Prime Minister – Transcript – Interview with Leigh Sales, ABC 7.30 17 May

Liberal Party of Australia

LEIGH SALES: The Prime Minister’s in Cairns this evening. Prime Minister, thank you very much for your time.

PRIME MINISTER: Happy, Leigh. Happy to.

SALES: How do you campaign effectively when even you are admitting that the biggest drag on the Government’s re-election chance is yourself?

PRIME MINISTER: Because we’ve got the economic plan, Leigh, that I know can take Australia into the future and seize the opportunities there. I know that’s the case. I know our economic plan is working because Australians are working. We’ve been through one of the most difficult times the country has seen in in generations since the Great Depression. And we’ve been able to come through, getting unemployment down, bringing the economy through, and now we’re set, and we are setting up for the opportunities ahead. Investing in the skills, investing in the infrastructure, getting taxes down. Businesses investing in their equipment to set themselves up for the opportunity. That opportunity is there, and our economic plan can achieve that, which means we can pay for Medicare, we can pay for the aged care reforms, we can pay for the defence forces that we need in a highly uncertain and unstable environment.

SALES: I’ll come to the economy and jobs shortly in detail. But just firstly, how did you conclude that the thing that people don’t like about you is that you’re a bulldozer?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’m just being honest, Leigh. I mean, I can be. And during the last two or three years, but frankly, at other times in the various jobs that I’ve had, that has been very necessary. I mean, Australia has been able to come through this pandemic in a situation where our economy is stronger than almost well all of the G7 countries –

SALES: But –

PRIME MINISTER: We’ve got one of the lowest death rates in the world and that didn’t happen by accident. It required great will, great determination, tremendous strength and to be able to push through –

SALES: But I’m just wondering why –

PRIME MINISTER: … now we’re going into a new period now.

SALES: Sorry, sorry, Prime Minister. Just to pick up, though, I’m just wondering though why why you think it’s that any of that is the kind of thing that upsets people? Because if you look at what the focus groups are saying, isn’t the feedback more that people don’t like what they perceive, rightly or wrongly, as you ducking responsibility, blame shifting, being slippery with the truth, being slow to act when required?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they’re Labor’s criticisms and that’s not what I get. What I get is people really just want to see me be more inclusive in terms of how I go forward. And I think that’s the challenge going forward and that’s what we want to do during the course of a crisis in a pandemic, you’ve got to move fast, you’ve got to be decisive, and that means sometimes you can’t take everybody with you. And you don’t always get everything right either. But in the next phase, then we’ve got the opportunity to bring people forward on that plan. And it’s a plan that I know is working. And that’s the key, because the plan depends on knowing what you’re talking about on the economy, having the experience, and to apply the lessons of these last difficult years to ensure we realise those opportunities in the future so Australians can realise their aspirations like owning a home.

SALES: You’ve spoken about things that you would do differently. What would you have done differently for example, when it came to the way your Government used community sports grants as a as a slush fund to channel money to marginal seats?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I completely reject that, Leigh. Over the course of this campaign –

SALES: Well that was the finding of the Australian National Audit Office.

PRIME MINISTER: Now I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Every place I’ve gone where we’ve continued to provide support for local clubs, these clubs matter in these communities.

SALES: Yeah, but –

PRIME MINISTER: I don’t think public servants. And I’m sorry, Leigh. I was just going to finish. I don’t think public servants sitting in Canberra have a better idea about what people need in their communities than their Members of Parliament –

SALES: Yeah, but Sport –

PRIME MINISTER: … who work in those communities every day.

SALES: … Sport Australia, Sport Australia might and the National Audit Office found that half of the successful projects weren’t the ones recommended by Sport Australia. They were ones that went to marginal seats.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’m sorry. Politicians, elected leaders, Ministers ultimately make decisions because we’re the ones who are accountable to the public, not public servants, not Sport Australia. I mean, I was at the Beauty Point Bowling Club down in Northern Tasmania the other day. That’s the main community hall in the entire community. It’s a bowls club. They needed help to ensure that they could continue. We’re supporting them. Now, someone in Canberra mightn’t understand how important that is, but I can tell you what they do, and Bridget Archer does, and I do, and that’s why we support it. So I just don’t buy into this narrative that is put to us. Politicians, Members of Parliament are part of their local community. They know what their community needs. We go to an election. We are very clear about what we plan to do and the commitments we make, and then we follow through and we implement them.

