Subjects: The Bachelorette; China Free Trade Agreement; Joe Hockey; Back to the Future
BEN FORDHAM: I’m here and I’m planning to talk to Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne about the Labor Party finally agreeing to support the Free Trade Agreement with China. But meanwhile, Christopher Pyne is busy outside the studio chatting to Harriet about The Bachelorette. Let me talk to you first Anthony Albanese. Good afternoon.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: We don’t need him, mate.
FORDHAM: Have you been watching The Bachelorette?
ALBANESE: I haven’t. Not for a minute.
FORDHAM: I’m with Christopher Pyne. Hello Christopher.
PYNE: Ben, I have four children aged seven to 15. There’s nothing I don’t know about The Bachelorette. I have only watched three by I have managed to keep up with the entire, you know, story.
FORDHAM: Well, I have given up on it although I must admit I did watch the first few episodes. Who’s going to win then Christopher? Go on.
PYNE: It’s only now getting really interesting. I think Sasha is going to walk away with Sam. That’s my tip. I think she has liked him from the first moment they met. There was a real frisson between the two of them. That’s my tip.
FORDHAM: Albo, are you at all surprised by this?
ALBANESE: I’m not surprised at all, Mate.
PYNE: It’s a great show.
ALBANESE: I mean, I know as much about The Bachelorette as Christopher knows about rugby league.
PYNE: You’ve got to keep up with popular culture, Albo. That’s your problem. You are getting out of touch. You are moving behind the times.
ALBANESE: The idea of watching shows about people dating …
PYNE: Young people are watching very religiously.
ALBANESE: I get that. I get that.
FORDHAM: Christopher, I would like to hear you work this into one of you answers during Question Time.
ALBANESE: I don’t l know about that. I don’t think that’s possible.
FORDHAM: Order, Order. Now listen, before we talk about the Free Trade Agreement with China, I have just been discussing Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who is the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs. She addressed the National Press Club today and she spoke about what she called her wog name. And when she got married, her father said well maybe just be Concetta Wells. She said no, I want to keep the Fierravanti because I am proud of my wog name and my heritage. I note Christopher that you always call Anthony Anthony Albanese.
PYNE: That’s right. That’s how you pronounce it. It’s the Italian pronunciation.
FORDHAM: So Albo, everyone else says Anthony Albanese.
ALBANESE: People say all sorts of things. That’s why I tend to get Albo because it’s too hard.
FORDHAM: Anthony Albanese?
ALBANESE: Sure. It’s Anthony Albanese.
FORDHAM The Labor Party has finally agreed to a the Free Trade Agreement with China. Bill Shorten says he’ll now support the deal after the government agreed to his three conditions. So this will start delivering tariff cuts to businesses by the end of the year. It has taken some time Albo. Some would say that Labor has been dragging their feet on this deal.
ALBANESE: No, we haven’t. We’ve been after making sure that this deal is in the interests of the Australian workers and it’s a good deal today. What we have done is make sure that employers who are doing the investment facilitation arrangements under the CHAFTA – under the Free Trade Agreement – have to advertise jobs locally before turning to overseas workers. That’s the first thing we’ve done. That’s what we have said the whole way through and also we require 457 visa workers, if they come in in trades like electrical or plumbing, they have to obtain the relevant licence as well under our licensing provisions within 60 days of coming into Australia. So these are important safeguards to make sure that locals can benefit from the Free Trade Agreement and the Government and the Opposition, I think this is Parliament working as it should.
FORDHAM: All right. Let me bring in Christopher. Are these reasonable concessions, Christopher?
PYNE: Well, what the Government has done is provide a letter of comfort to the Opposition which clarifies what aspects of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement mean. The actual agreement is not being altered or changed but that letter of comfort has satisfied the Opposition. What the government is showing is that we can deliver big policy reform. This is a massive change to Australia, to the future … new mining industry, agricultural industry, innovative industries. This will mean a positive standard of living for Australians into the decades into the future.
FORDHAM: This letter of comfort that you refer to – does that mean the government has not agreed to Labor’s three conditions?
PYNE: No. What the government has done is explained, clarified, what some aspects of the agreement that Labor felt were ambiguous to what they actually clearly mean. That’s been enough to satisfy the Labor Party. I think this is a great example of Parliament working , of the new government trying to get things done.
FORDHAM: Can I just fling that one to Albo? Albo, is that a fair summary of the whole thing. In other words, there haven’t been changes as a result of that negotiation?
