Topics: Government’s poor handling of Solomon Islands relationship; PBS medicines; RBA Governor; Cost of living;
Simon Birmingham: Late yesterday, we saw a most extraordinary statement issued by the Government of the Solomon Islands that accuses the Albanese Government and Foreign Minister Penny Wong of engaging in ways that interfere in the domestic affairs of the Solomon Islands and interfere in relation to their national interests and democracy.
Now, the Albanese Government was entirely right to offer to provide assistance for the conduct of Solomon Islands elections. However, the execution of that offer appears to have been woefully undertaken, given the response it has elicited from the Solomon Islands Government.
There are many questions that the Albanese Government is going to have to answer in relation to this offer; around when it was made; what discussions occurred prior to the making of this offer; whether the Solomon Islands Government was aware the offer was going to be made public; if they weren’t then why the Government chose to make it public, when they made it public?
This is a very significant statement issued by the Solomon Islands and clearly the Albanese Government has mishandled this very sensitive matter and needs to provide answers and explanations in relation to it.
Journalist: Is it necessarily clear that this has been mishandled on the Australian side? Is it not possible the Solomon Islands will have other reasons for issuing a statement like this?
Simon Birmingham: This is quite an extraordinary statement and the accusations made in the statement in relation to the way in which this issue has been handled do point to issues on the side of the Albanese Government.
The Solomon Islands are clearly aggrieved at the fact that this was made public; in the way it was made public; when it was made public. And that’s why there are answers to be had from the Albanese Government about whether they informed the Solomon Islands in advance that they would be making the offer public in this way and, if not, why not?
Journalist: Australians are going to save $12.50 on their PBS medicines under new legislation. Does this show the Federal Government is serious about tackling this cost of living?
Simon Birmingham: This shows that the Albanese Government is implementing a Coalition policy that was announced during the election campaign which they matched. So I welcome the fact that they are implementing Coalition policy. What we’ve yet to see from them is any sort of comprehensive plan about their own approach to tackling the cost of living.
Journalist: On another issue, one of your colleagues, Matt Canavan, has backed the Greens’ push for the RBA Governor to resign. Do you think there just needs to be a fresh start with at the RBA?
Simon Birmingham: No, look I have confidence in the RBA Governor. He has worked through some extraordinary times that we’ve faced in relation to the domestic and global economy. These continue to be highly challenging times and I know that he is working diligently with his team as possible in that regard.
Journalist: You mentioned the need for cost of living relief. Can the Government provide cost of living relief in the budget without pushing up inflation?
Simon Birmingham: Well, that’s for the Government to make sure that they look at these issues very carefully. We did so in the budget earlier this year, carefully framing responses to help Australians by targeting actions such as the targeted response where we saw oil price spikes, we put in place the measures to provide relief during the period of those spikes. Now whilst the oil price spikes may have come off somewhat, we’ve seen inflationary pressures grow significantly elsewhere and that’s why the Albanese Government needs to look at how it can target assistance to help Australians with those other newer and different pressures they now face. Thanks, guys.