Interview with Danica De Giorgio, Sky News, First Edition
Danica De Giorgio: The Victorian Government will focus its effort on persuading two key crossbench MPs to pass its pandemic bill. The Andrews Government needs just one more vote in the 40-member Legislative Council to pass the bill. Joining me now live is Liberal MP Tim Wilson. Tim, good morning. Will it get through?
Tim Wilson: Morning. Well, we'll wait and see, but what we know is that Daniel Andrews has been keen to create distractions to take the pressure off himself. What we're seeing is State Premiers around the country in a kind of WhatsApp group coordination to try and do things like distract by attacking the Prime Minister. And the real question is whether, frankly, the media falls for it. What we know is that State Premiers want a weak Anthony Albanese in Canberra, because they know there's a huge cost, if strong, a strong Scott Morrison is there to stand up to them and stand up and lead the nation.
Danica De Giorgio: There's been protests across the country this weekend. It was hard to ignore the one in Melbourne, the sheer size. I'm sure that you've seen as well. Do governments need to be cautious when it comes to vaccine mandates?
Tim Wilson: Well, the Federal Government's position has always been that there shouldn't be mandates, but that's a decision for the States, and they know that they have residents who are angry about their decisions and that's what's leading to these protests. But the question ultimately is whether they're listening and where they're hearing people's concerns or whether they're simply trying to create distractions. And that's what we're seeing with State Labor Premiers around the country where they coordinate their messaging and lines and try and distract away from the anger that sits in parts of the population and try and channel it to Canberra. But they're doing in a deliberate and coordinated way because they want to weak Anthony Albanese to become Prime Minister because they know that that will serve their interests better, rather than having a tough, strong Prime Minister like Scott Morrison, who's going to lead the country.
Danica De Giorgio: On the front page of today's Australian newspaper, it shows unpublished Newspoll results, revealing nearly one in two Victorian voters believe that the Andrews Government deserves to be re-elected. How can you say it's a distraction when clearly some of the policies are proving to be somewhat popular?
Tim Wilson: Well, I don't I don't accept that as a basic proposition. I think people throughout the pandemic have been very nervous about the risks of COVID-19. They've backed their governments to make decisions. But the next State election is actually going to be about the future of Victoria. And when it comes to the future of Victoria, what people want to see is a government that is ambitious for its future. That's rebuilding after the legacy of COVID-19, where we've dropped down international rankings as one of the most liveable cities on Earth and wanting to see us move forward. And at this point, the current government is only focused on managing the internal chaos of their own government and in the Parliament because they're seeking to get legislation through and getting a very strong rebuke from their upper house.
Danica De Giorgio: All right, you're of course in Canberra. A big week ahead. I want to talk to you about tax changes. Josh Frydenberg this morning on Sky News not ruling out tax changes, saying it's something that they will discuss. Labor on the same page as well. Is this a sign that everyday Australians could get slugged further?
Tim Wilson: Well, we know that increasing taxes is in the Labor Party's DNA because before the last election, they proposed nearly $400 billion of additional taxes. Where they want to find more ways to shove their hand into your hip pocket. They see your money as their money and to spend it, it's only the pathway they can find to grab it. And so this is an important issue because Australians know they can't trust Labor to honour existing tax cuts, let alone propose new taxes. And the last election was a classic example, particularly when you look at their retiree tax, which would have pushed many Australian retirees below the poverty line, so that people in Canberra could get more access to your money.
Danica De Giorgio: Ok, but the Treasurer couldn't rule it out this morning when pushed on Sky News about it. So, how can the public trust that the Coalition won't take the same policy to the election?
Tim Wilson: Well, we're resolutely clear that we won't be taking their retiree tax to the next election. We fought it very hard in the lead-up to the last election, precisely because we know that the best place for Australian’s money is in their hip pocket to make their decisions. Politics is about power. It's about whether we empower Canberra to dictate people's lives and tell them how to conform, or you empower Australians, families, communities to decide their own destiny. And the Prime Minister's been clear, you know, Australians want Canberra out of their lives. I agree with them.
Danica De Giorgio: Liberal MP Tim Wilson. We've run out of time. We have to leave it there. Thank you for joining me.
Tim Wilson: Thank you.