03 March 2022


SUBJECTS: Anthony Albanese’s visit to Perth; flooding in NSW & QLD; local electorate issues; road infrastructure; tax policy; cashless welfare card; Russia-Ukrainian Conflict. 

ANNOUNCER: Behind Party Lines.

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ANNOUNCER: In the left corner, Federal Labor Member for Burt, Matt Keogh. And in the right corner, Federal Liberal Member for Canning, Andrew Hastie.

LIAM BARTLETT, HOST: Yes, and I'm reminded that I probably should be – we should have said centre-left corner. Is that possible?

ANDREW HASTIE, MEMBER FOR CANNING: It’s a geographic thing.

MATT KEOGH, MEMBER FOR BURT: Maybe we just go with the red and the blue corner, Liam.

BARTLETT: The red and the blue. Gentlemen, good morning.

KEOGH: Good morning.

HASTIE: Good morning, Liam.

BARTLETT: Nice to have you here in the studio again.

HASTIE: Good to be with you.

BARTLETT: The issue of the day, obviously, globally, is Ukraine, but let's start with you first, Matt, because your man is here in Perth.


BARTLETT: Anthony Albanese. And I've had a few things to say about that. I honestly can't believe that he's, he's still doing this trip, when his state is having such an emergency.

KEOGH: Well, he's just come here from Queensland, so he's been through a lot of the flood-ravaged areas, you know, through Queensland.

BARTLETT: Yeah, but why would you leave?

KEOGH: – and is now in New South Wales.

BARTLETT: Why would you leave? 

KEOGH: Because Anthony made a commitment. He made a commitment a long time ago to be here as soon as the Western Australian border opened. And he flew in at just after midnight last night because obviously, because of what we've gone through, he hasn’t been able to be here.

BARTLETT: Scott Morrison booked his Hawaiian hotel a month before he went. I mean, so what?

KEOGH: As I said, Anthony has actually been up to the floods. He's been meeting with the MPs who have been out there, you know, filling sandbags, delivering them out to people, working with the community. He's been talking to people to see what's affecting them, but also, at the moment – and we're hearing this from the New South Wales Government and the Queensland Government – there's more to come. So, they probably actually don't need the media entourage with a leader coming through that area whilst those people actually need to be putting sandbags up around their properties for the future flood that's going to be coming, which the police commissioner in Queensland has just been talking about.

BARTLETT: Maybe rather than a media contingent, he could be actually helping to fill sandbags in his own electorate of Grayndler. I mean, that's also at risk at the moment. Anyway, look, I–, you know, I won't bang on, I mean, you're not him. So, I don't want to hold you personally accountable. But I do think it is, it is very strange. It is very strange that you would leave at this particular point in time. And, and also, the other thing that amazes me – this is from a media perspective, so forgive me for being a little bit industry here – he had a press conference at 8:30 this morning, in Wangara, Wangara. In the seat of Pearce, obviously, with Tracey Roberts, and they're thinking, they can, they can win that back from your mob, Andrew.

HASTIE: Linda Aitken.

BARTLETT: Sorry. But 8:30, at the same time, the Premier’s organised a press conference in South Perth. Oh, what's going on there? State Labor Party not talking to the Federal Labor Party? I mean, that's a bit of a blue, isn't it?

HASTIE: Well, I'll leave that for Matt to explain.

KEOGH: That is pretty inside media, Liam. But Liam, I'll say this, it's a good argument for why we need more jobs in the media industry, so we can cover multiple things happening at the same time, and I support Nine here and all the others making sure that they are putting those resources into Western Australia.

BARTLETT: Well, we are thin on the ground, but my point is: if you're over here for media opportunities, why would you get that so wrong on your first step out?

HASTIE: Well, look, I'm not going to stop them while they're making mistakes according to media insiders, Liam, but of course, I'm very glad that Australians are now free to travel within their borders. We've done it since 1901. The last two years has been an aberration. And so, whilst I don't agree with Mr Albanese’s politics – that's quite obvious – I'm glad to see him free to travel once again. And I know many families will be overjoyed today who are reunited finally with loved ones,

BARTLETT: Alright. That's very magnanimous of you. I'm sure many families in New South Wales will think his decision to be here is not a good one

HASTIE: Well, well, well, New South Wales and Queensland are going through a terrible time right now. We've got 650 ADF personnel on the ground assisting people. We've got up to 10 helicopters who have conducted rescues throughout the regions, and they've saved 98 people so far. They are acting with courage and compassion, and we can be very proud of them. And also, we're rolling out recovery payments; $1,000 for adults and $400 for children who have lost their homes; who can't get to work, who are in a really tough space at the moment.

BARTLETT: Yeah, yep. Makes our weather look pretty good, doesn't it?

