Television Interview with Alison Langdon – Today Show – Tuesday 15 November 2022


SUBJECTS: Prime Minister meeting with Chinese President in Bali; Tug boat industrial action dispute; LIV Golf tournament in South Australia. 

ALLISON LANGDON, HOST: Thanks for joining us this morning. A major breakthrough in Australia’s deadlock with China. The Prime Minister locking in a face‑to‑face with President Xi Jinping hoping to wind back $20 billion in trade blocks.  

For more, we’re joined by Education Minister Jason Clare in Canberra and 3AW’s Dee Dee Dunleavy in Melbourne. Really nice to see you both this morning.  

Jason, China says it is ready to meet Australia halfway. How much are we prepared to give up?  

JASON CLARE: I think it’s a good thing that we’re meeting, Ally. China’s our biggest trading partner and we haven’t been able to sit down and have a conversation with them for six years. We should be able to sit down and talk even if you’re not going to agree on everything. We will disagree on many different things.  

The fact is it’s impossible to even imagine this meeting happening six months ago. The fact that it’s happening is a good thing. We’ll agree where we can but we’re going to have to disagree where we must.  

There are trade bans on a bunch of different Australian exports from meat to wine to barley and everything else. I don’t think we’re going to get those all sorted out today but it’s an opportunity to raise that with the Chinese President.  

LANGDON: Yeah, it’s a big coup getting this one‑on‑one but as Jason is saying there, Dee Dee, it will be baby steps.  

DEE DEE DUNLEAVY: It will be. It’s a step in the right direction. I think it is better for world peace for everyone to be getting along happily. But as far as meeting halfway, I think we have to remember I don’t think Australia did anything wrong other than asking a few very valid questions about the origin of the Coronavirus. 

So, I think it is good that the meeting is happening, but I think halfway is the correct thing. I think for our exporters and our producers it’s been probably ‑ the silver lining has been that they found other markets for their goods, and it will be good for that to be opened up to China again. But, as we know, things can turn on a dime. 

I think overall, I’m thinking it is a good thing to have the relationship be a happy one rather than a fractured one, but I feel cautious about it.  

LANGDON: Yeah, I think we sort of all feel that. That’s happening in Bali this afternoon.  

Look, if the cost‑of‑living pressure rises weren’t making Christmas hard enough for everybody, news this morning of major disruptions at 17 ports across the country. Jason, the tugboat company is threatening to lock out workers after almost daily industrial action. I mean, we’re all going to pay the price for this, aren’t we?  

JASON CLARE: It’s the last thing we want to see. I just hope a bit of common sense prevails. You get the company and the workers back around the table to sort this out. I think this thing’s been going on for three years. It shouldn’t take this long to sort this sort of thing out, particularly on the eve of Christmas. We don’t need Rudolf to the rescue. I think if the company and the workers can sit down and sort this out, we’ll all be better off. 

LANGDON: I think the problem here is that they’ve been trying to do that for three years and can you blame the company, Jason, when there’s been more than a thousand instances of industrial action just since, I think, October 2020? 

JASON CLARE: This is a good example of when the company and the workers can’t agree you need the industrial umpire to be able to step in and arbitrate a solution. Otherwise you get headlines like this where you’re talking about locking workers out on the eve of Christmas.  

One of the things that the industrial relations legislation that’s in the Parliament will do is effectively give the Fair Work Commission the ability to step in and sort these sorts of things out. When you’re seeing stories like this in the media today it’s the sort of thing that Australians would say, “Yep, you want the Fair Work Commission to be able to step in and stop this from happening”.  

LANGDON: All I know is people will be filthy if this interrupts presents getting in or everything ends up being more expensive as a consequence.  

Something else I want to talk to you both about this morning, the South Australian Premier is defending his decision to bring the controversial LIV Golf series, which is backed by the Saudis, to Adelaide for the next four years. 

It’s going to give the economy a huge boost but, Jason, look, there are some pretty serious human rights abuses being ignored here. Is this going to cause a bit of a diplomatic issue for you?  

JASON CLARE: I don’t think so, Ally. Just because the event is being held here doesn’t stop the Australian Government or any Australian from speaking out on human rights. It certainly won’t stop me. I don’t think it’d stop Pete in South Australia either.  

It’s a big win for South Australia, good for the economy. It’s going to mean hotels and cafes are going to be full too. 

I’m sort of rewinding back in time thinking about when I was a young fellow seeing Greg Norman winning tournaments all around the world and it encouraged young blokes like me and a lot of young women to get out in the sunshine and play golf. I hope that Cameron Smith being involved in this tournament might mean that another generation of Aussies might get interested in golf as well. 

LANGDON: I don’t know about this one. Dee Dee, how’s it all sit with you?  

DUNLEAVY: I’m really uncomfortable about it. I just think getting into bed with the Saudi money is just ‑ it makes me feel uncomfortable. I’m happy that Victoria turned it down and I’m also questioning the timing of the announcement. Tens of thousands of South Australian’s were without power because of the storms that swept through the State and that’s when they choose to make the announcement. You know, I hardly think anyone’s going to be getting excited about a golf tournament when they’ve got no power in their home and their food’s going off in the fridge. 

LANGDON: And we’ve got the South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas, he’s going to be live on the Today Show in the next half hour. But just before we go, Jason, Anthony Albanese’s meeting this afternoon in Bali with the Chinese President. It is a really big deal. How do you reckon he’s feeling about it?  

JASON CLARE: He’ll be pretty excited about it. It’s the world stage over the course of yesterday and today. He’s meeting with the US President, the Chinese President, he’ll meet with the French President, and I think he met with the Indonesian President yesterday as well.  

This is an opportunity for the Prime Minister to represent our country on the world stage and represent our interests, and I absolutely know that’s what he’ll do today.  

LANGDON: Yeah, and he’s handled himself well over there in the last couple of days too. Nice to talk to you both this morning, thank you.