Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today Show

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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28 October 2022

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Well, if there's any indication the PM might be feeling a little heat over his first Budget well this may be it. Unleashing yesterday after a question from a Nationals MP. Take a look. 

(Clip plays) 

I thought he was going to explode. Deputy PM Richard Marles joins us now and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. Good morning guys, nice to see you bright and early this morning. 

Pete, to you first of all. Do you believe Michelle Landry was bullied by the PM as she accuses? 

PETER DUTTON, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I certainly do, and I think it's evidenced by the fact that Michelle left the chamber essentially in tears and distraught. She's had a lot of attacks, personal attacks, against her and her family from the CFMEU and the Labor candidates on the ground in Central Queensland for a number of years, and the way, the tone in which the Prime Minister directed that anger yesterday at Michelle Landry, I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but the fact is it conveyed what used to be, what Labor would otherwise refer to in Tony Abbott's day as a misogynistic approach. That's the reality. And they obviously have a double standard, but I think an apology to Michelle is warranted because I think his approach, frankly, was completely over the top. I mean, yell and shout at me all you want, that's fine, I've got thick skin.  But I thought he just really crossed a line yesterday. 

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Richard, I do recall not so long ago Albo saying he wanted to "change the way we do politics in Australia", is this what he meant by that? 

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RICHARD MARLES: I don't accept any of what Peter's just said then. I was in the chamber when this occurred obviously. I think this was, you know, Anthony in full flight making a whole lot of pretty valid points around infrastructure spending in and around Rockhampton. I think he was having a bit of fun with Peter about the difference between the Yeppen floodplains and Yeppoon and that was what was going on. And so I actually think this is pretty much a beat-up. The Prime Minister did speak to Michelle Landry and put a call in to make sure she was fine. But politics is a robust business. This was the Prime Minister absolutely speaking passionately about a topic that he's spent a lot of time on in his political career, which is infrastructure. And to be frank I think a lot is being made here of not much at all. 

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, but Richard, if ‑ I mean this sounds like the reverse happened when Pete was in power. If a woman is making an accusation of bullying. then, Richard, don't you have to investigate that as such and take the appropriate action? 

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: There's nothing to investigate. What was said was there, you've just played it. People can make their own judgment. I think this was a politician speaking very passionately in a contested environment, which is what Question Time is and what it's always been. You can run the video over all the questions that have been asked and all the questions that have been answered for decades and you'll get a sense of what the contested environment is. 


DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: That clip that you just ran was Anthony speaking passionately about infrastructure, which is what he cares about. We all go into politics understanding the robust nature of it. So, there's nothing to investigate, it is all there completely in the open. 

STEFANOVIC: Okay. Peter, do you accept that, that it wasn't bullying, that it was just the robust nature of politics? 

DUTTON: Look, to be honest, Karl, I don't. I just think there is such a double standard that operates here. Had it been the other way, had I been shouting at one of the Labor women on the frontbench or the backbench in that way then I think Labor would have accused straight away. And the double standard that Labor applies is, you know, quite remarkable. It is what it is. I mean Richard's stated his position. The Prime Minister says there's nothing to see here so that's as it is. I mean he's the Prime Minister, if he can't reflect on what he said then that's an issue for him. 

STEFANOVIC: Okay, all right. Richard, you have now broken a promise on power bills. I'm looking into a crystal ball. The next campaign comes up sooner than you think and you might see this ad. 

(Clip plays)

DUTTON: You've got too much time on your hands, Karl. What's going on? 

STEFANOVIC: I'm supporting you here, ironically. Richard, how will you respond at the next election campaign to that vicious ad from Peter Dutton? 

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: I'm so hoping that is the ad. We're looking forward to that ad. I obviously don't accept what you asserted. Look, power prices are a real challenge, and we get that. You know, we've got a war in Ukraine which has wreaked havoc on international energy markets and that's being experienced around the globe and we're very focused on what we need to do. That's why the budget was all about cost‑of‑living and we're looking at what other options we can take to reduce power prices in the here and now. 

But let's be clear: we inherited from the Coalition Government a brittle energy system. That's the bottom line here. They took more energy out of the system over their ten years of government than they put in. They had 22 energy policies without being able to land one of them. And that's why we're not in a very good position as a country to deal with the energy shock that we're seeing around the world. And so we've got a pretty difficult legacy to deal with here and we're doing it in the long‑term and in the short‑term. 

STEFANOVIC: Okay. Peter, yesterday, I mean you came under attack, vicious attack, from the Prime Minister over your pronunciations. I'll be honest with you, I haven't, and I'm a pretty well‑known Queenslander, heard of the Yeppen floodplain, but I have certainly heard of Yeppoon, but this was what happened in Parliament just after it. 

(Clip plays)

He went on to say several times, Pete, "Queenslander". I mean you are a disgrace this morning. 

DUTTON: Well, Karl, I'll come to this in a second, but I just want to say that Richard Marles I think masked well before when you showed that ad because it may well be Richard Marles as a Labor leader that we're targeting in the ad by the next election. I think he is sharpening his knives. Just watch, you heard it first on the Today Show, watch this bloke. 

Karl, I've lived in Bundy, I've lived in Townsville, I've got family in Mackay and Townsville and Rocky and I've driven that road hundreds of times, and in fact I was only up there the week before last and we drove in. But I must have been asleep as we came in because, yeah, I got it wrong. I know where Yeppoon is, I've been out to the coast many times. But Yeppen plains, I must say that it's not on the postcard, so no. 

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, it escapes you. Especially when you've got a couple of black rat travellers next to you on the passenger seat. I understand completely.  Have a great weekend, guy, appreciate it. 

PETER DUTTON: Thanks guys.



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