KEOGH: WA weather always looks good, Liam. That's the great thing about Western Australia. But, you know we're also we're a hot place prone to bushfire. Emergency response is incredibly important across the nation, and I know the generosity of Western Australians when we have bushfires here, but also floods across the country. People are happy to, and want to look after people, when they're in times of emergency, times are tough like this, and it has a really hard time through Queensland and New South Wales right now. But it is also incumbent on the Federal Government who set up an emergency relief response fund just after the bushfires in New South Wales – $4 billion fund – haven't spent a cent of it.


KEOGH: Haven’t spent a cent of it.

HASTIE: $17 billion.

KEOGH: Still haven't spent any though; that's the problem. And it should have been spent on not only helping those coming out of the bushfires – some of whom are still living in tents and caravans – but also mitigation work so that when we do have these major rain events – which we know happen – that we're mitigating against the types of floods that do occur.

BARTLETT: Is that right, Andrew? Is that correct? Not a cent?

HASTIE: That's incorrect. The Treasurer was on Today this morning with Karl Stefanovic, and he addressed these questions. $17 billion: 13 billion has gone towards the pandemic; 2.5 towards bushfire assistance; and a million– a billion and a half towards floods over the last few years. So, you know, we're looking after people right now. If people want to get political – if Anthony Albanese is here to make political statements about New South Wales and Queensland whilst being on the other side of the country, he can do that. But we are acting as a Federal Government to give relief to those sorts – those people who are badly hurt by the floods right now in New South Wales and Queensland.

BARTLETT: 133 882 if you would like to ask either Andrew Hastie or Matt to a question. And you don't walk that back then?

KEOGH: I don't walk it back at all. There's a $4 billion fund; they set it up after the bushfires. The government's been very clear; they've spent zero dollars out of it. The Treasurer likes to go out and talk about other funds that they spent on things and say ‘oh, we've done this’, but they literally set up a fund to respond to this stuff, haven’t seen–

HASTIE: This is all inside. This is all insider stuff, Matt. I mean look at the pictures on the television. We've got ADF personnel winching people from the roofs of their houses. You've got Lismore McDonald's underwater. We're in the midst of a recovery operation. The Federal Government is acting to help people, and as the Treasurer said this morning, people logged on yesterday to access the recovery payment. They had $1,000 in their bank account the same day. So, you know, we're rolling this out. People are getting assistance. And you know, let's not, let's not second guess people whilst we still have emergency services and troops in the field helping those in need.

KEOGH: And to be clear, I’m not critical of any of that. It’s absolutely important that we've got Defence, SES, state police out there helping people, and that those emergency repayments through Services Australia; very, very important. And as Andrew and I know, and you know, we've got bushfire-prone areas in our electorates, when we've seen those. Getting that money out the door straight away when people are stranded, can't be at their house, they’ve lost their house–

BARTLETT: Crucial.

KEOGH: That's crucial, and we absolutely support that. I'm making a broader observation about making sure we mitigate against these emergencies, and also, that down the track, the things that need to happen do actually happen.

BARTLETT: Alright. The fact that Albo is over here trying to get media oxygen shows also that this campaign – faux as it is at the moment – is well and truly, well and truly in train. There's no doubt about it.

HASTIE: That's right.

BARTLETT: So, we haven't got that long to go till one way or the other, when it's called, till we go to the polls. In your respective electorates, what do you think, both of you, is the biggest issue at the moment, the way as you see it? The biggest issue. First to you, Matt.

KEOGH: So, the biggest front of mind issue right now is still the response to COVID. And obviously we've just had the border reopening. People are concerned about the increase in case numbers. They're concerned about what the impact of the border reopening is, and obviously they're starting to see cases show up in their schools and some people are having to quarantine. I came across just two on the weekend when I was out doorknocking, two houses that were quarantined because they had kids that were in a class at a school that had COVID. So that's a front-of-mind issue for people. People are still affected by the food shortages on our shopping, our supermarket shelves, because of the floods through South Australia that cut us off from road and rail.

BARTLETT: That'll be gone by the time the poll comes.

KEOGH: Absolutely, but you know, you asked what's front-of-mind for people. It's everyday experiences. But they also want to know that there's a plan going forward. They want to see something better come out of COVID instead of just going back to where we were before. They'd like to see a country that's more resilient; that's more self-reliant. That is diversifying its economy. That is a strong society, able to move forward, and they want to see plans for secure employment, training opportunities to get into those jobs, better manufacturing opportunities happening here in Australia. Those sorts of issues are important to people. 

BARTLETT: So, you think pandemic management will still be a vote catcher?

KEOGH: I think it's still going to be a front-of-mind issue whilst people are seeing it show up in their lives, if they've got to be going into times of isolation and quarantine. It's not going to be gone in 70 days’ time, or thereabouts. It may dissipate compared to other issues, but right now when I'm out doorknocking, talking to people on the phone, you know, doing mobile offices, that's what's coming up.

