SUBJECT | The Voice, Interest rates and the Chinese spy balloon | 6 February 2023
PETE STEFANOVIC: Joining us is the shadow immigration minister Dan Tehan. Dan, good to see you. Thanks for your time this morning. So, I'm going to need you to help fill in some blanks because we had a shot of Peter Dutton earlier, after the church service, but we couldn't get any audio, so as for the Opposition, let's get your response to the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese's, claim after church that we need to listen to the call from the community, which with an eye on Newspoll this morning is backed up, with most people suggesting that they want to see the Voice through. So does that mean is that enough for you to get on board, or have you still got queries?
DAN TEHAN: Now what the community want is that they want answers to serious questions as to how this will help make sure that on the ground, we're getting the outcomes that we need. How we can ensure that it won't become a legal minefield? What the representation will look like; there are 35 regions, and my understanding is there would be maybe 24 or 25 representatives of the Voice: how will that work? For instance, in my area of western Victoria, we've got strong Indigenous traditions; how will they be represented? How do I ensure that you know it's not a typical approach by Labor that the inner cities are listened to, but the further you get away from the capital cities, you're then ignored? We don't want that to be happening to Indigenous Australians in regional, rural and remote Australia. All these questions need to be answered, and Anthony Albanese telling us that we should vote for the Voice will not cut it. What he has to do is actually engage, answer questions and show true bipartisanship. Just telling people: this is what you're going to do will not work.
STEFANOVIC: The Government's accused you of trying to start a culture war. Are you trying to start a culture war?
TEHAN: No, and I mean this is the complete rubbish that we get, so we're going to be starting the culture war; we’re told that the rest of the world will frown upon us. The rest of the world respects and admires Australia for its democratic institutions and for its ability to be able to debate and discuss issues. And they will be looking at us when it comes to something as important as changing our Constitution to see that we do it in an appropriate and decent manner. That's how we get respect, not just by telling people that you’re this or you're that if you're going to vote this way. I mean, that is looking down upon the Australian people. They said that this should be a bottom-up approach, well answer the questions, inform the Australian people about what this is all about, and then we'll get the outcome that we need. Anthony Albanese is not practising bipartisanship. He is telling people how they should vote and saying if you don't, then you're wrong. Now that is not the way to go about getting bipartisanship. It's not the way to go about inspiring Australian people on something as important as Indigenous recognition in our constitution.
STEFANOVIC: Just a couple more before we go, Dan, with an eye on interest rates tomorrow. The RBA, I mean, you're back to school today; the RBA is back to school tomorrow. It looks like mortgage owners are going to be facing another rate hike, possibly even a super one, according to some reports this morning. I mean, is that an indication that current policies are not working?
TEHAN: It is an indication that current policies aren’t working, and it's an indication that the government doesn't have its priorities right. The treasurer spent his summer writing a 6000-word thesis that no one can really understand or comprehend; meanwhile, it looks like interest rates are going up. We know that energy prices continue to go up. So the whole energy policy has been a failure. They're not doing anything to put downward pressure on interest rates. Households are seeing hits to their wallets every single day, and the government is basically asleep at the wheel in trying to address the cost of living pressures. So, you know, they need to get down and do some serious work and do it now because if we get an interest rate rise again tomorrow, that is going to hurt families, and it's going to show once again that what Anthony Albanese said before the election was - was that he was going to put downward pressure on interest rates - was a complete and utter furphy.
STEFANOVIC: Just a final one here, too. We're just looking at this Chinese spy balloon. I'm fascinated by this story, Dan; I mean, have they ever tried anything like that over here while you were in government that we don't know about?
TEHAN: Well, not that I've been aware of, Pete, but I must say, it is a very serious incident, and what we have to ensure is that we are able to once again firmly say to the Chinese Government that this type of behaviour does not generate the type of free, fair and open Indo-Pacific region that we're looking for. And so we've got to send that message to them firmly. We want to engage with the Chinese Government constructively, but this type of behaviour doesn't help in that regard, and my hope now is that we will see a de-escalation, not the Chinese Government looking to retaliate further, because it was unprecedented what we saw, and the US acted absolutely appropriately in shooting it down.