ALBANESE: No, it’ not. There have been changes including …
FORDHAM: Not to the deal though?
ALBANESE: No. But that was always to be the case because you couldn’t change the deal. If you change one element of it you have to go back and change the whole thing. We always accepted that. But what you had is a whole range of regulations around the way this could actually be implemented and one of the changes is to increase the minimum base rate of pay for these 457 visa workers up to $57,000 a year. Now that’s a very concrete change as well. Three elements were put forward. There was no ambit claim here.
FORDHAM: Right. Well as you’ve both …
ALBANESE: Andrew Robb and Penny Wong sat down. Both of them.
FORDHAM: As you both pointed out hopefully this is a sign of great things for economy and it’s going to help jobs and everything else and it is above politics. Now, speaking of being above politics, that’s what happens when a politician says goodbye. Today it was Joe Hockey giving his valedictory speech today, thanked his family, friends and staff, as you do. He also urged the, well, the Parliament to stop the revolving door of leaders and I suppose that’s a lesson for both sides. What did you make of the speech, Albo?
ALBANESE: I thought it was a very good speech. I didn’t agree with everything as you’d expect, but Joe Hockey has made an enormous contribution to public life and it was fantastic that his family were there for his farewell. I think he’s someone who certainly has my respect. I got a mention in his speech for working with him on the Badgerys Creek airport that we worked on for 20 years. He’s someone who – I’ll tell you a story about Joe Hockey. Very early on in our first term, he was chair of the Sydney Airport Community Forum. People were massively affected by aircraft noise in the Sydenham area. And he came and sat with my constituents – no votes in it for him, no publicity – sat down about their concerns and we got things done. From that point on, I’ve had a positive personal relationship with Joe, and I wish him well.
FORDHAM: Good on you. Let me go to you, Christopher. There’s been some criticism, I just noticed a story online from James Massola at The Sydney Morning Herald this afternoon, saying there’s been some criticism from conservative members of the Liberal Party that Julie Bishop didn’t turn up to, or she was late to arrive, and that she didn’t make any public speech in recognition of Joe Hockey.
PYNE: Well, Julie was meeting with a delegation from the Middle East in her role as Foreign Minister and she came as soon as that was over, so I think that is a very unfair criticism. We had the same number of speakers as the Labor Party. We had the Prime Minister, Minister Warren Truss as Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer. Labor had the Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek as Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Treasurer so there was synergy about that. I enjoyed Joe Hockey’s speech. He’s a very old friend of mine. We’ve known each other since we were teenagers and we’ve been in lots of fights together, both internally and against the Labor Party. We’ve won a few and we’ve lost a few, but the great thing about Joe is that he’s a person of integrity and he’s leaving with dignity, and he’ll have a continuing role to play in government of one way or another and I think he gave a very fair and reasonable speech today.
FORDHAM: Yeah. Always nice to see when both sides of politics put all of the rubbish aside and say nice things about each other. It doesn’t happen enough. Now, just quickly, it’s Back to the Future Day today because in the 1989 movie Back to the Future II, at this moment, or 4.30pm on this day, was marked as the time that they were flying into the future to try and save the world. So what I’m wondering is, whether we play right now, Back to the Future, together. So what I want you to do; I don’t think looking 30 years ahead is going to be all that instructive. I think maybe 10 years is enough. Albo, I want you to say where you think Christopher will be in 10 years and then Christopher, I want you to do the same for Albo. Albo,you first.
ALBANESE: I reckon Christopher will be Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate.
FORDHAM: In the Senate?
ALBANESE: Yeah, well he will have lost his seat of Sturt by then.
PYNE: That’s churlish!
ALBANESE: Due to his failure to support rugby league. There’ll be this rugby league resurgence in South Australia after the Adelaide Rams reform.
PYNE: They were in my electorate, the Adelaide Rams. I had a brief moment of interest in rugby league when the Adelaide Rams were in my electorate.
FORDHAM: And you’ll be the number one ticket holder when Adelaide return to the national rugby league. OK?
ALBANESE: He’ll be the patron.
FORDHAM: Christopher, where will Albo be in 10 years?
PYNE: I think poor old Albo will still be battling away as the Leader of the Opposition for the 10th year after he takes over from Bill Shorten in the next 12 months and he’ll still be there 10 years later, still against Malcolm Turnbull, still with the same old tired lines being used out every day.
FORDHAM: Well, the boxing gloves are back on, which is what we expect. We’ll talk to you next week.
ALBANESE: See you next week.
FORDHAM: Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.