SALES: This is a nine year old Government and in a term that long a Government has a record of things that it’s initiated and a record of things unexpected to which it’s had to react. So let’s start with what you’ve initiated. You’ve racked up trillions of dollars in debt. What does Australia have to show for it that’s a lasting change for the better?

PRIME MINISTER: We’re building Snowy Hydro. We’re building the Sydney Western Sydney Airport. We’re building the the inland rail. And we’ve, we’ve completed the duplication of the Pacific Highway. We’ve boosted the Bruce but importantly, we have an economy today on the other side of a pandemic because of the single largest economic intervention in Australia’s history. Before we went into the Budget, sorry into the pandemic, we actually balanced the Budget. It took us six years to get there and we did it not by cutting services. We did it by growing the economy. Now, that meant we had deficits for those years and those deficits added to the debt. But are you suggesting we should have been cutting hospitals and schools and things like that to get there? We said we wouldn’t do that. We said we would balance the Budget by growing the economy. Now, I was Treasurer for three of those years and we went into the pandemic, we balanced the Budget, which meant we could respond with JobKeeper, the cash flow boost, the tax incentives, the COVID supplements, all of these things, and record spending on health to get Australia through the biggest crisis we faced in 70 years –

SALES: Well, as you mentioned –

PRIME MINISTER: I would say, that’s a lot to show for it.

SALES: As you –

PRIME MINISTER: We have a country today which is strong.

SALES: As you mentioned, you were clawing back that debt over a period of time and you were elected in 2013 on that promise, as you would remember. Now, you’re campaigning for re-election with record debt and we’re not hearing a word about a plan to pay it back.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s the same plan. By growing your economy and being responsible with your spending, that is the way you reduce the deficits, which is what the Budget sets out over the forward estimates and over the medium term.

SALES: Yeah, but you’re increasing spending.

PRIME MINISTER: See, we, but Leigh, as you, as you balance the Budget over over the years, you’re bringing the deficits down as a share of the economy. And that means you’re getting the Budget back to a position of structural and ultimately absolute balance. Now, this is not something new. We’ve done this before. It took us six years after the Labor period in Government and –

SALES: Yeah, but the scale of the debt now is, it just the earlier debt pales into comparison.

PRIME MINISTER: Even more important, is why you actually need a Government that knows how to do this. We’ve done it before, we have cleaned up and dealt with these sorts of situations before. Now, I don’t think anyone would contend that the investments that we had to make during the pandemic were unnecessary. And that’s why that debt is what it is. It saved the country, Leigh. It saved jobs. It saved businesses. The ANU themselves actually increased the estimates, some 800,000 jobs saved. The investments we made in mental health saved lives, as did the investments we made in people’s physical health for COVID.

SALES: On your –

PRIME MINISTER: So saving the country, I thought, was worth the investment, Leigh.

SALES: On your plan to allow people to dip into their superannuation to buy housing. Your own Superannuation Minister Jane Hume today said that it would drive housing prices up short term. What’s the point of a policy that makes already insane housing prices even worse?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the key thing that impacts housing prices is the supply of housing. And what Jane was referring to was in isolation. When you take all of our housing policies together, in particular the Downsizing policy. Now, the downsizing policy actually gets more housing stock into the market. I mean, our housing market each year, I think, is some $687 billion. This measure affects up to about 1 per cent of it. And so the suggestion this will have any sort of significant impact here, I just don’t think bears up to scrutiny. What this does is enables people to have control over their own money to help them buy a home, so when they go into their retirement, they’ll be better off, and when they buy that home, they’ll have lower mortgage payments because they’ve got more of a deposit to help them get through. This is how you put, help people with cost of living. You let them use their own money. You don’t lock it away from them where someone else is in control of it.

SALES: But I could read you –

PRIME MINISTER: They should be in control of it. It’s theirs.

SALES: But I could read you a long list of quotes from Coalition luminaries who’ve previously said that allowing people to access their retirement savings to buy a house is a bad idea. I’m not going to read them all because I don’t want to waste time. But I’ve got here, John Howard, Peter Costello –

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I know those –

SALES: … Malcolm Turnbull, Christopher Pyne, Mathias Cormann, Peter Dutton. Why is raiding super, and why is it your break glass policy? Because you did it during COVID. You’re doing it again now.

PRIME MINISTER: No, no, no. Well, those policies they were referring to are not the policy we’ve put forward here, Leigh. Because the policy we’ve put forward here is not that people take money out of their superannuation and never put it back. This policy actually invests it back into superannuation, so it doesn’t impact on your long term retirement savings. That’s the difference. And what they were referring to was something quite different.

