DORAN [HOST]: Well, it’s that time of the show where we bring in our political panel, and joining us this Thursday afternoon from Brisbane, Labor Senator and Assistant Education Minister Anthony Chisholm, and in New South Wales Deputy Nationals Leader and Shadow Water Minister Perin Davey. And very specifically she’s in Conargo in New South Wales. Welcome to both of you. Perin Davey, I’ll start with you because we know that the Nationals are opposed to the Voice proposal. Do you think this depiction that’s been in the AFR, this advertisement from the No Campaign is appropriate?
DAVEY [NATIONALS DEPUTY LEADER]: Well, isn’t it amazing that people suddenly get very sensitive about what is effectively a caricature. Politicians face it daily when they open the newspaper and see cartoons and caricatures of themselves, sometimes in a negative light. And it is part and parcel of public discourse. But, you know, this is one cartoon that doesn’t have a negative comment, doesn’t call people nasty, doesn’t call them bullies, doesn’t call them racist. There’s no negativity in the picture that just depicts what Wesfarmers has done, which is hand a $2 million donation to the Yes campaign. So, I mean, I’ve been reading today Sarah Hanson-Young says anyone voting no is joining the Nazis. Fred Pascoe, the Indigenous elder, says anyone voting – any idiot can vote no. And the Minister Linda Burney calls Peter Dutton a bullyboy. So, if we want to talk about people who are getting personal and nasty, I’m not hearing much of that from the no side, but I’m hearing it daily from the yes side. And I think I agree with Amanda Rishworth – I just want a respectful conversation, because there is a lot of noise in this debate. Even though the question is yes or no, the actual reasons that people might be leaning one way or the other are wide and varied and broad, and we need to respect each other and have those respectful conversations.
DORAN: Just picking up on a couple of your comments there, are you suggesting that the depiction of a Yes campaigner as something of a child grabbing for money wearing a hammer and sickle T-shirt and the depiction of one of your fellow parliamentarians as a little girl sitting on her father’s knee are not nasty depictions?
DAVEY: Well, I mean, take it as you will. Kate Chaney is his daughter. So, I don’t know why they’ve chosen to put her in the picture. And Mr Mayo is – you know, he is leading the Yes campaign and they are accepting big corporate donations. It is a caricature. It is a cartoon, and we have cartoons every day in every Australian newspaper. And sometimes people take offence to those cartoons and sometimes they don’t. But, you know, I think there are a lot of people getting very precious, but they don’t have the flipside. I mean, we’ve seen cartoons about people who are on the no side, and I don’t hear the same level of offence being struck when those cartoons are portrayed.
DORAN: Anthony Chisholm, let’s bring you in here. Do you share some of what Perin Davey is saying there about the way in which people are – on both sides of this campaign are being depicted? Do you think this is an issue that’s running – or being not only depicted but being spoken about? Is this an issue both inflicting both the Yes and the No campaigns?
CHISHOLM [ASSISTANT MINISTER]: No, I’d completely disassociate myself with Senator Davey’s comments. I think it’s a disgusting and disgraceful ad that doesn’t belong in modern Australia. It’s from a bygone era, and it should be condemned. And I’m very disappointed Perin Davey didn’t do that. I think it goes to exactly what Minister Burney said at the Press Club yesterday about the type of tactics that are being used by those who are opposing The Voice. And this is a prime example of it. It doesn’t belong in modern Australia. It should be condemned and I’m disappointed that Perin Davey hasn’t done that.
DORAN: Is this something that, I guess, could be seen as a learning exercise for both sides of the campaign? I mean, there has been criticism levelled at No campaigners for those who are advocating for a Voice to Parliament saying that those who aren’t in support of this proposal are anti-Indigenous people, that they are anti-Australian. Is there something that can be learnt here about – or should this be a turning point maybe in this debate?
CHISHOLM: Look, Matt, I’m not going to “both sides” this cartoon. I just don’t think that that is appropriate. I think people are calling for a respectful debate, then they should absolutely lead by example. And the No campaign should do that. I sat through hours of Senate debate where I heard those who are opposed to the Voice say they want to engage in this in the right spirit. Well, we’re not seeing that unfortunately. And I think that, sure, this can be a turning point, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to say “both sides” – I think people should actually say this cartoon is not appropriate.
DORAN: Before we move on to another topic, I just want to bring our audience some breaking news on this very issue: Nine, which is the publisher of the Australian Financial Review, where this advertisement was published this morning, has just put out a statement. A spokesperson for the company saying: “The political advertisement about the Voice referendum placed in today’s Financial Review should not have run and we apologise for that. We want to encourage a mature debate from both sides and avoid personal and/or inappropriate attacks.” So, the statement just coming through to us here at Afternoon Briefing. Perin Davey and Anthony Chisholm, let’s move on and talk about something else here, and that is the cost-of-living debate. Anthony Chisholm, clearly a lot of people are very relieved to see the RBA’s decision earlier this week not to increase interest rates yet again, keeping them on hold at 4.1 per cent. But there would be a lot of Australians sitting there watching the Commonwealth’s coffers swell to the tune of around $20 billion wondering whether or not you’re actually doing enough to support them as they try to deal with the other cost of living pressures in their life.
CHISHOLM: Sure, Matt, and we welcome the news from the RBA, and obviously the inflation results recently as well showing that they’ve been moderating. We understand many Australians are doing it tough. That’s why we’ve focused the Budget on cost-of-living measures that are responsible. I would point out that a number of those actually were due to start at the start of July, so the cheaper child care, which has been a focus of the Government for many years now, that started on 1 July. The cost-of-living relief when it comes to energy bills in conjunction with the state, that also starts flowing from now. So, a number of those measures that we had in the Budget that go to cost of living are start – will start to have an impact from today. That’s why we’ve done it in a responsible way but also in a way that doesn’t add to those inflationary pressures at the same time. I think we’ve got that balance right by and large.
DORAN: Perin Davey, there are a lot of Australians doing it tough, particularly in regional Australia at the moment. But there is only – there is a sense that the Government can only go so far without further fuelling that inflationary dragon as it’s quite frequently called in this debate without pumping too much money into the economy, isn’t there?
DAVEY: Well, there is absolutely, and one of the things that the Government could be doing is implementing measures that will increase productivity. We’ve seen productivity absolutely crash under this government. And their last budget just pumped more money into the economy without doing anything about productivity. And we’ve seen recently just how out of touch the Government are. I mean, Anthony Chisholm just mentioned cheaper child care subsidy which started on Saturday. And I’m sure lots of families thought that was welcome until they get their next child care bill, because we read today that child care prices are going up higher than inflation. So those families who are getting the subsidies are also getting child care increases. They’re not addressing the fact that a lot of people can’t access child care because there are child care deserts right around Australia. They’re not addressing power prices. I mean, Chris Bowen saying to Australians, “Just take out a loan and whack some solar panels on your roof, that will be all right,” that just shows just how out of touch this government is. They need to be addressing productivity and actually implementing policies that will address the inflationary pressures.
DORAN: Well, Senators, we will have to leave our discussion there. Plenty more we could talk about, but I think Anthony Chisholm’s got plane to catch. So, thank you so much for joining us on Afternoon Briefing.
CHISHOLM: Thanks, Matt. Thanks, Perin.