Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today

Release details

Release type

Related ministers and contacts

The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

Media contact

02 6277 7800

Release content

4 November 2022

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Well households coast to coast are on the brink. Energy prices soaring, petrol through the roof, and now the RBA is warning rate rises will be necessary to stave off recession. It's not what anyone wants to hear a month out from Christmas.

To discuss we're joined by Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, good morning guys, nice to see you this morning. Okay first up, Deputy PM, you're in the hot seat do you have the guts to tax gas or not?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RICHARD MARLES: Well we're working with the gas companies to try and make sure that we get enough supply and we create a downward pressure on gas prices. But we get the impact that energy prices are having on Australian families, it's why our budget was completely focused on the cost of living and we're dealing with this both in the short term and the long term. Obviously power is a big issue and we need to be getting more renewable energy on the grid and having a smarter grid. We've been left with ten years of inaction from the former coalition government, but we are working with gas companies to try and make sure that we get more supply which gets a downward pressure on gas prices.

STEFANOVIC: But if it comes to it, will you tax them or not?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well as I say we are working with the gas companies. We are looking at all the options that are available to us in terms of trying to get a downward pressure on gas prices. We get the situation that is being faced by Australian families. And we're going to do this in the way that we've been doing this since we've come to power, and that is getting people around the table and working out the answers to this which get the results that people need.

STEFANOVIC: It doesn't sound like it's going all that well around the round table that you talk about. You've got your Industry Minister who's been accused of creating a glut and greed problem, the industry says he's a demonizer and misrepresents them. I mean talk about conciliatory government.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well I don't accept that. From day one we faced a situation where there was a real crisis in terms of energy and power prices that had obviously been left to us by the former government. In the middle of winter we were looking at whether or not the lights were going to be kept on. We did get people around the table and we made sure that we got through the winter in that respect. So I think actually the way in which we've been going about governing has made a difference. But we understand the pressure that Australian households are facing, that's why our budget was entirely focused on the cost of living.

STEFANOVIC: Well it's a bunfight on the front page of the papers today, that's what it reads like. Pete, price caps on power - do you support that?

PETER DUTTON, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well Karl, I just don't know what this government is going to announce next. They had a Budget only a week or so ago and the opportunity there was to lay out their plan to explain to the Australian public, with five or six months worth of briefings from the departments and engaging with industry, what the solution would be. They promised $275 decrease in your electricity bill, and then now they put a Budget together which predicts over the next two years - so nothing to do with the previous government and all that talk that Richard goes on with - which predicts that your power prices will go up by 56 per cent. But the trouble at the moment, Karl, is that you've got a thought bubble coming out of the government each day. And I just don't know what it is they're doing or whether they can't make a decision. But at the moment, I think Australian families are hurting and they're looking to the government for help, and the Prime Minister is saying he doesn't have a clue.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. The repatriation of former ISIS brides has dominated the headlines this week. As you know, gentlemen, this morning, the community is calling for some level of transparency. Richard, are you going to give them anything at all? You haven't really even been bothered talking to local authorities at this point.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think what we need to understand here is that all the decisions that we are taking are based on the best national security advice. Those who have come back have been thoroughly assessed, being very closely monitored, and we're making sure that all of this is happening in a way which does keep Australians safe and which is the best way in which we can keep Australians safe. Now, we've seen repatriations before. We saw them under the former government. What we need to be doing - which we are doing - is making sure that we are taking the national security advice here so that this can be done in a way which is completely safe, and it will be.

STEFANOVIC: But basically, you're guaranteeing that nothing will come of these people - from these people - in terms of the safety aspects of their repatriation to other Australians who live in western Sydney?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: We're taking the decisions which are the best decisions to take to keep Australians safe. That's what we're doing. And we're doing that on the best national security advice which is available to us –

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Peter –

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: as I say, all of the people who are coming back have been thoroughly assessed.

STEFANOVIC: Pete, over to you.

DUTTON: Well, Karl, I don’t believe it's consistent with the security advice, because the security advice must have done a 180 degree flip from when we were in government not that long ago. So there's a political decision that's been made here. The government never announced it before the election. They never told the Australian public that they would be bringing these women back into Australia. And the advice that I had at the time, frankly, was that some of the women are just as bad as some of the men who ended up being killed in the theatre of war over there. Now, as a parent, or if you're a grandparent, your heart pulls and you would want your daughter or your grandchildren back, of course. But the job of the government is to make sure that Australians are safe and not introduce into the system an element of risk. And they've done exactly that. I was out in Western Sydney yesterday, in Fairfield, and I can tell you that the communities out there who have lost loved ones to ISIS fighters in the Middle East are beside themselves with worry about what's going to happen in their local community and their local schools when you bring this ideology back into the local community. And there's not been an ounce of consultation with them which makes them most (inaudible), and the Prime Minister stands up and says they don't deserve to know anything.

STEFANOVIC: Well I agree with that, there is that feeling out there. However, basically, what you're saying is the government's going rogue on this. That's a hell of an accusation.

DUTTON: Karl, they made a decision to bring people in and the next group who come in from the ISIS bride cohort will go into Victoria. They've made a decision that they won't bring those people into Victoria until the state election’s taken place. Now, if you think that politics is not involved in this decision making process, then just have a look at that decision. Why not bring them in now? Because Daniel Andrews, I suspect, is saying to the Prime Minister, the public don't support this decision, so don't (inaudible) –

STEFANOVIC: Really quickly on that, Richard. Really quickly on that.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Karl, all of those comments are comments which are dripping with politics and dripping with hypocrisy. The former government that Peter was a part of, that, Scott Morrison was the Prime Minister of, repatriated people. This happened in 2019. So the idea that this is something new is just completely wrong –

STEFANOVIC: Why are you waiting in Victoria?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: And the only advice we are taking, national security advice, that's the basis on which we are acting to keep Australians safe. And that’s the only consideration.

STEFANOVIC: We need to get this one really quickly, sorry to interrupt again, Richard. 200,000 personal devices could be vulnerable to hackers, we're learning this morning. What sort of threats are we talking about here in relation to national security and hacking? It's not just criminals targeting Aussies in their homes, is it?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: No. So today we've released the Cyber Threat Report. It is a situation which is growing, and you're right, it is cybercriminals, but it's not just cyber criminals. We're seeing more state actors and we're seeing more cross pollination between state actors and cyber criminals. And the message here is we've all got to be a lot more vigilant. We're spending more at a government level, we're working more with businesses, but individuals as well need to be much more vigilant about making sure their software updates are up to date, that they've got two-factor authentication on their own data, on their own apps that they're not pressing on links that they don't know about. I mean, these are simple steps that people can take to keep themselves safe in what is an increasingly challenging environment.

STEFANOVIC: Gentlemen, have a great weekend. I appreciate you being on the show, as always. Thank you.


Other related releases