24 October 2022









NATALIE BARR, HOST: Thank you very much, Kochie. Well, tomorrow’s budget will be family friendly, according to the Treasurer. It will include an extension of paid parental leave payments by raising the income threshold for couples to qualify enabling another 180,000 people to access the scheme. However, the government has warned that wages won’t catch up with the cost of living for several years. Social security payments for pensioners and for welfare recipients will also be around $33 billion more expensive than forecast.


Joining me now is Labor’s Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce. Good morning to both of you.


BARNABY JOYCE: Good morning.




BARR: Tanya, let’s start with you – what do you do here? You’ve got a lot of sectors really hurting, but if you give them money won’t that – won’t they go out and spend it and push up inflation, which is what we’re all fighting?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, inflation is a significant concern in this budget, and that’s why you’ll also see some very responsible savings - $21 billion of savings and redirection of funds to higher priorities. We know that the previous government took us to almost a trillion dollars of debt. They more than doubled the debt before COVID-19 hit. We haven’t seen good quality spending there. A lot of was last minute and political. Of course, we’re not going to proceed with some of those last‑minute political pledges made by the previous government.


You’ll see savings when it comes to contractors, travel, PR, external legal advice. We will be investing more in the areas that are priorities for us, like cheaper medicine, like early childhood education and care, like extending paid parental leave, like more places at TAFE and university, like investing in the Great Barrier Reef to make sure that it’s protected for future generations. So, you’ll see a good, responsible Labor budget fit for the times.


BARR: Barnaby, what do you want to see when you look at tomorrow night’s budget?


JOYCE: Well, the first thing I’d say is we don’t have a trillion dollars in debt – we’re more than $100 billion away from a trillion dollars in debt. So, if it goes to a trillion dollars in debt, it’s gone through on the Labor Party’s watch. What you’ll see is a typical Labor Party budget where you have more expenses on the profit and loss and they’ll be taking money away from assets on the balance sheet.


Now, what we see right now with these weather events is billions and billions of litres of water that is basically flowing to sea, and we had money in the budget for dams so that we had assets on the balance sheet to make our economy stronger. Just like we would with rail, just like we would with roads, so in the future when you need more money for pensions or the NDIS or Medicare you have an asset base that’s more capable of covering those costs.


But if you take away the money from the assets and just put it on to new expenses on your profit and loss, then of course you’re not setting yourselves up in a responsible way in the future to be able to have a national business that can cover its costs. So just look forward to more expenses on the profit and loss. Here they come.


BARR: Tanya, if you’re telling people that wages are not going to catch up with the cost of living for years, that’s what the year of the strike has been for in New South Wales. You’ve got a lot of sectors that are complaining that they’re way down, they’re not even keeping up with the cost of living.


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Yeah, times are tough for people. And that’s why we’re investing in things that will take some pressure off the cost of living, like cheaper medicines – the biggest drop in the cost of medicines in the history of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – like big investment in early childhood education and care that will make child care cheaper for one and a quarter million families, like the paid parental leave extension that will make life a lot easier for people in those early days when there’s so much pressure on families with tiny new babies.


BARR: Yeah, okay.


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Cheaper TAFE, free TAFE for a lot of families as well.


BARR: Okay.


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: That will really help.


BARR: Okay, I might just get your views on this one: the fallout from the Diamonds Netball protest is growing. It comes after Gina Rinehart’s company withdrew its $15 million sponsorship saying social and political causes have no place in sport. Barnaby Joyce, do you agree with what Gina Rinehart did here?


JOYCE: Yes. Like most other people. You’ve got $15 million of somebody else’s money. It’s been given to you. How about saying thank you rather than, “oh, yeah, we don’t want it.” And now the money’s gone, they’re going, “oh, guess what? We haven’t got the money to pay our players and to cover the financial situation that Netball Australia fights in.” We’ve already seen people are coming out now, such as Australian Women’s Golf saying, “we’ll take the money.” There are a lot of other causes. There are people who – returned servicemen and returned servicewomen sport who are saying, “like, we’ll have the money.” Like, they’ve got to realise if you don’t – you’re not – if you don’t make the money, be really, really careful of the person who offers you the money or you won’t get the money.


BARR: Yeah, Tanya, this was over a comment made by Gina Rinehart’s father, who died 30 years ago. He said it 38 years ago. Where do you stand on this?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, I think it’s a matter for Netball Australia. And what I would say is I don’t mind hearing from the players. I think they’ve got a right to express their opinions, and this is a terrific successful team. I wish --


BARR: But where do you stand, Tanya?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, I’m telling you where I stand. I wish them all the best in getting new sponsorship. They’re a terrific, successful team, and I really hope there are other Australian businesses out there who are prepared to get in behind women’s netball and back it. It’s a great sport played by millions of Australians –


BARR: Look, we all back the netballers –


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: And this is a particularly successful team.


BARR:  – as far as their sporting prowess –


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, really? Do we? Because Barnaby’s saying that they’re idiots for expressing their opinion.


BARR: Well, I think a lot of people are questioning them this week…


JOYCE: Yeah, well, do you know, someone, Tanya who’s got a lazy $15 million in their top drawer? Tell us who they are so we can give it to the netballers. Otherwise, yeah, it was crazy what they did. Very foolish.


BARR: Yeah, Tanya, where do you stand on this actual issue – whether Gina – do you back Gina Rinehart for taking the money away from them, or do you back the netballers for harking up over this?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: Well, I think the netballers have a right to express an opinion. And, you know, I absolutely think they’ve got a right to express an opinion. Good luck to them. And I really do hope that they find other businesses that want to support them, because they’re a great team, a successful team, and I’d like to see women’s netball backed.


BARR: Okay.


JOYCE: They’ve got a right to express their opinion, and Hancock’s got a right to say, “fair enough. Give us back the dough. See you later.”


BARR: Yep, everyone has a right to express their opinion and then deal with the consequences, I guess that’s the bottom line, too, isn’t it?


JOYCE: Dead right.


BARR: Now, Anthony Albanese met with the Japanese PM on Saturday, which included a somewhat awkward koala photo shoot. Tanya, you’re no stranger to an animal photo opportunity gone wrong. You can’t trust kids or animals, can you?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: No. What do they say – never work with kids or animals. I’ve had my own experiences with, you know, a wombat or two over the years. But those koalas have got pretty sharp claws; you’ve got to be careful when you’re holding them.


BARR: This one needed to go to the bathroom on you, did it, Tanya, that day?


MINISTER PLIBERSEK: It did. It did. It chose that very moment to go to the bathroom. But, like, you know I’ve had two boys. I’ve changed a lot of nappies over the years. It’s not the first time that I’ve had that sort of misadventure, I’ve got to say.


BARR: And, Barnaby, your own swearing-in ceremony had an unexpected appearance?


JOYCE: Yeah, look, Sebastian decided that’d he was actually going to get himself sworn in as well. And that was great. I was trying to go with the gravity of the situation, and Seb just said, “I’m part of the show.” And I was trying to work out whether I just pick him up or whether, you know, I do the polite thing, and it looks like I’ve palmed him off and headed for the corner line for a cry.


BARR: That is the cutest shot, though. We love it. Okay. Kids and animals. Thanks, guys. Talk to you next week.