Jan 8, 2016

Transcript of interview of Today Show, Nine Network

Subjects: Liberal Party chaos, unions, Bill Shorten, infrastructure, New Year’s resolutions

JEFFREYS: Welcome back to you. Well most of our politicians have been on holidays the past few weeks enjoying a rest, but the Government’s dramas certainly did not take a break. One Minister has been suspended pending a police investigation; another has resigned over a drunken night in Hong Kong. The Immigration Minister has come under siege for a controversial text message he sent to a female journalist.

And that is where we say good morning and welcome back to 2016. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.

ALBANESE: Good to be back here.

PYNE: Good morning Sylvia and Happy New Year to you and Anthony and all your team.

JEFFREYS: Not exactly a happy start to the new year for you Christopher. You’re the fixer, how are you going to fix this mess?

PYNE: Well, we’re focusing on jobs and growth Sylvia, that’s what we’re doing.

ALBANESE: He’s got his talking points.

PYNE: I’m focusing on executing the national innovation and science agenda and that’s what the public are interested in. All those other matters that you talked about in the intro, they’ve all been well and truly canvassed, and the public have moved on from them and I, certainly, have moved on from them.

JEFFREYS: Well you and your colleagues are trying to move on from it, the public clearly has not moved on. If you look in the newspaper this morning there’s a new poll out this morning that shows more than a third of Liberal voters in Jamie Brigg’s supposed safe seat in South Australia are now not likely to vote for him. What does that say to you Christopher?

PYNE: Well that same poll indicates that Jamie Briggs would win Mayo with a 59 to 41 per cent vote against the Labor Party.

JEFFREYS: But he is losing support. You can’t deny that.

PYNE: Well a win by one vote is a win, a win by two votes is a landslide, and three votes some people will say is wasted effort. So I think Jamie Briggs in Mayo, sure he has had a rough couple of weeks, brought about by his own actions obviously. I’m not excusing that, but I think the Australian public see the bigger picture and that is that they want a Malcolm Turnbull led Government – a Liberal Government. They know that Labor doesn’t have the policies for jobs and growth that we have and I think that is where they will place their vote. I certainly hope they will.

JEFFREYS: Would you expect Mr Turnbull to call perhaps an early election to secure things before more damage is done?

PYNE: Look I don’t think so. The Labor Party probably need more time to try and bring their own policies together. We have a three-year term. That expires in September this year. That’s about when I think the election will be. We have a budget to bring down in May, the Defence Industry policy statement, the Defence White Paper, the Tax White Paper.

As I said, we need to execute the national innovation and science agenda that I released in December. So we have a lot on that’s about jobs, it’s about growth, it’s about making our country secure. That’s the job of the Government and I’m looking forward to the year.

ALBANESE: Well Sylvia, I like Malcolm Turnbull more than I like Tony Abbott. But that’s not the issue here. The issue is Malcolm Turnbull’s judgement – Malcolm Turnbull’s judgement firstly in appointing Mal Brough as a Minister, even though the cloud was over him;  Malcolm Turnbull’s judgement in hanging on to Mal Brough even though he clearly misled Parliament and contradicted what he said right here on the Nine Network on 60 Minutes; his judgement when it comes to Jamie Briggs and Mal Brough – announcing their resignations, or standing aside, during the quick Christmas to New Year period, in the so called quiet period, to try and bury it.

This is a Prime Minister who has a trashcan of Ministers and within these first 100 days has seen his Government fall apart.

JEFFREYS: There are problems in your own house though Anthony. We start the election year with Bill Shorten surrounded by the stench of the union corruption hearing. He’s been very quiet though. Surely the findings of that corruption hearing warrant a formal response from Mr Shorten?

ALBANESE: Well people are entitled to have some leave over this period.

JEFFREYS: But this is a big announcement.

ALBANESE: Bill Shorten has made it very clear from day one that we have absolutely no tolerance for any corruption in the union movement, or from employers. Anyone who has committed any illegal acts should face the full force of the law. With regard to any legislation, well we haven’t seen it yet Sylvia so it’s a bit hard to comment on it.

JEFFREYS: All right, election aside, there’s definitely a Cabinet reshuffle coming up and one name that is likely to feature quite prominently in that reshuffle is Barnaby Joyce, who created his own headlines in 2015. Let’s have a little reminder, let’s have a look at this:

TALK SHOW HOST: He’s not wrong to be angry. The problem is he quickly started to lose the moral high ground.

JOYCE: Now Mr Depp either has to take his dogs back to California or we’re going to have to euthanize them. He’s now got about 50 hours left to remove the dogs.

TALK SHOW HOST: He gave them a death countdown!

JEFFREYS: Christopher, is Barnaby Joyce a suitable successor to Warren Truss as, A. Nationals Leader and, B. Deputy PM?

PYNE: Well of course that’s a matter for the National Party. Number one, Warren Truss hasn’t stood down from the leadership of the National Party and he is a very valued Cabinet colleague doing a very good job I must say in transport and infrastructure, delivering all the promises that were made by Labor but never delivered.

Warren Truss is getting on with the job of it. But if he does stand down the National Party, if they choose Barnaby Joyce, which I think they will given the publicity recently, he would be an excellent Deputy Prime Minister.

He speaks for rural and regional Australia in a very clear-eyed way. He stands up for small business, as I hope I do and the rest of the Government does. He has a very focused view on creating jobs, particularly in rural and regional Australia and in terms of his handling of the Agriculture portfolio, well it is booming. Agriculture is booming in our economy and thank God for that.

ALBANESE: You know the scary thing about this prospect isn’t Deputy Prime Minister Joyce, it’s Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. Just say that slowly, and think about it and think what that would mean. I’m sure Australia would get a lot more attention internationally, given his propensity for gaffes.

JEFFREYS: Entertaining.

ALBANESE: Well it’s entertaining, no doubt about that, but threatening to kill puppies I’m not sure was the smartest way to go, but it did get him out of another crisis.

PYNE: Well Johnny Depp had to keep the rules.

JEFFREYS: He is looking like a front runner at the moment anyway so watch that space.

ALBANESE: Well I do notice that Christopher Pyne just conceded that Warren Truss’ Transport portfolio consisted of implementing our agenda, which is right. So he’s got that right.

PYNE: No, the reality is you made promises, Warren Truss is delivering.

ALBANESE: And it’s Warren Truss cutting the ribbons on projects that we began.

PYNE: You promised them, you never did them.

ALBANESE: They were under construction.

JEFFREYS: Thanks for joining us again. I’m going to have to let you go. Quickly, a New Year’s resolution for you Anthony?

ALBANESE: I got distracted by arguing with Christopher there. See more Souths games and see more live music and live plays.

JEFFREYS: And you’re just going to fix a few more things – jobs and growth, Christopher?

PYNE: I’ve got two. I’ve got jobs and growth and I’ve got to lose six kilos.

ALBANESE: Stick to those talking points Christopher.

JEFFREYS: It’s good to stay accountable you two, thank you for joining us this morning and happy new year to you both.

ALBANESE: Good to be with you.

PYNE: Pleasure, thank you.