Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 17 May 2024

FRIDAY, 17 MAY 2024

SUBJECTS: Peter Dutton’s budget reply

NATALIE BARR: Peter Dutton has declared he will drastically slash migration is the Coalition returns to office in a bid to free up houses for Aussies.

In his Budget reply speech the Opposition Leader revealed his plans to reduce the permanent migration program by 25 per cent and place a two-year ban on foreign investors and temporary residents from buying existing homes.

For more we’re joined by Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you.

Jason, we’ll start with you. Will Labor support a temporary ban on foreigners buying homes if it means more Aussies can have a roof over their head?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: G’day, Nat. This Budget reply was just a nothing burger by Peter Dutton. Lots of aggro but no detail.

He didn’t promise one dollar to build a new house in Australia. He didn’t promise one dollar to help people with the cost of living, people that are doing it tough. He didn’t have the guts to tell anybody where those nuclear power stations are going to go, and he refused to tell us last night what the total net immigration number would be.

He talked about permanent migration, but he wouldn’t tell us what the net migration number would be. That’s the one that matters. And I wonder whether Sussan could tell us what that number is today?

BARR: Okay, first of all, the question was would you support a temporary ban on foreigners buying homes, Jason?

CLARE: My answer to that is if we’re going to fix the housing challenges in this country, we’ve got to build more houses. There’s $32 billion in the Budget to build more houses.

If Peter Dutton’s trying to tell us that that’s going to fix the challenges with housing in this country, then he’s telling Australians a lie. More than a million houses were sold in the last two years. This is a tiny, tiny fraction of it.

So, it’s not going to fix the problem. Building more houses will. He didn’t promise to build one more house last night. And he didn’t tell us what the total immigration number would be under him. I wonder if Sussan could tell us what that number will be?

BARR: Okay. Look, first of all, I think all the stats show that we are behind on building houses, and we’re not go to, you know, reach your $1.2 million target. But let’s go to Sussan. Is it a nothing burger?

CLARE: We’ve got to build more. We’ve got to build more.

BARR: Yeah, I know we have to, but I think we’re behind on the schedule. But look, we have to move on.

Is it a nothing burger, Sussan? Have you got the total migration numbers? And where are the nukes going to go?

SUSSAN LEY: Nat, the most important number for Australians to focus on today is 1.67 million migrants coming in and just 265,000 homes. What we saw from Peter Dutton last night was strong, positive leadership that actually is about putting our country back on track.

There’s such weak leadership from this Prime Minister. There’s such a misunderstanding of the important issues for Australians. Now, homeownership is number one. I don’t want to see young people give up, and they are, on their dream of homeownership.

What Peter Dutton was saying last night was we need to back in young Australians for a home of their own. Yes, there’ll be tough decisions along the way. Yes, there’ll be refusals of foreigners to buy houses, and Jason hasn’t responded to that, your question.

But let’s remember —

CLARE: Oh yes, I did.

LEY: — that this is about homeownership for Australians, and we know that the way the country is going now, that is becoming further and further away as an aspiration, and that’s not fair, that’s not right. That’s not the Australian way.

So yes, you’ve got a grab bag of insults from Jason, I heard some of them last night. I think he’s very defensive. I think what he saw was an articulation of a clear —

CLARE: Well give us the number.

LEY: — of a clear difference between us and that positive plan.

BARR: Okay, Sussan, and can you answer his question —

LEY: It puts homeownership and cheaper power prices front and centre.

BARR: Let’s just see if you can answer Jason’s question about that total number.

LEY: Well, the number will go down by 25 per cent and then go back up to a roughly sustainable level where it was.

BARR: After two years?

LEY: So the critical —

CLARE: Hang on, hang on, hang on. Hang on, Sussan, I think you’ve made a mistake.

LEY: Jason, I don’t want to get involved in to ing and fro ing about the details of the proportions within the total migration numbers.

CLARE: Well, it’s kind of important.

LEY: What we need —

CLARE: It’s kind of important.

LEY: What we need Australians to focus on is yes, the Coalition understands that in order to build more homes and release more homes for Australians you actually have to reduce the migration number. That’s what we’re doing. That’s the clear plan. That’s the positive difference.

Now, there’s other things in that Budget in reply too and I think Labor should focus on those as well. Yes, community safety, incredibly important. But cheaper power prices at the source.

BARR: Okay.

LEY: Because just handing out money is not going to solve the problem of these —

BARR: Okay, just —

LEY: — ratcheting up power prices.

CLARE: Will there be a nuclear reactor in Albury as well, Sussan?

BARR: Yes. Can we just get because a lot of people, power is huge, Sussan, where are you going to put the nuclear reactors?

LEY: All of those announcements and policies and detail will come, Nat. It’s supposed to be a year from the next election.

CLARE: Yeah, so is Christmas.

LEY: But we’re not waiting for that because we know power prices need to come down. So what you heard in our Budget in reply last night was making sure that the gas plan is there so that we can bring gas online, which Labor has flip flopped around on, and make sure that we can bring power prices down now.

Yes, we know we need cheaper, cleaner and —

BARR: And when will you release where the nukes are going, Sussan?

LEY: — affordable power. All of that will happen, all of that detail is being worked through. It’s still a year from the election, Nat. Right now Australians know they need cheaper power. The businesses that I visit are desperate because their power bills are so high.

So, we’re also focussed, and we talked last night about how we bring power prices down now, but we’re not seeing that under Labor. We’re just not seeing that.

CLARE: You didn’t do anything to do that.

BARR: Okay.

CLARE: You didn’t do anything.

BARR: Yes, last word, quickly, Jason.

CLARE: Nat, they talk tough, but they didn’t do anything to help people doing it tough. They talk tough, didn’t do anything to help people with power prices. There’s a civil war going on inside the Coalition. None of them want a nuclear reactor in their backyard, including Sussan in Albury. They know that this is about as unpopular as a seafood milkshake and that’s why you saw no detail from Peter Dutton last night.

LEY: 20 leading economies in the world either —

CLARE: Just angry, angry Peter Dutton.

LEY: — have nuclear or they’re looking into nuclear.

BARR: Okay. Both had your say, thank you.

CLARE: So where are they going to go, Sussan?

BARR: We’ll see you next week. Thank you. Maybe we’ll get that answer then.