SALES: Yeah, but what if the housing market tanks? We know the housing market’s over –

PRIME MINISTER: And that’s why this policy is smart. Sorry?

SALES: What if the housing market tanks? We know the housing market, for example, is a bubble at the moment. What if it tanks?

PRIME MINISTER: Leigh, what you’re suggesting is owning your own home is a gamble Australians shouldn’t take. I don’t agree with that. I heard Penny Wong say that today. Owning your home, your home, is the most significant asset for most Australians that they will ever own. I know it’s the case for Jenny and I, and I believe buying a home is the best economic decision that you can make, and it’s the strongest thing you can do for families and communities. That’s why I’m all in on the side of those who want to buy a home. And I know for the parents of those and family members of those who are looking at their family, really, this is a tough thing. And they go to them for help as well. Well, we can’t just allow that to be the case. We should be allowing people to use their own money. And that’s what this does. It boosts their ultimate retirement incomes because they’re investing in their own home, the best investment anyone ever makes. And it ensures they can get into the housing market earlier, saving them time and reducing their ultimate mortgage payments.

SALES: Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: It adds up at every level.

SALES: Prime Minister, you’ve said that this election is about one thing, jobs, and you want to create a million more of them. You talk to anyone at the moment in business –

PRIME MINISTER: 1.3 million, yeah.

SALES: You talk to anyone in business at the moment, large or small, and what they’ll tell you is that they can’t get enough workers to fill their current vacancies. They don’t want more jobs. They want more workers.

PRIME MINISTER: That’s true. This is the single biggest challenge facing the Australian economy today. And that’s why we’re investing a record –

SALES: Well, aren’t you going to make the problem worse, if you make a million more jobs?

PRIME MINISTER: No, that means the economy will be bigger and there’ll be more people there to fill those jobs. Because we’re investing in the skills of Australians. The jobs we’re creating are skilled jobs. These are jobs where we currently have 220,000 Australians in trade training right now. That’s the highest level we’ve ever seen, Leigh, since 1963, when records began. We’ve invested over $7 billion this year alone in additional training places –

SALES: But, Prime Minister, sorry, sorry to interrupt. Training takes –

PRIME MINISTER: [Inaudible]

SALES: Sorry, sorry, training, training takes time, right? And people are saying that they have gaps and vacancies that they can’t fill right now. So what are you going to do as a Federal Government to help with that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, just as well then, Leigh, wasn’t it that during the pandemic we did the Boosting Apprenticeship Scheme, the commencing and the completing apprenticeship schemes. That means that we’ve got those 220,000 people who are doing apprentices and finishing them now isn’t just the exact thing we should have done with JobTrainer? Which we did. A more than billion dollar program, together with the states and territories that created over 400,000 training places, 30,000 more university places during the pandemic. We’ve been investing big on those skills and education because we know that’s what the country needs. Now the immigration program will begin to build back up again and it’ll focus heavily on skills. The agricultural visa, the work we’ve done with the Pacific Labour Scheme. I was at a vineyard the other day and an orchard and the workers there were from East Timor, from Timor-Leste. And we have workers coming in from many parts of the Pacific, which is helping with that program. They’re the solutions. It’s tough, there’s no doubt about that. And I believe that investing in skills and investing in that labour force is the most important economic challenge that we have facing our economy in the short to medium term.

SALES: On wages, if you don’t support wages keeping pace with inflation isn’t what you’re saying to Australians that you support them taking a pay cut? Because that’s the practical effect of it.

PRIME MINISTER: I support the Fair Work Commission making decisions on wages, taking into account all the factors that impact on people’s cost of living and whether they’ll be better off. I support wage increases, Leigh.

SALES: But what about my central point there?

PRIME MINISTER: I want people to be paid more.

SALES: What about my central point there? That if your pay doesn’t match, if it doesn’t go up by as much as inflation, you are effectively taking a pay cut because you’ve got the same money, but everything costs more.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, let me give you an example of our record on that. Seven out of the last eight minimum wage decisions made by Fair Work ensured that the minimum wage rose faster than inflation and real wages since we came to Government, for the minimum wage, is actually lifted in real terms by 7 per cent.

SALES: So do you accept then that there’s a –

PRIME MINISTER: Now, when the Labor Party was in –

SALES: Sorry, sorry, Prime Minister. There’s a slight delay, so I do apologise if it looks like I’m interrupting you.

