Joining me live now from Perth is Nationals leader, David Littleproud, didn't realize you're in Perth today, so thank you for getting up early for us, David Littleproud. I appreciate it. Now we've all seen the polls. They are going in the wrong direction for the ‘yes’ camp. If for some reason the Prime Minister made a decision to delay this Referendum, would you come back into the fold and renegotiate perhaps some other change?
Well, it depends on what the proposal is, and obviously we've said from the start that if this was a mature conversation about constitutional recognition and a proper process of a constitutional convention where, we're not just having one cohort of the population being able to turn up and tell the rest of the country what the constitutional change should be, but rather all Australians have an opportunity to have input into that, then that's something we've said from the start that we'd be happy to explore in a constructive way. But as it stands at the moment, the Prime Minister has made it very clear to me and to the Peter Dutton that he intends to go the full course of this.
That's his prerogative. I can assure you that we'll be mature no matter the result, whether it's a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, The Nationals will be mature in trying to make sure that we continue to set the tone. Because the one thing that I'm very proud of, despite the fact that we came out nearly nine months ago with our principle position, is the tone in which The Nationals have held themselves. We haven't called people names. We've been very mature and we've given our principle position, our lived experience, as to why we don't support The Voice. But constitutional recognition is something we're prepared to explore with proper and due process.
Okay. You just mentioned there that Anthony Albanese has made it clear to you and also to Peter Dutton, that he's not going to change on this. He will stay the course. So you're talking about recent conversations you've had with him, or is this going back months?
No, this is some time back and obviously he's made those statements publicly. So, we're happy to engage in a constructive way. We want to unite the country. But it's obvious the Prime Minister has divided the country with his proposal. What needed now is courage and leadership. We're prepared to give him that courage and leadership if he's prepared to step back and to acknowledge that his proposal has divided the country. And if he wants to reset the course, then that's a prerogative he has as the Prime Minister and in leading the government.
But as it stands at the moment, our principal position hasn't changed from that as to what it was nine months ago. One of reliving an experience that we had previously through a representative body called ATSIC, that we live with the consequences in rural and remote Australia today.
It didn't close the gap. We need a more granular approach. We need an intervention, an intervention with the bureaucracy. That's what can be achieved immediately. I think governments of all persuasions need to be more aggressive and assertive in making sure what we've done in the past doesn't repeat itself, whether it be with a represented body or allowing the bureaucracy to get away with it. We know where the disadvantage is. We know the communities. So why isn't the bureaucracy sitting in those communities designing and localizing those programs with local elders?
That's how you close the gap. We have all the data. We just need an intervention with our bureaucracy.
All right. Let's talk about a few quick other things. I want to talk about the government's latest tranche of making casual employees permanent. Fundamentally, do you have a problem with this?
Well, the devil's always in the detail with Labor. And when the union starts saying common sense, using the terms common sense, you start to sweat. The reality is there's already provisions that we put in place that allows the transition of casual workers after 12 months, for those enterprises that have more than 15 employees, to take that up with the Fair Work Commission. So these provisions are already there. So you obviously get concerned about what detail Tony Burke will unleash today.
And that goes with the myriad of other reforms that he's put in place, the multi-employer bargaining and also the same work, same pay. This has obviously got business concerned when you've also got the RBA telling us that the most important thing that should be in our IR reforms and in government policy at the moment is around productivity. And when unions are riding high up in the stirrups and giving directions to the government, you just get concerned about the fact that productivity may go out the window and real wages will continue to be at a level where they're not keeping up with Labor’s inflation.
All right. Let's talk about why you're in WA. Are you talking sheep exporters? You wanted to have a meeting with the Premier there, but he's not available for you. Why not?
No, he's flatly rejected my offer to work in a bipartisan way. And since I became Leader, I've tried to be constructive, whether it be going to the Jobs Summit or asking for a National Energy Summit. But I've said to Mark McGowan and now the new Premier, let's walk hand in hand. Let's educate east coast politicians about the reforms have been put in place about the fact that if you phase this out, it's not just 3000 livelihoods that will be lost from phasing this out, but you'll be exporting animal welfare standards to countries that don't have ours, into markets that will continue on whether, whether we are there or not.
And this folly that people think that we'll just process all these sheep here and send them over is folly. They have a cultural belief that they want to be able to slaughter them in their own country and be able to see it.
Our Australian standards have been instilled into that, and they'll be lost as well. So what we will lose and what all these animal activists who have no moral compass in trying to shut this down, we'll see perverse animal welfare outcomes where Australia can play a pivotal role in not only educating those Middle Eastern countries, but those other export markets, that we do it better. Our animal welfare standards are the highest and we should be proud of the reforms that we put in place as a government. That means that the rest of the world looked to us as a beacon of how to do animal welfare in a proper way.
Unfortunately, this is just an ideological view by the government who don't even have the courage to turn up to this meeting. Murray Watt and Anthony Albanese both rejected an offer to come and tell these people to their face that we're going to take away their livelihoods. Now what sort of government does that to their people when they're going to take away their livelihoods?
All right. Good luck with the meeting, David Littleproud, live there from Perth. Thanks so much.