31 March 2023
SUBJECTS: Black Hawk; Budget; Aston
KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Two Black Hawk helicopters have crashed in a deadly US military accident, killing nine personnel on board. It comes less than three months after Australia spent $2 billion buying 40 of our own, Black Hawk choppers from the US. Let's bring in Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles in Geelong, Victoria. And Opposition Leader in Victoria- I was going to say victorious, with the by election this weekend, he is hoping- there he is in Melbourne, Peter Dutton. Morning guys. Richard, good morning, is there any reason to be concerned about the helicopters we've just bought.
RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: No, there's not. I mean, we have got a long history with the Black Hawks. We are very familiar with what they can do, how reliable they are and they're a fantastic platform. We are really confident about the future. I mean, obviously what's happened in America is a tragedy. No doubt they'll go through their process of investigating that. There are always learnings from this and we will take those learnings. But I just think what this highlights is that our servicemen and women- and those in America- even in what they do in training is dangerous because they train for a dangerous environment. It's just another reminder to me of how important, significant and how difficult is the work our servicemen and women do.
STEFANOVIC: Well said. Back home, a sizable budget leak in the Fin Review this morning. Are you going to slug gas producers with a new tax in the budget?.
MARLES: No. This is a review of the petroleum resource rent tax which was commissioned by the former government. They undertook this review. We haven't got the result of the review yet. When we do we'll have a look at it-
STEFANOVIC: Sounds like you’re moving towards it.
MARLES: - At the end of the day what we're… What this story is about is a review that Peter's government undertook and we are waiting for that review. We're not going to go into what's in the budget. Jim will talk about that- the Treasurer will talk about that in May. What you can be assured of is that the budget will focus on the cost of living as our last budget did because we know the pressures that Australians are facing.
STEFANOVIC: Pete, would you support a tax on gas producers?
OPPOSITION LEADER, PETER DUTTON: Well Karl, I think families at the moment, the last thing they need is another tax increase under Labor, and people are already struggling to pay their power bills and there is talk now about disruption to supply, particularly in relation to gas. A withdrawal of investment in our country which means those royalties won't be coming in that go to fund schools and roads. So, I think the government should rule it out but, as sure as night follows day, there will always be higher taxes in a Labor budget because they have a spending problem and that's, I think, what we'll see in the budget come May.
STEFANOVIC: Richard, regardless of whether you do it or not, I'm not sure it's going to bring down prices. Where has that 300 bucks gone?
MARLES: We are really focused on the pressures that Australians are facing because of global inflation. You look at everything we've done since we've come to government; cheaper medicines are in place, more affordable childcare is about to happen. Fee-free TAFE. We took steps in December to ease the pressure on energy prices which has actually had an impact, and when Peter was given the opportunity to support that, to support household budgets, he voted against that. When we look at everything we have done, we have been focussing on easing the cost-of-living pressures. We have been doing that in the face of the opposition of Peter and his Opposition. When it comes to taxes, Peter was in a Government which was the second-highest-taxing government in our country’s history- the only higher one was the Howard Government. So all this talk about taxes is complete rubbish. Peter was in a high-taxing government. We are actually doing something about the cost of living now and Peter is busily opposing it.
STEFANOVIC: Pete, how much should the minimum wage go up?
DUTTON: Just come back to this for a second, Karl. Richard, name one suburb in Australia where power prices have gone down? You keep talking about power prices going down, just name a suburb or single household of where power prices have gone down- one suburb.
MARLES: That is a really easy point. Every suburb in this country and every suburb in the electorate of Aston would be facing higher power prices right now if you would have had your way in December, and the measures that we put in place to reduce the pressure on power prices were defeated- and that's what you sought to do in December. When you actually look at action here, we took action in December, you were given an opportunity to take it with us and you didn't. You opposed it.
DUTTON: I would just love to see one family, Karl, on your show hold up a power bill that is cheaper now than when Labor first came in 10 months ago.
STEFANOVIC: You’re not going to find it.
DUTTON: Of course you’re not- it’s a nonsense.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. Just in terms of Aston- Richard raised it, I raised it in the intro, how do you think you’re going to, do you think?
DUTTON: I think it is tight but I think we get there. We have got Roshena Campbell, a great candidate. She is experienced, she is a really strong voice on the ground, well received by the locals. She is a mum of three, a barrister, a Councillor. She's got a track record of delivering for her community. Labor's first act in their budget last year was to cut road funding and locals here, who are starting to bank up in traffic now on their way to work understand it. Labor had the opportunity to provide support to Aston and instead they cut funding from here and put it elsewhere across the country. I think we get there but it is a tight race as by-elections always are.
STEFANOVIC: There is a fair bit riding on it for you personally?
DUTTON: I want to see Roshena become the local member because as people realise you don't change the government in a by-election like this. You are voting for a really strong local candidate and Member of Parliament. And Roshena Campbell is that person, she is the strongest candidate in the field and I think she will be a great MP. As I say, she is a mum of three, she brings as a working mum, a real experience to parliament that we want and I really believe that she will do a great job.
STEFANOVIC: Over to you Richard, finally?
MARLES: Mary Doyle is a great candidate. She is actually from Aston. She was our candidate at the last election. But this is a high mountain for us to climb. This is an absolutely rolled-gold safe Liberal seat. We want to give people the opportunity to have their voice, to vote for Labor. And as I say, Mary is a great local candidate who has spent her life in this community, but as I say, this is going to be a big hill to climb.
STEFANOVIC: Alright. We're all in Melbourne for the weekend. Your shout, Richard.
MARLES: Where are we going?
DUTTON: He wouldn't shout if a shark bit him.
STEFANOVIC: The usual, just go to Crown. What could go wrong?
MARLES: That's where we're going some alright.
DUTTON: We'll take Dickie with us, Karl.
STEFANOVIC: Yes. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it. Sarah.