PRIME MINISTER: Now, I was just about to, if I could – no, that’s alright.

SALES: But do you accept then? Do you accept?

PRIME MINISTER: No, that’s alright. I understand.

SALES: Do you accept then that there is a cost of living crisis?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, everybody knows the war in Europe, the disruption of supply chains from the pandemic and even the floods that we’ve seen that are impacting on fruit and vegetable prices. The whole world knows that there’s upward pressure on inflation. I mean, inflation in Australia at 5.1 per cent. In New Zealand it’s almost 7. In the United States it’s 8.5. I mean what we’re seeing in Australia is, yes, it’s tough, but if you look at the performance of like countries to Australia, the economic shield that we’ve put in place to protect Australians from those forces, and the additional things we did in this Budget, whether it was halving petrol tax or additional support for pensioners or extending the tax relief and the ongoing tax relief is there to help Australians better cope with this. The reason we did that is because we didn’t want all the gains of coming through this pandemic as people get up on their feet again, for them to be knocked down again. But the other point I was going to make way before, before there was the misunderstanding – is when Labor was in power, there were six decisions of minimum wages. On three occasions, they did not go up more than the inflation rate. So they talk a big game on this, but when they were in Government, they didn’t achieve what they now claim to say they can.

SALES: On climate change do accept that to get to net zero by 2050, Australia needs to shut down most of its coal-fired power stations by 2030?

PRIME MINISTER: No, I don’t. No, I don’t. And there will be a change that will take place in Australia, around the world that will happen over time. And that’s why we believe in investing in carbon capture, use and storage technologies –

SALES: So do you have a timeframe in your head –

PRIME MINISTER: … and, and that’s what our, our investments do.

SALES: Do you have a timeframe in your head for when you think coal will end in Australia?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, not specifically, because that will be decided by those who are actually using and running those power stations based on their commercial viability and they currently have timetables on all of those. But in some cases those timetables are brought forward and that’s why we took action, particularly to develop the gas-fired plant up there in Kurri Kurri to ensure that we can we can keep reliable energy generation in the system, because for all the renewables to work, the intermittent renewables, the ones that rely on solar and wind, they need firmed power, as it’s called, or reliable power to support them to make the whole grid work, so you don’t have variability problems. And so our plan does that. Our plan ensures that the transmission investments that we’re putting into the grid are based on when it is needed and where it is needed. Labor’s plan puts $20 billion of investment that goes beyond that, which can only force up electricity prices. So our emissions plan, which has already seen emissions fall by around 20 per cent, far more than Canada, far more than New Zealand, more than Japan. All of these countries, we are performing better. We’ve got one of the highest, we have the highest rooftop solar rates in the world. Australians are doing it. We’re doing it. We have a plan to get to net zero by 2050, based on the technologies that will not only solve the problem in Australia, but around the world, and particularly in our region and in partner countries like Indonesia and India where we’ve developed these partnerships to develop things like hydrogen technology as well as carbon capture use and storage.

SALES: I said –

PRIME MINISTER: That’s how to deal with climate change – a long-term technology plan.

SALES: I said earlier that for a nine year Government, there’s a record of what you’ve instigated and there’s a record of what you’ve had to react to. So shifting to what you’ve had to react to, let me read you a quote from Anthony Albanese, they always react too little, too late, whether it’s the bushfire crisis, whether it’s responding to victims of floods or whether it’s ordering enough vaccines. Those three examples are indisputable, aren’t they?

PRIME MINISTER: They’re the they’re the comments of an armchair critic –

SALES: No, no, but –

PRIME MINISTER: … who probably never had to say anything about something that had happened after it happened.

SALES: Sure. He’s an armchair critic. Sure, but he’s not the Opposition Leader, but Prime Minister, those three examples, the Government was late to respond on all of them.

PRIME MINISTER: Well no, I, I have to disagree on a couple of points there, Leigh. Firstly, $2.9 billion straight in there to support the victims of bushfires. On floods, the same has been the case. We had people winching people off roofs within hours of floods hitting. When it, and and I think those who have been directly involved in the delivery of that support, whether it was our Centrelink officers, who were there providing emergency cash assistance and getting on the ground, our Defence Force personnel, the HMAS Adelaide that went to, to –

SALES: But Prime Minister everyone’s seen the images and heard from the people.

PRIME MINISTER: I’m, I’m aware of the narrative.

