Subjects: Polls; Malcolm Turnbull; election date; ABCC bill; Labor Party; subs contract.
PRESENTER: I’m very excited about Two Tribes this morning. We got a sneak preview, but at this time on every Wednesday, Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne join us albeit, the band hasn’t been together the last couple of weeks.
PRESENTER: Could be why I’m particularly excited to talk to them about all matters affecting South Australia and the country this morning. Christopher Pyne, good morning.
PRESENTER: Good morning Will, I’m glad you’re so excited about the Two Tribes today. You obviously aren’t getting out enough.
PRESENTER: I know. He’s very easily amused.
PRESENTER: Good morning to you too, Albo.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day. Welcome back Christopher. I’m actually in Adelaide next Wednesday so I don’t know if Christopher’s round then, we could come in and have a sort of arm wrestle or do something… you could narrate it! On live radio. Or you could just –
PYNE: That will make Will Goodings even more popular!
PRESENTER: I was going to say, you think I’m excited today!
ALBANESE: Or you could just make stuff up given it’s radio and you could pretend we’re in a race, or a swimming race, or anything at all really.
PRESENTER: Let’s try to make that happen. I reckon that’s a great idea. Hey Chris, we want to kick off with you today. You were on Q&A Monday night and they sort of sprung the Newspoll results on you during live TV. You conceded that the government had had a bit of a messy week last week.
A lot of people now are talking about Malcolm Turnbull and his style. I see Graham Morris, John Howard’s former Chief of Staff calling Mr Turnbull a waffler.
The whole point of changing leaders to a large degree was about you know, Malcolm Turnbull’s own words, the need to communicate. Is communication the big thing the Government needs to work on?
PYNE: No, I don’t think so. I think the problem is that the commentators are just desperate to talk relentlessly about the cycle of politics and who’s got the ball, and who’s kicking it to whom rather than the substance of policy.
The truth is the next election will be about a choice between Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull who’s best to represent us on the world stage, who’s got a plan for jobs and growth and we’ve got the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Defence Industry White Paper, the competition law reform, things like the media law reform.
I mean, we’re actually getting on with the job, that’ll create jobs and growth, while Labor is kind of in the mire of talking about the day to day political cycle.
PRESENTER: But why are you struggling to cut through then? Why are you failing to cut through?
PYNE: Well, we aren’t.
PRESENTER: Well Newspoll shows you are.
PYNE: The same day there was a Newspoll showing it at 51-49, and it’s hardly a terrifying result, there was a Morgan Poll showing quite the opposite, in fact 53-47 our way. So these polls come and go. And the public know that.
Now the real question is, is Labor going to support the reform of the building and construction industry when the Senate’s recalled on the 18th of April, because obviously that’s a big part of the productivity of the economy, it employs a million Australians and again, there’s an issue of substance rather than who’s up or down in the polls.
PRESENTER: Albo, on this poll turnaround, I thought it was quite interesting this morning, buried away in one of the stories analysing Malcolm Turnbull’s woes was an account of a plot that was apparently drawn up by Labor party figures two months ago who were then spooked by the arrival of Malcolm Turnbull to knock off Bill Shorten as leader, presumably replacing him with you. Did that plot exist?
ALBANESE: No. We’ve been a united team the whole way through. Christopher said ‘polls come and go’. I used to say that too when we were going down the tube. It’s all in one direction and it is because of substance.
It’s because of the extraordinary decision by Malcolm Turnbull to float nine sets of income taxes on one day, then the next day say that the funding for public education would be precisely zero, zip, and that the Commonwealth would just fund private education that I think just said it all about how out of touch Malcolm Turnbull is.
I think there’s just been a great deal of disappointment in Malcolm Turnbull.
People were pleased with the change, that’s the truth, when Tony Abbott was dumped. He had stratospheric figures in the polls and people wanted him to succeed. I think people still want him to succeed and want the country to go well, but they’re just wondering, you know, about this bloke’s judgement.
PRESENTER: So that whole thing about the plot to knock off Bill Shorten though, it never got to that?
ALBANESE: You’ll notice that there are no quotes from me in there, nor did the journalist bother to pick up the phone to me so I don’t take it terribly seriously.
PYNE: There’s no doubt that it existed because Troy Bramston in the Australian wrote about it earlier in the year in February and Graham Richardson wrote about it in The Australian and talked about it on Sky News.
He actually outlined how polling had been handed around in NSW, shown to everybody other than Bill Shorten, I don’t know if it was shown to Anthony Albanese, that Bill Shorten was going to take the Labor Party to a catastrophic defeat and that he needed to be replaced as Labor leader. The obvious person to replace him is Anthony Albanese, and you know, that plot did exist.
