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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

In this, our last podcast for 2022, we talk with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. We spoke to each of them on the day the parliament was back to pass the energy package.

Albanese, who met Chinese President Xi Jinping during the recent summit season, reveals he anticipates a further positive development in China’s relationship with Australia within weeks.

Asked whether he expects some relaxation of China’s trade restrictions on Australia any time soon, he says: “I’m hopeful that any of the barriers to normal economic activity are removed and that we have stronger economic relations.

“China is our major economic partner and I think in coming weeks you will see further measures and activities which indicate a much-improved relationship, which is in the interests of both of our countries, but importantly as well is in the interests of peace and security in the region.”

Pressed on whether he’s indicating a likely loosening of restrictions on our exports, Albanese says: “I’m hoping that there’ll be further indications of an improvement in the relationship […] and we’ll see how that plays out over the next coming weeks.”

On the 2023 referendum for the Voice to Parliament, Albanese is “absolutely confident” its passage would make Closing the Gap more attainable.

“That is the objective. […] We know that where Indigenous Australians feel a sense of ownership over decisions, where they’re consulted about programs that have a direct impact on them, then you get better outcomes. And we see that in practical ways through the rangers’ program, through justice reinvestment programs.

“We have tried doing things from Canberra or from state capitals, seeking to make decisions on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The successful programs have been ones that have directly consulted them and had their input.”

Carrying the referendum would also improve “the way that Australia is perceived internationally”.

In the Albanese interview we also canvass:

  • Julian Assange
  • energy policy
  • COVID changes
  • the 2023 budget
  • Labor’s challenge in “heartland” seats.

Peter Dutton: Coalition won’t be ‘small target’ at next election

Dutton’s main task since the election has been holding together an opposition demoralised by defeat. But as he oversees policy development for the 2025 election will be adopt a “small target” strategy, as Albanese did?

“At the next election we will have a very significant offering of policy, which will distinguish us quite markedly from the Labor Party,” Dutton says.

“I’ve been in the parliament for 21 years. I have a good sense of balance and proportion, and there does need to be a balance of risk-taking. There needs to be an element of the government getting it wrong. There needs to be an opportunity for us to get the policies right.

“And I want to bring that experience to bear in the next election campaign. And I believe that, as a result of that, we won’t be small target, but we’re not going to be silly about policies. I mean, you went from one extreme under Bill Shorten in 2019 to the other under Anthony Albanese in 2022. So we have a balance to strike and I’ll be making those judgment calls as we get closer to the next election.”

The Liberals are always saying they need more women candidates but what are they actually going to do about getting them?

Dutton says (in an unspoken comparison with his predecessor): “I don’t have a problem with women and I’m not perceived to. I have a very significant track record and I’m happy to be compared against the prime minister or anybody else.”

Pushed on quotas, he says: “The Liberal Party doesn’t have a culture of imposing quotas. I want to see more women. I’ve made that very clear to the state presidents, I have made it very clear to preselection bodies. But in the Liberal Party our branch members have the say as to who they want as their local candidate. And generally that is somebody who has worked very hard on campaigns in the local electorate over a long period of time.”

In the Dutton interview we also canvass:

  • cost of living
  • the Liberal Party’s stance on the Voice
  • Josh Frydenberg’s future
  • Scott Morrison
  • participation in the NSW state election.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. Politics with Michelle Grattan: Albanese flags new progress in China relationship ‘in coming weeks’ –