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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02 6277 7800

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14 July 2023

SUBJECTS: RBA, cost of living, emissions reduction, additional assistance to Ukraine.

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: I love that. Well, Australia could have a new Reserve Bank Governor as soon as today. With speculation growing, the government will choose to move on from Philip Lowe. For more, let's bring in Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. Good morning, guys. Nice to see you this morning. Richard, the ABC right now reporting he will not be reappointed. That'll all happen this morning. Can you confirm that?

RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Look, the government's going to go through its processes around the Reserve Bank Governor's position and you'll just need to wait and see.

STEFANOVIC: Is it this morning? Because the ABC knows.

MARLES: Well, as I said, the government's going through its processes around this position –

STEFANOVIC: What their normal PR avenues? That’s a no? Yes?

MARLES: I can’t say any more.

STEFANOVIC: All right, thank you again. You've confirmed a lot of things I knew. For something that's not political, though, the RBA sure is feeling Labor's big political stick.

MARLES: Again, I'm not really sure how I’m meant to answer that question either, Karl. We're going through our processes in relation to that position, but the Reserve Bank obviously has a fundamentally important role to play and has had and we want to make sure, which we've done with the Reserve Bank review, that it's operating in the best possible way.

STEFANOVIC: Hang on. I'm just going to check on Michael Rowland’s show what's going on with the RBA. Don't mind me. Peter, you say big Jim’s top candidates are all tainted, but you'll back the decision. Huh?

PETER DUTTON, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Morning Karlos. Well, I'm very happy to say that we will support somebody who is independent and that's an absolute essential criteria. You can't have somebody who is in the pocket of the Treasurer or the Finance Minister. You can't have somebody who is tainted by an association or a friendship, or have worked very closely with the Treasurer, the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister. So, it has to be somebody who's independent and we’ll work to support the government if they choose somebody of that nature. But I mean, they've gone out in character, assassinated Phil Lowe over the course of the last six or twelve months, but he's just done his job in conveying – he's the messenger and he's just reacting to the Government's bad policies.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, he had a couple of PR issues along the way, but we'll sweep that one under the carpet. But Richard, it's hard to ignore the fact that if they aren't compromised, they were certainly part of all the decisions that have been made. If they're coming internally, everyone else is paid by the government. That's not exactly a fresh approach?

MARLES: Well, I'm not exactly sure where Peter's going with this narrative. I mean, obviously the Reserve Bank Governor will be independent and needs to be independent. There are lots of people in government who work very closely with the government of the day, and that will occur whoever is the government of the day. So, again, I'm not exactly sure where Peter is going, but it sounds a lot to me like playing politics in respect of this. The simple point here is the best person for the job going forward to look after the RBA is the person who will be chosen to do that and in being the Governor of the RBA, they'll be independent.

STEFANOVIC: The reality is you're in the thick of it here, you have to be seen to do something about twelve interest rate rises. It's killing families right now.

MARLES: Well, what we're doing in relation to cost of living is making a focus of our policies around easing the burden of the cost of living. I mean this week we've seen more affordable childcare come into place. At the end of last year, we put in place a package which Peter and his party opposed, which put downward pressure on energy bills. We've seen cheaper medicines come into place from the beginning of this year. Literally, from the moment we came to government, we've been looking at ways in which we can ease the cost of living. And Australia is not immune from an inflationary environment which is experienced around the world. But we're doing everything we can to have an impact on that. Now the Reserve Bank has a role to play. It is independent. It will continue to be so. We need the best Reserve Bank we can have. And we need a person who's independent in that role. And of course, that's what will happen. But from the Government's point of view, we will focus on putting in place measures which ease the burden of the cost of living.

STEFANOVIC: Pete it's not a political decision, but when you're in government, you made similar decisions. It's not exactly a rarefied atmosphere.

DUTTON: Well, Karl, we appointed somebody who's truly independent. And just to go to a couple of the points that Richard makes, I want to know who these families are who are paying less for childcare or less for their electricity bill or less for their mortgage. When the government says that they've introduced these bills that have gone through the Parliament and somehow it means that you're paying less for your power bill or less for your gas bill, it's just a complete nonsense. And I think the government and the Prime Minister is taking our country in the wrong direction. And at the moment, you're right, families are struggling big time, and the government is making decisions which I think are making it harder for families and small businesses.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, just on power, Labor is winding back its support for coal dumping positive references from its draught national policy despite the sector's $124,000,000,000 in export revenue helping the government deliver its very, very big surplus. Richard, the Labor Premier, meantime, in NSW, possibly the second best Labor Premier in Australia is vowing to extend the life of coal fired power plants. Labor's all over the shop on this issue.

MARLES: We understand that coal has an ongoing role to play in our economy and in our exports and there's no question in relation to that. And we've been very clear about that. And there are coal mining communities around Australia who play a really important role in our economy. At the same time, looking forward, we are seeking to reduce our emissions as a nation and both of those things can live together. And we've been putting in place policies which will walk us down that road. And it's really important that we reduce emissions in this country and that we have a clear pathway to zero net emissions, but coal will continue to play a significant part in our economy, and both of those statements are true.

STEFANOVIC: Guys, it's been a very, very big week on the international circuit for Anthony Albanese, the PM committing a new aircraft and 30 more Bushmasters to the war in Ukraine. Richard, will we ever have boots on the ground in Ukraine?

MARLES: We're not going to have boots on the ground, but we've now got two deployments in Europe, one in Britain and one now which will occur in Germany as part of the E-7 Wedgetail. So, we are very much committed in terms of supporting Ukraine's effort. It's really important that Ukraine prevails in this conflict and is able to resolve it on its own terms. And the announcement of an additional 30 Bushmasters will also be of really significant assistance. Together, it means that more than $700 million has been committed in equipment in addition to the deployments that we have in place. And that stands us really as just about the largest non-NATO contributor to Ukraine, given that Sweden has gone into NATO, and this is a big commitment that we’re making.

STEFANOVIC: Alright, Pete, presume you support all of that?

DUTTON: Yeah, of course we do, Karl. It's a good announcement by the Government. We've been calling for it for a while. And the Ukrainians are still after some Hawkeis and other equipment. And we need to be an all weather friend to Ukraine so that they can defeat Russia and allow women and children to get back to their normal lives here.

STEFANOVIC: Here here. Finally, it seems someone is celebrating very big birthday this week. Richard, from everyone here at the Today Show, we wish you a very, very happy birthday for yesterday. I mean, like Gregory Peck, you get more handsome by the day. There he is just yesterday. And like Marilyn Monroe, a special singing Happy Birthday for you from Peter Dutton, all the way from Bris Vegas. Peter, take it away.

DUTTON: Karlos, I've got better than that. I've got a present for Richard here.

STEFANOVIC: What is that?

MARLES: I can’t see it so what is it?

STEFANOVIC: You don't want to see it.

DUTTON: You can't see it? Okay.

MARLES: It's not fake tan again is it?

DUTTON: This is not an intervention. But how do you say to a friend that as you've got older, maybe you've put on a couple of extra pounds? I understand Richard's thinking about taking up mountain climbing, so I've got him this walking stick which can double as some sort of a tool, like a sabre type tool to take care of Albo, take care of Tanya Plibersek, take care of Bill Shorten, maybe a little bit under the ribs I'm not sure. But, Richard, this is yours. I'll get it to you today.

STEFANOVIC: Mind boggles. Good on you guys. And happy birthday. Happy birthday to you, appreciate it.

MARLES: Thank you.


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