Television Interview with Alison Langdon – Today Show – Thursday 21 April 2022


SUBJECTS: Leader’s debate; federal election.
ALISON LANGDON, HOST: Well, it wasn’t exactly the no holds barred, going for the jugular style fight we were perhaps expecting in the first of the leader’s debates. Both were quite well behaved, but a winner has been declared, just. Here to break it down we’ve got Finance Minister Simon Birmingham and Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare. Nice to see you both this morning. So, Simon, the undecided voters gave it to Anthony Albanese by a whisker. Round one, Albo?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM, MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Look, I don’t think so, Ally. I think what you saw last night was that Scott Morrison was able to clearly articulate detailed plans for the future, detailed policies and actually has an economic plan for Australia whereas Anthony Albanese stumbled over the details, seemed to get his confused positions on border protection even more confused, virtually unable to distinguish between offshore processing versus both turn backs and really didn’t have any detailed plans and couldn’t articulate those policies.
LANGDON: Alright, Jason, what do you reckon about Simon’s analysis there?
JASON CLARE, LABOR CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: What we saw last night were real people, they’ve got real problems and they wanted real help. It’s worthwhile looking at the sort of questions people asked. They were talking about housing affordability, it’s harder to buy a house than ever before. People were asking questions about aged care, that’s become a nightmare. Anyone thinking about putting their mum and dad into aged care would be terrified at the moment. There were questions about the NDIS, parents that have got kids with a disability that are worried about funding for their kids being cut. And there were questions about corruption. It shows people do care about corruption, they want to get rid of it in Canberra. Scott Morrison didn’t have any answers for any of that. Anthony Albanese did, and Scott Morrison’s answer was basically everything’s fine at the moment. I think that shows he’s out of touch. Albo’s got plans to fix all of those things.
LANGDON: Look, I mean, I think one of the things, too, last night, is people doubted Albo’s ability to get through that debate considering the first week that he had. I know Graham Richardson was saying many within his own party expected him to fail. So just the fact that it was pretty even last night, Jason, does that give the win to Albo?
CLARE: I think what it showed is we’ve got plans to fix the problems that people care about. And that Scott Morrison doesn’t. This mob, after they’ve been in power for a decade now, voting for them again is like staying in a taxi that’s run out of petrol. They’ve run out of ideas. The things people care about, whether it’s buying a house, putting they’re putting their kids into childcare and it being affordable, making sure if you put your parents in aged care that they’re going to be looked after and fed properly, or whether it’s getting rid of corruption, Labor’s got a plan to fix it. Scott Morrison’s got nothing.
LANGDON: Okay, tell me, Simon, like I’ve found it really interesting last night watching Scott Morrison, I thought he’s sort of softened his image a little bit, I expected him to go hard and really smash Anthony Albanese on his economic credentials. And the fact that you know that first week he didn’t know the cash and unemployment rate. Was that a missed opportunity? Or was that a tactic by the PM?
BIRMINGHAM: No, Ally. The PM was there to respond to the issues that people raised. And he did that, he did that comprehensively outlining the types of investment we’ve made that have seen first homeownership rates climb with 170,000 Australians, predominantly young Australians, get the chance to buy a first home in the last year, thanks to our policies, compared with a five-year average of 100,000. He demonstrated how we’ve invested $19.2 billion extra into aged care to respond to concerns to create more homecare places to give choices for people to be able to be at home and to invest in residential care. He outlined how we’ve outgrown the NDIS from just a few thousand participants to close to 500,000 participants. And of course, as your question to Jason just before indicated, in some ways expectations on Anthony Albanese was so low, all he had to do was be able to tie a shoelaces and turn up and people would think it was going to be a credible performance.
LANGDON: But look, I’m mean, you’re both in campaign mode this morning. So, you know, you’re saying one thing I think we’re expecting you to say, but I think they both had their moments in regards to, for one, I mean, I don’t know how Anthony was so unprepared for that question about turn back the boats. That was a real fumble. But I mean, we also saw a massive overreach by the Prime Minister about Labor’s siding with China and that was one that backfired. My question to both of you is, do you think there’s anything that you heard last night if you’re an undecided voter that swayed you, Jason?
CLARE: Well, I think people are looking for real answers to the problems in their own lives. And we talked a lot last week about numbers. I think what last night shows the numbers people care about things like the cost of housing has jumped by 25 per cent. They care about that. Housing affordability has got worse under this government, not better. The other numbers they care about are the fact that half the people in aged care are malnourished. These are real problems affecting real people. They want real help here. And Scott Morrison’s response last night was everything’s hunky dory. I think most Australians say ‘you just don’t get it’.
LANGDON: Okay. Just very quickly there, Simon. Do you think anyone’s vote was swayed last night on what they heard?
BIRMINGHAM: I think, Ally, it still comes back to competence and plans, and Scott Morrison demonstrated that he has detailed policies. He acknowledged that things are tough in some places and that, of course, these things aren’t easy challenges, but because they’re not easy whether you’re dealing with housing policy or managing the economy or national security, you need to actually have the detailed skills. And he outlined that by going through comprehensive policies. Anthony Albanese tripped up on border protection, as he’s done multiple times, didn’t outline any clear economic plans and I think ultimately, Australians will see that contrast in competence, and plans that we have and that Albanese is lacking.
LANGDON: All right, look, I feel the worry here is I think people have tuned out. I know Karl fell asleep during the debate last night. And I think one commentator said this morning, the winner last night was whoever didn’t watch. I’ve come up with an idea, right, to determine the election, right? It’s a bit different, but people will definitely watch so no more campaign trail. We throw them in a real shark tank. Like this.
Clip of shark
LANGDON: That was a great white circling a boat off WA. I mean, I don’t know. Jason, are you on board with this?
CLARE: What, are you going to throw all the politicians off the boat?
LANGDON: Maybe just to your leaders? I mean, I don’t know.
CLARE: You know how in Jaws they said ‘we’re going to need a bigger boat’? I saw that and I thought if you want me out there, we’re definitely going to need a bigger boat.
LANGDON: All right. Jason is willing to go over the edge and see who survives. Simon, are you in?
BIRMINGHAM: I’d rather see a great white in a fish and chip fryer if I’m honest.
LANGDON: All right, gentlemen, nice to see you both this morning. Thanks for joining us.