BARTLETT: What do you think, Andrew, in Canning?

HASTIE: Yeah, well, I think health is an ongoing issue. The Peel region has been overlooked for many years. The State Government made a commitment of $150 million towards the Peel Health Campus; that won't be realised for another couple of years yet. And so health is front-of-centre with the backdrop of the pandemic playing out. Cost of living is an issue. Fuel prices are headed up. Food prices are up, largely because of what's happening in the world right now. They're beyond our control. So geopolitics is impacting us domestically. And, of course, infrastructure investment. The Peel Region has exploded in growth over the last decade or more. 40,000 people have moved down there. We anticipate more people moving down. There's, there's new subdivisions. And so, getting rail and roads built, creating economic and social mobility, is really, really important. That's why the Government, the Federal Government, is investing $3.3 billion towards METRONET here, and millions and millions of dollars towards roads throughout WA, but particularly in Canning itself where I represent.

BARTLETT: Yeah, so some of those could be vote catchers as well.

HASTIE: Absolutely.

BARTLETT: Sometimes though, hard for people to differentiate between state and federal on those levels, isn’t it? Even, you know, as many, as many adverts as you put out, or press statements, or whatever, it is sometimes hard for voters to work that out.

HASTIE: And the reality is we do collaborate on roads, rail, important infrastructure. So yes, we need a good relationship with the State Government, and we've partnered well.

BARTLETT: Let's go to the phones. Lisa's on the line. Hello, Lisa.

LISA, TALKBACK CALLER: Good morning, Liam, Andrew, and Matt. I have a question for Andrew. Andrew, you’ve campaigned for the past two elections on the Tonkin Highway Extension from Thomas Road to South West HHighway. When is this actually going to happen, because we're not seeing any work?

HASTIE: That's right. Well, Lisa, I secured $600 million for the extension of the Tonkin Highway down to the South Western HHighway. That's with the State Government. And, as I understand it, it's green bureaucrats who are holding that up. And of course, there's been a shortage of labour due to the hard border policy over the last few years. So, some of these projects have been delayed by the pandemic, by bureaucracy, but the money is there. It's fully funded. And I'm working on getting that built soon, along with upgrades to the Thomas Road; east-west route. That's really really important for a lot of people in the Peel Region.

BARTLETT: So there you go. Lisa’s question hits the nail on the head.

HASTIE: It does.

BARTLETT: You say you've got the money. You've got the tick for that. 

HASTIE: Yeah, absolutely.

BARTLETT: But, but, it’s the State who are going to build it.

HASTIE: That's right. Well, the Federal Government doesn't build the roads. We finance them.

BARTLETT: Yeah. It’s difficult.

KEOGH: I understand, Liam, there's a number of projects – I suspect Tonkin Highway is one of them. I know there's some projects further up north on Tonkin Highway that are being affected by the big labour shortages that we've seen through COVID. And the State Government has sort-of smoothed out some of those projects over by delaying the start on them by about a year.


KEOGH: Because if you–, even if you started them earlier, because of the shortages, you still wouldn't finish them any earlier. So, they've just sort of delayed the start time on some of those and I think that part of the Tonkin Highway is probably.

HASTIE: It affects Matt’s–.

KEOGH: Yeah, I’m affected too.

BARTLETT: Yeah. We'll take some more calls, more questions in just a moment. Back in a second. 


BARTLETT: 10 minutes to 10. We've got Matt Keogh from Burt and Andrew Hastie from Canning here in the studio for our Behind Party Lines. Rick's on the line. Hello, Rick.

RICK, TALKBACK CALLER: How are you going, Liam? Hello, Matt. Hello, Andrew. My question is to Matt, and I've got to tell you, Matt, I'm not a supporter of your party. But this week in the national newspaper, there was an article by the Grattan Institute, and I think it was just yesterday, another think tank, promoting reforms to taxation on things like income earners, superannuation benefits being paid to retirees, the eradication of family trusts and that sort of thing. I mean, I'm not hearing any plans from Albanese, but I'm hearing plans from the people that we link to the Labor Party. So, what are your views on that? Are we going to get a death duties tax? Are you going to screw retirees who are in retirement? Take all their lives to accumulate their wealth and they're gonna find themselves being taken advantage of as old people? I mean, what are your plans there, mate?

KEOGH: Well thanks for the question, Rick, and it's good to see how, you know, The Australian like to link certain organisations to Labor, but we don't take our marching orders from the Grattan Institute or any other think tanks. You know, they’re welcome to put their own suggestions up. But Anthony was very clear when he became leader that we would not be taking the same suite of policies to this election that's coming up as we took to the last election. We have been out there ruling those sorts of policies out. We understand exactly the points that you have made, making sure that our pensioners, people that have saved their money over their lives, you know, worked hard, have their savings protected, and we completely get that. So, you don't need to be stressing about either last year's taxation– the last election’s taxation policies. Josh Frydenberg still likes to bang on about them. And you certainly don't need to worry about ideas that are being put up by think tanks that are not the Labor Party. Just wait to see what Albo, what Albo is saying, what our team is saying. And obviously we've announced policies, we will be announcing policies through the election. You'll see it all there.

