A defiant Malcolm Turnbull has insisted he will win the next election, while setting out a laundry list of his government’s achievements during the nearly two years he has occupied the nation’s top political job.
In a lengthy – and at times heated – interview with the ABC’s Leigh Sales on 7.30 on Monday night, Mr Turnbull also said his government had no plans to build a coal-fired power station – despite pressure from within his government to do so – and said he was confident that three Coalition MPs, including deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, would be found by the High Court to have been validly elected.
The Prime Minister also foreshadowed that his government would make a decision by the end of this year on whether to adopt a clean energy target, as recommended by chief scientist Alan Finkel and backed by power companies again on Monday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: AAP
Mr Turnbull will meet power company bosses again on Wednesday to demand action to deliver cheaper prices for consumers. Meanwhile, he is also under pressure from the ramp-up of the same-sex marriage postal survey campaign, and the 18 consecutive Newspolls that show the Coalition trailing Labor.
Mr Turnbull and Sales are frequent sparring partners and Monday’s interview did not disappoint, with the pair frequently talking over the top of each other and the Prime Minister adopting a combative approach to the frequent jabs from his inquisitor.
It began with the Prime Minister dismissing suggestions his government had no “signature achievements” in the nearly two years he had been in power.
“We’ve had huge achievements. The reform of school funding, Commonwealth school funding for the first time,” he said, adding that what had originally been Labor policy was “my achievement because it is our policy. We brought that in.
“What about restoring the Building and Construction Commission, restoring the rule of law?” he said.
“What about reducing company tax so that small and medium businesses can invest and get ahead? What about reforming child care so that families on lower incomes and in particular get more access to child care than they could before? We have made one big reform after another.”
When it was pointed out that needs-based school funding had originally been Labor policy, Mr Turnbull responded: “You can be as negative as you like.”
Later, he added he was “very confident we will win the next election” because “we will continue to deliver the economic leadership that is showing strong growth in jobs”.
Mr Turnbull added the inland rail project from Melbourne to Brisbane, the Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion – a pet project of the Prime Minister, who visited it again on Monday and pointed out “drilling is under way” – and accused Ms Sales of “not being interested in it” before pivoting to energy policy.
The Prime Minister also pointed to intervention in the gas market, on which Opposition Leader Bill Shorten urged him to go further on Monday. Mr Turnbull said the decision to put in place the framework to allow intervention had not been taken lightly, but had to be done because ns were demanding action on electricity prices.
“The east coast of has been short of gas. Why is that? It is because the Labor Party allowed gas to be exported from the east coast without any regard to protecting domestic industries or families or households. I have had to take very strong, heavy-handed measures to protect n jobs,” he said.
“We have no plans to build a coal-fired power station. We are already taking strong steps on Snowy Hydro, which, as you know, is a government-owned energy company,” he said.
And on the dual citizenship fiasco, Mr Turnbull said he was very confident that if Mr Joyce was ruled to have been invalidly elected, he would win a byelection after the High Court hearings in October.
“The fact is we are very confident, based on the advice we have, that the court will conclude that where a person like Barnaby is an n citizen by reason of being born here,” he said.