SALES: You can’t, you can’t honestly say that there was enough on the ground at the time.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, well it was a massive crisis, Leigh. I mean, there are not Defence Force personnel sitting in every single town in the country.

SALES: No, but we did have –

PRIME MINISTER: That’s not how it works. People moved as –

SALES: We did, Prime Minister, have –

PRIME MINISTER: People moved as –

SALES: Sorry, we did have that Royal Commission after the bushfires and Australians were assured that we’d never see a situation.

PRIME MINISTER: Yes, I initiated it.

SALES: We were assured we’d never see a situation again where people were left in such dire need. And then we had these floods in New South Wales this year. Is that the kind of performance that deserves another three years?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that is not what the Royal Commission found, Leigh. I, I commissioned the Royal Commission and governments, state and federal, and local for that matter, moved as swiftly and as promptly as we possibly could in a flood that was without precedent in this country, estimates of some 500 years. But on the vaccine program, you’ve mentioned that, we took decisions in August of 2020 to ensure that we manufactured vaccines in Australia. Now we had challenges in the early phase of the vaccine rollout. I’ve openly admitted that, but you know what happens when you have challenges and setbacks in a pandemic? You don’t get everything right and where it isn’t going to plan, you change the plan, you get back on top of it. General Frewen was appointed, the vaccine program was turned around, we were able to get access to the vaccines and the deals I was able to do with Poland and the United Kingdom and others, and we ended up having one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. My point is, it’s easy to make criticisms in the middle of a pandemic after the event, but when you’re there taking the country through all of that, and the decisions that have to be made every single day, when you step back and you look at what Australians have been able to achieve over these last two years, I think fair-minded people will see that Australia has compared very well to other countries and it didn’t happen by accident. We did it all together.

SALES: On foreign policy, the Government was apparently blindsided by the China China Solomon Islands security deal. And your reaction was to say that China attempting to build a naval base there would be a red line and that you wouldn’t allow it. What does that mean? How would you not allow this red line to be crossed?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, let me take you back. The Australian Government was not blindsided. We were aware of the efforts being made by the Chinese Government to do exactly that. And we’ve been taking action –

SALES: But if you can address the question please.

PRIME MINISTER: No, no, well, no, you suggest, you said we’d been blindsided, Leigh. And I’m just saying that actually wasn’t the case. And I said that at the time because I mean, this is a very serious issue and it is one we’ve been working on and working with the family of nations in the Pacific since before I became the Prime Minister. But I took it to a whole ‘nother level. I mean after the last election –

SALES: So how are you enforcing this red line?

PRIME MINISTER: … the first place, the first place I went to was the Solomon Islands. And one of the things we’ve had to change with –

SALES: So what about this red line?

PRIME MINISTER: Leigh, I’m trying to answer the question. The way you deal with countries in the Pacific had to change. Australia had a reputation of stomping around and treating the Pacific like they were some sort of colonial outpost. That was the feedback that I was getting from leaders when I became Prime Minister.

SALES: And this red line?

PRIME MINISTER: And I sought to turn that around. And frankly, in relation to where Prime Minister Sogavare is, I mean he has (been) talking about his engagement with Australia for a very long time. And so in terms of red lines, well we’re making it very clear that that is not a situation that we think is in the Solomon Islands interests, in the broader Pacifics’ interests –

SALES: Yeah, but you said you wouldn’t allow it to be crossed.

PRIME MINISTER: … or Australia’s –

SALES: What does it mean?

PRIME MINISTER: … and the United, and the United States have said the same thing.

SALES: Yeah, but what does it mean?

PRIME MINISTER: And so we will work constructively with our partners to ensure that that never occurs. But I’m not going to speculate on on those actions, Leigh. I don’t think that would be a wise thing to do. But governments and countries have to be very clear about what we understand to be acceptable and unacceptable circumstances, both in the regional security interests and the national security interests. And we will work with partners to avoid that outcome. And the Prime Minister has already made it very clear in the Solomon Islands, that a naval base is not something that he would support or indeed the people of the Solomon Islands would support.

