May 5, 2017

Transcript of radio interview – FIVEaa Adelaide, Two Tribes

Subjects: Turnbull meeting with Trump; Gonski

PRESENTER: Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese, good morning to you.


CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Will, and David and Anthony.

ALBANESE: I was worried you weren’t going to play the theme.

PRESENTER: We’d never abandon protocol.

ALBANESE: We need it to pump us up.

PRESENTER: Exactly right. Now, Malcolm Turnbull. Let’s spare a thought for Malcolm at the moment waiting on an aircraft carrier in New York for the President to fly in and say hi, is this becoming a bit rude, Christopher Pyne, the President of the United States, they’ve had a hung up phone call now, he’s left our Prime Minister waiting for a meeting. We’re talking about the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea and some pithy domestic politics is getting in the way, at what point can we say; you know what? Stick it.

PYNE: Well, obviously President Trump has had a big domestic win with the abolition of Obama healthcare, Obamacare, whether you think that’s a good thing or not, and he needs to make the most of that. These things happen in Canberra, they happen in Washington, schedules get moved around but he will meet Malcolm Turnbull this morning our time, this evening their time, on the Intrepid and it will be a terrific meeting. So it will definitely go ahead, it’s just one of those unfortunate things that happens that turns sometimes at the last minute.

PRESENTER: So if he was here, if you guys had had a big debate about 18C in the Parliament, would the US President be here just hanging out, twiddling his thumbs? Would it happen the other way?

PYNE: Well, you know, you have to just accept these things are going to happen from time to time. The reality is that Malcolm is there, he will meet President Trump, let’s hope it’s a successful meeting, I’m sure it will be and you have to really go with the flow a bit, you’ve got to be agile in the modern economy.

PRESENTER: Hahahaha. Agile. Hey, the big story this week in terms of education, well I guess there were two elements to it, HECS increases and the 2.5 per cent┬ásaving that unis have been forced to make, but as far as many parents are concerned, the biggest announcement was the Gonski funding, the re-emergence of the Gonski plan in some form. To you first Albo, did the Libs pull the rug out from your feet here by getting David Gonski into the tent and you know, taking away something that’s been synonymous with the ALP for so long?

ALBANESE: No, not at all. David Gonski is a good fellow, I know him well. He’s someone who isn’t a partisan person. This is about the issue of substance. David Gonski is looking at our curriculum and those issues – the way that education can be improved. That’s not a bad thing of course. We should constantly be looking at how we can get better, but with regard to the funding deal, I think it’s all unravelling a wee bit for the Coalition. You’ve got Tony Abbott our there visiting schools campaigning along with backbenchers in WA yesterday against the Turnbull Government’s policies. We’ll wait and see what happens in their party room next week, but Malcolm Turnbull spoke about ending the wars over education. He’s got a war within his own party. He’s got a civil war going on.

PRESENTER: Is the tension that bad within the Coalition, Chris Pyne? I mean, you’re a proud graduate of Saint Ignatius, a great school here in Adelaide. It does look like the Catholic schools are copping it a bit with some of the funding proposals.

PYNE: No, well they’re not. The Catholic funding is increasing by a billion dollars, going up by 3.7 per cent over the next few years. The idea that that’s a cut; well that’s news to me. I wouldn’t mind an extra billion dollars, an increase of 3.7 per cent. So I think the Catholics are exaggerating and that’s a matter for them but what we’ve done has ended the warfare between the states, the warfare between the systems with a fair, needs-based funding model that Malcolm Turnbull and Simon Birmingham have implemented. It means that every school, every student is treated exactly the same way and David Gonski has come on board to help us with making sure there are outcomes. Holding the state responsible. I mean, imagine that. We spent 50 per cent more on school funding in the last ten years and our results have gone backwards in real terms. Not relative to other countries. In real terms. So we’re spending more money and getting a worse result. Now, we need to stop that. The states need to step up, and we all need to work together on behalf of the school children and forget about the petty politics that goes on in who’s got what, and who hasn’t, because that’s not the point. The point is putting the school kids first.

PRESENTER: There do appear to be some tensions within Coalition ranks about the way this has been envisaged. Are they just another manifestation of the Tony Abbott, jabbering on about everything problem you’ve got?

PYNE: Well look, I’m not going to comment on Tony Abbott’s opinions, it’s not my job to be a commentator on my colleagues. Yesterday Bill Shorten tried to start a scare campaign in the morning. In the afternoon Tanya Plibersek said Labor wasn’t going to put any extra money in. So Labor hasn’t got any idea what their policy is on school funding. They never implemented the Gonski reform, by the way. That’s why I described it as the “Conski”. They had 27 different agreements between all the different systems and states and territories and there was no logic to any of them. Now, what Malcolm Turnbull has done is cut the Gordian knot. He is implementing the Gonski reforms, and I think that is an amazing achievement and it will mean that students have a better outcome. The reason that I was opposed to the Gonski model of Labor was that it wasn’t really what David Gonski had envisaged.

PRESENTER: That is true.

PYNE: The fact that he’s come on side is an indicator of that.

PRESENTER: That is true, in South Australia’s case, Albo, because the big money that SA was scheduled to get never actually materialised because you guys didn’t deliver it in fourth year.

ALBANESE: That’s nonsense. That is complete and absolute rot. The fact is that the Coalition Government came in and cut funding in the 2014 Budget. That’s what happened. It was there for all to see. A $30 billion cut. It was in their Budget papers in 2014. The fact is that we do need needs-based education funding. That’s what Labor did. The Coalition has adopted the principle but with it they’ve adopted $22 billion of cuts rather than $30 billion of cuts. It’s no wonder that they’ve got issues on their internals. I mean to describe Tony Abbott as being concerned about this is polite.

PRESENTER: We’re always polite here, Albo.

ALBANESE: He’s blowing it up. He’s blowing it up. He’s going interstate, to travel into schools with Andrew Hastie yesterday, in Western Australia, and taking cameras with him, in order to blow up this government’s policies because that’s what he’s determined to do of course, on everything because this government is in a state of civil war.

PYNE: Well I’ll tell you what happened in South Australia. In South Australia, Jay Weatherill was so quick to sign up to the school funding model because he wanted to give his friend Julia Gillard a win, South Australia was dudded, and we got the worst deal in the country. States that held out got more money to sign up, because their Premier and their education minister was trying to screw the Commonwealth of more funds and so South Australia actually did worse than anybody else. David Penberthy is right yet again.

PRESENTER: Well, let’s not get carried away.

ALBANESE: Sucking up will only get you so far, Christopher.

PRESENTER: Thank you for joining us at this special time.

ALBANESE: What about Will? What’s he, chopped liver?

PRESENTER: Well, yeah, you don’t have to answer that question, Christopher.

ALBANESE: See you.

PRESENTER: See you. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Joining us for this special time for Two Tribes.