BARTLETT: No death duties.

KEOGH: There will be no death duties. Absolutely. 

BARTLETT: Rick, thanks for that. Hello, Sandy.

SANDY, TALKBACK CALLER: Hi Liam, Andrew, and Matt. I'd like to ask Matt a question, please. 

KEOGH: Fire away, Sandy.

SANDY: Matt, why do you have on your personal Facebook saying if the Liberals get in, they will be introducing a cashless card to all pensioners, when that is a lie?

KEOGH: What I've been highlighting, Sandy – and thanks for raising it – is that the Government introduced legislation to give them the power to expand the use of the cashless debit card to multiple types of welfare and to pension payments. And that was a red flag to us – that we feel that people need to be aware of – that the government was giving itself the power to do that. Now, the Minister, Anne Rushton (sic) has come out and said, ‘oh no, we won't do that’. And I'm glad to hear them say that. 

HASTIE: It’s in legislation.

KEOGH: We want to keep them, we want to keep that, we want to keep them honest to that commitment. They won't do it, because the Government was putting forward legislation that would enable them to do that. And you wouldn't do that unless you had the idea that you thought you were going to do it. So, we want to keep the Government honest to not doing that. It's a bad idea. And that's why I've got that information up on my Facebook page.

HASTIE: And it's not happening. So Sandy, you needn't worry.

BARTLETT: Alright. Let's move on. Speaking about taking action: you have an idea about Formula One, Andrew?

HASTIE: Yes. We proudly host the Formula One every year in Melbourne. April 7, coming up.


HASTIE: And there's a Russian driver who drives for a team, Haas, and he's the son of a wealthy oligarch with connections to Vladimir Putin. Yesterday, the UK motor authority ruled that he could not race at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July, but F1 has ruled that he can race but not under a Russian flag. And I think whilst innocent Ukrainian people are being bombed and killed by the Russian regime, no Russian driver should be allowed to compete in our Grand Prix right here.

BARTLETT: What do you think of that, Matt?

KEOGH: I think Andrew’s right. I think if you want to have sanctions that bite against oligarchs, people close to Putin, then it's got to, you've got to stop them from finding ways out through that. And getting the accolades that come from these sort of major sporting events that give them some legitimacy, when clearly what is happening, what the Russians are doing to Ukraine, is entirely illegitimate. And I think these are the sorts of things that we need to be thinking about.

HASTIE: And the broader point is, we've taken action against Putin; against his 12 members of the National Security Council; 300-plus Members of Parliament; his generals; Russian elites. We're going against them, we're gonna– as liberal democracies working together, we're going to seize their yachts, their money, what have you. And to let this guy come here and drive, I think it's just a, you know, an insult to Ukrainian people here in Australia, and of course, in Ukraine itself.

BARTLETT: Mind you, we're about to kick off a cricket tour tomorrow in Pakistan. And there's Imran Khan, meeting Putin and having cups of tea last Thursday night while he's bombing Ukraine. We’re supporting Pakistan, a regime that are mates with Putin.

KEOGH: I think, you know, that we're going to find a number of these sorts of inconsistencies. We've got strong partnership with India, for example, and they–

BARTLETT: And India abstained on the vote last night in the UN General Assembly.

KEOGH: And it’s important we continue to have those engagements with those countries, so we can continue to work with them, for them to great–, greater understand why it's important that we're condemning what Russia is doing. And I think that's part of what we're trying to do with these nations. And it's important that the Government continues in that work with all the other countries at the moment that are working against Russia, to get these countries on board.

HASTIE: And the good news is, Liam, that in a space of a week, Vladimir Putin has achieved what US foreign policymakers have tried to do for 20 years. You have the Germans committing $110 billion towards their defence force. They are committing year-on-year to a defence spend of two per cent of GDP. They've committed 1000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. You've got Sweden, no longer neutral. Switzerland, no longer neutral.

BARTLETT: So, they've toughened up Europe?

HASTIE: Europe is rapidly toughening up.

BARTLETT: Yeah, it's interesting, and very interesting when you put it like that. Thank you very much for coming in, both of you. Good to see you again. We'll catch you next week. 

HASTIE: Thanks, Liam.

KEOGH: Great to be in the studio with you again, Liam.

BARTLETT: Good to see you in person, Matt. Matt Keogh from the seat of Burt; Andrew Hastie from Canning, here on the morning program.