Thu, 16 May 2024 - 15:44



Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts

Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy

Manager of Opposition Business in the House




16 MAY 2024

KIERAN GILBERT: Welcome back. Joining me live in the studio is the Manager of Opposition Business, Paul Fletcher. A lot to get across today in the Senate, there's already been quite a bit of action. A motion moved by your Senate counterpart, Simon Birmingham, criticising from the river to the sea that phrase and calling for a unified Senate and having a civil debate basically. And the government supporting that motion. The Greens voting against it, as did Lidia Thorpe. Senator Fatima Payman, who made some remarks and used that phrase that caused the discussion. She wasn't in the Senate. But do you welcome the fact that the leadership Senator Wong, Gallagher, Farrell, all voted with the opposition on that? 

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, it was a motion stating a very important principle. And of course, moved by Senator Birmingham, I do welcome the fact that there was, uh, that it was voted for by labor parliamentarians. I think Senator Payman's comments were extremely unfortunate. They were, um, completely at odds with what the Prime Minister himself has said about that chart and about the importance of social cohesion. Uh, you know, I have the second largest Jewish community of any electorate in New South Wales. My constituents are telling me they are concerned for their safety. It is very important that we have mutual trust and respect between the many diverse religious,  ethnic communities in our country. We are at one of the world's most successful multicultural nations. I'm proud to represent an electorate with four synagogues, but also a mosque, the Hornsby Da'wah Centre. I visited the mosque; I visited the synagogues. And what I want to see, I think what all fair minded Australians want to see is a strong commitment to maintaining mutual trust and tolerance and respect. And unfortunately, what we saw from Senator Pullman was the opposite of that commitment -

KIERAN GILBERT: There's been a call for the Prime Minister to show leadership on this. Do you think that what you saw in the Senate reflects that, because that was a show of unity and criticism, repudiation of anti-Semitism there? 

PAUL FLETCHER: The Prime Minister does need to show leadership, and he needs to reflect carefully on what he needs to do to demonstrate that we know that the Labor Party,

KIERAN GILBERT: His whole team voting with - 


KIERAN GILBERT: we know that opposition is not a bad start. 

PAUL FLETCHER: We know that the Labor Party, has, you know, very strong discipline and uh, so let's see, uh, the Prime Minister deal with this appropriately. A very strong signal needs to be sent that community leaders, people in positions of leadership, including a senator, ought not be, uh, stoking the fires of division and mistrust. 

KIERAN GILBERT: But you've got to be you've also got to be fairly cautious, don't you, in how you respond to these matters, too, because as you said earlier, we don't want any sow the seeds of discord, do we? So the response is also needs to be calibrated. 

PAUL FLETCHER: The coalition's call is for the Prime Minister to show leadership on this. He has all the resources of the office of Prime Minister. He needs to determine what he needs to do. But we certainly do call on him to show leadership. This is a very important issue 

KIERAN GILBERT: On the budget are made in Australia plan. It looks like it's been welcomed by the Liberal Party in WA but not the Liberal Party in Canberra. Why is that? 

PAUL FLETCHER: Let's be clear, we support businesses investing in all kinds of areas, including hydrogen critical minerals and so many other areas. The best way to support business investment is to have lower taxes. We've seen taxes go up under this government. The tax take increase under this -

KIERAN GILBERT: What about the incentives for critical minerals? You're against those?

PAUL FLETCHER: The best way to support investment and get businesses investing is to create the right business conditions. That means lower taxes. That means lower energy costs. Energy is a huge input into business activity, and we're seeing business after business around the country close because energy prices are out of control. And of course, it means a clearer, simpler, less costly industrial relations system. So - 

KIERAN GILBERT: Premier Cook says your anti WA what do you say to that. 

PAUL FLETCHER: Absolutely not true. But what we want to see is we want to see, uh, the right decisions being taken in the budget to support prosperity, to reduce inflation. The number one priority was to get inflation down. Instead, we've had a budget which is widely agreed by economists to be stimulatory of inflation. That is the very worst thing we need.

KIERAN GILBERT: My colleague Andrew Clennell reported that Mr. Dutton is going to announce a commitment to cut immigration in a big way tonight. Is that a key plank of the budget Reply?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, the leader of the opposition is speaking at 7:30 tonight. I encourage you and all your viewers to tune in for what will be a very clear speech setting out the differences of principle that we have with this government on the budget, including the principle we've just talked about, that we support, a simpler, conditions across the board to support business investment, rather than government picking winners. And we obviously have a leader of the opposition who has enormous experience when it comes to keeping our country safe, keeping our borders safe. And you will see from him our clear policy settings and our clear differences of principle with an Albanese Labor government, which is making life harder, not easier, for Australians. 

KIERAN GILBERT: Manager of opposition business Paul Fletcher. Thanks as always. 

PAUL FLETCHER: Thanks, Kieran