MIL-OSI Australia: Interview with Allison Langdon and Karl Stefanovic, The Today Show, Channel 9

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Source: Australian Treasurer

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg joins us now. Josh, everything is right with the world again.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we welcome back the French ambassador to Canberra and hopefully we can move beyond our recent disappointments, and obviously the two countries – France and Australia – share a number of common interests, particularly in our work together in the region. So let’s hope we can get that relationship back on track.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

How did it all get sorted out? Because we spoke to the Prime Minister earlier this week and he hadn’t heard or got through to the French President. So what happened?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, again, both countries have an interest in maintaining a strong relationship. And France is very active in our part of the world, and having their ambassador here to pursue commercial deals, to advance national security matters is important to them, as it is important to us.

ALLISON LANGDON:

But, Josh, has someone picked up the phone and talked to someone else?

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Yeah?

ALLISON LANGDON:

Or did this come as much as a surprise to you this morning as it did to us?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, obviously these are developments that I won’t add further comment to other than saying I think it’s…

ALLISON LANGDON:

You didn’t know. You didn’t know, did you?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I think it’s welcomed. I think it’s welcomed. There’s always lots of communication between countries at different levels. And this is a welcome step, Pete, and obviously, you know, the French and Australia relationship has been a strong one over many years. Of course, they were disappointed in the way this contract has come to an end, but it is what it is, and, of course, Australia-advancing its national interest by getting alongside the United States and the United Kingdom in getting access to the best technology to protect our national security.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

See what happens when you’re in quarantine – you miss out on important information from people.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

There is technologies to enable us to stay in touch on such matters.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

And you were still left out of that phone call. Come on! You’re the Treasurer.

ALLISON LANGDON:

I’m still not sure there was a phone call.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

No. The Prime Minister has accused Queensland of extortion for asking for money for hospitals. He did that on our show earlier this week. Do you agree with him?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I absolutely agree that Queensland’s been getting more and more funding for their hospitals. We have committed more than a hundred per cent increase in hospital funding for Queensland since coming to government. Whereas the Queensland government in that time has increased hospital funding by just 53 per cent. So there is a big gap between what we have delivered and what they have committed to. And so, therefore, we would welcome any further financial support they put to their hospitals. But, more importantly than that, Pete, we want to see Queensland get more and more people vaccinated and stick to the plan again that they agreed to at National Cabinet. I mean, Queensland’s own website says that their tourism industry is worth $28 billion, but nearly one in 10 Queenslanders are employed in the tourism sector, more than 230,000 people, and it’s those tourism businesses that you know so well on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and others, who are being held back by closed borders. So if they can get on with the show and open those borders which it’s safe to do so in accordance with the national plan, then that will create jobs within Queensland.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Hey, Josh, I think you keep calling Karl “Pete”, by the way. We’ll just start calling you Scotty if you like. No worries. Who’s Pete? We don’t know a Pete on this show. Hey, but just going back to hospitals, because you’ve now got all states and territories want more money – including Dominic Perrottet. So are you saying that they’re all trying to shake you down?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, they’re all getting more money for hospitals. And we have increased our hospital funding very substantially, Ally. And so that is on the record. And we would welcome them putting more money into their hospitals. But we have throughout this pandemic provided extra funding for hospitals, for pathology, for telehealth, for vaccine procurement and the like. So whether it’s Karl, whether it’s Ally, whether it’s Annastacia Palaszczuk, everyone should know we’ve provided extra funding to these states for hospitals.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

So, Barnaby, in relation to that funding…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

He’s got more hair than me, hasn’t he?

KARL STEFANOVIC:

He’s got a bigger hat.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Is that the only difference?

KARL STEFANOVIC:

He’s got a bigger hat. I’m not sure he’s got more cattle, though. Will you give them the money or what?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, we are giving the money, Karl. And we’re doing that in the various funding agreements. And so we want their hospitals to be prepared, and that’s why we’ve been funding them appropriately. But we haven’t left any stone unturned in this pandemic when it comes to hospital funding and broader economic support. But there is now light at the end of the tunnel. It’s great news to see New South Wales is about to open up with the economy. I welcome Dom Perrottet’s comments this morning about moving that forward. And this is the reward for all those millions of people in New South Wales who have got the jab. No jab, no joy. But if you’ve had the jab, you get the reward, and that is the opening up of the economy.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I noticed yesterday with interests the odds of an election in the first week of December went from $7 to $2. What have I told you about betting during the week?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to be betting on those things. But, look, my, you know, my view is that the election will be some time next year, but, again, that is a decision for the Prime Minister and he will make that decision obviously in due course.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Okay, so you are ruling out an election this year?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It’s not my decision; it’s the PM’s decision, and, no doubt, he’s got all his options before him. But when it comes to an election timing, I don’t think people should be rushing to any conclusions right now.

ALLISON LANGDON:

It’s going to be really tricky, though, because you’ve got different states coming in and out of lock downs at different times. Reading this morning, too, with interest that Scott Morrison is bleeding voters in both New South Wales and Victoria. Strangely, at that same time you’ve got voters getting behind you in Queensland. So picking the timing of that is going to be very tricky.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, Scott Morrison has always said he’s been a full termer when it comes to election cycles. But in New South Wales and Victoria people are in lockdown, they’re doing in tough. I’m in isolation, and reportedly around 100,000 Victorians are right now. And it’s not an easy time. But that’s why with the vaccination rates rapidly rising the opening up of the economy is not that far away. And I think that will create a new dynamic, not only for a boost to the economy but I think obviously for people’s wellbeing that comes with getting their lives back. And I’ve said consistently that we cannot eliminate the virus, we need to learn to live with it. We need to learn to live with it within a COVID‑safe way, of course, and that is why once we get those 70 to 80 per cent vaccination rates, the economic supports taper off, the economy starts to open, people get back to – their lives back, businesses reopen themselves and kids get back into the classroom.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, December 4 election, put it in your diary folks. Look, also, people borrowing up to six times their income to get into the housing market. The regulator clearly sees that as a problem and there’s a clamp down.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well, you know, Karl, we’ve got a very strong housing market – $10 trillion worth – and off the back of historically low interest rates we have actually seen an increase in house prices quite dramatically over the course of the last year. Other countries have as well. We welcome the move by the prudential regulator APRA. We think it’s prudent. We think it’s targeted. What they’re seeking to do here is to prevent risks emerging in the housing market. And so they will ensure that loans are assessed at a slightly higher interest rate than what otherwise somebody would pay. And that enables a bit more of a buffer to be in place if an individual’s circumstances change and so that they can meet their obligations under that one.

ALLISON LANGDON:

And, Treasurer, we know that you are isolating after someone in our office tested positive to COVID. I’m just wondering if I can maybe, you know, send some shirts over to your house to get ironed while you’re quarantining?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

You guys are quick off the mark. That’s right. There we are in the spare room talking to you guys with the wonders of technology. But, you know, hopefully we’ll be out of isolation and hopefully everyone is safe and secure, and that’s all that matters.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I’m definitely sending you some shirts.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Busted.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Thanks Treasurer.

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