Mar 10, 2017

Television interview – Today Show

Subjects: WA State election; Kate Ellis; women in politics; childcare. 

LISA WILKINSON: Now it’s D-Day in Western Australia tomorrow as residents head to the polls for the state election and Premier Colin Barnett is facing a huge challenge to retain his grip on power with predictions that minor parties including Pauline Hanson’s One Nation could decide the result.

For more we have Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne and Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese.  Both here in the studio for a change which is nice.  Albo always turns up; Christopher it is very good to see you and I will start with you.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It’s great to be here.

WILKINSON: Now the Prime Minister made only one trip to WA in the six months leading up to the election – have you given up already?

PYNE: Absolutely not.  I was in WA this week, in fact, repurposing a mining factory into a defence industry factory, which means our policies are actually working in defence industries.  I was there on Wednesday and I can tell you that the feeling was very positive for Colin Barnett and the Barnett Government.  He deserves to be re-elected and I fully expect that he will be re-elected on Saturday.

WILKINSON: But why wouldn’t the PM go over there?

PYNE: He was there; he was there during the campaign.

WILKINSON: Once in the last six months.

PYNE: No once during the election campaign.  I don’t know where he went before the election campaign.  He’s been to Perth at least once in the last six months, I sure of it.  But, he went once and I’ve been once and I want the Barnett Government to be re-elected, they’re a good government.

WILKINSON: Aright, Anthony, Labor is polling well in WA but voters have become disillusioned.  Why do you think so many people are looking to the minor parties for the answers at the moment?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well we’ll wait and see the verdict of the voters tomorrow.  But what we know is that the Barnett Government is out of touch, it’s out of ideas and it’s out of time, and tomorrow it should be out of office.  The voters in Western Australia tomorrow shouldn’t re-elect the Barnett Government by mistake because of this deal it’s done with One Nation.

I think people are very angry on both sides.  The One Nation people said they were outsider and now they’re in bed with the Barnett Government, and Liberals who have a small ‘l’ liberal view of the world are frustrated as well about this deal that has put One Nation before the National Party.

WILKINSON: Alright, meanwhile Labor frontbencher Kate Ellis has announced that she’s quitting Federal politics at the next election to spend more time with her young son as he starts school.  It comes as a new report out today claims that stay at home mums are a big drain on the economy and should be out working.

Christopher, it’s a tough decision for any mum to stay at home or to go to work.  Some women, of course, don’t have any choice at all.  But we see a distinct lack of women in senior politics.  Should we be doing more to help women?

PYNE: Well happily I have been in Parliament 24 years on Monday and I can tell you there are a lot more women in Parliament today, and in the senior roles than there were when I was first elected 24 years ago, which is a great thing. Of course we want to encourage more women into Parliament and I always encourage women in pre-selections within the Liberal Party.  Of course it is a democracy, so they either win or don’t win, but we want more women. They do change politics, they do make it less adversarial, they do tend to be more practical in many respects.  As Margaret Thatcher said if you want someone to say something ask a man, if you want someone to do something ask a woman. And I think that was a pretty clever line many years ago.  So yes of course we do. I wish Kate well.  She has been a great colleague.  She’s Labor of course, but it’s hard not to like Kate and I wish her well in the future.

WILKINSON: But part of the problem Anthony is affordable childcare and every time it is put forward in Parliament it gets stopped, it never gets through.

ALBANESE: Well we do need to do more to assist women into the workforce.  Not just for themselves but for the country.  The nation benefits from taking advantage of our greatest resource which is our people.

And with regard to Kate Ellis, I think she has made a fantastic contribution.  She is sick of the travel.  We spend a lot of time away from our family.  Her young son Sam starts school next year and I’m sure she leaves with absolutely the best wishes of everyone on all sides of politics.  She is just a lovely person and she will make a contribution to the workforce I’m sure in some other way.

PYNE: Lisa, we do have an affordable childcare reform in front of the Senate right now which Labor is refusing to pass, which would actually make it cheaper and make it more accessible to people, but Labor won’t…

ALBANESE: Well that’s not right, of course.

WILKINSON: Will can you blokes just get it together and get some affordable childcare?

ALBANESE: Absolutely.

WILKINSON: Because as we can see there’s a real problem when it comes to the economy with not having it in place.

ALBANESE: Absolutely, which is why we massively increased the childcare rebate when we were in Government.

PYNE: But you are not supporting what we are doing right now.

ALBANESE: We are not supporting your cuts.

PYNE: $1.6 billion.

ALBANESE: We are not supporting your cuts.

PYNE: So you are supporting the childcare changes?

ALBANESE: What we are not doing is supporting your cuts, and what this Government keeps doing is linking up unconnected things so that they end up with this gridlock.  That’s why they are not governing.

WILKINSON: Can you two take this out the back?  We will come back to you in half an hour…

PYNE: We are going to do the weather.

WILKINSON: …and find out if you have sorted out childcare.

PYNE: He’s better at the weather than he is at childcare reform.

WILKINSON: You are both good at the weather.

ALBANESE: This Government is not good at much.

WILKINSON: OK, over to you Karl