Subjects: Cricket, citizenship, Sam Dastyari, lobbyists.
HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese. Good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: G’day.
HOST: Now Chris, I’ve got to say, you picked a bad week not to be in Adelaide. Day Five of the Test today. There’s been quite a bit of sledging out in the middle. It’s felt a little bit like an episode of Two Tribes at times out there.
PYNE: Anthony and I are always on the record so we can’t be too unpleasant to each other.
ALBANESE: And we’re good humoured.
PYNE: And we like each other deep down. Very, very deep down.
ALBANESE: Don’t tell anyone that, we’ll both get into trouble.
HOST: You’ll lose your acts.
ALBANESE: What’s the story with this South Australian trumpeting for the Barmy Army?
HOST: We’re going to find out soon, Albo.
PYNE: That’s very Dastyari-level behaviour.
ALBANESE: Now, now.
HOST: We’ll see if he gets accused of treason like Sam has. Hey the big story is citizenship at the moment. There’s apparently 10 Labor MPs who are under a cloud. What’s the status there, Chris, of whether the Government will be referring them to the High Court or not?
PYNE: Well let me be very clear about this. Bill Shorten demanded that the Government establish a register for people to declare their citizenship or otherwise. We’ve done that and we have John Alexander facing a by-election in Bennelong because he did the right thing. We have Barnaby Joyce who faced a by-election in New England. Bill Shorten said there were no Labor MPs at any time who would be caught up in the same net.
Now as it’s turned out, there are at least four Members of the House of Representatives who were UK citizens from the Labor Party when nominations closed for the 2016 election. They are all dead cert candidates to be referred to the High Court. Either Labor can do it or the Government will do it but they will be referred to the High Court. They are Justine Keay in Braddon, Susan Lamb in Longman, Josh Wilson in Fremantle and David Feeney in Batman. And Katy Gallagher, the Senator from the ACT, Labor, will also be referred by the Senate to the High Court. So there are five MPs, about whom there’s no doubt that they need to be referred to the High Court and Bill Shorten said there were none.
HOST: He’s also said this (inaudible) that David Feeney would be sent to the High Court. Albo, will there be any others that you guys will send for a look?
ALBANESE: Well there’s only one Labor MP, and David Feeney has been clear about that, who hasn’t been able to obtain the documents that he needed. He says that he did renounce his UK citizenship but hasn’t been able to find, essentially, the documentation either here or from the British Government and what he’s said is that if that doesn’t occur by tomorrow, then he will ask Tony Burke to refer him to the High Court for that matter to be considered.
As for the others that Christopher has mentioned, all of them took the reasonable steps that are required under the law. All of them applied to have their citizenship renounced, paid their fees, put in the necessary documentation. If it is the case that the completion of the process by another Government is the determining factor, then what that would leave open is for some bureaucrat in the UK or anywhere else to sit on documentation, not process it and therefore to determine whether or not someone could be in the Australian Parliament and that’s why the High Court, when they have considered these matters, have spoken of, and determined, indeed, that it is the reasonable-steps test that would be considered.
Now we’re looking at these issues, we’re also looking at the failure of Government MPs like Jason Falinski and Julia Banks, Alex Hawke and others to provide the documentation …
PYNE: Desperate smokescreen.
ALBANESE: …that is required. Well the documentation hasn’t been provided…
HOST: But can’t you say the same about Steve Georganas?
PYNE: And Maria Vamvakinou that’s going to go down that track or Mark Dreyfus for that matter.
HOST: Because some of them, with respect, I don’t want to sound like a cynic, heaven forbid, some of them seem to be using the, I-had-it-but-the-dog-ate-it excuse, don’t they?
ALBANESE: No what ….
PYNE: Nobody in the Coalition
ALBANESE: That’s not right. What some of them have done is say that, Nola Marino for example, says that she’s got legal advice but hasn’t provided it.
PYNE: Nola Marino’s husband wasn’t even an Italian citizen when they got married.
ALBANESE: Well, I don’t know whether that is the case or not.
