Subjects; Cannabis; Richard Di Natale; Greens Political Party; SA redistribution; ALP National President
HOST: Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us each and every Wednesday morning for Two Tribes. Good morning to you both.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning gentlemen.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good morning.
HOST: We want to kick off today guys by talking about this policy idea floated by Richard Di Natale, the Leader of the Greens. We got a whole bunch of texts about it this morning from our listeners. This is the idea that cannabis should be fully decriminalised in the way it has been in several parts of the United States. Starting with you Chris, in your capacity as the Government spokesman, what do you make of that policy?
PYNE: Well I don’t support legalising cannabis. I think for medicinal purposes we have a regime which I’m glad to see that we put in place, which has been largely bipartisan, I think, to ensure that those people who need to use cannabis for a medicinal purpose have the capacity to do so, but that’s very much a different product. I see cannabis a gateway drug for young people into heavier drugs. I was responsible for drugs in the Howard era, illicits drug that is and we had a tough on drugs policy and it’s always [inaudible] giving up and saying it’s easier to legalise drugs than it is to try and stop people from getting into them, is not the way that we would want to go.
HOST: What about you, Albo? What are your thoughts on this, particularly you know, representing a seat as you do that’s an inner city seat with a fair bit of Green influence? Is it something that the Left faction is a little bit more open to maybe, in the ALP?
ALBANESE: I just think this is yet another ‘look at me’ moment from Richard Di Natale. The Greens are really struggling. They had a shocking result in Tasmania and in the Batman by-election they went backwards. Richard Di Natale went to the National Press Club two weeks ago and this was his big plan for 2018, to make the Reserve Bank a lending bank, which was frankly a stupid idea. And the other idea of giving welfare to everyone through universal basic income whether you are Gina Rinehart or unemployed, you get the same amount of money. People were laughing at the bloke so now he’s come out with something else, which frankly is a matter for state jurisdictions. South Australia in the past has looked at this. These are all state matters. This has nothing to do with the Commonwealth. Something that does have something to do with the Commonwealth is what Christopher said, medicinal use of cannabis for people who need it to treat a medical condition. That was bipartisan. It is just still being put in place, those mechanisms. And I would have thought that is the area in which the Commonwealth has responsibility, is acting responsibly, it is bipartisan. Let’s see how that goes rather than something that really is just about the fact that the Greens Party are really struggling, just as Nick Xenophon’s team, whatever they called these days, struggled in South Australia as well.
HOST: The party formerly known as Nick.
PYNE: It is now called something else. They’ve had four different names.
ALBANESE: What is it called?
PYNE: Alliance Central or something. It’s got different names. Before it was No Pokies.
ALBANESE: The ‘Look At Me’ Party. The problem with these minor parties is that they often come out with stuff; I mean it will be something else in a week. There’s no concerted campaign here. There’s no leader to it. It’s just a thought bubble, just like the thought bubble at the National Press Club a couple of weeks ago on a universal basic income, which would cost the Budget an absolute bomb and wouldn’t target welfare to where it’s actually needed. When you look at the detail of the Greens policy, you have big problems. They also have policies on ecstasy and on a whole range of harder drugs as well. Once people actually examine the policies, as they did in the Batman by-election, head to head, they don’t stack up.
HOST: Yeah, we’ll be getting him on at some point, giving him a chance to explain it.
HOST: Albo, you mentioned state matters and Chris Pyne to you, I just wonder how we make sure our state continues to matter given we have had one seat removed on account of the federal redistribution that we just had. One marginal seat as we head into a potential federal election season. How do we make sure South Australia doesn’t slide off the map?
PYNE: Well, we’ve had one seat removed out of 11 because we’ve had stagnant population growth and for the last 16 years we’ve had a State Labor Government that said that they were happy with low population growth and the result of that of course is a stagnant economy, young people leaving the state and you can’t lie with statistics. We’ve lost [inaudible], Western Australia has the same number of seats as South Australia, and you both had 13. Now we’re going to have 10 and Western Australia will have 16. So the numbers tell the story. You need a growing economy, a growing population. You need migration to the state bringing fresh ideas and fresh people to help grow our economy. You won’t lose an enormous amount of influence in South Australia because Tasmania has a lot less members than South Australia. The ACT don’t, but everybody in Australia and in Canberra recognises that every state, every person in our country is important and we get strong results, like the $90 billion submarine and shipbuilding part of the economy that I brought to the state as the Minister for Defence Industry. We’ve got significant investments in infrastructure here, like the North-South Corridor.
HOST: But will that stay, is that going to continue though Chris? Because thinking back to the Howard years, when Mr Howard was PM, Makin, Hindmarsh, Adelaide and Kingston were all very volatile marginal seats. Now, apart from arguably Boothby, there’s not a marginal seat left in South Australia. So if you’re trying to win government, you need to win it in Western Sydney, in Albo’s neck of the woods. You need to win it in regional Victoria; you need to win it in regional Queensland and suburban Brisbane. Where’s the political incentive? Because politics is all about winning the maximum number of seats. Why are you going to fund a South Road upgrade in a seat like Hindmarsh in three or six years’ time when we don’t have any marginal seats up for grabs?
PYNE: Because it’s the right thing to do, if that’s the policy that we settle on as being the right thing to do. I mean, policy is not just driven by population and by who lives where. It’s driven by what’s required for the country, that defence industry infrastructure, the economy, and we’ve got Simon Birmingham here as a Cabinet minister, myself, Anne Ruston as a minister in the Government. At times in South Australia’s history we’ve had one or two ministers, other times we’ve had four and now we have three. These things go up and down, they don’t determine whether a state is important or not.
HOST: Hey Albo, what should become of Mark Butler, the incumbent member for Port Adelaide?
ALBANESE: We had this debate, I remember, when we were talking about Sturt and whether it would disappear, but people don’t disappear.
PYNE: They had me buried, Albo, but don’t worry.
HOST: Didn’t Labor formally propose that Sturt get abolished?
ALBANESE: I was confident you’d still be there, like a cockroach after a nuclear war.
PYNE: That’s not very nice! Crawling out from under the rubble.
ALBANESE: I can assure you that Mark Butler will still be there in the next term.
HOST: Would he make a good National President of the Labor Party too, Albo?
ALBANESE: He will make a good National President, he is the current National President and he’s standing again…
HOST: Better than Wayne Swan?
PYNE: What about this rigging going on?
ALBANESE: …for election and he’s a very strong candidate. We’re not supposed to comment publicly more than that under the rules but…
HOST: Why’s that?
ALBANESE: Because that’s the rules…
PYNE: Marxist-Leninist state.
ALBANESE: …that you’re not supposed to engage in public debate. But I think…
HOST: You’re a ‘rules were made to be broken’ kind of a guy though, aren’t you Albo?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s very clear who I’m supporting in the ballot. I think that Wayne Swan is a good person as well. But Mark Butler’s the incumbent. I did launch his campaign in Sydney a couple of weeks ago.
HOST: It was a dead giveaway in terms of who you were backing.
ALBANESE: That was a bit of a giveaway.
HOST: That’s right, nothing gets past us. Chris Pyne and Anthony Albanese, always great to catch up you. We’ll do it again next week. Thanks guys.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.