Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

Shadow Attorney-General

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Senator for Western Australia

TRANSCRIPT

28 August 2023

Sky News with Andrew Clennell

Topics: the Voice, Western Australia, Industrial Relations, Qantas

E&OE.

Andrew Clennell

Let’s go live to Perth now and bring in Shadow Attorney-General and IR spokesperson, Michaelia Cash. Michaelia Cash, thanks for joining us. Let me ask first about the chopper crash, another one in a military exercise in the space of a few weeks, what’s your reaction?

Senator Cash

Well Andrew, as I sit here today, I reflect on the fact that the freedoms, our values – people actually died, so we here could have those freedoms and the values that we have. And with this chopper crash again, people are prepared to continue to die to defend those freedoms. So there really are no words other than to express our condolences to the families, to the friends, to the colleagues of those who died. To wish a speedy recovery in particular, to those who have been injured. But just to remind ourselves of the strong bond that we do have with the United States and why we need to continue to work together to ensure that those freedoms, those values, those principles that we hold dear as countries, we have that ability to always defend them.

Andrew Clennell

Well, the PM will launch the Voice campaign – the date at least in a couple of days. This is his latest message today. Have a listen.

Anthony Albanese

And it’s no different from – prior to marriage equality, people were told that heterosexual marriages would be under threat and that it would change a whole lot of the way that things worked. Guess what? We now have marriage equality, the fear campaigns have not been realized. This is all upside, no downside.

Andrew Clennell

Alright. What’s your reaction to that?

Senator Cash

Well, there is definitely downside because the Prime Minister is unable to give Australians any of the real detail that they’re looking for. And I have to say Andrew, it was really disappointing today to see released the Voice playbook. Whereby it clearly states in that playbook – when someone‚Äôs asking the ‘Yes’ campaign for additional detail, they have to redirect them because they’re unable to provide that detail. And then in relation to those who are giving millions and millions to the yes campaign, they’re now being held out as villains. Find a villain, the worst villain that you can find, and then name them. The issue that Mr Albanese has is the Voice is risky, it is unknown, it is divisive and when you change the constitution, it is permanent. So if there are negative consequences as a result of this decision, Australians are left with those consequences permanently. It is Mr. Albanese’s lack of detail that is going to be the undoing.

Andrew Clennell

You talk about this story in The Australian of course, I was about to ask you about it. It’s a document drawn up by ‘yes’ campaign volunteers. They’re saying it’s not official, which talks about casting villains such as mining billionaires to voters. So, they say it’s not an official document. What do you say about that?

Senator Cash

Well, clearly it is an official document because it clearly says ‘Yes 2023’ and it’s very clear instructions to the volunteers across Australia. But again, I think what is so disappointing is the revelation that instead of answering questions, be upfront. If there is no answer to a question that you’re being asked, be upfront and say – there is no answer, we’re unable to provide you with any detail. Instead, smoke mirrors and a redirection away. They are really treating Australians like mugs. And to then on one hand, take millions and millions of dollars. In fact as we know, up to $100 million is going to be spent by the ‘yes’ campaign over the next few weeks. Some of that money coming from mining companies. But then to refer to those mining companies as ‘villains.’ Seriously, I think Australians deserve a little more.

Andrew Clennell

Alright, you addressed this crowd of ‘no’ supporters in Perth recently. It’s interesting those that feel most most passionately about the ‘no’ campaign and most of those who attended this are older people. Young people seem to be more for the Voice. Are you concerned about this divide? I’m showing the crowd there – a lot of older Australians.

Senator Cash

Well, I think we have a long way to go in this referendum. And you know, as Peter Dutton has said – if it gets up or it goes down, it is now only getting up or going down on the margins. And I think that is what’s so sad about Mr. Albanese’s decision to continue to proceed with the referendum. Australia will be a divided country as a result of the way that Mr Albanese has approached this referendum. If you’re taking a question to the people of Australia, you really want a 1967 result. You want to bring Australian’s with you. You want the overwhelming majority of Australians to say ‘yes’. And clearly what we’re seeing at the moment is – it might get up by 51 or 52%, it might go down by 51 or 52%. Regardless of the outcome, Mr. Albanese himself will now be responsible for a divided Australia, no leader should be responsible for dividing Australians.

Andrew Clennell

If it narrowly goes down as you suggest. Are you concerned about any backlash against your party and your leader over that?

Senator Cash

Well again, we’ve been very upfront. We gave Mr. Albanese every opportunity, both last year and at the beginning of this year, to clearly provide the detail that Australians wanted. As you know, Peter Dutton wrote to Mr. Albanese and set out 15 questions, very reasonable questions. To date, they’ve been able to be unanswered. When I actually asked the Minister in the Senate for details, every other answer was – that’ll be a matter for the parliament, that’ll be a matter for the Parliament. It is Mr. Albanese’s refusal to just pause, take five minutes and perhaps reconsider whether or not he should take this proposal forward. That is unfortunately going to be on his head.

Andrew Clennell

So, Anthony Albanese’s in Perth again holding a Cabinet meeting there. Do you think the Liberal Party is making up some ground on him and how much of that in Western Australia has to do with the Voice?

