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April 3, 2023

SUBJECT | Aston By-election | 3 April 2023

PETE STEFANOVIC: Dan, good morning. So let's talk NSW. What's your assessment of the NSW Liberal wipeout on the weekend?

DAN TEHAN: Well, Pete, they were going for a fourth term; that's never been done before in Liberal Party history in NSW. I thought Dom Perrottet ran an outstanding campaign. I think they have been a very, very good government and the most important thing now, I think, for the NSW Liberals is to make sure that they defend their legacy, especially when it comes to what they've been able to do with infrastructure; unite, get behind the new leader the day they vote in; and make sure now that they hold this new Labor government to account — and that becomes really, really important: unity and making sure they hold this new government to account.

STEFANOVIC: The problem is, though, Dan, it's not just a single state. It is a red wave right across the mainland now, so what is the Liberal Party doing wrong?

TEHAN: Well, we’ve been here before. We had the same situation under Kevin Rudd. There are always cycles when it comes to politics, and we need to make sure that we get our state organisations, our state divisions, fit for purpose. We've got to make sure we keep implementing the Hume-Loughane review, making sure that we're getting the right candidates in the right seats, making sure we're continuing that outreach into multi-cultural communities and making sure that we've got the policies that we take to the next federal election and to the next state and territory elections that will see voters say, yes, we are a party in tune with the Australian people. And I'm absolutely positive they will return us to power in the coming years.

STEFANOVIC: It feels like one of the biggest problems Dan is on how to win over pro-climate seats, but also working-class seats as well. Which one is more important, or how do you bring both of them back into the fold?

TEHAN: Well, all voters are important, and that's what we've got to make sure that we keep focused on. You can't say, all right; we're going to put all our attention on one group, not another. You've got to, in the end, be able to present policies which show that you will govern for all Australians. We've done it in the past and will be able to do it in the future. We are the most successful political movement federally; we must be proud of that record. We have to understand that the Australian people will vote for the Liberal Party, love us in government, and know that we will pursue their interests and the national interest. So we've got to have confidence. We've got to have faith, we've got to do what we've done before, present a compelling case, and if we do that, we can get back into government both federally and at the state and territory level.

STEFANOVIC: So, bringing it to current policy, if more and more people are after pro-climate policies, should this change your position when it comes to safeguarding mechanisms?

TEHAN: Well, we've got a very clear position, and that's net-zero by 2050. Now, when it comes to how you get there, this is where the debate is: how do you transition? Now, what the Labor Party want to do is tax, and we don't want an approach where you tax; we want to incentivise, we want to use innovation, and we want to get there where you don't put a large cost on the Australian people. And the problem with the safeguard mechanism — and we know this is why the Labor Party won't model it — is that it will put a tax or a cost on the Australian people. That's not how we want to get to net zero by 2050. We want to get there by innovation, and we want to get there by making sure that we invest in the right technologies and we don't burden the Australian people, especially when you've got a cost of living crisis like they're facing at the moment.

STEFANOVIC: Are you concerned about this anti-liberal sentiment at the moment that appears to be taking place in elections? Are you concerned about that bleeding into Aston this weekend?

TEHAN: Well, look, in Aston, we have an outstanding candidate in Roshena Campbell. She's been out and about making the case every single day, every single evening; I don't think we've had a candidate that has worked so hard. So I’m confident that we've put a very good case to the people of Aston through Roshena; she has been pointing out that the Labor Party have cut infrastructure funding to that seat. They did it as soon as they came into office, and once again, they don't understand the congestion issues that people are facing out there. So I think that she will do very, very well on Saturday and she's put a very compelling case to the people of Aston.

STEFANOVIC: In the interests of party harmony then, is it wise to punt Moira Deeming from the party today?

TEHAN: Well, that's a decision for our state parliamentary colleagues. They'll meet at ten o’clock; we’ll await the outcome of that meeting. But that's very much a decision for them, and they will make that decision this morning, and then we'll wait and see what that outcome is and where we go from there.

STEFANOVIC: How do you feel about Daniel Andrews going to China, Dan?

TEHAN: Well, I think he's going to China more times, and he's visited Warrnambool in my electorate in western Victoria. I'm concerned that the only reports we will get from it will be from state-run media in China. And I'd really like to know the purpose of this visit. I mean, he should clearly articulate what the purpose is, why he's going, what is the outcome he's seeking to achieve for Victoria from this secret, secret trip that he's taking, that he will not take any reporters with him on.

STEFANOVIC: So, does this trip suit the nickname, Chairman Dan?

TEHAN: Well, I mean, it will lead to that nickname sticking, but I think what really we need to see from the Premier is what is the reason he's going. I mean, I would say to him, come to western Victoria, look at the state of the roads in western Victoria, go for a drive around there rather than heading to China, look after your backyard first, get it right before you go on these secret trips to China.

STEFANOVIC: Well, he's talking about increasing trade. He wants to get more students into Victoria and try and beat out other competitors around Australia. It's worth a lot of money to Victoria; on that point, is it fair enough?

TEHAN: Well, why isn’t he taking the universities with him? Why isn't he taking the TAFES and the private training providers? Why isn't he taking a delegation? Why isn’t he taking some media from Victoria so that that can be reported on to see whether he can actually achieve what he's doing, and why isn't he also focusing on what's happening in Victoria? We know that at the Commonwealth Games, there is a huge budget blow-out; they can't afford to build the stadium they need to. The road infrastructure, especially in regional and rural Victoria, has collapsed, and he's doing nothing about it. He won't even go out and have a look at it. The health system is in crisis, and yet here he is going on a secret trip to China. I mean, get your own backyard sorted first, or if you're going to do these trips, take at least a business delegation with the people that will be able to promote their institutions or their businesses and get the real outcomes that we need.

Media contact | Sandie Gustus 0408 564 232