. And for their side. So, shouldn't your side be further ahead?

JOYCE: Well, not for one second do I say "the election’s in the bag." It's a tough game. Mr Albanese meant that the Labor Party lost a lot of paint because they trained people not to vote for them. But what's really stuck in their mind is they can't afford their groceries, they can't afford their power bill, they can't afford fuel. They're seeing people lined up outside food banks. And that's the thing that's front and centre and all this other piffle about, we've made lives easier for each other. What group are you talking to there? Life's incredibly tough.

BARR: Okay, look, we want to get on to China, but unfortunately we've run out of time. We thank you both for your views today.