Senator Cash

Well again Mr. Albanese, I saw both in his press conference yesterday up north and his press conference in Perth today – he is obsessed with the number of times he’s been to Western Australia. And I say to Mr. Albanese quite frankly, it’s not the number of times you’ve been to our great state, it’s what you do or in Mr. Albanese’s case, don’t do for our great state. CCI WA, they have had to take out a full page open letter to Mr. Albanese and Federal Labor in The West Australian newspaper today, clearly articulating five key areas that Federal Labor is failing Western Australia. One of those areas and Mr. Albanese is unable to answer this question – why did you cut by 70% Western Australia’s skilled state sponsored skilled migration places allocation? That is the one thing that we need in this state, our ability to identify the skilled labor that we need. Mr. Albanese doesn’t even acknowledge the question. Brendan O’Connor says I’m not over the brief. So again, Mr. Albanese come here as many times as you like, but actions speak louder than visits. And Mr. Albanese is failing this state in so many ways. And in particular, those five areas that CCI WA clearly set out in their open letter to the Albanese government and Federal Labor in our newspaper today.

Andrew Clennell

Michaelia Cash, presumably you’d be caning him if he wasn’t visiting, I will just point that out. But look, on the PRRT as Deputy Senate Leader, what are you likely to do on that? I know, it’s got to go before the party room. What what are you thinking about that legislation?

Senator Cash

Well again, Peter Dutton has made it very, very clear, we are prepared to sit down and negotiate. However, in relation to those negotiations, there has got to be some give and in particular in relation to environmental approvals. Peter’s made it very, very clear. And in fact Andrew, that is actually one of the key areas that CCI WA have highlighted – environmental approvals are slowing down. When they slow down in a state like Western Australia, you don’t get projects up. When you don’t get projects up, you don’t create jobs and you don’t create more productivity but not just our state but our nation. So Peter’s been clear, we are prepared to sit down and negotiate. However, we want some very clear beneficial outcomes for businesses in this country because when you give businesses the outcomes we want, productivity increases. And that means jobs are able to be created, investment is made and you get better outcomes for all Australians and that’s what Peter Dutton is all about.

Andrew Clennell

Alright in terms of IR, Tony Burke’s going to go on the hard sell on this this week. Which proposal do you fear the most out of this? Is it Same Job, Same Pay? Is it casuals? And do you think The Greens, Lidia Thorpe and David Pocock will just wave it through the Senate, the IR reform?

Senator Cash

Well again, I’d say to Tony Burke and Labor – listen to the business community, listen to the front page of The Australian today, respond to the letter that the business community have written to you Tony. They have been part of it and you know better than anybody because you got the exclusive – the ‘behind closed doors negotiations’, they haven’t been able to talk about what’s in the IR legislation. But what we now know from the letter that has been received is that it’s worse than they could think. It smashes productivity, it smashes investment and it smashes job creation. So I would say to Mr. Burke – just slow down, listen to the business community. Businesses, employers – they are the job creators in this country. Governments put in place policies and in this case, the business community, they are openly telling you – the next tranche of Industrial Relations legislation, regardless of what it is because this is an omnibus bill will smash productivity, will smash investment, will smash job creation. And Andrew quite frankly, I don’t know how much more Australian businesses and Australians can take, whether you’re battling increases in your mortgage repayments, increases in your electricity bills, increases in your daily cost of living. To think they’re going tooverlay this now with another tranche of Industrial Relations legislation, which the business community says – please it is going to kill us, you really have to wonder where Labor’s priorities are.

Andrew Clennell

Just the second point of that question briefly. Do you think The Greens and David Pocock will see it through or do you have some hope it can be stopped in the Senate?

Senator Cash

Well again, I would hope… Well, the Greens no, I have no hope with the Greens unfortunately. They’re pretty clear lockstep with Labor and would probably go in even further in fact than Labor. In relation to Lidia Thorpe though and David Pocock, I would just say to all crossbenchers, just sit down with the business community, understand the impact. If you believe Australia has a productivity problem, if you believe Australia has an investment problem but more than that, if the business community are saying this next tranche of IR legislation will smash jobs, guess what? You’re smashing Australians. And more than anything now, Australians need jobs because without a job, quite frankly, I don’t know what we’re going to do.

Andrew Clennell

Well, there’s plenty of jobs around at the moment, I might point out. But just finally, we’ve got Alan Joyce in front of a Victorian parliamentary committee on cost of living this afternoon. Have you got a view on Qantas’s profits, its prices at the moment and it’s bid seemingly backed by the PM to keep Qatar Airways from operating more flights in Australia?

Senator Cash

Well, I do. It’s absolutely unfair. And Alan Joyce himself acknowledges he lobbied against Qatar being able to bring in the additional flight. The government’s been all over the place in relation to why it made this decision. From human rights to keeping planes out of the sky – that’s a bizarre one. But I have to say Stephen Jones, Stephen Jones himself at least told the truth. We made the decision to keep Qantas profitable. Well guess what, you did. But not only that, for a government that talks tough on our competition laws and tackling duopolies and monopolies. Stephen Jones himself Andrew said this? But Qantas was a special case. The only people who lose out here are Australians, Australians who are screaming for cheaper airfares, but also tourism and hospitality because guess what, those 21 additional flights would have bought in 1000s of additional people, tourists. Every year, about half a billion dollars worth of additional economic activity per year – Labor has now said no to. But at least Stephen Jones was honest, I backed in Qantas, Qantas are a special case and they wanted to keep the airline profitable, but at a cost to all Australians.

Andrew Clennell

Senator Michaelia Cash, Shadow Attorney-General. Thanks so much for your time this afternoon.

Senator Cash

Great to be with you, Andrew.