Topic:   Protesters; Voice to Parliament;  

07:50AM AEST
Tuesday, 20 June 2023


Pete Stefanovic:  Simon Birmingham joins us live from Canberra. Simon this is day two, Blockade Australia. They are causing more than enough disruption, not just in Brisbane, also Newcastle, Melbourne as well. You got a message for them?


Simon Birmingham: G’day, Pete. Well, look, everybody has a right to protest, but protest in a way that doesn’t get in the way of your fellow Australians going about their lives. Honestly, so many people get so fed up, annoyed and understandably so with these types of protests where it’s just a couple of people who cause such massive disruption. Now Australians take climate change very seriously and we’ve seen that in the polls. We’ve seen that in the way people vote. And of course, our country is both facing a big challenge, but a global leader in terms of areas of emissions reduction, we’ve got to keep on with that. But these guys actually do more harm to their cause than good half the time.


Pete Stefanovic: Yeah. And you know, the chorus growing louder for the courts to actually do something about them. Anyway, the USS America docking at the Port of Brisbane this arvo. So they’re going to want to have to get that sorted out quick sticks anyway. Simon, onto the campaign. Onto The Voice. Starts in earnest today. As Olivia Caisley pointed out a little earlier, you’ve said you won’t campaign actively against the Voice. Are you still of that view?


Simon Birmingham: Look, I am there’s plenty of advocates both for and against, who are going to be very energetic throughout this campaign. I’ve got no doubt every Australian is going to get to have a vote. Mine will count the same as yours and the same as every other single Australian. And for me as the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, I’m going to keep focusing on the other challenges that Australia faces. And of course the message Peter Dutton delivered to the Liberal Party Federal Council on the weekend. That is important as this decision is. We also can’t allow it to distract us from many other challenges, be they the international ones, at the forefront of my responsibilities. Or of course the huge cost of living and economic pressures that Australians are facing thanks to Labor’s budget, putting expansionary pressures into the economy and causing the Reserve Bank to drive up interest rates even further.


Pete Stefanovic: Are you expecting more Liberals to join you, Simon?


Simon Birmingham: Well, I expect that many of my colleagues will choose to take their own path in this. Some will campaign intensively. Some will focus on the issues in their local communities. Some will focus on their portfolio responsibilities. The same, I’ve got no doubt, will be the case even within the Labor Party. They might be deeply committed to this change, but many will have other things to focus their time on. And of course, there are lots of other people outside of this building who will play a very big role in this campaign. My message to all of them would be to do so respectfully, to do so in ways that elevate the national conversation and that acknowledge the significant role that indigenous Australians play in our country, the significant respect we should have for their cultural history and heritage, and that we should be looking to ensure that we advance the cause of reconciliation. Whatever people’s points of difference may be about the actual constitutional amendment that is before us.


Pete Stefanovic: All right, Simon Birmingham, we will leave it there. Appreciate it. Thank you, though we will talk to you again soon. Let’s go back to the live shot. It looks like they’ve got him.