Release type: Transcript


Interview - Sunrise with Monique Wright


The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for the Arts

MONIQUE WRIGHT, HOST: Shirvo, new polling suggests that Labor is losing the support of a key voter base, blue collar workers. The polling looked at voters with TAFE and vocational training education; so, people who work in industries such as construction, catering and hairdressing. Since August, Labor's two-party preferred support among that group fell from 57 per cent to 48 per cent. Support for the Coalition increased from 43 to 52 per cent. For more, we're joined now by Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke and Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce.
Morning to you both.


BARNABY JOYCE: Good morning.

WRIGHT: Tony, look we know that politicians pay no attention to any polls at any time, however, you've got to have an opinion on this. Why do you think that Labor is losing touch with tradies?

TONY BURKE: Everyone knows your tradies will run a tough bargain and what's going to come through over the next twelve months, I think is really important here. People want to know that you're in favour of getting their wages moving so that people are earning more, particularly at a time where people are really feeling the pain of what's happening with prices. People also want to know that we're getting behind training more apprentices.

In terms of wages, we now are finally starting to see wages find their way to get in front of what's been happening with price rises. It's only just in front at the moment for the last six months, but it's real and the Government's policies to get wages moving are going to make a real difference there. But the other thing is just making sure that we're training more people. We promised that we would have 180,000 fee-free TAFE places. We've ended up not just getting 180,000, we're nearly at 300,000 now. So, the commitment to making sure that trades are a huge part of the economy and people are being paid properly for it is something where the laws are being changed, the policies are going through now, and over the next twelve months, people are going to see that in real life results.

WRIGHT: Tony, that all sounds great, but these figures don't say that that is getting through to these people.

BURKE: A lot of these laws have only just been changed. Barnaby will know because he voted against them not long ago. You needed to change the law to get wages moving. For nearly a decade, wages had been kept deliberately low and that meant people's margins had just got tighter and tighter and tighter. But things like same job, same pay, making sure that we stop labour hire being used as just a rort to undercut wages, and still making sure that if someone's running their own business, we're not getting in the way of those small businesses. Those laws have now been changed and over the course of the next twelve months, you're going to see wages keep moving forward.

WRIGHT: Okay. It's more than just wages, isn't it. Barnaby, is Peter Dutton winning back the Howard battlers here?

JOYCE: Well, I think what we've seen, heard then, is a brilliant delivery of the talking points by Minister Tony Burke. Well done. He must have been versing himself on those since about four this morning. What we have seen is --

BURKE: They were my laws, Barnaby.

JOYCE: -- the Government’s been focusing on constitutional change and climate change in Dubai, and not focusing on cost of living, not focusing on detainees have been wandering around the streets, paedophiles, rapists, murderers. They're not being focused on the infrastructure projects that we need to actually grow the balance sheet of this nation, such as new dams. The only one - they opened Rookwood Weir, well, that was our dam that we built. They're not focused on the things that really - 

BURKE: It was the only one you built!

JOYCE: People who are working, people who are working, people who are working. No, we also did Quipolly Dam. We also did Charleston Dam. We also did [indistinct].

WRIGHT: Okay, let's stick on topic, Barnaby. What are you going to do differently?

JOYCE: But. What we have is - well, the first thing you're going to do differently is make sure that things such as this almost religious cult that they have towards renewables, which last week caused people to say, "turn off your washing machines, turn off your air conditioners, because the grid is about to go down," we're going to have a more practical view on how we do that and have the bravery to stand up for things such as nuclear power and bring that into the grid so we can have real spinning powers. Just get the basics right. Because what we have and why people get annoyed with the Labor Party is they talk about cost of living before the election and then they flirt with all these other issues after the election and get the basics, like the basics keeping criminals in jail, the basics wrong, but it's a long way to an election. I do follow the polls, but I'm not going to say, oh, well, that's it. I'm going to say, but this is going to be a really tightly run thing and I think the leading horse is called hung parliament. And that's going to make things really interesting.

WRIGHT: Yeah, okay, I want to move on now, Tony. The Prime Minister has come under a bit of fire for sampling some wine that sells for $500 a bottle. He was on a visit to the Margaret River region. He was on holidays. Given how many Aussies are struggling with just paying the basic bills, is this a bad look?

BURKE: I've got to say I've been blown away that this one's even been a story. An Australian Prime Minister takes a holiday in Australia backing Australian small businesses. That's what he's done and good on him. I know there's been some newspaper articles and Michaelia Cash who’s meant to actually be representing those small businesses in WA, sort of led the charge of being outraged. I think most people have a view, particularly at this time of year, that if someone's taking a few days off, that's okay, and if they're doing it by backing Australian small businesses, then good on them.

WRIGHT: Barnaby, where do you sit on this one?

JOYCE: I'm really happy he's in Australia. That's my first point. I'm glad he's here. But look, first of all, no bottle of wine is worth $500. I don't know, how do people think that something that goes down your gullet and ends up in the toilet is worth $500 a bottle? But anyway, they do.

BURKE: This is a breakfast show, Barnaby.

JOYCE: But the next thing about it is. Yeah, look, I don't care. I worry about all ranges of things, but not if the Prime Minister has a glass of wine. Cost of living, cost of living, cost of living. People who can't afford their groceries, can't afford their power bill, can't afford their fuel and can't afford their rent. That's the thing that people are talking about at the checkout, the supermarkets. That's what's worrying people.

WRIGHT: Alright Barnaby.

BURKE: Can I say on that one we agree completely that that's the issue.

JOYCE: Can we stop you?

BURKE: I just don't know how you can talk about cost of living without wanting wages to go up.

WRIGHT: Alright, team, we are out of time. Wishing you both very Merry Christmas. Barnaby, I'll be thinking of you next time I have a glass of wine. And was it all worth it? Thank you both very much. Merry Christmas.

BURKE: Merry Christmas, Mon. All the best. Merry Christmas, Barnaby.

JOYCE: And very Merry Christmas to all your listeners. Merry Christmas from Danglemah.

WRIGHT: It looks gorgeous in Danglemah. Alright. Thank you both. See you, team.