SALES: I’m curious for your insights. Why do you think that previously blue ribbon Liberal seats, the kind that usually barely warrant a glance during an election campaign, are vulnerable to Independents?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’d simply say that supporting Independents in those seats will only produce a Parliament of chaos. And a Parliament of chaos –

SALES: No, that’s not the question. The question is why do you think they’re vulnerable for the first time?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’d say that our members have done an extraordinary job there. But as time has gone on, many of these places, I suppose, are less vulnerable to the impacts of the economy than, say, many of the places I’ve been in this campaign. Where I was today, up, up, up there in the seat of Blair and out in parts of regional Australia and the broader suburbs of the country. I mean, they are places that cannot afford the sort of risk that comes with a Labor Party and a leader that just is a bit loose on the economy. They will pay the price for that. And I think it’s important that perhaps some parts of our country may feel they’re a bit more insulated from the impacts of that and may be focussing on other issues. But I do know this, you can’t address climate change and invest in the technology you need to deal with climate change unless you have a strong economy. You can’t invest in mental health support or dealing with the issues involving violence against women and put $2.5 billion into those programs or developed advanced manufacturing, or ensure that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme can have 2,900 new or amended listings on it. You can’t do that without a strong economy, and you can never take that for granted. And that’s the point I’d make in those seats. Do not take our strong economy for granted and please do not give us a Parliament that will be one of chaos that would only weaken Australia and make it harder for Australians.

SALES: Looking ahead to Sunday, if the Coalition has lost, can we take it as a given that you’ll be standing down as Leader?

PRIME MINISTER: Oh Leigh, I don’t speculate on things like that.

SALES: Oh, come on, it’s in a few days’ time. You must be thinking about it.

PRIME MINISTER: I – the only person who’s, the only person who’s announced their retirement is you Leigh and I wish you very well in your retirement.

SALES: No, but –

PRIME MINISTER: And I commend you on the great job you have done over a long time.

SALES: No, but Prime Minister, c’mon.

PRIME MINISTER: You’ve interviewed me probably more than anyone else –

SALES: Come on. You must be, you must –

PRIME MINISTER: … I think over the course of my career.

SALES: I’m sure that’s right. But you must be, Prime Minister, thinking about what happens if you lose. Can we take it as a given that you would be standing down in that scenario?

PRIME MINISTER: No.

SALES: No, we can’t take it as a given.

PRIME MINISTER: That is, no, no, that is not something I’m contemplating, because I’m not contemplating on that being the scenario. And you know Leigh, people –

SALES: Okay. What if there was a hung Parliament, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER: Leigh, Leigh, no, Leigh. No, no.

SALES: Sorry, can I just, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: I’m not, I’m not getting into the scenario games, Leigh, because –

SALES: Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: … right now, I’m focused on one thing.

SALES: There are –

PRIME MINISTER: I’m focused on one thing, and that’s ensuring that our Government continues because we have the economic plan that we’ve demonstrated credibility with over these last very difficult years to ensure we secure the opportunities in the future.

SALES: Yes, but if you want that Government to continue –

PRIME MINISTER: And so, that’s what I’m focused on.

SALES: If you want that Government to continue, let’s say –

PRIME MINISTER: Then we need to win the majority of seats at this election.

SALES: Well, exactly. And what that might involve in –

PRIME MINISTER: That’s right.

SALES: … in the eventuality of a hung Parliament is negotiating with Independents and minor parties. Would you be prepared to stand aside to give a new leader a fresh slate and chance to negotiate with those people to keep the Coalition in Government?

PRIME MINISTER: No, I’m not speculating on these scenarios, Leigh, because my scenario, the scenario that my team is working for, is not to have a weakened Parliament, to not to have a Government that has to negotiate for its existence every day. If I had to do that, Leigh, over the last three years, Australia would not be in the stronger position we are today. We’d be in a weaker position –

SALES: If you lose –

PRIME MINISTER: … people would be worse off –

SALES: If you lose –

PRIME MINISTER: … and I want to avoid that.

SALES: If you lose the election, who will you blame?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I would always accept the result of an election because I trust my fellow Australians, I, I, and that issue becomes immaterial.

SALES: Okay.

PRIME MINISTER: A decision will be made on this Saturday and it’s an important decision about we want a stronger economy or a weaker one, a more uncertain environment for Australia, or more uncertainty in a world of uncertainty and a Government that, you know, with a clear plan and an Opposition and a Labor Leader that you don’t. These are the choices for Australia and I’ll tell you one thing, the only way Australians are going to be able to get access to their superannuation to buy their own home is if they vote Liberal and National because the Labor Party will never do it. They’ll never do it. But we know it’s your money and we want you to get access to it, so you can buy your own home.

SALES: There is no busier person than a Party Leader on an election campaign, so thank you, Prime Minister, for making time to speak to us.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot, Leigh. It was good to talk to you.

SALES: Thank you.

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