PYNE: Labor just has made things up and still making things up.
ALBANESE: Clearly what needs to happen is that the Government and the Opposition need to sit down. If people need to be referred to the High Court, then that should happen.
PYNE: We will not be referring any Coalition MPs to the High Court. We have done that. We’ve got John Alexander in Bennelong in his by-election. We’ve had Barnaby Joyce dealt with. We referred him. We will not refer any Coalition …
HOST: So no more Chris, even if they are possibly under a cloud?
PYNE: Well, none of them are under a cloud. Now Labor is pretending because they have found themselves in this embarrassing situation …
ALBANESE: Well, what about Julia Banks?
PYNE: Julia Banks has been cleared by the Greek Government of not being a citizen, never being a citizen and Labor is just making things up to hide their embarrassment that they have at least five …
ALBANESE: That’s not right.
HOST: We are changing tack to another topic. Hey Albo, we mentioned Sam Dastyari in passing at the start of this segment today and last week you were particularly strident in your defence of the Senator, in fact, more so than Bill Shorten, who later that day came out and slapped him. Subsequent to our conversation though, more information came out including that tape of him contradicting the Labor Party policy on the South China Sea. Is your position changed on Sam Dastyari?
ALBANESE: Well clearly the documentation that came out, that wasn’t available when I spoke …
ALBANESE: … indicates that Sam Dastyari, you know, whether advertently or inadvertently, wasn’t correct when he characterised the nature of those comments at the press conference that was attended by Mr Huang. Clearly, the tape indicates that he made comments that I believe are quite inappropriate. He has of course been sacked from the positions that he has held and he now sits as a backbench MP.
HOST: Should he leave politics in total, Albo?
ALBANESE: Well he has been elected mate. He has been elected by the Australian people.
HOST: I know but the Libs yesterday were saying that you had said to journos in the Gallery that he should just go.
ALBANESE: No. What Malcolm Turnbull was trying to do was to verbal comments that certainly weren’t mine.
HOST: They certainly weren’t yours on 5AA last week.
ALBANESE: No, no. What I do is I say my views on the record. I said them on 5AA last week. I’m saying them today.
PYNE: But the truth is, I mean I’ll give Anthony a break. He has had quite a run. The truth is that Bill Shorten …
HOST: You are a generous man, Chris.
PYNE: Bill Shorten seems tied to Sam Dastyari in a way that I haven’t seen two people tied together in politics in a very long time and I think the issue here is that Sam Dastyari had a lot more to do with the election of Bill Shorten as the Leader of the Labor Party in 2013 than we actually understand. Now there have been calls for an investigation in New South Wales into the rorting of the leadership ballot. I’m sure Anthony doesn’t want to comment on it and I understand that. The rorting of the ALP leadership ballot where 50 ballot papers went to Dastyari’s office rather than to the homes of the people who were members of the Labor Party, or purported to be members of the Labor Party. None of these questions have been properly dealt with or investigated by the New South Wales Labor or the Federal executive of the Labor Party and there has to be a reason why Bill Shorten feels so compromised by Sam Dastyari.
HOST: Chris Pyne, how do you respond to the criticism of your policy response to this Dastyari situation announced yesterday regarding foreign agents or agents who do the bidding of foreign states ostensibly to undermine Australian policies? Your former colleague Andrew Robb described it as a political stunt. What do you say to Andrew Robb?
PYNE: Well, Andrew Robb is a terrific guy and I wouldn’t be criticising him and in fact I never have and I don’t think he is criticising the Government. I think if you look at what the Government has done we have said that we want transparency. Now people are very welcome to get jobs with overseas companies or overseas governments for that matter as long as it is transparent and if you’ve got no reason to hide, nothing to hide, then you would be more than happy to register yourself as a lobbyist. These days there’s so much lobbying going on in politics that the more transparency the better. And if you are worried about the transparency then you shouldn’t be doing whatever it is that you were going to do.
HOST: Chris Pyne, Anthony Albanese, always great to catch up. We will do it again next week. Thank you.
ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.