Mar 2, 2016

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa Adelaide

Subjects: Draft White Paper leak; Tony Abbott; Joe Bullock; negative gearing; tax reform; Albo’s birthday; potential leak investigation  

PRESENTER: It’s that time of the week that we always look forward to; Anthony Albanese and Christopher Pyne join us as Two Tribes go to war. Good morning, Anthony Albanese.


PRESENTER: And good morning Christopher Pyne.

PYNE: Good morning David, good morning Anthony.

PRESENTER: Chris Pyne, to you first. The Australian newspaper on its front page this morning has quoted from sections of the Draft White Paper that was prepared under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and then Defence Minister Kevin Andrews.

The plan said that the acquisition of new subs would begin nearly a decade early than what is now the plan, in fact the ex Prime Minister is now quoted as saying he’s ‘flabbergasted’ at the decision.

Why is there such a distance between the commencement of the project in the draft under Abbott and what is now the final paper under Turnbull?

PYNE: Well there’s obviously a lot of confusion in that story because in fact, it’s not about the acquisition of the submarines which begins exactly when it was always supposed to in the next few years, which means jobs for SA and 12 subs, it’s about the operations of the submarines beginning. So, we take the best advice on Defence and drafts are draft documents, obviously, they’re drafts, they’re not supposed to be the final document.

Whatever happened between the draft and the final document would have happened on the basis of advice from Defence. The acquisition of the subs happened at exactly the same time as it’s always planned. The subs being in the waters and starting their operations appear to have been pushed back a couple of years, certainly not 10 years and if you actually read into the story you see that Dennis Shanahan muddies the waters in terms of the actual number of years.

So we rely on Defence’s advice, drafts are draft documents, it doesn’t mean anything in terms of SA, the 12 subs and more jobs, but I would make the point that it’s a highly classified document. There are no more classified documents than ones that are in the National Security Committee and therefore the Government will take this leak to The Australian very seriously.

PRESENTER: Well, the source of the leak you would presume is the former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott though, Christopher, and the thing about this story that in a way is more interesting, it is a red hot political story because a bit like Labor had with Kevin Rudd on the cusp of an election when Julia Gillard seized the leadership off him, doesn’t this story confirm that Tony Abbott is now completely off the leash and leaking against Malcolm Turnbull like a crazy man?

PYNE: Well look David; I wouldn’t describe him that way. The public want Malcolm Turnbull to succeed. Because they know that we are in an economic transition and they believe that the Coalition is the best party to manage that transition and that’s the job we’re doing with things like the Defence White Paper, the Defence Industry Policy Statement, the innovation agenda and there will be more announcements to come. Infrastructure –

PRESENTER: The public want Malcolm Turnbull to succeed but Tony Abbott doesn’t.

PYNE: Well the polls strongly indicate that the public are pro Malcolm Turnbull because they know he’s the best person to lead the country in this transition period. And I don’t think that’s going to change because of a story on the front page of The Australian.

PRESENTER: Okay, over to you Albo. Labor’s got a couple of internal issues itself, one of which is a Western Australian Labor senator Joe Bullock who was quite vocal last week about your party’s support for the Safe Schools program. He has now quit the ALP in protest at being bound on the question of same sex marriage. Is his resignation a sign that Labor has perhaps drifted a little bit too far from the mainstream on these issues?

ALBANESE: No, not at all. Joe Bullock, I think has acted in a principled way. He says that he can’t advocate for Labor so therefore he will leave the Senate. I heard an interview he gave earlier this morning where he essentially said the only reason why he was the Senator was because he had Australian Labor Party next to his name and he’s right there. He has strong views on marriage equality.

I certainly am of the view that these matters should be decided by consciences. I haven’t changed on any of those issues. I’m a supporter of marriage equality but I think that people should have the right to have their say. The truth is that Joe on a range of issues has perhaps drifted from being in a position to be able to support the Labor party.

PRESENTER: But same sex marriage is one thing. But a program as the Minus 18 program in Victoria does which says that it’s inappropriate to ask new parents whether they’ve had boys or girls as children, this is crazy stuff isn’t it?

ALBANESE: Well the Safe Schools program is something that is worthwhile. I can’t see how people can object to teaching tolerance which is essentially all that the Safe Schools program is.

The comments of various Coalition members have quoted documents that aren’t part of the Safe Schools program in order to whip up some hysteria about the program and that of course is just part of the Tony Abbott versus Malcolm Turnbull proxy war that we’ve seen that you just talked to Christopher about.

Whether it’s Tony Abbott literally trying to torpedo his own government over subs and over dates and that extraordinary leak on that front page of The Australian or whether it would be Safe Schools, this is a Coalition that would be in conflict with itself right across the policy spectrum.