PRESENTER: You’re not just being modest, are you Albo?
ALBANESE: Thanks for your support, Christopher, but I’ll give you the big exclusive news on FiveAA; Christopher Pyne doesn’t have a vote in the Labor caucus.
PYNE: He’s the best of a bad bunch.
PRESENTER: Get him to hand out your how-to-vote cards for you.
ALBANESE: Damning with faint praise. I did notice that Troy Bramston actually wrote an article last week that didn’t condemn me so I was shocked by that.
PYNE: Well, there you go, you see, everybody’s running to your flag. Everybody. Now are you going to deny it, of course, Anthony, that’s the real question?
ALBANESE: I already have.
PYNE: But you were the people’s choice, weren’t you, after the election? The Labor Party membership voted for you.
ALBANESE: Look, I stood in a ballot, I put myself forward, I wasn’t successful, and what I have done is got on with the job that I’ve been given and I think I’ve done it pretty well of holding the government to account on infrastructure.
Yesterday, they were out there, claiming again the Torrens to Torrens section of the South Road project, saying somehow, it had something to do with them. It was fully funded in the 2013 Budget and all the pre-construction work was underway back in 2013 when we were in government.
They actually stopped the project and now, only now it’s getting going again and I look forward to coming and having a look next week.
PRESENTER: That’s enough about history. Can we turn our attention for a second –
PYNE: Let’s talk about the future because if Labor loses the next election is Anthony going to stand for leader again?
ALBANESE: Good distraction, Christopher, but the problems are all on your side, not ours, and at the moment, on those figures, we’ll win the election and I’ll be a minister.
PRESENTERS: Let’s talk about one of the things that are likely to inform – alright, nah, we can easily do that. There’s this magic button I can push which allows me to get my question in. Christopher Pyne, to you on the future submarines project and the location of the construction.
Is The Advertiser right this morning in saying that there is going to be an announcement in early May with regard to where the construction will take place and then perhaps after the election there will be a final decision made public with regard to who won the competitive evaluation process?
PYNE: Well, I don’t know where The Advertiser gets their stories from but the reality is that we are all working in Canberra to try and resolve the competitive evaluation process as soon as possible. Obviously we want certainty around the future of the naval ship building industry.
This government, the Coalition Government has committed to 12 submarines for Navy, nine frigates, future frigates which will be built at Osborne, offshore patrol vessels, Pacific patrol vessels.
This is in stark contrast to Labor who awarded two Navy contracts in their entire time in Government.
PRESENTER: So to be clear on that point then, will any statement be made about the location of the construction before the federal election?
PYNE: Well, look, there hasn’t been an election called, Marise Payne –
PRESENTER: There will be one later this year, though. Will there be a statement made about the location of the construction of the submarines before that?
PYNE: Well, if the election is in September, then obviously that gives us a lot more time. If the Senate votes against the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Registered Organisation Commission bills again in April, and Labor says that there’s no need to reform building and construction, then that means the election could well be earlier. Could well be a double dissolution election in July.
That gives us less time but I can tell you as the senior South Australian Cabinet Minister, I, and Marise Payne, and Malcolm Turnbull are working overtime to resolve the competitive evaluation process because we think South Australian voters will want to know where the submarines are being built, but at least we’re making these decisions. For six years, Labor made no decisions about these things and the only contracts they awarded were to oversee [inaudible]
PRESENTER: Is it possible to make a statement about where the construction will take place before resolving the competitive evaluation process?
PYNE: Well, I’m not going to get drawn into the weeds on these things, because there’s so much speculation about it that every time I say anything about it at all it all gets split up and interpreted and everyone looks at the entrails of their chickens to see what it all means, and I’d rather we stopped the speculation and just let the government get on with the job of making a decision.
PRESENTER: We’re going to have to leave it there. Unless you want to weigh in on the subs question, Albo.
ALBANESE: Just to say that in terms of Christopher’s argument about when the election will be, I mean, why is that they didn’t deal with their ABCC legislation previously? We sat for five weeks out seven, they didn’t deal with it, it wasn’t a priority, and it just shows that it’s all a furphy.
PRESENTER: Christopher Pyne, Anthony Albanese, appreciate your time on this Wednesday morning.
PRESENTER: We’ve got to do it live in here next week.
PRESENTER: That’s going to be exciting! We’ll have to put a partition in the studio to keep them on opposite sides of the studio