Subjects: Trump-Kim meeting, privacy.
HOST: Anthony Albanese and Anne Ruston join us now. Fascinated with your thoughts. Good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: Albo, as the incumbent, we might start with you. What did you make of it? Was it a victory for peace or was it just a meaningless gabfest?
ALBANESE: I think it’s a positive thing when people who previously have been in conflict are at least in dialogue. I don’t think you can take it too much further than that. I think the jury is out as to the detail of how denuclearisation can occur. But it is a positive thing and any time where previous foes are chatting, that’s got to be good.
HOST: Senator Anne Ruston, good morning in the role of Christopher Pyne this morning.
RUSTON: I’d rather be in my own role if it is all the same to you.
ALBANESE: Very wise Anne, very wise.
RUSTON: At the risk of having to agree entirely with Albo, look, I think it is little steps. They are small steps. They are first steps. But it is a good first step and I think the world is looking on to see how everybody responds to delivering on the promises that were made yesterday. It’s the first time in as long as I can remember when a US President has sat down with North Korea. So yes, we just have to be very positive about this and make sure that it works because it is in the best interests of our region and the world that it does.
HOST: Anne, I know, obviously, you are not the Foreign Minister, but as a member of the current Government do you have any qualms given the importance for Australia of a continuing US role in the Asia Pacific? Does the Government have any concerns where almost on the fly it sounded like President Trump told Kim that he would be happy to stop the US military exercises in conjunct with South Korea. We don’t want to see America sort of withdrawing from the region at the behest of a bloke who has got a million people rotting away in a gulag do we?
RUSTON: Well no and I think as you rightly point out, I am not the Foreign Minister and these sorts of conversations are always particularly delicate because there are so many things that could impact on the discussion. But I think overall anything that kind of moves towards us having a peaceful set of political circumstances in our region, anything that is going to, well certainly denuclearise our area, will have to be positive. But we need to take this slowly. We need to take this step by step and as each and every step gets taken in the process hopefully to reach the conclusions that were being agreed. There will be many more side issues that need to be dealt with, but I think we have to just take a very positive approach from what has come out yesterday. Let’s not read any negatives into it and give both parties and the rest of the region an opportunity to deliver the outcome that we have all been wanting for such a long time.
ALBANESE: The way this segment usually works Anne, by the way, is I say something, and then Pyney just agrees with me. As long as you stick to that you will be right.
HOST: What is it is about Bill Shorten’s leadership?
RUSTON: Yes, I am sure we probably will agree on that one too.
HOST: You are warming to this Anne Ruston. Can I ask you your thoughts, Senator, on Barnaby Joyce being cast in the role of a champion of individual privacy in Australia. Does he have a point? Is it time we enshrined individual privacy in law?
RUSTON: I am really of the view that the laws that we have at the moment to protect people and their privacy really go far enough. We are a free country. We like the idea that we can walk down the street and talk to anybody we like as politicians and that is part of the game in Australia is that you are freely accessible to the public and that means to the media and I wouldn’t like to think that I would turn around and have to say to you, or anybody else in the Fourth Estate, you know: “Stay away from me because you are not allowed to come anywhere near me”. I understand Barnaby has got a set of very personal circumstances that are playing out uncomfortably for him but I think that a change in our privacy laws would be unnecessary on the whole.
HOST: What do you think Albo? Have you at any times – you have been an MP since the dawn of time now mate, you are an elder statesman – have you ever had a moment in your life where you have felt that your privacy, be it something involving you wife or son, that it has gone too far?
ALBANESE: Yes, absolutely. It has happened on a number of occasions. Unfortunately that is part of the job. Most journalists are very good. There was the time where there was a TV crew outside my son’s pre-school, that I took the camera guys aside. At the time my wife was the Minister for Community Services – people who have been involved in those sort of family issues know that that raises security concerns. For example, the Department of Community Services in New South Wales certainly is in a non-disclosed secure-floor area for security reasons. I took them aside and said: “You can’t be serious, you are going to show where our son goes to school’’. And they said: “We didn’t see you’’ and walked away. They showed their decency by doing that and I think by and large the Australian media is responsible.
I think it is unfortunate that – any serious privacy reform proposal I think should be considered – but it is not advanced by having Barnaby Joyce, who took 150K for an interview, advancing the cause. I think I’ve only had media knock on my door once for an interview at home. I said that is not the way it is done and they went away as well. But I certainly understand that the idea of people being papped by photographers can be really problematic, not just for politicians but in general. I feel sorry for a number of people involved in the media themselves, celebrities who get photos that amount essentially to harassment. But I would hope that most media outlets in Australia are, I reckon, pretty responsible.
HOST: Yes, we certainly haven’t gone headlong down the sort of old Fleet Street path. Albo and Anne Ruston, great to catch up. Beautifully done Anne, filling in for Pyno. We should call you Rusto this morning.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.