Nov 11, 2015

Transcript of radio interview – 2GB with Ben Fordham

Subjects: Remembrance Day; The Dismissal; The Catholic Church; GST

FORDHAM: Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne joining us from Parliament House Canberra, I presume. They were in Question Time this afternoon, they must be there. Hello Christopher.

PYNE: Hello Ben.

FORDHAM: Hello Albo.

ALBANESE: G’day Ben and Christopher.

FORDHAM: Remembrance Day today gentleman, I was lucky enough to be in Martin Place to welcome back some Cooee marchers who re-enacted the famous Cooee March of 100 years ago where they set off from Gilgandra and cooee’ d along the way and collected more men who were willing to go to war. Remembrance Day, today, time to reflect, time to remember. Christopher, who are you thinking about today?

PYNE: Well, at 11 o’clock I said a little prayer for my great-uncle Octavius, who was killed on the Western Front and my great-uncle Patrick, who was killed on the first day of Gallipoli at Anzac Cove and my father, who served in Korea and Japan after the Korean War. So I remembered them at 11 o’clock.

FORDHAM: Good on you. Who’s been on your mind, Albo?

ALBANESE: Well I think about my good and dear friend Tom Uren who passed away earlier this year and I had one of the most extraordinary experiences in my life going to Kanchanaburi, to Hellfire Pass, where he and Sir Weary Dunlop and Sir John Carrick worked on the Burma Thai Railway and these were old men by then who gave such sacrifice during the Second World War and it was a very humbling experience to actually be able to be there with these great Australians, most of whom of course have now left us.

FORDHAM: There’s another piece of history that people are looking back on right now and it’s political history. It’s been 40 years since one of the most divisive moments in Australian political history – the Dismissal. The Governor-General at the time, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, after a period of instability when the Senate blocked the Budget. So where were you guys? Let’s look back 40 years. Where were you and what were your opinions about the Dismissal on that day? Christopher, first of all.

PYNE: Well I was eight, and I was watching Adventure Island, true story, but they interrupted Adventure Island to say the Prime Minister had been dismissed by the Governor-General and my mother was ironing and I remember her being quite weepy and saying everything will be all right now because Mr Whitlam and Mr Hayden will be gone. So my recollection was that we were pleased about what had happened. As an eight year old, my take out was that it was a good thing.


ALBANESE: Well, it certainly wasn’t a good thing and …

PYNE: The public thought it was a good thing, because they elected us in a landslide five weeks later.

ALBANESE: Keep up with the program. Malcolm Turnbull has apologised. Your leader today has acknowledged 40 years on that it certainly wasn’t Australia’s finest day and that it was inappropriate for such an intervention to occur and that’s to his great credit. But I was at school and Vince Crow, my history teacher, came in and told us. I went to St Mary’s Cathedral in the city, which was a centre of activity. The city was pretty wild that afternoon. I got into trouble for getting home pretty late.

PYNE: The last time he’s been in a cathedral.

ALBANESE: There were horses and  … I was an altar boy at St Mary’s Cathedral I’ll have you know.

FORDHAM: Were you really?

ALBANESE: I was, absolutely.

FORDHAM: And now you’ve got a beer named after you.

ALBANESE: I was in the Guild of St Stephen. Oh, there’s nothing in the Catholic creed that outlaws beer, Ben.

FORDHAM: Oh, I know that.

PYNE: No wonder you turned to communism.

FORDHAM: Oh, Christopher.

ALBANESEL: On the Friday …

FORDHAM: So the Mass would have been said in Latin back then would it not?

PYNE: No. That was 1963, 66.

ALBANESE: I’m not that old.

PYNE: God help us.

FORDHAM: I only say that, I should say, I only say that because my Dad was an altar boy and he can’t recite much of the Mass these days in English but he knows it word for word in Latin.

ALBANESE: Well, on the Friday the big demonstration was held on the Domain, which was St Marys Cathedral Boys playground. We all left school and went to the demo and we did not get into trouble because, as the Christian Brothers told us, our government had been dismissed.

PYNE: Well, the Jesuits didn’t feel the same way.

FORDHAM: I’m not going to talk to you about the GST because it’s going absolutely nowhere at the moment. Malcolm Turnbull says he wants to have a mature debate about changes to the GST. I don’t know how you have a mature debate when you are not giving any details about what you actually plan to do.

PYNE: That’s because we haven’t got a policy there to do the GST. I mean this is the most (inaudible) I’ve ever heard. Labor’s criticising us Ben, for not releasing detail of a policy that we don’t have when they won’t release detail of a policy that they do have which has got a $55 billion black hole attached to it.

ALBANESE: The government has flown a kite about the GST – 15 per cent on everything – said they want to have a debate and then they run from it and Christopher again, you know, just plucks out these figures from wherever …

PYNE: My daughter’s Halloween outfit is scarier than your scary scare campaign.

ALBANESE: Well, you’ve run away Christopher; you’ve run away squealing after calling for a national debate.

PYNE: My seven-year-old daughter’s scarier than you (inaudible).

ALBANESE: Well, front up. Front up with a debate.

PYNE: We haven’t even got a policy to increase the GST. This is the ridiculous part. You are looking so silly.

FORDHAM: So you are not going to increase the GST.

PYNE: (inaudible)

FORDHAM:  So hang on. So you are not going to increase the GST?

PYNE: Well, we are having a discussion about it.

ALBANESE: But you won’t actually discuss it.

PYNE: The public are very pleased they’ve got a mature government that can have a debate and an Opposition that’s running a (audible) scare campaign. Those fluorescent skeletons that hang from rear-vision mirrors, they’re scarier that the Labor Party’s scare campaign.

ALBANESE: But you see there is no debate, Christopher. You can’t have it both ways. We are trying to have one.

FORDHAM: (Groaning).

PYNE: You’re not in the debate. We are the ones that are having a debate with the Australian public. You are just off in a little cul de sac of your own.

ALBANESE: You’re not having a debate. You are saying that …

FORDHAM: This is why I said we are not talking about the GST.

ALBANESE Exactly, they are on to you. Ben’s on to you, Christopher.

PYNE: You’re off on your own. You’re out. We’re in. We are new politics. You are old politics.

FORDHAM: Gentlemen, go and have a cold glass of water, I’ll talk to you next week,

ALBANESE: See you next week.