PRESENTER: Chris Pyne it’s interesting contemplating what Tony Abbott’s had to say on a number of policy fronts, you might disagree with him on the Defence White Paper, him being flabbergasted at the change in the timeline. What about with regard to negative gearing? Where is the Coalition currently on that? Are you in the Turnbull camp or the Tony Abbott camp?

PYNE: Well, we’re all in exactly the same camp and the same camp is that Labor’s negative gearing policy is a threat to house values. It will take a third of investors out of the exiting housing market and put them in the new housing market which will dampen demand in the existing houses and increase demand in the new houses as a consequence; houses will go down for existing houses and up for new houses and Labor has not thought this policy through. Bill Shorten is unravelling before our very eyes unfortunately and it just highlights why they are not the party to manage the transition to the new economy.

PRESENTER: But isn’t it the case that Christopher, that you guys still haven’t made up your mind about whether you guys will or won’t do anything about negative gearing?

PYNE: Well we can’t be salami sliced, David from one policy to another.

ALBANESE: That’s a shocker of an analogy, Christopher. Give it up.

PYNE: Before Budgets, oppositions and media commentators always demand that the Government rule this in and rule this out because it helps to fill their front pages but it’s not what a sensible government does.

We’re methodically going through the process of putting together the tax package for the Budget and that’s what the public expect us to do but what we won’t be doing is Labor’s negative gearing policy which hurts mums and dads.

For 1.2 million Australians who negatively gear, the vast majority of those are policemen, nurses, clerks, fitters and turners, hardly any are lawyers and surgeons and economics professors. Labor has taken a sledgehammer to negative gearing and they’re hurting mum and dad investors and self-funded retirees.

PRESENTER: But Christopher, isn’t it the case, I mean you say that commentators play the Parliament game of can you rule this in, can you rule this out. The reality is that yesterday it was the former Prime Minister who was playing that game inside the party room meeting along with Eric Abetz by saying to Malcolm Turnbull effectively; can you rule out changing negative gearing?

PYNE: Well, he put his views about negative gearing. And a lot of people agree with him, and Malcolm has very similar views. But we’re not going to rule things in and rule things out.

What Tony Abbott was saying is that Malcolm Turnbull’s done a brilliant job at explaining to the Australian public how Labor’s policy is a risk to the economy and a risk to house values and I agree with that.

ALBANESE: Your nose is growing, Christopher. If you’re suggesting that Tony Abbott uttered the words ‘Malcolm Turnbull, he’s doing a brilliant job’.

PYNE: He did say that. It’s quoted in the newspapers, Anthony. He actually says –

ALBANESE: Just because you briefed that out, it doesn’t mean he said it.

PYNE: He said that ‘you’re doing brilliantly in exposing Labor’s policy as a risk to the economy’ and it’s actually quoted in the paper. Now, it shouldn’t be quoted in the paper because it happened in the party room but as we all know, it leaks like a sieve, all party rooms leak like sieves unfortunately.

ALBANESE: Some more than others.

PRESENTER: We’re going to have to leave it there. Finally though, Albo, we understand it’s your birthday.

PYNE: Happy birthday Albo!

ALBANESE: It is indeed.

PRESENTER: Have you got anything for Albo, Christopher?

PYNE: Just… have I got anything for Albo? I hate to think what I… hemlock?


PYNE: Don’t accept anything from me today, Anthony. No glasses of water.

ALBANESE: I would have expected at least something across the chamber.

PYNE: Maybe some mulled wine with hemlock in it.

PRESENTER: Beware Liberal frontbenchers bearing gifts.

ALBANESE: He’s mean even on my birthday.

PYNE: Happy birthday Albo! Happy birthday. You don’t look a day over 40.

PRESENTER: What a wonderfully warm note to end on. Thanks very much guys, we’ll do it again next week.

ALBANESE: Good on you guys. Bye.

PRESENTER: Tell you what, saying we’re going to investigate who the leaker is about the Defence White Paper’s pretty red hot, isn’t it? Because it’s Tony Abbott! It’s Tony Abbott who gave it to The Australian. It would have to be. Unless he was stunned and amazed when The Australian rang him and said we’ve got the Draft White Paper. ‘Oh, how did you get that? Oh, gee!’

PRESENTER: It’s curious.

PRESENTER: It’s certainly curious. It’s curious to say the very, very least.

PRESENTER: Or do we infer that it’s clearly not Tony Abbott because you can’t imagine calling an investigation that will identify someone in your own party as the leaker?

PRESENTER: Unless you want to blow them out of the water.

PRESENTER: I think the collateral damage done would be far too great to benefit from that. You’d rather just try to rush him off into insignificance.

PRESENTER: He’s still not quite at the Kevin Rudd level. But it looks like he’s getting there.

PRESENTER: But the allegation that it’s a sensitive Defence paper that’s been leaked, if it turns out it was Tony Abbott, I think that makes his position in Parliament untenable, certainly as a member of the government, as a member of the Liberal Party.